Freshwater ecologist Dr Mike Joy recently gave an open lecture on “The Future of Food: Our deadly nitrogen and fossil fuel addiction.”
He said: “A big rethink is needed over the amount of nitrogenous fertiliser being used on New Zealand farms if the country is to clean up its lakes and rivers and maintain its clean, green image.”
Dr Joy was addressing more than 300 people at the University of Otago's St David lecture theatre. He is a senior lecturer in ecology and environmental science at Massey University, Palmerston North.
There was growing community awareness of the need to clean up the countries rivers and lakes, but this could not be achieved unless there was a drop in ‘all of the nitrogen that comes on to farms’' and was applied as fertiliser.
Runoff from farms into creeks, rivers and lakes was damaging water quality, and contributed too many ecological problems, including algal blooms and lake snow.
Much of New Zealand's international appeal depended on its ``clean green'' image, but that image was being put at risk as New Zealand continued to farm unsustainably, making too much use of nitrogenous fertiliser and fossil fuels.
“It's just incredibly unsustainable,” he says..
New Zealand faced major challenges, including over growing environmental awareness in its European Union markets.
The emergence of rival products such as artificial milk and artificial meat also posed big threats.
New Zealand should add more value to high quality exports rather than seeking to “bury our heads in the sand.”
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