13 Feb 2013

Blind push for production brings risk - consultant

7:00 am on 13 February 2013

A Waikato agricultural consultant says the dairy industry's focus on more cows, more milk and ever-more production does not equal more profit for all farmers, and in fact, it puts some at a lot more risk.

Alison Dewes, an agricultural consultant for Headlands Consultancy, spoke to a Massey University workshop this week which looked at pollution solutions for rivers.

She says it's critical that if agricultural businesses are to perform to their best, the farmers involved need to understand the different environmental conditions in which they're operating.

"Not all soils are equal," she says. A lot of the trial work for improved productivity done in the 1980s was done on first-class land and the results did not necessarily transfer to farms on more vulnerable soils.

"If you chase a stocking rate of 3.5 dairy cows on a more vulnerable soil type, you can end up in lots of trouble ... big feed deficits in difficult years,'' Ms Dewes says.