• Bert Quin

Reducing nitrate in waterways and gaseous N losses

This issue is not going to go away. Environmentalists, farmer organisations like Federated Farmers, Fertmark and the fertiliser cooperatives are all 'muddying the waters' by using simplistic and self-serving arguments.

We can keep going round and round the merry-go-round of passing the buck, or the government can put some effort into incentivising farmers to make change. In dairying, most of the N losses come from the use of extremely inefficient granular urea, either directly, or indirectly from high N levels in cow urine. The SustaiN (urea coated with 500 ppm nbpt) I introduced in 2001 was a good start, with 20% higher efficiency. But Ballance's watered-down, much lower-nbpt namesake (100ppm) and even Ravensdown's version (N-Protect, with 300ppm nbpt) cannot be as efficient as the old SustaiN was.

Government must give farmers cash carbon credits if they can prove they have reduced their actual fertiliser N inputs. If this incentive was there, they would insist on getting easy access to far more efficient forms of N fertiliser like ONEsystem. Unfortunately, the management of the fertiliser cooperative duopoly lack the vision to see that ever-increasing sales tonnages of 'leaky' N and P products is not the way forward.