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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Guiding Principles

These guiding principles are built into the nutrient management approach in this Code. They are the underlying philosophies used in this Code that enable land managers to use this Code to manage nutrients practically and profitably in their production systems.

This Code’s five guiding principles are:

  1. Effective process
    Nutrient management planning can improve results for land managers and the environment simultaneously.

    Change for its own sake never makes sense – there must be a reason for it. The nutrient management process as outlined in this Code is a simple yet effective process that enables land managers to maximise the benefits of nutrient use while avoiding or minimising adverse effects on the environment. Widespread adoption of the process can be expected to aid production and profit while addressing community and market environmental concerns.

    Although not all land managers face a requirement for external audit of their practices, this Code is set out so use of this Code can be audited. Keeping good records is an essential part of this process.

  2. Ease of use
    Nutrient management must be ‘user friendly’ – i.e. it allows users to accept responsibility for their actions, is simple yet effective and allows users some flexibility to choose and adapt practices to suit their situation.


    Simplicity and flexibility do not mean ‘dumbing down’ to a system that does not achieve environmental objectives. Rather, the approach advocated through this Code encourages land managers to use their knowledge and skills to understand, choose and apply the most suitable practices for their individual situations. In practice, this can produce greater environmental benefit than can be achieved by prescribing practices for all land managers to follow regardless of situation.

  3. Legal and industry compliance
    As a minimum, this Code requires compliance with all legal and industry requirements relating to nutrient management. In reality many land managers will aim higher than this as they seek effective nutrient use and best value for money from their investment in nutrients.

    While helping users meet legal requirements, this Code provides flexibility in how land managers choose to meet them, selecting practices that best suit their situation and production systems. It provides a framework of practices that should be followed to help meet legal requirements and defining practices that are strongly advised or recommended on a site specific basis.

  4. Risk based
    The basis of effective nutrient management is being aware of and understanding the actual and potential environmental risks associated with these activities. Once understood, these risks and impacts can be strategically managed.


    The concept of ‘environmental risk’ is an important part of sustainable nutrient management. While there is potential to cause environmental harm when using nutrients, this need not happen in practice. Depending on conditions and practices, the risks can usually be managed.

    Nutrient management risks refer to the chance of an unfavourable consequence resulting from nutrient inputs or outputs. This can be determined by undertaking a nutrient budget, which will indicate an excess or deficit of nutrients. This Code sets out a process for assessing environmental risks associated with nutrient management activities.

  5. Continuous improvement
    Continuous improvement implies that practices are considered more than once, in light of new information and the results of previous management. This leads to future practices reflecting things learned along the way. A cycle of planning, doing, monitoring and improving (‘PDMI’) ensures practices are continuously getting better.


    The ‘PDMI’ process emphasises the use of past results when planning management and choosing the best practices for the future. Many managers already use continuous improvement approaches to problem solving and day to day management. Using the same process for nutrient management means the nutrient management plan is not just a static document but a vehicle for learning and improvement.

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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