Incentives for Change

The 34 Influences That Will Drive the Future of Farming

New report identifies key trends and challenges with potential to impact land use in New Zealand, prioritised by primary sector leaders, with open access to current, reliable sources of evidence

Will overseas food trends and challenges, like the rise of ‘fake meat’ and concerns about food waste, affect farmers and growers in New Zealand?

A new report from the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge presents an up-to-date summary of global issues, trends and innovations with potential to influence the agri-food sector in New Zealand, linked to current science and reliable sources.

The Matrix of Drivers: 2019 Update report compiles and summarises an evidence base of 1,093 international and domestic sources of information, selected through an academic literature review process. This process also considered key strategic and regulatory documents from New Zealand’s government and regional agencies, and information from primary sector groups and farmer associations.

This evidence base is open access, providing clear links to credible, relevant primary sources of evidence about primary sector trends and challenges.

The report also includes a review of international consumer preferences studies, providing evidence for the range of premiums that New Zealand export customers are willing to pay for attributes such as organic certification.


34 key influences, ranked by experts

The research team identified 34 key drivers likely to impact on land use change and practice in New Zealand. To assess the relative importance of these drivers, in October/November 2019 researchers surveyed primary sector leaders and others with an interest in New Zealand’s primary industries. Open-ended questions were included to allow participants to identify the most critical issues without being prompted.

Climate change was significantly more important to participants than any other international issue, with significant growth in concern since the previous survey (September/October 2017). Domestically, water quality was indicated to be important to more participants (closely followed by climate change) than any other domestic issues.

Participants also identified environmental conditions, GHG emissions, water quality and trade agreements as international drivers that would have a high impact on land use. Domestically, participants identified water quality, nitrate limits, environmental condition, GHG emissions and biosecurity as important drivers.


Six global changes most likely to impact New Zealand

Six broad categories of future influences were identified by the research team as most likely to affect New Zealand land use: climate change, global trends and challenges, emerging technologies, innovative products/new food technology, consumer trends, and the international trading environment.

Unsurprisingly, climate change was identified as the global challenge most likely to be highly impactful on New Zealand land use change and practice in the future, with a likelihood of significant disruptions to regional production trends, biosecurity, ecosystem integrity and social conditions, as well as producing higher frequency and intensity extreme weather events and heavily influencing domestic policy regarding land use.

A growing global population, coupled with the challenges of maintaining a social license to operate, combating food waste and maintaining stable markets, were also identified as challenges on a global scale. Greater development and use of new technologies designed to provide data and improve practices, both on-farm and in-market, are also highly likely to influence land use trends.

Consumer preferences are also changing, with an increased market presence for alternative protein products, as well as increasing interest in vegetarian, vegan and flexitarian diets. The international trading environment will also continue to contribute to the success of New Zealand’s primary product exports, particularly with the development of bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements.


For more information:


Annabel McAleer

Communications Manager, Our Land and Water. Text in this article is licensed for re-use under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)


  • Hi, I am i not clear about the 34 key influences (as in the diagram) vs the 34 key drivers (listed with factsheets). Food safety is not featured in the diagram. It is included as a key driver.

    As I am a Principal Adviser (Residues Assurance) in NZ Food Safety I am very interested in this work.

    I look forward to your response.

    Thank you.

    • Kia ora Susan. To clarify, the 34 drivers listed with factsheets were defined by the research team and are unranked. The diagram describes what people working in the agrifood and fibre system said when they were surveyed by the research team, when asked what they thought were the most important influences and given an open text field to write in their response. If you click through to the full report you’ll see a description of the survey method. Hope this helps!


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