The government is delivering $43 million to upgrade primary sector decision support tools such as the Overseer farm nutrient modelling system.
The funding will help to improve the accuracy of Overseer’s modeled estimates and boost the range of farm systems and conditions it models, minister for primary industries Damien O'Connor announced today at the Fieldays agricultural show in the Waikato.
Overseer is New Zealand-developed software that enables farmers and growers to improve nutrient use on farms to manage the impact of their use on the environment and improve farm profitability.
First developed in the 1980s, Overseer has increasingly been adopted as a regulatory tool by regional authorities, a use for which it was not originally designed.
Last December, parliamentary commissioner for the environment Simon Upton released a report into the software's use for that purpose.
Upton recommended a comprehensive evaluation be undertaken to ensure Overseer was independently peer reviewed, that there be greater transparency over how its modeling worked and that ownership, governance and funding arrangements be better aligned.
Transparency could be achieved through publishing the software's algorithms and by making the tool's software open source.
This was especially the case when it is used for regulation as then the results need to be auditable.
The Overseer funding was part of a $229.2 million support package for sustainable land use.