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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Getting ready for the 1 July N-Cap

From 1 July 2021, the Government's new regulations for the application of nitrogen fertiliser to pastoral land, will come into effect.

What you need to know about the 1 July regulations

From this date, farms with 20 ha or more of pastoral land-use will have their nitrogen fertiliser application capped at 190kg N/ha/yr.

The nitrogen cap encompasses two types of pastoral land-use: pasture and annual forage crops that are grazed in situ. It applies regardless of the type of livestock that are grazing.

The two aspects of this limit are explained below.

  • The limit of 190 kg/ha/yr of nitrogen is averaged over the whole area in pastoral land-use within each contiguous parcel of land on the farm.
  • An absolute limit of 190 kg/ha/yr of nitrogen on any 1 hectare of pastoral land not used to grow annual forage crops.

The Ministry for the Environment (MfE) has produced a number of factsheets providing information on the new regulations for the application of nitrogen fertiliser to pastoral land. View them here.

All other regional council regulations must also continue to be complied with.

Resource consent is needed for farms unable to meet this N cap

For farmers who require additional time to reduce their nitrogen application to meet this N cap, a resource consent must be obtained. This 'non-complying' consent will require strict conditions and controls to ensure the environmental effects are no greater than if the limit was being met. This consent can be granted for up to 5 years. Alternatively, the consent will require a clear pathway on how the limit will be met by July 2023.

Keeping accurate records

The person responsible for operating a landholding that includes any dairy farmland, will be responsible for providing accurate records to their regional council of the purchase and application information for any N-based fertiliser used. This includes specific details on where and when it is applied. Dairy farmers will also have to provide regional councils with information on land-use. For example, the areas for annual forage crops and other land uses on the farm.

All pastoral farmers should keep reliable records for all solid and liquid N fertiliser applications on their properties. It is necessary for good farm management and will be one of the most important things a farmer can do to demonstrate compliance with the regulation.

It is recommended that farmers work with a Certified Nutrient Management Adviser (CNMA) to ensure that they receive the best nutrient management advice to help transition their farm system to operating within the new limit. View the NMACP website to find an adviser.

Industry position on the nitrogen cap

"It is likely that the cap will impact on the more intensive farms, likely irrigated farms systems," said Dr Vera Power, Chief Executive of the Fertiliser Association of New Zealand.

"While we don't think input controls are an effective way of achieving environmental improvement, we absolutely support the need to manage nutrients well."

"For us, the real issue is farming productively with responsible nutrient management to reduce farm system losses and ensure we improve and manage the health of our water ecosystems," commented Dr Power.

Use of the best products and matching plant needs, is at the heart of good nutrient management. The industry has invested in technologies and tools to drive best management that will help ensure that farmers can remain productive and profitable while working sustainably.

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

30 September 2021

We recently submitted evidence to the Environment Select Committee on proposals to ban nitrogen fertiliser.

11 August 2021

Creating tools to assist farmers to make the right choice on nutrient management is a long and sometimes expensive process. The Fertiliser Association is committed to a journey of enabling New Zealand farmers to meet their goals for profitability and heightened environmental responsibility.

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