New Zealand farmers are already contributing to lowering New Zealand's agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.

The emissions intensity of New Zealand agriculture has declined on average by 1% per  year since at least 1990.

How? 

Farm businesses have become more efficient over the past 25 years.  Things like improved animal genetics and management, combined with better grassland management and feeding practices mean that farms are using resources more efficiently to increase their outputs.  

This has happened across all sectors of the pastoral industry.

What's changed since 1990? What has been the effect on productivity? What is the effect on emissions?

Dairy 

On farm practice Effect on farm productivity Effect on emissions intensity (net)

Consistent supply of high quality feed

 

Use of supplementary feed (e.g. maize silage, PKE, brassicas)

 

Targeted use of fertilisers and irrigation in pasture management strategies  

 

Breeding and herd testing for animals with improved genetic merit

Increased milk yield per cow (kg MS/cow)

 

Increased milk yield per hectare (kg MS/ha) 

 

* Milk yield is closer to genetic potential of the cow *

Lower

 

* A greater proportion of feed going to production rather than maintenance *

 

Beef

On farm practice Effect on farm productivity Effect on emissions intensity (net)

Reduction in breeding herd numbers

 

Increased number of finishing cattle - use of dairy origin animals for finishing 

 

Feed management strategies

 

Pasture management strategies 

Faster growth rates

 

Increased finished weight of animal

 

Increased meat yield per hectare (kg meat/ha) 

Lower

 

* A greater proportion of feed going to production rather than maintenance *

 

Sheep

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On farm practice Effect on farm productivity Effect on emissions intensity (net)

Breeding and flock testing for animals with improved genetic merit (gorwth, reproduction)

 

Use of pregnancy scanning

 

Hogget mating

 

Pasture management (growth quality)

 

Optimisation of stock numbers to pasture growth

Increased lambing percentage 

 

Increased number of offspring per ewe

 

Increased finished weight of animal (lamb)

 

Increased meat yield per hectare (kg meat/ha) 

 

Lower

 

* Lower ewe population needed to produce equivalent lamb meat *

 

Deer

On farm practice Effect on farm productivity Effect on emissions intensity (net)

Increased carcass weight

 

Shorter finish time 

Increased finished weight of animal (venison)

 

Increased meat yield per hectare (kg meat/ha) 

 

Lower

 

* A greater proportion of feed going to production rather than maintenance *


What else can farmers do now? 

At this point, keeping on with getting the most out of your farm through improving herd genetics, and managing pasture and feed options is the best option for contributing to lowering New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions.

You can get a farm level report of your GHG emissions on farm when you have your farm analysed by OverseerTM, the nutrient budgeting tool to learn more about how your on farm decision making has a direct impact on emissions.

The NZAGRC is funding research on the impacts of farm management on emissions.  Read more

Any questions? 

The NZAGRC maintains a Q&A page of some of the most commonly asked questions.  If you have a question, please ask us

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