Farmers, growers and regional councils can have confidence in the nitrogen leaching estimates of OverseerFM after an independent evaluation re-affirmed its use as a farm management tool.
The evaluation showed Overseer performed well against measured losses of nitrate, with the tool rated as “very good” for grazed pastures, and “satisfactory” and “good” for crop systems.
Over the past two years, scientists from AgResearch, Plant & Food Research, NIWA and Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research evaluated OverseerFM’s performance for New Zealand farming systems as part of a science programme carried out in conjunction with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and Overseer Ltd.
This re-affirmed OverseerFM’s role as a useful decision support tool that allows farmers and growers to make more informed decisions about their farm management practices, boost their productivity and profitability, and improve their environmental impacts, Overseer chief executive Jill Gower said.
“Importantly, the Technical Advisory Group set up to establish and review OverseerFM has also noted the validation work has improved confidence in the use of the Overseer model.”
As a result of the science programme, Overseer has also undertaken a series of improvements to the farm management tool to further enhance its value for farmers and growers, including the release of new software versions in December 2022 and April 2023, she said.
“Farmers and growers have welcomed these enhancements to OverseerFM, which are supporting them to gain valuable insights and information, track progress and communicate efforts.
“We know farmers and growers are increasingly relying on OverseerFM as an indicator of farm sustainability and we encourage those users to ensure they understand how the tool can add value in this area.”
A limiting factor when developing and validating any tool is access to quality field research, Gower said.
“Gaps in any research tend to be filled by well-informed assumptions. This scientific programme demonstrated that key assumptions that were a focus of the technical review of OverseerFM are valid after all.
“As government and industry groups invest more in important research and share insights, confidence in critical tools like OverseerFM will only improve.
“Overseer Ltd is also working hard to improve the understanding of OverseerFM and the way the tool should be used, especially as we see more and more users and organisations engaging with the software to understand and manage their greenhouse gas emissions, as well as their nitrate leaching.”