Skip to main content
Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



Related Images

Lime, Fertilisers, and Trace Elements

The fertiliser, trace elements, and lime needs of New Zealand soils can be summarised in a simplified form by dividing (most, but not all) soils into four classes. The two larger classes are derived from so-called sedimentary rocks – greywacke (cemented hard sandstones and mudstones), schist (typically found in Otago), and softer mudstones and sandstones. The latter form the basis of many hill-country soils of the North Island. The class of soils with higher mineral fertility occurs in the drier districts (12–25 in. mean annual rainfall). But it also includes the young soils of river flats and the best of the steep hill country in rainier districts. The class with lower mineral fertility occurs in the wetter districts. The other two classes of soils are derived from volcanic ash. They are confined to the North Island. One class is derived from rhyolitic (pumice) ash erupted during the last 2,000 years. Soils derived from these more recent pumice showers are rather low in available trace elements. The other class of soils is derived from older pumice showers and from andesitic ash. Its supply of trace elements generally appears adequate, but phosphorus fixation is high.

The fertiliser elements needed on these four classes of soils and the prevalence of these needs are indicated in the table below.

Lime and Fertiliser Elements Needed on Soils Derived from Sedimentary Rocks
Young Soils and Soils in Drier Districts (Less Leached Soils Older Soils and Higher Rain-fall Districts (Leached Soils)
Needed for Plants Needed for Plants
Nitrogen* Nitrogen*
Limestone* Limestone*
Phosphorus Phosphorus*
Potassium Potassium*
Sulphur* Sulphur*
Manganese Magnesium (orchards, etc.)
Boron Molybdenum*
Zinc(stone fruit only) Boron
Copper Selenium
Needed for Animals
Selenium Needed for Animal
Copper Selenium
(Due to molybdenum excess) Cobalt
Lime and Fertiliser Elements Needed on Soils Derived from Volcanic Ash
Soils Derived from Younger Rhyolitic Pumice Soils Derived from Andesitic Ash and Older Pumice
Needed for Plants Needed for Plants
Nitrogen* Nitrogen*
Phosphorus* Phosphorus*
Potassium* Potassium*
Sulphur Limestone
Needed for Animals Needed for Animals
Cobalt* Cobalt
(Mainly due to excess molybdenum)

*Widespread or severe deficiency.

†Moderately widespread or widespread, but moderate deficiency.

‡Sporadic deficiency.

by Cornelius During, B.AGR.SC., formerly Farm Advisory Service, Department of Agriculture, Wellington.