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Summit-Quinphos disappointed with confusion

Summit-Quinphos disappointed with confusion over terminology

Fertiliser manufacturer Summit Quinphos says a misunderstanding about content and terminology in its advertising is at the root of a report by the Fertiliser Quality Council (FQC).

“It’s a simple misunderstanding but it’s disappointing, all the same,” said the company’s General Manager, Willie Thomson. “Unfortunately the FQC process and findings were flawed, resulting in this confusing situation.”

The European-based reviewer employed by the FQC felt the interpretation of trial data in the company’s advertising material was inappropriate and could lead to confusion. However, the review focused primarily on documents never designed as promotional material, as opposed to advertising content designed to ‘influence the market.’

Another issue mentioned in the review is the use of nitrogen response when comparing products, which is standard practice in New Zealand but not in Europe.

“Previously we have claimed an average nitrogen response to SustaiN of up to 50% more than with ordinary urea. This has been proven in numerous trials and the issue here arises from whether it is appropriate to make claims based on a percentage increase in N response.

We believe farmers inherently understand N response expressed as 10:1 and would accept that taking 10:1 to 15:1 could be expressed as a 50% increase. Unfortunately the reviewer believed farmers could take this to mean total production will increase by 50% as opposed to N response. We do not believe this to be the case but the confusion has led to this current situation.

“In hindsight, we could have presented things differently. We no longer use the percentage terminology in our advertising to avoid any confusion.

“The science and all the trials irrefutably back the value and performance of SustaiN – really, this whole case is about how we presented the results of those very successful scientific trials.

“We definitely stand by the scientific results for SustaiN, which are proven in trials both here and around the world, but we do apologise if the way we presented those results caused any confusion,” Mr Thomson said.

The key issue for farmers is whether they are getting value for money. As recently as 9 December 2009 the same reviewer presented a paper at the International Fertiliser Conference in Cambridge, England, stating that: ‘In New Zealand the cost-benefit of amending urea with Agrotain has been shown by Blennerhassett et al. (2006) in terms of extra pasture production and hence milk solids produced, despite Agrotain amended urea being priced at a 22% premium over urea.’ She also quotes work in the US where the use of Agrotain in maize has been shown to provide a net return of 8:1, Mr Thomson said.

“We are advocating strongly for the establishment of an independent and expert body qualified to develop agreed, industry-wide standards around fertiliser response performance.

“That way there’ll be one-size-fits-all criteria with which no one can argue, and which farmers can use to weigh up all of these products – ours included – and make informed decisions.

“SustaiN uses innovative and ground-breaking technology and we stand by the product and claims on its performance. It is worth noting that SustaiN does improve pasture response to nitrogen, and also reduces the loss of ammonia, therefore contributing effectively to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector. It is vital that all New Zealand farmers have access to this mitigation technology.”

ENDS

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