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NKnowledge® Workshops

1. Why should you learn about nitrogen in the environment?

With increasing demand on freshwater, water has already become scarce in many parts of the world. Consequently, there has been heightened interest around the globe to sustain the use of water hence there has been focus on water conservation measures and water quality.

Water quality does matter because poor water quality could affect human and animal consumptive use and habitats that rely on water. Nitrogen is an essential plant and animal nutrient, therefore it is widely present in the environment. However, when in excess to the need of the environment, nitrogen could have harmful effects on water, air, soil, plant, animal and human.

There has been considerable amount of scientific research literature available on various forms of nitrogen and their movements in the environment and the use of fertiliser, effluent and manure N. Millions of dollars are being committed to N research worldwide to further understand its use, behaviour and effects. However, the transfer of knowledge in N has been poor in New Zealand and globally. Prior to 1990s (Resource Management Act was enacted in 1991), scientists were interested in N to improve farm/forestry productivity. Since N has been critical to economy and environment, more research have been directed towards understanding N in the environment. Because N has become an integral and significant part of NZ and global environmental management, in addition to scientists there have been others who have also been interested in the knowledge of N.


2. Who can learn?

Policy analysts, planners, and consent and compliance officers

In the interest of reducing adverse effects of nitrogen many countries have begun regulating N, thus extending the intense scientific research interest into applying scientific knowledge into effective policy making. Consequently, there has been interest among policy makers to learn about N to use expert advice effectively to formulate useful policies or regulations.

Apart from policy makers, consent processing officers will need sufficient N knowledge to deal with wastewater discharge applications. In New Zealand now N knowledge is also required to process land use or discharge consents for farming hence knowledge in N is becoming more important. Compliance officers who monitor resource consents will also benefit from the knowledge of nitrogen because consent conditions restrict N loading into the environment. It is the compliance officers who identify whether a consent review is required under the Resource Management Act (RMA) hence any discharge or land use consent monitoring does require knowledge in N.

Planning consultants

Many consultancies are engaged to prepare consent application or to provide Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE) reports to their clients. Without sufficient knowledge in N, preparation of applications related to land or water discharges or land use changes in the context of N control will be difficult. Some councils do use consultants to process resource consents, in which case consultants need sufficient knowledge in N to deal with N related applications.

Scientists, wastewater engineers, technical consultants, academics

Many experts are specialised in a specific field. Knowledge in N is becoming essential for scientists or experts who have not specialised in N but are working on collaborative projects. Even those who have specialised in N, given the wide range of processes within N dynamics, it is difficult to expect every N expert to have in-depth knowledge in all aspects of N. This is because fate of N and movement are determined by a combination of physical, biological and chemical factors. There is also cross-over between water, soil and air and often soil scientist would require a good knowledge of N process in water and vice versa. This training and the manual is designed to improve and expand experts’ knowledge in N.

Advisers on nutrient management

In the absence of government funded advisories, a number of agencies and private industries have taken advisory roles to manage nutrients. Some examples are regional council land management or environmental education officers, Dairy NZ field advisers, fertiliser industry representatives, Fonterra field staff and field staff of other private companies. Some or many such advisers might have completed a nutrient management course to use Overseer®. While there might have been opportunity to learn about N in such courses, there is no exclusive and detailed training performed on N in the environment, which covers N behaviour in soil, water and air.

This training manual is created with all the above users in mind and hence the content and the training should be as comprehensive and challenging as possible.


3. What can be learnt?

There is a lot to learn. A majority of the knowledge sharing will involve N process in soil, water and wastewater.

