Rural round-up

October 31, 2013

Irrigation benefits all clear – Andrew Ashton:

The benefits North Otago communities continue to receive from local irrigation schemes have been highlighted to two Government Ministers.

The Waitaki Irrigators Collective (WIC) yesterday invited Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew to tour irrigation schemes across North Otago, and Mr Guy said the tour, which took in farms and irrigation schemes between Weston and Glenavy, had reinforced the ”huge benefits” of irrigation to North Otago. . . .

Another benefit to the area would be if New Zealand’s sharpest town, #gigatownoamaru becomes the Southern Hemisphere’s first #gigatown.

– Allan Barber:

When Eoin Garden retires as Silver Fern Farms’ chairman at the AGM in December, both cooperatives will have had a change at the top within three months of each other. So the big question is whether this will make any difference to the way they operate: will there be a significant change of culture and leadership from the top or will it be much the same as before?

The Meat Industry Excellence Group is obviously hopeful of getting its preferred directors elected to the SFF board with Richard Young, MIE’s chairman until recently, and Poverty Bay farmer Dan Jex-Blake resigning from MIE to stand for election in their respective wards.

There is also one MIE aligned candidate standing for the Alliance board, long time supplier Don Morrison, although Fonterra director John Monaghan was keen to stand, but was rejected by the Alliance board under the terms of the company’s constitution. MIE chairman John McCarthy says “this is a real slap in the face for Alliance shareholders” who want to see change and in his opinion “is typical of what’s wrong with the meat industry.” . . .

Irrigation progress welcomed in Otago and Rangitikei:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming new investment of $750,000 into irrigation projects in Central Otago, and $100,000 in the Rangitikei, coming from the Government’s Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF).

“There is major unrealised potential across the country for further irrigation development, and these two projects will help unlock that.

“This is about creating jobs and exports, particularly in provincial New Zealand. It will play a major part in realising the Government’s goal of doubling primary sector exports by 2025.”

The Central Otago funding will go towards backing the next stage of the Manuherikia Catchment Strategic Water Study. . .

Scientists redesigning orchards to increase fruit production:

Research that will literally shed more light on fruit trees could revolutionise the way crops such as apples are grown.

Plant and Food Research scientists are investigating new orchard planting systems, putting to the test the theory that trees and vines that receive more light could produce a lot more fruit.

Research leader Stuart Tustin says it could mean completely changing the way orchards are designed to allow more light to reach the trees’ canopies. . .

Dr Nigel Perry wins NZIC prize:

Plant & Food Research’s Dr. Nigel Perry has been awarded the 2013 New Zealand Institute of Chemistry Prize for Industrial and Applied Chemistry. Dr Perry was recognised for his focus on the discovery and development of biologically active natural products.

With his colleagues in Plant & Food Research and the Chemistry Dept of the University of Otago, he has combined fundamental chemistry knowledge with a drive to establish practical applications. Nigel works with medical and agricultural researchers, Māori groups, and New Zealand and international companies.

He is an inventor on six patents, including one on an insect attractant now in commercial use around the world. Much of this work is documented in confidential technical reports to clients, but he has also published many papers on applied chemistry, on three main themes: . . .

New funding for plant science:

Plant & Food Research has received funding for two projects in the latest Marsden fund which will study how plants grow and adapt, fundamental science that will ultimately inform future crop breeding and growing practices.

One of the projects will investigate how ancient plant ancestors may have adapted to an environment with high UV radiation, providing better understanding of how plants may respond to future climate change.

“The emergence of plants onto land was one of Earth’s major evolutionary events, but at that time the environment had a number of challenges, including high levels of damaging UV radiation,” says Dr Kevin Davies. “Our research will look at liverworts, the closest living relative of the first land plants, and study how these plants adapt the production of pigment molecules to counteract the effects of UV. This will, in turn, provide some understanding of how plants may adapt and respond to shifts in environmental conditions as a result of predicted global climate change.” . . .

Wakatipu partnership to target wilding pines:

A partnership between DOC, the Queenstown Lakes District Council, LINZ and the local community aims to clear thousands of hectares of wilding pines in the Wakatipu Basin over the next five years, Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

“Wilding pines are a significant risk to the natural ecology of the Wakatipu Basin. This partnership is about stepping up the efforts to control these tree weeds and protect the landscapes that make Queenstown such an iconic visitor destination,” Dr Smith told a meeting of the Wakatipu Wilding Conifer Control Group (WCG) in Queenstown this evening.

“This project illustrates the benefits of DOC’s new focus on partnering with others to deliver conservation gains. These tree weeds are as much of a problem on private and council land as they are on public conservation land. It makes sense that we have a co-ordinated effort to control their spread, maximise the use of new technology, and work together to roll back the infestation,” he says. . .


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