Farming In New Zealand – Questions and Answers

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Introduction to Farming in New Zealand (FAQs): The farming or agriculture sector is New Zealand’s largest industry. The farming in New Zealand produces a vast number of horticultural, dairy, and meat products that are consumed locally as well as overseas. It is one of the world’s largest exporters of dairy products as well as sheep meat. The farming industry also provides job opportunities for thousands of New Zealanders. Pastoral farming of sheep and cattle is the main type of farming, but horticulture is also common in New Zealand. With a gross domestic product contribution in the billions of New Zealand dollars, and it contributes significantly to New Zealand’s tradeable economy. Below are some facts about New Zealand farms and the farming lifestyle.  

The agriculture sector and forestry are among New Zealand’s powerhouse industries. Together with fisheries and related sectors, our main industries generate over 60% of our exports and are key drivers in our continued economic growth. New Zealand’s primary industries have succeeded in building highly competitive production and distribution infrastructure, despite being further from the world’s markets than any other major producers.

Agriculture Farming In New Zealand, Questions and Answers, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

New Zealand is well known for its apple and kiwifruit exports. Most of the fruit grown in New Zealand is exported to markets around the world, whereas most of the vegetable crops grown in New Zealand are for domestic consumption, with some notable exceptions such as Potatoes, Onions, and Buttercup Squash. Some industry challenges include labor, access to freshwater, meeting new regulations, and responding to climate change and other environmental factors.

  • Animal farming that includes sheep, beef and dairy cattle, and deer
  • Growing crops including grain and seed crops, fruit and vegetables, wine grapes, and nursery plants
  • Forestry and farm practices (including irrigation and fertilizer use)

Fast facts about Framing in New Zealand

  • 44% of farms in New Zealand are classified as ‘sheep and beef’ compromising 9,328,000 hectares;
  • 21% is dairy farms, with an agricultural area of about 2,415,000 hectares;
  • 15% is horticultural and orchards;
  • 5% is crop farming, its covering 284,000 hectares; and
  • 6% is mixed livestock.

Soil and Climate Conditions for Farming in New Zealand

Soils are the natural materials on the land’s surface that directly support crops and bacteria, and indirectly support all animal and human life. New Zealand majorly depends on soils for much of its wealth. Irrigation, drainage, and adding fertilizer have made its soils better for growing crops and pasture and for grazing farm animals.

New Zealand’s soils are deeply weathered, lacking in several nutrients, and, most of all, highly variable over short distances. Soils based on sedimentary rock formations are mostly clay soils and are found over about three-fourths of the country. New Zealand’s climate condition is determined by its latitude, its isolation, and its physical characteristics. There are few temperature extreme levels.

Elevation changes make for an intricate pattern of temperature differences, especially on the South Island, but some generalizations for conditions at sea level can be made. The average seasonal and diurnal temperature level is about 10°C. Variation in mean monthly temperature from north to south is about 6°C. In most parts of New Zealand, daytime highs in the summer season are above 21°C, occasionally exceeding 27°C in the north, while winter daytime highs throughout the country are rarely below 10°C.

Climate change effect is a global issue that is affecting all countries. Concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide cause air and ocean temperature levels to rise. Over time, higher temperature levels can change weather patterns and damage the environment. The climate in New Zealand is firmly linked with the country’s economic performance, as a significant amount of the country’s economic activity is based on agriculture production. New Zealand-based research has shown the relevance of climate change on agricultural production through its influence on soil moisture, rainfall, and air temperature.

Climatic variability is at times evident in changes in agricultural output. Severe droughts and floods have a notable impact on national, as well as regional agricultural production. Though, due to the myriad of factors that affect production, gradual changes in climatic conditions are not as easily linked with variability in output.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Agriculture

Half of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the agriculture sector. Methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) are the two agricultural greenhouse gases.

Methane makes up the majority of these emissions and comes from farmed livestock like sheep and cattle. These animals naturally produce methane as a by-product of their digestive process and release it into the air mainly through burping.

