Government backs programme to future-proof Sauvignon Blanc vines

The Government is investing in a seven-year programme led by Bragato Research Institute to help future-proof the sustainability of New Zealand’s Sauvignon Blanc grapevines, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced today.

Sauvignon Blanc comprises 87 per cent of the country’s wine exports.

“This new $18.7 million grapevine improvement programme will introduce genetic diversity into our vines, and ensure they continue to thrive in New Zealand conditions,” Damien O’Connor said.

“Anticipated climate change impacts require action now to ensure New Zealand continues to be considered the world’s Sauvignon Blanc capital.

“New Zealand’s Sauvignon Blanc vines are based on one clone, which presents some risk. Developing improved, commercially-available variants of this grape variety will also act as an industry insurance policy against future risks from pests, disease and changing markets.” Continue reading

Research finds herbicide resistance is greater than expected

Herbicide resistance is emerging as a serious and growing threat to New Zealand’s food production, with recent surveys by scientists finding half or more of arable farms and vineyards in some regions have weeds resistant to commonly used herbicides.

AgResearch scientists, who are carrying out the first systematic approach to surveying for herbicide-resistant weeds in arable crops with funding from the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, say their results are often many times the levels of resistance that had been expected.

Furthermore, new resistant weed species are being brought forward, or discovered by the AgResearch scientists working alongside the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) and the Bragato Research Institute, as part of the Managing Herbicide Resistance programme which began in 2018. Continue reading

Government supports $27 million collaborative project aimed at boosting sustainable horticulture production

The heading on a statement from the office of the Minister of Agriculture was more than somewhat bemusing for those of us in the agscience sector.  It said: Govt backing horticulture to succeed.

But wasn’t horticulture already successful, thanks – at least in part – to good research?

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor acknowledged this – surely – when he said the horticulture sector has long been one of New Zealand’s export star performers.

But let’s not quibble.  The good news beneath the heading tells us the Government is backing a new $27 million project aimed at boosting sustainable horticulture production and New Zealand’s COVID-19 recovery efforts.

And it looks (fingers crossed) like scientists can expect a slice of the action.

The programme which Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced is called A Lighter Touch. Continue reading

Bragato Research Institute announces location of new research winery

Bragato Research Institute (BRI) has announced its national research winery will be built at the Marlborough Research Centre on the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) Marlborough campus in Blenheim.

The centre will be sited alongside Plant and Food Research, New Zealand Winegrowers and Wine Marlborough.

The Marlborough Research Centre has been a key supporter of the BRI’s establishment and its co-location with key research and industry organisations, said M. J. Loza, chief executive of the Bragato Research Institute.

Formerly the New Zealand Winegrowers Research Centre, the BRI has been working alongside NMIT and the Marlborough Research Centre to secure the site and the location will enable further collaboration between the different organisations. Continue reading