Innovative Methven farmer proving you can be green without going into the red

Craige McKenzie knows as well as anyone that productivity and profit can limit the ability of many businesses to be kind to the environment.

Craige McKenzie says some farmers need a kick in the butt and reduce their footprint with "precision agriculture". Source: Seven Sharp

So now the Methven farmer is out to lead by example and show others how they can use less water and fertiliser, while still making money.

"It became pretty clear, pretty quickly that the fastest way to reduce your footprint was with precision agriculture," he told Seven Sharp.

This precision approach means an investment in new machinery, but can cut down the amount of materials required drastically.

"We put on 10mm or 12mm in an application - maybe 20mm if it's really dry, whereas before we were putting on 60mm - 100mm in an application and you couldn't do any better than that."

Moisture sensors in the soil indicate where the water is needed most and with a couple of clicks, the area gets what it needs.

Ken Taylor heads a team which is trying to preserve our water resources by unlocking New Zealand's economic flood gates.

"New Zealand makes a lot of money out of agri-foods," he says, "but that's nothing like the money that those products are worth in overseas markets.

"We think part of the secret of that is being able to market our products in such a way that represents how important sustainability is in the way they're produced."

Mr Taylor says many people are slowly coming around to the fact that the environment doesn't have to be in competition with business, but also says the conversations need to continue.

"As a society we have to live within our environmental limits - that's a huge change from where we were even 10 years ago.

"In fact 10 years ago we were still denying, well, many of us were still denying that there was a problem to deal with ... we've moved on a long way from that.

"We need to be able to have some good open public conversation - that don't get heated."

Mr McKenzie says his farm is a good example of how things can work - and he's even issued an invitation.

"Our gates open, happy to show people what we're doing - we want to understand what's happening on the other side of the equation as well."