Dirty habits - a basis for developing sustainable productivity


  • A.P. Rhodes
  • A.D. Mackay
  • M.G. Lambert
  • M.K. Krausse
  • B.H. Willis
  • B. Withell




Farmers have a far reaching impact in influencing the progress that is made in the sustainable management of New Zealand's natural resources. While some advocates are ready and willing to prescribe apparently "more appropriate" behaviour, the contribution to sustainability can be questioned. There is considerable evidence that there is a complex interaction between farmers' knowledge, attitude and behaviour, and economic, personal and community influences that shape the nature and extent of their individual response to the challenge of sustainable resource management. This paper will draw on the experience of working with farmers and community members in the Southern North Island to develop an approach to allow land users to better understand the soil and water resources of the farm. By using this knowledge, and their awareness of issues and values, farmers and community members were better able to consider options, evaluate alternatives, and balance the integration of sustainable resource management, economic, personal and social goals. A strong conclusion of the project was that farmers must have a comprehensive understanding of the soils and land resource of their farm. A feature of the project was the development of the concept of Land Management Units (LMUs) that are aggregations of soil or topographic units with closely related properties that form a practical farm management unit. LMUs provide the basis for evaluating the impact of current policies and management practice, generating ideas, evaluating risk, and developing options that are potentially more sustainable. The process of adopting LMUs is presented and discussed as the basis from which to evaluate the sustainability of land use practices. Keywords: environment, extension, farm management, land management units, land use, soil, survey, sustainability







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