Most of these mitigation measures involve good farm practices, such as feed utilisation, choice of feed type and being more selective about how and when to apply fertiliser and effluent to our land.
Steps to reduce emissions
1. Know your farm’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Understanding your own emissions profile is a good first step.
Most dairy farmers will receive their greenhouse gas information from their dairy company. Fonterra farmers will have received a report that includes an emissions profile to help identify sources of emission. Other options for understanding your emissions include examining your Overseer nutrient budget, as this will also estimate your on-farm emissions.
As a stepping-stone to understanding dairy emissions against profitability and to prepare your business for the future, visit DairyNZ StepChange.
2. Identify opportunities to reduce emissions and capture carbon.
Many opportunities involve making simple changes to current farm management practice, others require a farm system analysis.
Here are some options to consider.
Improve the efficiency of pasture and crop production
There is a strong link between reducing nitrogen loss and emissions, this mainly focuses on reducing N-surplus. Lower N surplus will reduce feed imported/harvested, which reduces methane.
- Reduce N-surplus through reduced N-fertiliser use. For tips, click here.
- Reduce N-surplus through reduced use of supplementary feed. To reduce the need for supplementary feed, get the most out of homegrown pasture and crops. Read more.
- Improve timing and placement of N-fertiliser. Read more.
- Ensure correct soil fertility. Read more.
- Optimise pasture quality and production. Read more.
Reduce total feed eaten
This is the best way to reduce methane emissions. Research shows there is a direct link between feed intake and methane produced. For every additional kg of total feed eaten per hectare, total methane emissions increase proportionally.
- Cull less productive stock early. Read more.
- Convert less productive land to trees. Read more.
- Adjust stocking policy.
- Reduce stock losses and optimise replacement rates.
- Increase animal performance through genetic selection. Read more.
3. Create a plan, monitor and review
As part of the agriculture sector’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, farmers will need to estimate current emissions and, over time, develop a farm-specific plan to manage and reduce these emissions through farm management improvements.
Dairy companies will be supporting farmers to develop their farm plans which will include actions to improve water quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.