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

 

Why the world's biggest coal company has backed down

Blog entry by Deng Ping and Harri Lammi | April 10, 2014

Last year, Greenpeace decided to do something we had never done before during our 13 years of work in China: target and confront a state owned coal company. And not just any company. The biggest and boldest, a Chinese government...

2013: The Year In Photos

Blog entry by Feature Story | January 6, 2014

The year 2013 has been very eventful for Greenpeace on all points of the compass. Whether it be turning around a cargo container filled with fin whale meat in Hamburg, getting the palm oil industry to think twice about deforestation in...

Climate change, spiraling food prices and what the world must do next

Blog entry by Julian Oram | July 16, 2012

Finally, people are coming out in droves and talking openly about the links between climate change, extreme weather events… and food prices. In the US, one of the largest producers of wheat, soy and corn, the Department of...

Brewing climate friendly tea in the garden

Blog entry by Iza Kruszewska | February 17, 2012

Recently, when I was attending my local community seed swop in rural Lewes in East Sussex, in England, I came across an allegedly environmentally friendly version of charcoal called biochar , which the industry mouthpieces are...

Fonterra climate crimes: The true price of Fonterra milk

Blog entry by Nathan Argent | December 4, 2011

The carbon footprint of New Zealand milk could be much larger than Fonterra claims. A new report released today reveals that Fonterra’s continued use of palm kernel expeller (PKE) as a supplementary feed on dairy farms could...

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