A minister’s remark that the intensification of dairy farming can’t go on is decades too late – says ecologist Mike Joy.
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said there was a limit to how many dairy cows New Zealand could handle and the industry’s future would rely on increasing the value rather than the volume of exports.
A landmark report from the Ministry of the Environment released yesterday highlighted 69 percent increase in dairy cattle numbers between 1994 and 2015.
The report found freshwater biodiversity was declining and 72 percent of native fish were threatened or at risk of extinction – as were about a third of freshwater plants and invertebrates.
Nutrients from rural and urban waterways were a growing problem and the report showed nitrogen was getting worse in more than half the country’s monitored rivers.
Freshwater ecologist Mike Joy said he had been calling for an end to dairy intensification for more than two decades.
He said some farmers were trying to reduce the harm but more cows were still being put on the land – increasing the amount of nitrogen and fertiliser.