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Tokanui Dairy Research Farm Aims to Lessen Gases

20 November 2009

Calculation of AgResearch’s 200 hectare Tokanui Dairy Research Farm Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Footprint suggests it will be about 20% lower than the average Waikato dairy farm and key data will be measured in 2010 to ensure it is meeting this target.

Please see the video below in which AgResearch scientist Dr Stewart Ledgard outlines the research:

Dr Ledgard says part of AgResearch’s Tokanui Dairy Research Farm’s focus is to work on the science of minimising and mitigating greenhouse gases from dairy farming.

“Our preliminary report sets the benchmark and allows for accurate testing and measurement over time,” he says

“The future of New Zealand dairying and a significant proportion of New Zealand export income depends on doing all we can to increase on-farm efficiency and lower the GHG emissions from dairying and this is an excellent start,” says Dr Ledgard.

The report determined the ‘cradle-to-farm-gate’ GHG footprint for milk production, looking at all impacts of the farm, its inputs, cow emissions and all farm processes

The ‘cradle-to-farm-gate’ GHG footprint for milk production was estimated at 740 g CO2-equivalents/litre milk. This is less than the value of 900 g CO2-equivalents/litre milk calculated for the average New Zealand dairy farm and can be attributed predominantly to the higher milk solids production per cow and per hectare and the lower rate of N fertiliser application compared to that for the average New Zealand dairy farm.

The work in the report involved looking at three dairy farm scenarios and their potential for reducing GHG emissions. These scenarios were no nitrogen fertiliser use, nitrification inhibitor application and no maize silage use.

The world-class research facility is being officially opened today at Tokanui in the Waikato, just 8km south of Te Awamutu.

If it wins the appropriate research funding, the Tokanui Dairy Research Farm aims to:

* Reduce nitrogen leaching from farming systems by 15-20 kg nitrogen per hectare per year by 2020;

* Increase forage productivity by 3-5 tonnes dry matter per hectare per year by 2020;

* Carry four cows per hectare per year by 2010.

Farmers, other dairy industry representatives and locals are invited to the Open Day to see feature displays profiling the science and research being conducted on the farm. There are also industry exhibits from 35 companies and other organisations.


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