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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Impact of the Fertiliser N/ha Limit on Dairy Farms

Phil Journeaux, AgFirst
Completed June 2020


In May 2020, the government announced its decisions to introduce new rules and regulations for freshwater management under the Action for Healthy Waterways package. One of the proposed regulations is to cap synthetic nitrogen fertiliser application on pastoral land-use at 190kg N/ha/yr.

This report was commissioned to provide an initial assessment of the potential impact of this new cap on nitrogen fertiliser use on pastoral farms. The report suggests that 32% of dairy farms which apply nitrogen fertiliser could be impacted by the cap, many of these in Canterbury.

Modelling for Canterbury irrigated dairy farms suggests a 13.9% reduction in earnings (before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization - EBITDA). This reduction in earnings will be associated with a 6.6% reduction in nitrogen leaching.

We expect that many of these farms will already have strict requirements on nitrogen use set by the Regional Council to control nitrogen losses from the farm system. In fact, industry guidelines have always recommended caution on farms that apply more than 200 kg N/ha.

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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.

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1 March 2024

The Fertiliser Association of New Zealand recently updated its Fertiliser Use on New Zealand Dairy Farms booklet to ensure farmers get the best value from fertiliser applied and to align the advice with the Code of Practice for Fertiliser Nutrient Management.

28 June 2023

Dairy farmers milking cows on a farm area of more than 20 hectares are required to record synthetic nitrogen use on their dairy platform land, including a zero-kg record if no synthetic nitrogen is used. The regulations require data to be submitted by 31 July each year for the preceding year ended 30 June. 

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