Rural round-up

July 3, 2019

Snowstorm inspires stock-saver – Tim Fulton:

A shattering snowstorm changed David Brown’s life and inspired a life-saving product.

The founder of the Woolover started out as a sheep and cropping farmer at Clandeboye in South Canterbury, near the Fonterra milk factory. 

Running 3500 ewes he had lost his fair share of new-born lambs over a couple of decades, especially in three-day southerly storms. . . 

Iwi milk plant delivers value – Richard Rennie:

The skyline of the small Bay of Plenty town Kawerau has been dominated for the past 40 years by the big Tasman paper mill but now has another profile in the form of the new Waiu Dairy plant.

The joint iwi-Cedenco plant has been commissioned and its first commercial milk collection this week will be processed through the 900kg-an-hour drier.

Waiu chairman Richard Jones said the plant is the result of a bar-side conversation in 2012 with iwi business representatives when they were kicking around options for revitalising eastern Bay of Plenty. . . 

 

One Plan changes should bring relief to nearly 180 unconsented farmers – Jono Galuszka:

Nearly 180 farms in the wider Manawatū are operating without a consent and cannot get one without changes to contentious planning rules.

But even if the changes are made, the region’s economy is expected to lose tens of millions of dollars.

Horizons Regional Council is putting proposed changes to its One Plan out for consultation, with people having 60 days from July 22 to make a submission. . . 

Mataura Valley Milk expanding plant near Gore – Rachael Kelly:

Infant nutrition formula producer Mataura Valley Milk has begun work on a $5m expansion to its plant at McNab near Gore, less than a year since it began operations.

General manager Bernard May said the company had secured a 37 per cent increase in milk supply for the coming season and needed to expand the plant.

New silos would be constructed and a new tanker bay were included in the expansion, and there was the possibility of more jobs being created. . . 

Application to import wilding conifer herbicide :

Views are sought on an application to import Method 240 SL Herbicide to control wilding conifers and other woody weeds.

Your views are sought on an application to import Method 240 SL Herbicide to control wilding conifers and other woody weeds.

Bayer CropScience Pty Ltd has applied for approval to import the herbicide. . .

Agri-tech sector to pioneer govt industry transformation strategy Pattrick Smellie

(BusinessDesk) – Agricultural technology should be one of New Zealand’s leading sources of high-value jobs, exports and improved farming practice, but has failed to grow much in the last decade, prompting the government to make it the focus of the first of four new industry sector transformation plans.

In what was probably his last public act as Economic Development Minister before handing the portfolio to Phil Twyford after last week’s Cabinet reshuffle, Parker released both a general guide to the industry transformation plan concept and a draft ITP for the agri-tech sector this morning.

The other sectors targeted for such plans are food and beverages, digital technology, and forestry and wood processing.

Speeding breeding and other ways of feeding 10 billion people

Improvements to make crops more nutritious, disease resistant and climate smart are essential to feed a burgeoning world population.

While a host of fascinating innovations are primed to change the face of agriculture, there remains a stubborn limiting factor for plant breeding.

This is the long generation times of crops that allow only one or two generations per year. Unless this changes it is unlikely that we will be able to feed the 10 billion people who will be sharing the planet by 2050.

This roadblock to progress has been alleviated by speed breeding protocols developed by research teams at the John Innes Centre and the University of Queensland. . .


Rural round-up

March 12, 2019

It’s all about the bloodline – Luke Chivers:

Central Hawke’s Bay farmers Harry and Kate de Lautour are dedicated to bloodline but it isn’t just about their ancestry. Luke Chivers reports.

From  the crack of dawn to the close of day sheep and beef farmer Harry de Lautour is set on challenging his animals for the betterment of their health.

The 31-year-old from Flemington has a long-standing connection with the primary sector, sheep genetics and performance recording.  

Growing up in rural New Zealand instilled that passion.

“I grew up on a sheep and beef farm in Hawke’s Bay and absolutely loved it,” he says. . . 

