Government and industry partner to reduce the food and fibre sector’s environmental footprint

15 December 2020

A new five-year partnership seeks to significantly reduce the food and fibre sector’s environmental footprint, while boosting economic growth and sustainability, says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

The $25 million Future Ready Farms programme is led by Ballance Agri-Nutrients with co-investment of more than $10 million from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) fund.

Mr O’Connor says the programme will develop new solutions to meet national environmental targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, agricultural chemical use, and nutrient loss to waterways.

“Our farmers and growers are among the most progressive in the world and have been working hard for years to increase productivity while minimising their environmental footprint. This programme will contribute to these efforts across the country to further lower our emissions,” says Mr O’Connor. 

“It aims to trial and develop farm nutrient technologies that offer significant environmental benefits, while being economically viable for our farmers.”

Ballance Agri-Nutrients CEO, Mark Wynne says Ballance is extremely grateful to government for its significant show of support towards this new programme. 

“We know New Zealand’s food and fibres sector takes its responsibility to reduce its environmental impact seriously, and this programme represents our ongoing commitment to partnering with farmers and growers on that journey.”

The new programme features 12 projects, and will develop products, tools, and technologies to help farmers and growers to continue to build on their sustainable agricultural practices.

The outputs of the Future Ready Farms programme will address multiple sectors within the food and fibres sector including fertiliser manufacture, livestock production, forestry, horticulture, and arable, with projected benefits of $1.063b to New Zealand farmers by 2030.

One of the 12 projects is a forestry project in partnership with Scion Research.

“The forestry project aims to develop a product concept to support radiata pine growth,” says Mr Wynne. 

“This product concept has the potential to reduce the environmental impact while meeting the nutritional requirements of the pine. In addition, the product concept has the potential to reduce the requirement for agricultural chemical application.”

Mr O’Connor says another project will develop a nitrate inhibitor and technology to use with Spikey, a world-leading technology developed by Pastoral Robotics Limited. Spikey is towed behind a tractor and detects urine patches in the paddock, the main source of the nitrogen losses. The project will enable Spikey to apply the nitrate inhibitor, once developed, which will hold the nitrogen in a more stable form, to reduce nitrate losses into waterways.

Ballance Agri-Nutrients Chairman, Duncan Coull, says, “Our 12 projects will make a meaningful and positive difference in New Zealand’s collective efforts to move towards a lower emissions economy. We’re delighted to have the opportunity to lead their delivery over the coming years.”

Mr O’Connor says SFF Futures was established to support initiatives that make a positive and lasting difference. “Our key focus is sustainability. Anything we can do to farm smarter, with less impact on the environment will deliver wider benefits to New Zealand.”

For more information on SFF Futures, please visit


Media contacts: 

Ruby Macandrew for Damien O’Connor – 022 012 0525
Ballance Agri-Nutrients Head of Communications Aimee Driscoll – 027 487 9656

SFFF funding announcement 15 Dec 2020