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Fonterra Takes Sustainable Dairy Farming to YouTube

30 April 2014
FONTERRA TAKES SUSTAINABLE DAIRY FARMING TO YOUTUBE
Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited is putting dairy farm water and environmental conservation in the spotlight with the launch of a series of YouTube videos focusing on responsible dairying initiatives taking place on New Zealand farms.

Entitled Farm Focus, the series begins today and will feature one farm every Wednesday for four weeks on Fonterra’s YouTube channel. The videos will also be posted on Fonterra’s Facebook and Twitter pages under the hashtag #farmfocus.

The four farms featured are from the central and eastern North Island of New Zealand. Each video accounts for one farm and the activities undertaken to protect waterways and natural resources while enhancing the economic viability of a farm.

Supply Fonterra Programme Director, Lisa Payne, says that the Farm Focus series shows dairy farmers working in harmony with the environment and doing so in a financially sustainable way.

“Our farmers are acutely aware of the importance of protecting the health of New Zealand’s waterways and natural resources. They’ve fenced more than 92 per cent of farm waterways and are undertaking a tonne of good work in the area of nutrient, effluent and herd management,” she says.

NOT JUST FENCING

Lisa Payne says the Farm Focus series brings to life the activities outside of fencing that are creating measurable change to New Zealand’s water quality. She says it also shows the vast amount of variables that farmers need to account for when dairy farming sustainably. These includes: fertiliser management, soil monitoring, effluent and riparian management, animal welfare and stocking rates and nutrient management plans, all of which leads to producing high quality milk.

“Sustainable dairy farming is about striking a balance between inputs and outputs. It could be matching fertiliser and irrigation to different soil and grass types on a farm, or lowering nutrient run-off through the use of effluent ponds and riparian planting. Whatever the case it’s a complex exercise,” she says.

Lisa Payne says the work undertaken by Fonterra farmers across New Zealand differs per region and per farm: “You can’t simply transplant what works on one farm to another as there are so many variables in play. What it shows is that taking a whole of farm approach to sustainability and calculating how everything works together translates to environmental benefits and a healthier bottom line.”

The first video features Bruce Woods’ (Whakatane) efforts on water conservation and effluent management.

Keep up to date with www.twitter.com/Fonterra and search the #farmfocus for further details. Subsequent episodes will be featured at https://www.youtube.com/user/FonterraLtd as follows:

DateFarmersRegionTopic
11am, Wednesday 30 AprilBruce WoodsWhakataneWater conservation and effluent
management
11am, Wednesday 14 MayJim & Barbara
Hitchcock
RotoruaNutrient, pasture and herd
management
11am, Wednesday 7 MayNick & Nicky
Dawson
NapierNutrient and effluent management
11am, Wednesday 21 MayIan & Alana ScottTirauWetland restoration and nutrient
management

ABOUT THE FARMERS

1. Bruce Woods, Whakatane (http://bit.ly/S7if7m) – water conservation and effluent management (Wed 30 April)
Bruce’s water management focuses on managing the seasonal ebbs and flows in rainfall. He has three distinct soil types and waters each differently according to its make-up and ability to retain water. He reduces water use in Summer including not sprinkling water in the yard which he estimates has saved nearly 50 per cent in water usage.

He also uses a cow barn up to three hours a day. This is lined with plastic and sawdust and captures effluent over spring and winter thereby lowering nutrient run off into waterways. When combined with the sawdust the mulch is used as compost on the cropping block.

2. Jim and Barbara Hitchcock, Rotorua – nutrient, pasture and herd management (Wed 7 May)
The Hitchcocks, in partnership with their 50/50 sharemilkers, have farmed their dairy herd on 206 hectares of land since 1994. They are grass farmers and graze half their herd of 460 cows off in the winter with brought-in feed. They use the OVERSEER model to manage their nutrient budgets.

They lowered stocking rates and nitrogen loss and upped productivity by continually breeding cows for capacity and maintaining good healthy cows with low somatic cell counts. They manage animal welfare with tight controls on herd and grazing times, and take a hands-on approach to ensuring quality pasture year-round.

3. Nick and Nicky Dawson, Napier – nutrient and effluent management (Wed 14 May)
The Dawsons have reduced fertiliser use and nutrient run-off through a combination of travelling irrigators and pods to sprinkle effluent across pasture with a strong clover content.

They have planted riparian strips on all waterways, have a nutrient management plan in place and monitor and test soil regularly. Their efforts netted them the Ballance LIC Dairy Award and a gold award for effluent management from the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council.

4. Ian and Alana Scotts, Tirau – wetland restoration (Wed 21 May)
The Scotts’ farm sits alongside Lake Okoroire. Six years ago they purchased the land with the lake and surrounding wetlands with a view to restore the area and increase the health of local waterways.

Enlisting the help of the local community, they had more than 150 volunteers help with planting, weeding and maintenance jobs. They removed invasive trees and plants, and installed silt traps to reduce phosphate run-off and a maize field and riparian planting to reduce nutrient leaching.

For Ian, he says sustainability goes much further than good environmental management and it extends to preserving the diversity in everything we do to leave the land in such a way to be enjoyed by future generations.
- ENDS -

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