Auckland wants to protect productive soils – Neal Wallace:

In the next 30 years up to a million new houses could be built in Auckland on designated land that excludes elite and prime soils.

Land Squeeze Dinkus 1The city’s rural-urban boundary provides an urban edge with 15,000ha – equivalent to twice the urban area of Hamilton – of rural land identified for future urban expansion, Auckland City Council urban growth and housing director Penny Pirrit said.

In addition, land in Auckland’s existing urban area has space for another 240,000 houses.

Supplying infrastructure for that degree of expansion is estimated to cost $20 billion over 30 years.

When the council was formed in 2010 one of its first roles was to plan for future residential and industrial growth. . . 

Good start to grape harvest – Simon Hartley:

Central Otago’s grape harvest is well under way and recent dry conditions are having barely any effect, Central Otago Winegrowers Association past president James Dicey says.

Harvesting started late last month, mainly of sparkling grape varieties and other varieties are due to start soon, through to mid-to-late March.

While Australia’s wine sector has been devastated by its hottest summer on record and drought, Central Otago has not been similarly hit, despite the past summer in New Zealand having been recorded as one of the hottest on record. . . 

Wilding pines are ‘a blanket of green like a marching army over a landscape’ – Georgie Ormond:

It looks like a harmless Christmas tree but Pinus Contorta is wreaking havoc on the landscape in some parts of New Zealand.

Tragically, Contorta was originally planted in the central North Island for conservation, to help stabilise the alpine scree slopes, and for forestry.

Fifty years later it’s an insidious wilding pine that is taking over the Central Plateau.

Craig Davey from Horizons Regional Council says that’s because Contorta has the lightest seed of all our pinus species. . . 

Finding satisfaction in contrary conditions – Mike Weddell:

The end of the fishing season is not far away but it does not seem long since it started, so we need to make the most of it.

Conditions have been great for fishing recently and it seems like not much will change in the short term.

My last two outings were scorchers, bright sun and little wind which, combined with clear water, were great days.

Reading traditional fly-fishing books, they mostly state that these are the worst conditions for fishing – but in my experience, the contrary is true.

Some of my best days ever have been on hot sunny days. . . 

‘Head in the sand’ approach outdated – Richard Kohne:

There is a fine line between a consumer fad and a long-term structural shift in a way of thinking, but most people in food production would agree that the Australian consumers’ focus on sustainability is here to stay.

This means a “head in the sand” approach is well and truly off the table. In fact, most producers are well aware of the risk they take when delaying their response to such a shift in thinking, and so are now looking for a way to meet this consumer desire. 

Few might appreciate however, that responding to this desire for sustainable produce could in fact make them more profitable. . . 


Rural round-up

January 20, 2019

Wilding pines march across the Wakatipu landscape – Keith Woodford:

The Wakatipu Basin, with Queenstown as its main town and Arrowtown a secondary town, is a key location for the war between wilding pines and humans. On the human side, the war is led by the Department of Conservation (DOC), but there are also lots of community volunteers. There are battles to be fought. It is not clear who is going to win.

New Zealand’s wilding pines include at least 11 species. They can be any North American or European conifer which has blown  in on the wind to where it was not intended to be. And that is what is happening across the tussock grasslands of the South Island.

In its natural state, the Wakatipu Basin was stark, There were very few trees. And so the early European settlers planted trees that came from their homelands.  These trees have greatly softened the landscape.  Indeed much of the beauty of the valley floors is associated with these trees, particularly the deciduous trees in autumn. . . .

Stepping up to genetic plate – Luke Chivers:

Waikaretu Valley sheep and beef farmer Kate Broadbent is committed to improving the odds for New Zealand sheep farmers against natural hazards. Luke Chivers reports. 

Sheep and beef farmer Kate Broadbent from Nikau Coopworth in Waikaretu Valley in Waikato is combining her passion for the land with sheep genetics and performance recording.

