Forum provides on-farm

environmental solutions

February 10 2020

Waikato dairy farmers will hear about practical on-farm strategies to reduce nitrogen (N) losses and greenhouse gas emissions, as part of DairyNZ’s Farmers’ Forum on February 19.

The forum at Lye Farm in Hamilton is the second of five forums nationwide during February and March.

During the interactive session, DairyNZ senior scientist Dr Ina Pinxterhuis will present the findings of two long-running DairyNZ-led research programmes, funded through the dairy farmer levy.

“We know that dairy farmers are looking at how they can continue to carefully manage their greenhouse gas emissions and nitrogen losses – in order to protect the environment and meet regulatory requirements, and consumer and community expectations,” says Dr Pinxterhuis.

“DairyNZ has funded significant research into how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and nitrogen losses. The research shows that farmers have a range of options available to help meet their on-farm goals.

“We are excited to share the findings with farmers, so they can consider what approach may suit their farm best.” 

Dr Pinxterhuis says the research carried out in DairyNZ’s Pastoral 21 programme showed big gains could be made by reducing N fertiliser use and improving efficiency.

“We then carried out further research as part of the Forages for Reduced Nitrate Leaching (FRNL) programme. This showed that farmers could use forage crops – like plantain, catch crops and low-nitrogen crops – to reduce nitrogen losses, while still maintaining productive and successful farms,” says Dr Pinxterhuis.

The FRNL programme saw different strategies trialled on 10 farms. Many farms were able to reduce their N losses by 20 percent or more (and there may be further N-loss reductions as some changes on-farm are yet to be modelled in an Overseer update).

FRNL drew on expertise from six research organisations and over 100 staff. It recently received a Significant Achievement Award from the Canterbury Section of the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science.

“We found through the Pastoral 21 and FRNL programmes that farmers could improve their environmental management by understanding their nitrogen surplus. Careful feed and fertiliser use can have a significant impact on a farm’s environmental footprint and helps control farm expenses,” says Dr Pinxterhuis.   

The forum will also host guest speakers celebrity chef Nadia Lim who will talk on the future of food and economist Cameron Bagrie, who will discuss global markets, opportunity and risk.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle will share farmer feedback and DairyNZ’s planned future focus, while DairyNZ strategy and investment leader Bruce Thorrold will cover the dairy sector today and future demands.

The Farmers’ Forum is free for DairyNZ levy payers and their staff. For more information and to register, visit The forum is held from 9.30am-3.30pm.


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