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Expectations for Fertilizer Costs

Applying fertilizer crop field

Some of the largest fertilizer companies are looking for the potential for greater profits in 2024, which means landowners will want to keep an eye on their expectations for input costs for the year ahead.

Sales volumes increased but revenue dropped by more than 30% for CF Industries, Mosaic and Nutrien, according to Agriculture Dive. The article points out that lower earnings, though, were returning to normalized levels. 2022 saw record highs for some active ingredients.

Included among those active ingredients that were affected:

o Ammonia

o Nitrogen

o Phosphate

o Potash

Agriculture Dive included this statement from Mosaic CEO Joc O’Rourke: “Around the world, growers are incentivized to maximize yields through appropriate levels of fertilizer application. As a result, demand for our products has rebounded this year, and we expect robust demand through 2024.”

There were several factors pushing fertilizer prices higher last year: the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Here is how the USDA explains it:

“When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, fertilizer prices already were on the rise. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with its ensuing supply chain disruptions and transportation bottlenecks, had challenged the world’s ability to produce and deliver fertilizer. In August 2021, most fertilizer prices were 25 percent above those in March 2021. The Russian invasion in early 2022 led to additional transportation interruptions in the Black Sea region and enactment of new trade restrictions. That curtailed already short fertilizer supplies, driving up prices over 50 percent from February to April 2022.

The USDA report added that, “In the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, global powers imposed trade restrictions such as bans, quota, and duties on fertilizer, affecting fertilizer trade and agricultural production, particularly for staple grains.”

Those increased fertilizer costs have different outcomes on various commodity producers, according to the USDA.

Percentage of fertilizer costs on operating expenses:

  • Wheat and corn farms: nearly 45%

  • Soybean farms: 23%

Some farmers adjusted, in light of those disparities. “They might use fertilizer remaining from the previous growing season, reduce planted acreage of some crops, or shift acreage to crops such as soybeans that require less fertilizer. For example, in 2022, U.S. planted acreage decreased for corn and wheat but increased for soybeans. Some may simply reduce the use of fertilizer altogether, which can result in lower yields, potentially contributing to higher commodity prices,” the USDA report pointed out.


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