NEW ZEALAND – Sustainable dairy farming in Tararua is the focus of a new project which has just been launched and has two more field days coming up this month.
More than 50 farmers and industry leaders gathered at Geoff Arends and Ester Romp’s 162ha farm at Hukanui for the launch of the Tararua DairyLink project. The initiative is led by local farmers, DairyNZ and Horizons Regional Council.
The host farm is one of three selected as part of the project to demonstrate methods of reducing dairying’s environmental impact, while also looking to improve productivity.
The DairyLink launch is one of a series of events, with field days also being held in Pahiatua and Dannevirke and more planned for later in the year.
Geoff and Ester, along with sharemilkers Chris and Dana Sutton, gave attendees a rundown of their operation, what they hope to achieve in their business and the reason for participating in DairyLink.
Last season’s production of nearly 140,000kgMS/ha was badly affected by flooding in the spring. They are hoping to increase production this season through better pasture management whilst decreasing the use of nitrogen fertiliser.
Mr Sutton says he is taking part in the project to give back to an industry that has been very generous to him.
“The DairyLink project provides a way for me to contribute towards the future of dairying in this district,” he says.
Keith Riley, the farmer chairman of the DairyLink committee, spoke of the importance for farmers to have greater control over all aspects of their farming systems, to improve productivity and reduce negative environmental impacts.
Mr Riley says there are real opportunities for farmers to increase productivity and use natural resources more efficiently.
“The project provides a way for everybody to work together, pool their knowledge, and become more innovative and adaptive to the pressures currently being felt by dairy farmers,” says Mr Riley.
Professor Mike Hedley, director of the Fertiliser and Lime Research Centre at Massey University, gave the opening presentation at the launch.
Mr Hedley says it is crucial that farmers learn to understand the environmental consequences of their production systems.
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