I had the opportunity to attend the ANZ fertiliser conference last week held in Coolum, Queensland, Australia. As is often the case with these sort of events it is a terrible waste – you go to a beautiful resort, with multiple pools and/or beach front, but spend your entire stay in meeting rooms and experience virtually nothing of it!
This was a gathering of the main players in the Australia and NZ fertiliser world (and The Growing Group who, to be honest, can’t yet exactly be categorised as one of the main players!) and a handful of overseas equipment and raw material suppliers. There were large contingents of Ravensdown and Ballance representatives but few other NZ companies.
With a strong focus on traditional acid-based fertilisers, this may seem a strange thing for The Growing Group to attend, we are clearly more focused on new, innovative soil addressing fertiliser, but we recently received approval to import CarboPhos® into Australia so it was a great opportunity to talk to some of the more pioneering companies that may be interested in selling our products.
For me this was also a chance to catch up on new information and old friends – as some of you know I have been involved with trading and manufacturing fertiliser around the world for more than 30 years (using fertiliser is relatively new to me – only about 15 years). I even managed to catch up with one person I last worked with in East Germany in 1982, still actively involved in the MOP business!
One slightly surprising representative from NZ at the event (for me) was Rod Oram – the business commentator familiar to many from his newspaper articles, who gave a talk on the NZ experience with DCD and hosted a separate discussion on it later – I will come back to DCD in a separate post. There were also some unexpected speakers – for example a representative from the WWF (a talk I found interesting as it highlighted amongst other things work that WWF/Coca Cola and sugar cane farmers are doing together), Mark McKeon on the need for work / rest balance and an extremely well attended session from General Peter Cosgrove on leadership.
There were many issues discussed, so what I will do here is highlight some of them and based on feedback will address them. Topics included:
- The small voice the fertiliser industry has worldwide compared with its importance
- The need to manage water
- Global markets and the outlook for N, P and K
- Nitrogen inhibitors / DCD
- Superphosphate application and cadmium
Interestingly enough what was hardly mentioned was soil biology and carbon!
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