The needs for animal protein in discussions on future nutritious and sustainable food systems seems to be missing from much of the rhetoric, says Jeremy Hill, Fonterra’s chief scientist and technology officer.
This means defined waterways totalling twice the length of New Zealand's coastline are now fenced to protect against stock entering the water. Many farmers have gone above and beyond the minimum requirements fencing an additional 10,000 kilometres of smaller waterways.
Fonterra director social responsibility Carolyn Mortland says Fonterra farmers are committed to farming sustainably, and are doing some great work, "There's a lot involved in managing a farm's impact on the environment – fencing waterways, managing raceways, tracks, paddocks and effluent, and reducing run-off through riparian planting.
"New Zealand's rugged landscape is challenging but our farmers are committed to achieving the best possible outcomes and are continually looking at ways to achieve this."
Good progress is also being seen in nutrient management. 76% of Fonterra farmers have recorded detailed on-farm information to enable nitrogen management reports to be produced – up 17% on the last year – and helping to improve efficient use of nutrients.
Mortland says many farmers are helping to strengthen the cooperative's international reputation for high quality dairy nutrition and responsible dairy farming, highlighting the following examples.
Jimmy Gerritsen is using solar power to improve sustainability and profitability. He will have paid it off in three – four years and then he'll be saving $20,000 every year.
He has also started recycling water for washing the shed out, resulting in a 30 per cent saving of daily water use and reducing effluent levels.
Nigel Gardiner has been fencing off wetlands, bridging pivot crossings, improving irrigation, looking at water efficiencies in the shed and as part of monitoring a stream he discovered some Kākahi – endangered native mussels.
Gardiner is keeping the big picture in mind despite it being a tough time for dairy farmers, he says ultimately the work he is doing will add value to the farm.
David Hill is working with Whaingaroa Harbour Care to put thousands of native trees into his Raglan farm, he says while this year has been tough, he'll still get 1,000 plants in the ground.
Hill says it's a huge balancing act between operating a commercially viable and environmentally sustainable business, but he's committed to making a difference.