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It's the future of farming, but not as you know it

The agricultural sector is the single largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in New Zealand, accounting for close to 48 percent of the country’s total emissions. Now Lincoln University has opened its Future Farming Centre in a bid to look at more sustainable alternatives for agriculture and horticulture — methods that include organic agriculture, ecological agriculture, agroecology, and biological farming. 

Launched by the university’s Biological Husbandry Unit, the centre officially opened yesterday. In a lecture held at the opening, the centre's head, Charles Merfield, said that in spite of developments in science and technology, civilisation is still “utterly dependent on agriculture as at any other time in history and there is little indication of the sun setting on agriculture any time soon”. 

“It is therefore as far as you can get from an academic argument, it is one of the most important and practical problems facing us today,” he said. 

Merfield told Radio New Zealand that there won’t be any longevity with the current system. 

"The message is very clearly getting through that we can't just keep on maximising our food production, whether that's in New Zealand or globally." 

The centre has received support from Fish & Game New Zealand, who described it as a “bold step” towards addressing the impact the industry has on our environment. 

It’s a credit to Lincoln University for realising the only future for agriculture in this country is having a sector that is truly compatible with New Zealand’s environmental integrity and ‘100% Pure’ branding,” said Fish & Game New Zealand chief executive Bryce Johnson. 

Johnson said New Zealand’s key overseas markets are increasingly demanding goods that are produced sustainably, something New Zealand has been “slow to cotton on to”.