We collect questions from the Farmer Reference Groups and conversations that our partners have with their members. You can talk to your industry representative, or can email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add your questions to the mix for our teams to answer.
As we are building the five year programme, we don’t have all the answers yet, but will do what we can to keep you updated.
Methane (CH4) – Generated by ruminants as a by-product of digestion.
Most CH4 is burped into the atmosphere by ruminant livestock. A small amount of CH4 (less than 5%) also comes from dung and effluent systems. The total feed eaten by livestock on your farm (per kilogram of dry matter intake) is the driver of CH4 emissions.
Nitrous Oxide (N2O) – Released into the atmosphere from dung and urine patches, and N fertilisers. The nitrogen content of feed and the amount of nitrogen applied are the main drivers of N2O emissions, temperature and soil moisture can also play a role.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) – The main driver of net farm CO2 emissions is the area of woody vegetation. Woody vegetation captures CO2 but also releases it when cleared. The application of lime and urea nitrogen (N) fertilisers can also contribute to farm CO2 emissions. Soil management can both release and sequester CO2 and this is under investigation so it can be better quantified.
Energy use is the other driver of farm CO2 emissions. As it is already accounted for under the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme it is not included in your farm greenhouse gas emissions. However, it should be considered when assessing the costs and benefits of reduction opportunities, and to calculate your carbon footprint.
Want to know more?
The AgMatters website is a valuable source of information on farm greenhouse gas emissions www.agmatters.nz
Talk to your sector organisation or an experienced rural professional for more detailed farm greenhouse gas emissions information.
Preliminary recommendations for the pricing system, including recognising on-farm sequestration, will be shared more broadly with farmers and growers by industry partners in November.
In March 2022 He Waka Eke Noa will present recommendations to Ministers.
The pricing system needs to be live by 2025.
The Partnership aims to avoid grandparenting and recognise early adopters and farmers who have already lowered their emissions.
We know that not all farms have the same opportunity to reduce emissions, and one of the principles of the He Waka Eke Noa partnership is to recognise the good work already done.
We don’t expect every single farm to reduce their emissions from current levels.
However, the choices each farmer makes will have a collective impact on Aotearoa New Zealand’s agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, and the first step is knowing your numbers.
Not yet. Wetlands can be a source of emissions as well as storage areas for emissions. The complex biological dynamics of wetlands mean that there is not always a straightforward way of knowing whether an existing, or proposed wetland, will remove significant amounts of carbon from the atmosphere.
Further work Is occurring in this space and wetlands could be included in the future once this information is more available and robust.
While wool is known to hold carbon, the amount held in wool fibre is a relatively small amount. This is why carbon stored in wool is not included in our national emissions reporting.
Wool is only considered a temporary store for carbon since it is often used in products with a short life relative to the long-term consequences of carbon emissions. While some wool products, such as carpet, have a life that can be decades long, it is difficult to track both its storage and breakdown.
These challenges mean that the programme has decided to not recognise the carbon stored in wool at this time. If future information or the context changes, this could be picked up again.
Vegetables and maize use carbon the same ways as grass; in that while carbon is sequestered during the year, it is released again soon after harvest, so there is no year to year increase in the amount of carbon present in annual crops.
Reduced grazing of tussock grasslands can result in the accumulation of carbon in the tussocks. However, there is limited information available on this. Carbon sequestration in tussock grasslands will be further investigated and could be included at a later date if evidence supports this.
No. He Waka Eke Noa is currently focusing on investigating sequestration from on-farm vegetation but grass is not part of it.
While grass takes up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as it grows, it doesn’t accumulate carbon like trees. Carbon in grass is released when harvested or eaten, so from year to year there is little or no increase in pasture carbon.
We recognise that there can be carbon stored from grass growth in soils, which at the moment is a challenge to measure and continually improve soil carbon storage rates within a New Zealand context. Refer to FAQs on carbon sequestered in soil for more on this, and take a look at this factsheet on soil carbon from The Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGgRc).
Yes, but it is unlikely to be recognised within the first stages of implementation. We are investigating whether soil carbon sequestration or prevention of soil carbon loss can be recognised, given the current state of knowledge in this area.
Globally there is significant interest in increasing soil carbon levels to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Monitoring and measuring changes in soil carbon stocks is challenging. New Zealand-specific science is limited, and the costs of measuring farm level soil carbon stock changes are estimated to be very high.
There is also the challenge that losses in soil carbon can occur through farming activities, climate conditions, and adverse events such as droughts, which would need to be accounted for.
While soil carbon is an area of high interest from many farmers, there is a lot we do not know yet. For more information, check out the soil carbon information on the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre’s website.
