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Will money really grow on trees?

Environment Canterbury today confirmed that Agri Magic’s farm environment plan template meets the requirements of the Canterbury Land & Water Regional Plan (LWRP).

Farmers have been enjoying strategic planning and business management in their heads but the pressure is on to get that planning onto paper.

In a presentation to a sheep and beef farmers field day at Arrowsmith Station AgriMagic consultant Charlotte Glass urged farmers to tread with caution as they make decisions on carbon farming.

Will money really grow on trees?

“It’s a philosophical and ethical minefield and you could go down all sorts of bunny holes,” Glass told farmers as she addressed climate change opportunities and threats for farm businesses.

“Farmers have been enjoying strategic planning and business management in their heads and that’s been fine – until now.

“Now the world is asking for you to get it out of your heads and onto paper.”

There are things farmers will need to learn and things they will need to look for following the Independent Climate Change Committee (ICCC) report in coming weeks.

“If you think life is probably getting a little more complicated then I think you are right. 

“You may have jumped the hoop on taxes but there will be more policy statements in coming weeks.”

Some things will be out of farmers’ control but some they can influence.

“We don’t want to mess around wasting time on things we can’t influence.

“So how much change can we effect in our on-farm systems modelling?”

Modelling shows on-farm systems change will get only 5-10% improvement in greenhouse gas emissions and to do that there is a variable impact on farm profit.

“And you have to be brilliant to even get that and that is not enough so you will have to look at an offset, forestry maybe, but that’s not permanent.

“You could have something very random and diverse like kiwifruit and chestnuts.

“But permanent horticulture is where Government policy is pointing farmers.”

With the carbon price at $25 it will cost $4 a hectare on an average sheep and beef farm responsible for 5% of its emissions.

“It’s annoying but it’s manageable.”

But if a farm pays for 100% of its emissions it will cost $312/ha if the carbon price hits $100/t.

“The key point is every farm is different and if you are looking for strategies to reduce or offset your GHG emission – seek good advice because it’s very complex.

“It’s more about overseas need to understand farm models and strategy and you have to have the desire to do it.

“It’s not a walk in the park and you need to own it yourself.”

Glass suggests engaging some young blood.

“If you are old and tired and don’t want to be bothered by it then get some uni students – fresh minds on the job.

“They need your wisdom – bind the two together and do it. You are going to have to adapt for the future.”

The good thing is GHG legislation should drive more efficient farming, she said.

“Future farmers will need to be strategic and tech savvy to respond to the signals of change.

“We are sitting here on 1% of the world and sitting here on our own because no other agriculture country wants to know about it.”

“The battle is in NZ at the moment – it’s political. 

“If you want to change it, buy yourself a suit and get on a plane,” Glass said.

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Featured in: Farmers Weekly

Written By: Annette Scott