Monday, 06 December 2021 10:09

Government funds RA research

Written by  Staff Reporters
Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor. Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says the Government will fund two new research projects to investigate the impacts of regenerative farming practices.

The first is a co-investment with Synlait Milk and Danone, aiming to understand how to measure and manage soil health to boost environmental and economic performance on New Zealand farms, O’Connor says.

The Government will contribute $2.8 million to the $3.85 million five-year project.

“We simply cannot take soil health for granted. It’s the basis of our food systems, and also New Zealand’s economic health,” says O’Connor.

AgResearch will work with Synlait Milk and Danone supplier farmers on the project, which will run across ten commercial dairy farms in Canterbury, Southland, and Waikato.

“In each region the farms will be paired for comparison based on location, soil type, and farm performance. Soil health will be measured within each farm, with one paddock in each managed conventionally, and another using regenerative farming practices,” says O’Connor.

“A focus on soil health will be a key part of our industry’s journey to keep making milk in the most sustainable way. We are proud to have six Synlait farmers working alongside their industry peers to innovate, experiment, and lead our sector to explore the benefits of regenerative practices,” says Hamish Reid, Synlait director – sustainability, brand, beverages and cream.

“Ultimately, we want to support farmers and provide solid guidance based on scientific evidence,” says Danone New Zealand director Steve Donnelly.

“We are proud to leverage Danone’s significant global expertise in regenerative agriculture to support new on-farm practices in New Zealand across the dairy sector. This project is a pioneering step in Aotearoa to build new farming models that help mitigate climate change, preserve or restore soil quality and secure farmer welfare, all while preserving the quality of New Zealand dairy,” says Donnelly.

The second project will see the Government contribute $2.2 million to a five-year research project aimed to boost New Zealand farm yields by attracting beneficial insects to farms using specifically designed native planting.

“By looking at the relationship that specific native plants have with insects, the researchers will be able to see which ones increase pollination and tackle pests most effectively,” says O’Connor.

The second project is based in the Canterbury region and will be led by Plant and Food Research, with a range of industry partners investing just over $1 million into the work.

45 Canterbury farms will plant land that is currently under-utilised – such as fence lines, road verges and watercourses – with local native plants that have been proven to support and maintain beneficial insect life.

“By increasing the number of pollinating insects, the project team expects to see increased yields across the farms, which will lead to improved economic and environmental outcomes for the farmers involved.”

“Increasing the number of predator insects to tackle pests could also reduce the use of pesticides and insecticides.”

Both projects are being funded through the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibres Futures fund (SFF Futures).

More like this

Editorial: Europe, can you hear us?

OPINION: Once again there's a flurry of activity as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Minister of Trade Damien O'Connor and a band of dedicated officials and leading agricultural representatives fly into Brussels where the powerful European Union is based.

Hang on, mate!

OPINION: Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor's hurried exit from a farming radio interview has left farmers perplexed.

Govt invests in wool

The Government says it is investing to create new product categories and new international markets for strong wool and is calling on Kiwi businesses and consumers to get behind the environmentally friendly fibre.

O'Connor attends WTO meeting

Trade Minister Damien O'Connor is currently in Geneva for the World Trade Organisation (WTO) 12th Ministerial Conference.

National

Govt invests in wool

The Government says it is investing to create new product categories and new international markets for strong wool and is…

Machinery & Products

Making life easier

Many temporary sheep fencing systems can be troublesome, with reels jamming or breaking and the bugbear of silly hooks on…

Valtra's following grows

With the release of its N5 and T5 series of tractors, Valtra continues to expand its presence in the Australia-New…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

No free ride!

OPINION: This old mutt is getting somewhat tired of multi-national, tax-dodging, fund-raising group Greenpeace always given front and centre mainstream…

How come?

OPINION: A mate of yours truly is questioning exactly why the Māori ag sector have been given special budget funding by…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter