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

 

What the LULUCF?

Blog entry by Phil | June 4, 2010

New Zealand's strategy at the climate change negotiations may be running into a bit of trouble. To understand why, I need to explain New Zealand's strategy which pretends to tackle climate change. Basically, whatever our...

UPDATED: Activists block Fonterra coal use

Blog entry by nick | May 18, 2010

Fighting Fonterra Climate Crimes This morning a team of Greenpeace activists blocked the supply of coal to the boilers of Fonterra's Clandeboye milk drying plant in Canterbury effectively halting another Fonterra climate crime.

Activists block Fonterra coal use with delivery of cleaner fuel

Feature story | May 18, 2010 at 0:00

Greenpeace activists block the fuel depot of Fonterra's Clandeboye factory in Canterbury, drawing attention to how the company is damaging the climate by choosing to burn coal when cleaner alternatives exist. Another Fonterra Climate Crime.

Wake up or become clones!

Blog entry by jacko | April 19, 2010

Okay, perhaps the headline is a tad sensationalist but after yesterday’s announcement that the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) has approved genetically modified goats, sheep and cows at AgResearch’s Ruakura research...

No whale burgers. No tuatara shoes. No mining in national parks!

Blog entry by nick | March 26, 2010

The NZ economy is founded on a clean, green reputation, yet Prime Minister John Key and his National Government is seriously endangering that reputation . Firstly by increasing NZ's catch quota  of critically endangered bluefin tuna,...

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