March/April 2022 - 9

happen is nitrogen prices being driven
higher because there will be at least
a short-term shortage of inventories
because the importers are afraid to
build those stocks at the ports. "
In December 2020, the UAN32
wholesale offer was approximately $195
FOB Stockon from the importers, said
Nicoletti. That same offer, if one can be
obtained given the tariff uncertainties,
goes for $655 as of late January 2022.
Nicoletti anticipates this being the
situation at least through the third
quarter of 2022. Once the variables are
more ironed out, then the trades and
vessel logistics can be lined up, but the
first boat won't show up for a couple
of months.
By then, growers will be well into the
growing season.
This course of action is following a
similar playbook for that of phosphorus
in late 2020 and early 2021, when the
U.S. Department of Commerce and
U.S. International Trade Commission
determined phosphate fertilizer
products from Russia and Morocco were
damaging the industry domestically, and
issued countervailing duty orders.
" It's ultimately to the benefit of the
domestic producer of these inputs, "
said Nicoletti.
For growers, the fertilizer supply
chain issue is on top of an already
concerning environment with pressures
from increasing labor and input costs
and regulation.
But for some retailers, it's becoming
a very unique opportunity.
" The budgets that we're writing for
growers are significantly cheaper, on
a relative basis, than they were a year
ago, because the types of things that
we're drastically reducing, as far as
inputs are concerned, are the fertilizers
that have seen the greatest appreciation
over the last 12 months, " said Nicoletti.
Take UAN for an example. An almond
and tomato grower did an alternative
program in 2021 and used 50% fewer
N units than is recommended by
University of California, Davis, for best
practice. Traded dollar for dollar in
an input budget, the money saved on
reduced N use was spent on things that
optimize that same nitrogen's efficiency,
things that allow growers to affix
atmospheric N, and have different - and
complementary - modes of action from
What is 'dumping'?
Dumping occurs when a foreign producer or exporter sells a
product in the United States at a price that is below " normal value. "
Normal value may be the price at which the foreign producer sells the
merchandise in its own domestic market or a third-country market,
or may be a constructed value based on its production costs plus an
amount for profit. A separate surrogate-value based methodology is
used to establish normal values for non-market economies.
Antidumping and countervailing duties are intended to offset the
value of dumping and/or subsidization, thereby leveling the playing
field for domestic industries injured by such unfairly traded imports.
These images are of fields that used enhancers. Dense green color highlights
canopy density and chlorophyll content, which are reflective of significantly better
hydration and nitrogen uptake in treated blocks. Images: Penny Newman
one another so that supplemental N is
not required to the same extent due to
the efficiency gained.
The issue of perception is still a
market challenge for companies with
options to counterbalance the fertilizer
issue. The hesitancy to try something
new could be the result of a past bad
experience, but it can also be due to
a strict adherence to a budget and no
room for error.
If a budget is for the things a grower
needs, knows and trusts, and suddenly
that cost has tripled in a 12-month
period, many growers won't try
something new because it doesn't fit
into the budget, especially if they're
unfamiliar with the products.
" But then there is another type
of mindset that is, 'These market
conditions are really underscoring our
need to change our practices and learn
about these new tools,' " said Nicoletti,
" and it's becoming more common. "
There is also a bit of a cushion
regarding supply chain disruptions.
Efficiency enhancers are used at such a
low rate - ounces versus gallons or tons
on a per-acre basis - that they're less
affected by supply chain disruptions.
Not only that, but so is the
prominence of the regenerative
agricultural movement, which is also
seeing a rise in both growing incentives
and educational incentives that are
popularizing the benefits of soil health
and biology.
" Those benefits really are numerous.
Soil health and regenerative ag are
growing in prominence and popularity,
biological inputs are growing in
prominence and popularity, and growers
are realizing that regardless of how much
fertilizer costs 5-10 years from now, there
is going to be a big paradigm shift in input
utilization and strategies, " Nicoletti said.
Even with a recent 13% increase in
consumer cost, it pales in comparison

March/April 2022

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