Eco-N dis­cus­sions wel­comed

Waipa Post - - The Country -

The re­turn of Eco-N for use on New Zealand pas­tures would be a boon for farm­ers and ef­forts to pro­tect wa­ter­ways, Fed­er­ated Farm­ers en­vi­ron­ment spokesper­son Chris Allen says.

“Feds strongly sup­ports any such move.

“It de­serves a ‘grown-up’ con­ver­sa­tion around the is­sues in­volved be­cause Eco-N is a valu­able tool that en­ables farm­ers to tem­po­rar­ily store ni­tro­gen in soil when it would oth­er­wise be vul­ner­a­ble to loss — a bonus both for agri-busi­ness pro­duc­tiv­ity and to re­duce ni­trate leach­ing into wa­ter­ways.

“It’s also one of the an­swers on the press­ing is­sue of re­duc­ing ni­trous ox­ide emis­sions,” says Chris.

Eco-N is a trade­marked ni­tri­fi­ca­tion in­hibitor prod­uct de­vel­oped by Lin­coln Univer­sity in part­ner­ship with Ravens­down Fer­tiliser Co-op Ltd. It was launched in New Zealand in 2004.

Farm­ers found they could typ­i­cally achieve an ex­tra $600/ha in profit from milk pro­duc­tion while also sub­stan­tially re­duc­ing ni­trate leach­ing losses and emis­sions of NO2 into the at­mos­phere.

But Eco-N was taken off the mar­ket af­ter minute residues of the ac­tive com­po­nent Di­cyan­di­amide (DCD) were found in milk pow­der.

It was never a food safety is­sue (DCD is re­garded as safe), but as there was no in­ter­na­tional agree­ment about ac­cept­able lim­its, Eco-N was with­drawn to avert pos­si­ble trade reper­cus­sions.

Fer­tilis­ers con­tain­ing DCD have con­tin­ued to be used by farm­ers in the United States.

Ravens­down says there’s now a chance that world reg­u­la­tory au­thor­i­ties, in­clud­ing New Zealand’s Min­istry for Pri­mary In­dus­tries, might rat­ify an um­brella codex agree­ment mid-2019 to set rules for a max­i­mum resid­ual level for a range of be­nign com­pounds in food prod­ucts.

If that hap­pens, Eco-N could be back in use here dur­ing au­tumn to win­ter 2020 (DCD is a win­ter-ac­tive com­pound, and that’s the sea­son when the im­pact of ni­trate leach­ing is great­est).

“We should let the sci­ence speak, and that should guide the in­ter­na­tional dis­cus­sions on this — and the stance of food pro­ces­sors, mar­keters and dairy com­pa­nies should codex agree­ment be reached,” says Chris.

“We all need more tools in our tool­box as we chase the pro­duc­tiv­ity gains needed to feed ever-grow­ing and hun­gry pop­u­la­tions, while also meet­ing the im­per­a­tive to en­hance wa­ter qual­ity in our ground­wa­ter, rivers and lakes.”

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