Lighter farm footprint needed

Agriculture is not only the backbone of our economy, it is also its entire skeleton, says Ballance Agri-Nutrients chairman David Peacocke.

“To support our economy’s growth and our country’s growth, we need to look after those bones.

Producing more with the same amount of land and doing it with a lighter environmental footprint is the agriculture industry’s future challenge.

“That work starts with us as farmers on the land, but it also needs good working partnerships with regional councils and with local and central government so we can increase productivity and profitability and still safeguard our agricultural future,” says David, who shared his message at the Ballance Farm Environment Awards national sustainability showcase last week.

David says the Government’s ambitious goal of increasing exports as a percentage of GDP from 30 per cent to 40 per cent will require a both a doubling of primary sector exports by 2025 and the right response from farmers.

“Achieving this goal would deliver even greater returns to our economy from our agricultural sector than we have now, but we cannot lift exports without lifting productivity and we cannot do it at the expense of the environment.

“So the real challenge is to produce more with the same amount of land and to do it with a lighter environmental footprint.”

David says participating in the Ballance Farm Environment Awards knows this challenge can be overcome, because they’ve done it themselves on their land.

“I know from my own farming practices that there is no single silver bullet for sustainability.

“Rather, it comes down to a range of factors such as choosing the right animal and soil nutrients, understanding your land use capability and the health of your soil, and making the most of the technology available now.”

David, who collected a regional Farm Environment Award in 2004, says he continues to push hard on sustainability on his farm.

The need for a sustainable farming sector is well-recognised by farmers, with the vast majority acting responsibly, says David.

“Urban New Zealanders concerned about the impact of agriculture on our waterways and our environment only need to spend some time on farm to see the effort that goes into taking care of the land and protecting it for future generations.

“Increased awareness of the responsible approach our farmers are taking to adapt to rules and expectations, while providing food for a growing world population, would alleviate those concerns.”


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