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Farming Future Lies In the Soil
Value or volume is the debate facing New Zealand farmers. Or, to put it another
way, are we better to produce smaller amounts of high value, high quality products,
or should we go for larger volumes of lower value products?
It's by no means a simple straightforward question. Those who favour high value
and high quality argue world markets have progressed beyond big dollops of
commodity-type produce. They also point to the increasing international concern,
particularly in European markets, about the integrity and provenance of produce,
and the environment in which it has been grown. And they maintain that in
this approach is the answer to the sustainability and reputation of New Zealand
agriculture and its place as a supplier of top quality primary products.
Those in the opposing camp counter by saying New Zealand has got where it is today
on the back of an abundant supply of grass that allows us to produce quantity at
very acceptable quality. Why ditch a winning strategy, they ask. We cannot change
overnight, and, by switching tack we run the risk of being caught in no man's land.
Across all of this lies another consideration. It's all very well to worry about
the long term; but that will not do much for us if we fail to survive in
the short term. So, it's a question of deciding between churning out as much as
possible in the short term, cashing in on the profits with no consideration for the
future, or developing systems that will be profitable -- albeit at slightly lower profit
levels -- for generations to come.
Both arguments have some validity.
International evidence suggests that consumers -- especially those in developed
markets -- are willing to pay a premium for food attributes such as safety, quality, the
manner in which it has been produced, and its impact on the environment.
New Zealand's parliamentary commissioner for the environment, Morgan Williams,
put it this way in his 2004 report Growing for Good: Intense farming, sustainability
and New Zealand's environment:
"Targeting these markets and emphasising these attributes of New Zealand food
provides a wide range of potential opportunities for the farming sector. Some
farming sectors have already responded to this challenge by targeting niche and
high-value markets, and increasing the premium on their products. This approach
holds real potential for increasing the value of farming output in a sustainable
"It is generally accepted that some consumers are willing to pay
a premium for food that is 'green' in origin. The labelling of such food
provides consumers with the capacity to identify and choose such food. The
willingness to pay varies from country to country and across different food products.
Some studies do support the argument that many consumers are willing to pay a
premium for eco-certified and labelled products."
At Fertilizer New Zealand we have taken the initiative and have a Biological range of
fertiliser products. To learn more call 0800 337 869 for further information.
Stay safe with hazardous substances
Potentially, all fertilisers can be considered as dangerous.
By COLIN MORRISON
Most Fertilisers are not flammable,
however many can be harmful to the
Most fertilisers therefore are required to
comply with the HSNO Act 1996. The
sole purpose of the Hazardous
Substances and New Organisms Act of 1996 is
to protect the environment, and also the
health and safety of communities, by
preventing or controlling the possible
adverse effects of hazardous substances and
Most Fertilisers are not flammable, however
many can be harmful to the environment
(ecotoxic). Some of the Sulphur-based
fertilisers may be dust-explosive, and most
fertilisers must be considered poisonous and
unfit for human consumption. Therefore,
knowing the individual qualities of the
products being handled is extremely
important especially if the treatment for each
one is different.
All fertilisers will have Safety Data Sheets,
product manufacturers and suppliers must
make these sheets readily available. They will
include details about the product, including
its intended use, application, and first aid if
required. In addition there is a register on the
ority website which
can be used to search
for chemical and
product names. This
register will identify the controls which must
be complied with under the legislation.
It is vitally important to identify all hazards
related to the fertilisers that you are working
with, and of course, their controls. All
employees should be made familiar with the
Safety Data Sheets and understand com-
pletely the hazards of the materials which
they are working with. A copy of the Safety
Data Sheets should also be made available to
the farm owner.
It would be impractical for a farmer to
eliminate all of the hazards of working with
fertilisers. But it is important to isolate and
minimise the hazards wherever possible. If
total isolation cannot be achieved, then
minimise the hazards by wearing protective
safety clothing such as breathing masks and
glasses in windy conditions, or when
spreading very fine materials. If a hazard
cannot be eliminated, it will need on-going
should be recorded
in the farm hazard
register. All checklists
must be completed
and records kept.
Before employees begin work, they must be
informed by their employers of any hazards
they may be exposed to
while at work, also of
any hazards which they
may create that could
harm other people.
Employees must be
informed of how to
minimise any possible
hazards which will
reduce the chance that
they will become a
source of harm to
themselves and others.
The location of safety
equipment and emerg-
ency procedures must
be made known.
Employers are also
required to inform their
employees of the outcome of any health and
safety monitoring, and should involve
employees in the development of health and
safety procedures. They must provide
reasonable opportunity for their employees
to participate in ongoing processes for the
improvement of health and safety in their
place of work.
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