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Whakamana te Waituna

Fine particle fertiliser application demonstration

Next project update field day Friday 9 February 2018 11am-1pm. Look out for signposts at the south end of Kapuka South Road.

Fine Particle Application (FPA) is an alternative distribution system for solid fertiliser. It is not a fertiliser product or additive, but rather a fertiliser application technology designed to improve fertiliser application efficiency and thereby fertiliser performance. This is achieved through a more even distribution pattern resulting in better surface coverage compared to the distribution of granular fertiliser, which tends to result in more variation of fertiliser distribution.

The Waituna demonstration

The demonstration aims to show nitrogen fertiliser is utilised more efficiently by plants if it is applied more uniformly using FPA spreading technology. The outcome expected is a similar amount of pasture dry matter will be grown by applying 30kg of Urea/ha in FPA form as what would be grown using 60kg of granular Urea/ha. The FPA demonstration will continue until May 2018. The first update on the demonstration is available here.

It is important to note that this is a demonstration exercise and not a scientific trial in and of itself. However, the utmost care is taken when cutting pasture off the plots, measuring the pasture cut, calibrating the FPA spreading truck and weighing the fertiliser collected off the plastic covers to confirm the correct calibration of the truck.

To ensure the FPA spreading truck is properly calibrated, covers are laid down to protect the plots that do not require FPA treatment. These covers (including the FPA30 plot covers) are carefully lifted and taken to the workshop to be dried out. Once dry, the fertiliser is swept up and weighed to measure the weight of the fertiliser applied.

Cumulative data for each treatment over the four cuts carried out to date.

Benefits of FPA

In a recent review of experimental trials in New Zealand, FPA was found to provide numerous benefits. These are as follows:
• Fertilisers applied in FPA form performed better by producing significantly more pasture dry matter and exhibiting higher N response and response efficiencies compared to their corresponding treatments applied in granular form.
• Cumulative NOᴣ leaching losses during the 63 days were significantly reduced when urea was applied in FPA form compared with granular form.
• Total N uptake by the herbage was also significantly greater when herbage was supplied with N in FPA form rather than in granulated form.
• Total N recovery was significantly greater when urea was applied in FPA form than in granular form.
• FPA results in uniform distribution of applied urea on a per plant basis, with a significant proportion of the applied urea seen in small particles on pasture leaves during the first 12 hours of application. These deposited urea particles may enable pasture plants to absorb urea directly through their leaves/cuticles and this facilitates efficient conversion of urea into plant protein.
• There were significant environmental benefits noted in the papers reviewed. Two main benefits were a reduction in nitrate leaching as well as the reduction in volatilisation of N.

What next?

The FPA demonstration will continue until May 2018. Future open days at the demonstration plot site will be held so that interested people can stay up to date with how the demo is progressing and see the results for themselves.

To find out more or to register your interest in getting updates about the demonstration contact Chris Crossley on 027 706 5261, chris.crossley@afic.nz or Cain Duncan on 027 703 1743, cain.duncan@fonterra.com.