Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has praised a $26.1 million programme to study pastoral farming called Whenua Haumanu.
The study is being led by Massey University’s School of Agriculture and Environment and is designed to help farmers make informed decisions on the financial and environmental benefits of adopting regenerative farming practices.
The programme will involve several research sites and bring together universities, Crown Research Institutes, and industry groups. Research partners include AgResearch, Lincoln University, and Dairy Trust Taranaki. Additional guidance will be provided by an End User Advisory Group comprised of the pastoral industry, iwi, investment and consumer groups.
The research sites include Massey University’s Dairy 1 farm grazed by lactating dairy cows, Massey University’s Pasture and Crop Research Unit grazed by sheep and Lincoln University’s Field Research Centre grazed by sheep.
Additional monitoring sites are planned on some Pāmu farms and pastoral industry demonstration farms.
O’Connor said the Government has committed $17.6 million over seven years through the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) to fund the partnership.
According to O’Connor, one key aim of the programme is to investigate potential benefits of diverse pastures for grazing animals, as well as regenerative farming practices, as these have yet to be thoroughly studied for the New Zealand farming context.
“Whenua Haumanu will be part of broader coordinated work that the Government is backing to provide a robust evidence base to explore regenerative farming practices alongside conventional pastoral practices in both dairy cow (cattle) and sheep systems. In doing so it will also test claims that many of our conventional pastoral practices are already regenerative,” said O’Connor in a statement.
He said establishing an evidence base of regenerative practices is a cornerstone of the sustainability goal in the Government and food and fibre sector’s Fit for a Better World roadmap.
“Through SFF Futures we are co-investing with others in 11 research projects across the country that are evaluating regenerative farming practices. These amount to a total investment of $54.74 million from Government and investment partners, and further research proposals are being assessed by the Ministry for Primary Industries.”