The reductions in emissions on the 20 pasture-based dairy farms over the past five years are an encouragement to any farm that would like to reduce their environmental impact. The most significant improvements have come from increased feed conversion efficiency, a higher proportion of pasture in the diet, and lower N fertiliser application rates.
Production systems that are highly reliant on fertiliser is exposed to high risk and is severely influenced by fertiliser prices. Nutrient circularity is a concept which relates to the efficient use and recycling of nutrients in a closed-loop system. This approach can help to reduce the need for synthetic fertilisers and other inputs, increase resource use efficiency, and support sustainable agricultural and food systems.
Every farmer should assess their system and see where they still have opportunities to improve. This will probably show them whether their stocking rate is too low, too high, or just right. The data in this case study would suggest that very few farms are in the just right category.
Join us for this exciting webinar on the 1st of September 2021.
I am challenging farmers to think differently about how their farm systems are set up, especially in terms of their reliance on concentrates and fertiliser inputs. There is an alternative approach to the current convention.
We are borrowing non-renewable resources from past and future generations to support this one. That is the very opposite of sustainable agriculture.
The take-away challenge is for farmers to assess whether their fertiliser costs are decreasing per pasture produced. Are you growing cheaper pastures?
Animal welfare is certainly a subject about which most people will have something to say. Most people’s opinions are firmly held and are based on their beliefs, culture and traditions, rather than on factual evidence. The broader community needs to understand that animal welfare is a very complex and multifaceted subject which cannot be reduced to one box.
The SWAN system is composed of soil, water, atmosphere and nutrient components. The best way to show how these integrated and interrelated measures reflect the journey of improving agricultural sustainability is to show a case study of a farm which has become more sustainable over the past five years.