Thursday, 12 July 2018 10:55

Software to keep contaminants out

Written by 
Ballance chief executive Mark Wynne. Ballance chief executive Mark Wynne.

Fertiliser co-op Ballance will commercially launch a new farm environment planning tool, MitAgator, by spring.

Developed by Ballance and AgResearch, MitAgator measures the loss of four main farm contaminants -- nitrogen, phosphorous, sediment and E. coli.

New Zealand-wide trials are pointing to a launch by late September.

Ballance chief executive Mark Wynne says MitAgator will contribute to the long-term viability of farming in NZ.

“It has been trialled on hundreds of farms with thousands of data points; farmers love it because it is simple and practical.”

In an effort to improve water quality, many regional councils are putting environmental compliance measures in place.

Wynne says increasingly more farmers are using Overseer data to set limits for the two nutrients and E coli and sediments on farms.

“But if you are a farmer up against that consent limit and you want to reduce that, the big question is how do you do that?

“There’s no easy answer; the broad-brush solution is to reduce your stocking rate but that can affect your profitability.”

Built on a detailed farm map, MitAgator software gives an overview of nitrogen, phosphorous, sediment and E. coli loss onfarm.

The MitAgator Risk Map brings Overseer nutrient budget to life, giving a spatial view of where losses are occurring and identifying critical source areas on a farm; targeting these areas first will have the biggest impact on improving a farm’s environmental performance.

After identifying a farm’s critical source areas, MitAgator compares the effectiveness and cost of different mitigation scenarios, allowing farmers to weigh up the alternatives and choose the best option.

The programme contains 24 different scenarios, including stream fencing, riparian planting, constructed wetlands, grass buffer strips and feed pads. Some are tailored to specific farm types (dairy, dry stock or deer) but most suit all three systems.

Wynne likens MitAgator’s role to an “80/20 rule for the farm”.

“If you have high-risk N paddocks, these will be highlighted on your farm so you don’t have to address your whole farm.

“You can hit the high-risk areas first and MitAgator gives you three or four suggestions on what you could actually do and how much the improvement will be.”

MitAgator makes it easier to manage nutrient and sediment loses into waterways. This will be better for waterways and better for farmers, Wynne says.

Ballance strives to help its shareholders farm sustainably, he says.

“One of the beauties of being a co-op is you can play the long game; yes, we can accelerate the sales in the next quarter but [our aim] is to win over the next 30 years and keeping our shareholders productive, profitable and sustainable.

“MitAgator will help create long term viability for farming.”

MitAgator’s development was half funded by the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP); Ballance and AgResearch prpvided the rest. The science is owned by AgResearch and licensed to Ballance.

More like this

Treat milk area like a kitchen

Strict hygiene standards on dairy farms will be an important part of long-term export market protection, say award-winning Waikato farmers Adrian and Pauline Ball.

New chair for Ballance

Former Fonterra Shareholder Council chairman Duncan Coull has been elected as the new chair for Fertiliser co-operative Ballance Agri-Nutrients.

Treat milk area like a kitchen

Strict hygiene standards on dairy farms will be an important part of long-term export market protection, say award-winning Waikato farmers Adrian and Pauline Ball.

A rock to both the NZ and Moroccan economies

New Zealand farmers probably do not realise the contribution they are making to the economic and community life of people in Southern Morocco, says Hajbouha Zoubeir, president, Phosboucraa Foundation.

Featured

ANZCO makes a $30m profit

Meat company ANZCO Foods recorded its best-ever revenue of $1.7b and a net profit before tax of $30.6m for the year ended 31 December 2019.

 

M. bovis – we’re making headway

Ministry for Primary Industries chief science adviser, Dr John Roche on the indications New Zealand is winning the fight against Mycoplasma bovis.

Delays ruled out on water reforms

Delaying the introduction of new water reforms was not an option according to the two cabinet Ministers directly involved – Environment Minister David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

$700m for freshwater clean up

The Government has announced a $700 million fund to support the primary sector and other groups in meeting new clean water standards.

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

Milking It

Effluent power

Finnish dairy company Valio is on a mission to reduce milk’s carbon footprint to zero by 2035.

What’s in a name?

The man who coined the term ‘Gypsy Day’ is slightly miffed that a term he introduced to New Zealand’s farming…

» Connect with Dairy News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter