Farm inputs at a glance

July 2020

These figures to show key changes in spending on-farm, looking at costs such as feed, fertiliser and fuel. For a visual respresentation, browse the infographics gallery at the bottom of the page.

Key farm inputs explained


The annual average oil price for 2019 stood at $64.05 per barrel which was a decrease of nearly 4% compared to 2018. However, that decrease did not lead to an overall decrease in either red or white (pump) diesel both of which, on average, increased slightly on an annual basis: 2% for red diesel and 1% for white (pump) diesel. A significant proportion of cost is processing, getting it to the consumer and the impact of duty and VAT.

April 2020 prices indicate a significant drop in crude oil and diesel prices due to the impact of Covid-19 on the supply and demand balance, with limited demand and over supply leading to price reductions in all areas.

April 2020 crude oil price saw a year on year reduction of 75%, although April 2019 was the highest monthly price during 2019. However, April 2020 compared to 2019 as a whole is still a price reduction of 72%. When making similar comparisons at a red and white diesel level we observe an April year on year price reduction of 21.8% for red diesel and 12.6% for white (pump) diesel.

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Our fuel price tracker page features monthly price trends red diesel and crude oil.

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Across farms there will be mixed energy sources covering all aspects of supply including (amongst others) mains retail, commercial, on-farm renewables and generators. The uncertainty surrounding public health, the economy and hence energy over the rest of 2020 is unprecedented. An IEA (International Energy Agency) analysis shows that countries in full lockdown are experiencing an average 25% decline in energy demand per week and those in partial lockdown an average 18% decline.

Of course, whilst total energy demand at a country level may decline this may not be the experience in individual households when staying at home is likely to result in an increase in gas and electricity demand with home schooling, working from home and more cooking impacting gas and electricity demands.

The year on year reduction in non-domestic gas prices has seen a 5.2% price reduction between the average for 2019 compared with 2018. With the mild weather at the beginning of 2020 and an overall decrease in energy demand due to Covid-19 there has been a continued downward price pressure on gas, with IEA analysis indicating gas-based economies were not strongly affected in the first quarter of 2020.

According to IEA, renewables were the only source posting a growth in demand. IEA reports that electricity demand overall has seen a significant reduction, depressed by 20% or more during periods of full lockdown in several countries as increased demand from residential users does not come close to outweighing the reduction in demand from commercial and industrial operations. One commentary suggests that electricity demand "resembles a prolonged Sunday".

Farmers with diversified renewable energy enterprises will be pleased to know that renewable energy is likely to be the energy source most resilient to Covid-19 lockdown measures and likely to be unaffected compared to other energy sources. The share of renewables in the electricity supply has increased as their output is largely unaffected by demand, with other sources providing the shortfall or having to take the hit as a result of demand volatility.

Monitoring energy use

Explore news, guidance and resources focused on energy use on farm.

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Hay and straw

Hay and silage production are very weather dependent and the early mild but wet weather in 2020, followed by a period of very dry weather and shortage of grass concerns, resulted in variable early cut silage yields, although potentially of good quality. The later bouts of rain around the country will impact second cut silage crops and hay production, and the rest of the season will dictate the hay and silage 2020 yields overall. The April 2020 big bale hay prices at 48.5% lower than April 2019, reflected the lower demand due to the mild sunny weather and early grass growth leading to early turnout in many areas, although it must be remembered that the Spring 2019 prices were the highest observed since Spring 2011.


The 13.8% 2020 price reduction in big bale barley straw prices also reflected the consequences of the mild spring. With significantly higher plantings of spring barley this year there could be plenty of barley straw available for feed and bedding purposes depending on how the season progresses.

With most areas of the country having lower winter wheat plantings due to the impact of the wet autumn and winter this will potentially impact the availability of wheat straw in the coming autumn.  The April 2020 price is 4% higher than the same month in 2019, but over the years wheat straw prices per tonne tend to show less volatility when compared to barley straw or hay.

Latest hay and straw prices

Find out the latest prices for big bale hay, big square baled barley straw and big square baled wheat straw in England and Wales. 

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UK feed ingredient prices

Prices for wheat and barley in May were both down 4% compared to 12 months earlier but prices for imported feed ingredients have risen due to changes in exchange rates.

The coronavirus pandemic has reduced demand for grain, especially maize, pushing down global prices. Global prices for soyabeans and soyameal have also fallen due to the continuing uncertain trade situation between the US and China, and the ongoing recovery from the African swine fever epidemic.

However, sterling devalued against both the US dollar and euro in spring 2020 as measures to combat the coronavirus hit the UK economy. This has made it more expensive to import goods into the UK, offsetting the fall in global prices.

The wet autumn in 2019 limited the area planted to wheat in the UK and this will increase the UK’s reliance on imports in the months ahead. In contrast, spring barley plantings have swelled and prices for feed barley have come down. A combination of a smaller UK rapeseed area and crop problems across Europe has also pushed up rapemeal prices.

Latest UK feed ingredient prices

Check the weekly trends in prices for imported and domestically produced animal feed products.

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With a year on year reduction of 11.5% for domestic produced AN and 13.2% for imported AN, prices for both are at the their lowest levels since summer 2017. With gas prices impacting nitrogen cost of production, the continued downward pressure on gas prices has also kept nitrogen prices under pressure.

Even though both domestic and imported AN have both fallen in price, in the recent two years we have observed a wider price difference between them (up to £19 per tonne) than observed in the previous year (up to £11 per tonne).

MOP and TSP have also seen reductions in prices. Reductions in all fertiliser prices are due to a combination of reductions in cost of production, stock and supply quantities and a reduction in demand due to late plantings and seasonal variations.


Latest fertiliser information

Find out monthly average prices and subscribe to regular updates.

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Download the poster

You can download the gallery infographics in a handy A4 poster. Click the button below for your Farm Inputs: At A Glance pdf.

Farm Inputs: At A Glance

More on markets and prices

Use this simple reference guide for updates on key market prices. There is also contact information for our market intelligence team.

Key Market Prices and Trends: June 2020

Gallery: Farm inputs at a glance

Click on the thumbnail images below to browse the infographics on farm inputs, which look at costs such as fuel, feed and fertiliser.