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Ballance Answers Nitrogen Fertiliser Concerns

Ballance Finds Answer To Nitrogen Fertiliser Concerns

Fertiliser company Ballance Agri-Nutrients has developed an answer to the challenges being placed on the environment by the greater use of nitrogen fertiliser by the country’s farmers.

It has developed a product in granular form suitable for blending with nitrogen fertilisers that reduces nitrogen leaching from soil by up to as much as 50%, and reduces the release of the greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide, into the atmosphere by a similar amount.

It also reduces the risk of nitrate poisoning in stock, which can be a potential animal health issue in some locations during autumn.

The product, called n-care, is a world first, and has been independently evaluated by Ag Research. Ballance has filed a patent for it and will market it to farmers from April.

Ballance Chairman, David Graham, said nitrogen fertiliser use in New Zealand had increased significantly in the last decade resulting in increased farming intensity. This had placed pressure on the environment, leading to higher levels of nitrogen entering ground and surface water, and contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.

“n-care will enable farmers to continue to use nitrogen fertiliser in most pasture and arable situations while being confident that they are reducing its potential impact on the environment,” he said.

n-care has two effects on nitrogen. It inhibits

nitrogen leaching and being transported to waterways by rain and irrigation

the formation of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas New Zealand is bound to reduce as part of its obligations under the Kyoto protocol.

Ballance Chief Executive, Larry Bilodeau, said that in reducing the loss of nitrogen, n-care ensures that more nitrogen is made available to plants, improving the returns farmers will get from their investment in nitrogen fertiliser.

“It is a win win situation for the environment and the farmer,” he said.

“Ballance has been undertaking field trials in relation to the challenges imposed by increased nitrogen fertiliser use for more than two years.

“We saw the need to find answers to the environmental issues created by nitrogen use as part of taking responsibility for the products we market.

“It will help allay the concerns of regional councils around the country about increased nitrogen fertiliser use, and gives Government the answer it has been seeking in relation to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the form of nitrous oxide.

“Nitrogen is one of the nutrients that has the potential to affect our iconic North Island lakes, and n-care will be a welcome preventative tool in the arsenal of methods used to ensure their preservation.

“n-care works through an inhibitor called DCD, a nitrogenous compound which is widely used internationally for this purpose.

“Our innovation has been the development through experimentation of a granular formulation which can be blended with nitrogen fertilisers, enhancing the efficiency of nitrogen fertiliser and making application easier.

“We have spent the past six months perfecting its application in combination with urea, New Zealand’s most common form of nitrogen fertiliser.

“By mixing the inhibitor with nitrogen fertiliser we offer farmers an extremely cost effective and practical way of spreading the product.

“Come April, every farmer will have the means of controlling nitrogen losses from their nitrogen fertilisers applied to their farms.

“It is our intention to seek world wide patents for our new product.”

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