A research partnership our Co-op is a key member of has found that feeding cows plantain could reduce nitrogen leaching from dairy farms by 20-60%.
The results, from the Plantain Potency and Practice (PPP) Programme, prove using Ecotain plantain in pasture can significantly reduce nitrogen entering waterways.
The trials are part of the nationwide PPP research and development programme that involves DairyNZ, the Government (through the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund) and PGG Wrightson Seeds, alongside our Co-op.
Ecotain environmental plantain reduces nitrogen leaching by increasing cows’ urine volume, therefore diluting the nitrogen in urine and reducing the total amount of nitrogen excreted in urine. It also retains nitrogen in the soil, preventing it entering waterways.
Fonterra’s Director of Sustainability Charlotte Rutherford say the results are promising.
“A key part of our strategy is to be a leader in sustainability. That’s why we have been part of the PPP Programme since it was launched two years ago. This has included providing technical expertise, primarily through our On-Farm Excellence Environment and Research and Development teams.
“While New Zealand dairy farmers are already world leaders when it comes to sustainable milk production, this programme is key to further improving environmental performance on-farm by developing quality solutions that work for farmers, are achievable, can be applied at scale and fit well into New Zealand farming systems.”
Charlotte’s comments are echoed by DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle.
“We now have robust scientific evidence that Ecotain plantain is an effective solution to help dairy farmers further reduce farm footprint and continue playing their part in improving water quality.”
“Plantain can bring significant benefits to local waterways and communities – we all want healthy freshwater to swim and play in, and dairy farmers can confidently use Ecotain plantain on-farm to support that.
The trials also show feeding cows plantain has no impact on milk quality or volume and its use could save farmers more than $1 billion per decade, by spending less on more expensive nitrogen reduction solutions. Find out more about the PPP here and more information about how plantain works here.