The former Canadian has a longstanding connection with the primary sector, science and innovation.

“I grew up on a dairy farm in Nova Scotia, Canada and it was there my love of farming was born,” Broadbent says. . . 

Big day for the southern guns:

Southern shearers opened a big weekend of shearing sports in New Zealand with a near cleansweep of all five places in the Open shearing final at the Northern Southland Community Shears near Lumsden today.

The rout in the Selbie family’s Five Rivers woolshed, including the biggest Open-class win in the career of former double Golden Shears lower grades champion Brett Roberts, 24, of Mataura, came in the first of two-back-to-back A-grade Southland shows this weekend. . . 

The shearing the fun shows of the north:

Waikato farmer Lee Cheyne isn’t going to let a few hundred kilometres stand between him and the chance to help boost the shearing competitions over the next few weeks.

It’s all about fun, he says, and while he won’t be at the Kaikohe show which kicks off the second annual ANZ Northland Shearing Competition on Saturday he says he will make the trip north for at least three of the other shows all of them at least two hours away – one close to four. . . 

Health Canada stands by approval of ingredient in Roundup weed killer :

Health Canada scientists say there is no reason to believe the scientific evidence they used to approve the continued use of glyphosate in weed killers was tainted.

On Friday they rejected, again, arguments that the ingredient in herbicides like Monsanto’s Roundup causes cancer if the substances are used as they’re supposed to be.

The department’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency is required to reassess herbicides every 15 years and after such a reassessment in 2017 it approved glyphosate for continued use in Canada with some additional labelling requirements. The review looked at more than 1,300 studies and concluded glyphosate products pose no risk to people or the environment as long as they are properly used and labelled. . . 

 

Mystery surrounds potential world record trout catch:

Fish and Game is trying to confirm reports of a giant trout – a potential world record – recently caught in the Mackenzie Country hydro canals.

Eyewitnesses report seeing an angler land a 24.9kg (55 pound) brown trout in the Pukaki-Ohau A canal.

If confirmed, it would be a new world record for a brown trout. . . 


Rural round-up

June 5, 2017

It’s Complicated: Is NZ Media’s Relationship with Kiwi Farmers Busted? – Ben Stanley:

I’m a farm kid, and a journalist, and right now that’s an awkward position to be in.

There’s a name you don’t say out loud in rural New Zealand right now unless you want to draw scorn and outright disgust.

It’s the name of one of my childhood heroes.

For the majority of the 1990s, Cameron Bennett was New Zealand’s foreign correspondent; our eye on international conflict and disaster. He’d travel to Iraq, Russia, Afghanistan and the West Bank and report back home with his gritty, but revealing, insights on war and why people make it. . .

A water battle looms in NZ’s Middle-Earth desert – Matthew Brockett & Tracy Withers:

In the rugged heart of New Zealand’s South Island, a high-altitude desert where the men of Middle-Earth made their last stand in the “Lord of the Rings” movies has become a battlefield once again.

Environmentalists and farmers are clashing over the Mackenzie Basin, an area known for its scorched-brown grasslands and crystal-blue lakes – and now, massive irrigation systems that are spreading circles of emerald-green pasture across the Mars-like terrain.

“It’s similar to greening the desert of Nevada or California,” said Annabeth Cohen, a freshwater scientist at environmental group Forest and Bird. . .

Mackenzie Basin set to lose $1.2b in farming production if wildings aren’t controlled  – Pat Deavoll:

The Mackenzie Basin could lose $1.2 billion in farming production a year if the spread of wilding conifers is not brought under control, said Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) wilding programme manager Sherman Smith.

Few species would survive if the basin was smothered by wildings, he said.

“If the basin is taken over by wildings, that’s 50 cumecs (of water) drained out of the Waitaki system, biodiversity that would suffer and there would be a lot of species that wouldn’t survive,” said Smith at the Federated Farmers High Country Conference, . .

