Plant nutrient and soil management under the ACVM Act 1997

Agricultural fertilisers, plant biostimulants, and soil conditioners are used to provide plant nutrients and manage soil. They do not need to be registered for use, manufacture, sale, or importing to New Zealand. However, you must meet other requirements of the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines (ACVM) Act 1997, ACVM Regulations 2011, and other legislation.

What types of products are used in plant nutrient and soil management?

Fertilisers are substances that contain plant nutrients. They are applied to plants or soil to maintain or increase the growth, productivity, or quality of plants (or, indirectly, animals).

Plant biostimulants are substances that stimulate the plant's natural processes. They enhance or benefit plant nutrient uptake or efficiency, tolerance to stress, or improve crop quality traits.

Soil conditioners are substances that are added to soil to improve its physical or chemical qualities for plant growth. For example, they may improve soil structure, porosity, or water retention.

Fertilisers, biostimulants, and soil conditioners do not include plant growth regulators (also called plant hormones) that change the physiological functions of plants.

Definitions in ACVM Regulations 2011

Requirements for agricultural fertilisers, plant biostimulants, and soil conditioners

If you import, manufacture, sell, or use fertilisers, plant biostimulants, or soil conditioners in New Zealand, you must meet the requirements of the ACVM Act 1997 and Regulations.

Under the Regulations, many ACVM products have to be registered. However, fertilisers, plant biostimulants, or soil conditioners are exempt (unless they're also used for other purposes that are not exempt from the requirement for registration). All exempt products must comply with the requirements in the ACVM (Exemptions and Prohibited Substances) Regulations 2011.

You may also have to meet requirements under other legislation, such as the:

What is not included

If you make a claim about your product that is outside the definition of a fertiliser, plant biostimulant, or soil conditioner – for example, that it controls bud break – it's no longer classed as a fertiliser, plant biostimulant, or soil conditioner under the ACVM Act. It becomes an agricultural chemical and will probably require registration.

Register an agricultural chemical

If you are unsure of your product's status under the ACVM Act, a class determination will tell you.

Class determinations under the ACVM Act 1997

Importing agricultural fertilisers, plant biostimulants, and soil conditioners

For commercial imports, you'll need to present a class determination letter to border officials before they'll release your product.

For private imports, check with MPI to confirm if the product fits the definition of an exempt product. You can use an email confirmation from MPI for clearance at the border.

Email approvals@mpi.govt.nz

If you want to import a fertiliser, plant biostimulant, or soil conditioner of plant origin, you must meet strict biosecurity requirements to prevent unwanted organisms from getting into New Zealand.

Importing agricultural fertilisers of plant origin

Exporting agricultural fertilisers, plant biostimulants, and soil conditioners

If you want to export a fertiliser product, which includes plant biostimulants or soil conditioners, you need to meet the requirements of the destination market.

Exporting agricultural fertilisers, plant biostimulants and soil conditioners from New Zealand

Last reviewed: