26 May 2017

Sustainable Solutions

From Country Life, 9:14 pm on 26 May 2017
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Photo: Plant and Food Research

The Sustainable Farming Fund is about to notch up its 1000th project.  Since the fund's inception in 2000, the government has channeled $135 million into applied science to help farmers, foresters and horticulturalists find practical solutions for challenges in their industries.

A get-together was held recently in Hamilton to mark some of the fund's successes.

Dr Simon Hooker from NZ Wine says a stand-out project for his industry involved the trial of harvesting equipment to thin grape vines.

He says the trials worked incredibly well but as a spin-off, the use of the equipment also resulted in significantly lowering botrytis - a damaging disease in grapes.

"For a relatively small investment, we're talking a few hundred thousand dollars from the government, you're talking millions of dollars of returns to the industry," he says.

Nick Pyke, from Foundation for Arable Research says his industry has used Sustainable Farming Fund money to help protect the integrity of New Zealand's $80 million seed crop industry.

Nikki Johnson, the CEO of Kiwifruit Growers New Zealand says SFF projects are co-funded by growers and driven by them.

"You often have the situation where scientists come up with brilliant ideas that the growers should do but if the grower doesn't believe in the problem or if the grower doesn't believe in the proposed solutions the project doesn't proceed."

This year $6.6 million has been allocated to 20 new three-year projects