Rural round-up

Biological industries big winners – Hugh Stringleman:

Nitrate leaching, sheep milking, and new hops and beers were among the diverse research proposals that have attracted medium-term, contestable Government funding, Hugh Stringleman found out.

Biological industries have received 80% of the Government’s 2013 allocation of contestable research funding and the proposed Lincoln Hub has been conspicuously successful.

Lincoln Hub partners AgResearch, DairyNZ, Landcare Research, Lincoln University, and Plant & Food Research secured grants totalling $133 million for 21 new research projects. . .

Genotyping chip a milestone for sheep industry:

An international team has developed a powerful new tool that can be used to test a sheep’s genetics and predict its productivity and meat quality.

FarmIQ in conjunction with Illumina and the International Sheep Genomics Consortium (ISGC) are have announced completion of the “Ovine Infinium® HD SNP BeadChip”.

This new chip is capable of identifying up to 600,000 points across the sheep genome (otherwise known as single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs). It is one of the first high-density chips developed for sheep and follows the release in January 2009 of the OvineSNP50 BeadChip, which can identify over 50,000 points. . .

Zespri wins top award in Asia for marketing:

Zespri has been recognised for the quality of its marketing programmes across Asia at the inaugural Asia Fruit Awards in Hong Kong.

Zespri’s president of global sales and marketing Dan Mathieson was presented with the Marketing Campaign of the Year award at the Asia Fruit Awards, which were presented by Asiafruit Magazine and Asia Fruit Logistica as part of the annual Asia Fruit Logistica and Asiafruit Congress event.

Asia Fruit Logistica is the leading trade exhibition for Asian fresh produce business and is attended by about 6000 buyers and trade visitors from more than 60 countries. . .

Research to look at pasture production and profitability:

New researchby AgResearch will get down to the grass roots, or more accurately, clover roots of New Zealand farming.

A $7 million programme aims to increase pasture production and profitability by improving the ability of legumes such as white clover to fix nitrogen in the soil.

Bacteria called rhizobia, which live in the nodules on clover roots, are an essential part of that nitrogen-fixing process.

The natural nitrogen supplied into pastures in this way has been referred to as New Zealand’s competitive advantage in farm production. . .

Bacterial toxins harnessed for bioinsecticides and medicine:

New Zealand and Australian scientists have found a new way in which bacteria store and release toxins, and their discovery may be harnessed to develop new bioinsecticides for crop pests and even new medicines.
The team, led by Dr Shaun Lott from AgResearch and The University of Auckland and Dr Mark Hurst at AgResearch in Lincoln, studied how the bacterium Yersinia entomophaga kills crop pests such as grass grubs, diamondback moths and porina caterpillars. . .

Ballance user testing “more sophisticated” nutrient technology:

Farmers will soon have a tool to help them deal with areas of the farm that are more likely to be the source of nutrient losses.

The emerging technology from Ballance Agri-Nutrients is one of the initial outcomes of the co-operative’s research and development programme, which is being co-funded by the Government’s Primary Growth Partnership.

User testing and validation is now underway for the “precision decision” model, which will give farmers access to information about how they can reduce nutrient losses while getting the best response from their fertiliser use, says Ballance’s Research and Development Manager, Warwick Catto. . .

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