Fertiliser hikes squeeze profits

The increased cost of artificial fertiliser this year is impacting on farmers’ profit margins. Depending on stocking rates, the higher cost of fertilizer in 2008 could increase production costs by up to €50 per hectare on beef farms, or up to €100 per hectare on dairy farms. This increase is the equivalent of 0.75 cent per litre of milk or 16 cent per kilogram of beef live weight.             Teagasc has demonstrated a number of strategies to reduce the quantities of artificial fertiliser needed on farms including spring application of slurry, introducing white clover into swards and having six or more grazing divisions per group of animals.             The best response from phosphorous and potassium fertilisers are achieved when applications are targeted to the demands of the crop. Regular soil analysis is the most cost effective tool to determine the soils nutrient status and ensure a return from applied nutrients. Applications that exceed crop demand are an unnecessary expense.