High cost and shortage of fertilizers to modify 2022 plantings | New

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Farmers in the United States are likely to plant less corn and use less nitrogen fertilizer in their fields for next year’s growing season due to sky-high fertilizer prices and scarcity. This trend will be less pronounced in Iowa, where fertile soils justify the extra costs.

“We have a very natural advantage for corn production,” said Sam Funk, senior economist for the Iowa Farm Bureau. “These nitrogenous fertilizers are worth more on a very productive soil in Iowa than in other states.”

A confluence of factors drove agricultural fertilizers to their highest prices in two decades, according to Green Markets, which tracks these price trends.

Global shortages of natural gas, limited stocks of fertilizers and other factors had already pushed prices up this year when Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana in August. The storm halted fertilizer production in areas affected by the storm and blocked transport barges on the Mississippi River.

“You have a lot of different factors that come into play at some point,” Funk said.

He said farmers are paying up to three times the price of fertilizer they paid a year ago, and some say it’s worse:

“Some of our farmers who were able to ensure the availability of fertilizers for the next planting season reported having quoted prices up to six times higher than the 2021 prices,” said US representative Randy Feenstra, a Republican from northwest Iowa, in a final congressional hearing. the week.

So what will farmers do? Some are waiting to fertilize their fields until spring, and some are considering alternatives to corn, Chat Hart, professor of economics at Iowa State University, said Friday on “Iowa Press,” broadcast on Iowa PBS.

An alternative is soy, which makes its own nitrogen through a symbiotic relationship with certain bacteria. Bradyrhizobium japonicum can infect soybean roots, and in exchange for plant sugars, bacteria fix nitrogen.

“Will Iowa growers switch more to soybeans?” Said Funk. “Some, but probably not to a great extent in this state. You have a yield factor that would penalize you if you plant soybeans after soybeans. “

Maize and soybean yields are improved when they are planted alternately in the fields. Consecutive years of planting soybeans reduce yields, mainly due to the increased presence of microscopic roundworms that damage their roots, researchers have found.

Funk said many farmers in Iowa will simply be smarter in their fertilizer applications and experience the economic impact of the higher costs.

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