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To: Otago Regional Council

Otago Regional Council: Phase Out Synthetic Nitrogen Fertiliser

We call on the Otago Regional Council to use its environmental mandate to phase out synthetic nitrogenous fertiliser using the policy instruments available.

Why is this important?

Synthetic nitrogenous fertiliser should be banned because:

1) It pollutes our rivers and lakes
2) It allows the establishment and growth of intensive dairy farming in inappropriate places in Otago
3) It causes the release of nitrous oxide, one of the worst greenhouse gases
4) There is evidence nitrates cause bowel cancer
5) It is degrading the natural health of our soils

Our once-safe drinking water is being contaminated. Everyone needs safe drinking water and clean swimmable rivers.

Too many cows made possible by too much chemical fertiliser are polluting the once pristine rivers and lakes of the Central Otago.

Agriculture causes 48% of all our greenhouse gas emissions and overloads our rivers with synthetic nitrogen in the form of nitrates.

The 2019 report The Hidden Killer, compiled by the world’s leading climate scientists, documents the impacts of wealthy countries failing to make the changes needed to ensure liveable futures. New Zealand’s circumstances require us to tackle our biggest polluter, industrial dairy farming.

Current research shows a strong link between nitrates in drinking water and babies being born underweight or prematurely.[1]

Chronic exposure to drinking water containing more than 0.88 mg/L of nitrogen in the form of nitrates has been linked to colorectal cancers.[2]

Synthetic nitrogenous fertiliser is mostly sold here by just two companies; Ravensdown and Ballance. Industrial dairying is their biggest customer by far.

A transition away from industrial livestock farming and mass milk production is essential. A ban on synthetic nitrogenous fertiliser and a nationwide shift to more plant-based regenerative organic farming is urgent and essential.

Our Regional Council has the responsibility for environmental management, monitoring, enforcement and compliance, and has the power to end synthetic nitrogenous fertiliser use. We call on the ORC to put te Mana o te Wai (the integrity of the waters) first, so that all other objectives in the Regional Policy Statement are informed by the priority to care for water and keep it healthy. Synthetic nitrogenous fertiliser use is incompatible with te Mana o te Wai.

Join the call! Add your name today to demand our Councillors immediately put in place a swift, fair phaseout of synthetic nitrogenous fertiliser.

Free mail-in nitrate water testing for drinking water, from private bores only:

Image: Geoff Reid


1 - Link between nitrate levels and premature births, study finds, 2021

2 - Report: The hidden killer, 2019. How synthetic nitrogen fertiliser is fuelling intensive dairying, polluting our rivers and climate.

How it will be delivered

In person, with media present, to the Otago Regional Council



2022-03-28 20:59:46 +1300

100 signatures reached

2022-03-28 19:09:08 +1300

50 signatures reached

2022-03-23 20:49:08 +1300

25 signatures reached

2022-03-19 16:20:57 +1300

10 signatures reached