Four new FAR research projects funded by the MPI Sustainable Farming fund will look into riparian planting for cropping farms, managing Ramularia in barley, future foods and reducing nitrogen losses from dairy systems.
FAR researchers have received $550,000 from the MPI Sustainable Farming Fund to investigate four environmental and crop production issues for their growers.
The four projects which have received funding are:
- Good Management Practices for Cropping Setbacks, which will investigate effective setback widths from waterways on cropping farms and how to best manage them. Funding value $95,599.99. Project Leader, Abie Horrocks.
- Ramularia: Minimising the threat to barley crops, aims to develop joint agronomic and chemical control options for managing this serious disease of barley crops. Funding value $199,619.00. Project Leader, Rob Craigie.
- Food Products for the Future, which will assess a range of potential new arable crops which could be grown across New Zealand. Funding value $178,240.00. Project Leader, Nick Pyke.
- Environmental benefits of arable feeds, which will investigate the potential for grain and crop silage based feed combinations to reduce the N footprint of dairy systems. Funding value $72,000.00. Project Leader, Ivan Lawrie.
CEO Nick Pyke says this extremely good outcome reflects FAR’s ability to work with industry on real issues and, through quality research and extension, to identify and deliver solutions to those problems. The four projects will begin in mid-2018.
Good Management Practices for Cropping Setbacks
Project Leader Abie Horrocks says this project will address the lack of data around setback widths and their application to protect waterways by comparing the effectiveness of a range of setback widths, species and cultivation practices for intercepting and mitigating overland flow on flat and sloping ground.
“We hope that the project will engender new thinking about setback design. Many current rules dictate the use of ‘one size fits all’ setback widths, regardless of soil type and slope, or the species being planted. Arable cropping is often on flat ground, but effective setback widths for flat ground has not been well quantified.
“This project will involve a set of regional field trials to measure the effectiveness of setback widths and applications on flat and sloping land with a number of setback species. It will also investigate the agronomic potential of perennial wheat as a setback plant. Perennial wheat is used elsewhere in the world for erosion-control, providing constant ground cover and harvestable grain. Once we have more information, we also intend to develop a good management guide for setback development, application and management on cropping ground.”
Ramularia: Minimising the threat to barley crops
New Zealand farmers have experienced difficulty in controlling Ramularia in barley crops in recent years and are concerned with the significant yield losses caused by this disease. Project leader Rob Craigie says this project will develop strategies to help cropping farmers minimize the yield and financial losses caused by Ramularia.
“There will be four areas of study: determining the best fungicide spray programmes to control Ramularia to maximise grain yield and minimise seed-borne inoculum; determining Ramularia’s sensitivity to available fungicides with different modes of action; comparing the impact of seed-borne inoculum with that of inoculum in the growing environment; and finally, establishing base line resistance/tolerance levels of current barley varieties against Ramularia.
“At the end of the project we hope to be able to provide growers with a cost effective and sustainable package of agronomic and chemical control options for managing Ramularia.”
Food Products for the Future
Project leader Nick Pyke says this study will address the problems of profitable land use, sustainable land management, use of high value new irrigation infrastructure and ensuring diversified land use. It will match plant species and cultivars with the potential to provide the ingredients for future food products with the agroecology of different cropping locations in New Zealand.
“Currently the gross margins from some farming land uses are not sustainable and most available land use options require the farmer to supply a commodity product to a market at the commodity price. To make efficient use of expensive irrigation and ensure diverse and sustainable land use, farmers need access to higher value crops that deliver higher gross margins.
“Outcomes from this project are likely to include new viable sustainable land use options for farmers, particularly within irrigation schemes; reduced environmental impacts of farming, a diversified farming landscape with more land used for cropping and new crop types which are more sustainable for farmers and the community and new businesses producing new food products with farmers involved in the value chain.”
Environmental benefits of arable feeds
Project leader Ivan Lawrie says this work aims to reduce the nitrogen footprint of dairy farms by encouraging greater use of New Zealand grown grain and crop silage based feed combinations.
“Typical New Zealand pastures are high in protein and cows eating them produce high levels of urinary N, the major contributor to nitrate leaching and a potential source of nitrous oxide. However, research suggests that these losses could be reduced if lower protein feeds, such as grains and silage from cereal and maize crops, were included in the animals’ diet.
“This project aims to combine the knowledge gathered from multiple research programmes with updated feed quality information and model feeding scenarios based on four case studies of dairy farms using different levels and types of supplementary feed. The expected outcome is a set of guidelines for mixed diet feeding using arable crops that can reduce nitrate leaching and nitrous oxide emissions, protecting the resilience and integrity of our major export sector.”