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February 22, 2011 Kiwi farmers urged to be ‘future focused’

New Zealand farmers need to stay ‘tuned’ to rapidly changing global food and nutrient markets or risk losing their competitive advantage, according to speakers at a series of ‘Farming for the Future’ roadshows being held around the country this month.

Former Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Morgan Williams says huge shifts are occurring around the world regarding society’s expectations of food. He says Kiwi farmers have to be more conscious of these to ensure New Zealand can continue to extract premium prices for its produce.

“Our future is in niche type ‘whole foods’, it’s about ‘pampering the palates of the prosperous’, rather than feeding the world. Our key markets are demanding more and more information about our agricultural production systems, and their impact on the environment.

“If we’re going to maintain our competitive edge we need to produce cleaner, smarter foods than we do currently, from more ecologically efficient systems,” Dr Williams says.

“Our challenge is to lift productivity, while making sure our rivers, lakes and coastal areas remain free of agricultural runoff and pollution,” he says.

Hatuma Dicalcic Phosphate NZ Director of Sales and Marketing, Aaron Topp, agrees. He says more efficient use of on-farm inputs such as fertilisers is an important step toward meeting these challenges.
“Finding better and more efficient ways to use nutrients will add real value to the story we tell outside the farm gates.”

Hatuma has partnered with Ballance Agri-nutrients and subsidiary Summit Quinphos to supply dicalcic phosphate, a low-input fertiliser, on a national scale. Along with the push toward more sustainable agricultural practices, Mr Topp says the volatile fertiliser market is a major factor driving the need for change.

“It’s critical our farmers get more bang for their buck. The price of fertiliser is expected to fluctuate in the coming years, so farmers need to know how to get better use out of their nutrient inputs, while controlling their costs” Mr Topp says.

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