Cut debt or go  – Hugh Stringleman:

Dairy farmers with unsustainable debt who can’t build equity buffers with profits should exit the sector, Reserve Bank governor Graham Wheeler says.

But Federated Farmers dairy chairman Andrew Hoggard says Wheeler used outdated figures when he warned the dairy sector was still a financial risk to the economy and banks should monitor it closely.

“The uncertain outlook for dairy prices and the rising proportion of highly indebted farms means there remains a risk that non-performing loans could increase in coming seasons. . . .

Whitehall kiwifruit growers come out the other side of Psa disease – Gerald Piddock:

It’s been a slow road to recovery for Mark and Robyn Gardiner since Psa ripped through their kiwifruit business.

Called Seudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae, the deadly viral disease was first discovered at their 200 hectare Whitehall Fruitpackers operation in 2010.

Left unchecked, Psa destroys green and gold vines and spawns leaf spotting, cankers and shoot dieback.

At the worst point of the outbreak, Mark cut out 40ha of his 16 Gold kiwifruit crop as well as partial cuttings of green fruit. At the same time, the more resistant G3 variety was grafted to the vines. . .

Farm win gets civic reception – Hugh Stringleman:

Winning the Ahuwhenua Trophy for Maori Excellence in sheep and beef farming was the achievement of a lifetime for Northland farm manager Lloyd Brennan and his staff, he told Hugh Stringleman.

The Ahuwhenua Trophy might be scheduled for another visit to Kaikohe, the Northland town that needs to celebrate success and encourage more young Maori into farming.

A civic reception was being planned by the Far North District Council with the Omapere Rangihamama Trust (ORT) and its board of trustees, headed by Sonny Tau. . .

National ambassadors for sustainable farming recognised:

The winners of the national ambassador title for the Ballance Farm Environment Awards describe their farm as the largest lifestyle block in Taranaki.

Ohangai sheep, beef and dairy farmers Peter and Nicola Carver won the National Ambassador title over 10 other regional supreme winners at the National Sustainability Showcase event at the Ascot Park Hotel in Invercargill on May 31.

Operating as Holmleigh Trust Partnership, the couple combine dairy and dry stock farming on their 515ha family property east of Hawera. . .


Rural round-up

May 27, 2016

More charges laid in reponse to Waikato bobby calves footage Edwin Mitson:

(BusinessDesk) – The Ministry for Primary Industries has laid a second set of charges as part of an investigation into the alleged abuse of bobby calves in the Waikato.

MPI began investigating after TVNZ’s Sunday programme broadcast footage which showed the calves being thrown onto trucks and being left for dead.

Ten charges were laid against an individual in March, with a hearing due to take place on June 2. Four charges have been laid against a company and a different individual today, with a hearing due at Huntly District Court on June 21.

MPI acting director of compliance, Steve Gilbert, said the investigation is onoing and had been “careful, methodical”. . . 

Farmers applaud responsible budget and urge tax cuts for 2017:

Federated Farmers supports the Government’s prudent financial management and maintenance of surpluses announced in today’s Budget.

Federated Farmers President Dr William Rolleston said: “The Government has clearly decided to invest surplus proceeds in a series of funding initiatives for the future including science and skills.

“We strongly support the increase in funding for science and technology and also welcome new spending on skills, transport, establishment of a Freshwater Improvement Fund, regional development, and commitments to fund TB control and to contain the spread of wilding pine. . . 

Funding good start in tackling Wilding Pine but biosecurity incursion response needs more:

Federated Farmers welcomes funding for the control of Wilding Pines but warns that more money is needed for biosecurity incursion response measures.

The Wilding Pines initiative sits within MPI’s existing allocation for Biosecurity Incursion Response and Long Term Pest Management, which for 2016/17 will increase by $1 million from 2015/16 (from $34 million to $35 million).