  • N process knowledge (soil, water and waste water)- Factors affecting

    • Mineralisation (how N becomes available from organic matter)

    • Immobilisation (how available N becomes organic matter)

    • Volatilisation (how ammonia volatilises)

    • Nitrification (how ammonium becomes nitrate)

    • Denitrification (how nitrate becomes N2 or N2O)

    • Biological N fixation (how atmospheric N2 becomes useful organic matter)

    • Plant uptake (how plant absorb N)

    • Ammonium fixation in soil (how ammonium is ‘fixed’ in soil)

    • Urine-N, fertiliser-N and effluent-N reactions

    • N cycle (full cycle of N)

  • N behaviour in

    • aquifer

    • surface water

    • riparian margins and

    • waste water

  • Assessment methods of various forms of N (analyses of all processes and forms)

  • N management for sustainable farming

  • N management in the context of consents process

  • N management in the context of compliance

  • N management in the context of policy development/planning

  • How to understand limitations of nutrient models?


4. What will you gain by learning?

People who have completed the NKnowledge Workshop should possess the following:

  • Understand all basic N processes and reactions in soil and water

  • Able to understand and interpret most scientific literature, research papers and technical reports on N

  • Able to understand limitations of N studies

  • Able to understand limitations of and factors affecting nutrient models

  • Able to understand and interpret technical evidence on N

  • Planning and consents staff are able to work effectively with scientists to develops policies and plans and processing consent applications respectively

  • Advisors will have greater confidence to deal with N related issues in the field

  • Advisors will be able to provide integrated N management advice to farmers

  • Scientists will develop expanded and integrated knowledge in N


5. How is the workshop provided?

The two day workshop will be provided in selected main centres closer to where you are employed and held in groups of up to 15 people.

1. Planning, Compliance and Consultancy Professionals' workshops are designed for Regional Council Planning, Consents and Compliance staff, Planning Consultants and Hearing Commissioners.

2. The Technical Professionals' workshops are designed for scientists, field advisers (e.g. fertiliser, dairy, regional councils) technical/engineering/environmental consultants and academics.

Workshop dates and venues will be advertised on the ENVIROKNOWLEDGE web and by flyers. The cost of the 2- day workshop will be $1475/person (excluding GST) which includes tea/coffee, lunch, venue & equipment hire, hardcopy N manual, certificate and the 3 month free technical support on workshop content clarification.

Alternatively, a group of learners (minimum 5 and minimum 15) with similar interest could co-ordinate the training at their preferred venue with their own tea/coffee and lunch and arrange training dates with ENVIROKNOWLEGDE at discounted rate for 2 or 3 full days (discount- 5% up to 5 attendees, 8% between 6-9 attendees and 12% for 10 or more attendees).

NKnowledge workshops will be conducted by Dr Selva Selvarajah. Those who are familiar with the 150 kg N/ha/year farm dairy effluent regional rules in NZ will be aware that this loading rate was introduced FIRST by the Waikato Regional Council based on Dr Selvarajah's extensive N modelling work in the absence of any similar technical information available in NZ in the 1990s. The loading rate is still being used and enforced by many regional councils and following more applied research on effluent N loading in the past two decades, seen as a sustainable loading rate for dairy grazed pasture to date.

Because of his ongoing and focused interest in N, even after becoming a senior executive within the local government sector, he has been researching and following up-to-date information on applied and pure research on N in the past 20 years. The workshop and its manual has been a product of his long-term literature review (both pure and applied science) of N processes in soil, water and wastewater.

Please see link for the 150 kgN/ha/year farm dairy effluent loading rate technical paper below (to view other publications from Dr Selvarajah see in Publication/Papers/Reports section on this website):

Selvarajah, N. 1996. Determination of sustainable nitrogen loading rates for land treatment systems without adequate soil and ground water information: Dairy farm effluent application onto grazed pasture in the Waikato Region. In: Recent developments in understanding chemical movements in soils: Significance in relation to water quality and efficiency of fertiliser use. (Eds L D Currie and P Loganathan). Occasional Report No. 9. Fertilizer and Lime Research Centre, Massey University, Palmerston North. pp 85-103.

Please note that these workshops are not related to the nutrient management/OVERSEER® training conducted by the Fertiliser and Lime Research Centre, Massey University nor a substitute to the Massey University annual training.

See April 2016 NKnowledge® Workshop for Technical Professionals and June 2016 NKnowledge® Workshop for Planning & Consents Professionals for further details.