© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2019

Genetic discovery in bulls may mean less damage to waterways

Ella Stokes
Dairy Bull
Cows bred from low nitrate sires like these are expected to exrete less nitrogen. CRV Ambreed

New tool for farmers to cut nitrate leaching may result in less water pollution and a more sustainable dairy industry.

A New Zealand company has made a genetic breakthrough it anticipates will reduce nitrogen-leaching on New Zealand farms by 20% within 20 years.

CRV Ambreeds has discovered a way to lower nitrogen output in cows. It starts with the bulls and carries through breeding to their daughters, who genetically excrete less nitrogen in their urine. 

The primary cause of nitrogen leeched into the ground and water ways comes from cows urinating  on concentrated patches of land. In Canterbury this is a major issue because excessive nitrogen levels in water can clog water intakes. 

CRV Ambreeds announcment2
CRV Ambreeds genetic breakthrough being announced at the South Island Agricultural Field Days on Wednesday. CRV Ambreed

In what is thought to be an international first, the dairy herd improvement company announced the new initiative at the South Island Agricultural field days near Kirwee on Wednesday. 

For farmers, the breakthrough will provide them with a way to reduce their environmental footprint as pressure builds on them to clean up waterways. 

CRV Ambreeds Oceania managing director Angus Haslett said the company would market bulls not only for desirable traditional traits but as genetically superior for a new trait that is related to the amount of urea nitrogen in milk.

Managing Director of CRV Ambreed Oceania explains the breakthrough.


Angus  Haslett said this was not an overnight fix but a one step closer to a more sustainable future.