News 222 views last update:6 Aug 2012

Technology not taken up by NZ farmers

The country's biggest crown research institute AgResearch says New Zealand is not working fast enough to reduce farm-based greenhouse gas emissions to avert the "food miles" threat to exports.

According to AgResearch said that while its scientists are working as fast as they can to find ways to reduce farm-based emissions, farmers could be doing more right now by improving pasture and feed patterns. Chairman Rick Christie said farmers could improve their productivity by 10% by seizing latest technology and simply re-sowing grass with upgraded seed. "So we have got a big problem there, but it's not just a scientific problem, it's also a question of educating farmers to do the right things - once we know what they should be doing," he said.

Chief executive Andrew West said technology was already available to improve productivity or reduce environmental impacts, but it was not being taken up by farmers. The 3% annual re-sow rate among Waikato dairy farmers might have left them trailing pasture technology by up to 30 years, he said.

Get inside the heads
The company employed 15 social science researchers "to get inside the heads of farmers" to understand why they were not seeing value in things like new pasture technology, and to make technology transfer more efficient and effective.

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