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Demand for fertiliser rises with confidence

Posted in Rural News

A combination of better-than-expected meat payouts and renewed confidence is believed to be behind a significant rise in fertiliser demand, with companies reporting strong sales this autumn reports The Southland Times. Fertiliser use fell about 30 per cent last year as farmers looked to save money. Experts warned last year that cutting back fertiliser could have a long-term impact on pasture production.

Sales have not reached the levels they were before the recession, but both Ravensdown Fertiliser Co-Op and Ballance Agri Nutrients have reported a noticeable lift this autumn, as sheep and beef farmers address nutrient shortfalls. More farmers were carrying out soil testing to determine where fertiliser was most needed to stretch their money further and achieve the best benefits.

Ballance South Island sales manager Garth Dawson said there had been a "very positive" start to the autumn and the demand had put pressure on inventory levels. "Many sheep and beef farmers have waited until they got their meat cheque and then made their decisions on whether to apply fertiliser or not in the past six weeks. We're doing OK but there is certainly higher demand than product available on a day-to-day basis."

The company was encouraging farmers to test their soil to ensure the nutrients went where they were needed. "Fertiliser is no different to any cost for a farmer. It needs to give them a return on investment so if there are already paddocks on the farm that don't need extra nutrients, then you're wasting your money," Mr Dawson said. Ravensdown marketing general manager Mike Whitty said some sheep and beef farmers had or were planning to apply fertiliser this year for the first time in two to three years.

He confirmed more testing was being carried out, with the trend emerging about 18 months ago when prices reached record highs. While prices had eased, interest in testing remained strong with farmers looking to use their fertiliser budget wisely, he said. Both companies expect prices to remain relatively stable, with the high NZ dollar helping keep the price of imports down.

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