Fertiliser price tipped to rise

Claire TyrrellCountryman

Fertiliser dealers are predicting a steady price rise into next season as demand increases.

The consensus among fertiliser companies at the recent Dowerin field days was farmers' conservative approach at the start of this season was likely to reverse next year.

Ravensdown Australia general managers Alan Thomson said lower demand last year prompted the co-operative to buy in bulk.

"Last year was extremely tough for farmers and those who support the rural community, but this year looks to be the reverse of that," he said.

"We are in a very good position with our inventory fertiliser, with prices being below replacement levels.

"We bought a lot of fertiliser when world prices were low."

Mr Thomson said Ravensdown bought DAP fertiliser at about $US500 a tonne before it rose to $US700 this year.

While he was hesitant to speculate, he predicted a price rise in the first half of 2012. "It is highly probable that the price will rise in the next two to six months," he said.

"The caveat to that is as we enter another possible European financial crisis, the prices of soft commodities could fall. We can't say that in eight months the price of fertiliser won't soften, but the situation with demand won't change. We are advising farmers to lock in some of their fertiliser now."

CSBP released its supply chain agreement for 2011-12 at Dowerin.

CSBP WA sales and marketing manager Ben Sudlow said nitrogen supplies were short this season and demand was still on the rise.

"There were nitrogen shortages this year, so we had to manage shipments and supplies," he said. "It's been a long time since there has been a shortage in the market. Demand for liquid nitrogen has been good and we expect to see growth in that next year."

Mr Sudlow reminded growers to soil test at the end of the season to calculate their soil nutrition and yield potential.

Summit Fertilizers Merredin area manager Kobus Marais said reduced fertiliser application rates this season resulted in nitrogen, phosphorus, zinc and copper deficiencies in crops.

He advised farmers to reconsider their fertiliser application rates into next season because high rainfall this year absorbed most applied nutrients.

"This season a lot of farmers had more than double the rainfall they had last year," he said. "The way the season has gone so far, farmers are keen to have higher nutrition inputs next year."

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