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Milk and Money: Why we may not need need cows to make milk

Milk and Money: The True Cost of Dairy in Aotearoa is a six-part series exploring the dairy industry’s impact on the community, economy and environment of Aotearoa, and considering what a sustainable future for the industry could look like. 

Episode 6: Journalist Baz Macdonald speaks to vet and agricultural consultant Alison Dewes Watch now >

Rotorua Planting - Lower Nitrogen, Land Use Change

Great to trial a paper pot trial for native establishment on my block - We are looking at how we establish natives at a lower cost, faster, and more successfully, this trial will aim to have lower costs of establishment, to help farmers make change for good - easier.

Alison Dewes Appointed a NEXT Foundation Fellow....

NEXT Fellows

NEXT Foundation has launched an inaugural fellowship programme.
The fellows, who will be supported for a year, will undertake research in two of NEXT’s investment focus areas, the first 1,000 days of life, and healthy rivers.
All of the fellows NEXT selected are current and future leaders in challenging areas of education and the environment. They are keen to develop further their understanding of the concepts of strategic philanthropy and its potential to catalyse system change in these critical areas,” says NEXT environmental director Jan Hania.
“They are a diverse group and all show a common passion and ambition to make New Zealand a better place for our land and our people – so clearly align with NEXT’s vision to make our country better for future generations.”

This is a recent talk about the way we need to support farmers, understand the challenges, and look towards transformational change. Part of this is understanding the system we are running now, why it hasn't adapted with the times, and why, our farmers need support for transformation. First we need to admit the world is changing, second we need to understand that we have TOOLS for change, and lastly, we need to help farmers with great data and models, to understand scenarios for change. Our Tipuwhenua team, do exactly this.

Tipu Whenua across NZ

Alison Dewes appointed to the Health Research Council

Alison was appointed to the HRC board in 2019

River Voice award for Compelling Public Commentary 2019

NZ River Voice Award: The Reo mō te Awa (River Voice) Award for an individual who has the raised the profile of rivers through compelling public commentary went to Alison Dewes. See her story here:

You can’t be a kaitiaki from a distance

E-Tangata - Nov 11, 2018. Mountains to Sea is a new book about New Zealand’s freshwater crisis. It is edited by Mike Joy, an outspoken freshwater scientist and policy researcher, who has brought together kōrero from 10 authors looking at what has gone wrong with te wai o Aotearoa, and how to fix it. Read more>>>

More Action - Fewer Reports - We need change.

Farmers Weekly 29 Nov 2019:

New research proving dairy farms can cut nitrogen and gas losses is welcomed by rural consultants but they say farmers now need strong leadership to help make the required changes. While the recent AgResearch work is valid, a decade down the track there should have been more progress made on farms to have changes in place. “We did that Waikato study a decade ago and no action was taken from it. “It showed it was possible to drop stocking rates and make major reductions in nitrogen losses while also improving profit, yet that report disappeared.”Dewes is now working with Pamu applying some of her own modelling that aligns closely with the AgResearch findings. That includes lowering stocking rates on lighthouse farms owned by the state-owned enterprise in sensitive catchments or where more intensive winter grazing is practised.

Allen said the AgResearch outcome relies heavily on farmers getting a value-add premium of 26% for producing in a carbon-neutral manner.
“You would have to ask though to show me the money. If farmers can really get a 26% premium I think you will find they will be stepping up. But getting those premiums is not always that easy.” 
He is also concerned lowering stocking rates, a common to all the research, will affect farm management.
“This particular study is reducing cows from 2.9 a hectare to 2.4. If you now have half a cow a hectare less how do we maintain pasture quality through spring as effectively? 
“It is an old adage that it’s easier to run a farm that is overstocked than when it is understocked.”

Experts dispute river claims

AgriHQ 11 October 2016 - Freshwater scientists, ecologists and iwi are disputing claims the Waikato River is in robust health with little benefit to come from the Healthy Rivers plan. Professor Jacqueline Rowarth told a group of farmers in Pukekohe that phosphorus levels in the river were good, nitrogen leaching was at normal levels and neither nitrogen nor phosphorus would kill them.  Rowarth also said the key indicators for Waikato water health were moving in the right direction.... But farm consultant and vet Dr Alison Dewes said the trend lines for the Waikato River reflected a continuing decline in quality and one taking decades to play out. Read more>>>

It might be time to think in different ways

Herald - 10 June 2017....According to one veterinarian, farmer and ecologist, agriculture needs a paradigm shift towards optimising wellbeing. Dr Alison Dewes, who spoke at the recent water symposium in Havelock North, said as health professionals there was a responsibility to safeguard people, animals and ecosystems for present and future generations. Read more>>

Landcorp manager sings praise of environmnental reference group - 30 May 2017... Working with controversial environmentalists have been a 'great experience', Landcorp manager Phil McKenzie says. Now moving on after 36 years with Landscorp, McKenzie said the relationship with its forthright critics was a model that worked for New Zealand's largest farmer. Read more>>

Pipi beds in Waiotahe under pressure

Native Affairs - 16 May 2017... Ancient pipi beds near Ōpōtiki have sustained locals for around a thousand years. But they've been poisoned by E.Coli five to twenty times the acceptable levels for eating.  Watch the video>>

Farmers 'dead keen' to do the right thing....

Radio New Zealand - 10 May 2017... A group of farmers near Whakatāne are working with the regional council to try and improve water quality by changing the way they farm. 

Agribusiness consultant Ailson Dewes has gathered about 15 dairy farmers on behalf of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council to understand more about how their farming systems can impact water quality. Read more>>

Have we gone too far down one track?

Pure Advantage - 4 April 2017 ..It could well be the time for New Zealand to rethink our 150-year trajectory of milk growth.  Read more>> 

New public health risk from cows as new leptospirosis strain discovered

NZ - 28 March 2017... A strain of leptospirosis not covered by the existing animal vaccine is re-emerging in high levels with the potential for human infection a huge public health concern. Read more>>

Farming smart: moving from volume to value

Radio New Zealand - 15 March 2017
It has long been the mantra that New Zealand farming needs to move from volume to value.
And now with ecological limits being reached, and exceeded, as the result of intensive land use – in particular dairy farming – and often on unsuitable soils, are the economic and environmental arguments sufficiently compelling to change how we farm? Read more>>

Sustainable Solutions

VetScript - February 2017
The growing environmental regulatory pressure faced by farmers will create opportunities for veterinarians to offer advice that goes well beyond animal-related issues. Eloise Gibson reports on a new vet-led consultancy that is helping farmers to lift their sustainability game. Read more>>

Nitrogen Fund in Rotorua assists farmers in the catchment

NZ Herald - 14 December 2016

Rotorua farmer Alison Bentley has been awarded $50,000 to trial two new hazelnut varieties not currently grown commercially in New Zealand, which have a potentially much shorter lead time to production. 
"Ms Grayling said other work being funded included growing manuka for essential oils and honey production; developing a land development resource guide bringing together land-use information from a wide range of organisations and individuals; Tipu Whenua, a land-use advisory company that will coach several farm owners to reduce nitrogen loss by 20-40 per cent while improving business resilience and profit; and a video project featuring Rotorua farmers providing advice about good nutrient management practice." Read more>>

One Health in Action

VetScript - October 2016

RECENT EVENTS IN Havelock North are a wake-up call for New Zealand. The water contamination incident is merely the tip of the iceberg, highlighting the important role we veterinarians have at the intersection of animals, humans and the environment and also the many challenges we face as One Health professionals. We are all connected, and we all have a key role to play in the solution. Read more>>

Same Message, Different Sides

Farmers Weekly - October 2016.. Moving from the world of small animal care to environmental care puts B+LNZ's new North Island environmental policy manager Corina Jordan firmly in the spotlight as the sector responds to regional environment plans.  Read more>>

A One Health water challenge in NZ...

The Listener - October 2016... Havelock North has had one of the largest outbreaks of water-borne disease in the developed world, which is raising red flags around the country. Read more>>

Healthy Rivers Plan not so healthy?

Farmers Weekly - 13 October 2016

Freshwater scientists, ecologists and iwi are disputing claims the Waikato River is in robust health with little benefit to come from the Healthy Rivers plan.
Read more>>

Point of View

May 2016
Mark Leishman discusses with Alison about how Tipu Whenua can help farmers adapt to change. Watch the video>>

Effluent Issues Divide Experts

NZ Farmers Weekly - 11th April 2016
Critics of Canterbury groundwater mamangement are at an impasse with Federated Farmers and Irrigation New Zealand over the impact intensive livestock farming has in the region on human health. Read more>>

One Health Challenges to People....

