Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Nutrient budgeting helps navigate regulatory maze


Nutrient budgets are being created as part of nutrient management services offered by companies like Ravensdown, as farmers grapple with their changing regulatory obligations.

An Actual Nutrient Budget (ANB) is the formal document used to assist with compliance and is typically historic; reflecting actual nutrients applied. A Ravensdown ANB is an auditable document increasingly demanded by regional councils.

This differs to the Predictive Nutrient Budgets (PNB) that help farmers plan ahead for their fertiliser requirements based on soil testing data and OVERSEER modelling from certified advisors. PNBs are typically produced as part of a process to create a fertiliser plan and help farmers optimise nutrient application.

Not all nutrient budgets are created equal. The lasting importance and potential complexity of an Actual Nutrient Budget means that the amount of time spent by trained staff is in a different league to the kind of forecasting nutrient budget that helps identify how much of what fertiliser will need to go where.

In both cases, Ravensdown is well positioned to help because we’ve got the tools and the trained people. We’ve got the largest number of certified Nutrient Management Advisors in New Zealand. We often have the farm’s soil test data trends, fertiliser plans and application history all under one umbrella and our staff understand the local regulatory requirements.

Because an Actual Nutrient Budget is time consuming, we are introducing a user-pays system for ANBs.

Charges to recover the cost of time invested for all ANBs will be recovered from only those shareholders who need one. The hours invested and therefore actual cost of the ANB will depend on complexity and size of the farm and the relevant regulatory requirements.

However, there will be no change in how Predictive Nutrient Budgets are resourced and paid for. These are simply the kind of documents that our clients expect our trained team to produce when working on their fertiliser plan and there are no plans to charge for this.

Ravensdown can also help with nutrient budgets that are produced for resource consent purposes through our specialist environmental consultancy.