New Zealand is a world leader in research into mitigating greenhouse gases from agriculture and adapting to climate change, according to a recent review.
The independent review of the Ministry for Primary Industries' Sustainable Land Management and Climate Change (SLMACC) research programme found it has triggered new research and boosted New Zealand's understanding of the potential impacts and implications of climate change for a range of primary industries, particularly pastoral farming systems and responding to drought.
MPI director of investment programmes Steve Penno said climate change affected every one of New Zealand's land-based producers, "from farmers, growers and foresters, to the communities that support them".
"New Zealand relies heavily on its natural environment and the primary production it supports. A warming planet poses challenges and unknowns, so it's vital to invest in research to better understand the land-based sector's future operating environment and, importantly, how a country like ours must adapt."
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"SLMACC has contributed heavily towards growing this understanding and enhancing the science capability needed."
"The review found it's creating high-quality research, engaging stakeholders and end-users, growing climate change science capability in New Zealand, enabling international collaborations and supporting researchers early in their careers to build their capability and experience.
"A number of other SLMACC benefits were supported by the review, such as building more accurate knowledge about long-term carbon storage in our forests and providing resources to increase awareness of climate change and practical options for use on-farm."
The review focused on four areas: adaptation, forestry research, greenhouse gas mitigation, and technology transfer.
Adaptation refers to how our farming systems, livestock management, crops, and horticulture need to change to cope with our changing climate. This is an ongoing process that will continue to evolve as the climate changes around us.
Forestry research has been integral to the SLMACC programme due to the information needed on the role of trees, in particular, plantation forestry, in offsetting greenhouse gas emissions to help New Zealand meet its domestic targets and international obligations.
Mitigation research seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, of which agriculture and livestock produce around half of New Zealand's total output. Efforts in this area are based around four key areas: methane inhibitors and vaccines, low emission-generating animals and feeds, reduced nitrous oxide from soil and plants, and farm management interventions.
Technology transfer communicates these newest research findings to farmers, growers, foresters, and other primary industry professionals in a way that can directly influence engagement and encourage lasting change.
The review also considered the value for money of SLMACC-supported projects. For example, its 'Train the Trainer' project delivered workshops to around 400 rural professionals to share information about climate change and how farmers and growers can adapt their businesses to improve profitability under future climates.
The review estimated future profits of $4.9 million across sheep, beef and dairy farmers and orchardists, from the $0.45 million invested into the project.
The review made a number of recommendations, including increasing engagement with stakeholders to ensure materials are fit for purpose to encourage adoption of improvements on farms and orchards and shifting from more research towards delivering ways to reduce the effects of climate change, and monitoring and evaluating progress.
A number of SLMACC research programme projects are showcased in the booklet Investing in Tomorrow. You can read this below, or download a copy and get review reports, including a summary of findings on the SLMACC web page.