Bush Telegraph - 2021-10-11


Number crunching equals stress


Sally Dryland President Tararua Federated Farmers

Farmers should be congratulated. Not only do we produce great products, but we are also constantly evolving our farming businesses. Here’s a challenge for all of us, both farmers and urban residents, do you know your numbers? No longer are we talking about phone numbers instead it’s our Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) numbers. Dairy farmers know their numbers 100 per cent — more on that next week. For sheep and beef farmers the journey is just beginning with the release of a GHG calculator from Beef and Lamb in July. This resource has been funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership. It isn’t easy getting folk together in school holidays and at lambing/docking time. Congrats to the 40-plus Tararua Silver Fern Farmers from Pahiatua and Norsewood who took a half-day off farm this week to learn more at local workshops. It’s expected 1500 will attend these workshops run by Beef and Lamb and SFF in the next few weeks. Why is knowing our numbers worthwhile? Is it important to know where we are at now? Can we manage what we can’t measure? So many questions. Projected impacts of climate change most notably for Tararua include heat stress for animals and an increase in annual pasture production (but a change to the pattern of growth). How might local farmers need to adapt? Maybe having more cattle rather than sheep will help prevent feed going to waste and possibly reduce pasture bugs becoming more prevalent? Back to the numbers. The easy bits are entering your farm stats — ha, stock, fertiliser use etc. The tricky bit for some of us was adding up all the woody vegetation — areas of bush, shelter belts, kahikatea, totara on our farms. Would be good if Ministry of Environment (Mfe), Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI), or Minister Parker also came out in support of acknowledging these forms of woody vegetation and thus encouraged development and protection of these often very special areas on our farms. Seriously, some positive encouragement would go a long way. He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) is an opportunity for industry groups to come up with something we can make work — part of which is that we as farmers all learn our numbers by the end of 2022. The Government alternative is most likely taxing all producers at a flat rate at the processors? Every farmer needs to do their figures once by the end of 2022 for this HWEN target to be achieved. As a simple example. Our farm is 240ha of hill country. We have 58.5ha (25 per cent of farm) in woody vegetation — some fenced, some not (19.2ha forestry, 18.6ha bush, 20. ha of poplar poles). Our stock and fertiliser use emit 794 tonnes of carbon and we have vegetation offsets of 780 tonnes. In our business we have a 14 tonne liability. The challenge, having now measured our emissions, will be to devise a plan to see if we can become carbon neutral. Maybe it’ll make the meat we produce taste better? Measure = Manage or in today’s world is it Measure = Marketability. Please make contact if you would like to learn more. 027 4238997.


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