Yes, He Waka Eke Noa is exploring ways for farmers to be recognised for the carbon dioxide that is sequestered on their farms. In particular, we are looking at how to recognise carbon removed from the atmosphere by woody vegetation that does not currently qualify under the ETS.
You do if you are a farm over 80ha, or a dairy farm with a milk supply number, or a cattle feedlot as defined in the freshwater policy.
In the future, it is possible that smaller farms might be included. We are also looking at other options such as how farms can club together for reporting and accounting. This is part of our development of recommendations on an alternative pricing mechanism.
Right now the priority is having tools and calculators that farms can use to know their numbers by 2022. These tools may be different to those in 2025 used for the pricing system. This work is underway and we will keep everyone updated as we progress.
It is likely that there will be some changes in the definitions and methods that will be used to base the pricing mechanism. This is needed to make sure the pricing system is fair and consistent between different farmers and growers, and this work is underway as part of developing recommendations on an alternative pricing mechanism.
Right now, a variety of tools and calculators are available so farms can start getting a handle on their greenhouse gas numbers.
Differences between models can occur due to more complex, detailed approaches that can capture farm-scale information (e.g. feed types and N contents, dry matter intake, metabolisable energy, animal liveweights, replacement rates), which influences the dry matter intake and N intake. These drive CH4 and N2O emissions.
While simpler models are relatively quick to complete, they rely on national/ international default values. This typically results in a less accurate farm-scale GHG footprint but is useful for generating an estimate of a farm footprint.
Differences also occur in GHG numbers due to different interpretations by users in the supplied input data. In some cases the variability is driven by the quality of the data that was entered.
Our first priority is for farmers to know their greenhouse gas numbers, and understand where emissions are coming from on their particular farming operations. At this stage this variability in GHG results is acceptable. Currently there is no detailed model covering all land use types for the evaluation, so several models are required to support farmers to ‘know their numbers’.
On-farm sequestration (as is currently recognised within the ETS) is included within three of the models (Alltech, MfE and Overseer). Farmax is shortly to release an updated version which includes on-farm sequestration.
A big focus of the He Waka Eke Noa programme is investigating how to recognise other forms of on-farm sequestration that are not currently recognised in the ETS. It’s a work in progress and we are working with farmers, growers, and scientists to find the best answers.
We already have several more organisations who have asked for their calculators to be reviewed. Tools will be assessed over the next three months, including Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s GHG calculator, and tools from Toitū, Foundation for Arable Research (FAR), and New Zealand Pork.
If you have a GHG calculator you would like assessed, please get in touch with us on email@example.com.
These tools and calculators are to help build farmers’ understanding of their greenhouse gas footprint and how they can manage it. Work is still underway to determine how to calculate greenhouse gas emissions in the future pricing system.
Government has legislated that a price on emissions will start in 2025.
Developing an appropriate pricing system as an alternative to the emissions trading scheme with farmers and growers involved, is one of the challenges that has been set for He Waka Eke Noa, along with more information on on-farm sequestration options and how that works in with pricing.
We need to present the pricing system and on-farm sequestration recommendations to the Ministers in March 2022.
If we don’t meet the next couple of milestones, it’s possible that the programme will not be considered successful and agricultural greenhouse gases will be brought into the Emissions Trading Scheme at processor level instead after July 2022.
By the end of 2022 at the latest if your farm is 80ha or more, or if you have a dairy supply number or are a cattle feedlot as defined in freshwater policy. Your industry bodies are here to help you with doing this alongside your Farm Environment Plans.
The He Waka Eke Noa programme milestones are:
*In practice this means a person responsible for farm management holds a documented annual total of on-farm greenhouse gas emissions, by methods and definitions accepted by the He Waka Eke Noa Steering Group.
We are looking at ways to design a simple and cost-effective programme to understand and recognise on-farm sequestration (that is, the long- term storage of carbon for example in trees or soil) that currently doesn’t meet the definition of a forest in the ETS.
‘He Waka Eke Noa’ is a common Māori whakataukī, or proverb which means ‘we are all in this together’. While this whakataukī is widely used, it is appropriate for the Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership because its role is to bring together the groups and people who have a part to play in ensuring sustainable practices in food and fibre production into the future.
The first assessment of tools which could be used to estimate agricultural greenhouse gases has been completed.
If you are a dairy farmer, most milk supplier companies are providing you with a report showing your greenhouse gas information. Here is a link to the DairyNZ StepChange project – www.dairynz.co.nz/environment/step-change/know-your-numbers/.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s farm plan includes a climate change module that will help farmers start to build their plan. Find out more https://beeflambnz.com/farmplan.
