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
 
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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

 

Looking back on 2011

Video | December 20, 2011 at 8:07

A year of action led campaigning in 2011.

Greenpeace takes action against Fonterra palm kernel imports

Image | February 5, 2011 at 16:40

Five Greenpeace activists occupy the ship’s cranes. The MV Great Motion has 10,000 tonnes of palm kernel on board. It is at anchor just outside the Port, where it had been waiting for another ship to unload its palm kernel and depart a berth used...

Saving Sumatra

Video | October 26, 2010 at 7:30

Bearing witness to rainforest destruction in Indonesia. Rainforests and carbon-rich peatlands in Indonesia are being destroyed at such a rate that Indonesia is now the world's third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, after the US and China. The...

The milk ad they don't want you to see

Video | October 6, 2010 at 9:57

NZ dairy giant Fonterra's industrial dairying approach is driving production beyond the limits. NZ cows can no longer be fed on grass alone and Fonterra's dairy herds are fed palm kernel grown on land in South East Asia where rainforests once...

Does Fonterra support deforestation?

Video | September 25, 2010 at 12:25

During TVNZ coverage of the Fonterra results press conference reporters asked Andrew Ferrier directly whether Fonterra supports rainforest destruction. He then revealed a bad case of foot in mouth and threw the comms department a total hospital...

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