New Fertiliser Research Focus Aims for Future Balance
Agricultural researchers are being challenged by the fertiliser industry to show the country’s farmers how to better use nutrients. Central to this is balancing a focus on efficiency and profitability with equal emphasis on sustainable farming and good environmental practice.
As one of the country’s major funders of fertiliser research, Fert Research is advising researchers that the association wants to see a step change in their focus, and the development of future farming practices that demonstrate the environmental and economic benefits of best practice nutrient management.
To achieve this, Fert Research has developed a research funding document; Research Focus 2004 and Beyond which underpins its goals and objectives.
Dr Hilton Furness, Fert Research Technical Director describes the new focus as timely.
“Making a difference through research that increases production and farmer profitability while taking into account environmental impacts is increasingly important to have a successful and sustainable agricultural industry in the future.”
He also says the new focus challenges researchers to think differently and aims to foster new approaches to research.
“The fertiliser industry funds millions of dollars of research annually and with this new focus Fert Research expects research projects to produce results that farmers will see real benefits in adopting. Research Focus gives researchers some clear guidelines on the areas where research is needed.”
Those areas where research opportunities have been identified are:
- Improving nutrient conversion efficiency to increase dry matter production while increasing, maintaining or reducing fertiliser inputs
- Reduced nutrient use, particularly Nitrogen and Phosphorus while maintaining or improving productivity
- To develop strategies for nutrient use in catchments with capped nutrient loadings to maintain and enhance production
- Identify the causes of within-paddock production variability and develop responses for increased, uniform paddock profitability
- Identify options for increasing carbon dioxide uptake by pasture plants or increase the plants’ ability to use more carbon dioxide
- To increase the productivity of hill country systems through increased, targeted nitrogen use to balance production objectives and environmental goals
The process for applying for research funding remains the same and can be viewed at: www.fertresearch.org.nz. Research Focus is also available online in the research section. Research applications for future projects must be received by mid January 2005 for consideration.
Fert Research represents the country’s two main fertiliser companies, Ballance Agri-Nutrients and Ravensdown Fertiliser Co-operative, which manufacture, market and distribute around 90% of all fertiliser sold in New Zealand.