Nitrogen Leaching: Med-Low

Sheep and beef farming has played a large part in New Zealand’s economy for the past 160 years. However, over the last decade, there has been a decline in sheep and beef stock numbers of around 28 percent. This compares with an increase in dairy cow numbers of around 26 percent over the same period, indicating a shift towards the higher profitability of dairy cow farming. Over the last couple of years, this rate of change has slowed due to low dairy prices.

With the commodity nature of the sheep and beef products and 90 percent of production exported, the value of the New Zealand dollar and exchange rates play a large part in the profitability of sheep and beef farming.

Within the Lake Rotorua catchment under the proposed Plan Change 10 rules, sheep and beef farming may be a marginal activity depending on livestock numbers and classes, stocking rates and farm policies and processes.

Minimum nitrogen leaching for drystock is considered to be in the range of 15–20kg/N/ha/yr, however there are useful practices that can reduce nutrient leaching on a sheep and beef farm, such as those listed below. The full list can be found at: http://www.farmmenus.org.nz/en/Drystock-farms/.

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Other information on drystock farming can be found at Beef and Lamb NZ: