Middle East unrest will likely drive nitrogen fertilizer costs higher
by ROBERT BURNS
Mar 21, 2011 | 3029 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Middle East unrest will likely drive nitrogen fertilizer costs higher

Grazing school promises to help livestock producers better manage such inputs



 

Truck spreading fertilizer on a pasture

Middle

East unrest could drive nitrogen fertilizer costs up to 2008 levels,

according to a Texas AgriLife Research expert. Warm-season grasses used

for livestock production in much of Texas and the South are dependent

upon large amounts of nitrogen fertilizer. (Texas AgriLife Extension

Service photo by Robert Burns)

OVERTON — Escalating unrest in

the Middle East is not only going to continue to drive gasoline and

diesel fuel prices up to 2008 levels, but there’s a good chance it will

do the same to the cost s of fertilizing pastures, according to a Texas

AgriLife Research expert.

Even if it doesn’t further contribute to rising fertilizer costs,

they’re high enough already that livestock producers “absolutely must

learn to better manage nitrogen applications to stay in business,” said

Dr. Monte Rouquette, AgriLife Research forage scientist.

Rouquette is one of the instructors at the upcoming Pasture and

Livestock Management Workshop, a 2 ½ day course set March 29 -31 at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Overton.

The course has always been about helping both novice and experienced

producers how to better manage inputs and utilize forage resources. Now,

with fertilizer costs rising again, it’s more critical than ever for

those in the cow/calf business to “fine-tune livestock production inputs

and management skills from the grass roots up,” he said.

“The cost of ammonium nitrate today is $460 per ton, or about 68

cents per pound,” Rouquette said. “Last year about this time it was 53

cents per pound.”

For the last six to 10 years, fertilizer costs have been rising, he

said. The prices relaxed somewhat in the last three years from 2008 when

they reached 70 to 75 cents per pound. But even before the Middle East

meltdown, prices had been steadily climbing.

Though nitrogen fertilizer is made from natural gas, all fuel prices

are linked, he explained, so the increase in one leads to a rise in

others. There’s also the associated cost of transporting and applying

fertilizer as the cost of diesel rises.

This all could mean that cow/calf and other livestock producers will

have to drastically rethink their production strategies as all the

modern, improved warm-season grasses are big users of nitrogen.

“We are revisiting the dilemma of the price of fertilizer becoming a

major constraint on pasture use, and that would indicate that if

managers don’t have efficient cattle that have sales value — as well as a

plan for utilization of the forage that is produced — then fertilizers

may windup on the endangered list,” Rouquette said.

Dealing with these issues and others will be a major thrust of the grazing school, he said.

“Even in better economic times, we’ve heard enrollees say time and

time again that what they’ve learned in the first morning saved them

many times over the cost of the course,” he said.

Registration for the course is $350 per person. The fee includes

breakfast and break refreshments along with two noon and evening

barbeque and ribeye steak meals.

Enrollment is limited to 60 individuals. The limitation on class size

allows workshop attendees to have plenty of time to visit one-on-one

with AgriLife Research and AgriLife Extension faculty to discuss

specific aspects of their operations, he said. As of March 1, 51 had

already registered.

All instructors are scientists and educators with AgriLife Research,

the Texas AgriLife Extension Serviceand Texas A&M Univeristy. All

hold doctorate degrees related to their area of instruction. The courses

will be held at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at

Overton.

Workshop instruction is divided between the classroom and the field.

In-field demonstrations cover all aspects of running a beef operation,

including establishing and maintaining high-quality forages, calibrating

sprayers, taking soil samples, castrating and vaccinating cattle, and

dehorning calves, Rouquette said.

A full agenda can be found at http://overton.tamu.edu/beef_cattle/grazing_school/grazingschool.php .

To register or for more information, contact Jennifer Lloyd at 903-834-6191 or jllloyd@ag.tamu.edu. Lloyd will have information on class openings, local accommodations and driving directions to the center, Rouquette said.

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