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Role Models Could Double NZ Food Production

01 July 2011

NEW ZEALAND - New Zealand could produce enough food to feed around 40 million people if every farm performed at the same level as the most profitable.

This was the view of Ballance Agri-Nutrients Chairman, David Graham, who was speaking at the Ballance Farm Environment Awards annual showcase held in the Hawke’s Bay on 25 June.

“New Zealand currently produces enough food to feed approximately 20 million people. We know our most profitable farms achieve an economic farming surplus of $3,500 per hectare, yet the average farm achieves just over $2,000 and about half of all farms are operating below this.

“To double the amount of people we can feed we must lift our production by working on assisting the bottom half of this bell curve to lift its game.”

He said all New Zealanders can look to the inaugural winners of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy and national winners of the 2011 Ballance Farm Environment Awards, Grant and Bernadette Weller, as an example of best practice being achieved on the land.

“We all know that sustainability and profitability go hand-in-hand, so let’s show the rest of New Zealand just how hard we’re working to protect the environmental and economic future of this country of ours, while at the same time assisting to feed the world’s growing population.”

The Wellers, who farm an 850 ha effective sheep and beef farm in the Waimea Valley, Southland, were chosen from nine regional winners.

Mr Graham said the agricultural sector needed role models like the Wellers.

“Farmers do best when they can see the results for themselves and what better way to learn than from someone who has been there and done that to perfection.”

Mr Graham said helping lower performing farms maximise their nutrient uptake would lead to better environmental outcomes, better growing and better profits.

“Nutrients getting into waterways is not sustainable for the environment or the farmer’s back pocket.”

He also stressed the importance of a whole farm nutrient management approach, with Ballance extending its business to meet farmers’ complete animal nutrient needs from pasture through to supplements to support customers’ growth goals.

“Animal nutrition represents the single biggest opportunity to boost productivity and therefore profit for pastoral farming in New Zealand. We want to ensure that opportunity is easily taken up.”

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