Rural News Group - NZ farmers world leaders in water, soil management

New Zealand dairy farmers could lead the global move to new production systems that deliver twice the food from half the water and soil, according to Australian science author Julian Cribb.

“Kiwi farmers are world leaders in the wise management of water, soil and nutrients,” says Cribb, who will speak at the DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum on May 8-9 in Hamilton. 

“They are well-placed to lead new food production systems that use less water and soil than they do today – yet produce twice the food.”

He will discuss worldwide water shortages at the DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum and says the big opportunity for New Zealand’s dairy sector is to produce dairy foods sustainably, efficiently manage land and water – and also market the knowledge internationally.

“Worldwide, farmers are in a ferocious battle for water – a fight they often lose,” says Julian. “By 2060 it is likely we will have to double world food availability – but with half the water available today. As any Kiwi farmers knows, that’s a very tall order.”

Cribb predicts that coming decades will see a transformation in food production systems worldwide, both on the farm and in cities.

“There will be a boom in local food production – in the cultivation of thousands of novel crops, recycling of water and nutrients in cities, the exploitation of soil microbial activity and carbon farming, in the development of new, climate-proof production systems and the design of novel foods and diets.”

He says New Zealand and Australia have long been leaders in food and agriculture, and now have a chance to lead the transition to a sustainable system which wastes nothing and causes no damage, but delivers a diet more diverse, safe, healthy and sustainable.

At the DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum at Mystery Creek, Cribb will join other leading speakers including the Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor and Minister for Climate Change James Shaw.

Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon has also been announced as a keynote speaker on Tuesday afternoon (May 8).

Additional speakers include dairy sector leaders Tatua chair Stephen Allen, Fonterra chair John Wilson, Open Country Dairy chief executive Steve Koekemoer, Westland Milk Products chief executive Toni Brendish and Miraka chief executive Richard Wyeth. 

Economist Cameron Bagrie, futurist Roger Dennis and mental health campaigner Mike King are also presenting.

The DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum is a biennial event which brings together political and economic views, and discusses sustainable farming, future food and farm practices.

It is expected to attract over 700 farmers and will also discuss how the new sector’s strategy, Dairy Tomorrow, will be achieved.

Day one looks at what is driving change in the global markets, the changing political environment, the implications for New Zealand dairying and how the sector can adapt. 

On day two,the focus shifts to the farm, looking at new technologies and techniques to help farmers respond to the sector’s challenges and opportunities, along with tips, tools and advice for boosting farm businesses. Farmers can choose from eight workshops.

The DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum is free to levy paying dairy farmers and their staff.