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Precise benefits

Animal Water Plant Soil Number crunching has revealed the potential agronomic and economic benefits of using SpreadSmart technology.

Applying fertiliser precisely using SpreadSmart technology provides higher returns than a fixed flow rate, according to scenario modelling.

In the modelling, applying phosphate (P) using either SpreadSmart option (see box) provides better gross margins than a fixed flow rate using standard spreading technology

(see Figure 1).

A key benefit of the variable rate application is ensuring the correct rate goes onto easier, most productive areas. These areas are normally the engine that drives the farm’s productivity, so maintaining or building their soil fertility is important.

Applying a lower rate to these easier areas will mine them and compromise the soil’s ability to maintain ryegrass or clover in the sward in the longer term. Lower fertility grass species can outcompete ryegrass and clover, particularly for P, resulting in a shorter growing season and lower feed quality.

Variable rate application also creates the opportunity to consider lime application to only the most responsive areas, hence obtaining the best responses and improving the economics of its use.

Utilising variable rate is particularly beneficial in summer-dry hill country, or properties where there are large variances in productivity or soil fertility.

SpreadSmart variable rate application

SpreadSmart provides a variable flow of fertiliser from the plane, at a:

· variable ground rate, based on soil fertility or stocking rate, or a

· constant ground rate, applying a uniform rate of fertiliser to the ground,

taking into account the plane’s speed.


SpreadSmart is available exclusively through Ballance’s aerial topdressing company Super Air throughout the North Island.

Contact Super Air on 0800 787 372 or email

For more on the economics of SpreadSmart, see The development of variable rate application of fertiliser from a fixed wing topdressing aircraft at

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