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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Projections indicate nitrogen fertiliser use has plateaued

Nitrogen fertiliser has been receiving a bad rap lately with emotive claims that New Zealand farmers have a "deadly addiction" with ever increasing use .

"These claims are not supported by the facts," says Vera Power, Chief Executive of the Fertiliser Association.

"Use of nitrogen fertiliser has in fact been plateauing over the last few years with government projections indicating that use will actually decline."

At the same time, export revenue from agricultural products continues to grow. The Fertiliser Association has produced a fact sheet, which includes the latest government data and modelling on use.

The Ministry for Primary Industry's Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries, predicts continued increase in export revenue. Modelling undertaken by government for New Zealand's Fourth Biennial Report under the United Nations Convention for Climate Change, indicates a current plateau in use and steady decline in nitrogen fertiliser use out to 2035.

Use of nitrogen fertiliser from the early 1990s has been core to supporting the growth in export revenue in New Zealand. "Without it, many arable, vegetable and horticultural crops will fail. It remains an important strategic resource for many pastoral farms," said Vera. Nitrogen fertiliser is estimated to contribute $19.8 billion in gross output to the New Zealand economy as shown in a report on The Value of Nitrogen Fertiliser to the New Zealand Economy.

Recent policies and economics have resulted in greater efficiencies being introduced to support productivity. New technologies and practices enable more targeted application of nitrogen, the use of nutrient budgeting tools like Overseer, and the use of coated products, which reduce losses. These developments and more, have increased the value to the farmers and growers from the nitrogen applied.

"Maximising the efficiency of the nitrogen that is used while minimising losses to protect our environment, are core principles for decisions of New Zealand's farmers and growers," added Vera.

"Predictions are that these increasing efficiencies along with the benefits they bring, are to continue well into the future."

The fact sheet can be downloaded below.


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

23 September 2020

New Phosphorus Use Guidance Note that clearly explains why we need to manage phosphorus losses and why we need to build on the international principles of the '4 Rs' for good management of nutrients.

9 September 2020

Through a comprehensive research programme -- Forages for Reduced Nitrate Leaching (FRNL) -- OverseerFM has been updated to include the diuretic response in animals as a result of consuming plantain.

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