The aim of the Dairy Action for Climate Change (DACC), launched in June last year, was for the dairy sector to proactively take action to mitigate against agricultural emissions. This initiative, by DairyNZ and Fonterra, has come at a time when it is increasingly imperative for the dairy sector to take leadership on such challenges.
At a climate conference in Germany late last year, Climate Change Minister James Shaw said New Zealand would be a world leader on climate change. The Government is looking to have the Zero Carbon Act in force by the middle of this year, which will enforce a net zero emissions target by 2050, and set up an independent Climate Change Commission that will decide whether agriculture should enter the Emissions Trading Scheme. Regardless of the outcome, it has never been more important for the dairy sector to take action on agricultural emissions.
Since June last year, the DACC has made significant progress. DairyNZ’s rural professional workshops attracted more than 400 people, our Greenhouse Gas courses at Massey University have been fully booked, and our partnership farm pilot in Canterbury has been a success. This year will see 10 partnership farms chosen from the 15 case studies currently underway, 12 climate change champions announced, and planning for the farmer greenhouse gas roadshows underway.
The partnership farms are a key component of the DACC. DairyNZ is currently in the case study phase, where our group of scientists, rural professionals and leading farmers are working closely with each of the 15 farms around New Zealand to come up with potential mitigations for each farm taking part. These mitigations are important because analysis carried out late last year showed an average dairy farm emits around 10 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per hectare. The amount of emission is dependent on stock numbers, feed eaten and fertiliser use.
By June this year, the 15 case study farms will be cut down to 10 partnership farms, and each will become a leading farm for our sector. Our hope is the mitigations taken by our partnership farms will eventually become wide-spread practice around New Zealand, allowing us to surpass our international competitors and meet the sustainability targets of our communities. This is in line with the new Dairy Tomorrow strategy – where we have committed to building the world’s most competitive and resilient dairy farming businesses.
To learn more about DACC visit dairynz.co.nz/climate-change.
This article was originally published in Inside Dairy February 2018