Overseer Ltd is to charge for its new farm-modelling software from February 11, and will also be launching two other versions later this year.

An Overseer version for tertiary institutes as a training resource for agricultural students will be released within the next few weeks, while a version for science researchers will be launched in June.

Earlier versions of Overseer will be phased out by June.

Chief executive Caroline Read said the new and improved version of the Overseer modelling software, OverseerFM (Farm Modelling), was introduced in June last year and offered to farmers and other users free of charge while it was being developed.

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''We wanted people to have the chance to play with it, to set it up on their farms and see how much more user-friendly it is,'' Read said.

''We will start charging $200 plus GST per annum.

Users will soon have to pay for the new OverseerFM version of the farm-modelling software. Photo / Overseer Ltd
Users will soon have to pay for the new OverseerFM version of the farm-modelling software. Photo / Overseer Ltd

''The key thing for OverseerFM is it helps farmers reduce costs and improve on-farm efficiencies and help them make decisions around nutrient losses.''

The new version's software was more user-friendly, faster to use and offered more features along with a more modern look.

The software also provided information to allow farmers to meet regional council monitoring requirements around nutrient loss targets and consents.

While the new software would come with an annual charge, it was on a per-account basis, rather than per person using it.

That meant farmers, any consultants they used and regional councils could also access the data for the one fee.

Overseer Ltd was started in 2016 by the owners of the Overseer IP and was set up to support Overseer and its future development financially, Read said.

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''They wanted it to be self-sustaining , not profit driven,'' she said.

''They wanted to make sufficient money to continue to invest in Overseer.

''They wanted to secure more long-term funding solutions and getting money through subscriptions is a good way to do that.''

Since OverseerFM's release, about 2000 farmers have used the system and provided feedback, allowing the developers to further adapt the software.

Several workshops for rural professionals have been run by the New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management, including in Cromwell yesterday and Timaru today.

Further workshops for farmers will be held later.