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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What is fertiliser

Fertiliser provides the nutrients to grow and nourish pastures and crops.

Plants require 17 essential nutrients to thrive. Fertiliser supports plant growth and replenishes nutrients after each harvest. The International Fertilizer Association has produced an infographic explaining how 14 essential plant nutrients benefit plant health: 14 Essential Nutrients for Improving and Protecting Plant Health

Nitrogen, phosphate, potassium and sulphur are the four most important nutrients for crop yields and sustainable food production:

Nitrogen (N) makes up about 78 percent of the air we breathe. It is inert and insoluble in this form.

To manufacture nitrogen fertiliser, it must be removed from the air and combined with hydrogen to make ammonia, which is then converted to urea. This is applied directly to crops as a nitrogen fertiliser or used as a building block to make other nitrogen fertiliser products.

Phosphorus (P) is present in all living cells and is essential to all forms of life. Found throughout our bodies, it is concentrated in our teeth and bones. The source of phosphorus in fertiliser is phosphate rock, which is typically mined from the earth's crust then reacted with acid to produce different phosphate products.

Potassium (K) is also found throughout nature and is found in our bodies in muscles, skin and the digestive tract. Good health requires sufficient intake of potassium. Plants use potassium for functions like photosynthesis and protein formation. Potassium, or potash, is mined from naturally occurring ore bodies that were formed as seawater evaporated. The deposits are a mixture of crystals of potassium chloride and sodium chloride. Sodium chloride is also known as table salt. After it is mined, the potassium chloride is purified into a granular fertiliser.

Sulphur (S) is essential to produce amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins found in all living things. Sulphur also helps give crops like onion, mustard and radish their characteristic flavour. While it can be found naturally in the soil, it is not always in a form plants can use.

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 July 2022

The British Society of Soil Science has published a research article in the Soil Use and Management Journal detailing the latest analysed data from the long-running Winchmore Fertiliser Trial in Canterbury.

The paper was written by Driss Touhami of the Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Lincoln University. Touhami is also a member of the AgrioBioSciences Program, Mohammed VI Polytechnic University in Ben Guerir, Morocco.

The paper, titled "Effects of long-term phosphorus fertilizer inputs and seasonal conditions on organic soil phosphorus cycling under grazed pasture", was co-authored by Leo Condron Richard McDowell and Ray Moss.  The report can be viewed here.

Read more about the long-running Winchmore trial on the FANZ website here.


25 January 2022

Final-year Lincoln University PhD candidate Kirstin Deuss is the 2021 recipient of the NZ Society of Soil Science/Fertiliser Association of NZ Postgraduate Bursary Award.

The award recognises the efforts and present (or likely) contribution to New Zealand soil science arising from a doctorate study. It carries a $5,000 one-year stipend.

Kirstin holds a BSC in Biomedical Science from Victoria University of Wellington and an MSC in Horticultural Science from the Technical University of Munich, Free University of Bozen (Italy) and the University of Bologna.

Her postgraduate research has seen her lead a long-term field study on soil and catchment hydrology in Southland. The findings will help understand the role mole and tile drains play in Southland’s unique landscape.

“I’m thrilled to have been selected as the recipient of the NZSSS Fertiliser Association Postgraduate Bursary, it is an honour that I will cherish for the rest of my career,” says Kirstin. “I love working with soils and my career objective is to apply my field, research and management skills towards supporting the sustainable management of New Zealand’s soil resources.”

“My PhD has been challenging but also so rewarding, and this award is a real confidence boost as I prepare to start my new career at Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research in February. I wouldn't be where I am without the support of my many great mentors, friends and colleagues, who have given me so much of their time and energy to help turn ideas into reality and put it all into the written word!

 “It's truly been the best experience of my life and I am really looking forward to where it is going to take me.”

 Kirstin was nominated by Peter Almond, Associate Professor, Department of Soil and Physical Sciences at Lincoln University. He described her to the judging panel as a “highly adept scientist capable of complex quantitative analysis of soil-hydrological systems”.

“I think she is a deserving recipient.  The prestige of the award would further her goal of securing a position working professionally in soil science in New Zealand so that she can contribute to environmental sustainability of our primary industries.”

Fertiliser Association chief executive Vera Power described Kirstin’s research as “hugely important”.

“The more we can understand what’s happening in our soils and catchments, the better placed our primary sector will be to improve farm management, all while protecting the environment.”  

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