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Nutrient Budgets – Good Environmental Stewardship


Nutrient Budgets – Good Environmental Stewardship

11 March 2008

Meat & Wool New Zealand and the fertiliser industry have teamed up to encourage sheep and beef farmers to adopt nutrient budgets for their farms – an important element of good environmental stewardship and also a sound business strategy.

Meat & Wool New Zealand Chairman, Mike Petersen says nutrient budgets are an important tool for farmers to use to determine the nutrient needs of their farms. This can be done by using the Overseer software programme which will provide reports about nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and greenhouse gas emissions.

Farmers enter into Overseer the data specific to their production systems and environment, and the software calculates whether there is a nutrient surplus or deficit. Advice can then be given on improving the efficiency of nutrient use by, for example, identifying options to minimise nutrient losses.

Mike Petersen said having a nutrient budget made good business sense.
“This sort of analysis means sheep and beef farmers can manage their use of fertiliser so they only put on what they need – reducing the impact of any nutrient excesses and saving money. This is especially relevant now with sheep farmers under extreme economic pressure. ”

FertResearch Chairman, Bill McLeod welcomed the nutrient budget initiative for sheep and beef farms and said it had the support of the major fertiliser companies.

“We’ll be working with Meat & Wool New Zealand in the coming weeks to further develop the roll-out to farmers.”

The Overseer programme is already widely used by dairy farmers and Mr McLeod said the commitment now was to engage with sheep and beef farmers.

The Overseer programme is owned by FertResearch, MAF and AgResearch and their ongoing commitment to evolving the programme will be important.

The nutrient budget initiative builds on a range of environment work Meat & Wool New Zealand has outlined in a publication “Environmental Stewardship” to be launched at its Annual General Meeting in Palmerston North on 12 March.
Mr Petersen said the publication outlined how Meat & Wool New Zealand was investing in a range of programmes to assist sheep and beef farmers.

“The booklet provides an overview of the innovative research and practical tools that will help New Zealand sheep and beef farmers maintain their world-class position - producing premium products in a natural and sustainable environment.”


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