Nitrous oxide is produced when nitrogen compounds in urine, manure, and fertilizers are broken down by microbes in the soil and then released into the atmosphere.

Different Types of Farming in New Zealand

In case if you miss this: Goat Farming In Africa.

Sheep Farming in New Zealand
sheep flock (Image source: pixabay)

Agriculture farming in New Zealand

Beef, sheep, pigs, field crops and machinery, or any mix of these.

Beef and sheep – New Zealand has a sophisticated meat industry. All New Zealand beef and sheep farms have a free-range and year-round open-field system.

Crops farming – Some important crops are grown in New Zealand are cereal grains like wheat, barley, and oats, etc., small vegetable seeds (for sprouting), clover seed, grass seed, and hops.

Generally, agriculture placements start in August-October and run until March-May.

Arable Farming in New Zealand

The arable sector produces grains like wheat, barley, oats, and maize, predominantly for domestic consumption. Approximately, New Zealand produces 1 million tonnes of grain. The majority of wheat, barley, and oats are grown in the South Island, namely the Canterbury, Southland, and Otago regions. Canterbury alone grows approximately 80 to 90% of the country’s wheat, 68% of its barley, and 60% of its oats. In contrast, almost all of the country’s maize is grown on the North Island. Wheat, barley, and oats are cultivated for human consumption, malting, and stock feed. Maize is usually grown as animal feed or for silage.

Horticulture in New Zealand

New Zealand has around 125,200 hectares or 309,000 acres of horticultural land. Horticulture means fruit, vegetables, landscaping, and plant nurseries. Horticulture farming is the science and art of producing, improving, marketing, and using fruits, vegetables, and flowers, and ornamental plants. Production and consumption of high-quality fruits and vegetables allow us to keep a healthy and balanced daily diet. Flowers and ornamental crops enrich our homes and communities. Horticulture impacts our lives daily by providing nutritious fruits and vegetables, offering visual enjoyment, and also promoting recreational activities. The New Zealand horticulture industry comprises growers of vegetables and fruits for export and domestic consumption.

New Zealand’s fertile soil is great for growing fruit and vegetable crops. In the Hawke’s Bay and Otago regions, grow stone fruit like peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, and cherries. In New Zealand, Apples and pears grow well in the Hawke’s Bay and Tasman district. Apricots and cherry fruits are exported; most stone fruit is consumed domestically.

The kiwifruit is also known as the Chinese gooseberry or just kiwi. It is New Zealand’s largest horticultural export by value. It is mostly grown in the Bay of Plenty region, along with avocados, which thrive in the climate conditions. Grapes are grown to make wine around the country but mainly in Marlborough, Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne, Martinborough, Marlborough, and Central Otago.

There is a wealthy abundance of fresh fruit, vegetables, and general produce in New Zealand. The main fruits cultivated in New Zealand are Kiwifruit, Apples, Berry Fruit, Summer Fruit, and Avocados, etc. Production of vegetables occurs throughout New Zealand, but it is mainly concentrated in Waikato, Hawke’s Bay, Manawatu, Gisborne, Wanganui, and Canterbury. Over 90% of vegetable farming is for the domestic market. Key crops like Leafy Greens, Tomatoes, Potatoes, Cabbage, Carrots, Kumara, Lettuce, Broccoli, and Cauliflower.

Cabbage Farming in New Zealand
Cabbage Field (pic credit: pixabay)

Dairy Farming in New Zealand

New Zealand dairy companies are trusted suppliers of a full range of dairy products like fresh milk, milk powder, high-value dairy nutritional products, specialized dairy ingredients for food service, and infant formulas. It is the world’s 8th largest milk producer, with more than 4 million dairy cows producing over 15 billion liters of milk annually. The main dairy farming areas in New Zealand are Waikato, Taranaki, Southland, Northland, Horowhenua, Manawatu, and Westland. The main dairy breed cows in New Zealand are Holstein-Friesian, Jersey, and Ayrshire as well as the more recently bred KiwiCross. Livestock is mainly grass-fed. New Zealand produces more than 100 types of dairy products such as whole milk, cream, butter, cheese, milk powder, and buttermilk. Dairy Farms provide about 26% of New Zealand’s total goods exports.

