Clean water we can swim in. Rivers and lakes we can fish from. The New Zealand fertiliser industry wants what all New Zealanders want. But there are challenges we need to tackle together.
Nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen can cause excessive growth of aquatic plants and slime if they are carried into our waterways. This can impact on animals like fish and mayfly. Excess nitrogen leaching into the ground water raises concerns for the quality of our drinking water.
The Fertiliser Association promotes responsible nutrient management for the whole farm system, using a Nutrient Management Plan, because fertiliser represents just one source of essential nutrients in the nutrient cycle.
Good management practice specifically for fertiliser use includes:
- spreading fertiliser away from waterways
- not fertilising shortly before heavy rainfall
- not fertilising in windy conditions
- not using excess fertiliser.
These examples can be summed up as right product, at the right rate, at the right time with the right placement.
The New Zealand fertiliser industry is keen to play its part in ensuring water quality, through supporting scientific research and innovation. Finding the best tools and measures to enable better management of nutrients will contribute to better outcomes for farmers and the environment – a win-win for all.
The New Zealand fertiliser industry addresses the protection of our waterways in multiple ways.
- Together with Dairy NZ, the Fertiliser Association supports the Nutrient Management Adviser Certification Programme. This Programme aims to ensure farmers get nutrient management advice of the highest standard. Advisers come from companies, professional service firms, regional councils and consultancies.
- The fertiliser industry invests in research on nutrient efficiency, precision farming and use of new fertiliser products, including the use of inhibitors to prevent nutrient loss.
- The Fertiliser Association and industry representatives actively participate in council planning processes to ensure good outcomes for farmers and the environment.
- Fertiliser co-operatives have more than 200 farm advisers nationwide who can provide advice on nutrient management. There are also consultants available to help deliver farm environment plans.
- The fertiliser industry has invested in the development of Overseer. This nutrient budgeting tool examines nutrient use and movements within a farm. The computer model calculates and estimates the nutrient flows in the farming system, including run-off, leaching and greenhouse gas emissions. Understanding losses allows us to identify potential for environmental risks.