Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


New Software Will Help Protect Our Environment

Scientists have developed a computer software package that will help New Zealand maintain it’s clean, green image.

The innovative software has been developed by Keith Cameron and Hong Di, at the Centre for Soil & Environmental Quality at Lincoln University. It will help farm advisers and consultants calculate nitrogen application rates on our farms.

“This will ensure we are not leaching excessive amounts of nitrate into our water supplies,” said Professor Cameron.

“Nitrate escapes whenever there is a high concentration in the soil and drainage occurs. If nitrate gets into drinking water it is harmful to human health. High concentrations of nitrate in surface waters can also cause excessive weed growth and can harm fish in nearby waters.

“Nitrate leaching also causes economic losses, firstly though reduced plant yield, and secondly through the extra cost of having to buy additional fertiliser,” said Professor Cameron.

The four-year study, an investment of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, has measured nitrate concentrations in the drainage water from pasture soils in 120 large soil columns at Lincoln University.

“The soils had nitrogen fertiliser, dairy shed effluent, and cow urine applied to them in order to determine the amount of nitrate leached and to develop methods to reduce the leaching losses. Cow trampling was even simulated by a purpose-built robotic cow hoof,” said Professor Cameron.

“A unique aspect of the research is that for the first time, the model takes into account the fact that large amounts of nitrogen consumed by grazing animals are returned unevenly to the pasture in the form of urine and dung patches.

“One of the main advantages of the model is that it only requires a relatively small number of data input values. This is a considerable improvement compared to many other programmes that require large amounts of data to run.

“The software is an excellent tool to assist dairy farmers, farm advisers and Regional Councils to work together to meet their environmental responsibilities.

“Our research was supported by the NZ Dairy Board and Ravensdown Fertiliser Cooperative Ltd. Not only will it reduce environmental impacts but also improve sustainability of New
Zealand's dairy farming systems,” said Professor Cameron.

For further infomation:

Keith Cameron, Lincoln University, Tel 03 325 2811,

© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Industry Report: Growing Interactive Sector Wants Screen Grants

Introducing a coordinated plan that invests in emerging talent and allows interactive media to access existing screen industry programmes would create hundreds of hi-tech and creative industry jobs. More>>


Ground Rules: Government Moves To Protect Best Growing Land

“Continuing to grow food in the volumes and quality we have come to expect depends on the availability of land and the quality of the soil. Once productive land is built on, we can’t use it for food production, which is why we need to act now.” More>>


Royal Society: Calls For Overhaul Of Gene-Technology Regulations

An expert panel considering the implications of new technologies that allow much more controlled and precise ‘editing’ of genes, has concluded it’s time for an overhaul of the regulations and that there’s an urgent need for wide discussion and debate about gene editing... More>>


Retail: Card Spending Dips In July

Seasonally-adjusted electronic card spending dipped in July by 0.1 percent after being flat in June, according to Stats NZ. Economists had expected a 0.5 percent lift, according to the median in a Bloomberg poll. More>>


Product Stewardship: Govt Takes More Action To Reduce Waste

The Government is proposing a new way to deal with environmentally harmful products before they become waste, including plastic packing and bottles, as part of a wider plan to reduce the amount of rubbish ending up in landfills. More>>


Earnings Update: Fonterra Sees Up To $675m Loss On Writedowns

“While the Co-op’s FY19 underlying earnings range is within the current guidance of 10-15 cents per share, when you take into consideration these likely write-downs, we expect to make a reported loss of $590-675 million this year, which is a 37 to 42 cent loss per share." More>>