‘Grain farmers recognize that significant amounts of nutrients are removed from the field each year by the growing crop,’ says Ryan Furtas, market analyst with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. ‘Modern day agriculture relies heavily on commercial fertilizer to replenish the soil’s nutrients.’
Furtas says over the past 10 years, the use of nitrogen, phosphate and potash by western Canadian farmers has increased, with a few exceptions.
‘Nitrogen has by far the highest volume growth in western Canada, going from 1,661,000 metric tonnes (mt) in 2010/11 to 2,279,000 mt in 2019/20. The average growth rate for nitrogen in Western Canada has increased by nearly 4% on an annual basis for the past 10 years, amounting to 618,000 mt of additional use up to 2019/20.’
Western Canadian phosphate consumption has increased by 378,000 mt going from 541,000 mt in 2010/11 to 919,000 mt in 2019/20. This amounts to an annual growth rate of 6% over the past 10 years.
‘Potash is the least used of the three primary nutrients in western Canada with 129,000 mt applied in 2010/11 increasing to 227,000 mt in 2019/20. Western Canadian potash use has increased by nearly 7% on an annual basis for the past 10 years.’
Image 1. Western Canadian fertilizer consumption of nitrogen, phosphate and potash (000's of metric tonnes)
Furtas says Western Canada is overwhelmingly the biggest user of nitrogen products at 85% of total use in Canada. Phosphate use is a similar story with western Canadian farmers responsible for 78% of Canadian volume. Potash use in western and eastern Canadian is approximately equal with eastern Canada using slightly more, on average, over the past 10 years.
‘When it comes to fertilizer consumption for agricultural purposes, both western and eastern markets have experienced growth in consumption,’ says Furtas. ‘Taking into consideration the amount of arable land, it’s no surprise that fertilizer use in Western Canada is much larger than in Eastern Canada.’
Image 2. Fertilizer consumption by market
Furtas adds growth in fertilizer use in western Canada is increasing at a much higher rate than in eastern Canada. ‘Growth in fertilizer use could be tied to a few different factors, among the most influential are crop prices and yields of the upcoming or previous crop years. Also contributing to increases in fertilizer use is the growth in field crop area in Canada, largely driven by gains in the Prairie Provinces.'
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