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Autumn Fertiliser Update 2023

25 October 2023

This article is produced as a part of the FAS Crops & Soils Bulletin. Subscribe now to receive the full report in your inbox monthly.

The global fertiliser market has steadily decreased over the last 10 months and prices now resemble something slightly more comfortable than they did this time last year. 

Prices levelled off in June 2023 with the release of new season Nitrogen pricing and have increased only slightly since then.  The table below charts the fluctuations over the last 12 months. 

Peak in 2022£870 (Oct '22)£864 (Sept '22)£925 (July '22)£766 (July '22)
April '23£431£427£546£559
June '23£339£351£443£431
October '23£360£445£445£440

Ongoing Impacts on Fertiliser Prices

Fertiliser prices are influenced by the gas price and since Russia invaded Ukraine the UK and Europe have become more reliant on imported gas placing pressure on supply and prices. Current UK natural gas price is sitting at 124p/therm, a significant drop from the peak of 729p/therm in August 2022.  Imported AN price shows a similar trend peaking at £870 per tonne in October 2022 compared with today’s price of £360/per tonne. The threat of strike action in Australia and the impact this would have on global gas supply saw an increase in the gas price in September, however this has levelled off after postponement of strike action and recent warmer weather in Europe.  Consequently, gas stores in Europe in September were sitting at 96% capacity an increase on the ten-year seasonal average of 87% capacity for the same time of year.  Foreign exchange is also having an impact on imports with Sterling weakened against the US Dollar.  Whilst  gas and fertiliser markets look more stable than a year ago these are still incredibly volatile markets particularly given the impact of the Russia -Ukraine war. This  potential for continued volatility is something that must be kept in mind when deciding timings of fertiliser purchase.  

Fertiliser usage has lowered over the last 12 months; however, it is hard to conclude whether this is just part of a long-term trend or a reaction to the significant increase in prices over the last 18 months.  The table below shows the difference in use between 2011/12 and 2012/22 for the key nutrients.  The increased use of sulphur has been driven by the recognition that sulphur applications are required to  improve efficiency of Nitrogen uptake as sulphur depositions have reduced from lower industrial emissions. 


Use in 2021 (kg/ha)Use in 2022 (kg/ha)
Nitrogen - Arable130118
Nitrogen - Grass5134


The table below shows the difference in use in kilograms per hectare of key nutrients between 2012 and 2022 as reported by AIC fertiliser statistics report 2023. 


NutrientTons used in 2011/12 (000t)Tons used in 201/22 (000t)Difference

Reduce Your Fertiliser Needs with Soil Sampling

Reduce Your Fertiliser Needs With Soil Sampling. 

Regardless of the motivation for using less fertiliser, it would be prudent to utilise current funding from Scottish Government under the Preparing for Sustainable Farming initiative which includes  soil sampling.  This soil analysis  can then be used to prepare a nutrient management plan covering recommendations for pH management and the application of manures according to soil and crop requirement. Taking this into account provides an opportunity to improve soil management, increase crop yields and quality and drive greater profitability from your farming enterprise.  For more information visit Funding Opportunities for Sustainable Farming | Information helping farmers in Scotland | Farm Advisory Service ( or Preparing for Sustainable Farming (PSF) ( 

Lorna Galloway, SAC Consulting

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