DairyNZ Farmers' Forum recordings and resources
Farmers forum speakers
Cameron Bagrie - Future focused insights
A look at current and future economic trends affecting dairy, and how these will impact on farmers. Presented by economist Cameron Bagrie at the 2021 DairyNZ Farmers' Forum.
Dairy's greenhouse gas reduction journey
Insights into challenges, opportunities, research and solutions for farmers as we work to reduce emissions. Presented by DairyNZ principal policy advisor Roger Lincoln and climate change ambassadors George Moss and Phill Everest at the 2021 DairyNZ Farmers' Forum.
Michelle Dickinson - Leveraging the power of science to create better futures
A short interview with nanotechnologist Dr Michelle Dickinson's on her presentation on 'leveraging the power of science to create better futures' at the 2021 DairyNZ Farmers' Forum.
Jim van der Poel - Understanding the opportunities in a changing world
Opening address from DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel at the 2021 DairyNZ Farmers' Forum.
Tim Mackle - How DairyNZ is working with you to sustain success on-farm
Closing address from DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle at the 2021 DairyNZ Farmers' Forum.
Challenge your mindset: the changing face of learning
DairyNZ solutions and development specialist Katherine DeWitt shares some key points from the 'Challenge your mindset: the changing face of learning' workshop at the 2021 DairyNZ Farmers' Forum.
For more resources on upskilling people and ongoing learning see the People section.
Science in Action
Join a discussion with DairyNZ’s science team about the latest science-based solutions to help farmers be globally competitive, and resilient to regional challenges.
NZ Dairy Competing on the Global Stage
DairyNZ’s economics teams shares insights into how New Zealand can sustain our success including lessons from competitors and leading farmers.
Making milking fun again
This workshop shared recent research and farmer insights into flexible milking. You can view recent webinars on 3-in-2 milking and information and a recent webinar on MilksmartPro.
The ultimate career changer
This workshop shared how Waikeria Prison dairy farm was providing inmates with a pathway back into society. You can join an upcoming Waikeria Prison Farm Field Day or read more about the Prison’s work in Inside Dairy.
Contract milking and variable order sharemilking? Are they profitable businesses and what are the drivers of success?
Check out our recent podcast providing tips on making contract milking and sharemilking work.
Thank you Farm Source and congratulations to our winners!
Congratulations to our winners of Farm Source vouchers whose names were drawn from those who interacted with our trade stand industry partners at the Claudelands event:
Thank you Farm Source for providing the prizes!
Your Farmers' Forum questions answered
Below are answers to farmer questions to speakers at DairyNZ's 2021 Farmers' Forum.
Can you ask where we are on mycoplasma bovis? How many years before we have eradicated it?
DairyNZ response: Things are tracking well in the Mycoplasma bovis Programme. The number of confirmed properties is reducing. The case numbers are reported weekly on the MPI website. An update was also recently published on the Canterbury cases. The Programme is currently planning how we will move through to the next phase of long-term management, to ensure absence of the disease.
What is the Government position on regenerative agriculture? Will there be accreditation and certification for regenerative agriculture in the future and will there be Government financial incentives to move towards it?
Response from Minister James Shaw’s office: The Government considers that Regenerative Agriculture is one of many pathways towards sustainability, productivity and inclusiveness (Fit for a Better World Accelerating our economic potential (mpi.govt.nz)). MPI has a Regenerative Agriculture Technical Advisory Group, to assist with the science and evidence base required.
Regenerative Agriculture is a farmer-led movement, and at this point, the Government has no plans to introduce a formal standard or to offer financial incentives. There is increasing evidence, however, of market premiums from products produced regeneratively
Climate change / Greenhouse gas emissions
Why doesn’t the green lobby and NZ media have our emission comparison data?
This year, DairyNZ released an independent study affirming New Zealand dairy has the world’s lowest carbon footprint. We shared the information widely including with farmers, media, sector organisations, all political parties and other stakeholders. The report and media release were shared on social media and are available on our website, NZ dairy sector’s carbon footprint.
Positive media coverage of the report reached an audience of more than 3.4 million in mainstream, rural and regional media. Coverage included TV One news, radio, print and online media, featuring interviews with chief executive Tim Mackle and Climate Change Ambassador George Moss.
Many groups responded to the content including sector organisations, MPs and interest groups. The report’s central tenet - that we are the world’s lowest emission producer of milk - is reported in ongoing media coverage.
The report confirmed we retain our outstanding position in low-emission dairy milk production, with an on-farm carbon footprint 48 percent less than the average of 18 countries studied. The study was carried out by crown research institute AgResearch and commissioned by DairyNZ.
What is agriculture’s percentage of NZ’s total GHG’s if methane is taken out? Why is methane not treated separately, as it is a short-term gas?
Response from Minister James Shaw’s office: Methane does already form its own separate part of New Zealand’s emission reduction targets.
The Government is required by the Zero Carbon Act to reduce net emissions of all greenhouse gases except biogenic methane to zero by 2050. For biogenic methane, the Government is required to cut emissions to 10 per cent below 2017 levels by 2030 and 24–47 per cent below 2017 levels by 2050.
In 2019, emissions from the agriculture sector were 39.6 Mt CO2-e, representing 48.1 per cent of New Zealand’s gross GHG emissions. This does not include non-biological emissions from agriculture (transport, heat, power), which increase the sector’s total contribution.
Of the total, methane made up 30.6 Mt of the agriculture sector’s emissions. Therefore, the sector’s percentage of New Zealand’s gross non-methane emissions is 18.9%. This highlights the importance of addressing methane emissions from the agriculture sector.
In Minister James Shaw’s speech, he spoke about a marginal change, but his methane graph has a target requiring a 20-40% reduction. Can 20-40% reduction be classified as marginal?
Response from Minister James Shaw’s office: The Zero Carbon Act’s requirement to cut biogenic emissions by 24-47 percent below 2017 must be achieved in the period to 2050.
This is 29 years away, and so the changes will be marginal if the sector makes small annual changes. If the sector chooses not to wait until closer to 2050 then the targets will become much more difficult to achieve.
Emissions of all other greenhouse gases must reach net zero by 2050, meaning that other sectors (such as transport) will require more transformational change.
Is the Minister and Government open to the use of genetically modified grasses to decrease the methane gas produced released from dairy cows?
Response from Minister James Shaw’s office: The Government is open to the use of a wide variety of technologies to reduce biogenic methane emissions. However, further development, field trials, and an environmental safety assessment will be required.
New Zealand currently invests in science programmes that utilise agricultural biotechnology. This includes contestable research funds such as the Endeavour Fund, as well as the Strategic Science Investment Fund.
Biogenic methane-reducing technologies are currently being developed by New Zealand’s Crown Research Institutes, including condensed tannins clover, high metabolizable energy ryegrass and methane vaccines.
The Government spoke of the need to make farm level changes because markets demand we show our environmental credentials. Which markets you are referring to and what they are requesting of us, or likely to request?
Response from Minister James Shaw’s office: Dairy marketers are well-aware of market drivers for environmental credentials. For example, as part of the European Green New Deal, the European Commission is currently consulting on Deforestation Free Supply Chains, Product Environmental Footprinting (PEF), and a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism. The options proposed range from keeping the status quo to the creation of a voluntary or compulsory legal framework for products entering the EU market.
As the use of electricity and heating has increased substantially, why is the Government moving towards using more electricity by encouraging EVs?
Response from Minister James Shaw’s office: Electric vehicles are much better for the climate than those powered by fossil fuels. Over the life of a typical electric vehicle, the emissions comparison with an internal combustion engine isn’t even close.
Electric vehicles emit over 80 percent less carbon dioxide than an equivalent petrol vehicle when being driven in New Zealand, due to our high renewable electricity generation. They also reduce air pollution and cost the user less (charging at home off-peak is like buying petrol at around 40 cents per litre).
Increased use of electric vehicles will contribute to meeting the 2050 target of net zero long-lived gases and our international emission reduction obligations under the Paris Agreement.
Does renewable energy have adverse environmental effects? If so, can you please be specific about how those adverse effects outweigh not using more renewable energy?
