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Climate change legislation and New Zealand agriculture


UC Davis graduate student Meredith Niles examined agricultural practices and the economic impacts of climate change legislation on agrobusiness in New Zealand. Her work informed the New Zealand government about potential economic impacts of its policies and provided them with additional contacts with industry leaders and scientists.

Niles, a student supported by the US National Science Foundation through the “Responding to Rapid Environmental Change IGERT” program at UC Davis, partnered with the New Zealand agency and research institute AgResearch.

In her work, Niles interviewed agricultural processors, including nitrogen fertilizer companies, dairy processors and meat slaughtering facilities affected by the climate change law about to begin in New Zealand. She met with CEOs, general managers, environmental officers and policy representatives from some of the largest corporations in New Zealand, and got their perspectives about business considerations, economics and environmental regulations.

In addition to her work with business leaders, Niles also worked with AgResearch soil scientists to study how nitrification inhibitors may be utilized in an economic way for climate change mitigation. Niles helped take soil cores and prepare them for lab analysis to assess nitrogen contents as related to animal byproduct inputs, and visited a 1,000 head dairy facility with 20 fertilizer company representatives to better understand nutrient waste management, nutrient needs and the potential for methane digesters.

Address Goals

Niles’ dissertation research will focus on the impact of California and US climate change legislation on agriculture in California. Her work in New Zealand will inform her US-focused research. In addition, the New Zealand government will bring her back to New Zealand in summer 2011 to extend and present a formal report on her work.