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New Zealand’s reputation as a quality food producer is growing.
The Fertiliser Association of New Zealand promotes and encourages responsible and scientifically-based nutrient management.
The Code is intended to cover the full range of products that are used, known as or seen as fertilisers, and are recognised as such under the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act 1997, and the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2001. If there is any uncertainty about whether a given product is considered a ‘fertiliser’, this Code specifically covers:
“Any substance (whether solid or fluid in form) which is described as or held out to be for, or suitable for, sustaining or increasing the growth, productivity, or quality of plants or animals through the application of the following essential nutrients to plants or soils:
nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, magnesium, calcium, chlorine, sodium, as major nutrients or manganese, iron, zinc, copper, boron, cobalt, molybdenum, iodine, selenium, as minor nutrients or additives”
“Any other product which is considered to meet identified soil or plant nutrient deficiencies and is applied with this as the principle objective. Products discharged or applied as part of a waste treatment process require resource consents. Products that have received resource consent and will be used as a nutrient source should comply with the principles of the Code.”
To be considered a fertiliser under this Code, any product shall be free from pathogens or any other agents which could effect disease and pest transmission.
Substances not specifically manufactured as a fertiliser (e.g dairy shed effluent, chicken litter and manures) may be subject to specific legislative requirements not covered in this Code.
Various regulatory and other industry or quality assurance requirements affect the use and application of fertiliser. The main legislative requirements are the Resource Management Act (1991), the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act (1997) (ACVM), Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Regulations (2001), the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 (HSNO), the Transport Act 1985 and the Transport Law Reform Act 1990. The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 (HSE) is also relevant in relation to safe workplace requirements.
The principal item of legislation that affects the application of fertiliser is the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA).
Section 2. Interpretation
The RMA does not define what a fertiliser is but does define contaminant.
“Contaminant” includes any substance (including gases, liquids, solids, and micro-organisims) or energy (excluding noise) or heat, that either by itself or in combination with the same, similar, or other substances, energy, or heat -
(a) When discharged into water, changes or likely to change the physical, chemical, or biological condition of the water; or
(b) When discharged onto or into land or into air, changes or is likely to change the physical, chemical, or biological condition of the land or air onto or into which it is discharged.
Fertiliser, along with numerous other substances, is regarded as a “contaminant”.
Section 5. Purpose
Section 15. Discharges of contaminants into the environment
Regional and District Councils prepare resource management policies and plans under the RMA. The plans of Regional Councils usually include rules that govern various activities, including the discharge of contaminants. The definition of a ‘contaminant’ given in the RMA includes fertilisers. The discharge of contaminants into the environment, which includes the application of fertiliser, is covered in Section 15 of the Act. Section 17 of the RMA states that every person has “a duty to avoid, remedy or mitigate adverse effects on the environment.” As a result, rules governing the discharge of contaminants may appear in Regional Plans including Regional Air, Water, and Land plans. For nutrients derived from waste products the rules may be contained in Regional Waste Plans.
This legislation covers the requirements for the fertiliser group of agricultural compounds. Fertilisers are broadly defined as substances or products that are used to encourage plant growth but are further classed as either:
All products that are either fertilisers or fertiliser additives are exempt from registration under the ACVM Regulation 9 as long as the requirements of the ACVM Regulations that cover the import, manufacture and trade in fertilisers and fertiliser additives are met. This means that the fertiliser must be fit for the purpose specified in the directions for use and include a label at the point of sale detailing information such as trade name, nutrient content, modifying pH, details of any precautions to be taken to prevent or manage risk and directions for use. The Fertmark Code is a compliant Code under ACVM.
The Minimum Degrees of Hazard Regulations 2001 and Hazardous Substances Regulations 2001 determine and describe the hazardous properties of substances. Some fertilisers may be hazardous substances under these regulations, in which case any controls applied under the HSNO regulations must be complied with. The controls may relate to any stage of the life cycle of the substance including manufacturing, transport, storage, use or disposal.
Most fertilisers fit into an Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) group standard called ‘subsidiary’. ERMA administers HSNO. Provisions around this group standard relate to labeling, signage, safety data sheets, advertising, storage and health and safety and transport. In general these provisions only affect the fertiliser companies. However, if the fertiliser is classified under the oxidiser group standard (e.g. nitrate products such as ammonium nitrate and potassium nitrate) then there are additional restrictions applied to the land manager (who must be an approved handler) and quantities stored on the property.
Users will comply with the requirements of the Transport Act and Transport Regulations when transporting fertiliser by road. Under these Acts it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure:
The carrier is responsible for ensuring that this is achieved. All carriers shall be aware of the Operators Handbook for the Transport of Hazardous Substances by Road (Land Transport Safety Authority).
All employers and self-employed people must also comply with the Health and Safety in Employment Act. The key focus of this Act requires that people must:
a) As employers, identify hazards to employees at work and manage these so that people are not harmed. Note that a driver’s place of work includes the vehicle being driven.
b) As employees, ensure personal safety and the safety of others, including using safety equipment as instructed.
Staff on the area being treated must know about the fertiliser application. Employees have a duty to comply with safety directives (including using safety equipment as instructed) to ensure their personal safety and the safety of others. Fertiliser users should seek information about their products from the supplier or a qualified consultant.
A safety data sheet should be available for all products used on the property.
Most nutrient management activities are covered by the Resource Management Act 1991. Check with the local Regional Council for specific requirements relating to these activities. There may also be other legislation and regulations that cover other operational activities undertaken on the property. Again check with the Regional Council for these.