Last updated 09:28, May 7 2018
New Zealand farmers could become global leaders in climate conscious agribusiness, DairyNZ’s senior climate change advisor Milena Scott said.
After a successful series of workshops for rural professionals last year, DairyNZ has announced a three-week climate change roadshow for dairy farmers next month.
The roadshow will visit eight regional centres, including a stop in Inglewood on June 21.
DairyNZ’s senior climate change advisor Milena Scott said tackling climate change presented an opportunity for New Zealand to become global leaders in climate conscious agribusiness.
The workshops are a commitment under the Dairy Action for Climate Change, an 18-month plan created in partnership with Fonterra and supported by the Ministry for Primary Industries and Ministry for the Environment. The plan aimed to build awareness among the dairy sector of the science behind climate change and the first step was education, Scott said.
“Farmers need to have a good understanding of climate change in order to recognise why they need to address their emissions alongside other New Zealand businesses and households,” she said.
“We want farmers to come out of these workshops understanding how their farm contributes to New Zealand’s greenhouse gas profile, and how specific environmental initiatives can improve their farm’s broader environmental footprint.
“Farmers need to feel comfortable that adopting new environmental initiatives will help lead to farm businesses that are both profitable and sustainable.
“Agricultural emissions are a challenge that the global food sector is dealing with, and we have an opportunity to show the world that it is possible to produce milk in a sustainable way and do our part to transition New Zealand to a low emissions and climate resilient nation.”
At last year’s workshop in New Plymouth, DairyNZ senior policy advisor Kara Lok said half of New Zealand’s green house gas emissions came from agriculture and the dairy industry accounted for 46 per cent of total agricultural emissions.
“When you’re looking at dairying as a percentage of the country’s total emissions, we make up about a quarter, ” she said.
Eighty-five per cent of dairying emissions were produced on-farm, 10 per cent during processing and the final 5 per cent through transport.
“If we really want to make a difference to the dairy industry’s footprint, a lot of the action will have to be taken on-farm, ” Lok said.
“We’re already a world leader in producing emission efficient milk. A lot of that is due to the fact that we have year-round grazing, hight pasture production per hectare, a low cow replacement rate and relatively low use of supplementary feed.”
However, already being a leader in emission efficient production meant cutting emissions further could be challenging, Lok said.
“Under the Paris Agreement, New Zealand has taken on a target of 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.
“In actual fact, in terms of New Zealand’s emissions profile in that half of our emissions come from agriculture and there is limited scope at this point in time to reduce those emissions, this is actually a very challenging target.”
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