Ngāi Tahu Farming and Ngāi Tūāhuriri launch ground-breaking regenerative farming trial

Aug 5, 2022

A new whole-farm study aiming to validate the science of regenerative farming has been launched in North Canterbury.

Partnering Ngāi Tahu Farming, Ngāi Tūāhuriri and the Government through the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund, the seven-year research programme will compare side-by-side dairy farms to assess the environmental impacts of their practices.

One 286-hectare farm will use regenerative farming practices while the adjacent 330-hectare farm will use conventional methods.

The study will also assess the impacts of regenerative agriculture approaches on farm workers. This will be monitored through a range of metrics including worker wellbeing, engagement, sleep and fatigue, and task diversity and productivity.

The programme was launched today at Ngāi Tahu Farming’s North Canterbury operation at Te Whenua Hou.

Hon Damien O’Connor, Minister of Agriculture, Biosecurity, and Rural Communities, attended the event along with Ngāi Tūāhuriri and Ngāi Tahu Farming representatives.

Ngāi Tahu Farming and Ngāi Tūāhuriri are thrilled that the Government has committed $8 million of funding towards the $11.58 million programme, which is named Te Whenua Hou Te Whenua Whitiora (The New Land, The New Horizon).

Ngāi Tahu Farming’s representative, Barry Bragg says scientific research on regenerative farming at a whole-farm scale has been lacking in the sector.

“This additional Government funding marks a milestone for us as we can now speed up our mahi towards demonstrating the value of agricultural systems that work with the environment, not against it,” Barry says.

Te Ngāi Tūāhuriri Rūnanga Chairperson Tania Wati says mana whenua are pleased the new programme will continue to focus on restoring and building soil health.

“We will have an expectation to see more farming operations adapting regenerative processes to protect our whenua for future generations. It is time for change,” Tania says.

Ngāi Tahu Farming General Manager Will Burrett says the teams are looking forward to applying the knowledge and experience gained from previous regenerative farming trials to this much larger programme.

“We look forward to assessing the scientific and financial results we achieve through Te Whenua Hou Te Whenua Whitiora to help us inform a viable alternative farming system that enhances soil health, has a lower environmental footprint, reduces water use, promotes kaimahi wellbeing and is financially profitable, all while complementing mātauranga Māori,” says Burrett.

— Toitū te marae o Tāne, toitū te marae o Tangaroa, toitū te iwi – when land and water are sustained the people will prosper —