Fast facts about New Zealand farming

  • New Zealand accounts for 3% of total world production of dairy;
  • New Zealand exports approximately 95% of its dairy production;
  • The top markets for New Zealand dairy exports are China, United States, United Arab Emirates, Australia, Japan;
  • New Zealand’s top dairy export products are whole milk powder (37%), cheese (12%), and skim milk powder (10%), and butter (9%).

Sheep farming in New Zealand

The sheep farming business is important for New Zealand’s economic development. In New Zealand, sheep are raised mainly for their meat and wool. The South Island’s terrain and climate in particular make it ideal for the sheep farming business.

Poultry farming in New Zealand

Chickens account for over 98% of the country’s poultry farming business, with turkeys and ducks accounting for the majority of the rest. In New Zealand, around 500,000 turkeys and 200,000 ducks are sold per year, with 90% of turkeys sold in the weeks preceding Christmas.

There are mainly two types of meat chicken farming systems are used in New Zealand are Barn and Free-Range. Sheds can be up to 150 meters long and 15 meters wide and then hold up to 40,000 adult chickens. Usually, free-range systems offer the same conditions as Barn systems, with the addition that the hens are provided with access to outdoor ranging regions. Most of the poultry meat mainly produced in New Zealand is consumed domestically. Due to biosecurity restrictions, importing poultry eggs and meat into New Zealand is prohibited.

Aquaculture in New Zealand

Commercial fishing operates around New Zealand with mussels, oyster that including the famous Bluff oyster and salmon farms around the country. Aquaculture in New Zealand is one of the most sustainable forms of protein production on the planet. It is the term given to the cultivation of any fresh or saltwater plant or animal. It mainly takes place in New Zealand in coastal marine areas and inland tanks or enclosures. Aquaculture is important for some coastal areas around New Zealand where there is limited employment. Marine aquaculture is also called mariculture. It occurs in the sea, generally in sheltered bays along the coast. In New Zealand, about 70% of marine aquaculture occurs at the top of the South Island.

Environmental Issues in New Zealand

With much of its economy based on the agriculture sector, New Zealand must cope with the toll farming takes on its natural environment.

Intensive dairy production in New Zealand has increased the nitrogen levels in surface water, groundwater, and soil. One of the biggest environmental issues is soil degradation. People in New Zealand are mainly concerned about soil health that means the excess of acidification, loss of vital organic matter, and the population declines of earthworms and other soil-friendly organisms.

While it faces air pollution, half of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture. Agriculture causes significant fertilizer and pesticide run-off, which can end up in streams and rivers. New Zealand’s economy relies on our environment and the main product it supports, such as agriculture, farming, forestry, and fishing.

Risks and opportunities for farming in New Zealand will face;

  • Climate conditions will affect what and how much New Zealand can grow or harvest, both on land and in the sea.
  • Increasingly unpredictable weather cycles can make some years more or less productive than others.
  • Some areas will become better suited to growing crops and producing goods than others.
  • Increased rainfall can result in erosion and also increase sediment in our waterways. Soil loss can damage land stability and reduce productivity.
  • Growers have found links between changing weather patterns and fish quantities in important commercial fishing stocks. Some species found to be affected include snapper, scallops, red cod, and rock lobster.
  • The different variety of pests and diseases we are vulnerable to could change.

Frequently Asked Questions about Framing in New Zealand

Is New Zealand good for farming?

The farming sector in New Zealand produces a vast number of horticultural, dairy, and meat products that are consumed locally as well as overseas. Generally, New Zealand is one of the world’s largest exporters of dairy products and also sheep meat. New Zealand’s fertile soil is great for growing fruit and vegetable plants.

