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

FANZ Media release in response to MfE report ‘Our Land 2021’


Thursday 15 April 2021

Full Phosphate data tells different story

Good soil fertility is critical for our agricultural economy.

"We welcome today's report from the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics NZ, which focuses on the importance of soil health and fertility to provide food and export production for New Zealand," says Dr Vera Power, Chief Executive of the Fertiliser Association of New Zealand.

"As the report states, land is central to our identity as people of Aotearoa New Zealand-it is our tūrangawaewae, our place to stand."

"One of the areas highlighted in the report is soil quality, and in particular, soil fertility as measured by the 'Olsen P' soil test. However, the report's analysis is based on a limited data set," said Dr Power.

New Zealand's fertiliser co-operatives encourage their shareholders to regularly test their soils to inform their nutrient use. Over the last year, the Fertiliser Association has compiled Olsen P results from this data.

"The analysis covers approximately 100,000 soil samples analysed each year over an eight-year period, making it probably the most substantive analysis of soil quality data ever undertaken in New Zealand," Dr Power states.

The analysis can be viewed on the Fertiliser Association's website at www.fertiliser.org.nz/Site/about/soil-health-fertility/

"Our soils and their health are core to who we are, and how we grow our food," says Dr Power.

"The MfE report brings together some new information, it also highlights significant data and information gaps and the need for more targeted data."

"Our data set shows that many drystock farms are operating at the low end of the target range for Olsen P levels, with most dairy farms operating within the target range for productive soils. Dairy farms on ash soils tend to be at the top end of the range reflecting their historical high phosphorus demand."

"Our analysis suggests a slightly different picture than presented in the MfE report," commented Dr Power.

Based on this new data, the national median Olsen P value for dairy farms across all soil types is below 35, well within the target range. This is based on more than 270,000 records over five years. This contrasts with a higher median figure for dairy farms of 67 mentioned in the MfE report.

Based on about 270,000 more data points than the MfE analysis, the national median for Olsen P for dairy farms is virtually half of that stated in the ministry's report. Inaccurately estimating soil fertility levels across the country presents real risks and potential costs for 'New Zealand Inc.' We look forward to working with the Ministry and Statistics NZ on how we can share this information so that it can be represented in future reports.

"The larger data set, based on data from certified laboratories, is likely to give a more realistic view of soil fertility levels across New Zealand," said Dr Power.

It is important to note that phosphate fertiliser use in New Zealand has declined. A recent paper titled Why are median phosphorus concentrations improving in New Zealand streams and rivers? indicated that we are seeing an improvement in phosphate levels in rivers.

"This was attributed mostly to better management on-farm, an encouraging sign for us all," added Dr Power.


For more information, please contact Vera Power, Chief Executive of the Fertiliser Association of New Zealand at vera@fertiliser.org.nz or phone 027 244 3739.

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.”  

Sign up for our Newsletter

Stay in touch with the latest fertiliser industry news and research

Sign up

MoST Content Management V3.0.8249