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Germany: 2022 Harvest Threatened by Three-fold Increase of Fertilizers Price

Some farmers in Germany are considering giving up planting for the 2022 harvest for fear of continued price increases, according to a Nov. 8 report by Christine Schneider in BR (Bayerischer Rundfunk; ARD/1st German TV-Channel). Reflecting growing concerns, a Bavarian farmer in the sugar beet production industry, Max Ampferl, near Ingolstadt in Bavaria, reports that he got nitrogen fertilizer for €170/ton last year; this summer it cost €270/ton, and now it is at €550/ton. Not only is it expensive, but also hard to get, since fertilizer producers (like SKW Stickstoffwerke Piesteritz in Saxony-Anhalt, East Germany, the biggest German ammonia and urea nitrogen producer) have reduced their production by 30% because of the high prices of natural gas, which is the main resource to produce ammonia. The companies calculate that farmers will reduce their production also, due to high production costs, and have thus lowered their output in advance–it‘s a vicious cycle.

Some farmers are about to stop planting their winter wheat and other crops, since some crops must be fertilized three times before harvest time, and they fear that the costs will rise further next year.

To make the outlook even worse, diesel prices for their engines are 40ct/l higher than last year. Some of the farmers, who have to use their tractors and harvesters heavily, will face a rise in fuel costs of up to €40,000 this year.

Though a particular case in Germany, this reflects a much more widespread crisis. Nitrogen fertilizer (anhydrous) set a record-high price this week in the US at $1,113/ton—a 38% rise from last month, and 163% higher than this time last year. Seven other major fertilizers rose 9%–36%. What will happen in states like Kansas, for example, which produces 26% of all US winter wheat?