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Rising cost of fertilizer forcing farmers back to manure

There is a nationwide fertilizer shortage which has been made worse by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

CATAWISSA, Pa. — When it comes to farming, fertilizer is essential. But as of last month, commercial fertilizer prices reached a record high, more than doubling the prices of last year.

"We're seeing an impact because of what's going on in the Ukraine, Russia, and China. Russia and China are the major manufacturers of the majority of our fertilizers, along with Canada," said Mark Rohrbach, who runs Rohrbach's Farm outside of Catawissa.

Rohrbach farms around 1,000 acres using a mix of sources.

"We do use some commercial fertilizers, some liquid nitrogen. We have a swine finishing barn, where we produce our own manure. Then we also purchase in a lot of poultry manure," Rohrbach said.

Rohrbach says manure is a great source of fertilizer, and right now, it's less expensive and easier to get than commercial fertilizer.

"Essentially, farmers need the nutrients in order to produce the crops, and so with the increase of commercial fertilizer drives the demand for the organic fertilizer which is in the form of manure," Rohrbach said.

Rohrbach says he is trying to stay optimistic, but he believes fertilizer prices could remain high for years to come. That will trickle down to consumers.

"Anything that has to do with inputs that are grain-related such as soybeans and corn, animals that eat those things are then going to have an impact on those prices, yeah, certainly," Rohrbach said.

One downside is that prices for manure are also rising due to high demand.

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