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Nitrogen reference point

‘Nitrogen Reference Points’ (NRP) refer to information on a property’s past nitrogen leaching losses, calculated using OVERSEER®, or another approved model. Under the proposed plan change, properties with an area (or cumulative area) greater than 20ha will generally be required to calculate an NRP. This includes:

Commercial vegetable production properties

Average nitrogen leaching losses from 1 July 2006 to 20 June 2016 and associated data, including OVERSEER output file.

The NRP will be provided to council at the time the resource consent application is lodged, from 1 January 2020 to 1 July 2020.

Farming activities on properties or enterprises greater than 20ha

Highest annual nitrogen leaching loss in either the 2014/15 or 2015/16 financial year for the property and associated data. including OVERSEER output file. Records will need to be kept and produced on request.

These properties or enterprises will have from 1 September 2018 to 31 March 2019 to provide council with their NRP.


The proposed plan change requires that farmers do not increase their nitrogen leaching beyond their NRP. It also states that those leaching more nitrogen than the 75th percentile in each Freshwater Management Unit (FMU), based on NRPs submitted for dairy farms, will have to reduce nitrogen losses to below this level.

Have questions about NRPs and the types of records landowners will need? Check out our FAQs.