Environmental, Steve Smith (Southland)


1 min read

Key findings

The AB Lime dairy farm in Winton transitioned to dairy in 2014 with modern facilities. Spread over 661ha, the farm has areas for dairy, effective farming, and native bush. The page outlines three farm strategies. Short-term focuses on effluent use, feed-pad timing, and nitrogen fertiliser. Medium-term suggests planting native plants on 23ha of less productive land. Long-term aims to boost animal genetics by breeding from the top 85% of the herd. However, while some methods lessen environmental impact, they might reduce profits. As AB Lime's general manager emphasises, achieving eco-friendly results demands deliberate actions, benefiting the whole sector.

Key findings

  • While mitigating N loss and GHG emissions on AB Lime is possible in the short term, the mitigations modelled will slightly reduce production and profitability. This includes building infrastructure around effluent areas, and farm system changes around nitrogen and feed-pad use.
  • Modelled changes to the farm system in the medium term looked at planting trees on less productive steep parts of the farm. This could provide reductions in environmental losses but decreased profitability due to less effective land for the dairy farm. However, these areas were the lower producing, steeper areas of the farm.
  • The long-term modelling focuses on increase in herd performance through an increase in genetic merit from selective breeding. This strategy takes longer to implement but can reduce environmental footprint and increase profitability as shown in the modelling.

"With operations such as a quarry, a fertiliser store, and a landfill, your job is all about environmental protection. A dairy operation is no different. It's just another operation that can have a major effect on the environment. Positive environmental outcomes don’t just happen, you need to target them. It’s tough minimising environmental impacts, it’s a lot of work. If we can help find some solutions that can help the industry, then that’s a win for everyone.”

- Steve Smith, AB Lime general manager

Change from current system Short term

Medium term

(including short term)

Long term (including

short and medium term)

N leaching -11% -12% -15%
GHG losses -3% -3% -5%
Profitability -3% -17% +8%
Last updated: Aug 2023
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