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New Zealand’s first zero-carbon dairy farm

Fonterra and Nestlé are collaborating to build New Zealand’s first commercially viable net zero carbon emissions dairy farm.

The dairy companies have formed a new partnership for this five-year project. The project’s demonstration farm is a 290-hectare property that surrounds Fonterra’s Whareroa site.

The farm, run in collaboration with Dairy Trust Taranaki, will examine all aspects of farm operations in order to reduce carbon emissions by 30% by mid-2027. The goal is to achieve net zero carbon emissions within ten years.

Dairy Trust Taranaki will collaborate with Fonterra and industry partners to reduce total farm emissions, including methane. The goal is to use solutions that are good for the farmer, good for the cow, and good for the milk.

The project’s lessons learned and activities will be shared with farmers through open days, allowing them to adopt the techniques and technologies most appropriate for their own farms. According to the companies, the practises must be economically viable and practical, as well as accessible to all farmers.
Developing novel solutions

According to Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell, the collaboration will aid both Fonterra and Nestlé in meeting their greenhouse gas emission targets. “Through its pasture-based dairy system, New Zealand already provides some of the most sustainable nutrition in the world. This new collaboration will look for ways to reduce emissions even further, increasing the country’s low-emissions advantage over the rest of the world.”

According to Hurrell, sustainability is an important part of Fonterra’s strategy. “By 2050, we hope to be net zero. We know that collaborating with others will result in greater gains for both the Co-op and the country. Working with partners like Nestlé provides us with the best opportunity to develop innovative solutions to local and global industry challenges.”

The Fonterra CEO emphasises that the project will also assist Fonterra and Nestlé customers in meeting their objectives. “Nestlé has ambitious plans, and we look forward to working together to discover systems that can assist our farmer owners in building on the already solid foundation they have.”

Nestlé New Zealand CEO Jennifer Chappell stated that the Taranaki farm would build on Nestlé’s global efforts to transform the dairy industry. “Dairy is our single most important ingredient, and our vision is that the future of dairy can be net zero,” Chappell says, adding, “It’s critical that we work with dairy farmers and their communities.”
Greenhouse gas farmer assistance programme

Nestlé currently has over 100 pilot projects underway with partners worldwide, including New Zealand. The company already has 20 farms working towards the goal of net zero emissions. Working towards a net zero farm, according to Chappell, entails considering all aspects of the farm, from cow nutrition to carbon sequestration. “We will share what we learn along the way across the dairy industry, with the ultimate goal of eventually mainstreaming on-farm practises that will reduce the dairy industry’s climate impact.”

Nestlé anticipates that the new project will help the company meet its goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2050, which includes reducing emissions by 20% by 2025 and 50% by 2030.

Fonterra and Nestlé’s collaboration also includes the launch of a greenhouse gas farmer support pilot programme. This multi-year project will provide additional assistance to enrolled Fonterra supplying farms in order to implement changes aimed at lowering their on-farm emissions.

This could include solutions such as better feed and pasture management and increased milk production efficiency. The opt-in pilot will begin with approximately 50 farms and will be scaled up over the next three years.

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