Peadar Whyte

Peadar Whyte farms in Naul, Co Dublin.

Peadar Whyte farms in Naul, Co Dublin, and told the Irish Farmers Journal that farmers are just waiting for something to happen with fertiliser prices.

“Last year was a great year but now we’re afraid of our lives to be honest with you. Everyone’s standing around waiting for something to happen with fertiliser prices.

“Some people have bought fertiliser. What’s bought is at huge money really and you’ve no guarantee at the grain [price] end of it. We’re very worried to be honest with you,” he said.

Whyte has about 20% of his requirement for this year bought, made up mainly of nitrogen with CAN bought and some urea-ammonium nitrate (UAN).

On prices for 2023, he says he has some grain locked into forward contracts: “We’ve bits sold forward but you never know. If you’re selling forward for 12, 16 or 18 months ahead, you never know whether you’re right or wrong, no matter how good that looks at the time.”

Whyte doesn’t plan on deviating too much from his 2022 cropping plan.

“We’re kind of fixed in a system where we have a good bit of rotation anyways, but definitely yeah we’ll probably grow a few more beans, but will stick more or less with what we’re at.

“We take full advantage of the [Straw Incorporation Measure]. On the farm, we’re making the most of it. We focus on chopping the oat straw and wheaten straw.

“We’ve enough of that in the rotation to max out on our chopping. It’s a great scheme.”

Donal O’Keeffe

Donal O'Keeffe farms in Delvin, Co Westmeath.

Donal O’Keeffe farms in Delvin, Co Westmeath, and has changed up his cropping plans in recent years.“I have changed cropping choice. I was growing a lot of winter barley for seed. I’m reducing that a good bit.

“Rotation is becoming more important now rather than growing the same crop year after year. I’m aiming for 20% of my area in oilseed rape and following that with winter wheat,” he said.

“I’m worried alright [about fertiliser prices]. In 2022 fertiliser went through the roof, the rest held for a while, except for diesel, of course.

“Fertiliser probably will come back down a bit, but the other costs are climbing. We’re getting warnings all the time about chemical costs,” he added.

“I would say 25% is all I’ve got so far. I’ve been assured I’ll get whatever I want, but nobody will tell me what price. All I’ve got so far is urea, I bought it in a worry situation. None of it is protected urea because it wasn’t available at the time.”

He will also be taking full advantage of the straw scheme. “Absolutely, we’ll do more of it. It’s great for all the good environmental reasons. There is one difficulty – it’s much more difficult to stubble cultivate when you’ve a mat of straw there, to get it incorporated properly, but it can be done and it will be done.”

Pat Cleary

Pat Cleary farms in Monasterevin, Co Kildare.

Kildare farmer Pat Cleary hasn’t changed his cropping plans on the back of input costs and grain prices.

The Monasterevin man has up to 80% of his land in winter crops.

“Of course we worry, but one of the things we try and do is hedge a bit. Like 2021, we did the same in 2022.

“About three weeks after the harvest, we locked into a wheat price and a barley price for 2023, which at the time wasn’t great. It’s a great price now. We also did the same with oilseed rape.”

He has 20% of his fertiliser requirements secured.