Tait Family Trust, Canterbury

Tait Family Trust is an intergenerational family-owned dairy business. The home farm (275ha total) is located in Lowcliffe, Ashburton and produces around 1,601kg MS/ha, 513kg MS/cow operating a system four production system. 

A 123ha support block, located 1km east of the dairy farm, provides young stock and winter grazing. 

Two options for this farm were modelled:

  1. The ‘low intensity’ scenario modelled moves to a more pasture-based system. This option is a lower-output higher-margin model, provides the lowest breakeven milk price and builds the business’ resilience. The modelling shows a 10% reduction in GHG emissions, a 26% reduction in N loss, and a 16% increase in profitability. Conversely, this system would be more challenging to operate from a grazing management perspective and provides less capacity in the future for further reductions in environmental losses without effecting profitability.
  2. The ‘infrastructure’ scenario combines a focus on resource use efficiency with ‘infrastructure’ investment to reduce environmental losses and supports moderate intensity farming. The scenario provides a similar reduction in N loss to the low intensity scenario with higher profitability.  GHG emissions are similar to the existing farm system due to no change in DM intake and more effluent excreted off-paddock. This system provides more flexibility to adjust between seasons and may provide further opportunity to improve profitability over time. Conversely, $520,000 would be needed for the capital investment in the feed pad and effluent system.

Key findings

  • Low intensity farming can reduce environmental losses and increase profitability, but the system would be more challenging to operate from a grazing management perspective and provides less capacity in the future for further reductions in environmental losses without effecting profitability.
  • Off-paddock infrastructure can also reduce N-loss and improve profitability but will keep emissions relatively similar to the existing farm system due to no change in DM intake and more effluent captured and used from the off-paddock facility.

“DairyNZ modelling provided invaluable information to reduce nitrogen loss and GHGs.  It showed us where we could get the biggest impact, sometimes by making relatively small changes. I hope my learnings and those of the other project farmers will help others identify the best ways to reduce N loss and emissions on their farms.”
- Campbell Tait, farm owner

Change from current system

Scenario 1 – Low Intensity

Scenario 2 – Infrastructure

N leaching (%)

-26%

-27%

GHG losses (%)

-10%

-1%

Profitability (%)

+16%

+18%

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