Farm inputs at a glance
The latest outlook on market trends for key farm inputs including feed, fertiliser and fuel.
Key farm inputs explained
After their peak following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, global oil prices have been easing as of late. However, moving forward, oil demand is expected to increase in 2023, exceeding pre-pandemic levels. While an increase in supply is also anticipated, it’s thought the climb in demand will outweigh this rise.
Much of the rise in demand is expected to come from China, due to the easing of lockdown restrictions in the country, with the softening of the zero covid policy. The US is expected to lead the growth in oil supply, while Russian production will likely decline due to growing sanctions and price caps. OPEC+ supply cuts will also see availability tighten over the next year.
Longer-term, a shift towards more sustainable energy practices can be expected, but for now, Russian supply and Chinese demand will be the main factors driving global oil prices going forward. Any news on the war in Ukraine will also likely impact prices, as uncertainty continues over oil supplies from the Black Sea region.
Latest fuel prices
Our fuel price tracker page features monthly price trends red diesel and crude oil.
UK nearby natural gas futures have been steadily declining since peaking at 640.36 pence/therm at the end of August. However, prices remain volatile and reactive to news surrounding the war in Ukraine.
Generally, prices are being pressured by a milder winter trimming some demand, strong alternative sources of energy, and increased EU gas/ liquid gas storage. The UK has been looking to ship more liquified natural gas (LNG) from producers such as the US and Qatar, with the UK agreeing to double imports of US gas over the next year from 2021 levels.
Another growing domestic source of energy is wind power. Thanks to blustery conditions and an increasing number of turbines, the Electricity System Operator (ESO) in Britain reported a record share of electricity on the grid was coming from renewables and nuclear sources, supplying 87.2% of total power on the 30 December.
Looking ahead, Europe still has a few months of cold weather ahead and anticipated strong heating demand. Much like fuel, Chinese demand is also viewed as a key driver in gas prices in 2023, as covid restrictions ease. Traders are also considering global recessionary fears, which could impact demand and pressure prices.
While analysts have cut price forecasts slightly, they remain elevated on previous years, with HSBC adding that conditions will likely only normalise by 2026 when newly built LNG facilities are due to open in Europe
Monitoring energy use
Explore news, guidance and resources focused on energy use on farm.
Hay and straw
Big square baled barley straw averaged £51.00/t (ex-farm) this January, while big square baled wheat straw averaged £44.00/t (ex-farm). These prices are down 18% and 12% respectively from the same month last year. However, big bale hay prices have risen over this period, averaging £80.00/t (ex-farm) in January, up 21% on the year.
The lower price of straw is due to there being plentiful supplies this season, with the dry weather in the summer months giving farmers time to bale soon after the combine. Generally, quality and yields were good, though there were some reports of brittle straw from the prolonged dry weather.
Hay supply is strong at present, though with mixed forage availability, due to the hot/dry summer, it’s expected the supply and demand balance will be tight later in the season. Buyers are also prioritising locality over quality to reduce haulage costs, which remain high.
Looking forward, weather will be a big factor driving prices. Average winter rainfall this season will not be enough to replenish groundwater storage. Therefore, a rollover effect of 2022 droughts will likely impact grass growth this season. It’s expected that carry-over stocks of hay will be lacking too, which could impact new season prices if production levels are low this spring.
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.
UK feed ingredient prices
Nearby UK feed wheat prices remain elevated but have eased from their peak in mid-May (£361.00/t), hitting 11-month lows throughout the mid-end of January. Markets remain reactive to any news on the war in Ukraine.
Cheap Russian exports, combined with global recessionary fears, have been weighing on the market over the last couple of months, but escalations to the war in Ukraine and concerns over new crop conditions in the US and South America have given some support to prices of late.
Over the rest of the season, news surrounding the war and the extension of the grain corridor (due to expire in March) will likely continue to keep prices supported. However, Russian exports look to limit any major gains in the short-term at least. Longer-term the focus will turn to weather and the impact on new crop conditions in the northern hemisphere when we head into spring.
Domestic barley prices continue to track wheat markets. Barley prices are also reacting to news on escalations in the Black Sea region, as well as Chinese demand and recessionary fears.
Domestically, human and industrial (H&I) use of barley is expected to be strong this season, although usage in animal feed is expected to be lower for the whole season, unsurprising given the greater availability of wheat. With increased barley production boosting supply, and lower animal feed usage, outweighing stronger H&I demand, the barley balance sheet is heavier in 2022/23, but remains relatively tight historically.
Generally, prices will likely continue to track the wider grains complex, keeping prices historically elevated. Domestic demand will remain something to watch moving forward.
Nearby Paris maize futures peaked in March (€379.00/t) and then again in May (€373.50/t). They have been volatile since but have eased over the last few months. Global maize prices aren’t currently competitive over wheat, and drought in Argentina has seen some support in prices recently.
Maize markets also remain reactive to news on the war in Ukraine. However, a bumper Brazilian crop this year is expected, therefore any gains will likely be limited long term. Chinese demand is also something to monitor in maize markets.
Chicago soyabean futures prices (May-23) averaged $553.16/t in January, up 16% on the year. UK soyameal prices have been rising too, with Brazilian soyameal for spot delivery (48%, ex-mill Liverpool) averaging £562.00/t on 3 February, 24% higher than the same week in 2022.
After falling to pre-war levels over the summer, soyabean prices have been climbing again due to the dry conditions in Argentina impacting it’s soyabean crop. However, Brazil is due a large soyabean crop and with harvest now having started, we could see some downwards pressure on prices. As one of the world’s biggest importers, Chinese demand is also something to watch over the rest of the season.
Latest UK feed ingredient prices
Check the weekly trends in prices for imported and domestically produced animal feed products.
The spot price for imported AN delivered to farm was £700.00/t in December, according to the latest AHDB GB fertiliser prices. This was down £41.00/t from November’s price, but still £68.00/t higher than December 2021, and more than three times the price recorded in December 2020.
While it’s looking likely that the worst of Europe’s gas crisis is over, as mentioned in the power outlook, prices are expected to remain elevated. With natural gas making up around 60-80% of fertiliser production costs, it’s unlikely that imported fertiliser prices will come down considerably in the short to mid-term, considering the ongoing market volatility. However, with natural gas prices easing, we could also see fertiliser prices ease somewhat.
In terms of demand, it’s expected that some farmers will reduce their normal application rate as to cut input costs given the high prices. An AHDB nitrogen fertiliser adjustment calculator for cereals and oilseeds has been developed, which takes into account fertiliser and grain/oilseed prices and suggests potential changes to typical farm nitrogen rates.
Latest fertiliser information
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