Impacts of intensification of pastoral agriculture on soils : Current and emerging challenges and implications for future land uses

Impacts of intensification of pastoral agriculture on soils : Current and emerging challenges and implications for future land uses
Peer reviewed

Abstract

• It is widely believed that New Zealand is blessed with large areas of versatile and élite soils, but the reality is that more than 65% of New Zealand’s soils have some physical limitation to their use for pastoral agriculture. Failure to build this constraint into farm-system designs compromises the current production base, ongoing production gains and, increasingly, the wider environment in which we live.
• Pastoral agriculture is placing mounting pressure on soil pore structure and function, a key attribute that governs a wide range of soil services and ecosystem functions.
• Combatting accelerated soil erosion in hill land, soil compaction on fl at and rolling landscapes, emissions from land to air and water and increasing competition from other land uses are issues that will shape the future of the pastoral industry.
• Pastoral agriculture will continue to be the dominant land use in hill land. The same cannot be said of lowland, where animals might be seen less as they spend more time on feed pads or indoors, or not seen at all as the animals have been replaced by fodder and grain crops.
• In keeping with the concept of matching land use to inherent land-use capability, production technologies which are employed to lift production must be matched by technologies to mitigate the additional emissions to air and water. As we seek to produce beyond current ceilings, consideration needs to be given to the suitability of some soils for intensification.
KEY WORDS: Soil natural capital, soil pore function, compaction, organic matter, diffuse source emissions, land-use capability

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