Farmers in the Lake Taupo catchment are operating under a Waikato Regional Council consent to farm that limits the amount of nitrogen that can be leached below the root zone. The main driver for nitrogen leaching is stock urine, effectively capping livestock numbers. This challenges current farm business models of intensifying stock numbers in response to rising costs. This paper outlines lessons from on-farm nitrogen-leaching trials carried out by AgResearch and Landcare Research. Farming in the Lake Taupo catchment will only be viable if consumers pay a premium for beef produced in a manner that protects the water quality of Lake Taupo sufficient to offset the increased costs of production. While this has been shown to be practical in the local area it may not apply in other areas of New Zealand or overseas. This raises a series of science priorities to support viable farming. Also discussed are the science needs indicated by the Lake Taupo Protection Trust formed to facilitate the removal of 20% of nitrogen leaching from farmed land. Currently science has provided no alternative permanent solutions other than removing farms from the catchment
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 74, Napier, 254-259, 2014
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