Many farmers are starting to lower emissions from their land and livestock, and rural professionals have an important part to play in providing consistent advice on how to go about it says Kara Lok, DairyNZ’s senior adviser leading climate change.
Her comments follow a series of climate change workshops held throughout New Zealand which attracted 420 participants.
The nine greenhouse gas workshops were run as part of the Dairy Action for Climate Change and targeted rural professionals around New Zealand who wanted to hear about the science of climate change, mitigation options available to farmers, and how they can help their farmer clients reduce emissions.
“Addressing on-farm emissions – methane, which is formed when ruminant animals burp, and nitrous oxide, formed when nitrogen escapes into the atmosphere – is one of the most challenging issues facing the dairy and food producing sectors, globally and in New Zealand,” says Kara.
“Many farmers are already doing things on-farm that lower greenhouse gas emissions such as planting trees, and better soil management to reduce nitrogen leaching.
“Then there are the other science-based endeavours that are well underway, like the research to breed cows that produce fewer methane emissions, and the possibility of a methane inhibiting vaccine in the future.
“Feedback from participants has been great. While they understand there is no silver bullet, they now know what options farmers can adopt right now. I hope this translates to the message getting out to farmers about what emissions reduction options they can implement.
“While our dairy sector is one of the most emissions efficient producers in the world, we know more action is required to address our emissions over the longer term. Rural professionals can make a difference by providing the leadership to ensure knowledge transfers to the farming community.”
DairyNZ will be running climate change workshops for farmers in early 2018.
• New Zealand has a unique emissions profile for a developed country, with 49 per cent of emissions from agriculture compared to 11 per cent average in other developed countries.
• The Dairy Action for Climate Change has been developed by DairyNZ in partnership with Fonterra and with the support of MfE and MPI. It establishes the foundation for action to be undertaken to address biological emissions over the longer term by building awareness and capability in the dairy sector.