Thursday, 25 November 2021 14:55

RA research will benefit some regions more than others - report

Written by  Staff Reporters
A new report on regenerative agriculture in New Zealand says it might benefit some regions more than others. A new report on regenerative agriculture in New Zealand says it might benefit some regions more than others.

Research on regenerative agriculture in New Zealand might benefit some regions more than others, claims a new report.

The report, entitled ‘Place-based approaches to assessing the impact of regenerative agriculture in New Zealand’ looked at four case studies across the country where regenerative farming principles have the potential to address problems faced by farming communities.

“Research to test the possible benefits of ‘regenerative’ practices could have higher impact in parts of New Zealand where there are region-specific issues or opportunities. The knowledge we gain from doing research in those regions will be of wide benefit to all of New Zealand,” says lead author of the report, Dr Fiona Curran-Cournane, principal scientist at the Ministry for the Environment.

In Otago and Southland, the report describes regenerative agriculture techniques that could help address surface erosion caused by winter-forage cropping. It describes proactive approaches that may help retain ground cover and soil cohesion following grazing. Specific examples of regenerative techniques described in the report include ‘bale grazing’ and deferred grazing’.

In Tairāwhiti and Hawke’s Bay, some regenerative agriculture practices are identified that may support adaptation to predicted increases in the frequency and severity of drought and intense rain events under climate change. Practices identified in the report include ‘long residual’ grazing, adding pasture species with a diversity of root systems and height, and allowing pastures to grow taller.

“The report found regenerative agriculture techniques have the potential to adapt to and mitigate a range of issues facing the North Island’s upper east coast related to climate heating,” says one of the report authors, Dr Charles Merfield of the BHU Future Farming Centre at Lincoln University.

In Pukekohe, the South Auckland area that contributes over 20% of New Zealand’s vegetable production, the report highlights the potential for regenerative agriculture practices to address the very low soil carbon levels and excessive fertiliser application rates associated with intensive conventional outdoor vegetable production. Such practices include the use of cover crops, minimal tillage, and reductions in synthetic fertiliser application rates (e.g. via regular soil testing to ensure targeted fertiliser use and avoid excess nutrient loss).

Although these practices are not specific to regenerative agriculture, there could be high impact through encouraging a mindset of continuous farm improvement, a key principle of regenerative agriculture. Scientific evidence for any benefits of regenerative agriculture could also encourage uptake of these practices.

In the upper Waikato, a key issue is the need to mitigate the impact of land use on water quality in the Waikato River. Regenerative agriculture is resonating strongly for iwi and Māori landowners within and around the Ruahuwai takiwā, says Mike Taitoko, a specialist in Māori and indigenous economic development.

“Based on current regenerative agriculture initiatives and planning processes, these groups are increasingly strengthening their culture and connection to their land and rivers,” says Taitoko.

The report is one of four new reports that consider how to monitor and measure benefits to New Zealand from regenerative agriculture, particularly in response to region-specific issues and opportunities.

The reports were produced by a research project funded by the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge, the NEXT Foundation and Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research.

The project has so far produced 19 reports, each providing recommendations for how claims regarding specific possible benefits of regenerative agriculture could be tested in New Zealand.

More like this

New tech tool readying growers for climate change

A free interactive tool has been launched to provide grape and apple growers with information on how climate change may affect the risks and costs of living with common plant diseases in different parts of New Zealand.

How regen ag is looking

Some interesting and positive insights into the value of regenerative agricultural practices seem to be emerging from the early stages of a seven year science-based study comparing conventional farming and regen agriculture. Peter Burke reports...

New tool could help growers adapt to climate change

A free interactive tool has been launched to provide apple and grape growers and prospective investors with a glimpse into how climate change may affect the risk and costs of living with plant diseases in different parts of New Zealand.

Hiding something?

OPINION: A colleague of this old mutt’s was less than impressed by the antics of a regenerative dairy farming couple’s attempts to manipulate the coverage of their farming operation.


Viability of farming questioned

People are starting to question the viability of sheep and beef farming as profitability in that sector falls to one of its all-time lows, according to Federated Farmers board member and Gisborne sheep and beef farm, Toby Williams.

Zespri's net profit down $60m

Kiwifruit exporter and marketer Zespri has reported a $60 million drop in net profit, mainly driven by reduced licence revenue from lower pricing per hectare than 2022/23.

UAE FTA welcome news

The dairy and red meat sectors have welcomed news that New Zealand will begin formal negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United Arab Emirates (UAE).


Flock House and its secrets

Plans are in place to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the legendary Flock House opening its doors for the first…

$160 billion cargo shipment deal

New Zealand’s major primary industry exporters have secured shipping capability to export $160 billion worth of products over the next…

Play by the rules

Trade and Agriculture Minister Todd McClay says the Government is always working to ensure that our food exporters are treated…

Machinery & Products

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