Farm Systems & Environment

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We find mitigations for environmental impacts and climate change. We improve dairy, beef, lamb and deer production systems through innovative research on soil and water management, pasture fertilisation and farm nutrients, which reduces negative impacts on critical ecosystems.

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The Farm Systems & Environment Group is concerned with improving production systems through innovative research to create more profitable and sustainable farms and agribusiness. Collectively, our research provides the capacity to understand complex interconnected agricultural issues of interest to both the industry and the public.

Our work includes increasing the understanding of how to reduce nutrient losses to water and greenhouse gas emissions from farming systems. 

Teams within this group

• Farm Systems
• Environmental Research
• Environmental Sciences
• Modelling
• People & Agriculture

Our Team

Alasdair Craig
Alasdair Craig

Science Group Leader
Farm Systems & Environment

Email Alasdair

Dr. Robyn Dynes
Dr. Robyn Dynes

Science Impact Leader
Farm Systems & Environment

Email Robyn

Dr. Tony van der Weerden
Dr. Tony van der Weerden

Science Impact Leader
Climate Change
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Dr. Warren King
Dr. Warren King

Science Impact Leader
Farm Systems & Environment
Email Warren

Dr. Seth Laurenson
Dr. Seth Laurenson

Acting Science Impact Leader
Soil & Water

Email Seth

Dr. David Houlbrooke
Dr. David Houlbrooke

Science Team Leader
Environmental Research

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Dr. Ross Monaghan
Dr. Ross Monaghan

Science Team Leader
Environmental Science

Email Ross

Richard Muirhead
Richard Muirhead

Acting Science Team Leader
Modelling
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Tracy Nelson
Tracy Nelson

Science Team Leader
People & Agriculture

Email Tracy

Dr. Sue Zydenbos
Dr. Sue Zydenbos

Science Team Leader
Farm Systems

Email Sue

SPOTLIGHT ON SCIENCE

Hogget fertility and what it means for farmers

Featuring Dr. Jenny Juengel

Hoggets are female sheep that have lambs for the first time at one year old, whereas typically on New Zealand sheep farms the female sheep first give birth at two years of age. Often the impediments to hogget lambing are the changes required to farm systems, and inefficiencies in reproduction. AgResearch has studied this area of reproduction to better understand it, and look at ways to improve the efficiency of hogget lambing. Principal scientist Dr Jenny Juengel talks through the issues and potential benefits it can bring sheep farmers, including improved profitability and a reduced environmental footprint.

Strategic winter grazing

Featuring Dr Seth Laurenson & colleagues

With farmers always on the lookout out for simple, cheap methods to improve their farm systems, AgResearch and partner DairyNZ undertook practical research to provide just that. This strategic winter grazing research has developed low–cost approaches for farmers to better manage their land in winter conditions. Our scientists say the pick-up from farmers has been amongst the highest we have seen here at AgResearch – which tells us it’s making a real difference. Here the team talk about how they went about it, the methods, and what the areas of benefit are for the farmers.

Sharon the mutant sheep

Featuring Dr Jeff Plowman

Sharon the Felting Lustre mutant sheep has become somewhat of a celebrity since the media spotlight came on in her in early 2017. She was even featured on the BBC!
This rare kind of sheep has straight wool instead of the usual crimped wool, and presents opportunities for our scientists to learn more about the wool structure and how it might lead to new wool products, as well as what it can tell us about human hair.
In this video, AgResearch scientist Jeff Plowman – who has researched these mutant sheep - talks about Sharon and how she is helping add to our understanding.

A new generation ryegrass

Featuring Dr. Greg Bryan

AgResearch, supported by Government and industry partners, is developing a new kind of ryegrass we think could be a gamechanger for agriculture. The genetically modified High Metabolisable Energy ryegrass has been shown in the lab to grow up to 50 per cent faster than conventional ryegrass, to be able to store more energy for better animal growth, to be more resistant to drought, and to produce up to 23 per cent less methane (the largest single contributor to New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions) from livestock. Our principal scientist Dr Greg Bryan talks about the next stage - field testing.
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