Skip to main content

Nutrient Budgets for Waikato Dairy and Sheep, Beef and Deer Farms 1997/98–2006/07

TR 2009/33

Report: TR 2009/33

Author: Amanda Judge, Stewart Ledgard, Agresearch


This project involved the use of the OVERSEER nutrient budget model (version to estimate nutrient budgets and environmental emissions from farms in the Waikato region over time.

Dairy farms:

  • Ten years data from 1997/98 to 2007/08 was supplied by DairyNZ from their DairyBase database for Waikato dairy farms for the average milksolids production/ha, the average for the top 25% of milksolids production, and the average for the lower 25% of milksolids production.
  • Overall trends on the dairy farms over the time period showed increasing use of nitrogen (N) fertiliser and imported feed, and increasing stocking rates and milksolids produced across all farm categories.
  • N leaching per hectare increased over time across all dairy farm categories, as did the concentration of N in drainage water from grazed farm areas.
  • Nitrogen surplus increased while N conversion efficiency and farm P surplus decreased over time across all dairy farm categories.
    Greenhouse gas emissions/ha increased by about 20% over the 10 years.  Increased greenhouse gas emissions were correlated with increased N leaching, indicating that management or mitigations to reduce N leaching would also reduce GHG emissions.

Sheep, beef and deer farms:

  • Twelve years data from 1995 to 2006 was supplied by Meat and Wool New Zealand from their database for Waikato sheep, beef and deer farms.  This represented the average of Class 3, Class 4 and Class 5 (steep low fertility, easy hill and rolling high intensity) land as determined by slope, stocking intensity and farm system.
  • The sheep, beef and deer farms showed no change in overall stocking rate over time across all farm classes.  N fertiliser use increased over time, particularly on the more intensive Class 5 farms. 
  • Total greenhouse gas emissions/ha remained relatively constant over time, with a slight decrease in methane and increase in CO2 from sheep, beef and deer farms.
  • Nitrogen farm surplus increased slightly over time while N conversion efficiency decreased across all classes of sheep, beef and deer farms.
  • N leaching and P runoff showed no changes over time.  An exception was on Class 5 farms where P runoff reduced after 1998 when deer were no longer farmed and corresponds with higher P runoff risk from farm systems with deer.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions/ha increased with farm intensity between farm classes 3 to 5 but within each farm class there was no change in emissions over time.

Report comparison:

  • Results produced from this report compared with those obtained in a similar report in 2004 showed similar values for N leaching, N concentration in drainage water from grazed farm areas and P runoff for the same assessment years.  Greenhouse gas emissions, particularly on the dairy farms, were higher with the current model which can be partially attributed to changes in the OVERSEER nutrient budget model which have occurred between the version used in 2004 and that used in this report.

Rainfall scenarios: 

  • Model scenarios of the effects of increasing rainfall on each farm category for the latest year’s data showed increased atmospheric inputs and outputs, N leaching and P runoff.  The dilution effect of increased drainage with increased rainfall corresponded to a decrease in the N concentration in drainage water from grazed farm areas.
  • Factors that are determined largely by stocking rate and production, such as greenhouse gas emissions, showed no change with increasing rainfall.

Nutrient Budgets for Waikato Dairy and Sheep, Beef and Deer Farms 1997/98 – 2006/07
(401 kb, 57 seconds to download, 56k modem)

Table of contents

  Executive Summary 1
2. Background information 3
3. Objective 3
3.1 Services 3
4. Methodology 4
4.1 Input data sources 4
4.1.1 Waikato Dairy Farms 4
4.1.2 Waikato Sheep, Beef and Deer Farms 5
5. Description of OVERSEER nutrient budget report 6
5.1 Basis of the OVERSEER nutrient budget model 6
5.2 Input requirements for the model 7
6. Results 8
6.1 Farm Input data 8
6.1.1 Soil and Fertiliser Inputs 8
6.1.2 Stock numbers, production and supplementary feed 10
6.2 OVERSEER N and P Budget Data 13
6.2.1 Dairy Farms 13
6.2.2 Sheep, Beef and Deer farms 17
6.3 OVERSEER Nutrient Loss Indices 19
6.3.1 Dairy Farms 19
6.3.2 Sheep, Beef and Deer Farms 21
6.4 Greenhouse Gas Emissions 23
6.4.1 Dairy farms 23
6.4.2 Sheep, Beef and Deer farms 24
6.5 Caution in data interpretation 25
7. Comparison with previous report 26
7.1 Dairy Farms 26
7.2 Sheep, Beef and Deer farms 27
8. Rainfall Scenarios 28
8.1 Dairy Farms 28
8.2 Sheep, Beef and Deer Farms 30
9. Discussion 32
9.1 N Leaching 32
9.1.1 Dairy Farms 32
9.1.2 Sheep, Beef and Deer Farms 32
9.2 P Runoff 32
9.2.1 Dairy Farms 32
9.2.2 Sheep, Beef and Deer Farms 33
9.3 Greenhouse Gas Emissions 33
9.3.1 Dairy Farms 33
9.3.2 Sheep, Beef and Deer Farms 34
9.4 Rainfall Scenarios 36
10. References 37
11. Appendix 38