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Hello from the CE

Day light saving is now with us - love it or hate it, which means we are well into spring. 

Spring is a busy time for everyone involved in agriculture. As you all have been busy with lambing, calving and preparing for summer crops, we at Overseer have been making changes to improve OverseerFM, creating user videos to explain how to use the new FM software and keeping up with all the twists and turns of environmental policy development.

How agriculture will play its part in achieving New Zealand's targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions is now an active discussion with the Zero Carbon Bill due to be introduced to Parliament at the end of this year. The 15,000 submissions received on the proposed Bill shows significant public interest. A report by the outgoing Prime Minister’s Chief Science Adviser Professor Sir Peter Gluckman in September noted reducing agricultural emissions is the single most important contribution New Zealand can make to meeting global climate stabilisation ambitions. The Productivity Commission Low Emissions Economy final report released in August presented various concrete recommendations. It took a well-balanced approach in referring to Overseer’s strengths and its mixed reputation in a regulatory context.

To ensure Overseer can do its bit to support farmers in understanding their greenhouse gas emissions profiles and assess options to reduce their farm emissions, we have now introduced into OverseerFM greenhouse gas emissions reporting. We have also developed the methodology to include Urease Inhibitors in the modelling and are about to take this out for discussion.  

Since the release of OverseerFM in June it's been great to see so many of you starting to transition to the new software. It's really encouraging to see quite a few farmers beginning to use it. 

Our team of amazing developers have been hard at work building in new functionality to OverseerFM and have introduced a Notification Panel in the dashboard to keep you up to date with any changes or new information on using Overseer. This panel also sets out what is being worked on in the next month, so you know whats on the way.

We do understand that the new software is a big change, especially for long-time Overseer users, so we've been working on a range of user videos, with lots more in the pipeline to help. We've also boosted our helpdesk support so do get in touch with any questions you can't answer through our support pages. More information on some different support tools is below.

Let us know what you think - as ever, we love to hear from you.

Caroline





Caroline Read, Chief Executive

OverseerFM Update

Reflections on OverseerFM from Cameron Henderson - Dairy Farmer

Cameron Henderson is a dairy farmer milking 750 cows near Oxford in North Canterbury.

Cameron has seen the growing public interest in the effects of farming on the environment and the tightening regulations that have followed. He sees understanding his farm's environmental footprint as not only part of being a good steward of the land but as a vital component of farm business planning, allowing him to maximise his farm productivity within environmental limits.

Cameron let our customer services specialist, Carly, know what he thinks of our new software, how he finds value in using Overseer and where the industry is going to benefit. 

"OverseerFM is much easier software to use than the previous versions. It builds up the farm analysis in a logical way and allows the user to run different scenarios easily. Gone are the lists of menus where it was easy to lose your way when entering information and instead a simple, more visual interface makes OverseerFM easy to navigate.

I use OverseerFM as a forecasting tool. I set up what I hope to do on the farm during the season and check if it is likely to meet my consented environmental limits. I can then modify the forecast in OverseerFM to maximise my productivity without overstepping the limits. At the end of the season I update the forecast with actual farm data and this becomes my annual nutrient budget.

Some of the decisions I make when using OverseerFM as a forecast tool are:

  • Stocking rate particularly in the later months of the season,
  • What feed I should buy in, how much and when to feed it,
  • Whether to winter off or on.
  • Placement of crops on the farm and when they should be fed,
  • Fertiliser planning,
  • Any capital spend that may allow me to reduce my footprint and therefore allow an increase in production the following season (expand effluent area, upgrade irrigation infrastructure etc).

I believe creating nutrient forecasts in OverseerFM will become as important to a successful farm business as cashflow forecasts and will go a long way to earning back public respect for the industry."

Get started with OverseerFM >

Charlotte Glass is the founder of AgriMagic Ltd. She is committed to supporting farmers through new regulatory processes while remaining focused on how to meet their personal farming goals. She uses Overseer every day to help her clients to better understand their farming systems and improve environmental outcomes. 

"The great thing about Overseer is that we can compare all different farm systems... there's got to be the flexibility of changing land use with different land owners"

Other News

It was great to hear from you

A big thank you to all those of you who completed the User Survey which we sent out last month. We received just under 200 responses, from a wide range of users. It was great to see that the two largest groups who responded were independent consultants and farmers.

Encouragingly 67% of you said that you would be, “Likely or Very Likely” to recommend Overseer to a colleague.  

The free text answers have provided us with some great ideas for software development, which the team have added to our development backlog. They also showed up some significant misunderstandings around how to best use the Overseer model. This has given us some priority areas to update users on with our improved support - particularly as we update the FAQ's on the website and start to roll out some user videos.

The survey is still open, so if you haven't given us your thoughts yet - please dig the email out, or get in touch and we can send you a new link. We're keen to hear from you.  


Transitioning to OverseerFM

OverseerFM will remain free to use until January so we encourage you to log in at www.fm.overseer.org.nz and start familiarising yourself with the new software. 

We've had quite a few questions about why we haven't built a tool to "mass upload" xml files from the legacy nutrient budgeting software into OverseerFM. There is a key difference between the two software applications which unfortunately makes that impossible. The legacy software had the user account at its centre; in contrast OverseerFM has the Farm Account at its centre. All analyses are uploaded to, or created in the Farm Account. This means that the person uploading the xml file needs to ensure they are accessing, or creating an account for the right farm. 

The benefits of this farm-centric approach is that data sharing between the farmer and consultants will save considerable time and both will be able to view and discuss the farm analysis, rather than handling paperwork. 

Find out more >

User Support 

To accompany the launch of OverseerFM, we have increased our user support services. At the front end of the increased support is Carly, our Customer Services Specialist / resident expert user. She is poised at the end of our online helpdesk. Please feel free to use this service - there is no such thing as a stupid question.

You can also find information on known bugs, Q&As and user advice in our support page at https://support.overseer.org.nz

We have also just released our first set of user videos to help new users to set themselves up in OverseerFM. These are all YouTube videos that you can link to from www.overseer.org.nz/user-portal

The first user help videos have now been added to our Overseer Limited YouTube channel. Jump on over and take a look, there are more to come... 

Tips for using OverseerFM

Nutrients lost from root zone 

One of the bug bears we have heard from users in the past is the reference of N-loss "to water" in the nutrient budget report. To make it really clear that N-loss is estimated at 60cm below ground at the bottom of the root zone (and not into a waterway) we've changed the Nutrients Removed reference in OverseerFM to 'From root zone' rather than 'To water'. This is the same estimate, just more appropriate title.

Read the User Guide >

Allocating Soils

OverseerFM provides an easy way to assign soils to your farm blocks. By drawing a block on the map you are able to allocate up to 3 soils, based on on the soil map layer provided by S-Map Online (where available). You are also able to change the soil properties, if you have good evidence that they are different .   This enables you to best represent your farm soil properties.
 

Login to OverseerFM >

Importing XML files

When importing XML files from the legacy OVERSEER software into OverseerFM, please make sure the files are in version 6.2.3 or 6.3.0 and have no errors. 

Please also consider that the legacy software will be phased out by the middle of 2019, at which time you will no longer be able to use it to update or check your old files. 

Read our FAQ's >

We want to hear from you


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