Balancing profit and environment
Land use and water quality are likely to be the two most significant issues facing New Zealand farmers over the coming years, particularly for those seeking to expand their farming operations.
In response, many farmers are exploring alternative wintering system options such as housing systems in an effort to reduce their nitrogen levels in ground water and waterways, and the resulting impact on the environment.
But the challenge, according to FarmWise consultant Jon Nicholls, is balancing the environmental concerns while retaining profitability.
“Farmers are coming under increasing pressure from local authorities to reduce their nitrogen levels, but the reality is that for many this will be a struggle and will require significant changes in management practices and systems which can be costly and must be carefully considered before any great investment,’’ Mr Nicholls said.
“New Zealand farmers should be aware that UK and Ireland farmers have come under similar pressures in recent years, so we can learn from them.
“Their use of alternative wintering systems that capture all effluent and spread it onto land are starting to spark interest here but it’s important that farmers understand all their options before investing in one of these systems which have the potential to increase cost of production, reduce profitability as well as adding complexity to a farming system.”
FarmWise, Livestock Improvement’s (LIC’s) user-pays team of nationwide farming consultants, have organised a trip to Britain and Ireland in January 2013 to visit farms and investigate alternative wintering systems that are in use.
They’ve issued an invitation to all dairy farmers who are considering one of these systems to join them.
“We’ve organised a trip that will allow farmers to get onto these farms and discuss the pros and cons of the different options over there, and evaluate how they could work over here.
“We’re confident the tour will arm them with the knowledge they need to make more informed decisions for their own operation.”
With experienced FarmWise consultants George Reveley and Geoff Campbell as guides, the tour will explore a range of pads, housing, and farming system set-ups and how they relate to management, running costs, animal welfare, effluent, and long-term profitability.
The tour includes 11 farm visits in Birmingham, London, Dorset, Bristol, Cheshire, Wiltshire and Oxfordshire, plus a visit to the Irish Dairy Research Centre Moorepark in Cork.
Mr Nicholls said meals, travel within the Britain and Ireland, and accommodation had all been organised for the trip, and farmers needed only to organise their own travel to and from Britain.
He said spaces were limited and booking was required by the of September.
Offering experience: FarmWise consultant Jon Nicholls says the challenge is balancing the environmental concerns while retaining profitability.