Craigmore Sustainable in North Canterbury has embarked on a New Zealand-first trial to eliminate methane from effluent ponds.
The trial is using breakthrough technology to reduce methane on Craigmore’s 400ha dairy farm Glen Eyre in Oxford, North Canterbury.
It is the first commercial dairy farm in NZ to adopt EcoPond, an effluent treatment system that removes virtually all methane emitted from effluent ponds with an additive usually used in the treatment of drinking water.
The cutting-edge technology being used at the 1100-cow Glen Eyre farm is the result of a collaboration between Ravensdown and Lincoln University.
Craigmore’s general manager of farming Stuart Taylor said the company is striving to be a leader in the trial and adoption of new technology.
“Craigmore recognises that farming plays an important role in both contributing to and mitigating climate change and we have an ambition to materially exceed the targets set by the Climate Change Commission through land use change and changes to existing operations,” he said.
Taylor sees EcoPond as playing a key role in supporting farmers to reduce methane and help NZ meet its climate change targets.
“EcoPond is an important trial for us because we are keen to apply innovative ways to the reduction of emissions and minimise environmental impacts.”
Effluent from the pond was tested in May after it had been treated with iron sulphate through EcoPond – and showed a 95% reduction in CH4 (methane).
“This technology is another example of NZ’s primary sector leading the world in reducing emissions and playing our part in addressing climate change,” Taylor said.
“We have several sustainability programmes in place to ensure we strike a balance between respecting the environment and running a sustainable and profitable rural operation,” he said.
By continually improving, dairy farmers are producing 20% less emissions per kilogram of milk solids than they did in 2000.
In 2020, an AgResearch study confirmed NZ dairy farmers have the world’s lowest carbon footprint for on-farm milk production.
Earlier this year, EcoPond became part of the newly established Ravensdown entity, Agnition.
Agnition’s mission is to get innovations on farm faster. The team finds, builds and grows high potential opportunities to solve real-world challenges on farm, predominantly in soil health and nutrient management.
“Deep partnerships with roughly half of Aotearoa NZ’s farmers and growers mean that we can rapidly scale-up innovations to a national level,” Agnition chief executive Jasper van Halder said.
“EcoPond is an important part of the entity’s growing arsenal of technology and innovations that will help quickly deliver practical and sustainable on-farm solutions for NZ farmers and growers.
“It’s great to see Craigmore take a leadership role and demonstrate what can be achieved with EcoPond technology.”
Partnerships and innovation are required in the sector.
“It’s hard to beat practical on-farm use to really demonstrate the EcoPond advantage, and partners like Craigmore show us the future of farming,” Van Halder said.