Clearview Innovations

The Clearview Innovations PGP programme supports New Zealanders with new nutrient products for the agriculture industry. Find out about the work it has achieved, the products it is developing, and expected programme outcomes.

Leading our farming sectors economically and environmentally to deliver long-term value for New Zealand through innovations that transform nutrient management.


The Clearview Innovations PGP programme supports development of new products that help to increase on-farm productivity and reduce nutrient losses to the environment. A main focus of the programme is on products that help improve water quality by reducing pollution. Ballance Agri-Nutrients – one of New Zealand's largest nutrient management companies – is leading the programme.

The programme was profiled in the October 2015 edition of the PGP monthly newsletter, Agri-Gate.

The challenge

People sitting in a grassy field
At work – improving uptake of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilisers.

Adding nitrogen and phosphate to pasture is vital to maintaining the productivity and competitiveness of New Zealand farming systems. Applying these nutrients is a significant part of farmers’ annual budget, and the costs are increasing.

Leaching (or run-off) of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) from farms has the potential to enter and pollute waterways.

The solution

The Clearview Innovations PGP programme is developing new products (including biological products), which will make nitrogen and phosphorus use more efficient and reduce environmental harm. The original goals of the programme were to:

  • improve the efficiency of nitrogen fertiliser use in pastoral systems by 50%, by 2018
  • reduce nitrogen losses from dairy farm systems by 30%, by 2018
  • increase the efficiency of phosphorous fertiliser use by 20%, by 2020
  • decrease soil accumulation, and/or plant uptake of phosphorous fertiliser contaminants by 20%, by 2018.

The programme will help farmers adopt these new products and services through a best-practice extension programme. The extension programme aims to improve on-farm management and reduce environmental footprints, while still increasing efficiency. This will lead to improvements in water quality in intensively farmed areas.

Outcome Logic Model

Outcomes of the programme so far

The Clearview Innovations PGP programme has taken a fast-fail approach to identifying and evaluating product concepts with commercial potential. Out of the 25 concepts we began with:

  • 2 products, N-Guru™ and SpreadSmart™, have been commercialised and are available to farmers
  • 1 product, MitAgator, has been developed to a working prototype stage. It's going through its final development for commercial release in 2018
  • 3 projects have strong commercial potential and are progressing through development.

The remaining products haven't met criteria for commercial advancement, but we've kept important intellectual property for possible future use. 

The 6 products either in market or with commercial potential have an estimated economic benefit of $56 million per year by 2025.

As these products move through the commercialisation phase, the focus of the programme is changing. We're now focusing on extension and education, enhancing how farmers manage nutrients to increase efficiency and decrease losses – on the farm and beyond.

Project progress and information


N-Guru™ is decision support model software. It predicts pasture responses to nitrogen more accurately, which allows farmers to use nitrogen more efficiently on farms. Supported by a lot of research, N-Guru™ is designed with help from AgResearch.

The N-Guru™ software is available for farmers and is supplied by Ballance Nutrient Specialists. Balance offers N-Guru™ as part of fertiliser recommendations for farmers. This helps farmers to make decisions on the rate and spatial use of nitrogen, while reducing the impact on the environment.

An upgrade of N-Guru™ (called N-Guru 2) is being developed. It’s expected to be available in 2018.  The upgrade will allow better tactical precision around timing and rates of nitrogen use on farms.

N-Guru™ was featured in a section of the Using Nitrogen Efficiently video as part of the Good Nutrient Management Practice video series. The series was developed by the Lakes Primary Producers Collective for the Rotorua catchment.


SpreadSmart™ is technology that automatically applies fertiliser from topdressing planes at an ideal rate. It avoids environmentally sensitive areas, is more efficient, and improves returns for farmers.

SpreadSmart™ is commercially available to North Island farmers through Ballance's aerial topdressing business, Super Air. The service uses GPS, and a digital farm map in Super Air's aircraft, to improve the accuracy of aerial topdressing. A main feature of SpreadSmart™ is that it offers improved safety for pilots. This means that they can concentrate on flying the aircraft because the fertiliser is delivered automatically.

Ballance Agri-Nutrients won the New Zealand Spatial Excellence Awards in October 2016 for SpreadSmart. It came first in the Innovation and Commercialisation category. It was also a runner-up in the Innovation category at the Safeguard NZ Workplace H&S Awards, in May 2017.


MitAgator™ develops risk maps for individual farms. The maps identify areas where there's more likely to be a loss of phosphorous, nitrogen, sediment, and bacterial contaminants. The tool can  assess and prioritise mitigation actions, and can be customised to fit an individual’s situation.

The working-version prototype has been completed, which was piloted successfully. A route to market assessment has been completed and accepted and product launch planning is underway. There is strong interest in MitAgator™ from regional council staff and other professionals managing water quality.

More projects

  • Biological control product concepts that were developed in the early stages of the Clearview programme have advanced. They now have proof of concept, work effectively, and formulation studies are complete. As at October 2017, a plan for bringing these products to the market is being negotiated with third parties.
  • A piece of bio-granule technology has been developed, which creates better performing applications. The technology is covered in 2 filed patents. The bio-granules provide an improved method for the spreading bio-control agents through soil.
  • 3 new fertiliser product concepts are also under development. They aim to enable more efficient nutrient use. Commercial decisions on these products are expected before the programme ends in 2018.
  • A booklet has been created as a result of collaboration with the dairy industry. It covers agreed-upon nitrogen-loss factors, and management options to reduce nitrogen loss from dairy farms. Email to request a booklet.
  • Nutrient management workshops have taken place across New Zealand. These were organised in collaboration with Fonterra, Tatua, DairyNZ and the Dairy Women’s Network. These events focused on helping farmers to interpret their farm nutrient situations, to improve how efficiently fertiliser is used and reduce nutrient losses.
  • An e-Learning system has been developed for Ballance extension and sales staff, improving the rate that capability can be built. Dairy Training Ltd have included the Nutrient Management e-Learning modules in their Primary ITO courses. These are delivered in Waikato and Taranaki, and provide background, context, and consistent messages that the industry has agreed on. Their courses encourage systems thinking, and provide opportunities for self-directed learning.
  • A successful cross-industry planning workshop for the Recalibration Project was held in Invercargill. The initiative was a pilot, set up to learn from some regional case studies on how to support farmers with recalibrating their farming operations, so that they would meet new nutrient limits set by regional councils. There was a lot of support for the concept, and interest in more involvement. This included suggestions for new case studies, and involvement from local consultants. A set of recommendations are being developed, based on interviews and case study reports.
  • With help from DairyNZ, Ballance is working with national representatives of Dairy Environment Leaders. Together, they're developing a clear direction and strategy for on-farm change, improving public perception, and influencing policy.
  • With the Southland Dairy Environment Leaders Group, Ballance is providing training and tools on how to support farmer change, and how to be farmer leaders in times of change, to farmers who are all key in the emerging Farming Within Limits policy process in Southland.
  • 50 Ballance staff are accredited Certified Nutrient Management Advisers. 

AgFirst's independent review findings

AgFirst completed an independent review of expected programme outcomes in 2016. The review found that:

  • so far, 5 products that the programme helped develop were either commercialised or likely to be commercialised
  • 3 products could possibly be commercialised, but there was still uncertainty about how viable they were (technically or commercially).

The potential economic value of these 8 products to New Zealand agriculture was estimated to reach $245.8 million per year by 2025.

The review’s findings were assessed against the programme's objectives. View a summary of their findings in the table.


Original outcome expected (Business Case 2011)

AgFirst assessment of outcomes Sept 2016

N use efficiency 

50% improvement in pastoral systems by 2018


N losses

30% reduction in losses from dairy systems by 2018


P use efficiency

20% improvement by 2020


P losses

30% reduction in farm systems


Reduce cadmium in soils and plants

20% reduction by 2018

Not assessed

Bio fertilisers

2 new products by 2017

Under development

Bio pesticides

2 new products by 2017

Route to market being assessed

Integrated bio product

1 new product by 2018

Not assessed

Extension system

Best practice system in place by 2018

Critical to achieving level of benefits predicted

Economic benefits

$348 million per year by 2025

$245.8 million per year by 20252

1The estimated gains are for individual products not cumulative.

2Since the first AgFirst review, the programme has reduced its focus to 6 products with an estmated benefit of $56 million per year by 2025.

Key facts

Programme start: October 2011 
Length: 7 years 
PGP funding: $9.75 million 
Industry funding: $9.75 million
Crown funding paid out to programme for work done to 31 August 2017$8,302,452  
Commercial partners: Ballance Agri-Nutrients Ltd
Estimated potential economic benefits to NZ: $56 million per year by 2025


Progress Review Summary Report 

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