by Federated Farmers New Zealand

Description

When the pandemic arrived in New Zealand, farming could continue even during lockdown periods. However, there have been effects on local towns and cities, especially, small shop owners who sell fresh fruit, vegetables and meat were the most affected, since they closed their shops due to lockdown rules and therefore some product was spoiled. The supermarkets were not affected because they were allowed to continue to trade under strict rules. Traffic checks held up or prevented farmers from getting to some properties, especially when lockdown rules differed among districts. Some animals had to be kept on farm for longer than normal, because the number of workers allowed at meat processing plants was reduced, and also due to the complete shutdown of stock selling at sale yards. It took some time for online sales to fill that gap. Moreover, the situation worsened when a drought hit the country, which made it even harder for farmers to feed their animals because they couldn’t destock to match feed supply. The country’s borders are still closed hence creating problems because of the lack of trained staff to drive planting and harvesting equipment and for fruit pickers.

Among the best practices implemented there are:

  • Online trade.
  • Increased farm planting of trees.
  • Actions to increase biodiversity.
  • Riparian protection.
  • Stock shelter.
  • Researches conducted on sheep flocks.
  • Tools indexes available for farmers to check their ranking for methane and nitrogen efficiency for cows.

Results

Farmers are continually lowering their carbon footprint a little bit at a time, but collectively it starts to amount up to meaningful reductions for the country. Some results from the above-mentioned solutions to cope up with COVID-19 and climate change challenges are:

  • More opportunities to trade online save fossil fuels on travelling to view stock.
  • Carbon farming.
  • Increased Biodiversity.
  • Thanks to research, new Rams were available that have less methane emissions from the prodiginine.
  • Awareness among farmers on the methane and nitrogen efficiency of cattle.

Climate smartness*

The majority of practices promoted in the project significantly contribute to the three Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) pillars, since they are focused on both climate mitigation and adaptation, generating an impact on the profitability of the crops.
It is worth noting that practices such as increasing tree planting and the use of tools for monitoring greenhouse gas emission are largely related to mitigation. On the other hand, practices focused on the use of conservation of water sources increase the adaptive capacity of the productive systems.
Finally, the practices promoted in this project for opening new markets and marketing strategies have had an undeniably positive impact on farmers’ incomes.
It is recommended for optimal implementation of climate-smart agricultural practices to strengthen the flow of climate information to the producers, as well as empowerment as regards the use of this information. All this will make it possible for farmers to make decisions about forage planting dates, the species and varieties to plant, and the place on their farm that is best for planting, the type of management of the animals, among many others.

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*This is done in the framework of climate-smart agriculture (CSA) approach. Climate-smartness in agriculture means understanding impacts of climate change and variability along with the agricultural activity, which includes the planning of what crop to plant, when to plant, what variety to plant and what type of management practices are needed to reduce the impact on the environment (e.g. emissions reduction), maintain or increase productivity (e.g. yields) while increasing resilience and improving livelihoods.