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Climate-friendly farming: We have the solutions

Climate-friendly farming: We have the solutions

Wednesday 2 December 2016

We have good news for John Key! At the climate talks in Paris, Prime Minister John Key said that cost-effective technologies for reducing New Zealand’s agricultural emissions were not yet available.

However, according to the Soil & Health Association, not only do we already have the technology and the know-how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, but using this technology will also have multiple other benefits for our economy, our environment, our soils and waterways, and our health.

“We already have low-emission climate-friendly farming practices – it’s called organic farming,” said Marion Thomson, co-chair of Soil & Health.

Because nearly 50% of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions come from farming, we cannot continue to ignore this. By moving towards organic and biological farming, we will reduce carbon, methane and nitrous oxide emissions.

“Soil & Health is calling on the government to reinvest the taxpayer money going to the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases, and instead use it to help farmers transition to organic practices,” said Thomson.

“The $20 million Mr Key just promised to the Alliance would be infinitely more effectively invested in growing the organic farming sector. Helping farmers transition to eco-friendly, climate-friendly organic farming will be good for our health, wealth and environment. What’s not to like about that?” asked Thomson.

The organic approach ticks all the right boxes. By farming organically, farmers can reduce stock numbers and still get the same income, because global markets are crying out for clean, green, pasture-fed, GE-free and organic food, and are prepared to pay a premium for it.

Lower stock numbers mean lower greenhouse gas emissions, as well as reducing the impacts on soils and waterways, which desperately need to be cleaned up.

Mixed pasture species including those with high tannins like birdsfoot trefoil can be grown to reduce methane emissions from ruminant animals.

In addition, organic farms have better soil structures and better soil moisture-holding capacity, which will help farmers cope with the effects of climate change that we are seeing already. Organic farms are more resilient in the face of floods and droughts.

Non-organic farms generally use pesticides that are either known or suspected carcinogens, so going organic will also reduce the nation’s health bill by reducing or eliminating the use of harmful chemicals.


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