NZ science breakthrough helps farmers improve nitrogen loss

Federated Farmers congratulates Hamilton company CRV Ambreed around its work in identifying a genetic variant which reduces nitrogen excreted in the urine of cows.

“This on its own isn’t some magic bullet that will solve everything, but it is another tool in the toolbox that farmers can use in those catchments that have an issue with too much nitrogen in waterways,” Federated Farmers dairy chair Andrew Hoggard says.

The major challenge New Zealand dairy farmers face is that most of the nitrogen lost on farm is from urine patches.

This isn’t the only new science development which is helping farmers improve their impact on the environment.

Added to the work on the cow itself, there is also work going on with pastures that will need less moisture to grow, and again when ingested by the cow will not create as much nitrogen in urine.

Precision agriculture also holds much promise in reducing environmental impacts.

There is extension work ongoing in many catchments to help farmers optimise their farm systems to leach less and make more profit. Projects like managed aquifer recharge, also hold promise to improve those aquifers that have been over-allocated.

“With these gains it will be important that if regulators insist on managing things at a farm level through the use of Overseer, then it will need to be fit for purpose and recognise these new tools that we have and account for them.

“Overseer is an important indicator to help us make informed decisions but is never going to keep up with the changes we are seeing in practice on the ground. Advances such as this CRV Ambreed one, quickly move us from best practice to standard practice and we need a regulatory system that can cope with, and encourage this.

“This will require a lot more investment from government into the science around Overseer and water management,” Andrew says.

“The dairy sector is moving ahead in using science to ensure that we can maintain our vital role in the economy but to also reduce the impact we have on the environment. The solution is more science.”

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