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Dairy Farming Continued

With the effective land area under dairy being 1,677,395 ha, the export return per hectare for dairying was $8000.

In 2013 there were 5.01 million dairy cows and heifers (in milk/calf) in New Zealand (nearly 4% more than 2012). Since 2006 cow population has been increasing steadily in the South Island.

However, increasing milk solids production cannot be attributed solely to increasing cow numbers. While the stocking rate has been increasing steadily (from 2.62 to 2.85 from 2001 to 2013), the overall production efficiency in New Zealand (from 310 to 346 kg/cow) has also been increasing which has been enhanced by more irrigable pasture and feed available in the South Island.

DairyNZ provides very useful information on effluent (Effluent Management), land, nutrient (Land & Nutrient Management), and water management (Water Management), and training staff on effluent management and rural professional effluent training. Dairy farmers are also represented by Federated Farmers Dairy. Other industries such as Irrigation New Zealand also provide useful information and support on irrigation matters to dairy farmers with irrigation.

Your focus

Apart from choosing dairying as a lifestyle farm profitability and environmental management should be the key factors to sustain dairying and New Zealand economy. To maintain or improve profitability, performance of dairy cow, pasture and soil is crucial for which nutrients (including effluent), water, soil conditioners (e.g. lime), supplementary feed are key components. Long-term profitability also improves with energy efficient practices.

Water and land have to be managed to avoid or minimise any damage. In terms of water quality, the main contaminants of focus should be nitrogen, phosphorus, faecal bacteria and sediments. The challenge is to minimise nitrate leaching from urine patches and minimising phosphorus, faecal bacteria and sediment runoff and efficient utilisation of farm dairy effluent.

Therefore as a a dairy farmer your main focus should be efficient, effective and proactive management of

  • Profitability
  • Nutrients
  • Effluent
  • Soil/river bed & banks
  • Water
  • Stock
  • Pasture/feed and
  • Energy