The problem/challenge: Dairy farmers in Canterbury face the dairy industry’s requirement to develop nutrient management plans for their farm business (Sustainable Dairy – Water Accord). The aim is to reduce the environmental footprint while maintaining profitability.
Key stakeholders: Canterbury farmers, monitor farm network farmers, DairyNZ, Foundation for Arable Research, Beef+LambNZ, agricultural industry (e.g. processors, fertiliser industry, seed industry, Federated Farmers), researchers involved in the Matrix of Good Management project and the Forages for Reduced Nitrate Leaching programme (AgResearch, PFR, FAR, Landcare Research, Lincoln University).
Timeline: In September 2012 Environment Canterbury set up a collaborative project to inform sub-regional nutrient limit setting processes: the Matrix of Good Management. In this project, DairyNZ worked with five other sectors to establish current farm systems and management, define Good Management Practice (GMP), and estimate nutrient loss from these farm systems operated at GMP. The industry-defined list of GMPs was launched in May 2015 and can be found here.
In November 2012 the DairyNZ Lincoln team developed a work plan for the Canterbury Nutrient Management Network, to assist the implementation of nutrient management plans on-farm. A monitor farm network was identified as a promising pathway to improve adoption. Furthermore, key individuals in the region were identified and brought together in an industry advisory group and in a nutrient advisors group. These groups assisted DairyNZ with directing local activities including the Matrix of Good Management project.
DairyNZ and five partners (AgResearch, Plant and Food Research, Lincoln University, Foundation for Arable Research and Landcare Research) submitted a proposal for a programme on Forages for Reduced Nitrate Leaching to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) in February 2013. By September 2013 MBIE announced that the proposal was successful and fully funded. The Forages for Reduced Nitrate Leaching programme started in October 2013. The aim is to reduce nitrate leaching through research into diverse pasture species and crops for dairy, arable and sheep and beef farms. The main funder is MBIE, with co-funding from all six research partners. The programme includes a Canterbury monitor farm network across dairy, arable and sheep and beef, to co-develop readily adoptable practices, and to deliver effective decision and management support and extension of results.
Since then several interviews were undertaken with industry, researchers and farmers to provide background on the perceptions of nutrient management, define the innovation project and select monitor farmers. Terms of Reference were developed for the monitor farm network, and the network had their first meeting in July 2014.
Below: Jan and Grant Early - Farmers, Ruapuna