Agriculture will change but pastoral agriculture will survive and prosper. It is all about international competitive advantage, new technologies and managing the environment. It can be done but it won’t be easy.
One of the regular questions I am asked about is the future of pastoral agriculture. It reflects a perspective that, given the issues of water pollution, greenhouse gases and changing consumer attitudes, perhaps New Zealand’s pastoral agriculture belongs to the past rather than the future.
A good starting point for a response is to reflect as to why New Zealand developed as a pastoral-based economy. Nature blessed New Zealand with a temperate maritime climate combined with a hilly and mountainous topography that is well suited to pastoral agriculture, but much less suited to crop activities.
Compared to much of the world, New Zealand’s natural competitive edge still lies in pastoral sheep, beef and dairy. In contrast, the economics of broad-acre cropping and vegetable production are challenging in an environment where flat land is limited and where rain can occur, or not occur, at any time. . .
New Zealand farmers are the first in the world with the ability to breed low methane-emitting sheep.
A breeding value for methane emissions was launched in November 2019. It was the outcome of a 10-year breeding programme funded by the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGGRC) and the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre.
AgResearch scientist Dr Suzanne Rowe has been leading the research programme and says for the past ten years, they have been running two closed flocks side-by-side, a low methane emitting flock and a high methane emitting flock. . .
Science and agriculture well met – Yvonne O’Hara:
Combining genetics, parasitology and agriculture is a dream job for Dr Kathryn McRae.
She has worked for AgResearch at Invermay for the past six years and during that time has had several major genetic studies to her credit.
“I really enjoy the mix with the lab work with more practical hands-on work.”
She researched levels of pneumonia in sheep and oversaw the Invermay-based Beef + Lamb New Zealand Central Progeny Test (CPT). . .
The Tasman District Council wants to release two new wasp-killing insects to New Zealand.
It has applied on behalf of a wasp control action group to the Environmental Protection Authority, to release the wasp-nest beetle and a hoverfly.
The introduced insects would combat the invasive wasps that cost the country about $130 million a year in damage and control measures.
Wasps attack honeybees, butterflies, flies and spiders and can be harmful to people – sometimes seriously. . .
Medical cannabis grower Puro has been granted a licence to plant 10 hectares of the crop.
Managing director of the Marlborough firm, Tim Aldridge, said it would plant more than 80,000 seeds and seedlings at Kēkerengū on the Kaikōura Coast.
Aldridge said the licence was in time to plant in spring. . .
Let’s have a more balanced debate on meat tax – Richard Young:
When it comes to talking about meat, and especially when discussing a tax on red meat, we must be careful to differentiate between livestock that are part of the problem and those that are part of the solution. While we agree that the polluter pays principle should be applied to food, and the sugar tax is a good example of this, there is a real problem with the blanket use of the term, ‘red meat’, which is freely used but is flawed on two counts. Firstly, it is generally used to refer to all ruminant meat, meat from pigs and all processed red meats.
This is irrational and misleading because these meats can be produced in very different ways which have very different impacts on nutrient composition and the environment. Secondly, in failing to differentiate between methods of production, the blanket use of the term ‘red meat’ is intellectually sloppy, creates confusion amongst the public and does more harm than good when used to advocate meat taxes. . .