The use of synthetic nitrogen fertilisers on land is linked to lowered water quality in some of our rivers, streams, and groundwater. On 1 July 2021, the Government introduced a cap on the application of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser for land grazed by livestock under the new Essential Freshwater package.

On grazed pasture, you can no longer apply more than 190 kg of synthetic nitrogen per hectare per year (190kg N/ha/year) without a resource consent. This limit applies both as an average for the farm*, and to each hectare (with a limited exception for land used to grow annual forage crops).

*Farm in this case refers to a contiguous landholding. Each adjoining land parcel is considered part of the same farm. Land parcels that don’t border others are considered separate farms.

If you’re a dairy farmer, you now also need to report your usage annually. The first report, covering the period from 1 July 2021 - 30 June 2022 was due to us by 31 July 2022.  

The reporting period for supplying similar information to milking companies is different.

We’re working closely with other Regional Councils, the Ministry for the Environment, fertiliser suppliers, and the dairy sector to help farmers meet these requirements.

Which farms does the cap apply to?

The synthetic nitrogen fertiliser use cap applies to land on which livestock is grazed. This does not include the grazing of the stubble of a crop that has been harvested after arable land use. 

On land with mixed use, the 190kg N/ha/year limit applies when the land is being used for the grazing of livestock. It applies from crop or pasture preparation until grazing finishes.

How to submit your synthetic nitrogen use report 

The major fertiliser suppliers Ballance and Ravensdown have both developed tools you can use. Check out the MyBallance  and  HawkEye  programmes to record and report your synthetic fertiliser use.

If you are a Ballance or Ravensdown customer, you should have received information explaining how to use MyBallance and Hawkeye to record synthetic nitrogen fertiliser usage.

If you are not currently a customer, you may still be able to use these tools. Visit the Ballance website or contact Hawkeye customer support on 0800 73 73 73 to find out how.

If you do not have access to either the Balance or Ravensdown recording tools, please call us on 0800 496 734 or email us at

What information you'll need to report

Contact information: 

  • Full name
  • Contact phone number
  • Email address

Farm information:

  • New Zealand Business Number (NZBN)
  • Farm name 
  • Dairy supply number
  • Dairy company name
  • Total farm area (in hectares)
  • Total effective area (area farmed, in hectares)  
  • Geospatial boundary (Add a geospatial shape file of boundary. Depending on how your data is submitted you may be able to select the geospatial area on a map.)
  • Receipts for fertiliser purchases: - supplier's name - date of purchase - item description - item unit purchased (kg)
    Dairy effluent consent number

Information for each contiguous land holding:

  • Name / label (give a name or number for each land parcel)
  • Total area in hectares. If you have only one contiguous land holding, this will be the same as total farm area. If you have more than one contiguous land holding, the sum of total areas should be the same as the total farm area.
  • Geospatial boundary
  • Grazed land area (in hectares)
  • Grazed forage crop area (in hectares)
  • Grazed non-forage land area (in hectares)
  • Ungrazed land area (in hectares)

Synthetic nitrogen cap calculation:

  • Reporting year (e.g. 2022)

The following five can be calculated using the Ballance or HawkEye tools:

  • Grazed land nitrogen application rate 
  • Grazed forage crop application rate
  • Grazed non-forage crop application rate
  • Ungrazed land application rate
  • Confirmation that less than 190kg of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser per hectare has been applied to grazed pasture 

Fertiliser application:

  • Fertiliser name and manufacturer
  • Day of application
  • Percentage of nitrogen in fertiliser
  • The Ministry for the Environment published several nitrogen cap guidance documents, covering the different types of farming operations. You can also contact your fertiliser supplier for more advice on measuring and meeting the nitrogen cap.

If you cannot meet the 190kg N/ha/year cap (at both property and hectare level), please call us on 0800 496 734 or email us at

Updated August 1, 2022 at 2:06 PM

Get in touch

0800 496 734