In May 2021, B+LNZ is launching a free greenhouse gas calculator that will allow farmers to calculate their greenhouse gas emissions and their offsets through sequestration from trees on their farms.
More detailed information: AgMatters
As part of the commitment made to government by the primary sector last year, all farmers need to estimate their greenhouse gas emissions by December 2022.
If we don’t collectively meet this target, as assessed by the Climate Change Commission, the agreement is that Government can bring agricultural greenhouse gas emissions into the NZ ETS, with the point of obligation at the processor level.
We can’t answer this question yet as we are working on possible pricing options, and as part of this we’re testing scenarios with a wide range of farmers.
We are interested in options that are practical to implement on-farm and incentivise emissions reductions.
We’re also investigating options for recognising on-farm sequestration and how this works alongside the pricing mechanism.
Industry partners are drawing on the expertise of farmers and growers to build this framework. The first farmer reference group conversations were in October around the farm plan greenhouse gas guidance and provided some lively discussion as well as fundamental ground truthing.
Over November the farmers and growers debated the first steps in the reporting, sequestration and pricing themes of the partnership.
Our farmer reference groups come from across the primary sector, and so far include:
You’re welcome to talk to your industry representative directly, or message the partnership at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Talk to your industry body in the first instance.
There is also practical information on AgMatters.
To keep things as simple as possible, the greenhouse gas module will be added to existing farm plan delivery systems, such as processor programmes, fertiliser company plans, irrigation scheme programmes and regional council programmes.
I am a dairy farmer
If you are part of the Synlait Lead with Pride, Miraka Te Ara Miraka, Tatua 360, or Fonterra Tiaki programmes, these will align with the greenhouse gas farm plan module commitments from 2021.
Other dairy company programmes will be modified to include a greenhouse gas module prior to the 2025 commitment.
I am a grower
If you are a fruit or vegetable grower, the Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) Environmental Management System (EMS) add-on can be used for greenhouse gas farm plan module requirements. The add-on will align with the greenhouse gas farm plan module commitments from 2021. If you are an arable grower, the FAR Farm Environment Plan template will be used.
I am a sheep, beef, or deer farmer
If you are a sheep and beef farmer, Beef + Lamb New Zealand will be launching its new farm plan in early 2021 that will include a climate change module to help farmers start to build their plan.
Processing companies are also looking to start to roll out the NZ Farm Assurance Programme Plus programme (NZFAP PLUS) in 2021, that should also be able to be used to deliver on the greenhouse gas farm plan module commitment.
Deer farmers may also wish to talk to the Deer Industry NZ.
I am not in a Farm Plan Delivery Programme
You can talk to the industry body that best suits your farming, or use the Greenhouse Gas Farm Planning template .
I run a multi-sector farming enterprise
Many farmers and growers in New Zealand are multi-sector, growing and supplying crops and livestock for different purposes and to different processors. Some have multiple farms that are spread across one or several regions.
You can decide how your Farm Plan Greenhouse Gas module is best prepared and reported on.
Whichever pathway you choose, please tell the different farm plan delivery programmes you belong to how you will complete your Farm Plan Greenhouse Gas module. This will help with reporting and improving the overall processes.
A quarter of farms will have a written plan in place by 1 January 2022.
The latest you can have a written plan in place to estimate and manage your farm greenhouse gas emissions is by 1 January 2025.
Your sector organisations will have information on their delivery programme and how they will be supporting you through the process. Talk to your industry representative.
We want to make this as simple as possible and will have more information on this next year.
Every farmer and grower will:
Farm planning supports farmers and growers in good decision-making. Our primary sector has committed to a quarter of farmers and growers having a written plan to measure and manage their on-farm greenhouse gas emissions by 1 January 2022, and all farmers and growers by 1 January 2025.
Primary sector industry representatives and government have agreed that a farm planning approach to agricultural greenhouse gas emissions is essential to achieving a net reduction for the sector. Farm plans consider the unique nature of each farm and through this farmers and growers can:
Over time, all farmers and growers will be able to show how you are playing your part towards solving the climate change challenge.
The Greenhouse Gas module has been designed to fit within your wider farm planning approach, including future freshwater requirements.
The Partnership will line up information, tools and support for on-farm climate action with other on-farm environmental actions, such as protecting and restoring freshwater health and biodiversity.
This programme includes collaboration on the design of an appropriate farm level pricing mechanism as an alternative to pricing agricultural emissions through the Emissions Trading Scheme. A price on emissions is one part of a broader framework to equip farmers and growers to reduce on-farm agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience to climate change.