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Overseer® Guidance for Regional Councils Project

Overseer® Guidance for Regional Councils Project

Local Government and Industry are working together to create national guidance to support the use of farm-scale nutrient loss information in regional planning.

The OVERSEER® Guidance Project is a national collaborative partnership project established to provide guidance and advice on the consistent use and application of OVERSEER® by regional councils.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council Rotorua Area Manager Warwick Murray, who is Chair of the Overseer Guidance Project Board says many regional councils are already using OVERSEER® Nutrient Budgets (OVERSEER®) to assist them with estimating nutrient losses at the farm and on a catchment wide scale and to help improve nutrient management decision making.

“Because farming operations can have a significant impact on water quality, it is important that regional councils have an understanding of the level of nutrient discharge from farms to support initiatives to control these discharges, “ Warwick Murray said.

“Where regulation is going to be required, we’d much prefer to be able to regulate nutrient loss, rather than telling farmers how much stock they can carry and how much fertiliser to use. We don’t want to be telling farmers how to farm. The preferred approach is to manage nutrient discharge using output based methods, rather than controlling inputs and regulating farming practices. OVERSEER® is a tool which can help us to do this.”

OVERSEER® is a strategic management tool that supports optimal nutrient use for increased profitability and managing within environmental limits. The software application models nutrient inputs, outputs and flows for a farm system.

“OVERSEER® is a complex tool so one of the aims of the project is to ensure council staff have access to easily understandable, consistent and accurate information about OVERSEER®, as well as guidance on its use and application with regards to policy development.

“Independent contractors have been appointed to produce guidance material for regional council staff and decision makers on how OVERSEER® works and how it can be used in a regulatory environment. This will assist with ensuring consistency and accuracy of application and understanding the tool’s capabilities and limitations,” Warwick Murray said.

The OVERSEER® Guidance Project partners include representatives from regional councils, Ministry for the Environment, Ministry for Primary Industries, Dairy NZ, Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Horticulture New Zealand, Foundation for Arable Research and OVERSEER® Limited.

It is anticipated sector briefings on the use of OVERSEER® by regional council staff will begin in mid-2016.

The National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2014 (NPS-FM) requires regional councils and unitary authorities to maintain or improve water quality in their regions through setting objectives and limits.

Useful link: www.mfe.govt.nz/fresh-water/freshwater-management-nps


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