Relationships between Farm Productivity, Profitability, N Leaching and GHG Emissions: A Modelling Approach

Published: 2011

Authors: Duncan Smeaton , Tim Cox , Robin Dynes , Suzi Kerr

The financial and environmental performance of a typical dairy and sheep/beef farm under contrasting inputs and systems were modelled to test associations between productivity, profitability, nitrogen (N) leaching and green house gas (GHG) emissions. GHG emissions and N leaching were found to be closely correlated (R2 > 0.90) but the correlation between these two emissions items and production and/or profit was less so, suggesting that systems that are both profitable and have a modest emissions output should be possible.

The reasons why farmers have not already adopted these systems are complex but could include any of:

  • requirement of higher level of managerial skill,
  • incompatibility with farm soil type or contour,
  • increased risk and capital cost to convert to the new system.

Any system that involves improvements in animal efficiency is associated with a reduction in emissions per kg of saleable product.

Citation

Smeaton, Duncan C., Tim Cox, Suzi Kerr and Robin Dynes. 2011. "Relationships between Farm Productivity, Profitability, N Leaching and GHG Emissions: A Modelling Approach," Proceedings of the New Zealand Grassland Association73, pp. 57-62. Available online http://www.grassland.org.nz/publications/nzgrassland_publication_1588.pdf