The goal of the Farm Systems Project was to use farm systems analysis to achieve a ‘win-win for both the farmer and the environment’. This project received funding from DairyNZ and NZ Landcare Trust to carry out farm system analysis for two farms in the top of the South Island. The approach modelled in this project is one that individual dairy farmers can also source directly for their farm. 

The purpose of the project is to find a situation where the dairy farm can produce more profit, with reduced green house gas emissions and nitrate leaching. This is achieved through redesigning the dairy farm system so that changes in marginal inputs such as cow numbers, bought-in feed, irrigation, and nitrogen fertiliser are optimised to ensure that positive marginal economic returns are achieved. When this analysis is undertaken it often results in a decrease in cow numbers, a decrease in inputs but an increase in profitability and reduced environmental footprint.

To model the farm systems the Enviro-Economic Model (E2M) was used. This full farm systems approach combines prediction of animal production from feed energy intakes (farm grown or bought-in feeds) and optimises to calculate the best economic profit.

In this instance, the E2M was used to provide a series of actual farm options to reduce nitrogen leaching and green house gas emissions and to improve profit for two farms in the top of the South Island. The two case studies also examined the use of trees to offset emissions.

We are currently looking for funding to model more dairy farms. Please contact Annette on if you are interested in having your dairy farm modelled using the E2M model.



Dairy cows on a farm - systems modelled by E2M

An interview with Barrie Ridler (E2M creator), Pāmu, and Forest & Bird, can be found on Sarah’s Country (video below).