Friday, 28 October 2016

What is a Nutrient Budget and a PMP?


With the increasing pressure of environmental regulations keeping a record of your nutrient inputs and outputs is paramount. Your license-to-operate may depend on it.

“A nutrient budget?” you say. Let’s clarify, as this tool lays the foundation to your Farm Environment Management Plan and needs a sound understanding. At its simplest, a nutrient budget is a tool which estimates the nutrient flows in a farming system, and specifically includes estimates of nitrogen and phosphorus loss to water through leaching and/or run-off.

Nutrient budgets are created using the OVERSEER© computer software model and work well in conjunction with our own nutrient management tool, Smart Maps, where you can integrate your soil test results, fertiliser applications and other on-farm actions.

Why is a nutrient budget important?

There are two main reasons why a robust nutrient budget is important for Tukituki farmers. Firstly, a nutrient budget lets you investigate the nutrient flows in your farming system, identifying what blocks or paddocks are ‘leaky’ and vulnerable to nutrient losses. This in turn lets you gauge efficiencies within your farming system. Secondly, a nutrient budget will show whether you are compliant with the council’s nitrogen loss thresholds based on the Land Use Capability (LUC) of your property. This is important because this determines whether you can operate as a permitted activity (continue as you are) or whether you are required to apply for a resource consent (permission required).

Nutrient budgets may seem like an onerous task to begin with, but when you stop to think about it it’s extremely beneficial to your business. Keeping accurate maps, blocking your farm accurately and detailing them with soil test information allows you to hold historical data that you never had before. Ravensdown Smart Maps allows farmers to use an aerial or topographical map of their farm to draw on paddocks, blocks and management zones and integrate this with their soil test results, fertiliser applications and other on-farm actions. It also has a farm specific spatial tool that allows farmers to record and store information for each paddock that can be accessed easily for their own use or for your nutrient budget and FEMP.

With soil test data, fertiliser history and plans and nutrient summaries you’re not only covering what’s required in your nutrient budget and FEMP you are now able to make smarter business decisions, and plan ahead, because you have both a macro and micro view of what’s happening on your farm. The differing perspectives allowing you to see and seize production potential and mitigate potential risks.

What is a Phosphorus Management Plan (PMP)?

Phosphorus losses are the key concern in the Tukituki catchment and so the Phosphorus Management Plan (PMP) component of the FEMP is crucial to making environmental gains. Simply put, the PMP is a practical plan that identifies your high risk phosphorus and sediment loss areas and contains measures to avoid or reduce those risks.

Ravensdown Environmental farm consultants working in the Hawke's Bay region are experienced in farm systems assessment and are certified under the Nutrient Management Advisor scheme. They are the best people to contact to undertake the nutrient budgets, PMPs and FEMPs required by the council.

Ravensdown Environmental