Feeding the world’s growing population

New Zealand’s reputation as a quality food producer is growing.

Optimising food production

Over the next 50 years farmers around the world will need to produce more food than has been grown over the past 10,000 years.

Best use from a limited resource

Fertiliser helps farmers produce food efficiently by replenishing the soil. But fertiliser needs to be used responsibly.

Responsible and sustainable nutrient management

The Fertiliser Association invests in research and tools to ensure farm profitability while minimising nutrient losses to the environment.

The Fertiliser Association of New Zealand promotes and encourages responsible and scientifically-based nutrient management.

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Fertiliser use in NZ

New Zealand soils in their natural state are typically acidic, and low in phosphate, sulphur and some trace elements. Since modern agricultural practice began, New Zealand farmers have been supplementing the soil's natural nutrient level with fertiliser to improve the land’s production potential.

Imported fertiliser use began in 1867, with the first shipment of rock phosphate to New Zealand from Nauru. Superphosphate manufacturing in New Zealand started near Dunedin in 1882. Today superphosphate is manufactured at five sites – Mt Maunganui, Hornby, Ravensbourne, Awarua and Awatoto. Urea manufacturing started in Kapuni in 1983. This plant was one of a series of ‘Think Big’ projects instigated by the Muldoon-led National Government.

Historically, superphosphate and potash fertilisers have been the backbone of New Zealand agriculture, and remain so today. In the last decades, with increasing areas of highly productive, intensive farming, the use of nitrogen fertiliser has increased.

Most nitrogen is applied to dairy and arable/horticulture land. Improved production methods and an increasing emphasis on environmental accountability have led to marked improvements in production per unit of nitrogen applied. These improvements in efficient and effective use of fertiliser and other nutrient sources are likely to continue as research and development evolves.

Nitrogen (N) Consumption in New Zealand, 1990-2015

Phosphorous (P) Consumption in New Zealand, 1990-2015


Potassium (K) Consumption in New Zealand, 1990-2015


The Fertiliser Association of New Zealand and Dairy NZ funded development of the Nutrient Management Adviser Certification Programme (NMACP). This industry-wide certification aims to ensure that advisers have the learning, experience and capability to give sound nutrient advice.

Find out more

6 December 2018

A new report shows many farmers want to take action to reduce emissions but need more information about what steps they can take.


8 October 2018

New Zealand's agricultural industry is increasingly considering the challenges and opportunities of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


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