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Nutrient spreading standard can help farmers

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The New Zealand Groundspread Fertilisers Association (NZGFA) is encouraging farmers and contractors to look to Spreadmark to help mitigate environmental risk when spreading fertiliser and other nutrients.

Spreadmark is New Zealand’s fertiliser and nutrient spreading standard. Internationally recognised by JAS-ANZ (the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand), its objective is to ensure that fertiliser is accurately placed in locations where it can be of the most agricultural benefit and least environmental harm.

The call from the NZGFA comes as members from across the organisation’s seven regional branches report that the downturn in farmer confidence is causing some farmers to hold off buying fertiliser - until they figure out how best to tackle their environmental responsibilities.

John Schultz, NZGFA President, says ground spreaders who are accredited to the Spreadmark scheme can help farmers navigate the environmental regulations when it comes to applying fertiliser and other nutrients. "Farmers are not alone in this. Spreadmark spreaders have been mitigating environmental risk for nearly 25 years, since the standard was developed."

He explains that Spreadmark requires accredited ground spreaders to have certified spreading machinery, highly trained operators and independently audited quality management systems to ensure that farmer/grower outcomes are met and that environmental sustainability is maintained.

"Spreadmark accredited ground spreaders use sophisticated GPS technology to ensure the precise application of fertiliser and nutrients. Importantly, this technology provides proof of placement and facilitates accurate record keeping to fulfill compliance requirements."

Mr Schultz explains that proof of fertiliser and nutrient placement will increasingly become sought-after by authorities and food processing companies, as environmental regulations tighten and auditing in the primary sector escalates.

Using a Spreadmark registered ground spreader is most effective when farmers/growers use Fertmark-approved fertiliser. Fertmark is a voluntary quality assurance scheme that independently verifies fertiliser to ensure that what the manufacturer declares is in the product is true to label.

- Overseen by the Fertiliser Quality Council, alongside Fertmark, Spreadmark is already recognised as a valuable benchmark by regional councils and food processing companies. Synlait, for example, requires suppliers wanting to join its premium quality programme (Lead With Pride) to use only Spreadmark accredited ground spreaders.

- The NZGFA was established in 1956 to promote and protect the interests of both individuals and companies operating in the ground spread industry. While much has changed over the last 63 years, ground spreading remains the first vital step in the food supply chain. The Association believes that as industry looks more and more at fertiliser application, so ground spreaders will become known for the role they play in promoting best practice within the primary industry.

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