More NI work needed

More research is needed for nitrification inhibitors

More research is needed for nitrification inhibitors

Ballance’s Head of Research and Environment, Warwick Catto, says ongoing nitrification inhibitor research is important to give farmers confidence in the technology which has already shown good promise in reducing nitrous oxide emissions and nitrate leaching.

Trials of a number of inhibitors will be run in the Waikato and Lower South Island through autumn as part of Ballance Agri-Nutrient’s seven-year Clearview Innovations research and product development initiative which last year secured $9.75 million in matching support from the Government’s Primary Growth Partnership.

“Research trials run by the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Consortium have shown some very good responses with nitrous oxide emissions down by an average 50% from urine patches and decreases of 40% in nitrogen leaching from urine patches.

“Pasture responses have shown some variability with DCD application increasing winter-spring dry matter production by an average 3%. However the Consortium research notes its trials were not able to replicate the large responses of 20% or more reported in some studies in either mown or grazed plots.

Mr Catto says Ballance endorses the Consortium research findings, which support the conclusions obtained from Ballance’s own independently conducted trial work, and although it is clear from the research that DCDs can be effective at reducing nitrous oxide emissions, more work needs to be undertaken.

“Given limited pasture production responses in Ballance’s own research and the research trials run by the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Consortium on behalf of industry, farmers need to see more evidence of cost benefits associated with use of the product to make it worthwhile for them to uptake this important technology,” he says.

Ballance’s $19.5 million Clearview programme has the goal of enabling the pastoral sector to lift profitable production with reduced environmental impacts. The first research contracts cover a range of technologies including nitrification inhibitor trials, new forms of nitrogen and phosphate fertiliser to reduce nutrient losses, and improved biological control of grass grubs.

Nitrification inhibitors will become an increasingly important tool for farmers as more regional councils consider nitrate leaching losses and with agriculture still scheduled to come under the Emissions Trading Scheme in 2015.

Ballance’s Clearview Innovations research and product development initiative is focused on the development of products that will improve the nitrogen and phosphorus efficiency as well as the development of new biologically-based forms of fertiliser and pest control so farmers can get more production with less - less fertiliser, less cost and less environmental impact.

28 March 2012

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