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We're ready for July nitrogen reporting, are you?

With the deadline for dairy farmers to report their 2021/2022 nitrogen usage fast approaching, it’s never been more important to record what, when and where your nutrients are being applied. HawkEye Product Manager, Phil Barlow, gives us an insight into what the team has been doing to help farmers get ready for the 31 July deadline.

What is the key significance of the 31 July 2022 deadline?

As part of the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater Regulations from 1 July 2021, all farms 20ha and over must ensure they are applying no more than 190kg of nitrogen per hectare per year to pastoral land. The 190kg nitrogen cap is per hectare of pasture, and as an average across all grazed land (the combined area of grazed pasture, grazed forage crops and grazed harvest crops).

The key significance of the 31 July deadline is that all dairy farmers must report their nitrogen use to their regional council by that date.

How do farmers know what information their regional council will need?

That’s where we come in. Behind the scenes, our HawkEye team have been working with a group of industry professionals and all regional councils to ensure the reports HawkEye will produce, come 31 July, are what farmers need to fulfil their obligations under the new regulations.

How has the group been working together?

The group meets fortnightly and includes 16 regional councils, relevant industry bodies and is led by information analysis specialists from both Environment Canterbury and Environment Waikato.

The discussion centres around how the data needs to be structured, what data the regional councils are required to collect and what format is preferred for farmers to provide that data to council.

What has the HawkEye team been doing to turn these discussions into action?

With the information gathered from these discussions, our HawkEye team have been working to ensure our design is fit for purpose. The key part of this work has been ensuring that land categorisation (to comply with the land use types required for reporting) is as easy and streamlined as possible for farmers to use.

This requires the classification of each paddock into one of four land use types, and from here farmers will need to report nitrogen usage for each including:

  • Grazed forage crops
  • Grazed harvest crops
  • Grazed pasture
  • Un-grazed land (buildings, stock and vehicle tracks, non-grazed crops etc.)

 The report produced by HawkEye will show a per hectare application number for each of the four types, as well as an average for the three grazed land use types.

What happens if a paddock has more than one land use type during the year?

We’re working hard to ensure any areas of complexity are made as simple as possible so you are able to record multiple uses in a year.

In HawkEye, farmers will be able to include more than one land use type per paddock by including the date range a paddock was used for the relevant land use type. A paddock may have multiple land use categorisations (i.e. grazed pasture and ungrazed land) but as long as the dates line up to a full year it will be reported correctly.

It is key that this is captured correctly as there are different nitrogen limits based on different land use types.

When will the new categorisation and reporting tools in HawkEye be ready?

We are well on the way through this work and are on track to have it ready in advance of when farmers will need it.

Once ready, farmers will have time to work through categorising the land use of each paddock on their farm prior to the end of the reporting cycle (1 July – 30 June). Once the reporting cycle has ended, they will have a full month to finalise the report and supply to their regional council by 31 July 2022.

What do farmers need to be doing now to ensure they are ready?

The key thing for farmers to do now is to order fertiliser through HawkEye as this enables the nutrient application details to be more easily recorded – whether through automatic proof of placement via Ravensdown Joint Venture spreaders or TracMap capable contractors, or manually recorded into HawkEye. If they’ve only just started using HawkEye, they can go back and manually add nutrient applications to ensure all the necessary data is there.

Another important aspect is recording if the land use type of a paddock has changed. Making a note of when, for example, a forage crop was planted and when the paddock was put back into pasture will make it much easier when a farmer comes to include that information in their reports. As long as the data is in HawkEye, our reports will be able to extract it in the way farmers need to provide to their local council.

What support will be available for farmers if they need it?

Our team is here to help every step of the way. We will be creating how-to documents, comprehensive supporting material, and webinars to give farmers the information they need.

But, more importantly, we’re also just a phone call away. Local agri managers are available to help, plus we have a team of experts available to answer any questions farmers may have at any step of the process. The team can be reached on 0800 73 73 73.

Read more about how you can use HawkEye here.

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