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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Update of the carbon footprint of fertilisers used in New Zealand

FANZ commissioned a study to update the estimates of the average carbon footprint of a range of fertilisers used in New Zealand by Ballance Agri-Nutrients and Ravensdown. This was based on local production and importation data for 2018/19. Results are compared with estimates from a previous carbon footprint study of New Zealand fertilisers in 2010.

The report was written by Dr Stewart Ledgard. Stewart is a Principal Scientist with AgResearch and also an Adjunct Professor of the Life Cycle Management Centre at Massey University in New Zealand. His research focus is the management of resource use and environmental impacts of pastoral farming systems. During the past decade this has involved application of Life Cycle Assessment across a range of New Zealand agricultural systems and products.

Life cycle assessment methodology was used to account for all sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in calculation of the carbon footprint of fertilisers, including that for transportation to a New Zealand port.

The report provides the New Zealand fertiliser industry with information on the GHG emissions associated with the production and use of fertilisers on New Zealand farms. It also determines the contribution of fertilisers to the total GHG emissions from New Zealand dairy, sheep and beef production.

"Use of data from this project will enable the fertiliser industry to examine the 'hot-spots' in GHG emissions throughout the life cycle in the production and use of fertilisers in the primary sector," said Dr Ledgard.

Summary of results

"It's very positive to see that the results have shown a decrease between 2010 and 2018/19 in the average carbon footprint of most fertilisers used by these companies, due to greater efficiencies across production and transportation and changes in the source of raw materials," said Vera Power, Chief Executive of the Fertiliser Association.

"For urea fertiliser and superphosphate these represent an 8% reduction and 28% reduction respectively."

  • Emissions from shipping of raw materials to New Zealand were the largest contributor to the carbon footprint of superphosphate. The results also show a reduction in the contribution of nitrogen plus non-nitrogen fertiliser carbon footprint for milk from 8.5% in a 2008/09 study, to 8% in this study.
  • For typical north island sheep and beef products, the contribution of fertiliser to the carbon footprint was assessed at 2.8% and to the whole farm carbon footprint 1%.

Read the full report

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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