OverseerFM in action on Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Future Farm

// Business Management

OverseerFM is proving valuable as a resource management and decision-making tool on Lanercost, Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s new Future Farm in North Canterbury.

Future farm

The aim of B+LNZ’s Future Farm is to demonstrate how new technologies, systems and practices can impact on performance while maintaining the highest production standards within a leading environmental footprint.

The Future Farm team on Lanercost, a 1310ha commercial sheep and beef farm near Cheviot, is making full use of mapping and modelling tools to identify the land use capability of different areas of the farm and employs OverseerFM to carry out nutrient budgets.

Kirsti Lovie, Insights Manager at B+LNZ’s Future Farm, uses OverseerFM to ensure the farm can meet environmental compliance requirements but importantly gain a fuller picture of the impact of farm management practices by forecasting the results and updating with actuals and any planned changes to the budgeted farm plan.

“Every action you take has a reaction, so we use OverseerFM in conjunction with other tools to track where we are going and the impact of the decisions that are made on farm.

“For instance, we had really good winter crop yields and so had some additional feed. We wanted to bring in some extra grazing cattle to eat it. We were able to use OverseerFM to model the impact of this change and the practices available to mitigate risk.”

Lanercost is making important changes to reduce the farm’s environmental footprint this year as a result of using OverseerFM in conjunction with Land use class (LUC) mapping and a farm environment plan, says Kirsti.

“It has helped us really understand our soil’s limitations, the opportunities and the zones to exclude from winter cropping to avoid phosphorous losses.”

On any farm, it’s really important to understand the land resource, what it is capable of, how it varies across the farm and where the risk areas are.

“It’s a good idea to link OverseerFM to your farm environmental plan and LUC mapping so you know what your soil is capable of, your topography, overland flow potential, the timing of putting animals into different zones and what impact different stock classes will have.”

By using OverseerFM themselves or alongside their consultant, farmers will get the maximum benefit by better understanding the tool and the accuracy of the model, says Kirsti.

“Sheep and beef farmers will know what changes have an effect on their farm, they will know how to read the reports and understand how different parts of their farm react to different farm management approaches. That way, they can identify the opportunities and maximise the potential of their farm business.

“OverseerFM is a very fluid tool and the new version is visual and farmer-centric. If farmers are using a consultant to set OverseerFM up, I would recommend sitting with them to gain an understanding about how OverseerFM works.

“My advice to farmers would be to ‘own’ your Overseer account, even if a consultant is completing the modelling for you. Once you have access and can control it, you will be surprised how quickly it becomes familiar and you build confidence around using it or  viewing outputs.”

The Future Farm programme is also now planning to look at using the new carbon stock tool in OverseerFM to estimate the carbon sequestration potential of existing tree blocks.