Synthetic nitrogen fertiliser is added to grass to make it grow faster. More grass means more cows – that means more climate and river pollution.
Greenpeace is opening up a new front in the struggle to save New Zealand’s rivers and reduce agricultural emissions.
The environmental heavyweight is calling for a ban on chemical nitrogen fertilisers.
Firmly in the sights of the new campaign are Ravensdown and Ballance, two little-known companies that sell 98% of all fertiliser used in New Zealand.
Greenpeace campaigner Gen Toop says “Chemical nitrogen fertiliser is the fuel that drives industrial dairying. It is spread onto NZ’s dairy farms in ever increasing amounts to grow more and more grass for too many cows.”
The use of chemical nitrogen fertiliser has increased seven-fold since 1990. In the same period dairy cow numbers have doubled.
“Chemical nitrogen fertilser is a double whammy for the climate and our rivers. It increases the number of cows, which increases greenhouse gas emissions and pollution of rivers. On top of that, it directly emits nitrous oxide and leaches nitrate into waterways.”
The chemical fertiliser push comes on the heels of Greenpeace’s successful campaign to end Government subsidies for big irrigation, another environmentally damaging driver of intensive dairying.
“Too many cows and too much chemical fertiliser is trashing our rivers and warming the climate. 70% of our rivers are now too polluted to swim in and dairy is the country’s single biggest climate emitter,” says Toop.
“Ravensdown and Ballance are profiting off environmental destruction. It’s time the Government reigned them in and banned chemical nitrogen fertiliser” says Toop
“Using regenerative farming it is possible to produce all our food without synthetic nitrogen. All regenerative farming needs in order to thrive is the right government investment and support.”
The campaign petition was launched last night and has already gained more than 5,000 signatures.