Farmers are being urged to take action now to remain sustainable, resilient and productive in the face of economic and environmental challenges.
That’s the message from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) who will once again be on the ground at the National Fieldays supporting farmers across the country to adopt smart farming practices.
Visitors to Fieldays will be able talk with MAF staff on two sites this year: at the Premier Feature stand where MAF is in partnership with Environment Waikato and AgResearch, and on MAF’s own stand, also in the Mystery Creek Pavilion.
MAF Chief Executive Murray Sherwin says the Ministry’s involvement at Fieldays is about engaging with farmers over the challenges they face both economically and in terms of environmental stewardship.
“Throughout New Zealand’s long agricultural history, farming practices have evolved and changed to meet the market demands of the day. New Zealand farmers are good at what they do and have a proven capacity to respond to changing conditions.
“Now more than ever, farmers need to be drawing on their skills and experience in order to meet the challenges brought about by the global economic situation, climate change and the need to balance sustainability with profitability.”
Mr Sherwin says the Ministry’s focus is to work alongside service providers and the various sectors, to support the uptake of new farming tools and technologies.
“One example is how we are working with our Fieldays partners, AgResearch and Environment Waikato, to demonstrate the practical application of the OVERSEER® nutrient budgets model.”
Overseer was developed by AgResearch, the Fertiliser Research Association of New Zealand and MAF. It enables farmers to see what impact changing their fertiliser and nutrient use will have on productivity, costs and profit.
Visitors to the Premier Feature stand will be able to discuss the advantages of nutrient budgeting and how Overseer can support farmers to manage their nutrient balances and greenhouse gas emissions.
On the MAF stand, information will be available on the effects of climate change, adverse events recovery planning and some practical farming solutions already being implemented by innovative farmers across the country.
Mr Sherwin says: “New tools, new technologies and new ways of farming are already emerging as farmers adapt to a changing climate.
“One of our objectives is to share that knowledge across New Zealand’s farming base and support others to make positive changes as well.”
MAF will also focus on biosecurity issues including the importance of identifying and reporting animal diseases. Animal welfare is also featured, highlighting the responsibility all owners have to their animal welfare needs.
“We are using the Fieldays as a way of demonstrating what practical solutions are available to help the primary sector remain sustainable and viable, and what steps are already being taken by innovative farmers to make positive changes,” says Mr Sherwin.
“The level of success achieved over the next decade will ultimately rest on the capacity of the individual land manager to manage changing conditions through the implementation of new farming practices.
“MAF is a key part of supporting the sectors through this transition.”