Fertiliser regulation

Regulation of the contents and labelling of fertilisers sold in Victoria helps to manage the risks associated with its use in agriculture.

The main risk is from the heavy metal contaminants, cadmium, mercury and lead, present in some fertilisers. These contaminants may accumulate in soils. It may also lead to levels in plant and animal products that are above Australian or international standards.

The Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) (Fertilisers) Regulations 2015 manage these risks by:

  • maximum permissible concentrations of cadmium, mercury and lead contaminants in fertilisers
  • the warning statements fertiliser products must carry if certain contaminants exceed prescribed levels
  • product descriptions to be provided to purchasers as attached labels or advice notes
  • minimum requirements for product descriptions to be supplied via product labels or advice notes.

Guide to Victorian fertiliser regulations

The Guide to Victorian Fertiliser Regulations has been developed to provide a plain English explanation to the Act.

The guide has been developed to help fertiliser manufacturers and suppliers comply with the Regulations, and provides references to other relevant standards and agencies.

It should be read in conjunction with the Regulations. Manage these risks with the following requirements:

National code of practice for fertiliser description and labelling

The National Code of Practice for Fertiliser Description and Labelling (the CoP) was developed by Fertilizer Australia in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture and state and territory fertiliser regulators.

The CoP is not a replacement for the Regulations, as is it not currently underpinned by legislation.

The CoP incorporates the general requirements of the Victorian Regulations and includes additional standards, such as nutrient labelling, that may be applicable in other jurisdictions and form best practice.

The CoP can be found on the Fertilizer Australia website.

Fungicide treatment of fertilisers

Treating fertilisers with fungicides is an efficient way of protecting crops from fungal diseases.

There are a range of registered products containing the active ingredients flutriafol or triadimefon that can be mixed with fertilisers to treat fungal disease in range of broadacre situations.

As with all agricultural chemicals, fungicides must be used in line with the product's label directions.

In situations where commercial fertiliser distributors are treating fertilisers with a fungicide, the business must hold a Commercial operator licence (COL) issued by Agriculture Victoria.

Businesses that apply agricultural chemicals to fertilisers need to ensure that equipment used to handle treated fertiliser (conveyors, augers, truck trailers, field bins) is thoroughly decontaminated to minimise the risk of residues being passed on to subsequent commodities such as grain.

National strategies

Through the regulation of fertiliser content and labelling, Victoria contributes to national strategies such as Australian Cadmium Minimisation Strategy and the development of a national approach to fertiliser regulation.

The Australian Cadmium Minimisation Strategy ended in 2006 but their website includes useful publications on managing cadmium levels in livestock and crops.

Soils and soil health

General information on soils and soil health is available at Victorian Resources Online — Soil.

Page last updated: 29 Jun 2020