Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search


Carbon footprint research key to on-going success

Carbon footprint research key to on-going success of New Zealand agriculture

AgResearch is the first New Zealand research institute to be involved in the development of Life Cycle Assessment methodology for agriculture.

After almost five years of research, AgResearch scientist Dr Stewart Ledgard will present the findings of his research for the first time at the New Zealand Gasslands Association Conference in Taupo from 13 – 15 November.

The research, which to date has been focused on the dairy industry, has identified an alarming decline in energy and greenhouse gas efficiency in the New Zealand dairy industry – a trend that is seeing New Zealand quickly lose its comparative advantage over the European Union.

“New Zealand farm systems are currently still ahead of those in the European Union when considering such things as food-miles and on-farm energy use,” says Dr Ledgard. “The trend for intensification on New Zealand farms, however, means that comparative advantage is diminishing. We urgently need to focus on improved farm practices and intensification options to reverse this trend,” he says.

The purpose of the research is to increase the environmental efficiency of food systems by maintaining or increasing production, while reducing impacts on the environment.

The methodology focuses on working out the environmental footprint of agricultural products – from raw materials through to on-farm production, processing, transport, use by consumers and waste after disposal. It also looks at ways of improving environmental efficiency.

An environmental, or carbon footprint as it is often referred to, represents the total greenhouse gas emissions over the full life-cycle of a product.

“In a country where agricultural exports make up more than 50 percent of all products leaving our shores for the international marketplace and with a global demand for high quality food, fibre and health-related products, the need to reduce our carbon footprint and conduct environmentally sustainable farming practices is becoming increasingly important,” says Dr Ledgard.

“We are focused on discovering and highlighting to farmers the potential benefits of different management practices and mitigation options – not just with greenhouse gas emissions but also with water quality – our work is about looking for multiple gains”, says Ledgard.

There has been considerable debate internationally around the concept of food miles – the distance food travels from producer to consumer. Potentially this provides a very real threat to offshore market access for New Zealand food products. In AgResearch’s dairy farm studies, scientists have however discovered that only 2-3 per cent of the total carbon footprint comes from the transporting of produce.

Another key finding of the research to date is that 70 to 85 percent of the total carbon footprint takes place at the on-farm stage.

Dr Ledgard is also currently involved in an exciting piece of research in the UK which involves the development of methodology for carbon footprint labelling of produce in supermarkets. He says a primary reason for his involvement is to ensure that New Zealand products are treated as fairly as possible.

While the research to date has been focused on the dairy industry, AgResearch is now beginning to look at the sheep and beef industries to identify problems and devise solutions.


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Voluntary Administration: Renaissance Brewing Up For Sale

Renaissance Brewing, the first local company to raise capital through equity crowdfunding, is up for sale after cash flow woes and product management issues led to the appointment of voluntary administrators. More>>


Approval: Northern Corridor Decision Released

The approval gives the green light to construction of the last link of Auckland’s Western Ring Route, providing an alternative route from South Auckland to the North Shore. More>>


Media Mega Merger: Full Steam Ahead For Appeal

New Zealand's two largest news publishers have confirmed they are committed to pursuing their appeal against the Commerce Commission's rejection of the proposal to merge their operations. More>>

Crown Accounts: $4.1 Billion Surplus

The New Zealand Government has achieved its third fiscal surplus in a row with the Crown accounts for the year ended 30 June 2017 showing an OBEGAL surplus of $4.1 billion, $2.2 billion stronger than last year, Finance Minister Steven Joyce says. More>>


Mycoplasma Bovis: One New Property Tests Positive

The newly identified property... was already under a Restricted Place notice under the Biosecurity Act. More>>

Accounting Scandal: Suspension Of Fuji Xerox From All-Of-Government Contract

General Manager of New Zealand Government Procurement John Ivil says, “FXNZ has been formally suspended from the Print Technology and Associated Services (PTAS) contract and terminated from the Office Supplies contract.” More>>