Andrew Hull

After joining DairyNZ in January as consulting officer based in the Lower North Island, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to get to know local farmers and better understand the issues faced in the region.

In March, a drought was declared in my local region – Manawatu-Wanganui, and similar conditions are affecting a number of other areas.

Growing up on a Wairarapa dairy farm, I know that these conditions can be stressful for farmers. DairyNZ is working with a number of other organisations to help support a drought response. If you need assistance, please get in touch with your local consulting officer, and we can offer our advice or put you in contact with another organisation who can help.

One of the major projects I am involved in is the Tararua Plantain Rollout Project. This was commissioned in 2018 and is funded by DairyNZ’s levy and the Ministry of Primary Industry’s Sustainable Farming Fund.

Recognising the environmental benefits of plantain, Tararua dairy farmers initiated this project to encourage more farmers to include plantain in their farm system. DairyNZ is co-ordinating this project and we are drawing on the expertise of scientists from DairyNZ, Massey University, AgResearch, and Agricom, and the onfarm experience of Tararua dairy farmers.

In the first year we have monitored plantain on eight farms. Plantain is being used in different ways on each farm. Some farms have adopted it as part of a pasture mix and others have sown pure plantain crops.

The project builds on the findings from DairyNZ’s Forages for Reduced Nitrate Leaching (FRNL) programme which established that New Zealand bred plantain cultivars reduce soil nitrogen concentration under cow urine patches. In the programme, plantain was estimated to reduce nitrogen leaching by up to 30%, depending on the proportion of plantain in cows’ diets and on soil types.

Please check our website – – for information and updates on our project. We’re planning to host some farmer events in the future to share knowledge from the project with you and our website will let you know when events are happening.

Over time, we would like to involve even more farms in the plantain project, and ultimately extend it wider than the 120 Tararua farms currently involved.

  • Andrew Hull is DairyNZ Consulting officer for Manawatu-Wanganui.