Sustainable Nutrient Management in NZ Agriculture

Two courses are offered - Intermediate and Advanced

FLRC have developed these courses in conjunction with the Fertiliser Association of New Zealand (FANZ) for the accreditation of advisors responsible for safe and effective nutrient management. The courses have also proved popular with staff from Regional and District Councils who have taken the opportunity to improve their knowledge of production issues as society demands greater environmental accountability on the agricultural sector. Both courses utilise the Overseer Nutrient Budgets software as a tool to determine the effect of farm practices on the nutrient requirements for sustainable production.

The Intermediate SNM course aims to provide participants with a working knowledge of the assessment of nutrient requirements of a range of agricultural systems, including a consideration of best practices for environmental protection. It is focussed on nutrient cycling, water movement through agricultural landscapes, sustainable farm practices and nutrient budgeting in either pastoral agriculture or orchard and arable production.

The Advanced SNM course aims to provide an advanced knowledge of nutrient cycling and loss pathways in New Zealand‘s farming systems, allowing people to develop solutions for systems that have unacceptable nutrient loss to the environment.

The Intermediate SNM course is a pre-requisite to undertaking the Advanced SNM course, however, an exemption may be granted if an applicant can demonstrate prior equivalent learning (70% achievement  in the Massey University Paper 189.362 ‘Soil Fertility and Environment’ or the Lincoln University Paper ‘Advanced Soil Management’ Code: SOSC340 ) in the last 3 years or an in-depth knowledge of sustainable agricultural practices and use of the Overseer Nutrient Budgets software with experieince in the preparation of nutrient management plans. Please contact us if you think you may qualify for being exempt the Intermediate SNM course as a pre-requisite.

Both the Intermediate and Advanced SNM courses are integral to the 'Nutrient Management Adviser Certification Programme'. Further details of this programme are available at

For further information on the Intermediate SNM Course

and for the Advanced SNM Course

To register your interest and for an enrolment form, contact: Fiona Bardell

Further information if you are interested in other professional development courses offered by FLRC

Supplementary Information - Intermediate SNM

To be up to the challenge, participants should have completed at least one tertiary level course in Soil Science or Land Resource Management or have significant practical or professional experience in production agriculture/horticulture or environmental science. You need a good understanding of farm systems (particularly dairy); it should not be your first introduction to the concepts of nutrient cycling and you should have prior knowledge of the Overseer Nutrient Budgets software. You may need to confirm with us that your qualifications and experience are appropriate.

The course fee is currently $1,500.00pp + gst.

Much of the course is concerned with the science that is important to understand nutrient budgeting. To refresh and assess your background knowledge on soils, fertilisers and nutrient flows in grazing systems in preparation for undertaking the Intermediate SNM Course you can review a set of introductory notes and undertake a self-assessment. These notes have proved useful as an indication of the topics that will be addressed in more detail on the course.

Access the Introductory Notes. Useful resources can also be found on the Fertiliser Association website and that of DairyNZ. In particular you should read the publications about fertiliser use on farms.

There is an expectation that participants will spend significant time (perhaps up to 40 hours) including personal study and participation in the online components of course delivery. This will include refreshing knowledge of the study guide material, loading case study information into Overseer and improving understanding of the capability of the software.

The Code of Practice for Nutrient Management is embedded within the Overseer software. Participants should be familiar with the objectives, purpose and scope of the Code. Very useful information can be found on the Code of Practice Fact Sheets that can be accessed on the Home Page of the Overseer Nutrient Budgets software.

To be eligible to receive a ‘Certificate of Completion in Sustainable Nutrient Management in New Zealand Agriculture’ participants must fully participate in all sessions of the online course and pass the two-hour examination on the final day. The exam includes interpretation of a case study and short answer questions relating to information in the Study Guide, particularly that which has been reinforced in lectures.

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Supplementary Information - Advanced SNM

The Advanced SNM course requires a significant commitment of time over a period of about five months and participants are expected to have an in-depth knowledge of farming systems and nutrient management, and be proficient in the use of the Overseer Nutrient Budgeting software.

To enrol in this course, participants must have successfully completed the Intermediate SNM Course or be granted an exemption [an exemption may be granted if an applicant can demonstrate prior equivalent learning (ie. B achievement in specific papers at either Massey or Lincoln Universities within the last 3 years) and/or an in-depth knowledge of sustainable agricultural practices including extensive use of the Overseer Nutrient Budgets software. Please contact us if you think you may qualify for being exempt the Intermediate SNM course as a pre-requisite.]

Participants must complete four assignments over a five month period, participate in all sessions of the online delivery of this course and pass a two-hour examination. The assignments are case studies using the 'education version' of OverseerFM and include both pastoral and arable examples. These are intended to assist participants to develop nutrient management plans that meet production goals for actual farm enterprises whilst minimising the negative effects of nutrient losses on the environment. Online tutorials are held where case studies are discussed to reinforce concepts that you are expected to grasp.

The course fee is $2,500.00pp + gst.

Each person is expected to give a presentation of a personal case study enterprise, receiving feedback from fellow participants and tutors. Taking on board aspects of this critique, the final assignment is a nutrient budget report of the case study.

To achieve well in the short course participants will spend a significant amount of time studying the course material and preparing the assignments. We estimate a commitment of up to 150 hours of 'homework', is required to achieve a positive outcome from the course. To be eligible to receive a ‘Certificate of Completion in Advanced Sustainable Nutrient Management’ participants must complete all assignments to a satisfactory standard, participate fully in all sessions of the online delivery  and pass the two-hour examination on the final day. The examination is a series of short answer questions relating to nutrient management, recent research and nutrient budgeting issues exposed in the assignment case studies.


A simplified illustration of the Nitrogen Cycle

Understanding how nutrients cycle in the soil-plant-animal system is central to implementing sustainable nutrient management strategies in agriculture, horticulture and forestry.

A. Plant uptake of N; B. N fixation by legumes; C. Decomposition of organic matter to Ammonium;
D. Plant residues and dung to soil organic pool; E. Enzyme conversion of Urea to Ammonium;
F. Nitrification - the conversion of Ammonium to Nitrate; G. Denitrification - the conversion
of Nitrate to Nitrous Oxide gas and then to Nitrogen gas.


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