Climate Change Minister thanks environment watchdog for his ‘landscape’ emissions report

Climate Change Minister James Shaw has thanked the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment for his latest report examining an alternative approach to dealing with long-term climate change targets and policies.

AgScience had not found a link to the report when preparing this post.

But according to RNZ, the report says New Zealand must focus on reducing carbon dioxide emissions rather than relying on forestry to absorb an increasing amount of greenhouse gases. Continue reading

EPA approval is sought for new fungicide

Public submissions have opened on an application to manufacture a fungicide in New Zealand for use in the control of a disease which affects wheat.

Dow AgroSciences (NZ) Ltd is seeking approval to manufacture GF-3308, for control of speckled leaf blotch (Septoria tritici) and also to suppress brown leaf rust (Puccinia triticina).

The applicant proposes that GF-3308 would be applied by ground-based and aerial broadcast spray methods.

The EPA’s General Manager of Hazardous Substances and New Organisms, Dr Fiona Thomson-Carter says the active ingredient in GF-3308 – fenpicoxamid – is a new active ingredient in New Zealand.

It is approved in the European Union, as well as Guatemala, Panama, and Ecuador.

The applicant, Dow AgroSciences, says GF-3308 would help to reduce the significant financial impact the fungal disease Septoria tritici has on wheat growers. It says there are reports of resistance in Septoria triticito existing fungicides, in New Zealand and other wheat-producing countries, and this product would provide an additional tool for resistance management.

Dow also notes that GF-3308 is highly toxic in aquatic environments, however it considers that standard control measures used by the EPA to mitigate any risks from spray drift – such as specifying spray droplet size and buffer zones – could be considered for GF-3308.

This application is being publicly notified to enable the public to comment and to put all relevant information before the decision makers.

Public submissions close at 5pm on 9 May 2019.

Source:  Environmental Protection Authority

Lincoln professor is honoured for science communication

Professor Steve Wratten, a Principal Investigator at the Bio-Protection Research Centre and Professor of Ecology at Lincoln University, has won the John Taylor Award for leadership in horticulture.

The award from the Canterbury Horticultural Society was given for his ability to communicate complex ideas to the non-scientific community.

“In doing so, people have become empowered to make a difference at a local level, which in time becomes regional, national and international,” his citation reads.

“His research and dissemination of knowledge to horticulturists and gardeners has and will continue to enable people to follow his lead and improve our production systems.”

Professor Wratten, a Fellow of the Royal Society Te Apārangi, specialises in biological control of pests. He advocates using companion planting to provide SNAP (Shelter, Nectar, Alternative food, and Pollen) for the natural enemies of insect pests.

He used this method to develop the Greening Waipara programme, which uses native plants to control pests and increase biodiversity in North Canterbury vineyards.

Accepting the award, Professor Wratten said university researchers had to produce both outputs, such as scientific publications, and outcomes, which were about making a difference – in this case to gardeners and professional horticulturalists.

Source:  Bio-Protection Research Centre

Primary industries and the challenge of adapting to climate change

The challenge for primary industries adapting to climate change will be outlined by Nick Cradock-Henry, Senior Researcher in Social Science for Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, at the New Zealand Agricultural Climate Change Conference 2019 (NZACCC), in Palmerston North on April 8-9.

Dr Cradock-Henry’s presentation will report on the results of an in-depth review of the state of adaptation science for New Zealand’s primary industries to determine exactly what is known, not known, and is needed to ensure successful adaptation for the sector.

Drawing on 10 years’ worth of impacts and adaptation research through the Sustainable Land Management and Climate Change (SLMACC) programme and a systematic review of published literature, its findings provide an up-to-date assessment of the state of adaptation science and its outcomes. Continue reading

Research team’s genetic mānuka map scores a first for native NZ species

The mānuka Leptospermum scoparium has become the first New Zealand native tree species to have a high-density linkage map built for it.

The map has been built by researchers from Plant & Food Research, AgResearch and the University of Otago using thousands of genetic markers obtained by sequencing.

Researchers David Chagné, Julie Ryan, Munazza Saeed, Tracey Van Stijn, Rudiger Brauning, Shannon Clarke, Jeanne Jacobs, Philip Wilcox, Emma Boursault, Peter Jaksons, Dan Jones, Amali Thrimawithana, Kathy Schwinn and David Lewis have published their findings in the new special issue of The New Zealand Journal of Crop and Horticultural Science. Continue reading

Ministers announce changes to climate change committee’s terms of reference

Changes to the Terms of Reference for the Interim Climate Change Committee are intended to better prepare the Government to initiate meaningful change to key legislation, addressing the implications of a changing climate.

The changes were announced today by the Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods.

When the interim committee was established in April last year it was intended findings would be delivered to the Independent Climate Change Commission.
Continue reading

Reassessment of plant growth regulator Meteor

Public submissions are open on an application to reassess restrictions on the use of Meteor, a substance used to thin pip fruit.

On November 12 2018 a decision-making committee appointed by the Environmental Protection Authority decided there were grounds for the reassessment because of ‘information showing a significant change of use’.

This is a modified reassessment and is only considering some proposed changes.

The applicant, AgriNova NZ Limited, wants to reduce both the maximum application rate and the restricted entry interval (how long access to the treated area is restricted after spraying). It also proposes that buffer zones may be reduced as a consequence of reduced application rates.

AgriNova has identified no potential adverse effects associated with the proposed changes.

It says the potential benefits are:

  • reduced risk to environment due to applying a lesser amount of active substance
  • an increase in efficiency and flexibility of crop management and better utilisation of staff
  • an enhanced ability to monitor for pests and disease.

The application is being publicly notified to enable people to provide us with additional information they believe we should be aware of, such as positive or negative effects of the proposed changes.

Submissions close at 5pm on May 1.

Details are available on the EPA website.

Source:  Environmental Protection Authority