There is a clear research gap in understanding how future pathways and disruptions to the New Zealand (NZ) agricultural system will have an impact on the environment and productivity. Agriculture is in a period of significant change due to market disruptions, climate change, increasingly stringent environmental regulations, and emerging technologies. In NZ, agriculture is a key sector of the economy, therefore government and industry need to develop policies and strategies to respond to the risks and opportunities associated with these disruptors.
To address this gap, there is a need to develop an assessment tool to explore pathways and interventions for increasing agricultural profitability, resilience, and sustainability over the next 5–30 years.
A decision support tool was developed through Stella Architect, bringing together production, market values, land use, water use, energy, fertiliser consumption, and emissions from agricultural sectors (dairy, beef, sheep, cereals, horticulture, and forests). The parameters are customisable by the user for scenario building. Two future trend scenarios (Business as usual, Optimisation and technology) and two breakaway scenarios (Carbon farming, Reduction in dairy demand) were simulated and all met carbon emissions goals, but profitability differed.
Future environmental regulations can be met by adjusting levers associated with technology, carbon offsets, and land use. The model supports the development and assessment of pathways to achieve NZ’s national agriculture goals and has the potential to be scaled globally.