New Zealand leads the world when it comes to agricultural innovation with the dairy industry alone accounting for over a third of the world’s international dairy trade. Our products feed more than 100 million people worldwide and the industry contributes 25% of New Zealand’s merchandise export earnings. There are 6.5 million dairy cattle in New Zealand and the average herd size is just over 400. A stocking rate of 2.85 cows per hectare is common and the majority of herds are pastoral based and spring calving. Beef cattle total over 3.7 million, sheep 31 million and deer over 1 million. Meat exports are in excess of $5 billion per annum. Horticulture is another major contributor of export funds – with the wine and kiwifruit industry each contributing over US$1 billion. Apples, avocados, olives, onions, potatoes and squash also cover a significant area of land. Our aquaculture industry is dominated by mussels, oysters and salmon. Forestry contributes around $5 billion to the NZ economy employing around 20,000 people. Wood products are New Zealand’s third largest export earner behind dairy and meat. New Zealand agriculture is supported by many industry bodies such as AgResearch that is investing $100 million in new science innovation hubs.
Animals are grazed outside year-round with careful planning of stock intensity and rotation, pasture renewal programmes, cultivar choice and fertiliser application. Weather conditions, soil type and terrain are also taken into consideration.
There are considerable opportunities to modify and adapt New Zealand’s pastoral farming system, which benefits from significantly lower capital and operating costs compared to other farm systems, and apply this expertise to other climates and geographic locations. New Zealand companies are at the forefront of pastoral farm management systems.