Posts Tagged ‘Sustainable Farming Fund’

Future farming fund investment will optimise primary sector, farm leaders say

Federated Farmers has welcomed the Government’s announcement that it will lift investment in the Sustainable Farming Fund from $7 million to $20 million.

Science spokesman Guy Wigley said working with the sector was a much more effective and useful approach than the tax and punish policies of some other parties.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy announced a cross-sector panel will oversee what will be renamed The Future Farming Fund, driving advances in farming technology and practices while further reducing farming’s environmental footprint.

Since its launch 17 years ago, the Sustainable Farming Fund and leveraged sector support has helped more than 1000 projects to lift the performance and sustainability of primary producers.

“This kind of research is what keeps us at the forefront of farming technology and ensures we remain among the most efficient producers of food on the planet,” Mr Guy said.

Federated Farmers is a lead organisation in projects such as the smart irrigation study in Canterbury. This is about quantifying the relationship between irrigation over time, the accumulation of soil carbon and changes in soil water holding capacity, with spin-offs for knowledge on groundwater recharge and nutrient leaching.

“The project is typical of environmental gains we can make when we improve our knowledge of technology and natural systems,” Mr Guy said.

Federated Farmers said the payback from the Sustainable Farming Fund for food production, export earnings and the environment from turbo-charging a fund for farming technology and practice will be many times the investment.

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Landcare team looks into fighting wasps with wasps

Landcare Research scientists are exploring possible biocontrol agents, including a mite, to help control German and common wasps which cost the country’s primary industries around $130 million each year.

The most recent addition to the line-up is Sphecophaga, a species of parasitic wasp whose larvae feed off their host, eventually killing it.

The species was tried as a biocontrol agent against wasps in New Zealand starting in the 1980s, but so far has been established only in a few locations.

Recent research suggests this could have happened because the parasitic wasps were from the wrong region – sourced from Switzerland, Israel and the United States. Victoria University recently discovered New Zealand’s dominate wasp species originate from the UK.

Landcare Research biocontrol scientist Dr Ronny Groenteman said this information was “a key piece of the puzzle”.

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Sustainable Farming Fund projects announced

The Ministry for Primary Industries has announced a $6.9 million investment over three years in 25 new projects through the Sustainable Farming Fund.

The fund supports farmers and researchers involved at grass-roots level to tackle shared problems or to develop new opportunities.

The ministry’s director-general, Martyn Dunne, said:

“Every year we receive a very high calibre of project applications, and this year was no different. This year’s projects cover nine primary sectors including horticulture, forestry, dairy and meat.

“Each project has a number of milestones to reach over the three years. As milestones are reached, information is shared among the community who benefits from the project. Through the fund, we are able to support industries and communities to help each other carry out applied research and field trials.

“Our investment programmes team supports each project through their milestones and each year we are pleased by the quality of projects, and the results they produce.”

Supported by the Sustainable Farming Fund, some of the problems or opportunities being looked into include:

  • optimising pollination of Gold3 kiwifruit under hail netting;
  • resource development for new-entrant deer farmers;
  • reducing use of antimicrobials when managing mastitis;
  • understanding and managing grain storage pests;
  • increasing the market share for New Zealand olive oil.

Weed killing weevil revealed at field day

An invasive weed may soon be controlled with the help of a British weevil and financial support from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Farming Fund.

Field horsetail, a weedy fern, is spreading throughout wetter regions, competing with grasses, reducing the productive potential of land and impacting both grazing and cropping farmers.

Landcare Research, supported by the Rangitikei Horsetail Group, has been investigating potential biocontrol solutions to help control it and revealed last Friday a weevil (Grypus equiseti) has come out as the best candidate for the job.

“We are extremely pleased to hear they’ve found a weevil that, if approved, can help tackle the field horsetail issue affecting mainly the Rangitikei region. This will enable land to be returned to more productive use,” said MPI Acting Director Aquaculture, Growth and Innovation Alice Marfell-Jones.

“Around $300,000 was invested over three years from the Sustainable Farming Fund which has gone towards understanding the effects of the field horsetail and investigate potential biocontrol options.”

Landcare Research researcher Lindsay Smith talking about the findings at a field day held in Bulls this month.

“Throughout our testing, we found the weevil to be one of the most damaging biocontrol agents causing significant damage to field horsetail,” said Smith.

“The plant is attacked by both larvae and adult weevils, with the larvae burrowing down the weed’s stems and into its extensive root system.”

“Over the last three years we have been testing the weevil in our biocontainment facility at Lincoln to confirm it is ‘host specific’ to horsetail and so will only damage horsetail and won’t pose a threat to other flora here in New Zealand. We will now be submitting an application to the Environmental Protection Authority to seek permission to release the weevil from containment. If we are successful, the weevil will be able to be introduced in to New Zealand to start work on field horsetail.”

“We are very grateful for the funding we have received over the last 3 years to be able to carry out this research. We couldn’t have done it without it.”

The Ministry’s Sustainable Farming Fund invests in applied research and extension projects that tackle a shared problem or develop a new opportunity in the Primary Industries. Co-funders of the field horsetail research included Landcare Research, National Biocontrol Initiative, Rangitikei Horsetail Group, Horizons Regional Council, Rangitikei District Council, Rangitikei Aggregates and Wanganui District Council.

 

Minister announces $8.8m in funding for sustainable farming projects

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy today announced a total of $8.8 million has been awarded to 42 projects around the country after the latest round of the Sustainable Farming Fund.

The projects approved in the main funding round will commence 1 July 2013 and run for one to three years.

Most of the Maori agribusiness projects have already started, with the remaining three to commence on 1 July 2013.

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