22 Sep 2011

Transformation of traditional fertiliser use targeted

1:50 pm on 22 September 2011

The Government's Primary Growth Partnership has awarded funding to a new research and innovation programme aimed at transforming traditional fertiliser use.

It will spend $32 million over seven years, with about two-thirds of that coming from the fertiliser co-operative Ballance Agri-Nutrients, which is leading the programme.

It will focus on the development of products and services that improve the efficiency of nitrogen and phosphate use, as well as reducing nitrate runoff on dairy farms.

Ballance's research and environment head, Warwick Catto, says the programme aims to balance economic and environmental factors.

"Fertiliser costs have increased significantly in the last three or four years," Mr Catto says, "so that's impacting on the ability of farmers to use it." The other "primary pressure point" they're under, he says, is the challenge of reducing their environmental footprint through more efficient fertiliser use.

The company says the research programme could benefit New Zealand pastoral farming by more than $340 million by 2025.

$500m invested in PGP

Agriculture Minister David Carter says All New Zealanders are benefitting from the $227 million the Government has so far invested in primary sector research and innovation through the Primary Growth Partnership.

The Government fund, with industry contributions, has invested a total of $500 million in the primary sector in the past two years.

There are now nine Primary Growth Partnership programmes under way, including wool, red meat, dairy, aquaculture, manuka honey and forestry.

Mr Carter says the funding helps good ideas from industry leaders to develop into jobs and products. He says investment in the primary sector is pivotal to the successful performance of New Zealand's economy.