A new partnership between the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), the dairy and fertiliser industries is making a significant investment in researching nitrification inhibitors, new technology that supports farmers to reduce the environmental impact of their farming operations.
MAF and Fonterra today announced a three-year research agreement with DairyNZ, Ballance Agri-Nutrients, Ravensdown Fertiliser Cooperative, New Zealand Fertiliser Manufacturers’ Research Association and the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGgRc).
The partners are investing up to $10 million in a research programme aimed at measuring the effectiveness of nitrification inhibitors in reducing nitrous oxide emissions and nitrate leaching while enhancing pasture growth.
MAF Director, Natural Resources Policy, Mike Jebson says previous research conducted by the fertiliser industry has already highlighted the ability of nitrification inhibitors to enhance pasture growth while reducing emissions and nitrate leaching.
“The aim of the new research programme is to improve our understanding of the effectiveness and performance variations which may occur between farms and across regions, due to physical and climatic conditions,” he says.
MAF will provide 50 per cent of the required funding with the other 50 per cent coming from Fonterra, DairyNZ and the fertiliser industry. PGgRC will manage the research programme.
Fonterra’s Sustainable Production Manager John Hutchings says reducing on-farm greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining global competitiveness is critical for both the agricultural sector and the entire economy.
“By committing to this programme, the dairy industry, fertiliser industry and MAF are taking significant steps toward providing practical tools that support farmers to make positive environmental changes on-farm,” he says.
“New technologies such as nitrification inhibitors are key tools for meeting the sustainability challenges the industry faces, including those related to water quality and New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.”
Research will initially involve a series of replicated trials in four dairying regions – Waikato, Manawatu, Canterbury, and Southland. The introduction of two more regions is planned for year two of the programme.
Key variables to be measured include: nitrogen inputs, pasture growth under grazing, nitrous oxide emissions, soil type and temperature, rainfall and drainage.