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.

Read more

Step 2: Identify land management units (LMUs) and farm resources

Under the Code the identification of land management units (LMU’s) is optional. However, the concept is strongly recommended for pastoral and arable properties. Failure to identify LMU’s and manage them differently could lead to some significant production losses and adverse environmental impacts. 

Understanding differences in the way parts of the property respond to nutrient management and different land management practices is an important step in achieving production goals as well as recognising and understanding the environmental risks associated with nutrient management activities. The risks associated with nutrient management activities may vary on different parts of the property, so we need to consider each of these areas separately.

The method described below is one means of assessing land management units. In some areas alternative methods such as land use capability mapping may be used. 

A land management unit (LMU) is defined as:
“A homogeneous block of land that responds in a similar way under similar management.”

Areas that need different management or that will show different responses need to be separated for good planning. For example, is all of the area managed in the same way? Will all parts of the property or block respond to nutrients in the same way? Do they share the same environmental risks?

LMUs are best assessed using a combination of physical factors (e.g. soil type, slope, aspect), major management factors (e.g. dryland versus irrigated areas, different arable or horticultural crops, dairy effluent disposal areas, etc.) and history of previous use and management. Some producers will find that their property has several land management units while others can treat their entire property as a single LMU.

Mark the different LMUs on a farm map, and the paddock number, with a note about what each unit represents – e.g. different soil types, aspect, flat and steep areas, different horticultural crops, etc.

Note also any significant environmental features within each LMU – e.g. waterways, wildlife habitat, wetlands, native bush or areas subject to frequent flooding. An example of a LMU map is shown below.


Figure 2: Example of Land Management Unit map

Collect information about the LMUs that will influence nutrient management decisions. Some things to think about:

  • Do you have soil or herbage test results for these areas? What is the current soil nutrient status? If there are no recent test results then you should consider testing to establish background soil nutrient levels.
  • Are nutrients other than fertiliser applied? For example, is dairy effluent spread on the land? Is conserved feed brought in from other land?
  • Do you have information about factors that may alter the environmental risk in any of these areas? For example, are there any irrigated areas where the water table is naturally high?

Mark on your LMU map all potential nutrient ‘hot spot’ sites. (e.g. silage pits, offal pits, stock handling facilities, feedpads, effluent ponds, effluent spray areas, fertiliser storage areas etc)

Farm resources are interlinked and will influence the nutrient management plan.

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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