Fertiliser scarce in WA

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Jenne BrammerCountryman
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Brothers Neil and Robert Kupsch, of Chapman Valley, were disappointed that urea they were contracted to receive from CSBP was unable to be supplied, meaning they had to pay freight from Perth for new supplies.
Camera IconBrothers Neil and Robert Kupsch, of Chapman Valley, were disappointed that urea they were contracted to receive from CSBP was unable to be supplied, meaning they had to pay freight from Perth for new supplies. Credit: Countryman

An early break to the season and excellent rainfall have put pressure on fertiliser supplies.

CSBP sales and marketing manager Ben Sudlow said there had been an earlier and far greater demand for nitrogen top-up fertilisers this season, with about two thirds more nitrogen used in May and June compared with the past five years.

CBH fertiliser business manager David Pritchard said there was a period a few weeks ago when there was zero supply in WA from any of the providers.

“Since then there have been some supplies arrive into WA, so the situation is better described as there now being a very limited availability,” Mr Pritchard said.

The shortage means some farmers have had to cart from other areas, despite holding contracts for fertiliser ordered last year. Among those left high and dry were the Kupsch family of Chapman Valley.

Brothers Neil and Robert Kupsch, who farm with parents Stan and Dorothy, placed an order with CSBP for about 200 tonnes last December. They received about half that amount in early July (a week later than arranged).

While spreading that ship, they received a call from the Geraldton CSBP representative advising the the remainder of their order could not be filled.

Mr Kupsch said the family had to source urea from Landmark and pay freight of $20-$25 per tonne, with the total bill being about $2500.

Mr Kupsch said the family had been loyal to CSBP since his father started farming in the Valley in 1966.

“We always found CSBP have always done a good job in the past and we have a good relationship with our local representative,” he said. “However, our recent experience has been disappointing.”

“It seems fertiliser contracts are not as binding and we have been handballed.”

Mr Pritchard said the tight supply had resulted in a slight increase in domestic pricing from suppliers, with granular urea now trading about $10-$20 a tonne above its lows.

In CBH’s case, Mr Pritchard said its first 25,000-tonne shipment of urea, which arrived in WA in late April, had been sold well ahead of schedule.

“We managed to honour all contracts and delivery commitments and with additional demand, our last tonnes were sold early this week with warehouses likely to be empty by next week,” he said.

“This is well ahead of schedule; we were expecting sales and collections to run well into August.”

Mr Pritchard said CBH’s intention, as a new entrant in the market, was for this one delivery of urea only for 2016 and it would not arrange another shipment until next season.

At CSBP, Mr Sudlow said a further shipment of CSBP urea was scheduled to arrive next week. He said new orders for urea, NS fertilisers or Flexi-N would be accepted as new stock became available.

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