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 30 June 2019: $9,728,332
Commercial partners: Ballance Agri-Nutrients Ltd
Estimated potential economic benefits to NZ: $56 million per year by 2025
The Clearview Innovations PGP programme took a “fast-fail” approach to identifying and evaluating product concepts with commercial potential. Out of the initial 25 concepts:
- 4 products (MitAgator™, My Pasture Planner (previously N-Guru™), SurePhos™ and SpreadSmart™) were commercialised as a result of the programme and are available to farmers
- 2 projects (another slow release nutrient product and a biological fertiliser) have strong commercial potential and are progressing through development post-programme.
The remaining products didn’t meet criteria for commercial advancement, but important intellectual property has been kept for possible future use.
The application of products that are either in market or with commercial potential offer an estimated economic benefit of $56 million per year by 2025.
As products moved through the commercialisation phase, the focus of the programme changed to extension and education, and enhancing how farmers manage nutrients. The aim was to increase efficiency and decrease losses – on the farm and beyond.
Outcome logic model
Final programme report
Clearview Innovations – Final report [PDF, 1.3 MB]
Background to the programme
The Clearview Innovations PGP programme aimed to develop new products (including biological products) that make nitrogen and phosphorus use more efficient, and that 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
- reduce soil accumulation and/or plant uptake of phosphorous fertiliser contaminants by 20% by 2018.
The programme helped farmers adopt these new products and services through a best-practice extension programme. The extension programme aimed to improve on-farm management and reduce environmental footprints, while still increasing efficiency. The goal was for this to lead to improvements in water quality in intensively farmed areas.
This new fertiliser, launched on 1 October 2019, has significant environmental and productivity benefits. SurePhos™ is a slow release, environmentally-friendly phosphorus and sulphur fertiliser designed to help farmers reduce phosphate loss by up to 75%, relative to superphosphate products.
More than 70% of the phosphorus in SurePhos™ is citric acid soluble and can be used by pasture within a year. A maximum of 25% is water soluble and is able to be utilised by pasture on application. This reduces phosphorus loss from runoff and leaching by up to 75%, and means SurePhos™ is ideal for use in catchments with phosphorus-limited waterways (inherently low phosphorus levels) and in other sensitive catchments.
My Pasture Planner (previously called N-Guru™)
My Pasture Planner is a decision support model software for nitrogen. It predicts pasture responses to nitrogen more accurately, which allows farmers to use nitrogen more efficiently on farms. Supported by a lot of research, My Pasture Planner is designed with help from AgResearch.
My Pasture Planner is available to farmers and is supplied by Ballance Nutrient Specialists as part of their fertiliser recommendations. This helps farmers make decisions on the rate and spatial use of nitrogen, while reducing the impact on the environment.
An upgrade of My Pasture Planner (called N-Guru 2 at the time) was developed and became available in 2018. The upgrade allows for better tactical precision around timing and rates of nitrogen use on farms.
My Pasture Planner 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 (like waterways), 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. 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. SpreadSmart™ was also a runner-up in the Innovation category at the Safeguard (New Zealand) Workplace Health & Safety 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 farm’s situation.
On March 15 2019, MitAgator™ won the South Island Agricultural Field Days (SIAFD) Smart Farming Award. The judging criteria focussed on new technology that enables improved decision making and adds value to agricultural businesses.
- 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. To request booklets, email firstname.lastname@example.org
- 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 has included the nutrient management e-learning modules in its Primary ITO (industry training organisation) 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.