We can hopefully put the winter of 2023 behind us and look forward to warmer temperatures and drier conditions in the coming months. Regarding soil moisture there was little definition between the Summer, Autumn and winter this year whilst certainly temperatures reminded us of winters past. That said feed levels were on the most part OK with the late winter now proving to be the pinch point farmers are most concerned about. With soil temperatures now heading to 10 degrees and rising we are seeing fertiliser starting to move out of the store and onto farms. As farmers consider their options under tighter economic conditions Dickie Direct has the products backed by good people on the ground to get best results for your fertiliser dollar.
Since our last update fertiliser prices have fallen considerably as commodity prices pull back globally. After prices started to move upwards strongly in 2021, peaking in 2022 we have seen falls from peak of ~40%. Dickie Directs lean supply model and ‘just in time’ delivery means we have passed these price decreases on quickly. Bringing in higher analysis nutrients in the form of Triple Super, DAP, Sulphur 90 and RPR means we are well stocked for Spring. We anticipate further price reductions being passed on as our stocks continue to land through the coming months. If you have updated your budgets for Spring, noting higher interest costs and lower incomes, we would appreciate sitting down to discuss the advantages of considering Dickie Direct for targeted fertiliser advice in the season ahead.
With many clients having reduced their fertiliser spend over the last two years, combined with fertiliser prices that will be considerably lower in Spring we think it is time that we again start talking proactively about maintenance and capital applications, ensuring that farms remain in optimum range for their targeted level of production. We appreciate there is still some uncertainty with commodity prices and that there are other factors impacting budgets outside of our control. Our team of Area Managers look forward to helping you formulate a fertilser plan that fits in with your farm parameters.
Tom Dickie has recently joined Dickie Direct after 23 years in the fertiliser industry. Tom graduated from Lincoln University before farming in Taranaki and moving to the Central Plateau in 2000. Tom has extensive experience in nutrient advice and soils, supply chain and sales management. Tom brings to Dickie Direct excellent communication skills and takes pride in building strong relationships with customers and industry. Tom will have a particular focus in growing our customer base in the greater Waikato region including the King Country and Bay of Plenty. With the recent additions of Bevin Knight (Waikato/Waitomo Area Manager) and Jack Fordyce (Central Plateau/Taumarunui/BoP Area Manager) we have a full and dedicated team in that region. Part of the growth in the area will be increasing our network of intermediaries enabling an efficient service direct to farm or your local carrier or spreader.
Jeremy and Zara are still looking after their regions in the Lower and Eastern North Island. Jeremy recently travelled with Charles to Egypt to meet our suppliers and see firsthand the facilities where we source many of our phosphate products. Zara continues to deepen her role as our technical and sales manager whilst continuing to study for higher honours in Agri Science at Massey. Constant change of servicing representatives is something farmer’s deeply dislike. At Dickie Direct we prioritise our people so that we have continual and known service, with all farmers treated equally by our Area Managers regardless of size and spend. This consistency of advice and service means we can challenge nutrient use and bring value to the table by ensuring we recommend the right nutrients from the most cost effective and efficient nutrient forms.
The entire Dickie Direct team look forward to getting stuck in this Spring, with the aim to ensure Dickie Direct clients optimise farm profitability through nutrient efficiency.
The risk of low sulphur in Soils this Spring is certainly something to consider. With lower use of maintenance fertilisers over the past 18 months we need to be mindful that it is not only P inputs being reduced but also S. Farms with a proactive fert history and above optimum P levels will be able to leverage of these higher levels. However, in many regions it will be a lack of S that will show as a limiting factor to N responses and ongoing production. With S being a relatively cheap nutrient we don’t want to see it as a limiting factor. As a result we are seeing increased demand for Ammonium Sulphate and Ammo with many also adding longer lasting Elemental S into these blends.
Sulphur in the soil explained
In most regions Elemental S should be applied once per annum with soil type and climate determining the rate. This Elemental Sulphur feeds the organic Sulphur pool. Organic Sulphur is then mineralised by the soil into plant available Sulphate. During wetter periods Sulphate is leached out of the soil and during and directly after wet and/or cool periods the soil is less active and is not mineralising adequate amounts of Sulphate to meet plant demand, which is why it is important especially when applying N now to supplement existing organic sulphur with plant available sulphate. 15-20 kg/ha of sulphate will generally overcome short term deficiencies and ensure a maximum N response is achieved. As this sulphate is utilised and the soils warm up we will then have the Organic S mineralising and coming through looking after longer term S requirements.
We are conscious farmers are working hard to replace vital nutrients on a budget that only allows replacement at best. Good advice is imperative so production is maintained whilst income is reduced.
Large price shifts have seen a range of products regain their competitive edge in the market. Recent wetter seasons are also driving increased demand for a range of products as clients look to ensure they are getting maximum utilisation and return from their nutrient investments. Outlined below are a few products that we think are worth considering this Spring:
Triple Superphosphate: For those who are looking for a fast acting phosphate source without the need for Nitrogen then Triple Superphosphate is a great option. Not only is it cost effective source of phosphate ex store but with it containing 20.5% P which is considerably higher analysis than common alternatives it also comes with large savings in freight and application costs. Triple Superphosphate can be blended with Elemental S in order to cater for annual phosphate and sulphur requirements.
DAP: A cost effective way to apply nitrogen and phosphate. Higher analysis compared to common alternatives resulting in less freight and application costs. Contains nitrogen in stable Ammonium form resulting in less volatilisation than nitrogen applied in Urea forms.
Ammonium Sulphate: A cost effective way to apply nitrogen and sulphate. After wetter periods with increased growth available sulphate often becomes a limiting factor and can restrict nitrogen response. Ensure you are maximising your N response with Ammonium Sulphate.
Granulated RPR: Granulated RPR can be used as a primary source of phosphate or in conjunction with water soluble phosphate forms to enhance short, medium and long term phosphate responses. RPR is a cost-effective form of P and when used in the right situations can significantly enhance phosphate utilisation, driving a longer term response and reducing the requirement for liming.
PCU 90 (Polymer Coated Urea): Many of our clients are now incorporating Polymer Coated Urea into their pastoral and cropping blends. With a 90 day release period the benefits of using PCU90 are:
- Extended N response, remove the requirement for side dressing and additional N applications.
- Improved N response, releasing nitrogen tot he plant with moisture, ensuring there is always N available to the plant.
- Reduce N losses – N is only being released with adequate moisture significantly reducing volatilisation losses. In high rainfall events losses are restricted as the polymer casing will limit the N release and losses via leaching.
- Reduce N costs – More efficient N combined with removed application costs can result in not only better production but also reduced costs.
Liquid Ammo27: Last winter we developed and introduced Liquid Ammo 27 and received great feedback from clients using the product. Containing a high ratio of nitrogen and sulphate along with biological enhancers clients were able to obtain cost effective N responses in cooler soil temps. Mix with Thistle Spray and/or Gibb as required.
Our team look forward to working closely with you and forming optimum plans for the Spring. We have the products, knowledge and ideas to help you maximise production and returns.
Charles Dickie and the Dickie Direct team