Five Farmers’ Forums being held across New Zealand in February and March will discuss the future of dairy farming.

Guest speakers at the DairyNZ Farmers’ Forums include celebrity chef Nadia Lim and economist Cameron Bagrie.

The forums in Northland, Waikato, Taranaki, Canterbury and Southland are an opportunity for dairy farmers to hear about the latest changes on and off-farm, and what they mean for the future of dairy.

“As a sector, our farmers are well known for innovating and adapting their farm systems,” DairyNZ strategy and investment leader Dr Bruce Thorrold says. “We are world leaders and, as we head into 2020 and a new decade, we want to build on the great progress we’ve made as a sustainable and thriving Kiwi sector.”

At the Forums, DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle will share what DairyNZ is hearing from farmers and the future priorities.

The first forum, in Northland on February 18, is being held at the ASB Stadium in conjunction with the Northland Dairy Development Trust conference. All other Farmers’ Forums are being held on research farms, in Waikato on February 19; Southland on March 3; Taranaki on March 11 and Canterbury on March 12.

Guest speaker economist Cameron Bagrie will discuss the value of consumers, environmental regulations happening globally and what new technologies will do to our food. Nadia Lim will discuss the importance of natural food and where agriculture fits in food trends. Nadia is a guest speaker at the Waikato, Taranaki, Canterbury and Southland events.

Farmers will also learn about research in their region and solutions available to them now, along with tips from local farmers reducing their environmental footprint.

“It’s an exciting time to be dairy farming – the vision is for sustainable dairy farming to play a critical role in New Zealand’s future prosperity and wellbeing. This involves maximising value from New Zealand milk while preserving the benefits of our pasture-based system,” Thorrold says.

The DairyNZ Farmers’ Forums are free for DairyNZ levy payers and their staff. For more information and to register, visit

Farmer’s Forum 2020

Northland – February 18

Run with and hosted by the Northland Dairy Development Trust in Whangarei. Regional science: NARF trials on supplement use in a variable climate and the nitrogen, sulphur and potassium spring fertiliser comparison. The supplement trial is looking at the effects on production, environmental outcomes and profitability when using different management strategies for producing milk within a variable climate and the constraints of the Fat Evaluation Index (FEI). The study at the Northland Agricultural Research Farm (NARF) is in its second year, with data comparing three 28ha pasture-based systems, differing in stocking rate and the nature of feed supplied.

Waikato –February 19

Hosted by DairyNZ’s Lye Farm, Newstead.

Regional science: farming in the future – have we got N leaching and greenhouse gas emissions covered?

What solutions help farmers meet environmental obligations? This workshop will update farmers on the latest research into reducing nitrogen (N) leaching and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). It will also look at the key drivers for reducing N leaching and GHGs onfarm, what farmers can do next season and how it will fit into their system.

Southland – March 3

Hosted by Southern Dairy Hub, Invercargill.

Regional science: wintering practices.

What are the Winter Grazing Taskforce recommendations and how are farmers able to adapt to the proposed changes? This session will showcase the trial work behind fodder beet and kale crops, as well as infrastructure options for wintering cows in Southland.

Taranaki – March 11

Hosted by Dairy Trust Taranaki’s Gibson Farm, Hawera.

Regional science: transition to autumn calving.

Results from the trial to date at Dairy Trust Taranaki’s Kavanagh Farm will be shared. This trial is investigating what happens when the whole herd is transitioned at once from spring to autumn calving. Effects on milk production, days-in-milk, six-week in-calf rate, liveweight, body condition score, pasture growth and supplementary feed will be discussed.

Canterbury – March 12

Hosted by Ashley Dene Research and Development Station, Lincoln University.

Regional science: Variable milking intervals.

Want to spend less time in the shed but once-a-day doesn’t suit your system? Hear the initial trial results on the use of variable milking intervals across different times of the year and how it might suit your farm system.

The forums run 9.30am-3.30pm (with the exception of the Northland event which runs 9.30am-2pm).