The Issue

Australia is free of many plant and animal diseases and pests that could cause significant losses to our agriculture or natural environment should they become established here. Exotic plants could also cause problems if introduced. To manage these risks Australia has a very strict quarantine regime.

As imported fertilizers are taken into rural areas and placed into or onto the soil they represent a significant quarantine risk pathway. With mineral fertilizers the risk is that they may be contaminated with live insects or eggs, living plants, plant material that may carry insects or diseases, and grains and other seeds. Organic fertilizers can be a direct risk  as well as carrying the risk of contamination.

Contamination of fertilizers with organic matter can occur at the manufacturing point, during transport and storage and particularly at wharfs and in ships where fertilizer and grains are handled in the same facilities.

The Department of Agriculture is responsible for  managing quarantine issues for imported fertilizer.

Fertilizer Australia Response

Fertilizer Australia has worked closely with the Department of Agriculture to develop and manage an effective protocol for managing quarantine risk for fertilizer imports. Prior to the implementation of the current protocol all of the checks and controls were conducted on arrival of a cargo in Australia. Quarantine risk for most supply chains is now managed by a comprehensive quality assurance process from the point of manufacture through to arrival in Australia.

Fertilizer Australia coordinates the assessment and audit of supply chains and continues to work with the Department of Agriculture to continuously improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the protocol. This work was recognised in 2014 with a National Quarantine Award.


The latest version of the Fertilizer Import Protocol, information on permits to import, and a range of other related information is available from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources web site.

A container inspection procedure developed by Fertilizer Australia with assistance from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources should be used for all empty container inspections. Fertilizer Australia Container Inspection Protocols.pdf

Below is a list of surveyors approved by Fertilizer Australia to conduct empty vessel cleanliness inspections as required by the import protocols:

Surveyors by Name.pdf

Surveyors by Country.pdf