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National soil cadmium database updated

National soil cadmium database updated

The results of an extensive survey of cadmium levels in agricultural soils were presented at the recent Fertilizer & Lime Research Centre annual workshop by Aaron Stafford of Ballance Agri-Nutrients, Dr Jo-Anne Cavanagh of Landcare Research and Dr Ants Roberts of Ravensdown Fertiliser Co-operative.

“This new information provides a major update to New Zealand’s national soil cadmium database,” said Dr Philip Mladenov, Chief Executive of the Fertiliser Association of New Zealand.

“The last national assessment was undertaken in 2007. Since then, more than 3700 new soil samples from every type of farm and from all of the regions of New Zealand have been collected and analysed for cadmium levels.”

Around 2700 of the samples – more than 70 per cent – were collected and analysed by the fertiliser industry, with the remainder contributed by regional councils and crown research institutes.

About 1200 of the samples were collected as part of the roll-out of the Tiered Fertiliser Management System (TFMS) starting in 2011. The fertiliser industry implemented the Tiered Fertiliser Management Strategy as a means to manage long-term cadmium accumulation. This system imposes increasingly stringent fertiliser management practices on farms where cadmium levels are in the higher ranges. The Tiered Fertiliser Management System is a central component of the National Cadmium Management Strategy, which is endorsed by the Cadmium Management Group and coordinated by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

“The range of soil cadmium concentrations reported in this survey is similar to those reported previously,” said Dr Mladenov.

“The updated database shows that cadmium concentrations in New Zealand agricultural soils remain comparable or lower than levels reported internationally and that they do not currently pose a risk to human health or the environment.”

“The long-term management of this issue is a government and private sector partnership of action, and one the fertiliser industry is proud to be a part of.”

“We will continue to engage with farmers to provide clear and sound information and advice on managing soil cadmium levels and we will continue to contribute in a major way to a strong and robust national database on cadmium levels in agricultural soils.”



The Fertiliser Association of New Zealand

The Fertiliser Association of New Zealand (FANZ) is a trade association representing the New Zealand manufacturers of superphosphate and nitrogen fertilisers. FANZ has two member companies – Ballance Agri-Nutrients Ltd and Ravensdown Fertiliser Co-operative Ltd. Both of these companies are farmer owned co-operatives with some 45,000 farmer shareholders between them. FANZ member companies supply over 98 per cent of all fertiliser used in New Zealand. This represents a $2 billion share of the market.

To promote good management practices, FANZ and its member companies develop training programmes, codes of practice and industry information fact sheets. They fund research, partner with government on research and development projects and work closely with other organisations in the agricultural sector on industry-good issues. Industry research and development spending exceeds $16 million per annum. This includes funding for the OVERSEER® nutrient management tool.

FANZ supports and encourages an environmentally responsible science-based approach to nutrient management and its regulation. FANZ member companies provide products that are critical to New Zealand farming systems along with research that supports both environmentally sustainable farming practices and government’s export growth agenda. FANZ is influential across all agricultural sectors, including dairy, sheep, beef, arable and horticulture.

More information about FANZ can be found on the website at

The National Cadmium Management Strategy

The National Cadmium Management Strategy is a government and private sector partnership aimed at managing the accumulation of cadmium in agricultural soils to ensure that there remains minimal risk to human health and the environment over the long-term (the next 100 years at least).

The Cadmium Management Group is made up of the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Ministry for the Environment, agriculture sector groups (Beef + Lamb New Zealand, representatives from the dairy industry, Arable Food Industry Council, Horticulture NZ, Federated Farmers, representatives from the fertiliser industry), and regional councils (Waikato Regional Council, Environment Bay of Plenty, Wellington Regional Council, Environment Canterbury, and Taranaki Regional Council).

More information about the National Cadmium Management Strategy can be found on the Ministry for Primary Industries website at

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