Sales of nitrogen fertiliser fell by 18% last year to 280,569t in the lowest year-on-year drop in volumes recorded by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) in the past two decades.

The decline in 2023’s sales follows a 14% drop in bag nitrogen sales the previous year.

The volume of nitrogen traded in 2023 was the lowest in the CSO’s records out to 2000 and over 100,000t lower than its peak in 2003.

Phosphorous fertiliser volumes were back by a lesser 10% on 2022, although it had witnessed a 26% drop in that year alone, the CSO figures show.

Potassium sales are also reported to have decreased by 13% last year on top of a 24% reduction the previous year.

This slow demand saw total fertiliser sales across all blends back 18% on 2022.

Half of all fertiliser sold to farmers changed hands between April and June last year, with another quarter of sales taking place between January and March.

Lime sales plummeted by 27% on 2022’s levels but these were the highest in decades.

The one million tonnes of lime sold in 2023 still puts last year’s volumes ahead of each year between 2000 and 2010.