Press Release · 4th June 2007

Tailoring and timing fertiliser inputs will protect dwindling resources and optimise costs

Law’s, the independent company supplying fertilisers and crop protection to the market, is warning growers and advisors to look carefully at what their crops need in terms of nutrition and put it on when it is best used. Tailoring and timing fertiliser inputs will help protect dwindling resources and optimise farm costs.

“There is a global issue with regard to demand and supply of several key minerals used in crop nutrition. Global population increases, rising standards of living and the drive to produce environmentally friendly biofuels are putting unprecedented demands on finite materials that could easily lead to future shortages of fertiliser components as well as future price increases. Increased global demand combined with limited supply of one key fertiliser component, phosphate may become a major threat to the economic viability of agriculture in the UK,” warns Mark Law, Managing Director of Law’s.

“At current rates of use which are increasing year on year, experts have calculated that there is only 60 to 80 years availability of rich phosphate reserves left in the world. Brazil has increased its demand and, almost single handedly, this has caused a 70% increase in prices within a three month period, as a direct consequence of sugar cane plantings escalating from 5.6 million hectares in 2006 to a planned 9 million hectares in 2012. Brazil has the lowest cost for bioethanol at £11/litre (based on sugar cane) compared to £23/litre based on wheat in the EU and is keen to meet worldwide demand. In North America each individual citizen consumes 8,322 tonnes of phosphorus in a lifetime, which is largely lost into insoluble or waste compounds,” reports Mark.

He points out that whilst demand is increasing, supplies are finding it hard to keep up. “Around 42% of world phosphate reserves are concentrated in Morocco and the Western Sahara, where static production capability has lead to a recent spiral in prices. Another regional producer, Israel is encountering a long term industrial dispute. There appears no informed prediction for any significant reduction in price to pre 2007 levels in the medium term especially as India and Pakistan are expected to step up imports despite China developing its own reserves.”

“As economies increase their GDP (Asia 2.1% per annum) and the world population increases by 1.1% per annum, there will continue to be a significant reduction in the available phosphorus reserves.”

Law Fertilisers are urging farmers to review their existing phosphate policy, not only as the input is more expensive but also to protect this vital resource for future generations. “We have been working for sometime on techniques to improve the uptake of this nutrient by placing in the seedbed close to the plant, so as to reduce fixation of phosphate into insoluble compounds and enabling lower rates over RB209 to be applied.”

“Research work shows that top dressing of cereals with phosphate or broadcasting with root or vegetable crops is an inefficient practice, with a commensurate effect on yield and quality. Tailoring fertilisers at a variable rate and applied directly in the seedbed results in more efficient use of what could become a dwindling resource,” says Mr. Law.
Crop % Plant uptake of applied Phosphate
(Soluble P applied @ index 2 RB209)
  Placed in seedbed Top dressed
Winter wheat 36 12
Oilseed rape 28 9
Potatoes 24 6
Sugar Beet 18 8

But it is not just phosphate supply which is under pressure. Potash has seen a 5% increase in price, amid a 3% increase in world demand, with supply limited to five main worldwide producers, the UK, Germany, Canada, Israel and Russia.

Mark reports however that Nitrogen may become slightly stronger in price over the year as gas prices firm worldwide combined with an increase in demand due to population growth and agricultural intensification. “Demand has increased with the requirement for the use of technical grade nitrogen for vehicle emission regulations in the US, Japan and Europe. New manufacturing in the Middle East and East Asia coming on stream from 2007 to 2010 will increase production of urea and nitrogen products by 40% or 19 million tonnes which will do a lot to keep any price increases in check.”

“At current demand some key resources will be exhausted in the near future; Platinum in 15 years; Silver in 20 years; Zinc in 20 years and Copper in 38 years. Phosphates are the main concern for the future of British farming and unless growers and advisers re-examine their individual phosphate nutrition strategies, they could find it difficult to meet the challenge offered by increasing demand for agricultural products. I find it an irresponsible policy to supply the same fertiliser to the same farm each year. The goal posts have moved and farmers need to tailor and time their fertiliser appropriately so as not to waste their own money or indeed waste the world’s finite resources,” says Mr. Law.


Wetcol contains copper. Wetcol is a registered trademark of
Law Fertilisers Ltd.

For further comment and information please contact Mark Law, Managing Director, Law Fertilisers Ltd on on 07710 324463 (mobile) or via e-mail

Editors Notes
Law Fertilisers manufacture a range of granular blends, using the highest quality raw materials and tailored to individual crops needs. Their integrated service is based on soil and plant sampling, sound scientific research and many years experience. Products are supplied directly onto farm, in bags or bulk and can be delivered and spread using in-house spreading service at a considerable cost saving.

Law Fertilisers aims to provide an independent, professional and targeted approach to fertiliser use in all major crops on the farm, including potatoes, cereals, oilseed rape, sugar beet and vegetables. They also have a unique range of fertilisers and inputs suitable for organic crops.


Law Fertilisers Ltd.
The Fertiliser Factory
Wimblington, March
Cambridgeshire PE15 0QJ
Tel : 01354 740740 Fax: 01354 740720