Kiwi Face Off, why can’t we work together?

Are we continually playing the blame game to avoid doing anything about it? General public passing the blame to farmers, farmers to councils, councils to government, government to the economy, and around we go again.

A recent article on Stuff talks about how “regional councils are farmer dominated and must up their game or face the axe”, a statement from David Parker, the Labour Party’s environment and water spokesman. A lot of people are hurting by the environmental conversation going on, but it wont go away until it’s moving in the right direction. Let’s hope even then the conversation continues.

“Farmers have an awareness of the issues and are doing their best to mitigate the impacts” – Evan Harding (

An example of this is the Engelbrecht family of East Otago, winning a multitude of awards. One of which was the Hill Laboratories Award, recognising their excellent understanding of soils and nutrient management. They mitigate soil loss through the use of direct drilling on exposed paddocks, and use best practises for grazing forage crops, reducing sediment run off and damage to soils.

Scientific research is continually adding to our knowledge and understanding of both NZ environment and agriculture. A recent masters thesis by Veronica Penny used a novel technique to research the effects of forage cropping on soil transport. Finding that rapid downslope soil transport had a linear relationship with slope gradient on which the crop was grazed (Penny, V. 2016). Improving our understanding of the impacts of the forage crop grazing system.

We have made huge progress. “Consider the longest running soil fertility experiment in the world. In 1850 when the trial started the annual yield of wheat was about 1 tonne/ha. Today the same plots produce 12 tonnes/ha. We look back through time and see the introduction of chemical fertilisers, improved cultivars and better weed and pest control.” – Doug Edmeades (

If we can continue to achieve and reach our goals. Research is continuing, our aims are changing to more environmentally savy production. We will get there if we try, but it will take effort. Communication between parties, science to public, farmers and government needs to continue. Instead of playing the blame game, lets get cracking…


Penny, V. 2016 Masters Thesis

Otago Farm Environment Award Winner – Engelbrecht Family Farm

Environment Southland Water Quality Woes Blame Game

Doug Edmeades: Look back to see the progress we’ve made

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I am a Soil Science PhD student at Lincoln University, New Zealand.

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