Response from Minister James Shaw’s office: Renewable energy generation has considerably lower impacts on the environment compared to non-renewable energy generation. Fossil fuel use adversely affects the climate, air quality and human health.
Renewable energy development and generation can have adverse environmental effects. These are managed and minimized through implementation of national direction instruments under the Resource Management Act 1991, including the National Policy Statement (NPS) for Renewable Electricity Generation 2011, NPS for Electricity Transmission 2008, NPS for Freshwater Management 2020, the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 2010, and a National Environmental Standard.
Has the global COVID-19 lockdowns helped to reduce emissions substantially and has that reduction lessened the urgency of the pace of change needed?
Response from Minister James Shaw’s office: Studies have shown consistently that Covid had only a temporary impact on emissions (related to lock-downs) and will likely avoid only 0.01°C of global warming by 2030.
The latest emissions gap report prepared in December 2020 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) concludes that without structural policy-driven changes, emissions will rebound over the coming years and the gap between our emissions and necessary levels of mitigation will remain as large as it was in pre-Covid years.
We often feel that our urban friends don’t know about the work that we have been doing to protect our waterways and lower our emissions. Will the Government publicly support and share the good environmental work that the dairy sector is doing?
Response from Minister James Shaw’s office: The Government provides evidence-based and balanced reporting on environmental outcomes and performance. Good environmental work done by the dairy sector is already being publicised by the Government, see this video.
Did the agricultural subsidies in the United Kingdom enable the reduction in GHG emissions on farms?
Response from Minister James Shaw’s office: Untargeted agricultural subsidies typically encourage inefficient and/or over-production, generating increased GHG emissions. Reductions in GHG emissions are more likely to occur when subsidies are de-coupled from production volumes.
For example, UK GHG emissions reduced following the EU’s CAP reform package of 2003-2008, which moved away from using market support measures towards using direct income support instead, which reduced the incentives to maximise production.
The UK Government recently announced a phase-out of the Direct Payments Scheme, which favoured those with larger land areas, with a move to more targeted assistance, directing public money towards paying for public goods, including incentives to establish new woodlands to help tackle climate change.
Solving the challenge of enteric methane is hard, but if we can do it, agriculture moves from being the problem to the answer. Why is our research not be channeled into solving this problem?
Response from Minister James Shaw’s office: The Government has been supporting agricultural greenhouse gas reduction research (including to reduce methane emissions) since 2003, when it established the industry /government partnership with the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium.
Since then, additional funding to develop reduction technologies has been provided through several programmes, including the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases, and MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Fund.
Methane Inhibitors / Methane production
What are some options for low input farmer systems to get inhibitors into the diet?
There is work developing slow release capsules underway, and using inhibitors early in life via milk or meal fed to calves - in the hope that this will have a long lasting effect. Other research is looking at how you could provide inhibitors in small amounts of supplementary feed.
Is less methane produced (through the use of inhibitors) resulting in better production?
Some research with certain inhibitors is suggesting there could be an increase in animal production. There is a theory that the energy saved from not making methane could be used for production, or a change in how the hydrogen is used in the rumen could lead to more sugars produced in the rumen leading to improved productivity, while this happens in the lab but this isn't often realised in the animal studies.
Is it a possibility to run your methane inhibitors through a water system like Dosatron?
This has been explored by several developers but often inhibitors will break down in water (which is good for managing them getting into the environment), so this would not work in the Dosatron. Also there may be challenges with managing dose rates that animals receive this way, for example possible toxicity or not consuming sufficient doses during periods of reduced water intake.
Can low methane production be influenced through breeding? Can it be tested for through the use of genomic markers?
Research led by AgResearch (supported by the PGgRc and NZAGRC) has found that you can breed for low emitting sheep. Work is now underway to see if we can find and breed for low emitting cattle. This work is being carried out by LIC and CRV and supported through levy funding. History shows that if we find a physical measure (a phenotype) and select for that then we can use genomics to speed that process up.
Is methane production related to digestion? If digestion is improved does methane production reduce?
