A study suggests greenhouse gas emissions and nitrogen leaching on farms can be signficantly reduced if farmers improve they way they manage their properties and use available technology.
The study the Motu Economic and Public Policy Research group used data from more than 260 farms to estimate the potential for reducing emissions and leaching.
Senior fellow Dr Suzi Kerr said the research found the best dairy farm operators are getting at least twice the milk production for each kilogram of nitrogen released.
That suggests nitrogen leaching could be reduced by around 30% if all farmers began running their farms as the best farmers do at present.
Dr Kerr said if all farmers operated that way it's estimated greenhouse gases would be reduced by around 15%.
She said it would require a huge amount of improvement in a lot of farms, but the research suggests some real gains could be made.