Monday, March 06, 2006

The dairy industry contributes 15-20% of Kiwi export income. Its clearly big business. Fonterra - the dairy farming co-op is a global leader. But dairy production can have a nasty impact. Much of the degradation of the central north island lakes is due to dairy run-off. When cows pee, they recirculate significant levels of nitrates into the soil - when combined with nitrogen and urea based fertiliser application there is huge potential for damage.

We are probably contributing to this process even when we buy a coffee. Although the Dairying and Clean Stream Accord provides guidelines for dairy farm practice we can only be assured of environmental standards when we buy organic milk (and lets not get into issues with homogenised and pasteurised milk...). There are a lot of small organic producers - available at your local organics store, and even some of the big players make it.

But we're here to talk about poos. An article in the weekends Guardian tells the story of Japanese research into producing fuel from cow dung. With the quantity of the stuff our massive dairy industry produces we should be keeping a close watch. It should be possible to separate solid from liquid as the stuff leaves the shed - retaining the solid for fuel and applying the liquid to pasture as usual. Much like the clever folk have in this BBC story.

But I am of course no expert on the issue. So in the meantime its maybe worth switching to organic milk...

No comments: