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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Application accuracy

Fertiliser application must be confined to the desired application site. Fertiliser spread more widely is inefficient and potentially environmentally harmful. The person applying fertiliser shall ensure that it is applied as accurately as is reasonably possible. A clearly marked map showing buffer zones should help contractors ensure that non-target areas are not treated.

As well as keeping fertiliser to the target area, application needs to be even across this area at the desired fertiliser application rate. The potential evenness of application for any given fertiliser is affected by:

  • the physical form of the fertiliser
  • size guide number (SGN), uniformity index (UI) and bulk density (BD) of fertiliser mixes
  • the type of application equipment
  • application techniques
  • operational factors at the application site, including the weather (wind speed and direction)

The evenness of distribution is described using the coefficient of variation (CV%). This can be measured by catching fertiliser in collectors across the distribution area and weighing the fertiliser in each container.

CV is defined as:
standard deviation (of weight of fertiliser retained in each collector) ÷ mean weight across all containers and is expressed as a percentage.

A high CV indicates poor (uneven) spreading while a CV of zero indicates perfectly even spreading.

The target application rate should be chosen to meet the true plant nutrient requirements. Inappropriate application may increase the risk of adverse environmental effects and reduce production potential.

In New Zealand, the standards set under the Spreadmark Code of Practice for the Placement of Fertiliser allows for a single pass transverse spreading CV of no greater than 15% for nitrogen fertilisers and 25% for all other fertilisers. When making recommendations for the amount of fertiliser to be applied, fertiliser providers and consultants assume a CV of zero percent.

Modern technology, such as GPS and GIS systems, has enabled commercial fertiliser spreaders (ground and aerial) to achieve a high degree of fertiliser spreading accuracy. This technology enables spreaders to cover precise areas with minimal overlap or gaps between spreading runs and to achieve accurate buffers between target and non-target areas.

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

8 October 2018

New Zealand's agricultural industry is increasingly considering the challenges and opportunities of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


5 September 2018

From having an internationally acclaimed research method named after him to running a highly successful research centre, Professor Mike Hedley can look back on his 40-year academic career with a huge sense of achievement.

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