55% Reduction in Nitrogen Leaching.

By Raymond Burr 

Qlabs was approached by John Lamers, a dairy farmer within the Environmental Red Zone created by Environment Canterbury around Lake Ellesmere.  

A quick bit of history: This Environmental Red Zone was created because of fears of the nutrient loading on the Lake catchment and surrounding areas. Little consultation had happened prior to this Environmental Red Zone being created, but this was Canterbury’s first attempt to responsibly manage the Environment in response to the Government’s edict following raised awareness of environmental concerns and pressure brought about by the public.  

Now to John’s dilemma. Stressed to the max by all the regulations and requirements of having a multimillion-dollar farm in the Red Zone, he made the decision to sell. Despite his best efforts to achieve all the environmental standards required to dairy farm in the Zone, he could not find a way to reduce his Overseer® N leach to the level that was compliant with regulations.  

John’s farm was therefore non-compliant. Desperate, he approached real estate agents and found that none of them would list the property. No agent wanted to put their career on the line by being involved in the first case of selling a non-compliant farm. Understandably so, however, John was in a quandary and his health was suffering.  

We introduced John to Qlabs Fallain™ programmes. Scientifically based, these programmes enable farmers to run their farms like a giant sponge sucking up Nitrogen from the environment together with Carbon from the atmosphere, reducing the need for conventional, traditionally accepted artificial Nitrogen based pasture management. 

We required one full dairy season to put the Fallain™ programmes into action, so John took the farm off the market, and tried to relax.  

The day of reckoning arrived. The results were astounding: his animal health bill had halved, penicillin use had fallen to an all-time low and at the end of just one season, the farm had increased production by 3500 kg/MS.   

But the final hurdle was his Overseer® compliance audit.  Independent assessment revealed his N leach had reduced from a non-compliant level of 36 kg/N/Ha/Year to a compliant level of 16 kg/N/Ha/Year, well below consent parameters! This represents a 55% reduction in Nitrogen leaching in 12 months, without reducing cow numbers! 

John was elated. Qlabs Fallain™ programmes had achieved something many stakeholders in agriculture are looking for: - increased productivity, profitability and at the same time a significantly reduced environmental footprint.  

The farm went back on the market and sold as a fully compliant dairy farm with all the paperwork to prove it.  

Qlabs Fallain™ programmes provide the science of ‘good practice’ for farmers to achieve triple bottom-line results. These programmes are available throughout New Zealand, through Qlabs or, in the South Island, through SSSL from North Canterbury to Southland. 


To find out how to get your farm nitrogen compliant - and more profitable – contact us on info@qlabs.co.nz or simply call us FREE on 0800 85 77 33 

We look forward to working with you at the cutting edge of 21st Century technology.