Affordable nitrogen fertiliser use still has its place

Nitrogen — is it still economic to use? This is a question reporter Shawn McAvinue asked people at a DairyNZ spring group event on the Taieri last week.

Anna Ramsay

Ballance nutrient specialist, of Middlemarch

"It is the cheapest form of supplement you can get but you have to use it strategically, rather than just lumping it on; it has to be well-timed. It is really good to fill a deficit in the spring time and in autumn as well."

Jared Paterson

Dairy farmer, of Momona, with son Tyson, 2

"I guess it depends on the farm system. Nitrogen has its place, but if farmers focus more on increasing the production of each cow and cut back on their stocking rate, then nitrogen could become obsolete." 

Abhin Kumar

Dairy farmer, of Mosgiel

"Of course, if you get the response. It is all about the amount of pasture grown and if your cows are eating it all, or if you are banking it and keeping it in a stack because you don’t know what mother nature has in store for you three months down the track."

Michael Harrison

ANZ agribusiness manager, of Dunedin

"It is down to your system.  There’s probably only a handful of farmers who run a full grass-based system and now the growth is kicking off, they’ll be putting the nitrogen on to grow grass and bank it for the future." 

Duncan Wells

Dairy farmer, of Outram

"Yes it is economic to use, on the right type of crop that will respond to it. We can see the response if we get it right and if you can see it, it is significant. We are so fortunate on the Taieri with our really heavy soil types, it hardly ever looks like it is short of nitrogen with its good strong top soils. We would be having quite a different conversation around nitrogen-use if we were in Northern Southland."