Clean and green means more land for horticulture

10 Apr 2017

By Sue Grant-Mackie

clean

 

Horticulture is part of New Zealand’s clean, green future. And animals not so much.

That’s according to a report commissioned by Globe NZ released last month which suggests in the promising ‘Innovative NZ’ scenario that 1.5 million hectares are taken from pastoral farming and converted to horticulture by 2050. This would mean 1,400% more land for horticulture.

The report – Net zero in New Zealand, scenarios to achieve domestic emissions neutrality in the second half of the century – states that livestock numbers should be reduced, and in one of three scenarios this frees up a total of 3.2 million hectares for other uses, particularly horticulture and trees.

Worldwide there is a movement by consumers away from animal based products, especially by millennials.

New Zealand won’t meet current emissions targets with existing land uses, the report says.

Agriculture accounts for almost half of New Zealand’s total emissions, predominantly from enteric fermentation in animals, highlighting the need to reduce livestock in general by 20% to 35%. Under the Innovative NZ scenario presented in the report, emissions could be reduced by 65% to 75% by 2050 with a movement in land use to horticulture and forestry.

The current carbon price is $17 per unit, however by 2050 the study predicts a medium price range of $50 to $100 meaning increased energy and input costs for growers.

Hort NZ chief executive Mike Chapman says the report’s conclusions confirm what Hort NZ has been saying for some time about the growth and potential of horticulture in New Zealand.

He is however concerned about the increasing price of carbon expected at the extreme to be more than five times today’s price and how that will affect some growing operations. More needs to be done to accommodate these growers, and help their businesses prosper in a low carbon future.

“The promising Innovative NZ scenario supports our policies around land and water use, and food security, as well as our industry profile of inter-generational sustainable use of the environment.

“This scenario is a holistic approach towards sustainability complementing our existing practices.”

The report was prepared by Vivid Economics for GLOBENZ, comprising a cross-party group of 35 members drawn from all political parties.

 

Sue Grant-Mackie is editor of both NZGrower and The Orchardist.

This article first appeared in the April 2017 issues of NZGrower and The Orchardist. For more information or to subscribe, click here.