May 2019

Methane Targets and Diets

Much is being made of the recently announced targets for agricultural emissions, with farming leaders saying that they cannot be met without drastically cutting stock numbers.  I have also read that we will need to urgently change our stance on genetic modification because the only way to reach these targets is by genetically modified rye grass that has been developed in a laboratory.
I beg to differ and firmly believe that these targets can be met, and furthermore in meeting them, livestock farmers can be more efficient and make more money.

What our farming leaders should have said is that we cannot meet these targets by doing what we are doing now which is the same thing as we have been doing for the last thirty-five years or so.  That would certainly have been true.

We cannot expect any change if we do not change the way we do things and we must broaden our horizons and look at the exciting new options available.

Certainly, a big part of the answer is to be found in an animal’s diet.  They will perform better on a balanced diet, just like us humans do.  I have already written about overseas research that has found that by the inclusion of plantain, chicory and other plants in an animal’s diet, the animal not only produces better, but they emit less gasses.  I have no doubt whatsoever that there is a very long list of such options which are cheap and sustainable and yet not part of our farming toolbox.  What we urgently need is scientists and distributors to begin seriously looking at orthodox but different options and opening their mind to finding real solutions rather than hoping things will change by some sort of magic.

The role of Fertilizer NZ is to provide food; food for animals and food for humans.   It is our task to provide quality food for both.  For livestock to do well they need to have a balance of protein and carbohydrate.  They also must have a balance of all the nutrients in the pasture. If pastures are loaded up with Nitrogen, then they [by definition] will not be balanced.  This must lead to an unbalanced diet which will lead to stock underperforming.  

Fertilizer NZ has been helping farmers for years with balancing the pasture so that the stock will do well.  As good stewards we must monitor the pasture to make sure that the nutrient status is correct.  It isn’t difficult for us to bring the nutrient status of the pasture back into balance.  It can be done economically and efficiently with great results.

For more information give me or one of our representatives a call and let’s have a chat about solutions rather than problems.

John Barnes – Managing Director – Fertilizer New Zealand