BBB National Programs Archive

NAD Finds Specialty Fertilizer can Support Certain Claims, Recommends Advertiser Discontinue Durational Claim

New York, New York – August 27 , 2009 The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has determined that Specialty Fertilizer Products, LLC, provided reasonable support for certain advertising claims made for its NutriSphere-N product, but recommended the advertiser discontinue a durational claim.  Advertising claims made by Specialty Fertilizer Products were challenged by AGROTAIN International, LLC, a competing maker of fertilizer additives.

NAD, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, examined advertising claims that appeared on packaging, at Websites, and in a blog post authored by the advertiser’s marketing director, as well as in other media.

Claims at issue in NAD’s inquiry included:

  • NutriSphere-N “controls urease” and thus decreases volatilization
  • “Inhibits Nitrogen Volatilization and Nitrification”
  • “the only product on the market that protects nitrogen fertilizer from volatilization and leaching for the entire growing season (from fertilization to harvest)”

By way of background, the challenger and advertiser both explained the value of nitrogen in the production of crops and noted the common use of nitrogen fertilizers, including solid granular urea or UAN, a liquid mix of urea and ammonium nitrate. They further noted that urea can lose its nitrogen content in two ways – on the soil surface through “volatilization,” which occurs when the enzyme urease interacts with urea, or below the surface through “nitrification,” which occurs when nitrogen is converted into nitrates that are then leached into groundwater or lost into the atmosphere.

In reaching its conclusion, NAD examined a wide range of evidence, including university studies, presented by both the advertiser and the challenger.

NAD noted in its decision that while certain of the laboratory studies presented by the advertiser in support of claims contained some flaws, when taken together, the studies provided a foundation for the advertiser’s nitrification and volatilization claims. Further, NAD determined that the advertiser’s field data — although containing some omissions and imperfections — provided a reasonable basis for its claims that NutriSphere-N inhibits nitrification and volatilization.

However, NAD concluded that the advertiser’s evidence did not provide a reasonable basis for its claim that NutriSphere-N works “all season long.” NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the claim in all media in which it appears, including the blog post, authored by the advertiser’s marketing director, that appeared on a blog called “AgTalk.”

In its advertiser’s statement, Specialty Fertilizer Products said it welcomed “the additional guidance supplied by NAD,” and would take NAD’s recommendations into account in its future advertising.