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 method

Application method will affect the accessibility of applied nutrients. Different placement methods can ensure that the nutrient is immediately available to rapidly growing plants (e.g. banded below the seed at planting) or is applied very gradually over a lengthy growing period (e.g. fertigation in horticulture). 

Placement will also affect the degree of interaction between the fertiliser and the soil, which is particularly important where nutrients can become unavailable due to reactions with soil minerals (e.g. phosphorus fixation) or organic matter (e.g. nitrogen immobilisation).

Placement of fertiliser should conform to the Spreadmark Code of Practice for both Aerial and Ground Fertiliser Spreading.

Common options for fertiliser placement include:

  • surface broadcast application (by ground or aerial spreading)
  • surface broadcast and incorporated
  • banded into the soil at various band widths and depths
  • surface banded
  • fertigation
  • foliar application
  • fine particle suspension or slurry application (ground or aerial).

The best placement method will depend on the nutrient(s) concerned, topography and individual production situations. For example, applications to crops, especially in horticulture, generally require more accuracy and precision than applications to intensive pastures where nutrients are continually redistributed by the grazing animals.

In deciding on the right application method, key questions to consider include:

  • does the method apply the nutrient sufficiently accurately for its purpose?
  • is the equipment suitable for the terrain and soil conditions?
  • is the equipment appropriate for the size of the application area?
  • is the use of the equipment likely to result in noise or dust nuisance to third parties?
  • is the equipment certified to meet accuracy requirements?

There is more detail about application methods and best management practices for fertiliser spreading in Fertiliser Application

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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