Fertiliser Calibration

Project Aim

Nutrient budgeting is a critical aspect of fertiliser practice. Knowing what should be done is important. Knowing what is actually done is important too.

This project developed fertiliser application calibration procedures, a calculator and on-line resources suitable for farmers applying nutrients with their own equipment. This allows on-farm checks to ensure and demonstrate that their own or contracted application equipment is performing to expectations.

The outputs include an on-line calculator, guidelines and training materials that support industry good agricultural practice and schemes such as New Zealand GAP and Audited Self-Management programmes.

Ground based application includes a wide range of application methods to apply a vast array of fertiliser products, requiring careful matching of equipment and technique to the fertiliser and production system. The project will address the two broad types of ground based spreading equipment:

  • equipment that spreads fertiliser beyond the width of the machine – e.g. bulk spinners
  • equipment where the swath width is equal to or less than the width of the machine – e.g. boom sprayers, combine drills, pneumatic top dressers.

Clear calibration protocols are supported with guidelines and templates to ensure their correct implementation and for record keeping.  Together they enable farmers to suitably calibrate equipment and record data relevant to efficient use of nutrients. Their records support industry QA programmes and demonstrate regulatory compliance.


Alternative calibration approaches assessed
  • Existing protocols and research reviewed
  • Performance criteria and standards determined
  • Possible calibration methods field tested
Example field application rate derived from tray catches across a single transect and “overlapped” on computer
Protocols, guidelines and templates
  • Protocols and guidelines accepted by steering group
    • Templates developed and tested with farmers in Hawke’s Bay and Canterbury
    • FertSpread on-line calculator available at www.fertspread.nz
Training Module Developed
Training courses
  • Training events
    • 11 November 2015 Dairy farmers, Canterbury (Synlait)
    • 10 December 2015 2 sessions Arable farmers, Waikato (FAR)
    • 20 April 2016 Arable farmers, Ashburton (FAR “Arable Y’s”)
    • 27 May 2016 Cropping farmers, Hastings (LandWISE)

5.  Final Report (30/06/2016)

  • Feedback from course participants and stakeholders collated
  • Project summary prepared

 Project Funders

In-kind support from: