Fertiliser is often the largest expense for farms. It
is therefore important that farmers understand how to apply fertiliser efficiently to minimise losses to water.
What’s a nutrient management plan?
Nutrient management plans are like financial budgets.
They’re useful tools to plan ahead and keep track of what’s coming in and going
out on an individual farm. Taking time to understand nutrient cycling for your
farming system will make it easier to achieve sustainability over the long
term, both in terms of economic and environmental goals.
Nutrient management plans combine all the tools that science
has produced to allow the trained nutrient management farm advisors to develop
fertiliser recommendations, which maximise the productivity of individual farms
while minimising or mitigating the environmental impacts of nitrogen and
phosphorus loss to surface and groundwater.
The benefits of a nutrient management plan
- Huge cost savings by identifying management options to ensure the right amount and type of fertiliser is applied to maximise production and soil fertility.
- Estimation of the off-farm impacts of nitrogen and phosphorus on water quality and suggested mitigation strategies to reduce nutrient losses and environmental effects.
- Monitoring of fertiliser performance, and benefits of mitigation, for continued improvements.
Nutrient Budgets (Overseer)
is a software tool
that estimates nutrient
flows through the
animal, pasture, crop and soil.
It provides estimates for off-farm losses of nutrients including
nutrient leaching and run-off, phosphorus run-off, risk index, and greenhouse
The tool requires a wide range of information, including
soil type and slope, soil tests, fertiliser history, paddock use and
supplementary feed. Don’t be put off as
you and your fertiliser representative or farm consultant probably have most of
provided will be
based on your
current farming system, and should be considered on an annual basis (or
longer if there are no changes to your farming system). While the information will be useful to you
for farm planning, the quality of outputs is reliant on spending some time
entering the correct data. As with any model,
OVERSEER® can be manipulated, but it does represent the best
approach at the moment.
What is a nutrient budget?
A nutrient budget is a statement of the total nutrient balance for a specific area
or production system, taking into account all the
nutrient inputs and outputs.
Environment Southland is promoting the use of nutrient
budgets as a
good management practice
to ensure farmers gain a greater
awareness and understanding of nutrient management for their farms.
While having a nutrient
management plan or
nutrient budget alone won’t improve water quality, the information in
the budget will help you make practical decisions that could minimise nutrient
losses from your farming system.
Knowing about nutrient budgets will put farmers in a good
position to be involved in community discussions around setting and meeting
catchment limits. Environment Southland is
required to go
through this process
to fulfil the objectives in the National Policy Statement for
Where to go for assistance
It is recommended an experienced and accredited nutrient
management adviser, or
accredited consultant with a
good understanding of nutrient management tools and farming systems, is engaged
to help formulate a nutrient management plan for your farm.
For more information on nutrient management please contact:
- Your fertiliser company
- Fertiliser Association of New
- Dairy NZ or Beef and Lamb NZ
- Farm Consultants
- Foundation of Arable Research
Horticulture NZ (Hort NZ)