Management at Ravensdown fertiliser company in Christchurch are arriving at work this morning to discover they’ve been slimed.
The main entranceway to the head office in Christchurch, the car park, signage and front wall have all been covered in 350 litres of green gunge by Greenpeace activists.
"This summer kiwi families have been encountering slime-choked rivers at their favourite swimming spots," says Greenpeace campaigner, Gen Toop. "Today we decided to give Ravensdown a taste of their own medicine."
Ravensdown’s synthetic nitrogen fertiliser is used all over the country to intensify dairying operations, growing more grass in order to farm more cows.
"Nitrates from synthetic fertiliser and cow urine, create slimy algal blooms, suck the life out of waterways and threaten the safety of our drinking water," says Toop.
Use of synthetic fertiliser has increased 627% since 1990 and in that time the dairy herd has more than doubled.
New Zealand has had the highest percentage increase in synthetic nitrogen fertiliser in the developed world. There are currently no restrictions on the amount that can be used.
"The Government urgently needs to restrict synthetic fertiliser, before it destroys more New Zealand waterways. The clock is ticking on this environmental crisis," says Toop.
New freshwater rules are being finalised by the Ardern Government over the next couple of months.
"It’s time for the Prime Minister to make good on her promises to clean up our rivers."
"Jacinda Ardern must put a cap on synthetic fertiliser as part of the freshwater plan. It’s absolutely key. Without tackling synthetic fertiliser there’s no way of getting the slime out of our rivers," warns Toop.
Synthetic fertiliser also drives climate change. It’ supports intensive dairying which creates methane and nitrous oxide emissions. The dairy industry is the country’s single largest climate polluter.
Greenpeace is asking the Government to commit to a billion dollar fund to help farmers transition to more ecological ways of production without harmful chemicals like synthetic nitrogen fertiliser.
"We need the Government to help put New Zealand agriculture on the path to higher-value and more profitable food production through regenerative farming, working with the environment, not against it," she says.
"Regenerative agriculture is better for our rivers, better for our climate, better for our economic future."