What the heck is happening with fertilizer?

With prices taking off, farmers are using less. That’s bad.

Singdhi Sokpo

Unless you’re a farmer, the state of global fertilizer markets might not mean much. But it’s one of the world’s most urgent crises, and you’ll probably feel it.

What’s going on?

Globally, farmers rely on fertilizer. Unfortunately, per Bloomberg, the world is experiencing a major shortage as a result of:

  • Pandemic-related supply chain disruptions
  • China stockpiling key ingredients
  • The Russia-Ukraine war impeding  ~⅕ of global nutrient exports

So, with less fertilizer to go around and prices taking off, farmers are trimming their use of it. Here’s why that’s bad:

  • In Brazil, a 20% reduction in potash use could decrease soybean yields by 14%
  • In Costa Rica, if farmers apply just ⅓ less fertilizer, coffee yields could drop 15%
  • In West Africa, reduced use is expected to cut rice and corn yields by ⅓

Global food prices went up 13% in March, and you can expect them to rise further if the fertilizer supply doesn’t improve.

One industry banking off the fertilizer shortage is good, old-fashioned manure. Some sellers are sold out till 2023, and prices in Nebraska have nearly doubled.

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