The National Sheep Association has welcomed a recent Auckland University of Technology report suggesting that New Zealand sheep and beef farms are close to becoming carbon neutral.

The report concludes that New Zealand farms can have 63 to 118 per cent of their on-farm agricultural emissions offset when accounting for carbon sequestration comes as exciting and welcome news for UK livestock farmers who have much in common with their Southern Hemisphere counterparts.

The NSA is keen to support the New Zealand research, emphasizing the similarities with UK sheep farming, highlighting its potential to achieve the same.

NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said: “The UK sheep sector has so many similarities with that in New Zealand given that our sheep industries are both predominantly grass fed and pastoral in nature. In fact, our grassland has a low dependence on artificial inputs and has a high proportion of its area in agri-environment schemes that promote the environmental management of hedges and trees.

“Importantly, this new research work is valuable to us in that it measured the carbon held in vegetation and farm habitats in the same way as the forestry sector has measured carbon held in woodland and forests.

“Recent research from the Rothamstead Institute has shown the soil quality beneath our grasslands is equal to the soil quality in woodlands – the missing bit of the equation has been the role of vegetation with that work never having been done for grassland.”

NSA has previously aired its concerns that current methods for measuring carbon may not represent livestock in a positive light.

Mr Stocker added: “Our sheep farmers are managing one of our most precious resources, while also producing fantastic and nutritious food from it.”