Smart farming

New Zealand's agriculture sector emits more greenhouse gases than all transport combined -- but it doesn't have to be that way.

We want New Zealand to be farming into the future and passing on truly sustainable, healthy farms to future generations.

New Zealanders take immense pride in our farming sector, but more and more this is being tainted by industrial agricultural practices that are damaging our land, waterways and our international reputation as a clean, green producer. Farming is part of who we are as a nation but we should not allow it to continue to be industrialised at the cost of our environment and economy.

It's a little known fact that agriculture also makes up half of all New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions. Increased use of chemical fertilisers, increases in the number of cows per acre, and the destruction of forests for pastures are all contributing to make agriculture's emissions unacceptable for a world facing the challenges of a changing climate.

Some New Zealand farmers are making the right choices, adopting practices that are not only better for the climate and the environment, but also for their bottom lines.     
 
It's what we're calling smart farming, or what's known globally as "bio-logical" farming.  
 
Smart farming is about reverting back to more traditional farming practices. It's about less input, and better output. It's about cutting down on chemicals, cutting back on herd numbers and looking after soil so that pasture thrives and lasts. Generations of farmers have successfully used this method in New Zealand - they knew how to work with the land and doing so is how they survived. In a way it's time to go back to basics.

Agriculture and climate change

Agriculture is a very greenhouse-gas intensive form of land use   
 
Two thirds of our agricultural emissions come from the methane emitted when cows burp. Methane is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO²).

The remaining emissions are from the nitrous oxide gas produced in soil from artificial fertilizer use, livestock urine and manure. It is an astounding 300 times more potent than CO².     
 
 Agriculture's nitrous oxide emissions are higher than New Zealand's road transport emissions.

Corporate Dairy

The ongoing corporatisation and industrialisation of the dairy sector is by far our biggest contribution to global climate change.
 
What's more, these emissions are on the rise. As trees are cut down to make way for cows and pasture, and farming becomes more intensive, our emissions skyrocket
 
Find out more

Emissions trading and agriculture

The dairy industry is exempt from taking real action to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions until 2015, when it may come under the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). Even then, the agriculture sector will be heavily subsidised by taxpayers, creating little incentive for farmers to reduce emissions and invest in solutions. Recent research shows that agriculture has some of the most cost-effective ways of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand.

What happens if New Zealand agriculture doesn't lift its game?

Agriculture is the industry most reliant on a healthy environment and most at risk from the effects of climate change in New Zealand.    Agriculture generates the bulk of our export earnings and has an international reputation not only for quality products, but also for being clean and green. This image - along with the sector's economic sustainability - is under threat.

Greenpeace is calling for:

  • Policies put in place by Government to implement smart farming measures
  • A moratorium on further conversion of forests to pasture
  • For agriculture to be bought into the Emissions Trading Scheme well before 2015

The latest updates

 

Returning Climate Crimes to Fonterra's front door

Feature story | November 24, 2009 at 1:47

In the latest in a series of actions targeting Fonterra Climate Crimes today a human chain formed outside the Fonterra Corporate HQ in Auckland and piled sacks labelled ‘Fonterra palm kernel’ and ‘Fonterra coal’ outside at the front door.

Some disturbing stuff

Blog entry by Geoff Keey | November 20, 2009

Today I spotted a couple of items in the media that are a timely reminder that urgent action on climate really is needed and that New Zealand has to play its part. The first thing I noticed was an article in the Independent, a UK...

Greenpeace activists shut down Southland coal mine to highlight Fonterra climate crimes

Blog entry by nick | November 17, 2009

Fonterra Climate Crime Just before dawn this morning Greenpeace activists shut down a pit in the Southland  'New Vale'  lignite coalmine.   The dirty lignite coal is used by Fonterra to help fuel operations at its nearby...

Fonterra's Climate Crimes: A call to action

Feature story | November 17, 2009 at 0:00

Just before dawn this morning Greenpeace activists shut down a mine pit at the Southland ‘New Vale’ lignite coalmine. This was the third of a series of actions targeting Fonterra’s climate crimes. Support is now building for a public protest at...

Fighting Fonterra's Climate Crimes - again

Feature story | October 11, 2009 at 22:33

Over the weekend we renewed our call for John Key and dairy giant Fonterra to stop the import of palm based animal feed because of its devastating climate impact. Greenpeace activists painted a large "Fonterra Climate Crime" on a shipment from...

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