FARMERS HAVE been reminded that it is illegal to sell ammonium nitrate without the correct documentation – and fertilisers should not be advertised on auction sites, local trade magazines or social media.

In light of the rising cost of nitrogen-based fertiliser and potential excess stock on farms, the Agricultural Industries Confederation, which manages the Fertiliser Industry Assurance Scheme, has also highlighted the responsibility to store fertiliser safely and securely.

FIAS technical manager Roberta Reeve said one area of concern was that the rising value of existing stocks of nitrogen-based fertilisers on farm could lead to increased thefts.

“While light-hearted comments on social media about selling excess stock of fertiliser may appear harmless, this may draw attention of the situation to criminals," said Ms Reeve.

“There is a risk of nitrogen-based fertilisers being used for illegitimate purposes, and anyone handling or storing these products has a responsibility to provide secure storage and to remain vigilant to potential theft."

Read more: Jim Brown's Farm View on rising fertiliser costs and food shortages?

Farmers can make best use of their available stocks of fertiliser by seeking advice from a FACTS qualified adviser. Where cropping plans have changed and excess stocks are no longer needed, re-selling the fertiliser is an option but must be done through proper channels, via a return to the original supplier and refund or re-sale.

Ms Reeve further reminded farmers not to purchase fertiliser unless the source is known and they have the correct documentation.

“Sellers should be FIAS approved, and you can check this on the Assurance Scheme website. You can also check with your FACTS adviser if you are unsure. Everyone in the industry should be alert to the potential mis-use and mis-sale of nitrogen-based fertiliser by reporting suspicious activity or sales to the police.”

Read more: Brian Henderson: Runaway fertiliser cost and what it all means

Where farmers are carrying increased stocks into the winter, they should remind themselves of the National Counter Terrorism Security Office’s five point plan for secure storage:

  • Wherever possible use a FIAS approved supplier;
  • Wherever possible keep in a secure area such as a building or sheeted, away from public view;
  • Carry out regular stock checks and report any loss to the police immediately (call 101);
  • Avoid leaving fertiliser in a field overnight – never leave fertiliser in field for a long period of time;
  • Remember it is illegal to sell ammonium nitrate without the correct documentation.