As the world population grows, the demand for food on a global scale also continues to increase annually. As a result, the pressure on agriculture to increase yields through innovation, improved practices and new efficiencies is constant. As the agricultural industry innovates and improves to meet world food demands, yield increases are realized. As a result, increasing fertilizer inputs are required to facilitate improved yields.
For some nutrients, like Phosphorus (an essential element for all living organisms), which is mined as phosphate-bearing rock in several countries (China, Morocco, the US, South Africa and Jordon control 90% of the world reserves), supply is also a factor in fertilizer prices in both the short and longer term. The Global Phosphorus Research Initiative estimates that within 30 to 40 years Phosphorus supplies will not be able to meet agricultural demand. Aside from the potential political and food security issues associated with this dynamic, a steadily increasing demand will more than likely mean continued price increases on global markets.
While there are many factors at play on the global fertilizer market that can affect pricing, apart from demand and supply, a general trend over the past several years has been increasing prices per unit of fertilizer, which, in turn, increases input costs and reduces profit margins for farmers. It is widely accepted that increasing fertilizer prices will be a general trend over the long term.
Due to the pressures of increasing fertilizer input costs and the need to boost organic matter concentrations in soils, some farmers in Southern Ontario have embraced the use of organic amendments and biofertilizers, such as LysteGro®, to replace commercial fertilizer, build their soil nutrient levels and improve soil health. LysteGro is a registered fertilizer with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). It provides the unique combination of a balanced source of nutrients, ideal for crop production as well as organic matter, which improves long term soil health. In addition to providing the nutrient concentrations of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium at levels which meet crop nutrient demands, LysteGro also provides a suite of micronutrients (including Sulphur, Magnesium, Calcium, Zinc and many others).
Uptake and demand for the fertilizer has been outstanding during the first couple years of distribution, and continues to grow as word gets out about the product and the results local producers are seeing. For example, Wayne Metzger of Highland Custom Farming, an organization that farms approximately 1,500 acres of their own land and an additional 8,000 acres as a custom operator in Grey County, was one of the first to use the LysteGro product. He describes it as; “…an important part of our long term strategy, LysteGro allows us to build up our own as well as our customers’ soils, which are typically low to very low in potassium and phosphorus.” Wayne adds; “We’ve seen the initial results, which have been great. We’re getting 200 bushel corn on ground applied with LysteGro, which is extremely rare for Grey County. I’m really excited to watch the long term effects of this product. When you see the benefit this material has had to the ground we farm and the results of this trial it’s a wonder why any municipality would want to send these materials to landfill, or anywhere else for that matter.”
In an effort to better quantify the positive results seen by growers using the LysteGro product, in 2015 Lystek participated with the Georgian Central Soil and Crop Improvement Association (composed of Grey, Bruce, North Simcoe, South Simcoe and Dufferin Counties) in a trial comparing the use of typical application rates of commercial fertilizer with two rates of LysteGro at 5 field locations.
The trials were conducted by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and each treatment was replicated three times at each location. On average, the LysteGro treatments increased yield by 16.5 bushels/acre in comparison to the commercial fertilizer treatments. Other tests conducted during the trial, such as grain protein content and stalk nitrate tests also indicated that the LysteGro treatments produced superior results when compared to commercial fertilizer.
Following the trial, Jon Wiley, a trial participant and former President of the Grey County Soil and Crop improvement Association, stated that; “While I believed in the product before the trials, the results really do pop out at you, so I’m excited to use the product on my farm going forward”.
Lystek is planning on continuing trials with OMAFRA in 2016, investigating applying the material side dressed into established corn as well as with cover crop following wheat harvest.
The 2015 full trial results can be found here and if you have any questions about LysteGro, please contact Director of Product Management: