Home' NZ Dairy Farmer : July 2014 Contents 70 The Dairyman July 2014
Environmental record key concern
Landcorp chief executive Steven
Carden says farming's environmental
record worried him the most as he
unveiled a bold vision for the
company at a speech in Hamilton to
transform New Zealand farming, 10
months into the role.
GERALD PIDDOCK reports.
The lack of answers
footprint was of
LANDCORP has to play a greater
role in improving farming s
environmental footprint, the
organisations chief executive Steven
The lack of real solutions to reducing
nitrogen leaching was extremely
worrying, Carden said in his keynote
address at the Agricultural
Communicator of the Year Awards in
I think at this point it s unsolvable
based on the current science that exists,
the technologies that exist and the farm
systems we are using.
The one thing that worries me the
most and our viability as a long term
industry is our ability to get the whole
environmental piece right, he said.
Carden signalled a shakeup at the
organisation as he tries to turn the
company into the best large scale
farming business in the country.
Landcorp, along with other
organisations had to work really hard to
try and fix environmental issues.
If they don t there would not be a
sustainable farming sector in the
future, he said.
I don t want that and I know most
people in this sector don t want that.
The environment will be central to
the stories Landcorp wanted to tell
about their organisation going into the
Issues around nitrate leaching were a
national issue and was the biggest
challenge farming faced
More work needs to be done in the
industry before we can be confident that
we are going to be able to solve the
nitrogen issue environmentally without
The only alternative was to destock
and deintensify farming systems, which
would come at an environmental cost,
Landcorp s 137 farms varied across
the country in stock and land class.
That allowed the company to build up a
wide range of knowledge around how to
manage nutrients effectively.
Landcorp had environmental plans
for each of their farms which outlined
how they are to develop
environmentally. That allowed their
farm managers to accurately measure
the N impact across different farming
That will be quite useful for the
research community going forward as
well as looking for techniques to
Landcorp had achieved wealth and
productivity on its farm that were on
land that was a challenge to farm on, he
It was a cost to the taxpayer when it
was established, bleeding $30-$40
million to the taxpayer every year.
Today, it has 137 farms and employs
700 people nationwide.
This year we will make an operating
profit of $30 million and for the last 27
years we have returned a dividend to
the government of 25 of those 27 years.
There was a lot that Landcorp could
do better, he said.
We have 137 farms, some of which
are fantastic, but there s a whole bunch
that are pretty average and mediocre.
Landcorp had an obligation as the
country s largest farmer to show some
leadership in an environment that was
getting increasingly tougher to farm in.
Carden wanted Landcorp to be lean,
hungry, flexible and adaptive and
become the world s best farming
He said the organisation would have
no credibility if it was not focused on
achieving the best financial result day
in day out on all of their farms.
He also wanted to focus on turning
Landcorp into an organisation that
focused on the end consumer and tailor
what they were producing to what the
end consumer wanted.
The best days of the New Zealand
primary sector were ahead of it, but the
extent of which the industry needed to
lift its game could not be
Farming s reputation greatly
concerned young people. As a result, it
was struggling to attract them into the
Farming had a horrible track record
when it came to safety. The hard,
rugged farming persona was an
inappropriate attitude that needed to
Landcorp would put huge amount of
effort in the future into people. Their
success was based on having the best
managers running their farms, he said.
He said the organisation s workers
cared deeply and passionately about
Landcorp, farming and its future.
Carden said it infuriated him when
people told him that Landcorp
employees were uncaring.
I fundamentally believe that s not
Landcorp had a dodgy reputation
amongst people, which Carden said was
due to a lack of understanding about
the organisation s role.
We have some unbelievably good
staff across the organisation, but like
any organisation we have a whole range
of staff that are probably not as good as
they should be and have probably
reached the point where they don t
In an organisation that is desperate
for talent and striving to improve,
Landcorp cannot have people that do
not care as passionately as others, he
He said he was under no illusion his
priorities would be extremely difficult to
The whole company is full of energy
to improve our performance by being
safer, more efficient and more
productive farmers. We want to
demonstrate that profitable and
environmentally responsible farming go
hand in hand.
He wanted all New Zealanders to see
how good farming was for the country,
and for young people to see farming as
a career where they can be part of
something vitally important to the
future of New Zealand.
Our goals are ambitious, and we
won t always get it right, but we ll
always front up and share with the
industry and all New Zealanders the
places we are finding success, as well as
where we still need to do better.
Links Archive June 2014 August 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page