As a strong industry forum, the New Zealand Groundspread Fertilisers Association is continuing to lead education/training, development and advocacy for its members in what is a fairly dynamic environment. Coming up in July is the association’s 63rd national conference in Taupo.
This year’s theme is ‘Technology the Enabler’. Conference chair and NZGFA’s co-Vice President Graeme Martin believes technology is key to ensuring a sustainable future for the groundspread fertiliser industry.
“My opinion is that if we don’t embrace technology now, then the rules will prohibit us from operating. We need to do a good job and show that we are doing a good job, not just for our own peace of mind but for farmers and others using our services too.”
Today’s high end fertiliser spreading trucks are loaded with all sorts of technological aids and GPS tools that can be used to support sound environmental management, he observes. Data can be collected on everything from fertiliser placement to health and safety practices.
“Every truck has a tablet in it – we’re moving into a very auditable world.”
The association’s push towards greater professionalism is being supported by the announcement of four new awards at this year’s conference: a President’s award, an innovation award, a Health and Safety award and a Young Achiever’s award.
“One of the challenges we face is attracting good people and retaining them. We hope these awards will help us address that and inject more pride into the industry.”
NZGFA President Dean Brooks is keen to lift association membership, noting that benefits include discounts on Spreadmark certification and audit fees, discounts for operator training costs and access to an online member tool kit along with a quarterly magazine. Being able to network with other members and associated industry organisation is another key benefit.
“The training benefits alone would pay for membership,” Dean says. “A lot of time and energy has gone into developing off-road driver training over the years that is tailored to our industry.”
Promoting health and safety is a big focus for the association, particularly for those often working in steep terrain. “It’s really important to train staff well so they are aware of the risks.”
The Spreadmark programme itself was first stablished by the NZGFA in 1994 and is now a valued fertiliser placement quality assurance programme.
“Spreadmark is vital for the environment and for the sustainability of farming going into the future. There’s no longer any point putting nutrients where they are not needed.”
As an organisation, NZGFA has been ably led by outgoing chief executive Kevin Geddes for many years. He also recently retired from Federated Farmers.
“We’re currently going through a strategic review to look at the best way forward for the association. We’re a volunteer-based organisation but we now need to consider whether to appoint someone fulltime to that chief executive’s role. It’s an exciting time for us but, in saying that, Kevin’s experience and knowledge will be sorely missed.”
This article was brought to you in association with the following businesses…
- Ellesmere Transport
- Spreading Northland
- Cheviot Lime Limited