SHORTAGE: Prices for agriculture chemicals jumped significantly, and supplies dwindled earlier this year due to a ‘perfect storm’ of conditions. Picture: File
SHORTAGE: Prices for agriculture chemicals jumped significantly, and supplies dwindled earlier this year due to a ‘perfect storm’ of conditions. Picture: File

Chemical prices skyrocket during ‘perfect storm’ panic buy

A "PERFECT storm" of conditions has led to major shortages of agricultural supplies - right when they're needed most.

A combination of good rain earlier this year, coupled with coronavirus fears, resulted in farmers "panic buying" large stocks of fertilisers and pesticides.

Nutrien Ag Solutions Gatton branch manager Chris Rutland said the herbicide glyphosate had been the biggest product hit by the shortage.

"It really came down to the unusual (high) usage of glyphosate during the February, March, April period after the large amount of rain we had in February," Mr Rutland said.

"The demand was above average across the whole eastern seaboard of Australia, and the whole supply chain and logistics chain just isn't geared to handle that sort of volume."

READ MORE: Irrigators spared water price hike, temporarily

He said there was also an element of panic buying going on due to concerns of the impact of the coronavirus, with the majority of glyphosate lines being manufactured in China.

"A lot of people were unsure as to the supply going forward into April and May," he said.

"So there was a small amount of customers that were buying more than they actually required at the time, which created a bit more of a shortage."

The demand was compounded by a surge in activity in March to prepare fields for planting, which Mr Rutland put down to many farmers being unable to get on to the fields in February.

 

Chris Rutland (right) says there has been a significant increase in demand, particularly for the herbicide glyphosate.
Chris Rutland (right) says there has been a significant increase in demand, particularly for the herbicide glyphosate.

 

While broadacre crops in other parts of the nation were also hit by shortages of fertiliser, Mr Rutland said growers in the Lockyer Valley hadn't been as impacted.

"Typically the fertilisers used in the horticultural areas are slightly different to what is used in the broadacre areas," he said.

"There are some niche lines, which a lot of farmers in this area use for top dressing or side dressing of potato crops, carrot crops, that sort of stuff. Some of those lines, there will be some shortages."

READ MORE: Farmers still fighting on in drought-declared areas

He said these shortages had been caused by delays in shipments from Europe and China, and while alternatives are available, there would be delays in the short term.

The demand has also had an impact on the prices for agricultural supplies, which Mr Rutland said had increased in the past two months by between 2 to 20 per cent.

But thankfully for farmers, the worst of the shortages are now over, with more supply coming on to the market.

"I guess going forward into May, June, July, farmers shouldn't have many concerns around supply chain," he said.

"We have a lot of forward orders in the system."


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