Climate Change Minister James Shaw's recent visit to the Kawaiwai dairy farm showed him how far environmentally friendly farming has come in this country in recent years, and how important it is that it continues to develop.
Kaiwaiwai is one of 370 best practice operations promoted by DairyNZ. It features efficient effluent management, a halving of shed water use, and a built wetland area that processed up to 95 per cent of nitrate runoff - all while remaining profitable.
"They're doing things here to do with making sure that the waterways aren't polluted, they're looking at how do they bring down the greenhouse gas emissions, they are looking at things like generation solar power on farm - a whole range of things to really get ahead of the game," Shaw said.
He suggested that other farms across the country look to best practice operations like Kaiwaiwai for a way forward.
"What you want to do is to get ahead of the regulation, because you know that that is changing, and will continue to change over time, the more you can get in advance of that the less cost it will have down the track," Shaw said.
Greenhouse gases are the primary cause of human-influenced climate change, which is likely to cause drastic changes to food production, coastlines, and weather in coming decades.
Agricultural emissions make up the bulk of New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions profile, but are not part of the Emissions Trading Scheme. This is one of the major reasons the country has seen its per capita emissions trend up while countries like the UK have seen their's trend down.
"The thing that is obvious is that climate change is affecting us, it's affecting farmers pretty strongly through droughts and storms, and that New Zealand has a role to play in fixing that," Shaw said.