Methane production is related to digestion. When feed is digested fatty acids are produced which the animal uses, and hydrogen is also produced - the hydrogen needs to be removed from the rumen otherwise it will negatively affect digestion. Methanogens are doing a job by getting rid of the hydrogen for the animal. But there are other ways of removing the hydrogen, so when methanogens are supressed by an inhibitor the hydrogen can be diverted into other metabolic pathways. The more feed an animal is fermenting the more methane she will produce. The gains in feed efficiency have made cows more methane efficient but the total emissions have increased – and we need to reduce total emissions.
Where does genetic engineering (GE) fit into improving the rate of progress to reduce emissions, and how acceptable is this to the market?
GE offers a way to create step change improvements in traits such as nutritive value and potentially productivity, whereas genomic selection is improving the rate of incremental gain. If there is market acceptance, farmer acceptance, and societal acceptance of GE then it has a big role to play in improving a whole range of traits.
DairyNZ is investing alongside others into genetically modified forage high lipid grasses that AgR has developed. The potential is high yield and higher lipid content which drives improved animal performance and less methane. What we are seeing in trials off-shore is that we are getting the lipid gains but nothing significant in terms of dry matter gains. There is the potential to take ryegrass to a place with its lipid content and methane production that you couldn't breed to. So, lots of potential.
Does forage type influence methane production?
The biggest driver for methane production is the amount of feed a ruminant animal eats. However, there is some evidence that certain forages result in lower methane emissions, like forage brassica for example. There are some programs of work looking for low methane forages underway. DairyNZ and AgResearch are assessing the emissions from plantain at the moment.
If Regenerative Agriculture is mainly NZ farming already why are we giving it so much oxygen?
Because it is gaining momentum as a social movement. We're trying to keep the debate on the science and the practices while looking at how we can make the most of a social movement that has potential value for us.
Dairy calf opportunities
On the challenge of making dairy beef calves more attractive to calf rearers and beef farmers, perhaps we need to revisit how to bring calf rearing costs down?
Calf rearing is important for both the dairy and beef producers. Some view it as a cost but you can also look at it as an investment. We are learning more about the importance of early colostrum intake through recent research and then how that flows through into life-time productivity through a major research program that is finishing up this year. As we develop the dairy calf opportunities project we will look to what has been learnt from earlier research that can help solve these new issues.
Are you looking at the labour requirement to rear these extra calves instead of processing them at 4 days old?
We plan to develop and investigate a range of scenarios, including analysis of economic, environmental, social, and animal welfare implications. Labour requirements and where that labour may be sourced will need to be part of this.
Our plantain paddock easily produces 1-2 tonne/ha less than conventional pasture production. For a 100 ha farm that means the farmer has to look for an extra 100 to 200 tonne dry matter to feed his/her cows. Your thoughts?
We intend to execute market research to address these questions. Earlier work suggested that Jersey and crossbred animals can deliver high quality meats, and for some markets the marbling may be a bonus, without negative connotations of yellow fat.
I was wondering if any regional projects are looking at different wintering barns? Thanks!
We have had projects in the past that have looked at all aspects of wintering barns/off-paddock infrastructure in Southland. Looking at investment through to the technical requirements and how to manage them. Southern Dairy Hub is deciding what type of wintering system they will use and we have a project looking at alternative off-paddock facilities which is now in its second year.
Plantain in Overseer
How do you recommend we audit plantain percentages for attribution in Overseer? The grasslands app?
DairyNZ are close to release of a plantain visual assessment tool which uses a series of calibrated photos to assess the percentage of plantain with a pasture sward. Once individual paddocks are visually assessed for plantain, the tool then provides guidance to calculate plantain percentage at whole farm level. Assessment is recommended to be completed in Autumn at the time when nitrogen leaching risk is highest. Part of the process of development of this tool is ensuring regional councils approve of the method – a working group was established with regional council representatives in November 2019 to ensure alignment.
Podcast - National MP Todd Muller’s mental health journey
Farmers' Forum speaker MP Todd Muller discusses mental health in our recent podcast. He spoke on the same topic at Farmers' Forum.