Extract from “Smarter farming the answer for waterways” ODT, Wed, 16 Apr 2014
Ciaran Keogh – former CE Southland Regional Council.
To put the issue of further agricultural intensification into perspective, a comparison between the Netherlands and Southland is illuminating. The Netherlands is roughly the same land area as Southland (34,000sq km).
Southland has a population of 100,000 and about 600,000 cows and an annual agricultural production with a value of about $2 billion.
The Netherlands, in contrast, has a population of 16 million and a dairy herd of 1.5 million cows (it used to be 2.5 million but got reduced in the 1980s to contain the environmental damage).
The Netherlands produces $55 billion in annual agricultural and horticultural production. It produces 20 times as much revenue from the same land areas as Southland. It gets seven times the milk production from a little over twice the number of cows.
It does this with very tight environmental regulations, and because of this it farms far more scientifically and responsibly than we do in New Zealand.
It would not be difficult to double New Zealand's dairy production while at the same time reducing the adverse consequences to a 10th of their existing level. There are farms in in New Zealand doing this already, and unsurprisingly many of these are farmed by Dutchmen.
Full article at the Brent Wheeler Group website.