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The overall aim of this programme of work is to identify and demonstrate that management strategies to reduce GHG emissions intensity already exist and that they are practical and cost effective.
The programme includes two objectives:
- GHG emissions on sheep and beef farms (aligned to P21 programme)
- GHG emissions on dairy farms (aligned to Beef + Lamb NZ environment focused farm programme)
Dr Robyn Dynes, AgResearch
Collaborative work investigating GHG emissions from dairy farms
During 2015/16, the dairy component of the programme has continued progress towards understanding potential for practical mitigation options to result in lower GHG footprints for dairy farming.
Methane and nitrous oxide measurements on dairy farmlets, testing a range of mitigation options, including high genetic merit cows (Waikato), low N fertilizer input (Waikato) and diverse pastures (Canterbury), have been completed. These data enable mitigation options to be considered within a farming system context.
Methane emissions from cows grazing fodder beet during winter and early lactation can lead to a reduction of 10-20% under some conditions. This is an important result as industry uptake of fodder beet as a winter feed option and as a transition feed used on the milking platform in both late and early lactation is increasing. These findings together with data from the FRNL programme on fodder beet will enable farm systems modelling to understand the wider environmental impacts of increased fodder beet usage.
Sheep & Beef work to identifying strategies to reduce GHGs
The NZAGRC team are working with two B+LNZ monitor farms. The farms now have substantial, robust data and baseline farm systems models which demonstrate the extent to which the key management decisions and efficiency drivers impact on current emissions intensity. The farms are at very different points in development cycle, so provide useful perspectives for informing the wider industry.
Practice-change scenarios have been modelled to predict emissions intensity for Onetai station, a coastal sheep and beef farm in the King country. Scenarios incorporating increased fertiliser use and finishing more stock on farm have predicted a 20 to 38% improvement in emissions intensity is possible.
Scenarios modelled for Highlands (South Canterbury) monitor farm demonstrate the potential for a win-win solution when the area sown in Lucerne and Tall Fescue is increased. This enables more lambs to be finished earlier and results in a large a large effect on lowering emissions intensity. This scenario is assessed as being readily adoptable by farmers.
NZAGRC welcomes PCE report on agricultural GHG mitigationWednesday, 19 October 2016The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s report into greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture highlights the need for a suite of mitigation solutions rather than a single silver bullet.
Reducing New Zealand's agricultural emissions: Efficiency in the whole farm system
This publication provides an overview of how the NZAGRC is working with other organisations to understand what efficiencies can be gained on New Zealand's sheep and beef farms.
1615 Robyn Dynes, Principal Scientist (AgResearch)
Following on from earlier conclusions that we shouldn't look at different aspects of a system in isolation, Robyn outlined her team's plans for studying the "business unit of New Zealand farming" - the whole farm.
The programme will build onto existing initiatives in the dairy and sheep and beef sectors to understand the impact of current practices on emissions intensity and to identify the win:wins.
A lot of modelling has been done in the past and now is the time to translate this into on-farm measurement and dialogue with the farmers involved. Previous work has demonstrated that there are some farmers that have significantly lower GHG emissions intensities (and sometimes even absolute emissions) than others.
The efficient farms also tend to have higher profit margins.
The challenge is to see whether theory and practice align, and if not, why not? The team has just started taking measurements, is enthusiastic about the new programme and looks forward to sharing its findings in the future.
Reducing the GHG footprint of farming: demonstrating the impacts of steps available now
A core part of the NZAGRC's research programme is to develop new tools, technologies and practices to mitigate agricultural greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, there are a number of steps that farmers can take right now to reduce their environmental footprint. The main goal of the recently re-contracted NZAGRC Integrated Farm Systems programme is to demonstrate to New Zealand farmers exactly what the impacts of using the existing mitigation tools are on typical NZ farms emissions.
Dr Robyn Dynes, Principal Investigator (AgResearch), explains. "Whilst it's technically valuable to model the potential effects of changing one farming practice in isolation on GHG emissions, in practice there are many factors that can contribute to the total GHGs being emitted from a particular farm. In order to work out the best possible advice to give to our farmers about how to farm for low GHGs, we need to make real changes on real farms and measure what happens to the GHGs. At the same time, we need to understand the trade-offs between farming for low GHGs and other aspects such as productivity, profits and non-GHG environmental impacts. It's no good coming up with farming practices that really reduce GHGs, but render the farm less profitable or productive. No NZ farmers are ever going to implement those sorts of practices".
The NZAGRC programme is studying both dairy and sheep and beef farms and aligning with existing industry-funded trials to ensure that the results are relevant to farmers. For sheep and beef, the team is integrating with a new environment extension program within B+LNZ and will be working with their North and South Island based environment-focussed farms. NZAGRC funding will assist with the development of extension materials that enable S&B farmers to understand which mitigation approaches are most effective and what their influence is on overall farm performance.
The dairy sector programme will assess the GHG emissions from dairy systems, demonstrating a range of practical mitigation options for management of environmental impacts. NZAGRC work will integrate with two existing programmes; measurement and modelling will be based on the P21-II farmlet sites, while integration with the SLMACC Practical GHG Measurement will enable multi-year measurement of GHGs.
"We are excited to be linking up with these industry-funded trials", says Robyn. "We have a lot of experience of working with the dairy sector, but the relationship with the S&B environmentally-focussed farms is a new one. We have our views on which of the mitigation strategies are likely to be most successful on farm, based on previous modelling work. It will be valuble to see the strategies and practices being used in real life farming situations and to get a handle on what the impacts of strategies are. Our goal, after all our monitoring and modelling work in this programme, is to provide farmers with clear, practical guidelines for GHG-efficient farm systems".