Fonterra says there is a genuine understanding among farmer shareholders about the global demand for sustainably produced dairy.
DairyNZ has been leading the Tararua Plantain Project in the lower North Island, where farmers have been growing plantain for their cows.
Now, Fonterra, along with Nestle, is helping expand the project further through additional funding and by sharing expertise.
“We’re all about finding ways to ensure Aotearoa New Zealand has a thriving environment and a thriving farming economy,” said Fonterra’s director of on-farm excellence Charlotte Rutherford.
She says it was good to be partnering with DairyNZ on the project because companies could achieve more in partnership.
“This is helping to speed up the adoption of plantain by farmers. Ultimately it could be a real game-changer to reduce nitrogen from cows and help mitigate nitrous oxide emissions.”
Fonterra says the new collaboration will help to accelerate uptake of Ecotain – a blend of environmentally functional plantain cultivars developed by seed company Agricom.
Currently, 50 Tararua farms have started to use plantain, through DairyNZ’s Tararua Plantain Project.
With the funding boost, it is expected these farms and more will increase the amount they grow, therefore maximising the benefits.
Ecotain has been used in studies by DairyNZ, Agricom, Lincoln University, Massey University and AgResearch, with results showing it can significantly reduce nitrogen leaching.
Preliminary studies also show it has the potential to lower on-farm GHG emissions through the reduction of nitrous oxide, which is promising news for farmers.
The project also focuses on improving understanding of how farmers can implement Ecotain successfully and engaging farmers through workshops, events and a national farmer network to extend knowledge.
DairyNZ’s general manager for new systems and competitiveness, David McCall, says the dairy sector has a wide range of work underway to reduce nitrates entering waterways and reduce on-farm emissions.
“The seven-year Tararua Plantain Project is a flagship project for the dairy sector. It is delivering real, tangible results valued by farmers. The project has community at its heart as it seeks water quality improvements, while ensuring the dairy sector continues as an economic pillar within the local community.
“It is excellent to have extra support from Fonterra and Nestle within the Tararua catchment.”