8 Apr 2015

Farming Fund favours nutrient, water management

4:47 pm on 8 April 2015

29 new research projects will share funding of $8 million dollars in the latest allocation from the government's Sustainable Farming Fund.

soil

soil Photo: 123rf

About a third of these applications focus on nutrient and water management, including developing aids for farmers to improve water quality and reduce nutrient loss, and a Horticulture New Zealand project called 'Don't Muddy the Water'.

HortNZ's Natural Resources and Environment manager Chris Keenan said the project was about identifying the most effective ways of keeping soil in the paddock and out of the waterways.

"It's another step in about 15 years of research that we've been doing on our sediment control techniques and our soil conservation techniques, to ensure that vegetable farmers are able to be sure about undertaking good practice when they're cultivating and preserving their very precious soil resource.

"It's a project that's part of a wider package of things that the vegetable indsutry and in particular the Vegetable Research and Innovation Board have been really quite proactive on," he said.

"And it's not just sediment, it's about things like nitrogen use, phosphorous, water efficiency and various other elements of sustainable management."

Another of the projects to get funding was an education programme, 'Plants, Soil and Society', that was trialled in rural and urban primary schools last year.

The grant to the Fertiliser Quality Council will enable the project to be rolled out across all schools.

But Ann Thompson, from the Council, said the programme was not about fertiliser as such.

"This is definitely about the wider aspects of growing plants. It's about the atmosphere, and how plants grow, the nitrogen cycle, how far roots go down, all those sorts of things. So it's about plants and the food and water that they need and the sun-light.

"Sure, there's plenty of stuff in books and text books and teachers can stand at the front of the classroom and teach it, but having it as a web-based, tablet-based resource means that they can hook into You Tube and find other programms that are already out there, making it much more interesting."

Ms Thompson said the programme was designed for students aged from eight and nine to 12 or 13, from the end of primary school to the start of high school.