Some readers might remember this post from 3 years ago:
“The awarding of a $9.5 million Public Good Fund grant to Ballance late last year, for research into ‘Improving N and P efficiency and the development of biological pest control methods’ hopefully reflects a great leap forward in attitude by Ballance.
While there is concern that the grant will be spent on a variety of ‘dead-end’ research topics, rather than truly promising areas for advancement, recent comments from Ballance staff indicate a desire to make breakthroughs in nutrient efficiency…..Group One looks forward to seeing what research projects are initiated with the various research institutes and universities.”
So what has happened since 2011? Well, Ravensdown received similar ‘me too’ funding. But no new environmentally-orientated products have been released by either company. Ravensdown have even had to withdraw their only initiative, Eco-N, because of the possible repercussions from traces of DCD being found in milk. The levels are likely to be far too low to be harmful at all, but the problem is that no one had the foresight to establish a proven safe upper limit. So we just don’t know. Incredible.
Even sadder, Ballance resorted to ‘reinventing’ SustaiN(R), which is granular urea coated with the urease inhibitor NBPT, to minimise ammonia volatilisation. Ballance started promoting it very heavily in 2014, possibly after someone in Wellington got round to asking what had been accomplished with the $9.5 mil. The thing is, SustaiN(R) was developed and introduced to the market way back in 2002(!) by Summit-Quinphos (NZ) Ltd, long before Ballance bought the company out.
As it happens, when SustaiN(R) was released, it was damned with faint praise by Ballance, and by Dr Doug Edmeades of course, despite the wealth of trial data collected. Ballance conducted their own trials, which gave positive but less impressive results. It now appears that their trials were conducted on sites chosen on the basis that ammonia volatilisation was likely to be very low. Hmmm….
From all the data I have seen, it is clear that, unless there is rainfall or irrigation within a few hours after application, the efficiency of SustaiN(R) will be 20-40% better than regular granular urea. A very good start, but not in the same league as ONEsystem(R). I know, because I invented them both!