Urea use up but profits and animal health decline

Better soils
with Brett Petersen
Kiwi Fertiliser & Golden Bay Dolomite

I watched the build-up to the election with particular focus on the environment with interest. Various views were expressed, one being by Prime Minister Bill English who said “It has taken five years for scientists to agree on the science.”

The golden rule is you do not involve those that have created the problem to solve the problem. Unfortunately our government appears to do just that. While they fund the polluters, nothing will change except for the worse.

What is so hard about agreeing that too much water is being polluted by too much nitrogen? In 1979, 16,000 tonnes of urea was imported into New Zealand.

In 2016 260,000t of urea was manufactured and 560,000t was imported. That’s 820,000t or a 50 times increase in 37 years. Has productivity increased 50 times? Actually, profit and animal health have declined along with the quality of produce, milk in particular. Why do some of Kiwi Fertiliser’s farms produce around 20,000kgDM of pasture with no or minimal nitrogen inputs? This is 25 per cent more than those who apply urea.

Multi-species pasture

Why do scientists fiddle with individual plants like plantain when the more multi-species the pastures are, the less nitrogen escapes? This is not a cow or a farm problem. It is a people problem.

Lots of little band-aids won’t solve systemic problems. What is so difficult about increasing carbon in the soil, rather than sending it into the atmosphere, which is what happens when we follow institutionalised and other short-sighted and, ultimately, expensive advice?

At the moment there are no winners in New Zealand. We are all losing. It would need the majority of urea users to change their habits to turn us into winners.

That is, stop the flow of nitrogen into water, and reverse the loss of carbon into the atmosphere by sequestering it into the soil for increased production and environmental stability. It is very easy to achieve and far more profitable than the current system. Let us at Kiwi Fertiliser show you a much better way to improve production and profitability that includes superior pasture growth, animal health and a reduction in the use of chemical products.


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