Two bodies have reminded farmers of their responsibilities surrounding chemical fertiliser storage, sales, and purchase.
The Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) and AIC Services, which manages the Fertiliser Industry Assurance Scheme (FIAS), issued a timely reminder to farmers.
The message comes in light of the rising cost of nitrogen-based fertiliser and “potential excess stock” on farms.
In a statement, Roberta Reeve, technical manager of FIAS, said:
“As high global gas prices push up the cost of nitrogen-based fertilisers, we are aware that some farmers are facing difficult decisions about crop feeding plans this winter and next spring.”
“This is of particular concern where farmers don’t have sufficient stock or orders in the pipeline to cover their needs since the disruption to the fertiliser supply chain could continue into spring 2022.”
Reeve said another area of concern is the “rising” value of existing stocks of nitrogen-based fertilisers on-farm, which, she warned, “could lead to increased thefts”.
“While light-hearted comments on social media about selling excess stock of fertiliser may appear harmless, this may draw the attention of the situation to criminals.”
“There is a risk of nitrogen-based fertilisers being used for illegitimate purposes.”
Anyone handling or storing these products has a responsibility to provide secure storage and to remain vigilant to potential theft.”
She said farmers could make the best use of their available fertiliser stocks by seeking advice from a FACTS-qualified adviser.
Where cropping plans have changed, and excess stocks are no longer needed, re-selling the fertiliser is an option.
However, she advised that farmers must do this through proper channels, via a return to the original supplier and refund or re-sale.
“It is illegal to sell ammonium nitrate without the correct documentation. Fertilisers should not be advertised on auction sites, local trade magazines or social media.”
Reeve further reminded farmers not to purchase fertiliser unless they know the source and have the correct documentation.
“Sellers should be FIAS approved. You can check this on the Assurance Scheme website. Also, you can check with your FACTS adviser if you are unsure”.
“Everyone in the industry should be alert to the potential misuse and mis-sale of nitrogen-based fertiliser by reporting suspicious activity or sales to the police.”
Prevent fertiliser thefts
The bodies pointed to the National Counter Terrorism Security Office’s five-point plan for secure storage:
- Firstly, wherever possible, use a FIAS-approved supplier;
- Wherever possible, keep in a secure area such as a building or sheeted, away from public view;
- Also, carry out regular stock checks and report any loss to the police immediately;
- Avoid leaving fertiliser in a field overnight – never leave fertiliser in a field for a long period of time;
- Lastly, remember it is illegal to sell ammonium nitrate without the correct documentation.