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 6: Record and monitor

Recording and monitoring are essential for assessing whether the land manager has achieved their nutrient management plan goals and how well the planned activities went. It also helps identify areas where management could be improved. Remember the old saying, “you cannot manage what you do not measure.”

Good records for different areas and LMU’s are valuable for assessing success, and should give details of all aspects of the nutrient management plan put into practice, covering:

  • fertiliser types
  • application rates
  • timing of application
  • application methods
  • nutrients added by methods other than fertiliser – e.g. conserved feed from another area brought onto the block, dairy effluent applied to land
  • stocking rates and animal type
  • notes on special considerations – e.g. buffer zones not treated
  • new soil or herbage test results
  • any environmental measurements – e.g. groundwater nitrate levels
  • records of risk factors that may affect environmental effects from nutrients – e.g. rainfall records, irrigation records, effluent applications, etc.
  • extent to which production goals were met
  • Resource Consent and conditions

A property map with LMU’s marked can be a good way to record fertiliser applications (manually or by GPS), with details noted in the appropriate paddocks or blocks. In this way a series of maps covers the year’s fertiliser treatments.

Record keeping serves many purposes but key uses include:

  • a systematic approach to identifying and solving ongoing problems
  • a reminder of the influences of seasonal variations
  • as a means of measuring progress or lack of it, over time
  • to serve as a tool that might unlock additional information when required at some point in the future
  • as a tool to undertake a regular critique of management practices
  • as a tool to demonstrate that the land manager has taken steps to overcome various problems by implementing their stated best management practices
  • a means of determining returns on fertiliser and other nutrient investments

Good paddock records help in calculating nutrient budgets, calculating nutrient and water use efficiency, identifying areas of a paddock with varying productivity, refining production targets and predicting future nutrient requirements. They can also be used to demonstrate that nutrients have been managed for the best production and environmental outcomes.

Accuracy and attention to detail pay off. For example, accurate records of the position of soil sample sites will aid in interpreting the results against yields, soil types, incidence of frosts, water logging, etc. These records also allow future sampling in the same positions. GPS technology is increasingly used for accurate positioning but good records using paddock landmarks and measurement from the landmarks allow relocation of the sites within a few metres. Permanent markers and an established soil sampling routine also help.

Soil testing will commonly be used to check changes in soil nutrient levels and some land managers will also use herbage tests. As long as nutrient applications go as planned, most land managers will not monitor actual environmental indicators (e.g. water quality measures) on their property. Those who apply special nutrients – e.g. those requiring resource consent for particularly high nutrient applications or because of sensitive areas or catchments– may be required to do specific monitoring as a condition of their resource consent.

On dairy farms with high rates of supplements going into the system, effluent sampling for nutrient content is highly recommended.

Most land managers keep fertiliser use records for their own information - to know how their fertiliser programme is going, to assess pasture and crop responses and to relate these results to future fertiliser planning. In addition, by following this Code and keeping accurate records of compliance, regional authorities can have confidence that this Code is being followed. Given that authorities have limited contact with most land managers, proof of good management depends on good records.

Sample templates for recording are provided in Appendix 5.

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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