Defra will host a crisis planning meeting with farmers to discuss soaring fertiliser prices as ministers attempt to reduce the effects of rising food production costs.
The move comes as ammonium nitrate fertiliser prices have risen by £1,000 a tonne in recent weeks, compared to £280 a tonne a year ago.
The rise in costs have been exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, as exports from Russia have been disrupted. On top of this, farmers’ panic-buying has also temporarily driven up costs.
On 31 March Defra will be hosting a roundtable with bodies such as the National Farmers’ Union and the Agricultural and Horticulture Development Board to discuss possible solutions to the increasing prices.
Additionally, the meeting will look at alternatives to ammonium nitrate fertiliser, such as traditional fertiliser-free options or organically produced variants.
The government body has also said it would pay farmers to support them with the cost of sowing nitrogen fixing plants to ease them off their current dependence on manufactured fertilisers.
“The significant rise in the cost of fertiliser is a reminder that we need to reduce our dependence on manufacturing processes dependent on gas,” Defra minister George Eustice said.
“Many of the challenges we face in agriculture will require a fusion of new technology with conventional principles of good farm husbandry.”
The meeting comes after a major fertiliser company Yara International warned that global crop yields were expected to drop by 50% due to fertiliser shortages driven by the war in Ukraine.