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Cutting Fertiliser Waste And Over Use

10 November 2000


Wasting money on applying fertiliser that is not required, or causing environmental damage from over use of fertiliser, need no longer be an issue for New Zealand farmers.

They now have the ability to use, free of charge, a New Zealand developed computer programme called Overseer® nutrient budget software, which helps them to see what is happening to the nutrients they apply to the farm and to effectively manage farm nutrient inputs and outputs.

Dr Ants Roberts and Dr Stewart Ledgard, from the AgResearch Land and Environmental Management Group, will be discussing the nutrient budgeting model at the Fert Research fertiliser conference being held at Lincoln University next week.

More than 500 farmers and industry personnel have obtained copies of Overseer® nutrient budget programme since its release in July last year.

The Overseer® programme was developed by AgResearch, and partly funded by Fert Research, MAF Policy and the Ministry for the Environment.

“Overseer® nutrient budgeting enables farmers to investigate and evaluate the efficiency of their fertiliser nutrient use in relation to their current farming practice and even investigate management changes which may improve this efficiency,” says Dr Roberts.

Nutrient budgets are a long-term measure of the sustainability of a farming system, and work by identifying whether inadequate or excessive inputs of nutrients are being used.

This is calculated by looking at the major sources of nutrient inputs, including fertiliser, nitrogen fixation by clover and feed supplements, as well as the nutrient outputs, including losses through products sold off the farm, animal transfer and leaching.

“The principles of nutrient budgeting can be useful to a wide range of individuals, organisations and industry bodies.”

“In the agricultural sector Overseer® is currently used for a number of purposes. For example grower and farm monitoring groups, such as kiwifruit growers in the Bay of Plenty, orchardists in Nelson, and dairy farmers in Southland, Otago and Waikato, have used the model to examine the effect of management practice on sustainability, nitrogen efficiency and nitrate leaching.

“Fertiliser industry technical representatives and consultants also use the Overseer® software to illustrate the fate of nutrients to farmers and show the need for fertilisers or fine-tune fertiliser programmes where other nutrient sources are brought onto the farm,” says Dr Roberts.

The Fert Research 26th Technical Conference is being held at Lincoln University on November 14 and 15. Entitled ‘Fertiliser Research: Unlocking the Potential of New Zealand Agriculture,’ the conference focuses on practical insights, technological advances, the role of fertiliser in the success of New Zealand agriculture and the future of the fertiliser industry.

For further information about Overseer® or the Fert Research conference, please contact:

Dr Hilton Furness
Fert Research
Phone; (09) 415 1357 or mobile; (025) 516 817

Andrea Thuell,
Network Communications,
Phone; (09) 379 3154 or mobile; (025) 318 693
Fax; (09) 308 9456 or email;

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