NZ Farmers Weekly - 4 April 2016...Rural communities face public health risks from intensive dairying on the Canterbury plains, medical officer of health Dr Alistair Humphrey says. Read more>>

Farmers need business certainty to plan ahead - 11 March 2016...Often contrasting messages are being delivered to dairy farmers on growth, climate change and nutrients by the Government, says leading agri-ecologist Alison Dewes. Pat Deavoll talks to Dewes and economist Peter Fraser, on the pitfalls of the dairy industry. Read more>>

Landcorp looks at alternatives to dairy conversions - 7 March 2016...Environmental and financial pressures have forced Landcorp and Wairakei Estates owners to abandon contentious forest to dairy conversions. Read more>>

Milk Tanks

Listener - March 2016...How has an industry that enriched the economy with "white gold" been dealt such a body blow by global milk prices? Read more>>

Changes to dairy systems for valued returns

Sollus NZ - 29 February 2016
By 2025 New Zealand could have a dairy industry that is emitting 25% less green house gases, 40% fewer pathogens and nitrogen, and earning 60-100% more profit. It will be an industry that can pride itself on being the "farmers' market for the global village."Read more>>

Changes to dairy systems for valued returns

Scoop Business - February 2016...By 2025 New Zealand could have a dairy industry that is emitting 25% less green house gases, 40% fewer pathogens and nitrogen, and earning 60-100% more profit. It will be an industry that can pride itself on being the "farmers' market for the global village." Read more>>

Landcorp forges accord with diverse group of thinkers

Landcorp has formed a national group of five critics to address issues that were concerning the public. What a brave move by New Zealands biggest farmer - this is called "mature and intelligent discussion"

I endorse Landcorp for doing this - it is the only way we will bridge the gap in NZ and move forward.

Read more>>

Support for Landcorp

October 2015...Expert group supports Landcorp in putting environment first. Read more>>

Learning to farm within limits

VetScript - August 2015
Farming systems consultant Alison Dewes believes veterinarians have an important role to play in helping farmers work within their environmental constraints. She is a fourth-generation farmer and second-generation veterinarian, helping design farm systems to keep clients ahead of changes that are starting to limit the way they operate.Read more>>

Alison Dewes - Named Finalist - Women of Influence - 2015

The finalists for the Women of Influence awards for 2015 have been announced. Read more about the 2015 Women of Influcence Finalists>>

Rivers of Gold - The Listener

The Listener - May 2014
Recipe for prosperity: take flat land, skilled farmers, fertiliser and cows. Add cheap water. Fold in new tech­nology, lashings of debt and permissive environmental rules. Voila! In a decade or two you have a thriving district with next-to-no unemployment, a rising population and a rate of economic growth almost twice the national average.Read more>>

How do we farm within our ecological health limits? (Rotorua 2014)

Rotorua - Te Arawa Lakes - Farming Within Limits - Science Presentation 2014. View presentation>>

Tipu Whenua Chats

A range of interviews over early 2016 sometimes stating confronting facts on agriculture, irrigation and debt. But if we fail to address the facts, how can we solve the problem.

Einstein: "If I had an hour to solve a problem - I would spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions".

Midday Rural News

10 May 2017

Something NZ could do smarter....

26 April 2017

Midday Rural News

24 April 2017

Water fools? Sacred pipi beds polluted?

13 April 2017

Waterways report misses key concerns - consultant

15 March 2017

Farming smart: moving from volume to value

8 March 2017

Why is palm kernel use declining on farms?

7 February 2017

Has diary reached its capacity?

1 September 2016

Don't blame birds for bad water, minister told

24 August 2016

E coli test 'not thorough enough' for health

23 August 2016

Monitoring tool gives false sense of security - ecologist

28 March 2016

Growing capital gains on the farm

17 March 2016

How environmentally friendly are irrigation dams?

17 March 2016

Rural News

25 February 2016

Dairy industry's $38b debt problem

25 February 2016

How long will the banks stick with dairy farmers?

23 February 2016

Is it time to face farming facts?

12 October 2015

Landcorp forms environmental advisory group

12 July 2015

Insight for future financial stability

29 May 2015

Struggling farms could go offshore - analyst

29 May 2015

Warnings over dairy foreclosures

14 May 2015

Scientists Speaking Out

13 May 2015

Alison Dewes discussing her experience

13 May 2015

RB warning on high dairy debt

13 May 2015

Consultant says debt levels among farmers are a worry

12 May 2015

Dairy warning comes too late - consultant

16 April 2015

Has NZ lost its dairy production edge?

31 March 2015

Can science fix the diary debate?


Can we say what we really think in NZ?

28 August 2014

Risks to water quality limits - report

28 August 2014

Two major rivers set to breach new water quality bottom lines

23 April 2014

Imported feed a risk committee hears

17 April 2014

Concern over damn nitrogen restrictions

7 January 2014

Outspoken: Dairy Farming

6 December 2013

Land and water plan doesn't go far enough - critics

13 February 2013

Blind push for production brings risk - consultant

12 October 2012

Tomorrow's Farms Today

Tipu Whenua Videos

Challenging Interface NZ Agriculture & Water

Sky - Country TV - Interview by Mark Leishman

Rural Delivery 2015 Rex Butterworth

The importance of farm analysis financially and environmentally

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