High Country chairman Simon Williamson said: “The money allocated to Wilding Pines is the bare minimum we need to demonstrate that the long term strategy for wilding control, worked on for the past 18 months, is of both environmental and economic benefit to the country. . .

Budget 2016 boost for regional economies, infrastructure, social housing and biodiversity:

LGNZ President, Lawrence Yule, acknowledged a much needed boost for communities in four key areas LGNZ has been advocating for: stronger regional economies, infrastructure, community and social housing, and biodiversity.

“Stronger, more successful regional economies and better community wellbeing are key areas of focus for LGNZ. We are pleased to see Government focus on these priority areas for communities,” says Mr Yule.

“$44 million over four years to assist regions to develop opportunities in their economic action plans is a useful start to investing in local economic initiatives, and consistent with what LGNZ has been asking for,” says Mr Yule. . . 

 

Trickledown benefits for rural health in Budget 2016:

There might be no silver funding bullets for rural health in the Government’s latest Budget but there should be trickledown benefits across a range of health initiatives nationally, says New Zealand Rural General Practice Network chief executive Dalton Kelly.

“For example the Wairarapa and the Hutt Valley will host the start of a bowel screening programme, both of which areas have rural populations, especially the Wairarapa.

“All DHBs are to receive a total of $400 million extra funding and again this should have positive implications for rural New Zealanders across most, if not all, DHB areas. . . 

Safely.nz’ app targets better farm health and safety without the hassle:

With the launch of a new app specifically tailored for New Zealand’s farms, professional services firm Crowe Horwath is making it easier and more convenient to institute sound health and safety practices in rural workplaces. Dubbed ‘Safely.nz’, the app is the result of a partnership between Crowe Horwath’s Human Resources division, Progressive Consulting, and developer Peak Software.

Safely.nz is customised to Kiwi farms and agricultural support businesses, such as agricultural contractors, transport providers, fertiliser spreaders, vets and shearing contractors. . .

Milk price prediction means farmers will tread water for another season:

Farmers are resigned to another tight season after Fonterra confirmed its milk price at $4.25 for the coming season.

Dairy chairman Andrew Hoggard said: “Many were hopeful of a price in the vicinity of $4.50, so optimistic farmers will be feeling disappointed.

“The reality is we have seen the opening forecast price change quickly as the market has changed. Unfortunately it has changed for the worse in the previous two seasons. Hopefully with this conservative forecast, we won’t see any further drops. Especially as there are some more positive signs out there in the markets presently. . . 

New Zealand Avocados Break Record for New Zealand Sales at $41 million:

New Zealand’s love affair with avocados has produced record-breaking domestic sales of $41 million during the 2015-16 season.

Jen Scoular, Chief Executive of NZ Avocado, today announced impressive end-of-season results of $134 million in industry value from export and New Zealand market sales.

Strong global demand also delivered outstanding returns from the Australian market and strong returns from the Asian export markets. . . 

Wool Celebrates Its Place In The Built Environment At One of the Biggest Architectural Events:

The Venice Architecture Biennale 2016!

For the first time ever wool is being celebrated at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2016, with an installation in the New Zealand Room and a hosting event set down for September.

The Architecture Biennale kicks off on Thurs 26th with the Vernissage (an exclusive launch) and runs for six months. This Biennale, sister to the Art Biennale, attracts over 3000 media and more than a quarter of a million global visitors.

“This is a highly attentive and influential audience, and it’s great to see New Zealand companies with a strong design focus appreciate the opportunities the Biennale offers,” says Teen Hale Pennington, CE, New Zealand Institute of Architecture (NZIA). . . 

Stoned sheep invade Welsh village:

Stoned sheep have gone on a “psychotic rampage” in the small Welsh village of Rhydypandy after eating cannabis plants.

The plants, left-overs of an illegal cannabis factory, were dumped at the side of a road near the village and there are fears things could get worse.

“There is already a flock of sheep roaming the village causing a nuisance,” said County councillor Ioan Richard.

