Urea prices cut by fertiliser co-ops

TIM CRONSHAW
Last updated 15:53 11/04/2014

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Urea prices have been cut to $645 a tonne by both major fertiliser co-operatives as autumn rain takes the sting out of drought in many regions.

Lower prices by Ravensdown and Ballance Agri-Nutrients yesterday were timed to coincide with farmers applying more fertiliser to build up feed reserves over winter and early spring.

Urea prices are now on the same level, with Ravensdown previously offering slightly cheaper urea at $693/t compared with Ballance's $695/t.

Ravensdown said it had continued to reduce its urea price from $799 in 2012 to the new level as more urea production facilities had come onstream internationally combined with subdued demand outside the United States.

Customer relationship general manager Bryan Inch said many farmers would look to urea to provide a fast-growing response to feed shortages through winter and into spring after a dry spell.

"With the relatively low price for both urea and superphosphate this season, we're having a busy autumn."

Ballance has also cut its SustaiN product from $751 to $697 on the back of a slump in global prices for urea.

Sales general manager Andrew Reid said the imbalance between supply and demand which had put pressure on urea prices earlier this year had reversed.

"Currently global supply is exceeding demand, which has resulted in international prices easing," Reid said.

"Once the rain starts to arrive in autumn, nitrogen applications can be really useful to build up feed before winter. We have acted quickly to reduce urea prices and pass on the benefits to customers during this important growing season."

Longer-term international price volatility was expected to continue, he said.

Urea's nitrogen is used by farmers, particularly dairy farmers, to encourage "ryegrass tillering" so pastures will recover quickly from the dry summer and set up stock for the spring.

Farmers are being urged to put nitrogen on pastures early rather than later as this will ensure they have the time and the conditions to respond.

Pasture should be at least 1000 kilograms of dry matter a hectare and ideally 1500kg/dm/ha and soil temperatures greater than 7 degrees Celsius for a good response.

Inch said Ravensdown had its soil-testing labroatory and traceable spreading systems to help farmers put on the right amount of fertiliser in the right place.

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- Fairfax Media

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