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  • Lincoln University has produced resources for year 11 students that focus on dairying in New Zealand. The purpose of the resources is to increase students’ understanding about the science and the management practices being carried out on dairy farms. They explore the costs and benefits of dairy farming so students can discuss what the industry is doing well, where it needs to improve and whether the dairying industry is sustainable.

    Resources designed for making meaning and critical thinking

    This suite of resources has a variety of topics that you can choose from and integrate into your teaching. Lincoln University wants to support teachers and increase interest in the areas that it specialises in. The lesson plans include activities, videos, teacher notes and additional readings. The resources are curated in the interactive planning pathway below.

    The resources include a range of learning experiences to increase engagement, make the topic memorable and enable students to practise different skills to build in-depth understanding.

    Prior learning

    The resources have been designed on the basis that students have had limited interaction with or knowledge of dairy farming. It is good to gain an idea of which students have a rural background and seek input from them around how they do things on their farm. Different farms have different ways of doing things so there can be variation within farms and regions. The resources endeavour to provide a broad overview of the industry.

    New Zealand Curriculum links

    Dairy, science and sustainability resources support learning in multiple curriculum areas.

    In science, the resources support these big ideas:

    • Science offers ways for ākonga to engage with issues and opportunities at personal, community or global level.
    • Science offers a way for ākonga to interpret representations, critique evidence and communicate knowledge.

    In agricultural and horticultural science, the resources support these big ideas:

    • Agriculture and horticulture connect places of purposeful production with people’s wellbeing.
    • Primary producers engage in manaakitanga as they manage life processes and the growing environment.
    • Primary production systems must be sustainable.

    In geography, the resources support these big ideas:

    • Environments shape people and people shape environments.
    • Perspectives and power influence environments.

    Field trips

    It is recommended that a farm visit is organised so students can use a specific case study to see which management practices are being carried out on a farm in their region.

    Dairy farm systems can vary throughout the country due to size, soils, feed, management practices and location – all factors that have a significant impact on the environmental outcomes.

    It is also worth noting that, at certain times of the year, dairy farms may be too busy to host students or there may not be a lot happening on the farm. Term 1 is best suited for field trips – farmers are still milking and calves have been weaned. Term 2 marks the beginning of winter and wet weather, and most herds will not be milking. The latter half of term 3 is also suitable for field trips – calving is close to completion and most farms will be milking. If you are in the Lincoln area and want to visit the Lincoln University Dairy Farm, visit their outreach page for workshops and dates.

    Research and demonstration farms

    Lincoln University has multiple farms used for research and demonstrating best practice. The Lincoln University Dairy Farm is a demonstration farm so it needs to make profit while also finding ways to be more sustainable. The outcomes and management practices are then shared with farmers and industry so they can be adopted and adapted to their farms. Information about these farms are in the Useful links section below.

    Related content

    Dairy innovations – targeting climate change features innovative research projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with dairy farming.

    Dairy farming and climate change – a context for learning provides curriculum links, te ao Māori perspectives and an interactive planning pathway to help you use it in your teaching.

    Explore our DairyNZ resources on research into robotic milking.

    Discover more resources on Dairy farming on our Pinterest board.

    Oneone – soils is a collection that supports pilot-ready Agricultural and Horticultural Science 1.3 Demonstrate understanding of how soil properties are managed in a primary production system. – but it is also useful for anyone interested in soils and primary production.

    Useful links

    Read about how Lincoln University Dairy Farm is launching three new farm systems initiatives at its demonstration farm, all geared towards sustainable dairy farming practices.

    These Lincoln University research and demonstration farms all provide notes, data and webinars on their operations:

    DairyNZ has a School Farm Visits programme.


    This resource and the resources in the interactive planner were written by Lauren Roberts, Lincoln University. Academics and farm staff from Lincoln University Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences provided information, expertise and advice in the construction of this unit. Industry organisations also assisted with providing facts and figures.

    Lincoln University provides a range of outreach and teaching materials for senior secondary school students. Visit their outreach page for information on workshops and additional resources.

      Published 22 December 2021 Referencing Hub articles
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