Nutrient Budget

The information provided by the Nutrient Budget can help you in writing your Farm Environment Plan as it gives you the basis to identify the on farm practices you need to use to reduce nutrient losses into water.

A nutrient budget is a modelled calculation of nutrient losses from your farm. In many Zones throughout Canterbury, nitrogen losses, in particular, will be needed to determine whether a farm needs a consent or not. A nutrient budget is also required for farming land use consent applications. Currently OverseerFM and NCheck (in limited circumstances) are the only two approved tools for modelling Nutrient Budgets.

Who can I contact to calculate my farm nutrient budgets?

Certified Nutrient Management Advisers

View advisers

For arable farms

Diana Mathers

For growers

Angela Halliday

We know that there may be a delay in getting your budget done.

Let us know if you are unable to apply for your resource consent due to a backlog in nutrient budgets. If you have your Farm Environment Plan prepared (and it is being implemented) and your records are prepared for budget calculations, we will note your progress so you can be reassured that we know you are on-track for lodging your application.

Frequently asked questions

What are nitrogen Baseline and Nitrogen loss calculations?
Nitrogen Baseline is:

a) the discharge of nitrogen below the root zone averaged over the period of 01 July 2009 - 30 June 2013 expressed in kg per hectare per annum

b) in the case where a building consent and effluent discharge consent have been granted for a new or upgraded dairy milking shed in the period 01 July 2009 – 30 June 2013, the calculation under (a) will be on the basis that the dairy farming activity is operational.

Nitrogen loss calculation is the discharge of nitrogen below the root zone averaged over the most recent four year 01 July to 30 June period and expressed in kg per hectare per annum.

What happens if I can’t get my Nitrogen Baseline/Nitrogen Loss Calculation?
Environment Canterbury is aware that demand for Nitrogen Baselines and Nitrogen Loss Calculations is high and that this may delay lodgement of your application. If you find yourself in this situation, please contact Environment Canterbury to let us know:
  • You have prepared (and are implementing) your Farm Environment Plan;
  • Are scheduled to get your Nitrogen Baseline and Nitrogen Loss Calculation completed; and
  • Therefore have a timeline for lodging your application.

We will note your progress so you can be reassured that we know you are on-track for lodging your application.

What information do I need to calculate a Nitrogen Loss?
You need farm information/data of your farming activities, such as production, irrigation methods and application rates, nutrient application rates, stocking rates, and information about soil types found at the farm.

You need to retain all the information you used to calculate your first nitrogen loss as this information will be needed to calculate future nitrogen losses.

If you are using OverseerFM® as a tool to calculate your nitrogen loss, the electronic file for the nitrogen loss called “(xml) input file” should be kept – this service is usually offered if the budget is prepared by a professional.

What tools are available to calculate the Nitrogen Loss?


The current version of OverseerFM® is Version 6.3.0

For outdoor pigs, NZPork - OverseerFM standalone pig module is now available for use.

For more information please contact NZPork  +64 3 357 1407


NCheck is a simple way to find out your property nitrogen losses, and to work out if you need a land use consent to farm. It has also been approved for use in the consent process under limited circumstance for some land uses.

What are the benefits of calculating nitrogen loss?
The calculation of your nitrogen losses is a useful tool to help you identify what aspects of your farm systems you can change to reduce nutrient losses.
Where can I find help if I get stuck?
Our customer services team is available during business hours on the following numbers. Calling from Christchurch: (03) 353-9007 Calling from any other area: 0800 324 636 (0800 EC INFO)
Where data is missing or unavailable (e.g. in circumstances where a property has changed hands through a sale), how should nitrogen baselines be prepared?
The following steps should be followed when preparing an OverseerFM budget where data is missing or unavailable:
  1. Contact the previous owner to see if they can provide the information.
  2. If available, review farm accounts (typically provided through the sale and purchase agreements).
  3. Contact the fertiliser representative. For privacy reasons the fertiliser representative is unable to release details on the previous fertiliser/land use for the property without permission from the previous property owner. However, they may be able to contact the previous owner and seek permission to release the information.
  4. Contact the neighbours to find out what previously occurred at the property.
  5. Base the OverseerFM budget on the state of the property at the time the purchase occurred.

Some information may be available on the sales prospectus. All reasonable steps should be used to produce an OverseerFM budget which most accurately represents the farming activity that occurred. Where a budget has been prepared with missing data, the person preparing the budget should document the steps taken to obtain the data in order to justify that a robust budget has been prepared.

What happens if my soils aren't mapped?
The Interim Canterbury Soils website contains soil mapping for parts of Canterbury that do not have S‑map data and are not part of the Department of Conservation estate. It has been developed by Landcare Research under contract to Environment Canterbury.