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Dairy and Sustainability Looks Bright

A recent Fairfax article has provided a very different and encouraging insight into New Zealand as a food producer and the state of sustainability. This is a refreshing take on New Zealand farming which can often be reported as having problems when it comes to the image of dairy farming in particular.

This attitude is in line with Agri Training’s promotion of careers in the primary industries being a genuine and long-term option that can support graduates with strong employment prospects. Some of the statistics produced in the article suggest, “Our pasture-based farming systems have lower greenhouse gas emissions than most of the meat and milk produced around the world.  For dairy, emissions are an estimated 40 per cent lower per litre of milk than the global average.”

More than 80 per cent of the milk produced outside New Zealand comes from cows that live under a roof.  A mixture of food is delivered to penned cows, and then effluent is carted away.

Paeroa farmer Conall Buchanan, stated, “We need to be proud of our pasture-based farming”. Most milk produced in New Zealand comes from animals where at least 90 to 100 per cent of their diet is pasture.  Our total emissions are lower than the global average, due to minimal use of machinery, cultivation, spraying, harvesting, processing, transport of fodder and, subsequently, removal of effluent. “These are good examples of what prospective students need to be made aware of and is also an example of how they will be introduced to farming practice through our programme” says Agri Training General Manager Greg Barnaby.

A large part of the elite education proposal of Agri Training is to ensure students are being trained in ways that can be practiced when they are in their careers and become decision makers in their own right. If students are aware of all the stats that make up the industry relative to sustainability, then a best practice formula can be achieved for the benefit of the industry.

One of the specialist areas of education for students to consider as part of the two diplomas on offer at Agri Training is Dairy Production, which can very easily receive bad press related to emissions. The Fairfax article produces some encouraging news in this area when it sights The Environment Aotearoa 2019 report, from the Ministry for the Environment, which shows that five out of eight water quality attributes show a majority of improving trends between 2008 and 2017.

One key element of Agri Training’s education programme is transparent for industry and future employers as a result of the partnership with City & Guilds who are an internationally recognised education authority. This means what students have learnt and how they learnt it will be obvious to employers. Government will also be able to understand that graduates are bringing very high farming standards to the industry which will assist in the process of maintaining and improving farming practices to ensure New Zealand’s future is strong and remains world leading.