NZ Fertiliser Industry Systems Streets Ahead of Australia
9 February 2010
New Zealand Fertiliser Industry Quality Control Systems Streets Ahead of Australia
The concern expressed by Australian farmers about the need for independent verification of fertilisers, training of advisors and monitoring the environmental impact of fertiliser and its application, shows just how far we are ahead of our Trans Tasman neighbours, the Fertiliser Quality Council (FQC) believes.
Fertmark, established by Federated Farmers and the industry in 1996, is a quality assurance scheme which lets farmers know exactly what nutrients the fertiliser contains. Our Spreadmark scheme has been in operation since 1994, and guarantees a standard of spreading that meets international specifications. Both are voluntary but are so widespread that farmers anywhere can and should use Fertmark fertilisers spread by Spreadmark accredited operators.
FQC chair, Neil Barton, says it is a credit to New Zealand farmers and the fertiliser manufacturing and spreading industries that so much has been achieved. .
“In Australia, each State and Territory sets its own fertiliser regulations, while nationally they are working on a code of practice for fertiliser description and labelling,” Neil Barton said. “In New Zealand we have done all that, it is voluntary, widely supported and working well.
“Further, in Australia there is concern about the lack of qualification of fertiliser representatives and advisors. Here, the major fertiliser companies all support the Massey University fertiliser courses where advisors are qualified in the use of the Overseer nutrient management plan. Following soil testing, advisors can accurately determine the nutrients needed from fertiliser in relation to existing soil nutrient levels. This accuracy of advice gives agronomic as well as environmental benefits. .
“In addition, if anyone has an issue or complaint, that can be handled justly and efficiently by the FQC. Finally, our ‘Expert Panel’ has been formed to standardise fertiliser trial systems and the subsequent reporting of them
“If the Australian fertiliser industry could develop a quality audit system for fertiliser similar to our Fertmark, Australian farmers would have the assurance that the nutrients claimed in a fertiliser would be there. As a country, I believe we can be extremely proud of what we have achieved in the voluntary and well supported Fertmark Code of Practice quality control system. I wish our Australian cousins well in their development of similar systems but, as with Rugby, we are well ahead,” Neil Barton said.