LUCKY ONES: Grower David Andreatta said he was fortunate enough to stock up before shortage.
LUCKY ONES: Grower David Andreatta said he was fortunate enough to stock up before shortage.

Chemical shortage leaves enthusiastic farmers empty-handed

FOR many farmers, the relief of rain has only been met with further obstacle amid a national shortage of agricultural chemicals.

Supplies of fertiliser and glyphosate (Roundup) have dropped dramatically over the past month as coronavirus closures halt the shipment of the popular goods from China.

Olsen's Produce manager Ian Wallace said while things were looking up, he had heard of some farmers unable to get product and plant.

"Until about two weeks ago, supply was very tight and while we're still not back to normal, it is improving," Mr Wallace said.

Mr Wallace said it had brought to light how much Australia relied on overseas players for agricultural production.

"Without a doubt, I think it probably brings home to roost how vulnerable we are when it comes to our world supply and certain products," he said.

Meanwhile, vegetable grower David Andreatta said he had been one of the "lucky" ones to have plenty of product, stocking up on a year's worth, after hearing rumours a shortage was imminent.

"All our dams are full finally, I didn't want a lack of chemicals to stop me now," he said.

While previous rain seasons tended to draw on supply, Mr Andreatta said he hadn't expected a shortage of this level.

"When it's raining down south, broadacre producers such as soybeans and mungbeans will buy up certain fungicides and we'll run short every once in a while," he said.

"I suppose, especially with Roundup and that sort of thing, people were looking at putting in a crop just as coronavirus hit and it came together as one. The pick up increased and supply dropped."

Overall, Mr Andreatta said as long as demand picked up and workers remained essential, the region was in for a strong season still.

It may just depend on changing practices.

"They are alternatives out there," he said.

"It might just mean small changes in practice. Like if there's no Roundup, we may just go back to ploughing the ground rather than spraying out."