Partnering to develop fresh solutions

DairyNZ has leading scientists working for farmers, and with farmers, to develop solutions to improve water quality and help farmers meet regulations. Find out more about our research below.

Improving water quality is a priority for communities, farmers, and for DairyNZ. Our scientists are developing a range of solutions to improve water quality. Farmers play a key role in helping us test and evaluate solutions on-farm. We also work closely with research partners to pool expertise to get the best value for your levy.

Solutions are designed to suit local water quality challenges. Trials and work with farmers help us understand what’s possible on-farm to meet changing regulations while staying profitable. This research helps inform regional councils so dairy can continue making an important contribution to New Zealand’s future.

Our current work includes research into plantain, low nitrogen farm systems, and tracking and reducing E.coli levels in waterways.

Working alongside farmers to make a difference in catchments

We are also working closely with farmers and catchment groups to trial practical tools and interventions on-farm. This work is part of a three-year DairyNZ Sustainable Catchments programme, funded by the Ministry for the Environment’s Jobs for Nature programme. It’s focused on three priority catchments – Pōkaiwhenua, Waimea (Southland), and the South Canterbury region. These have higher N concentrations and lower ecosystem health scores than other catchments.

Work is underway in these areas to complete catchment assessments and design monitoring programmes to track water quality and hauora (health) over time. This will be followed by on-farm and catchment trials of mitigations known to improve water quality.

This work builds on the success of previous partnerships with farmers in Selwyn Hinds (Canterbury), Tararua, and Aparima (Southland) to meet changing regulations and improve water quality. We also support farmers nationwide to adopt farm environment plans to reduce the impact of farming practices on the environment. Our Dairy Tomorrow partnership documents this work. You can read more on the work we have underway to improve water quality below.

Monitoring waterway health

When it comes to monitoring waterway health, what makes up a holistic assessment of stream health? Join us as we talk Dr Craig Depree DairyNZ’s Principal Scientist, to hear his views on the benefits in adopting a holistic approach to waterway health.

Water quality research update

When it comes to improving water quality, what does best practice look like? And how do you invest in long-term solutions to meet changing regional regulations? Join us as we talk to DairyNZ Senior Water Quality Scientist Dr Katrina Macintosh and AgResearch Senior Scientist Dr Richard Muirhead about DairyNZ’s key research initiatives and how these projects can provide solutions to improve water quality.

Low N systems

The Low N Systems research programme is investigating how stacking various mitigation options can help farmers achieve significant nitrogen loss reductions.

More about Low N systems

Plantain potency and practice programme

A plantain research programme is studying how Ecotain® plantain can significantly reduce nitrogen losses to freshwater and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

More about the plantain research

Monitoring catchment water quality

A long-running joint research project has shown adopting good farming practices reduces contaminant loss into waterways and improves water quality.

More about monitoring water quality

Achieving nitrogen targets in Canterbury

Farmers in Canterbury’s Selwyn Hinds catchment used a range of strategies to significantly reduce farm nitrogen losses and meet challenging local regulations.

Read the media release

Understanding E. coli

A new research programme is working with farmers in Manawatū-Whanganui to understand and reduce E. coli losses into waterways.

More about understanding E. coli

Pōkaiwhenua planting

A new partnership between DairyNZ, Iwi and farmers is working to improve the health of the Pōkaiwhenua Stream in Waikato.

Read the Pokaiwhenua planting media release

Tararua plantain project

Farmers in Tararua have successfully used plantain to reduce N losses and meet challenging local regulations.

More about Tararua plantain

South Canterbury catchment

A collaborative project is underway between farmers, DairyNZ and other stakeholders in South Canterbury, to analyse and support implementation of solutions that further decrease nitrogen in water and help ensure farmers can meet plan change rules.

More about the South Canterbury catchment

Waimea catchment

The collaborative Waimea catchment project is driving successful outcomes for meeting future nitrogen limits and staying profitable.

More about the Waimea catchment