Changes to the world climate resulting from greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity pose an acute threat to civilisation. Under the Paris Agreement, New Zealand is committed to playing its part in reducing emissions so that global temperatures do not increase by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels. Domestically, the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act 2019 requires New Zealand agriculture to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
In October 2019, government agreed to work with the primary sector (including DINZ) and Māori to equip farmers and growers with the knowledge and tools they need to reduce emissions, while continuing to sustainably produce quality food and fibre products for domestic and international markets.
This work involves designing a practical and cost-effective system for reducing emissions at the farm level by 2025. It also includes designing an appropriate farm-level pricing mechanism. More detail of this work can be found at hewakaekenoa.nz
Since 2003 DINZ has:
- Invested in the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium and Pastoral Genomics Research Consortium, both of which have development of emissions-reducing pastoral technologies (including forages) as key goals.
- Funded work into determining the greenhouse gas emissions of venison throughout its lifecycle from production to waste disposal in a European restaurant (or 'carbon footprint') to provide insights into the areas with the greatest scope for emissions reductions.
DINZ is also investing in mechanisms to encourage improvement in industry-wide productivity, since producing more venison or velvet from the same amount of feed also produces fewer emissions per unit of output. However, this assumes that farmers have the technology, tools and opportunity to make changes in response to the price signals.
DINZ commissioned AgFirst Manawtu-Whanganui in August 2019 to visit and interview four deer farms of varying sizes, production focus, climate and topography to assess their emissions, mitigation options and existing carbon storage. These same farms were re-visited in 2021 and the financial impact of pricing emissions was examined under three pricing approaches (NZ Emission Trading Scheme, farm-level levy or processor-level levy).
Farm characteristics (in 2019) were as follows:
|Farm 1||Farm 2||Farm 3||Farm 4|
|Description||East Coast North Island moderate hill||East Coast North Island flat to steep hill||South Island high country||South Island flat to rolling|
|Focus of farm system||Velvet||Breeding and finishing||Breeding and finishing||Venison|
|Total farm area (ha)||332||740||4374||797|
|Stock units (SU)/grazed ha||10.9||8.7||3.0||18.7|
|Annual Emissions (tonnes CO₂-e per year)||1365.3||
|Methane Emissions (kg CO₂-e per hectare per year)||3090||2043||885||4303|
|Nitrous Oxide Emissions (kg CO₂-e per hectare per year)||1021||552||266||1104|
|Annualised carbon sequestration by trees (kg CO₂ per hectare per year)||288||1602||82.3||1107|
He Waka Eke Noa has developed guidance for farmers on developing farm plans designed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adapt to climate change.
The farm plan approach recognises that decisions about how to reduce GHG emissions and adapt to a changing climate are for individual farmers to make. The guidance, which includes scientific input from AgResearch and NIWA, also provides information on how actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions may assist farms to improve water quality by reducing contaminant leaching and run-off.
Greenhouse gases: Farm Planning Guidance, is the March 2022 update of guidance first published in 2020. It is intended to help farmers and their advisors incorporate the management of greenhouse gases into farm planning, by understanding their emissions profile and what contributes to it, exploring opportunities to reduce it, and keeping good
farm records. He Waka Eke Noa and DINZ aim to help all deer farmers develop a written plan to measure and manage their GHG emissions by 2025.
2021 Study key findings
- On-farm emissions could be reduced by 0.07% to 0.42% through changing stocking policies or 3.73 to 8.51% by changing land use and decreasing stock numbers.
- An on-farm levy impacted profitability from +13% to -14% (where one farm received income from sequestration).
- A processor levy impacted profitability from +15% to -15% (where one farm received a benefit back to them for sequestration).
- The NZETS processor-level levy impacted profitability from -0.4% to -17% based on 2025 carbon pricing and a 95% free allocation of farm emission credits.
- The GHG calculators assessed in the study varied significantly in their complexity and in their calculations of GHG emissions and sequestration. Some calculators are considerably more complex to use than others and require more time and data input. The emissions calculated ranged from 8.6% difference between tools for one case study, to 27% difference for another. There was also a large range in their calculations of sequestration.