Biochar – Putting Carbon Back into Soil

Source: Press Release Service – Auckland

( In a world having too much carbon in the atmosphere and obsessed about expensive and dangerous technologies for it’s removal, it is comforting to know that a form of charcoal has now been accepted by the IPCC as a useful tool in the fight against climate change.

Biochar is charcoal which can be used to lift productivity in agriculture and as a long-lived carbon store in soils. It can be used to enhance water quality and as a bioremediation tool for contaminated soils. The production of biochar can also deliver secondary bioenergy benefits and deal with many types of ‘liability’ biomass. Biochar has attracted worldwide attention as a Negative Emissions Technology (NET) in the latest IPCC report, presented at COP24. Biochar has been identified as having positive impacts on 12 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.

A growing number of New Zealand farmers are becoming interested in making and using Biochar, leading to a new organisation is being formed, Biochar Network New Zealand (BNNZ), which will have its Inaugural General Meeting in Pukekohe on 14 February.

BNNZ is planning to promote and support activities that provide widespread awareness, understanding and acceptance of Biochar in New Zealand, leading to a diverse range of production and application scenarios for the benefit of New Zealand’s agriculture, industry and environment.

The BNNZ IGM will take place at 10am on 14 February 2019 at the Reid Anderson Lounge, 18 Wesley Road, Pukekohe.

If you wish to attend, or participate via remote access, please email your request to:

Media Release 29 January 2019.


MIL-OSI Submissions: Dairy cattle numbers dip again – Stats NZ Media and Information Release: Agricultural production statistics: June 2018 (provisional)

Dairy cattle numbers dip again – Media release

17 January 2019

The number of dairy cattle has dipped for the second year, while beef cattle numbers increased strongly in 2018, Stats NZ said today.

Provisional figures from the 2018 agricultural production census showed dairy cattle numbers fell 1 percent, to 6.4 million in June 2018.

“This followed a similar small dip in 2017, though overall dairy cattle numbers have been relatively steady since 2012,” agricultural production statistics manager Stuart Pitts said.

Total dairy cattle were at their highest level in 2014 at 6.7 million.

“Dairy products are a huge export for New Zealand. The value of milk powder, butter, and cheese exports for the year ended June 2018 was 14.1 billion.”

Beef cattle numbers rose for the second year in a row, up 5 percent to 3.8 million in 2018.

Total sheep numbers eased again in 2018, down 1 percent to 27.3 million.

“Sheep numbers have fallen in 10 of the past 12 years, in total down about 12.8 million from about 40.1 million in 2006,” Mr Pitts said.

“New Zealand now has 5.6 sheep for every person, after peaking at 22 sheep for every person in 1982.”

Stock units decline since 1990

A large fall in sheep and beef cattle numbers since 1990 means overall stock units have fallen in the past 28 years, despite a rise in dairy cattle numbers.

A ‘stock unit’ means different types of animals can be compared, based on the food they eat and how much they weigh.

The stock unit is based on the annual feed needed for a 55kg ewe rearing a single lamb. A dairy cow is the equivalent of about seven ewes, so is counted as seven stock units, compared with just one stock unit for a ewe.

In 1990 there were 100 million stock units in total, more than half of those sheep, with most of the rest in beef and dairy cattle. Deer make up a small part of the total.

By 2004, total stock unit numbers fell to 94 million and in 2018 that was down to 86 million.

“The large drop in stock units since 1990 mainly reflects a halving in sheep numbers, down from 53 million stock units to 25 million,” Mr Pitts said. “In the same period, dairy stock units almost doubled to 41 million. By 2018 dairy cattle made up almost half of all livestock units.”

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ latest report, updated 11 January 2019, showed that about 52,000 dairy cattle have been culled as part of the response to Mycoplasma bovis.

For more information about these statistics:


MIL-OSI UK: Government Ministers quizzed on support for the rural economy

Source: British House Of Lords News

11 December 2018
The Rural Economy Committee questions Lord Henley from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS); and Jake Berry MP from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) on better support for the rural economy.

Tuesday 11 December in Committee Room 1, Palace of Westminster
At 10.00am
Lord Henley, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, BEIS
At 10.45am
Jake Berry MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, MHCLG
Suggested questions
Should Local Industrial Strategies be rural proofed, and who by?
The Committee has heard that the performance of LEPs is patchy when it comes to delivering for rural areas. Are they the right body to lead on the development of Local Industrial Strategies?
Can you provide an overview of how BEIS’ ‘place-based approach’ for the industrial strategy will work in practice?
How is MHCLG working with BEIS to ensure that LEPs take account of rural areas when fulfilling their role as the leads for Local Industrial Strategies?
What more can MHCLG be doing to empower rural communities that are less well-resourced?
How will the Shared Prosperity Fund work for rural areas?
Would having a cross-government document setting out the overarching, long-term strategic direction for rural areas (such as a Rural Strategy) be of benefit for MHCLG?
Further information
Image: iStockphoto