Danone teams up to enhance soil health in New Zealand

14-12-2021 | |
AgResearch will work with Synlait Milk and Danone supplier farmers on the project, which will run across ten commercial dairy farms in Canterbury, Southland, and Waikato in New Zealand. Photo: Herbert Wiggerman
AgResearch will work with Synlait Milk and Danone supplier farmers on the project, which will run across ten commercial dairy farms in Canterbury, Southland, and Waikato in New Zealand. Photo: Herbert Wiggerman

Danone is teaming up with Synlait, science provider AgResearch and the Ministry for Primary Industries to measure the impact of regenerative agriculture practices on soil health on farms across New Zealand.

The soil health project

According to a recent news release, this 5-year project will study soil health on 10 farms in Waikato, Canterbury and Otago. On each of the 10 farms, 2 paddocks will be dedicated to comparing conventional practices and regenerative practices, focusing on greater pasture diversity and reduced nitrogen fertiliser use.

This partnership is an example of its worldwide initiatives to support farmers in their transition to regenerative agriculture practices by providing solid guidance based on scientific evidence.

It is also a pioneering step to build new farming models that help mitigate climate change, restore soil quality and secure farmer welfare, all while preserving the quality of New Zealand dairy.

Measure and manage soil health

Earlier this month, agriculture minister, Damien O’Connor, stated on New Zealand’s government website, “We’re contributing $2.8 million to a $3.85 million 5-year project with co-investment by Synlait Milk and Danone that aims to understand how to measure and manage soil health to boost environmental and economic performance on New Zealand farms. We simply cannot take soil health for granted. It’s the basis of our food systems, and also New Zealand’s economic health.

“AgResearch will work with Synlait Milk and Danone supplier farmers on the project, which will run across 10 commercial dairy farms in Canterbury, Southland, and Waikato. In each region the farms will be paired for comparison based on location, soil type, and farm performance. Soil health will be measured within each farm, with one paddock in each managed conventionally, and another using regenerative farming practices,” he said.

Why does healthy soils matter?

Healthy soils improve the natural capacity of soil to sustain plants, animals and humans. However, assessment of soil health on farms is not routinely measured in New Zealand, and so practical tools are needed to help farmers understand the detailed state of the soils and how best to manage them.

As well as on-farm production and performance, improved soil health is expected to benefit the wider environment with improved fresh water and nutrient outcomes, support for biodiversity, enhanced soil carbon storage and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, added the release.

Van Dijk
Zana Van Dijk Editor Dairy Global
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