It’s a fact! The production of artificial fertilisers heavily relies on natural gas, whose prices saw a significant surge last year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Consequently, fertiliser prices nearly tripled, soaring from £233 per tonne in 2020 to £766 per tonne in 2022. This substantial cost increase led to a reduction in their application by farmers.
Recent data from the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) showed a considerable decrease in fertiliser use, averaging 27% lower than the 2010-2019 average for key crops. Surprisingly, despite reduced fertiliser usage, crop yields remained 2.4% above the average during the same period.
The excessive use of fertilisers in agriculture has been a major contributor to pollution. According to Defra’s findings in 2022, agricultural activities accounted for 40% of pollution in inland water bodies. They estimated that agriculture was responsible for 50% of nitrate pollution, 25% of phosphorus pollution, and 75% of sediment pollution in water environments.
Martin Lines, the CEO of the Nature Friendly Farming Network (NFFN), a group advocating for sustainability in agriculture, emphasized that reduced fertiliser usage can have significant benefits for both farmers and the environment.
Despite the unexpected price rises of fertilisers impacting farmers, the minimal impact on crop yield did not surprise experts. Many fertilisers applied to fields in the UK are not fully absorbed by the crops and instead contribute to water pollution when washed into rivers and streams, and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG’s) when it evaporates into the atmopsphere.
Due to the recent gas crisis, many farmers have shifted towards more environmentally efficient fertilisation methods. The economic factor has driven this change, as it opens up opportunities for nature-friendly farming practices that yield positive outcomes for both growers and the climate.
Artificial fertilisers may also have detrimental effects on plants, as highlighted by Andrew Mahon, an arable farmer in Bedfordshire, who likened excessive nitrogen fertilisation to a rush of energy followed by a negative aftermath, leaving plants more vulnerable to diseases.
One of the remarkable findings from the recent data published by the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is that reducing fertiliser use had an unexpected positive impact on crop yields. Despite the substantial decrease in fertiliser application by an average of 27% compared to the 2010-2019 average, crop yields still managed to surpass the average yield during the same period by 2.4%.
In the context of shifting away from artificial fertilisation methods, farmers have been exploring alternative solutions. One such option is SoilPoint’s Soil Booster, which offers a 100% natural way to enrich soils with concentrated doses of minerals, micro-nutrients, antioxidants, and other essential trace elements, and is an effective substitute for traditional chemical components. What sets SoilPoint’s Soil Booster apart is its approval by both the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) and the UK Soil Association for use in organic farming.
With SoilPoint, farmers can improve soil health and fertility while adhering to organic farming principles. By harnessing the power of nature, this innovative product offers a sustainable and environmentally-friendly approach to replenishing vital nutrients in the soil, promoting healthier crops and contributing to the overall wellbeing of the ecosystem. It also optimizes soil conditions for greater root mass, and the conversion of applied nutrients to plant available forms, thereby allowing use of soil that would otherwise be low-producing or non-arable.
In addition to providing a 100% natural and organic solution, SoilPoint’s Soil Booster offers growers the advantage of significant net cost savings on input expenses. By reducing the reliance on costly artificial fertilisers, farmers can effectively cut down on their input costs while still achieving improved soil health and fertility. It also helps generate meaningful reductions in direct GHG emissions, and provides direct improvements in soil-based carbon sequestration.
This cost-effective approach not only benefits the financial bottom line of farmers but also contributes to the preservation of the environment. With reduced usage of synthetic fertilisers, the negative environmental impact associated with their production and application is mitigated.
As a result, SoilPoint’s Soil Booster enables growers to adopt a more sustainable and eco-friendly farming practice, aligning with the global efforts to promote responsible agricultural methods that protect our planet’s natural resources.