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Carbon Calculator Now Available to NZ Farmers

Media Release
29 May 2008


Carbon Calculator Now Available to New Zealand Farmers

New Zealand farmers will be able to calculate and monitor their carbon footprints from today [May 29], following the launch of an industry-specific carbon calculator.

The free web-based calculator, designed by Lincoln University’s Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit (AERU) and engineering consultancy AgriLINK, is the first monitoring tool of its kind made specifically for farmers. It uses software developed by Lincoln University’s Applied Computing Group.

The calculator determines emissions from livestock, farm energy use, and the use of fertiliser and feed, to arrive at totals for methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide emissions. These are then converted and expressed as total CO2 equivalents. The calculation requires farmers to enter basic data such as farm size, livestock numbers, fertiliser application, fuel usage and their contractors’ activities.

Professor Caroline Saunders, AERU’s Director, says the calculator fills a major gap in the range of management tools available for the typical New Zealand farming operation. It was built as an extension to AERU and AgriLINK’s research into the “food miles” associated with exporting primary produce to Europe. This ground breaking research in 2006 showed that, even when transport between markets is included, New Zealand producers are more energy efficient than their European counterparts across a range of primary product categories.

“There has been considerable discussion among industry groups about the need for a specific carbon calculator for farmers, but to our knowledge none have made it into the public domain,” says Professor Saunders.

“This is a tool which, for the first time, allows farmers on a range of properties to easily calculate their farm’s CO2 footprint, to set a benchmark, and to set targets which they can monitor from year to year.”

The completion of the calculator was a voluntary project for AERU and AgriLINK researchers. The web address is http://www.lincoln.ac.nz/carboncalculator/. There are also links from the AERU and AgriLINK web sites.

About AERU
The Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit (AERU) provides research expertise for a wide range of organisations on trade, agribusiness, environment and social issues. Founded in 1962, the Unit has five main areas of focus: trade and environment; economic development, business and sustainability; non-market valuation; and social research. Research clients include Government Departments, international agencies, New Zealand companies and organisations, individuals and farmers. www.lincoln.ac.nz

About AgriLINK

AgriLINK New Zealand Ltd was established in 2002 and is a member of The AgriBusiness Group.

AgriLINK’s emphasis is on improving clients’ business profitability through more sustainable use of soil, water and energy resources. www.agrilink.co.nz

About the Applied Computing Group

The Applied Computing Group teaches undergraduate and postgraduate degrees programmes in Software and Information Technology at Lincoln University. The Group works in a variety of areas, including web and database development, and graphics, as well as research into the design and usability of computer applications.

ENDS


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