Home' NZ Dairy Farmer : March 2011 Contents 64 The Dairyman MARCH 2011
TODAY the agricultural industry is
being bombarded with environmental
acronyms: NB, NMP, WFP, EMS,
NDA, GHG... But what does it all actually
mean for farmers?
Milk and milk products from New Zealand
dairy cows is a global trade. Consumers both
at home and around the world are increas-
ingly aware of, and concerned about, envi-
ronmental impacts and sustainability of the
products they are buying.
Farmers and landowners nationwide
recognise the need to reduce the environ-
mental impact their farming systems have.
Individual properties no longer operate in
isolation; farming practices will change and
various environmental reports are likely to
become mandatory. It is in the best interests
of the industry to be pro-active to ensure that
we are in control of how we reduce our envi-
ronmental footprint rather than have regula-
tions imposed on us.
One tool which can assist farmers achieve
this is nutrient management planning
(NMP). NMP compiles information from a
farm’s nutrient budget (NB), soil testing
results and fertiliser history,
producing a report that provides
farmers with a thorough analy-
sis of their nutrient usage and a
set of relevant recommenda-
tions heading forward.
One pivotal element yet to be
established is who will define
the minimum requirements of
NMP. Whether officially regu-
lated or industry governed, it is
accepted NMP must be compli-
ant with the Resource
Management Act and will require external
auditing to ensure credibility.
To date, NMP is being offered free from
several fertiliser companies who are produc-
ing detailed documents for their clients.
NMP as it currently stands is not a com-
plete environmental report. Rather, it is a
specific nutrient report that can be incorpo-
rated into a whole farm plan (WFP).
WFP is a concept circulating amongst a
number of rural professionals. Intelact has
developed Headland as a new initiative in
this area, providing a full farm assessment in
order to develop farm systems that have a
clear pathway towards achieving specific
environmental, animal welfare and social tar-
gets, while maintaining prof-
With all of these environmen-
tal planning and reporting tools,
it is crucial that we continue to
focus on how we achieve a con-
stant improvement of the system.
Achieving widespread uptake
of environmental reporting is
perhaps one of the most difficult
challenges the industry faces.
General perception is that adopt-
ing and developing environmen-
tally-friendly systems will result in
decreased farm profitability.
This is simply not true.
Rather, it is an opportunity for farming
systems to be refined. And with increasing
pressure to reduce overdrafts, it is the perfect
time for farmers to align their systems with
environmental best practices – especially
those which reduce input costs and ultimate-
ly increase profits.
We need to make the choice now to reduce
our environmental footprint. Otherwise, not
only will we find ourselves being regulated
into it, but we will potentially lose some of
our most lucrative markets.
• Jesse Bolt is a consultant with Intelact.
By JESSE BOLT
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