Modelling Environmental Farm System Change


1 min read

About the project Managing your footprint Partner farms Funding partners

Achieving improved environmental outcomes in dairy farming varies from one farm to another. To grasp this, a partnership was formed with four farms in Southland and Otago. The goal is to understand environmental and financial performance and discover ways to enhance both. The project emphasises water quality and educates farmers on the effects of changing systems on greenhouse gas emissions and profitability. To better manage the environmental impact, suggestions include efficient N fertiliser use, planting pastures with plantain, and investing in infrastructure. The Participatory Research project, linked with the Southern Dairy Hub, explores these solutions, supported by various funders including DairyNZ and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

We know there is no 'one size fits all' approach when it comes to achieving improved environmental outcomes, so we have partnered with four farms across the region to better understand their environmental and financial performance and identify management options to improve performance.

About the project

We have taken an integrated environmental approach focusing on water quality outcomes, while increasing farmer awareness of system change impacts on greenhouse gas emissions and farm profitability. By partnering with farmers across Southland and Otago we have recognized the range of landscape-specific vulnerabilities and farming systems that require different solutions. Through the partner farms and their communities, we have investigated options for improved environmental outcomes as well as extended the research from the Southern Dairy Hub.

Opportunities to manage your environmental footprint

  • Reducing the N surplus through more efficient N fertilizer use and reducing the reliance on imported supplement
  • Including plantain in pastures
  • Sowing catch crops following winter forage cropping
  • Investment in infrastructure reduced nutrient loss to water, however the impact on greenhouse gases and profitability will depend on the type of infrastructure and how it is integrated into the system.

Partner farms

Doug and Emma McLeod - South and West Otago

Doug and Emma McLeod are 50:50 sharemilkers on flat to rolling land next to the Pomahaka River in South Otago.

Doug and Emma McLeod

Duncan and Anne-Marie Wells - Taieri

Duncan and Anne-Marie are equity managers of a 210 ha flat farm near Taieri milking 695 cows.

Duncan and Anne Marie

Jon and Birgit Pemberton - Eastern Southland

Jon and Birgit are owner-operators of a 139-ha farm in Brydone, milking approximately 400 cows.

Jon and Birgit

Rob and Rachael Dingle - Northern Southland

Rob and Rachael are farm owners for Brooklea Farm Ltd at Wendonside which was converted to dairy in 2008-09.

Rob and Rachael

Funding partners

The Participatory Research: Enhanced Research Adoption project, is part of DairyNZ’s research work with the Southern Dairy Hub. It started in July 2019 and ends in June 2022. It’s led by DairyNZ, run jointly with AgResearch, and funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Farming Fund. DairyNZ and the South Island Dairy Event are co-funders.

Last updated: Aug 2023
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