Wednesday, 13 March 2019 07:11

Farming for the Future seminar aims for fresh ideas

Written by  Erin Kavanagh-Hall

Wairarapa's premier sustainable farming seminar is kicking off for the sixth year running, with its first international speaker.

Registration is now open for the annual Farming for the Future conference, hosted in the region since 2013, to be held at Carterton Events Centre on March 27.

The one-day event will feature presentations from a range of primary industry experts from Martinborough to New Hampshire. 

Topics are targeted at farmers and farm industry specialists looking to adapt farming and business practices in a rapidly changing environment. 

The conference will include talks from experts on goat dairy and ethical milking, clean water policy and new research into managing agricultural emissions. 

Keynote speaker Gary Hirshberg – Farming for the Future’s first overseas presenter – is known in his native USA for taking Stonyfield Farms from start-up to a global leader in organic dairy.

Farming for the Future is the brainchild of the South Wairarapa Biodiversity Group (SWBG) and organised in partnership with the Mangaterere Restoration Society (MRS). 

MRS member and soil scientist Esther Dijkstra says the seminar aims to help farmers and farm industry specialists find creative yet practical solutions for their businesses in a time of increased environmental awareness and changing climate.

“We ask our speakers to tailor their presentations so they’re relevant for the local audience,” Dijkstra says. 

 “We want people to come away feeling energised and ready to try new things to enhance their farming, industry or policy practices. Agriculture is a critical contributor to our economy and our communities, and we need to do all we can to help make sure farming in New Zealand is responsive, resilient and cutting-edge.”

This year’s conference will feature five major speakers, with Radio NZ journalist and presenter Susie Ferguson acting as MC.

The New Zealand speakers include clean water policy campaigner Marnie Prickett; Sinead Leahy from the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre; and Canterbury farmer Glen Herud— known for founding a dairying system that allows bobby calves to remain with their mothers while milking. 

The featured Wairarapa presenter will be Martinborough’s Amanda Goodman, co-founder of The Drunken Nanny, an award-winning producer of artisan, gate-to-plate goat’s cheese, kefir and pasteurised milk. 

Also new to the Farming for the Future programme will be a speed-presentation segment in which four people give six-minute presentations on issues relating to agriculture. 

Dijkstra says the event gives farmers, industry specialists, scientists and policy makers the opportunity to bounce off each other, and share ideas.

“It will be a good networking opportunity - they can meet people outside of their usual circles who can help them come up with local and sustainable solutions.”

Farming for the Future is sponsored by Greater Wellington Regional Council, Morgans Road Nursery, Akura Plant Nursery, Moore Stephens Markhams Wairarapa, CRS Software, Steens Honey, Beef + Lamb New Zealand and BW O’Brien & Co. 


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