NZAAA Media Release: Aerial Best Practice Programmes

Media release

28 May 2024

Aerial Best Practice Programmes Media Release

The New Zealand Agricultural Aviation Association (NZAAA) is pleased to endorse the implementation of programmes that will support the primary sector as processors, suppliers, end users, and regulators seek independent assurance of environmental best practice.

The Chairman of the NZAAA, Bruce Peterson, notes that ‘the AIRCARE™ programme, previously run by the Aviation Industry Association (formerly Aviation NZ), no longer meets the needs of agricultural aircraft operators, their clients, and stakeholders. Aerial operators recognise the importance of demonstrating independent assurance through programmes that provide added value to their business, their clients, regulators, and the wider community’.

The programmes include the current ‘Spreadmark Certification’ programme managed by the Fertiliser Quality Council (FQC) and the ‘Growsafe Accreditation (Aerial)’ programme managed by the NZ Agricultural Education Trust (NZAET).

The independence of the FQC and NZAET provides all stakeholders assurance that the programmes are robust. Peterson further notes that ‘the NZAAA will have oversight of the programmes to ensure the processes are relevant to the agricultural aviation industry and provide a single point of contact for operators seeking certification and accreditation’.

The General Manager of the NZAET, Jane Lamb, welcomes “the opportunity to align quality assurance processes in the aerial agrichemical sector with those for ground applicators; and also, with those for fertiliser application”.

The Executive Director of the FQC, Tyler Langford notes that “by promoting and enabling accurate nutrient placement, we empower farmers to optimise their nutrient use for sustainable food production.”

About Spreadmark

Spreadmark is a quality assurance and risk management program dedicated to nutrient spreading. It certifies spreading equipment and audits operators’ assurance and compliance processes. The goal is to ensure accurate and even distribution of fertilisers and nutrients, optimising their use for the benefit of both agriculture and the environment.

Why Choose Spreadmark?

With increasing expectations on farmers to manage nutrient use precisely, Spreadmark provides assurance that this responsibility is met. It offers confidence to farmers, growers, regional councils, and processors that fertilisers and nutrients are spread accurately by highly trained operators.

About Growsafe

Growsafe is a training and certification programme underpinned by NZS 8409:2021 the ‘Code of Practice’ for the management of agrichemicals. Growsafe certifies over 5,000 people a year based upon this standard, so it is a fundamental part of many industries.

Why Growsafe?

New Zealand’s economy and environment rely on safe, responsible and effective agrichemical use. Operating in accordance with NZS 8409:2021 demonstrates that an organisation is operating with reasonable care for the safety of people and the environment.


Key facts about the NZ Agricultural Aviation Association

Agricultural aviation means the use of aircraft in the application of agrichemicals and fertilisers in agriculture, including forestry and horticulture, and pest eradication in native forests.

The NZ Agricultural Aviation Association (NZAAA) was set up in 1949 as the New Zealand Aerial Work Operators Association. It is now a Division of the Aviation Industry Association (formally Aviation NZ). The aim of the NZAAA is to provide an environment where its members can prosper in safety.

Membership of the NZAAA, the industry organization, is voluntary. Currently membership represents about 75% of industry capacity.

A total of 450,000 tonnes of agricultural product was dispensed on NZ farmland in the year ended December 2023, down from 637,000 tonnes the previous year. (Source CAA and NZAAA Safety report, March 2024).

Most spraying is done by helicopter with most solid products dispensed by fixed wing aircraft. Flat farmland is often ground spread by truck and aircraft are normally used on hill country.

Media enquiries to Tony Michelle, Executive Officer, NZAAA, Mobile 0274 325085