Catchment Group Entry: Tararua Plantain Project – community focus on water quality
An innovative community project highlights Tararua dairy farmers are leading the way in using plantain on farms to reduce nitrogen leaching.
The DairyNZ-led Tararua Plantain Project is a five-year project with farmers and organisations working together to improve water quality.
In the project, farmers have worked with project partners, scientists, policy makers and councils to trial plantain as an environmentally friendly dairy forage. Research by Massey University in a DairyNZ-led national plantain programme shows Ecotain plantain can reduce nitrogen leaching by 20 to 60 percent.
The Tararua Plantain Project has been hugely successful, with 88 of the catchment’s 263 dairy farms planting plantain on their properties. Water quality monitoring has helped farmers understand where to focus their environmental efforts.
The project’s monitoring shows plantain does not negatively impact the production or quality of pasture – in fact in many cases it is out-performing clover and ryegrass pastures.
A key strength is that the project is led by farmers striving to farm in better ways and is highly collaborative. The project shares results with farmers at field days and workshops, and with the community about how Tararua farmers care for their environment.
The Tararua Plantain Project funding partners are DairyNZ, MPI, Fonterra and Nestlé. The project was formed in 2019 with a vision of helping farmers run financially viable businesses, while reducing footprint. It followed new regulations requiring local farmers to reduce nitrogen leaching by an average of 60 percent.
While the Tararua Plantain Project will end as an individual initiative this year, it provides a valuable foundation stone for the national DairyNZ-led Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures Plantain and Potency Practice (PPP) programme underway now.
For more information: dairynz.co.nz/tararuaplantain
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