The government has announced steps to assist farmers with the availability of fertilisers for the coming growing season to help address uncertainty amongst growers and keep costs down for farmers.
With agricultural commodities closely linked to global gas prices, farmers are facing rising costs for inputs including manufactured fertiliser, due to the process depending on gas.
Environment Secretary, George Eustice has announced that changes to the use of urea fertiliser will be delayed by at least a year.
The delay has been made to help farmers manage their costs and give them more time to adapt in the light of a global rise in gas prices leading to pressures on the supply of ammonium nitrate fertilisers.
A consultation on restrictions was launched a year ago, in order to reduce ammonia pollution in the air.
When restrictions are introduced, they will include to the use of ammonia inhibitors rather than a complete ban.
In a move to further support farmers, revised and improved statutory guidance has been published on how farmers should limit the use of slurry and other farmyard manure at certain times of year.
This will provide clarity to farmers on how they can use slurry and other manures during autumn and winter to meet agronomic needs. This guidance will provide more clarity and has been developed with farmers and farming bodies.
Farmers will be further supported through new slurry storage grants as of this year, helping meet the Farming Rules for Water and reducing dependence on artificial fertilisers by storing organic nutrients until needed or for onward processing.
Given current fertiliser prices, the government said the priority must be to pioneer new technologies to manufacture more organic-based fertiliser products, and rediscover techniques such as using nitrogen fixing legumes and clovers as an alternative to fertiliser.
Environment Secretary, George Eustice, said:
“The significant rise in the cost of fertiliser is a reminder that we need to reduce our dependence on manufacturing processes dependent on gas.
"Many of the challenges we face in agriculture will require a fusion of new technology with conventional principles of good farm husbandry.
"The measures we have announced are not the whole solution but will help farmers manage their nitrogen needs in the year ahead.”