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Sustainable farming

What we’re doing in New Zealand

New Zealand’s farmers and growers produce great food for New Zealand and the world. They’re used to looking ahead because planning for the future is crucial for any successful enterprise.

The future success of New Zealand’s farming communities will depend increasingly on good environmental management and sustainable food production.

At Rabobank, we can help you prepare for a successful future by working alongside you and making your business more sustainable both commercially and environmentally.

Sustainable farming

Building a picture of farm sustainability

As part of our focus on sustainability, we’ve developed a new approach to help farmers and growers build a detailed snapshot of the non-financial performance of their businesses – where they’re doing well and where there’s room to improve. This includes how our rural clients are faring with their agronomic, environmental, social and workplace performance.

We see it as a win-win: It helps our clients adapt to emerging regulatory requirements and increasing consumer and community expectations. At the same time, as a bank we’re getting robust data on the non-financial performance of farms across our portfolio.

Our New Zealand business’s sustainability strategy is regarded highly across the Rabobank group.

Reducing food waste and supporting KiwiHarvest

Worldwide, around 40% of all food produced doesn’t make it to people’s plates. Food waste also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and it squanders the water, land and energy used to grow it.

Rabobank is on a mission to do something about it.

You can read more about opportunities to reduce food waste here and find out about our exciting new partnership with food rescue charity KiwiHarvest.

Katherine & Fraser McGougan

New Zealand Farm Environment Trust Partnership

Rabobank is a long-term strategic partner of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, which administers the Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The Trust’s focus on sharing information among farmers and best-practice management of natural resources means its goals are closely aligned to ours.

Our staff around the country play a significant role on the judging panels for the 11 regional Ballance Farm Environment award programmes, as well as on the national awards judging committee. This provides them with a first-hand view of farming best practice and the opportunity to learn from award entrants and other members of the judging panels.

Working with sector participants to improve the flow of sustainable finance

Under the umbrella of the Aotearoa Circle, Rabobank joined forces with the Ministry of Primary Industries and other banks in early 2020 to develop guidance for integrating sustainability considerations into funding for New Zealand’s agricultural sector. The guidance was released in July 2021 and draws on domestic and international frameworks, alongside good farming practice and is ultimately a tool to help banks in their decision making.

Following the release of the new material, it is anticipated Rural Bank Finance will increasingly be guided by sustainability considerations including climate change mitigation and adaption, water use, waste minimisation, labour rights and animal welfare.

You can find out more about the Aotearoa Circle and the new guidance here.

The Aotearoa Circle

Watch now

Sustainability case study: Pomahaka Catchment - a great testament for farmers working together for a more sustainable future.

Top 10 tips to manage your farm sustainably

Consumers and markets around the world are demanding high-quality sustainable products, and reviewing your operations to meet this demand can also improve your bottom line. Here are Rabobank’s top 10 tips below on how you can get started:

  • Find out how contaminants are leaving your farming system.  
  • Investigate the range of options available to reduce your losses (DairyNZ, B+LNZ and council websites are a good source of information).
  • Get involved with local catchment groups providing farmers with solutions to local issues.
  • Take advantage of freely available services/resources (such as DairyNZ Sustainable Milk Plans, B+LNZ Land Environment Plans or any free environmental workshops).
  • Develop a farm plan for increasing sustainability over time.
  • Discuss with the person who prepared your Overseer Nutrient Budget how it can be used to improve your nutrient efficiency.
  • Refrain from making any major system changes and/or investments without fully understanding the economic and environmental implications.
  • Focus on sustainability activities that are most cost-efficient first before moving to more expensive mitigations.
  • Watch where water converges when it rains to get an idea of where to focus.
  • Implement only those activities that are relevant to your property's contaminant loss.

Blake Holgate

Head of Sustainable Business Development


As the Head of Sustainable Business Development, Blake helps the bank’s clients position themselves to best manage increasing environmental, societal and market risk as well as seizing opportunities created by a scarcity of resources and a growing global population.

This includes contributing towards Rabobank policy submissions to government on regulation affecting the sector, producing reports and podcasts for our clients which examine issues linked to sustainable farming and developing new products and services aimed at helping clients businesses be more commercially and environmentally sustainable.

Hailing from a sheep and beef farming family, Blake has an MBA from Otago University and practised as an environmental lawyer specialising in resource management before joining Rabobank.