A report on whether a farm management tool used to calculate nutrient runoff could be used more widely to better inform water regulation is welcomed by LGNZ, who say that with the right investment it could be used to promote better water quality across the country.
The tool, Overseer, is used by farmers to model the nutrient losses from their soils, and provides data on the impact of runoff on waterways.
“Regional councils know that water quality can be improved, and we are committed to using every tool possible to achieve this, which is why a number of councils use Overseer to help manage nutrients in water,” says LGNZ Regional Sector Chair Doug Leeder.
“Farmers have raised their concern that using modelled estimates and assumptions to manage real effects can lead to inaccurate data and unfair outcomes, particularly when it is used on a larger scale.”
“To address this, regions and industry have built up considerable experience over the past decade to ensure Overseer is utilised within its limitations.”
“If we continue to use Overseer to inform regulation, it’s important that we apply our knowledge and gain investment to ensure it is fit for purpose, and in doing so get buy-in from farmers to make the most of the benefits it can provide to our waterways.”
The report recommends a comprehensive evaluation of Overseer, as well as a working group to provide guidance on how Overseer can be used by regional councils.
“We welcome the Government’s interest in improving Overseer for regulatory use and look forward to participating in the working group, to share our in-depth knowledge and experience in this area.”
“If Overseer is able to be used widely, it’s essential that councils are not required to go through long and expensive plan change processes to give effect new modelling, as that would make it somewhat pointless.”