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October 12, 2010 Pilots give local quarry green light

A local lime producer is being praised by top dressing pilots for its willingness to continue improving products so they are safe to fly amid growing concern about the safety of the industry.

Hatuma Lime Company recently upgraded its Mauriceville plant in an effort to keep up with the growing demand for its sustainable fertiliser products. And Hatuma Operations Director Daniel Topp says an important consideration of the investment was whether they were safe for pilots to fly.

“We are well aware of the dangers top dressing pilots face so we involved them in trials of our product. Their confidence in us was important and our challenge was maintaining the standards of our product at the same time,” Mr Topp says.

Mr Topp says that the growth in sustainable farming practices has driven demand for Hatuma’s Dicalcic Phosphate and Generate Lime blends and it looks to be a bumper upcoming season for these products and top dressing pilots. But with 13 top dressing pilot deaths since 2000 nationally, Hatuma wanted to ensure the products from their newly improved mill met with the approval of those who would be spreading it.

“Our non water-soluble products are increasingly popular with farmers who’re becoming more concerned with the environmental impact of fertilisers. Farmers are becoming far more aware of their soil structure and considering what nutrients are going to end up in the waterways. They recognise a healthy soil determines the nutritional value of pasture and the health of their stock,” he says.

Local pilots Neil Cresswell and Andrew Denniston were among those who tested the lime from the newly enhanced mill plant and they were impressed by Hatuma’s accountability for their product.

Mr Denniston says the pilots worked with Hatuma to make their products more spreadable, while still maintaining their original high agronomic effectiveness.

“When fertilisers are too fine they clog up and don’t leave the aircraft very easily. If there’s an emergency while we’re spreading, we need to be able to dump the load quickly. Through our trials with Hatuma we know we can get rid of 100% of the load within five seconds which puts our minds at ease,” he says.

Mr Cresswell has 10 years of experience as a top dressing pilot and says Hatuma’s willingness to trial the product with pilots demonstrates their commitment to the local area.

“Hatuma were willing to invest in ensuring that their product worked for us too and to be accountable, and I think that’s commendable,” Mr Cresswell says.

Hatuma’s Mauriceville plant has been producing lime in the Wairarapa since 1892 and producing Dicalcic Phosphate, a matured blend of limestone and superphosphate, since the 1970s. The unique product means top dressers only need to fly over a property once with a low application rate, not twice for both lime and super phosphate.

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