Thursday, 02 September 2021 07:55

Editorial: What is driving research in NZ?

Written by  Peter Burke
At the moment, the primary sector is seeing the inner scientific workings of the software tool Overseer which is widely used, by the dairy industry in particular, come under some intense scrutiny. At the moment, the primary sector is seeing the inner scientific workings of the software tool Overseer which is widely used, by the dairy industry in particular, come under some intense scrutiny.

OPINION: The politics of science or is it the science of politics that is driving research in New Zealand?

So often we hear the call for more hard science on which to base decisions or regulations – the cries are almost deafening at times.

Yet it seems that often the real crunchy hard science is being ignored or watered down and replaced in some instances by pseudo or false science which is easily accessible on the internet, social media and some books. Science is often manipulated or selected to justify a political decision.

It’s no secret that certain pieces of science are sometimes deliberately excluded from a report to achieve a certain outcome.

Not for one minute should one say that science must always have the last word and that society as a whole should be excluded from having a say. Democracy is about weighing up the options and making decisions that are best for society.

At the moment, the primary sector is seeing the inner scientific workings of the software tool Overseer which is widely used, by the dairy industry in particular, come under some intense scrutiny. Overseer has doubtless much to offer as a tool to help farmers measure nitrogen loss.

But it’s become obvious in the past week or so that the wisdom of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Simon Upton, along with countless farmers and consultants, has at last been vindicated.

The Science Advisory Panel that have recently reviewed Overseer for first time in its long history were finally able to access the science on which this tool is based.

Others, such as industrial mathematician Graeme Wake have for years being saying that Overseer is flawed as a regulatory tool.

This begs the question, why hasn’t it been properly reviewed before now? Who stopped this? Did the owners of Overseer – AgResearch, MPI and the Fertiliser Association – honestly believe their product was fit for purpose as a regulatory tool to police water quality? According to Graeme Wake, Overseer is overly simplistic, relies on averages and has mathematical flaws.

That’s damning stuff to go alongside the science panel’s 70 page report.

Overseer is arguably an embarrassment. In regional plans there is embedded a tool that is now deemed unfit for regulatory purposes. Why?

More like this

Editorial: Don't leave us hung out to dry

OPINION: The message was clear to Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and other government ministers seated at the main table at this month’s New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.

Editorial: Reach out!

OPINION:As the dry begins to really bite around different regions of the country, farmers really need to take action to mitigate its affect - both on their livestock and themselves - especially heading into winter.

Talk is cheap - Editorial

OPINION: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern delivered a ‘nice’ speech at last week’s Primary Industry Conference, organised and run by Federated Farmers.

National

Why should we do more?

OPINION: Managing our dairy sector's impacts inevitably attracts a range of views. Should we do more, less or stay the…

Cattle sale with a difference

Innovation, loss and resilience have brought the Singh family to the point where it is poised to honour its patriarch,…

O'Connor's overseas odyssey

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor continued his overseas odyssey in the past week with multiple meetings in the US, Europe and…

Machinery & Products

Protective tint

Now available in New Zealand, Wildcat Static Cling Tint adds a protective layer to the windows of your tractor, harvester…

New owner for stoll

German company Stoll, the well-known manufacturer of tractor front loaders and attachments that claims to be the second largest producer…

Fert spreaders get a revamp

Kuhn has updated its MDS range of fertiliser spreaders, giving farmers more options to upgrade machines as situations change, rather…

Mowers spring into action

With spring upon us, thoughts turn towards shutting up paddocks for conservation and maybe the purchase of new machinery to…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

Milking It

Feeling the heat

US dairy farmers have a new threat to their business - heat waves.

Class action

The news has gone from bad to worse for a2 Milk - the company Synlait had hitched its wagon to.

» Connect with Dairy News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter