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22 January 2013


The agricultural nutrient management tool “Overseer” is now destined to become a key tool for understanding and reporting on nutrient cycling in the arable industry.

This follows a review by the levy-funded organisation responsible for funding the research needs of the arable industry, Foundation for Arable Research (FAR).

FAR used an independent expert panel to review the nutrient management planning tool. It concluded Overseer is the best tool available for modelling average nutrient losses through leaching and run-off across farming enterprises in New Zealand. The panel also concluded that further work on Overseer’s application to arable farming was needed to enhance confidence of that sector in the tool.

Speaking on behalf of the three owners of Overseer – the Fertiliser Association of New Zealand, AgResearch and Ministry for Primary Industries – spokesman Philip Mladenov (Chief Executive of the Fertiliser Association) said that this was an important step towards Overseer becoming the preeminent tool for nutrient for planning in New Zealand agriculture.

“There are enormous advantages in having a tool that is universally used across all farming enterprises. It means that everyone talks a common language. It particularly enables the sharing and comparing of information – which will be a very powerful resource for improving nutrient management practice, both for farmers and regulators.

“Overseer is now well established in the dairy industry, being used by more than 80% of that industry, and it is rapidly growing in the sheep and beef industry with roughly 10% penetration.

“We were very supportive of FAR’s review as the owners are keen to expand the use of Overseer. It will enable us to address sector-specific issues to ensure that Overseer can be used effectively within all farming enterprises. It also provides further assistance on how Overseer can be used in regulation for cropping enterprises. We provided significant technical input for the review.

“This review was also a useful stocktake of the specific arable components of the model and the owners look forward to working in close partnership with FAR to further develop arable-related elements of the model,” he says.

The FAR review recommended a number of steps that could be taken to enhance Overseer’s effectiveness in the arable sector, including further validation studies and methods of entering data about crop rotations. In addition, the review identified areas which the Overseer Owners have also recognised as priorities for further investment, including strengthening peer review processes and user training.

“We welcome the positive and constructive approach FAR has taken to Overseer and we will be looking to work closely with both FAR and the arable sector as a whole, along with other sectors, to help get farmers to use this modelling tool as quickly as possible,” says Dr Mladenov.


For further information

Dr Philip Mladenov

Chief Executive

Fertiliser Association of New Zealand

04 473 6552

021 503 217

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