Farmers are forced to rethink their farming strategies due to the soaring prices of fertilisers

Farming is hard work.

Farmers are forced to rethink their farming strategies due to the soaring prices of fertilisers

Farming is hard work.

Ask Rachael Sharp in South Carolina, a third-generation farmer who grows a variety of soybeans, wheat, cotton and peanuts.

Last year, she saw fertiliser prices soar by 320% - the highest rise her or her father can recall.

Ms Sharp claims that some farmers don't plant anything because of the high costs.

In the midst of extreme weather and transport disruptions, fertiliser prices have broken records around the globe.

Russia is a country that is under Western sanctions. It produces large quantities key chemicals for the production of fertilizers. It supplies a large amount of natural gas needed to make ammonia, a key component of nitrogen fertilisers.

Other countries are becoming more aware of Russia's dependence on fertiliser because of the conflict. The US government responded by investing in new fertilisers made domestically, but it will take some time before those investments pay off.

Farmers are having to adapt their planting strategies due to rising prices. These rising prices are also driving demand for alternative fertilisers.

This is something environmentalists have long called for. Traditional fertilisers are energy-intensive and can result in large carbon dioxide (CO2) emission.

However, nitrogen fertilisers also have a second side effect. They can also cause nitrous oxide to be produced, which is a powerful greenhouse gas.

A simple way to reduce the use of synthetic fertilizers is to do so in a cost-effective manner.

Overuse of fertilizers is a serious problem. Globally, crops consume only 35% and 56% respectively of the nitrogen and phosphorus that was applied; the rest settles in the soil.

Of course, this can vary widely. Low-income farmers might struggle with too little fertilizer, but not enough.

However, overall, fertiliser is being used in a greater quantity than necessary to increase costs and reduce environmental impact.

Overuse is a problem in our field, says Bhupinder Farmaha who is a nutrient management specialist at Clemson in the US as well as an agricultural extension agent who works alongside farmers like Ms Sharp.

Overuse can be attributed to both tradition and outdated recommendations for fertilizer application that do not consider specific environmental conditions.