The Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) is an applied research and information transfer organisation responsible primarily to New Zealand arable growers.
The Government’s revised Essential Freshwater Package, released on Thursday, continues to emphasise the importance of good nutrient management in order to protect waterways and to help maintain social licence to farm.
A key feature of the package is the introduction of mandatory and enforceable Farm Environment Plans (FEPs), with Fresh Water modules, that will recognise the unique characteristics of farms and the range of systems they operate under. These FEPs allow for site-specific and targeted approaches that take account of factors such as climate, topography, soil resource and hydrology. The package also signaled the introduction of strict rules around dairy grazing.
FAR will ensure that its existing arable Farm Environment Plan template is developed to meet the new requirements and continue to focus on research and extension that will support growers as they further develop their farm systems in order to meet these new environmental goals.
See links below for summaries of the Freshwater Management Strategy and some useful FAR resources around Farm Environment Plans, nutrient management and dairy grazing.
FAR’s ProductionWise® farm recording package is now able to interface directly with OverseerFM, a development which will make nutrient management reporting a lot faster and cheaper for most ProductionWise users.
FAR ProductionWise Manager, Melanie Bates, says that enabling the two systems to ‘talk to each other’ was always a goal, and although it’s taken a while, testing shows that the benefits will be huge.
“Formal discussions with Overseer about the project began in January 2019, and late last year, the ProductionWise technical team, headed by Chris Day from Flurosat, and the OverseerFM technical team started working together to plan out the integration process via computer ‘json’ files. Chris has developed a very simple and visual way to build up the json file from recorded data in PW into OverseerFM. In simple terms, you can extract your ProductionWise data to a file that can be imported into the OverseerFM platform, allowing you to create your year-end analysis easily.”
Once the system was designed, it had to be tested. Enter Mark Everest, a consultant at Macfarlane Rural Business in Ashburton, who assisted Chris in constructing and trialling the new joint platform using real farmer data. Marks says the process was very complex.
“Designing software is a lot like growing a top yielding crop; there are lots of moving parts and inter-dependnt interactions. Chris had to grapple with a range of mechanical challenges, like aligning and/or interpreting terminology, products, methods and practices, as well as providing an easy to use and stable interface.”
However, he says the end result is excellent.
“Traditionally, the biggest consumer of time, and therefore cost, of preparing nutrient budgets for arable properties, or any property that grows crops, is the accurate collation of crop input data…things like drilling, fertiliser, harvest dates and yields. This new ProductionWise-OverseerFM integration could cut that time by up to 50%. The key to making the integration work successfully is ensuring that all paddock inputs are recorded in ProductionWise; OverseerFM needs complete crop data to model accurately.
“The software does everything it needs to do and nothing more, making intuitive decisions or assumptions where they can be reliably made and leaving the balance for the operator to define. It’s a fantastic resource, but it’s still only a tool to support the streamlining of a business and as such, will not provide the same savings to all operators. Nor is it a silver bullet solution to not having put any effort into the annual preparation of a nutrient budget. Its main limitation is around the use of default options for management practices and inputs that are aligned to those in OverseerFM, however, the operator can change or refine inputs in the platform before exporting to OverseerFM.
“All in all, this ProductionWise-OverseerFM Integration will streamline environmental management for arable farming businesses, and enable operators to spend more time identifying opportunities rather than ticking compliance boxes.”
FAR would welcome any feedback on this development to help continually improve the system and keep farmers farming. Click here to let us know if you need help to get started or need training on the latest developments.