What kind of crops is grown in New Zealand?

Horticulture farming provides food for New Zealand people, with major crops including wine grapes, kiwi, potatoes, and apples. Also, New Zealand’s horticulture production contributes to the needs of the growing global population.

What type of farming is common in New Zealand?

In New Zealand, you will discover seemingly endless open pastures, colorful orchards, and sun-drenched vineyards. While sheep, cattle, and dairy (milk-producing) farms are most common in New Zealand, also deer, goats, horses, pigs, and even llama in paddocks throughout the country.

Why is horticulture carried out within New Zealand?

Consumers can have confidence in fruit and vegetables grown in New Zealand, and the horticulture industry is important for food safety and biosecurity. The horticulture industry in New Zealand comprises about 5000 growers and also generates around 60,000 jobs.

What is the main industry in New Zealand?

The main industries in New Zealand are dairy, beef, and sheep farming, but forestry, fisheries, and horticulture are also very important.

Does New Zealand grow food?

New Zealand’s climate is suitable for a different variety of fruit ranging from temperate fruit such as apples, pears, peaches, plums, and cherries, to subtropical such as avocados, passionfruit, grapes, and kiwifruit, as well as other citrus fruits.

Why is farming important to New Zealand?

The farming sector in New Zealand produces a vast number of horticultural, dairy, and meat products that are consumed locally as well as overseas. Agriculture provides job opportunities for thousands of New Zealanders.

How much of the NZ economy is farming?

The agriculture sector is a major industry in New Zealand, contributing approximately 5% to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

What kind of cows are in New Zealand?

Angus cattle have been the most popular cattle breed in New Zealand for many years.

How many types of cows are there in NZ?

There are mainly three major breeds making up the 6.5 million national cattle herd. They are the Holstein-Friesian, jersey, and the kiwi cross, which is a mix of the Holstein-Friesian and the jersey.

How many sheep farms are there in NZ?

There are approximately 23,400 sheep and beef farms throughout New Zealand and it’s covering about 45% of our total agriculture area.

What grows well in New Zealand?

A wide range of fruit crops are produced in New Zealand and they include fruits, flowers, etc.

Popular sheep types in New Zealand include;

  • Merino sheep – producing fine wool
  • Corriedale sheep – A cross between the Merino sheep and some English breeds.
  • New Zealand Romney sheep – It is one of the most populous sheep breeds
  • Drysdale sheep – Hairy coarse wool
  • Perendale sheep – Good for meat and wool
  • Coopworth sheep – Good for meat and wool

What vegetables grow in winter NZ?

Popular winter vegetable seedlings in New Zealand are Broad beans, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Celery, Parsley, Cauliflower, and Silverbeet.

You may also check this: How To Grow Organic Pears.

Broccoli Farming in New Zealand
Broccoli (pic source: pixabay)

The most popular fish to eat in New Zealand is Snapper.

What vegetables grow all year around NZ?

The major vegetables grow in New Zealand all year round are Brassicas like Cabbage, Broccoli, Kale, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, Pak Choi, and Bak Choi, etc.

What vegetables should I plant in NZ?

In New Zealand, plant seedlings of Cabbage, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Beetroot, Winter Lettuce, Brussel Sprouts, Spinach, Carrots, Leeks, Silverbeet, Winter Lettuce, and Winter Herbs.

How many chicken farms are there in NZ?

The poultry industry has 180 farms around New Zealand, employing 3,500 people.

What is New Zealand’s largest agricultural export?

The foundation of New Zealand’s economy is exporting agricultural commodities like dairy products, meat, fruits, and vegetables. Dairy is the lead export commodity. Tourism is New Zealand’s largest export industry in terms of foreign exchange earnings and it employs one in seven New Zealanders.

Does New Zealand grow rice?

For cultivating Rice in New Zealand, it needs long, hot summers and clayish soil which retains moisture. Some of Northland’s wetlands and soggy soils are also well suited to the crop.

What type of soil is can you expect New Zealand?

Brown soils, which cover 43% of New Zealand and these form on mountains and hills, and down to moist lowlands. Majorly, pumice soils are found in the central North Island.

Where are the most dairy farms in New Zealand?

The largest share of dairy cows in New Zealand is the Waikato region i.e., approximately 22.4%. In the South Island, the North Canterbury area held the largest share of cows used to produce dairy products.

How do I become a dairy farmer in NZ?

There are no specific requirements to become a dairy farmer in New Zealand. A relevant training course in agriculture, dairy farming, and agribusiness or farm management is recommended for the dairy farmer.

Why is New Zealand dairy so good?

Thanks to New Zealand’s temperate climate conditions, cows here can graze outdoors all year round. Also, their milk is richer in omega-3 fats, beta-carotene, and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA is beneficial fatty acid).

What are chickens fed in New Zealand?

Chickens usually need good and quality commercial layer hen pellets, as well as supplemental fresh food. Commercial chicken pellets contain an important and balanced mix of vitamins and minerals you’re chickens need to produce eggs and stay healthy and grow well.

What kind of fish are in New Zealand?

The sustainable New Zealand seafood species are Albacore tuna, Arrow squid, Blue Moki, Bluenose, Broadbill swordfish, Butterfish, Clams, and Eel.

What is the most common fish in NZ?

The most common fish in NZ are Blue cod, Kahawai, Kingfish, Pāua, and Snapper.

Do they have goats in New Zealand?

Feral goat breeds are found throughout New Zealand in both the North and South Islands. In New Zealand, concentrations of goat breeds can be found in Taranaki, Hawke’s Bay, Marlborough, and Otago.

Where are vegetables grown in NZ?

Onions production is fairly evenly split between the growing regions of New Zealand, with the predominant onion-growing regions being Auckland, Waikato, Canterbury, and Hawke’s Bay. Onions have the largest export production of New Zealand vegetables.

What is the largest dairy company in New Zealand?

The largest dairy company in New Zealand is Fonterra. New Zealand produces more than 100 types of dairy products like whole milk, cream, butter, cheese, milk powder, and buttermilk.

What fruits can you grow in New Zealand?

A wide range of fruits is grown in New Zealand. The fruit crops include Oranges, Lemons, Avocados, and Persimmons. Berries, olives, and nuts are cultivated in cooler areas. Other citrus fruits include Mandarins, Lemons, Tangelos, and New Zealand grapefruit.

What are the water resources in New Zealand?

New Zealand has different sources of good quality water including snowfields, glaciers, groundwater aquifers, rivers, and lakes.

What fruit is famous in NZ?

The kiwifruit is the most famous New Zealand fruit. It is also known as the Chinese gooseberry, it has brown fuzzy skin with green or yellow flesh inside.

How much of New Zealand is agricultural land?

New Zealand has around 125,200 hectares or 309,000 acres of horticultural land.

What factors promote farming in New Zealand?

The future of the agriculture sector in New Zealand will be driven by rapid population growth and consumer demand. As with global trends, organic farming in New Zealand has seen an increasing share of the market in both the horticulture and livestock sectors.

Does New Zealand have fertile soil?

New Zealand has a rich diversity of soils, including some that are unique and rare, but only about 5% are fertile.

Does NZ import chicken?

New Zealand majorly imports chicken eggs, and the hatchlings become breeding stock for meat chickens.

Does New Zealand import meat?

New Zealand imports processed and unprocessed food products such as meat and dairy products, grains and seeds, and wine and beverages.

Where does NZ import food from?

The New Zealand Imports Food Products from top countries includes Australia, United States, Indonesia, Singapore, and China.

What is New Zealand’s main source of income?

The main sources of income in New Zealand are agriculture, forestry, fishing, and mining industries.


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