July 15, 2008
As if the landscape trades weren’t being hit hard enough with skyrocketing gasoline and diesel prices, along with pesticide bans, the cost of fertilizer has more than doubled. It is a major unexpected expense for lawn and grounds maintenance companies.

The main cause of the price surge is a huge hike in the price of potash, increasing 18 times over its previous level.

Last month China agreed to pay more than triple the price it paid a year ago to ensure control of tight potash supplies. This sent the shares of global fertilizer makers to record levels. China is the world’s biggest import market for the product.
Demand for potash is projected to rise four per cent a year, according to the industry trade publication Fertecon. That’s roughly equivalent to two new potash mines per year. However, no new mines have been announced this year. Meanwhile, the world is experiencing a 1.2 million tonne shortfall of the nutrient.

Potash is evaporated sea salt. Most of the substance is located in Saskatchewan.

Prices of the three main fertilizer components, nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, have also shot up this year. Besides demand, the price of nitrogen is related to the increasing price of natural gas (methane).