Government-owed research institutions in New Zealand have developed a software that would enable farmers to measure greenhouse gas emissions accurately.
And that in turn would help the country to comply with its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol, it is stated.
The software, an upgrade to the to the popular OVERSEER® provides farmers with all the tools they need to estimate and gauge the impact of any mitigation measures put in place on farm.
"We believe the enhancements to the software platform will provide farmers with a tool to assist New Zealand agriculture to meet its obligations as required by the Government from 2013 to estimate and report on greenhouse gas emissions from livestock," says AgResearch Business Development Manager Kevin Benge.
The OVERSEER® Nutrient Budget Model provides users with a single tool to examine the impact and efficiency of nutrient use and flows within a farm (as fertiliser, effluent, supplements or transfer by animals) as well as potential environmental impacts. The model also provides a means to investigate the effect of mitigation options to reduce the environmental impact of nutrient emissions on farm.
Kevin Benge says it is important that farmers have the appropriate tools available to them for assessing the impact of nutrient emissions from their farming operation.
"It is also important to make sure these tools are easy to use, farmer friendly and gain acceptance in the farming community."
OVERSEER® was developed in 1998 when the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry asked AgResearch to develop a nutrient budgeting tool - since then it has been regularly updated and used widely in the farming community.
"The advantage of using a software platform like OVERSEER® is that it can be modified to meet the changing needs of farmers so they can not only measure their carbon footprint but use it to enhance on farm sustainability by assessing the effectiveness of any measures they may have put in place."
He says it also enables farmers to manage the impact of nitrogen and phosphorus losses on water quality.
"OVERSEER® is a user-friendly tool that utilises a wealth of scientific knowledge and enables farmers and their farm advisors to make effective nutrient management decisions."
He says it should be particularly useful in regions like Taupo and Rotorua where farmers are seeking to comply with new regulations aimed at reducing primarily nitrogen leaching into lakes.
This greenhouse gas module was first incorporated in 2003 and has recently been updated to include the latest New Zealand greenhouse gas inventory methods.
MAF, AgResearch and FertResearch have provided funding for OVERSEER® since its inception. A funding package is currently being put in place with MAF and FertResearch that will enable AgResearch to continue to upgrade the software and provide OVERSEER®, free of charge to farmers and their farm advisors via its website.
"Because the product is widely accepted and easily adapted, farmers don't need to familiarise themselves with a new system each time we add functionality.
"As sustainability becomes more of a focus for legislators looking at the agricultural compliance regimes, and importantly as the 2013 deadline approaches, OVERSEER® is likely to be an important tool in enabling New Zealand to meet its Kyoto obligations," says Kevin.