Knowing your number has never been so important for farmers. Whether its carbon or nitrogen, they are expected and need to be able to measure and account for both. Since 1 July this year, pastoral farmers have been required to keep under the annual cap of 190kg of nitrogen per hectare, which is monitored by regional councils. There are specific annual reporting requirements for dairy farmers, but all pastoral farmers will need to be able to account for their nitrogen fertiliser use for each hectare of land.
The best way for farm owners to comply is to retain accurate records for all solid and liquid mineral N fertiliser purchased and applied. While the fertiliser supplier can provide a year-end statement of purchase records, the easiest way to collect spreading or application information is to have proof of placement as provided by a GPS-controlled spreading vehicle or aircraft. Spreadmark-registered vehicles and aircraft are able to provide this proof for farmers. The assurance is backed by independently assessed, audited and trained spreaders who can apply nutrients at an even rate and distribution pattern. If an operator has the Spreadmark tick, farmers can be confident the operator will place fertiliser where they want it, and at the right rate.
Precision placement is dependent on a number of factors: the careful integration of operator skills, sound and well-calibrated spreading equipment matched to the appropriate fertilisers. It is the integration of these factors that is at the heart of the Spreadmark accreditation.
Inadequate or inaccurate monitoring and recording of N fertiliser applications can lead to uneven results and a higher N use than expected at the end of the season. Farmers need to have systems in place to accurately record the tonnages and areas of fertiliser applied.
There are currently 80 Spreadmark-registered ground spreaders and 27 aerial spreaders in New Zealand, giving farmers the confidence they need that their fertiliser is being applied where they want it at the right rate.
Most farmers will need a Farm Environmental Plan in place by 2025, meaning their contractors will need to be able to provide data in an easily accessible and usable format to ensure accurate records are maintained.