Media release

ORC thanks Otago dairy farmers for boost in fertiliser reports

Thursday 10 August 2023

Otago dairy farmers’ reporting of their annual fertiliser use rose almost 30% on a year ago, with about 70% now complying with the relatively new regulations.

ORC’s Manager Regulatory Data and Systems, Simon Wilson thanked Otago’s dairy farmers for their efforts in complying with the nitrogen reporting regulations; in force now for two years.

“While the deadline for reporting has passed, all reporting tools are still available and we’re encouraging anyone who hasn’t submitted to complete their returns now,” Mr Wilson says.

For the year to 30 June 2023, 70% of Otago dairy farmers reported their fertiliser use, either directly to through the Regional Sector Reporting tool, or via Ravensdown or Ballance reporting systems, compared with 54% having reported the year before.

All three ways of reporting are combined by the Regional Sector nationally into one list.

“This system is working out really well as ORC ends up with one list to work from when checking compliance.” Mr Wilson says.

So far for Otago, there have been 334 dairy farms deliver reports, of a total 473.    

On another positive note, Mr Wilson highlighted changes in Otago fertiliser use compared to the last reporting period.

The new rules came into effect in July 2021, known as N-cap, where annual usage of synthetic nitrogen must not exceed 190kgs per hectare; averaged across farmers’ grazed land areas.

A resource consent is required for higher fertiliser usage. The cap applies to all pastoral land with  dairy farmers required to report their fertiliser usage annually.

Mr Wilson says that for the previous financial year 2% of farmer respondents reported being over the cap of 190kgs per hectare, while this just-passed financial year that number was well down, to 0.6% of respondents.

“We’re really pleased to see farmers are able to apply the data, year-on-year, and more specifically target their fertiliser use,” he says.

He says the nitrogen cap was introduced as part of the Government’s National Environmental Standards for Freshwater, covering activities which could pose a risk to freshwater ecosystems.

Otago’s data capture revealed one of the highest compliance levels, reported in a recent Stuff article.


Any questions on fertiliser reporting can be directed to the ORC’s Compliance team: