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Fertiliser Use Increases As Farmers Reinvest In The Land

March 26, 2011

Media Statement

Fertiliser Use Increases As Farmers Reinvest In The Land

Total fertiliser use on New Zealand farms increased for the first time in three years in the 2010/11 fertiliser year, reaching just over 3 million tonnes.

This is a significant increase in fertiliser use compared to the previous year, which was 2.3 million tonnes, but is below the peak use of 3.3 million tonnes recorded in 2004/05 and close to total fertiliser use in 2007/08 of 3.1 million tonnes.

The fertiliser use data are reported in the March edition of Fertiliser Matters, published by Fert Research.

“A combination of improving farm incomes, particularly in the sheep and beef sector, and depletion of soil nutrient reserves, has contributed to the increase in fertiliser use this year,” says Fert Research’s Chief Executive Philip Mladenov.

“Farmers are now reinvesting in their properties to improve production capacity and future agricultural export potential. These are initiatives the fertiliser industry welcomes.

“Use of all three main nutrients - nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus - increased in 2010/11.

“Elemental nitrogen use increased by about 8% over the previous year to 367,000 tonnes, which brings it into line with the previous seasonal peak use figure established in 2005.

“Since 2005 elemental nitrogen use has moved within a relatively narrow band, and use of this important and strategic nutrient is now back to where it was six years ago.

“Elemental potassium use increased for the first time in three years, and is now at a level comparable with use 19 years ago, and remains well below the peak use year in recent times of 134,000 tonnes in 2002/03.

“Elemental phosphorus use followed the same pattern as for elemental potassium, increasing for the first time for three years to 147,400 tonnes. This is well below the peak recorded in 2004/05 of 218,600 tonnes.”

Fertiliser Matters reports the increase in fertiliser consumption in New Zealand in 2010/11 is part of a global trend.

It notes the International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA) reported a 6.2% increase in global nutrient use to 173 million tonnes in 2011, stimulated by a sharp rebound in world economic activity and strong agricultural markets. While global nutrient production capacity continues to increase, over the past year this was at a slower level than demand growth and contributed to ‘tightness’ of supply globally.


1 The NZ fertiliser year runs from 1 June to 31 May.

2 The ‘elemental’ level of nutrient is the actual amount of nutrient applied. This figure differs from the total fertiliser use figure which includes other ingredients found in branded product. For example, the phosphorus content in superphosphate is normally around 9% .

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