Tuesday, 10 March 2020 10:16

Farm emissions confusion

Written by  Peter Burke
Phil Journeaux. Phil Journeaux.

A leading farm consultant says farmers are becoming frustrated at the confusing advice they’re getting on how to deal with greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Phil Journeaux of AgFirst says, on the whole, farmers are willing to change. However, the advice they are getting is not helping them do this. He claims a lot of this advice is simplistic and shows a lack of understanding of how it can be applied on the farm.

Journeaux believes real effort needs to be made in presenting the known science on GHG emissions in terms of how it fits into a farm system. He says there is a lack of truly independent advice to farmers – something that used to happen in the old days of MAF. 

He pointed to Ireland where there is Teagasc – a state owned advisory and research organisation, which still offers genuine independent advice to farmers. 

“Farmers in NZ are getting bombarded from a whole range of information from different sources,” Journeaux told Rural News

“I am involved in running some seminars for rural professionals at the moment on GHGs and I have to say at this stage some rural professionals understand it well, but most don’t. I think there is big learning curve for them so they – in turn – can then start and work with their clients and help them understand it.” 

Journeaux has, for the last three years,  been involved with developing and modelling a range of changing farms systems and how they might cope with the GHG targets and – in particular – what effect this may have on profitability.

“In a general sense, we have found that we can reduce GHG emissions by between 2 and 10% -- depending on how we change the system, which often involves reducing stocking rates,” he explains. “In some instances, we have found it is actually possible to improve the farm profitability, but in most cases the modelling suggests reduced profitability.”

Journeaux says to make any big reduction of GHG emissions on farm, improving animal performance and reducing stock numbers seems to be the answer. 

The work he’s been doing is on both sheep and beef, and dairy farms. Journeaux adds that, in the absence of new technology, land use change – planting trees would be an option.

“There are big implications around that in terms of changing land use and – as people are well aware – there is a movement currently to buy sheep and beef farms and plant them in trees. But this comes with economic and social change.” 

Journeaux says looking at the expansion of the dairy industry in the 1990s and 2000s it seems, in hindsight, that some farms ended up in places that were not particularly conducive to dairy farming. 

More like this

Winter grazing headaches

A Hawke's Bay-based farm consultant reckons there will be a need for farm system changes next season in order for farmers to meet new winter grazing regulations.

Computer says no!

Dairy farmers around the country are in breach of a new law around reporting synthetic nitrogen because the Government has failed to deliver an online measuring tool on time.

Profit up but keep an eye on costs

Farm profitability should be healthy for 2021-22 and for the current season – but farmers will need to keep a close eye on input costs, says an AgFirst report for Waikato and Bay of Plenty dairy farms.

Farmers overwhelmed by new regs

Farmers are getting overwhelmed by all the new regulations and compliance requirements they are facing now and in the future.

National

Everyone's a winner

Hot on the heels of Bremworth claiming a "win" in its ongoing court case with rival carpet-maker Godfrey Hirst, the…

Carpet battle far from over

Despite claims by NZ carpet manufacturer Bremworth that an international rival has abandoned a court battle about the benefits of…

Machinery & Products

New disc cultivator launched

Väderstad has introduced a new disc cultivator – the Carrier XT 425-625 – featuring rotating disc axles, that optimizes results…

JD unlocks its digital system

As a long-term advocate of digital technology, John Deere has taken the route of mass data capture, rather than concentrating…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Do the math!

OPINION: The Hound would be a rich canine if he got a dollar for every time he's heard multi-national, fundraising…

No sugar coating

OPINION: Your canine crusader had to have a bit of a giggle at a recent employment ad run by an…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter