Renowned Hamilton-based Soil Scientist Dr Gordon Rajendram Calls For More Competition In the New Zealand Fertiliser Market

Friday 21 June 2024, 12:29PM

By Media PA


Soil Scientist Dr Gordon Rajendram
Soil Scientist Dr Gordon Rajendram Credit: Media PA

For Immediate Release

Date: 21 June 2024 

[Hamilton, New Zealand] – One of New Zealand’s most renowned experts in soil fertility, Dr Gordon Rajendram, today issued an urgent call for greater competition and innovation within New Zealand's fertiliser industry to bring product prices down.

Dr Rajendram, who is a prominent speaker at rural industry forums throughout New Zealand, says his observations highlight a severe lack of competition leading to ongoing high fertiliser prices, stifled innovation, and a worrying lack of change in the fertiliser sector.

"The fertiliser market in New Zealand is dominated by a few key players, resulting in limited choices for consumers and consistently high prices," says Dr Rajendram. "This monopoly-like situation sharpens awareness but also makes companies lazy, relying on their established market positions rather than striving for improvement. Many of these companies are selling the same products they did in the 1950s, with little to no innovation. Super phosphate, has done more for New Zealand's economy than any politician ever has, but it's time for change."

The current market shows fertiliser prices still above pre-COVID levels, with super phosphate approximately at $425 per tonne and urea at $795 per tonne. Farmers are now starting to look for alternatives due to these high prices and question marks over environmental aspects of traditional fertiliser products.

"In the past, it was more about growing as much pasture as possible. Now, it’s also important to ensure whatever you apply doesn’t run off and leach, causing environmental issues,” adds Dr Rajendram. This shift in focus from merely growing pasture or crops to keeping nutrients in the soil requires more efficient, low phosphate, and slow-release fertilisers that are less water soluble.

“A prime example of the benefits of competition can be seen in the dairy industry, where the presence of multiple companies has led to significant advancements in product quality and efficiency.

“The fertiliser industry could learn a lot from this. Innovation is essential for addressing the evolving needs of modern agriculture, particularly in a country like New Zealand, where farming is a cornerstone of the economy, Dr Rajendram said.

“Currently, the focus seems to be on maintaining the status quo but Rajendram says that the agricultural sector requires fertilisers that are not only effective but also environmentally sustainable. Without competition, there is little incentive for any company to move forward and innovate,” he said.

Dr Rajendram emphasises the need for urgent industry transformation to prevent it from becoming a sunset industry. "Competition sharpens everyone's prices and forces companies to offer better products," he says.

“In conclusion, the New Zealand fertiliser industry needs a shake-up. More competition will lead to better products, fairer prices, and ultimately, a stronger agricultural sector. It's time for fertiliser companies to stop resting on their laurels and start driving the innovation that our farmers need,” Dr Rajendram says.

For more information, please contact:

Contact Dr Gordon Rajendram

021 466077

About Dr Gordon Rajendram: 

Dr Gordon Rajendram is a distinguished independent soil scientist with extensive experience in the agricultural sector. His work focuses on improving soil health and sustainability practices in farming, making him a respected voice in the industry.

Contact Media PA

027 458 7724