“Keep sowing legumes” that’s the message from Professor Moot in response to farmers who have been advised not to put lucerne in their dryland farms because their Farm Environmental Plan shows they leak more nitrogen.
Prof Moot considers this a perverse situation caused by using Overseer – he contends the model is an inappropriate tool to measure environmental impacts for dryland farmers. He recently outlined those concerns in a letter (available here) to Honourable Damien O’Connor with copies to CEO of ECAN, Commissioner for the Environment and Prime Ministers chief science advisor. He is pleased to note that ECAN have recently stated that “dryland farming is not a consented activity and so farmers are not required to do an FEP”. This implicitly recognises the need to improve dryland farming by using more legumes and gives farmers certainty that they can do so. He is equally pleased that Mr Simon Upton has stated he will review Overseer. Prof Moot advocated for greater transparency and accuracy in Overseer when he met with the Minister on 15th October 2018 in response to his letter. He noted that a singular focus on nitrate leaching ignores all other environmental issues associated with inorganic nitrogen use and thus distorts the total picture of environmental impacts.