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Will Central Otago paddocks be dotted with dairy cows in 2020?
That was one of the questions posed at the Otago Chamber of Commerce business forum in Alexandra this week.
Business, tourism, farming, viticulture and horticulture industry leaders were asked to give their vision of Central Otago in the year 2020.
"Maybe we will see an increase in black and whites here, but they won't have cups on," agricultural consultant Karl Barclay, of Alexandra, said.
The returns compared with the costs would make it tough for most farmers, he said. Irrigating dryland was an expensive exercise.
"We're a long way away for Fonterra to pick up milk, although there are alternative companies out there.
"I can't see the whole of the Omakau valley being dairying in 10 years' time, but who's to say what might happen? I think it's more likely for Central Otago to be a dairy support area, grazing dry cattle and younger cattle. There's reasonable returns for that," Mr Barclay said.
Ten years on in the agriculture industry, he predicted dryland properties with no irrigation potential would have to expand to be viable, while smaller properties would need to intensify development.
"There will be different ownership set-ups for property, more leasing and more properties transferring into corporate ownership."
Land prices were likely to decline, he said.
Otago regional fruitgrowers committee chairman John Webb, of Cromwell, said horticulture was a progressive industry and in a decade, it would be even more "high tech" and have fewer packing sheds.