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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Analysing cadmium uptake from root to shoot

Nilusha Ubeynarayana’s research focused on how best to manage cadmium concentration in New Zealand soils .

The Sri Lankan PhD student, who undertook her three-year research project through Massey University, used a range of advanced techniques, aimed at discovering how plants uptake cadmium from root to shoot.

Nilusha’s research built on a PhD study by Aaron Stafford, which analysed the cadmium concentration of 12 forage species. This research showed that two popular supplementary feeds, chicory and plantain, accumulated significantly more cadmium than other forage species. These two plants are an important part of animal feed as they are a drought-tolerant, high nutrient food crop.

“The big question I was seeking to answer was why chicory and plantain accumulate more cadmium,” says Nilusha.

To answer this question Nilusha analysed the chemistry of the rhizosphere, the few millimetres of soil surrounding the plant roots that is influenced by the activity of soil microorganisms and plant roots. She conducted experiments to study rhizosphere soil solution and root interaction in order to understand how this influences cadmium uptake of various forages when phosphate fertiliser has been applied on a long-term basis.

To learn more about her findings download her thesis here:  Plant associated soil mechanisms of cadmium uptake and translocation in chicory and plantain (massey.ac.nz)

Nilusha’s research was funded by the Fertiliser Association of New Zealand and the Foundation of Arable Research. Her supervisors were Dr Paramsothy Jeyakumar (Jeya), Professor Chris Anderson, Dr Roberto Calvelo Pereira and Dr Peter Bishop.



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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12 June 2024

FANZ places great value on developing New Zealand’s agricultural research capability. One way we do this is through supporting PhD students. Among the students we are currently supporting is Kaitlin Watson, a Lincoln University student whose PhD looks at phosphorus and nitrogen cycling in dryland pastures under conventional and regenerative agriculture management.

27 March 2024

FANZ is dedicated to funding research and developing New Zealand’s agricultural research capability by supporting PhD research such as the work of Massey University student Nicola Wilson who is undertaking research on ‘What Hot Water Extractable Carbon and Nitrogen can tell us about changes in labile soil Carbon and Nitrogen.’

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