Fast Facts

Canterbury dairy herd rises as New Zealand total steadies

The number of dairy cattle in Canterbury is continuing to rise, bucking a national trend of stable figures, Stats NZ said.

Final numbers from the 2017 Agricultural Production Census were released.

The total dairy cattle count dipped 1 percent from 6.62 million in June 2016 to 6.53 million in June 2017.

In Canterbury, dairy cattle numbers increased 3 percent from 1.27 million in 2016 to 1.31 million in 2017.

“The national dairy cattle total has stabilised since 2012; however, we’ve seen Canterbury numbers rise 9 percent over the same period,” agricultural production statistics manager Stuart Pitts said.

The total amount of land irrigated for farming is increasing, with 747,000 hectares of farmland irrigated in 2017, up 7 percent from 700,000 hectares in 2014. Canterbury is the main area for irrigated land, accounting for 478,000 hectares in 2017, up 12 percent from 429,000 hectares in 2014.

“Since 2014, an extra 49,000 hectares of Canterbury land has been irrigated – the equivalent of around 49,000 more rugby fields,” Mr Pitts said.

“Over the same period of time, Canterbury has seen a large drop in arable farming, particularly of the grains grown for stock feed.”

The amount of wheat and barley harvested in Canterbury dropped 19 percent (14,000 hectares) from 2016 to 2017.

Beef cattle numbers are rising after a decade of decline. The total number of beef cattle increased 2 percent from 3.53 million in 2016 to 3.62 million in 2017.

The national sheep flock showed little change between 2016 and 2017, easing from 27.58 million to 27.53 million.

Kiwifruit orchards are recovering from the hit they took during the PSA disease outbreak in 2010. The total canopy area of kiwifruit rose 7 percent from 11,000 hectares in 2014 to 11,700 hectares in 2017.

The battle between green kiwifruit and newcomer gold kiwifruit continues. There was a 28 percent hike in gold kiwifruit canopy area, from 3,700 hectares in 2014 to 4,700 hectares in 2017. Green kiwifruit canopy area eased 4 percent from 7,000 hectares in 2014 to 6,800 in 2017.

More than 52,000 farmers provided information for the 2017 Agricultural Production Census, which Stats NZ and the Ministry for Primary Industries carry out every five years. Smaller sample surveys are run in the intervening years.

Source: Stats NZ

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