27 Mar 2012

Growing demand for fertiliser

3:00 pm on 27 March 2012

Total fertiliser use on New Zealand farms has increased for the first time in three years.

Just over three million tonnes of fertiliser was applied in the 2010-11 season. That is a significant increase compared with the previous year, when 2.3 million tonnes was spread, but is below the peak use of 3.3 million tonnes recorded in the 2004-05 season.

FertResearch chief executive Philip Mladenov says the increase in fertiliser use in the past year is due to a combination of improving farm incomes, particularly in the sheep and beef sector, and farmers replenishing depleted soil nutrient reserves.

Mr Mladenov says the use all three main nutrients - nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus - increased in 2010-11.

Meanwhile, an aerial topdressing company says it has had to buy another plane to keep up with the increasing use of fertiliser.

Super Air manager Graeme Martin says the rise has pushed staff and resources to the limit and it has decided to increase its spreading capacity to 200,000 tonnes a year.

Mr Martin says demand for topdressing this year is even higher than 2011 and it needs a new plane to meet the demands of hill country farmers.