FARMERS are unlikely to be able to get fertiliser on farm for spring planting unless it has already been bought.

Price lists have been pulled for the last two weeks with no new costs offered to farmers as stock is unavailable for the foreseeable future, according to industry reports.

Prices had surged to over £1000 per tonne, but supply is now so tight that few tonnes are actually changing hands. The rise comes on the back of prices doubling from around £300/t to £650/t in the second half of 2021. Agronomists are warning farmers that prices around £1000/t for fertiliser will be the new normal going forward.

Arable farmer Ian Sands, of Townhead farm, Balbeggie said: “Sellers are just making numbers up. The big issue is, will orders be there? If people have left it late, I can’t see them getting fertiliser onto their farm this Spring. And if farmers can get their hands on some tons, they only have a month to pay the high prices.”

To cope with the escalating costs of growing, farmers are looking to tighten fertiliser application. This is likely to have a knock on effect for yields this harvest, compounding food inflation and strong cereal prices. In the last few days, old season wheat crop has been sold out of sheds in Scotland for over £300/t, which is almost a rise of £100/t since harvest 2021.

The sharp rise in prices has come off the back of rocketing gas prices, as natural gas is a key input in fertiliser production. The European gas market this week reported 800p per therm, an astonishing 18-fold increase on the year.

Read more: Take responsibility for on-farm fertiliser

Vladimir Putin’s continued invasion of Ukraine has provoked European gas-buying nations to cut ties with Russia resulting in gas prices continuing to shoot skywards. Furthermore, sanctions on the world's biggest exporter of synthetic fertiliser, again Russia, is hampering supply as the nation is responsible for a fifth of the world's urea which is widely used in the UK.

While there is domestic fertiliser production, the UK is far from self-sufficient so the tragic events in Ukraine will continue to cause havoc for crop and grass growing.

Separately, a power cut in Trinidad on February 16 caused its fertiliser production to go offline. Jennifer Willis-Jones, head of Fertiliser at CRU, told an EU CO2 summit this week that the Caribbean Island was responsible for between 20 and 25% of globally traded ammonia, and that whilst exports are now back up and running, production loss did occur.

There is a glimmer of hope, as she stated: “Limited relief could be available as Saudi Arabian mining giant Ma-aden launches the third Ras Al-Kair ammonia plant.” That £680m Saudi project is planned to produce one million tons of ammonia.