Thursday, 17 March 2022 12:55

Aiming to demystify Overseer

Written by  Staff Reporters
Southland farm consultant Mo Topham says ensuring the modelling and numbers are fed into the system correctly is critical. Southland farm consultant Mo Topham says ensuring the modelling and numbers are fed into the system correctly is critical.

A Southland independent farm consultant, Mo Topham, says ‘demystifying’ OverseerFM for farmers is key to its successful use.

“In my job, the main use is for consent applications, farm environment plans and year end budget updates,” she explains.

“There can be frustrations among farmers in trying to understand how the model works. My job is to demystify that and explain why their numbers may go up or down, when we make changes. If I can do that, it puts the farmer in control of the model and the outcome.”

Topham, who specialises in preparing farm nutrient budgets and farm systems, says ensuring the modelling and numbers are fed into the system correctly is also critical.

“Unfortunately, sometimes the information entered into Overseer doesn’t reflect the farm system 100%. This can lead to distrust in the system as farmers may get different outcomes from different sources; one might say their farm is compliant and another may not. A simple example of this is one modeller entering supplements as dry weight and another as wet weight.”

She emphasises that it is important to understand how the tool works and to input the information in the way that Overseer is asking for it.

“I always sit down with the farmer and go through everything. I come from a farming background and I understand farmers’ language and, if something doesn’t sound quite right, I’ll make sure I ask the right questions, so we input the right information.”

Topham formerly worked in event facilitation for DairyNZ. Then she did a stint as a farm systems consultant in the dairy industry before getting the opportunity to be mentored into nutrient budget, consent and compliance consulting.

“I loved it and didn’t look back. I have been doing that for four years and using Overseer professionally for about five years,” she explains. “I was first introduced to the tool about ten years ago, at university, where we used it for creating fertiliser plans as well as in other courses I took.”

Topham says the university work involved a cursory look at nitrogen leaching losses. “Now when I use Overseer, the loss numbers are what’s significant for me. For the consent applications, we are aiming to develop a robust future farm system that has a lower environmental impact than the current land use.”

She admits to not being the biggest fan of OverseerFM when it first came out but has come around to its benefits.

“I don’t like change and in my work perfection is the minimum standard. I was worried with the new version I might not notice a mistake. Now, however, I’m a big fan.”

More like this

More crops now modelled

Farmers and growers can now model a greater range of crops in the farm management software tool OverseerFM.

Overseer's demise not good

OPINION: There is an adage from the old labour union days which states: It is a poor job that cannot carry a supervisor.

Overseer - ditch it or fix it

Debate on the value of Overseer, the software tool designed to measure and regulate nutrient loss from farms, continues to rage.


FMD scare puts NZ on watch

A recent outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease (FMD) in Indonesia has the NZ agriculture sector and its officials on…

Public round up on glyphosate

The country's environmental regulator agency has released the public feedback it has received on the glyphosate weed killer - commonly…

New bee Guy!

Former Agriculture Minister Nathan Guy will take over as the independent chair of Apiculture New Zealand (ApiNZ).

Machinery & Products

A new approach to apprenticeships

By taking a new approach to its apprenticeship programme, agricultural equipment supplier Norwood says it is ensuring farmers’ machinery will…

Buck-Rake does the job

With many self-propelled forage harvester manufacturers offering machines hitting 1000hp, the bottleneck in any harvesting system is always likely to…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Yeah, right!

OPINION: Your old mate reckons recent ‘research’ carried out by consultants PWC – claiming that ‘actively managed carbon forestry’ creates…

All Claas!

OPINION: Your canine crusader - like many in the sector probably would have - raised an eyebrow when he heard…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter