VIGO CO, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Planting season may be months away, but farmers in the Wabash Valley are already facing challenges. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the price of fertilizer has drastically increased.
The AFBF cites key nutrients, like Ammonia, have increased by 200% and Liquid Nitrogen is up 160%. In September 2020, according to economist Shelby Myers, the price of liquid Nitrogen was priced at $217 per metric ton. In 2022, a metric ton costs $563.
Around that same time, Urea was previously marked at $360 per metric ton, but in 2022 it costs $800 for that same amount.
For farmers like Brad Burbrink, a partner of Be-N-Ag in Terre Haute, Ind., this is a concerning trend.
“This fertilizer thing has been out of control,” he said. “It started in summer and keeps climbing.”
Burbrink added that the newest spikes create a financial challenge for the farm to plants its nearly 7000 acres.
“It’s gonna be upwards of $750,000 of increase just on fertilizer costs,” Burbrink said.
With farmers having no option but to buy fertilizer, it could create a change in crop production.
“We still don’t know if there’s going to be a supply of Nitrogen, and it’s one of those things without it, you can’t grow a corn crop,” Burbrink said. “It’s going to be a pretty tough decision come planting season if we have Nitrogen or a for sure supply.”
Myers said the price increases can be attributed to supply chain issues, a pivot in demand and trade duties placed.
“To get the fertilizer produced and sent to the next place, you may see a delay,” Myers said. “We’ve been reassured you won’t see significant shortages.”
But, Myers added that it is hard to predict how long any product will stay on shelves.
“How do you get it from one place to the next, where it needs to be? On-time, on delivery, and at what price? That’s one lingering question,” Myers said.
Myers said she encourages farmers to speak with their suppliers to determine how much fertilizer is available, or potentially evaluate alternative options.
Crops like corn might be less popular this planting season, due to their fertilizer needs and could be substituted for wheat or soybeans.
Another to be determined factor is the price of commodity for a crop and how input costs can be offsetted.
“How do we justify these high fertilizer prices with commodity prices where they’re at? As farmers, we are price takers,” Burbrink said. “Therefore, we’re going to be given whatever prices we got. The commodities will go up, which is negative for our users.”
To save money, farmers are encouraged to assess their soil to determine just how much fertilizer is needed.