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Don't ask Greg Porozni to help Agrium Inc.'s crumbling bottom line.

An Alberta farmer who tills 1,740 hectares, Mr. Porozni and many of his neighbours are on a buyers' strike against potash, a fertilizer produced by Agrium and rival Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc., whose results have been hammered by plunging prices for the product.

Agrium yesterday warned sinking demand for fertilizer will drive its third-quarter profit 90 to 95 per cent below last year's third quarter, when it posted a record $367-million profit. Potash Corp. reported an 80-per-cent drop in profit this week.

Much of the problem lies with farmers, who are still feeling the burn of potash's quintupling in price last year, when it shot above $1,000 (U.S.) a tonne. Prices have since fallen by half. But while the cost of two other main crop nutrients, phosphate and nitrogen, have returned to historical levels relative to crop prices, potash remains high. It is still 35 per cent above what Mr. Porozni is willing to pay.

So, for the coming year, he won't.

"I know it's a small message, but I'm sending a message to these manufacturers that their product is overpriced, frankly," he said. "I will not be using potash until the prices come lower."

Agrium chief financial officer Bruce Waterman said yesterday he expects "more of a normal fall," and predicted a strong spring as farmers resume their regular buying. The medium-term outlook is even better, he said.

"We still think the fundamentals are very strong," Mr. Waterman said, describing the situation as "nirvana delayed a little bit."

But if nirvana depends on Mr. Porozni buying more potash, it could be delayed a bit longer. He has ordered field tests that found he won't need to apply the nutrient for another three or four years. Mr. Porozni, who also serves as crop production chairman of the Canola Council of Canada, believes many in Western Canada have similarly healthy soil.

His reticence is just one part of the global pain for the fertilizer industry, which achieved such blockbuster profits last year that Potash Corp. briefly became Canada's most valuable company.

In Brazil, another major fertilizer consumer, the lingering credit crunch has starved farmers of cash. And China has yet to sign its annual fertilizer deal for 2010, in hopes producers will cut prices.