April 29 2017, updated 4:36am

Research farm aims to lower carbon emissions

BY CHRIS GARDNER
Last updated 10:32 23/11/2009

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AgResearch hopes to show dairy farmers how to reduce carbon emissions on their farms by experimenting with farm inputs on its new $6.5 million dairy research farm at Tokanui.

Fonterra chairman Sir Henry van der Heyden cut the ribbon at an open day on Friday, on the 200ha farm, south of Te Awamutu.

Stewart Ledgard, from AgResearch's climate, land and environment section, said the farm's greenhouse gas footprint was expected to be 20 per cent lower than that of the average New Zealand dairy farm.

He estimated the Tokanui footprint, of 700 cows on 200ha, would be about 740g of carbon dioxide per litre of milk compared to the 900g average.

Dr Ledgard said the farm's greenhouse gas emissions would be measured next year.

The future of New Zealand dairying and its export income depended on raising farm efficiency and lowering greenhouse gas emissions, he said.

Sir Henry said Prime Minister John Key had stopped ribbing him about the tourism industry being bigger than the dairy industry when dairy surpassed tourism a month ago.

"I sent the Prime Minister a text that said 'catch me if you can.' Usually he texts back in 10 minutes.

"I have still not had a text back."

Sir Henry said demand for dairy products had remained high during the recession because of population growth.

"We have been through quite a difficult period over the last 12 months or so. Some would say it's been the hardest period since the Great Depression of the 1920s and 30s but dairy consumption over the last 12 months has still grown.

"The world population has grown by 70 to 80 million. Over the next 40 years there will be another 2.5 billion people in the world and they are going to want feeding.

"There's no better place to be than dairy production."

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