In New Zealand, helping our farmer owners establish a Farm Environment Plan (FEP) is our top priority. Each FEP is unique to the farm, identifying areas of existing strength and prioritising improvement actions.
Since we launched the FEP service in 2018 we have continued to develop our framework and delivery service, listening to feedback from farmers and ensuring they can remain a step ahead of future regulations and the requirements of our customers.
Helping farmers to achieve Good Farming Practice through FEPs is how we can continue to make the biggest difference to areas such as soil health, water quality and freshwater biodiversity. This year we expanded our framework to include a focus on whakapapa, mahinga kai and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. All new FEPs include these modules and when we revisit farms with earlier FEPs we upgrade to these to include these modules.
Understanding the full carbon life cycle for the regions where we collect milk is important to us and our customers, so we regularly commission analysis by AgResearch, an independent New Zealand Government research agency, to help us do this using recognised methodologies and tools.
The approach considers the full life cycle from feed production (including purchased supplementary feed) to the milk leaving the farm gate. We use this information to estimate our absolute GHG emissions related to farming and to identify opportunities for further reduction. In New Zealand, for the 2018/19 season milk, the estimated cradle-to-farm-gate carbon footprint, including land use change (LUC) is 0.931 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilogram of fat-and-protein-corrected milk (kg CO2-e/kg FPCM).
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The carbon footprint of New Zealand’s on-farm milk supply is one of the lowest in the world. New Zealand has natural advantages, such as our climate and pasture-based farming system, but it also comes down to the hard graft of our farmers to be as productive and efficient as possible.
They are farming with improved precision to produce more from less, which in turn has a positive impact on the environment. Over the last 25 years or so, New Zealand farmers have reduced the intensity of their on-farm biological emissions by about 20%.
But there is more to do – particularly when looking at the overall picture.
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We’ve been making good progress towards our three interconnected goals – healthy people, a healthy environment and a healthy business – but we have more work to do. We have a plan to accelerate progress so we can make the kind of long-term positive difference we want for our people and our planet.
In a step towards a potential solution to dairy farm emissions, we’ve partnered with Sea Forest to see if using seaweed in cows’ feed can reduce greenhouse gasses.
Someone once said, “Most of the world will make decisions by either guessing or using their gut. They will be either lucky or wrong.” When it comes to making change on farm, it takes time, effort and money.
Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges of our time. We’re concerned about what it means for our whānau, local communities, the next generation of farmers, and our planet as a whole.