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NZ Farming Continued

However, we do have sufficient knowledge, thanks to NZ’s well established scientific and economic knowledge base, combined with substantial farming experience we could deal with those challenges in various ways.

For any farm system to be sustainable, it is essential to establish the carrying capacity and the production and profit potential of the farm. Since any farming would demand high capital investment these days, it makes economic sense to focus on profitability rather than productivity unless the main purpose of the farming is for lifestyle.

One of the key challenges with grazed pasture and cultivated systems is controlling and managing various systems' leakages. Leakages are caused mainly by loadings that are in excess for the processes within the receiving system (e.g. nitrogen mineralisation following cultivation, nitrate leaching from urine patch, effluent ponding during effluent irrigation).

There are financial and environmental benefits in minimising or avoiding leakages. However, with diminishing returns after a certain point there may be considerable amount of efforts and expense required to make a small gain and hence beyond that point there may be little or no financial benefits.

Despite little financial benefits, as a farmer you may have to still continue with or adopt measures to comply with environmental requirements. Having stated this, in most cases financial benefits closely follow environmental benefits, therefore taking measures to minimise leakages in general should be seen as a positive and win-win step.

Given the enormous economic and social benefits of NZ farming and the overseas' clean and green image of our country and our quality products, it is sensible to focus on sustainability. The table below illustrates various export values of a range of farming systems for 2013 in New Zealand.


             Land use                                                  Export value

                                                                                (NZ$ billion)

               Dairy                                                              13.400

               Sheep (meat, wool, carpet etc)               3.500

               Beef                                                                 2.143

               Fruits                                                               1.500

               Viticulture                                                      1.203

               Vegetable                                                      0.600

               Arable (grains and seeds)                          0.360

               Deer                                                                 0.171

               Total                                                           22.877

Of the total export value, dairy alone contributed nearly 60%. While financial forecast for 2014 indicates a reduction of between 5 and 6 billion in dairy export value, dairy will continue to be the big export earner for NZ.