New Zealand dairy farmers may be the most emissions efficient in the world, but that doesn't mean they can rest on their laurels, DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says.
AgResearch analysis released yesterday showed Kiwi dairy farmers had the world's lowest carbon footprint – at nearly half the emissions of other international producers.
While Mackle was pleased with the results, it was time to look to the future, he told the Country Sport Breakfast's Brian Kelly.
"It's a great position to be in but it's a base to build from – it doesn't mean all the work's done. We've got to sustain the success and keep moving forward."
To achieve this, DairyNZ wanted to work with the Government and other industry players, to increase efficiency through investment in technology.
"We need more technology … so we can keep moving ahead."
There were two factors that helped New Zealand's dairy industry achieve the world's lowest carbon footprint; its free-range, pasture-based, highly-productive system, and its innovative Kiwi farmers, Mackle said.
"Our farmers have invested in research for decades, along with the Government, but also out their own pocket, and they use it – they've taken it up. Whether it's genetics, or new species of pasture – those things really do feed into the position we're in."
There were new technologies to lower emissions being worked on now, including feed additives, a vaccine and feeding seaweed to cows, Mackle said.
"They've all got their pros and cons, and it's a matter of ironing them out and coming through with the right technology that does the job."
The dairy industry needed to lower its carbon footprint, as it contributed "a big chunk of New Zealand's overall emissions at a little over 20 per cent," Mackle said.
But there was "good reason for that," Mackle said.
"We're exporting to 140-odd countries. We're [producing] dairy to meet the RDI – the daily intake – of somewhere between 100 to 200 million people around the world."
"So we're not just feeding our five million people … that's why we make up a big part of the profile ... we've got to address that too and play our part."