Commitment to Guardianship, Conservation and Sustainability
Commitment to Guardianship, Conservation and Sustainability
We farmers love our nature.
At Pāmu, we’ve been evolving our knowledge and guardianship of nature for over 135 years. Our reputation as natural innovators is reflected in our commitment to looking out for one another, taking care of our animals, protecting the environment and delivering products for our customers with provenance they can trust. With a proud heritage of farming, we farm with conviction, hard work and respect.
Natural reflects the fundamentals of how we farm with plentiful sunshine, abundant rain and clean air. It means a commitment to all-grass farming all year round, supported by fresh crops grown by us. We never feed imported ingredients like palm kernel expeller (PKE), synthetic or artificial feed, GMO or antibiotics. Our animals are free roaming, foraging for food in open spaces as nature intended. The way we farm builds on a sense of pride, passion and true belonging that Pāmu people feel for the land, animals and all nature’s forces they work with. We care, we protect, we innovate. It’s our nature.
We take our role as guardians of the land seriously and are leading the way in protecting and enhancing our environment for future generations. The lands and waterways of New Zealand are precious, and we are committed to protecting them. We believe that environmentally sound farming practices create the highest quality natural products. Our whole operation is founded on this belief, with strategies to ensure environmental considerations are an integral part of all steps in the Pāmu journey – from pasture to plate.
Pāmu has so far protected more than 16,000 hectares of high-value conservation land under covenants with the Department of Conservation, the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust and other bodies. The areas include bush, wetlands, streams and ponds. We’re continuing to add more covenants to protect high-value conservation land across our farms.
We are reducing emissions as best we can, year on year. Our carbon footprint is subject to expert measurement, including emission offset from our 8,500 hectares of forestry. The whole agri-sector faces a challenge in terms of our emissions - we want to join other agri-leaders in working towards a sustainable, carbon-free future.
We conduct Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) annually on each Pāmu farm. This industry-first tool identifies those areas on each farm that have the biggest impact on our environmental stewardship. The assessments cover farm nutrient management, farm effluent management, land management (soil protection, waterway protection, biodiversity support), as well as farm productivity and efficiency. Findings from the EIAs inform annual business planning objectives and goals for each farm, enabling us to assess and improve our environmental performance and ultimately our productivity on a continual basis.
Winter grazing (including wintering on crops) is used in New Zealand pastoral farming systems to ensure animals have access to feed at a time of the year when pasture growth is limited, and pasture management of wetter areas of the farm is challenging, however our animals always have access to feed (such as swedes, kale, fodder beet and rape).
Addressing the impacts of intensive winter grazing (IWG) is an issue that Pāmu continues to be very focused on, and we have made many adjustments over the last few years. While we still have work to do, IWG of crops is already well below the maximum levels that would require a resource consent under the proposed Fresh Water reforms, with less than 3% of our total land area having IWG status at any one time.
We achieved a 12.5% reduction in winter cropping over the last two years (2018 – 2020), but we can always do better and have committed to make a further 30% reduction in our already low level of IWG by 2023, that will see nil winter crop on many of our properties. Our animals will also benefit from this continuous improvement.
An important part of our approach to improvement will be supporting our staff with the knowledge and tools to make the changes. We have developed a range of support tools for our staff, including a phone app to help our farm managers make smart choices with respect to paddocks, crop species and grazing. We have made this app available to the wider farming community and are keen to learn more from the experience of other farmers and latest science trials, especially cash crops to reduce areas of bare soil.
It is unrealistic to expect New Zealand farmers to eliminate IWG when the strength of our farming systems is outdoors controlled grazing of pastures. The recent taskforce on IWG chartered a pragmatic way forward for the sector and a link to their recommendation can be found here.
Just as our farms adjusted to the elimination of Palm Kernel Extract (PKE) in 2017, we are making ongoing changes now to significantly reduce the effects of IWG. Pāmu has independent verification of the company’s animal welfare practices, including our grazing practices. Over the last two years Pāmu have engaged a visionary vet group involving the SPCA, the NZ Vet Association, and leading vets to help guide our care of our animals. Across all our properties audits take place where Vets check various animal welfare metrics and report up to Pāmu management if any issues are raised. None of our farmers want their animals experiencing prolonged muddy conditions without dry rest areas, but extreme weather events over which we do not have full control can sometimes conspire against even the best IWG plans.
Safety will always be at the heart of the way we operate.
Nothing is more important than making sure everyone on our team gets home safely every night. The wellbeing of our people is our clear priority; and we have programmes and systems in place to make sure safe behaviour is embedded in everything we do. We continue to lead the agricultural sector with our health and safety standards, while delivering the highest quality natural products.