More sustainable farming; more profitable business

Discover how Owl Farm achieves sustainable dairy farming practices whilst growing its profits.

17 Jun 2020

2 min

#New Zealand #Sustainability #Innovation

As part of Fonterra’s commitment to low-carbon dairying, we are proud to show the impressive results of some incredibly hard work by Owl Farm

Owl Farm is operated in partnership between St Peter’s School in the Waikato region of New Zealand and Lincoln University. They work alongside a range of industry partners which includes a close working connection with Fonterra, and work hard to supply milk that contributes to NZMP dairy ingredients. 

The farm is a future-focused demonstration venture, committed to taking a leadership position in sustainable dairying.

The property itself is also a working farm of approximately 400 cows, and it measures its performance in both financial and sustainable contexts.

Owl Farm has seen some clear indiciations on this journey to being successful in both sustainable dairying and sustainable business:



Increase in operating profit between 2014/15 and 2017/18.



Decrease in total greenhouse gas emissions (tCO2e) between 2014/15 and 2017/18.

Related reading...


How Fonterra supports sustainable dairy farming


Fonterra releases 2019 Sustainability Report


Fonterra releases 2018 Sustainability Report


The underlying sustainable performance of the farm has been achieved through a focus on efficiency and reducing inputs where possible.

This has had a co-benefit of sustainable performance beyond reducing emissions. In the same three year timeframe, purchased feed dropped by 50%, nitrogen loss decreased by 14%, and phosphate loss decreased by 31%. This has led to a marked improvement of water quality on the farm.

In tandem with these efficiency changes, the farm has made several improvements to the land in partnership with Fonterra. Fonterra provided a Farm Environment Plan to help assess and identify actions to continue to improve environmental performance.

Since September 2017, when the plan was created, progress has already been made, improving waterway crossings, retiring a crossing between wetlands, and retiring farmable areas for riparian planting to further improve waterway quality.

Owl Farm is a success story that shows it is possible for dairy farms to remain profitable while still caring deeply for the environment. 

These are impressive results, but there is more to come. 

This is a fantastic opportunity for Central North Island dairy farmers as increasing financial and environmental pressures mean farming is more stressful than ever. Owl Farm is an average New Zealand farm with exceptional ambitions; our journey towards achieving sustainable profits will be hugely valuable to all.

Doug Dibley | Owl Farm Demonstration Manager

Owl Farms quarterly Farm Focus days are also a key element to being a demonstration farm, providing a chance for rural professionals, farm owners and farm workers a chance to share ideas and network with on another as well as give them an greater understanding on  how they are developing a workable blueprint of sustainable, profitable dairying.

For more information on Owl Farm please visit their website 

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