“They are getting in people’s gardens and one even entered a bungalow and left a mess in the bedroom.” . . .


Rural round-up

July 2, 2015

Stoat threatens sanctuary kiwi:

Conservation staff are hunting a stoat that has breached a native wildlife sanctuary’s $2 million fence.

The Orokonui Ecosanctuary near Dunedin is home to several species of native birds, insects, and tuatara.

The centre’s conservation manager, Elton Smith, said a ranger spotted the stoat’s footprints in the snow last week.

“Experts confirmed the worst case scenario that it was in fact a stoat,” he said. . .

$8.8m in erosion grants awarded

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced $8.8 million in funding grants over four years to help councils tackle hill country erosion.

“We’ve seen the serious damage that erosion has caused after the severe storm in the Whanganui, Rangitikei and Taranaki regions, both economically and environmentally,” says Mr Guy.

“This funding round is timely, given that $4.7 million out of the total $8.8 million is going towards the Horizons Regional Council. This covers the Whanganui and Manawatu regions which have been badly affected by flooding and landslides.” . .

 

Getting the right TPP deal – Nigel Sitrling:

Farming leaders say they will not be bounced into accepting a poor deal in the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Government should walk away from the talks if they do not deliver significant improvements in access to overseas markets for this country’s major exports.

After several times looking like it might fail in recent weeks the 12-country negotiation took a sizable step forward yesterday when the United States Senate finally passed legislation giving President Barack Obama authority to negotiate trade deals on behalf of Congress.

The so-called Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill was passed 60-34 and is now ready to be signed into law by Obama in a move expected to clear the way for countries in the TPP talks to bring six years of talks to a close. . .

The bigger picture is progress – Rick Powdrell:

My November address to council had a theme of change. This is a topic our wider industry regularly focuses on, but concentrates on the big macro burning issues often without giving credit to the many progressive changes being made.

I don’t need to highlight the on farm productivity gains made in recent years to this council.  Our progressive farmers have adopted practices and technology to significantly lift the performance of their stock and the quality of the product to the end consumer.

At the same time the meat companies have been adopting modern technologies to improve the throughput performance of their plants. . .

Life membership takes Elliot by surprise – Sally Rae:

When Mike Elliot was presented with life membership of Otago Federated Farmers, he said it took him by complete surprise.

”It certainly blew my socks off. It was totally unexpected; just brilliant,” the 66 year old South Otago farmer said.

Mr Elliot first became involved with the rural lobby organisation in the early 1980s, attending Clinton branch meetings. In those days, the branch system in the organisation was very strong.

He later became chairman of the dairy section of Otago Federated Farmers and served as national senior vice president of the section. He was also a former provincial president. . .

 

Disappointment with ORC over wilding trees – John Gibb:

Otago Regional Council member Gerry Eckhoff says it is ”regrettable” the council has earmarked no funding to support community groups, including those in Central Otago, battling to remove wilding trees.

At an ORC meeting this week Cr Eckhoff, who lives near Alexandra, voted for the ORC’s amended long-term plan (LTP) overall.

But he voiced concern that no money was being provided to support community groups undertaking good work in tackling the growing wilding pine ”disaster”. . .

“Resounding support” for new arable industry structure:

Federated Farmers new Arable Industry Group Chairperson Guy Wigley says some “minor changes” has the arable sector on a secure footing for the forseeable future.

The industry group held its AGM in Wellington today with council elections and confirmed it’s name change from Federated Farmers’ Grain and Seeds Industry Group to the Federated Farmers’ Arable Industry Group. . .

 

New faces on federation’s dairy executive:

Federated Farmers’ Dairy Industry Group has announced changes to its national executive this afternoon.

At the industry’s national council in Wellington there were two new delegates elected with one retiring.

Marlborough dairy chair Wayne Langford was elected vice chair to the national executive, while Mid Canterbury dairy chair Jesse Chan-Dorman was appointed to the executive. . .

 


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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