USDA Fertilizer Analysis: 2011 – 2021

by: Chris Zoller, Extension Educator, ANR, Tuscarawas County

The United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service (USDA ERS) recently published monthly prices of nitrogen fertilizer from the period 2011-2021.  The analysis includes three primary forms of nitrogen: anhydrous ammonia, urea, and liquid nitrogen.

USDA ERS estimates fertilizer accounts for an average of 36 percent of operating costs for corn production and 35 percent of operating costs for wheat production.  These costs come from the USDA Economic Research Service’s 2020 Commodity Cost and Returns, published in October 2021.

The chart above represents monthly costs in dollars per ton for anhydrous ammonia, urea, and liquid nitrogen for the period 2011 – 2021.  Nitrogen fertilizer prices declined gradually from 2013 to 2017 before starting a gradual uptick.  In early 2021, nitrogen fertilizer prices began to increase sharply along with the price of natural gas.

USDA ERS compared fertilizer prices from December 2020 to December 2021.  Estimated price increases included: anhydrous ammonia (235 percent increase); urea (149 percent increase); and a 192 percent increase for liquid nitrogen.

Managing Increased Fertilizer Prices

Managing these price increases requires attention to detail.  Talk with your agronomist and Extension Educator about your soil test levels, cropping plans, and opportunities to keep input costs at a minimum.

In addition, consider using these resources:


While the increase in fertilizer prices has slowed recently, they are at historically high prices.  Having current soil tests, talking with advisors, and evaluating cropping and soil fertility plans will be critical this year.




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