Ballance Agri-Nutrients, a farmer-owned fertiliser co-operative, said a fire at its Kapuni urea plant in August had acted to cut its trading profit for the 2011/12 year by about $20 million.

Despite the fire, Ballance said shareholders would get $43.6 million through a $40 rebate per tonne of fertiliser bought plus a further $3.4 million through an imputed dividend of 10c per share.

This will result in an average return of $44.29 per tonne, down from last year's record distribution, which averaged $50.29 per tonne.

The co-operative delivered a $77.3 million trading result for the year to May, compared with $85.9 million in the previous year. Ballance, which began in 2001, is the result of a series of company mergers and alliances that saw regional fertiliser co-ops come together under the umbrella of what was then Bay of Plenty Fertiliser.


Chairman David Graham said the total distribution was an good result for farmer shareholders. "Farmers are watching their budgets and a distribution close to last year's record will be a very welcome deposit in the farm account," he said.

"Had we not had the fire and an extended maintenance turnaround later in the year, we estimate our result could have been $20 million higher."

Steady demand for nutrients throughout the year saw sales volumes increase by 3 per cent to 1.44 million tonnes and a rise in group revenue of 20 per cent to $915 million.

Chief executive Larry Bilodeau said higher volumes came from a year which was sure and steady rather than "peaky".