SustaiN a better enviromental choice

Recently Ballance’s Science Strategy Manager, Warwick Catto, was interviewed on the subject of the effects of Nitrogen Volitilisation. This is the article that followed.

Smart N ousting urea

Ballance farmers’ use of Ballance Agri-Nutr ients’ nitrogen product SustaiN since its launch in 2002 now exceeds 1 million tonnes, the company says. Science strategy manager Warwick Catto says farmers increasingly prefer the product over urea. Its granules contain AGROTAIN®, “the world’s leading urease inhibitor”, that reduces nitrogen losses from ammonia volatilisation by 50% on average compared to urea. SustaiN has been Fertmark certified for 10 years.

The company’s PhasedN and SustaiN together account for half its nitrogen fertiliser sales. It says in some regions the proportion of farmers converting to these products from urea is about 70%. “For every 500,000 tonnes of urea sold in New Zealand, around 10-20% of the available nitrogen will be lost through volatilisation,” Catto says. “That’s the equivalent of 23,000 tonnes of nitrogen not doing its job in the soil.”

"For every 500,000 tonnes of urea sold in New Zealand, around 10-20% of the available nitrogen will be lost through volatilisation."

Ballance says it estimates that SustaiN sales have replaced about 50,000 tonnes of urea, reducing the emission of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O), said to account for at least 14% of NZ’s greenhouse gas emissions. Applying SustaiN also results in a 5% reduction of Greenhouse gas emissions compared with untreated urea.

“Given that emissions from agriculture make up about 46% of our total emissions, these reductions alone are valuable environmentally and financially, saving an estimated $1 million in NZ’s greenhouse gas liabilities,” Catto says the products “can easily overcome the common operational challenges of using urea and achieve better outcomes for a similar spend”.

“For example, farmers using urea try to avoid nitrogen loss through volatilisation by applying the fertiliser when wet weather is forecast. We know from Landcare Research and our own trials that a good 5-10mm of rain is needed within eight hours of application to reduce ammonia loss.” “Even if losses can be reduced by timing the applications with rain, farmers have no ability to control where any volatilised nitrogen is re-deposited. It could end up in rivers, lakes or forests.”