Monday, 11 March 2024 16:55

Love for the environment a driver for research career

Written by  Staff Reporters
DairyNZ senior scientist Roshean Woods. DairyNZ senior scientist Roshean Woods.

Dr Roshean Woods says helping bring the latest tools and technology into dairy farmers’ hands is one of the best things about her role.

The DairyNZ senior scientist, who hails from Timaru, is one of a team of world-leading researchers working in the Low N Systems research programme.

This DairyNZ-led programme is investigating ways to combine different nitrogen (N) mitigation strategies into farm systems in an effort to help farmers achieve significant N loss reduction targets while maintaining farm business viability.

Reducing NZ losses from farm systems can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to improved freshwater quality.

Woods’ work, which allows her to follow her passion for the environment, involves partnering with 38 dairy farms in Waikato and Canterbury and collaborating with Fonterra, AgResearch, Lincoln University and EpiVets.

“It’s a collaborative effort,” she says. “We’re getting the best people involved to draw on expertise across many organisations.”

She works closely with DairyNZ farm systems specialist Chris Glassey and says the partnership has helped grow her confidence.

“Chris has a wealth of knowledge and experience, gained throughout his career, and it’s worked really well to have him as a sounding board,” says Woods.

The team’s recent successes include having a paper published in the Journal of New Zealand Grasslands, along with co-authors from Fonterra, Lincoln University, and Waikato University, in November 2023.

This paper identifies grazing management differences between farms with historically low or high bulk milk urea concentrations. These could be linked to reductions in the herd’s dietary NZ surplus on farms with low bulk milk urea, due to cows consuming pasture with a lower protein content.

The researchers are using this data to develop a bulk milk-based indicator tool for farmers to use to monitor and manage their herd’s dietary N surplus. The tool will also help farmers identify when to apply various management mitigations to reduce the risk of excess urinary N losses into the environment.

When she’s not working, Woods enjoys camping, tramping, hunting – for meat and pest control – and gardening.

I might not live on a farm but I enjoy producing my own food. That’s something I’ve learned about myself over the years,” she says. “We recently moved house and the first weekend we were there I was off to the nursery to buy fruit trees.”

Woods’s husband frequently tells her she can’t fit everything in to their 600sq m section, but she’s trying.

“I’ve gone for a fruit salad approach, I love the garden, growing my own vegetables, and I love having flowers and native plants,” she says.

“I’m really passionate about the environment. That’s one of the reasons I do what I do.”

More like this

Rewarding farmers who embrace sustainability

Winners of DairyNZ’s Sustainability and Stewardship awards in the Ballance Farm Environment Awards have their eyes firmly fixed on progressing a positive future for New Zealand dairy.

Herd production performance soars

New data released by LIC and DairyNZ shows New Zealand dairy farmers have achieved the highest six week in-calf rate and lowest notin- calf rate on record.


Editorial: Fonterra's U-turn

OPINION: Speaking at the Chinese Business Summit in Auckland last week, Fonterra chief exuecutive Miles Hurrell revealed that his phone was running hot over the weekend.

A winner's view

Kingi Smiler, the chair of Wairarapa Moana ki Pouakani (WMI), said after winning the Ahuwhenua Trophy he was both elated and relieved and added it was a tough competition being up against Whakatohera Māori Board.

Farm 4 is number one!

A dairy farm near the settlement of Mangakino has won the prestigious Ahuwhenua Trophy for the top Māori dairy farm for 2024.


Machinery & Products

More horsepower for Puma

Case IH's introduction of AFS Connect, an option for its high horsepower tractor ranges, has now been rolled out across…

EU tractor sales hit the brakes

According to numbers sourced from national authorities, 151,800 tractors were registered across Europe in 2023, of which 26,200 tractors (17%)…

GPS in control

In a move that will make harvesting operations easier, particularly in odd-shaped paddocks, Kuhn has announced that GPS section control…

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

True colours

OPINION: The watermelon party (AKA the Greens) try to portray themselves as an upright, self-righteous, caring bunch of woke, bicycle-riding…

Peace at last?

OPINION: Good news for hunters as Forest & Bird have "paused" legal action against the Fiordland Wapiti Foundation and agreed…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter