Proceedings

PR – Canterbury Dairying – A Study In Land Use Change And Increasing Production (p81-87)

The purpose of this research was to quantify the extent of the increase in dairy farming in Canterbury, New Zealand, and to examine factors that have led to the changes in land use and production. In this paper we present data on land use change, production and productivity, together with product price data for the alternative activities.
Data were obtained from a variety of printed sources and personal communications. Between 1980 and 2009 the land used for dairying in Canterbury increased from about 20,000 ha to nearly 190,000 ha. Per cow and per hectare production also increased both in absolute terms and also relative to elsewhere in New Zealand. Total production increased about fifteen fold during this period. On a national basis Canterbury produced 15% of New Zealand’s milk in 2008-09 compared to 2% in 1982-83. Drivers of this land use change were the development of irrigation, lower land prices relative to elsewhere in New Zealand, the adoption of new technologies and reduced profitability of some aspects of traditional farming systems. It is suggested that, given the current price relativities and some further irrigation development, the Canterbury land area involved in dairy farming could double in the next 20 years.

Keywords: land use change, dairy productivity, irrigation

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Author(s): Pangborn, M.C., Woodford, K.B.

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Organizations(s): Lincoln University