Thursday, 09 December 2021 08:55

Farmers take action to reduce N

Written by  Staff Reporters
Virginia Serra, DairyNZ Virginia Serra, DairyNZ

Selwyn and Hinds dairy farmers are taking steps to reduce farm nitrogen loss, according to a recent DairyNZ survey.

“The survey shows Selwyn and Hinds farmers are working hard to reduce their footprint,” says DairyNZ solutions and development lead advisor, Virginia Serra.

“Taking steps now to reduce nitrogen losses will help improve water quality over time. We know it isn’t easy, but farmers are on the journey and support is available from DairyNZ, dairy companies and rural professionals.”

Survey participants reported:

81% percent of farmers have improved irrigation systems or management.

More than 50% have changed fertiliser use and improved effluent management.

Some farmers have changed stocking rate, are using the grazing herb plantain which reduces nitrogen loss, or have made other changes to benefit the environment.

DairyNZ has been working with Selwyn and Hinds farmers for three years in a project to help farmers reduce nitrogen loss, while optimising profit and resilience.

The project, Meeting a Sustainable Future, is trialling options with 40 partner farms and shares the knowledge with local farmers through field days and events. The work is designed to help farmers meet Environment Canterbury and government rules, says Serra.

Under Environment Canterbury rules, Selwyn dairy farmers must reduce nitrogen losses by 30% by 2022, compared to their baseline figure from 2009- 2013. A farm’s baseline is its average annual nitrogen loss over those four years.

In Hinds, farmers have to reduce nitrogen losses by 15% by 2025, 25 percent by 2030 and 36% by 2035.

In July, a new nationwide nitrogen cap took effect, capping synthetic nitrogen fertiliser applied to pasture at 190kg N/ha/ year. Farmers throughout the country are working hard to achieve this.

Project Details

  • As part of the Meeting a Sustainable Future project, DairyNZ and partner farmer have hosted more than 20 field days and events to discuss options.
  • More than 500 farmers and employees attended one of these field days or events in the past year (90% of Selwyn and Hinds dairy farms).
  • Farmers nationwide can learn from the project about options on their own farms. Visit

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