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.
The agriculture sector is the largest single source of NZ greenhouse gas emissions – about 48 per cent of the total – it needs to play its part in reducing emissions. In October 2019, government agreed to work with the primary sector (including DINZ) and iwi/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
What is DINZ doing?
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.
DINZ also 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.
What can deer farmers can do at the moment?
The Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act 2019 requires New Zealand agriculture to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 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.
Farm characteristics 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|