Farming forward strategies for a greener tomorrow with Mark Aspin

Farming forward strategies for a greener tomorrow with Mark Aspin

The Monitor Farm Programme started on sheep + beef farms in New Zealand in the 1990s and has since gone on to become a hugely successful farm improvement programme. 

Agricultural expert Mark Aspin, formerly with Beef + Lamb New Zealand, was an initiator of the programme and joins Dom George to talk more about what it was introduced for, some of the pressing issues and advances in sustainable farming and more.

A key focus of the conversation is the evolution of farm-focused investments and the necessity for adaptability and continual learning within the farming sector. 

"Farming's a tough old business...they [farmers] run a very complex organisation and they've got to be pretty multi-skilled individuals." 

He highlights the dynamic nature of agricultural work and the need for farmers to keep abreast of new developments. Aspin also shares insights into his work with the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Consortium, tackling the climate change challenges posed by methane and nitrous oxide emissions from farming. 

One of the most groundbreaking outcomes was the Global Rumen Census around 2010, a collaborative effort that paved the way for global strategies to mitigate methane emissions. Aspin emphasises the importance of understanding the microbes in the rumen, which has led to the potential for solutions that could be adapted worldwide. 

Reflecting on the barriers to implementing methane reduction strategies, Aspin points out the difficulty of integrating new technologies into free grazing systems, the high costs, and the practicality for farmers. 

"The major barriers [are] getting it to work in the grazing system...we fly on the seat of our pants here so you know it's a great thing to do but it does make it pretty challenging." 

His forward-looking view remains hopeful for the development of genetically engineered plants and other advancements that could contribute to a greener future in farming.

Listen to the full chat between Mark Aspin and Dominic George above.

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