Media Releases

A biosecurity GIA for the arable industry

In recent years, the Government has reviewed the New Zealand Biosecurity system and, with industry, developed the Government Industry Agreement for Biosecurity Readiness and Response (GIA) system, to manage biosecurity readiness and response in New Zealand.

In order to ensure that the arable industry has a voice under this new system, FAR has been working with industry groups to develop a GIA for the arable industry. After much discussion and consultation, an entity called Seed and Grain Readiness and Response (SGRR) has been formed to fulfil this role.

The industry proposal is that SGRR will represent FAR, Federated Farmers Arable, the Flour Millers Association, New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association and United Wheat Growers in negotiations with the government around biosecurity. Each of the organisations listed above will have one director on SGRR.

We hope to conclude negotiations over this process in early December, but understand that you will have a number of questions about the role of SGRR and what it means to be part of the GIA system. Please read the attached information which outlines the process to date, how the proposed SGRR would work, and what it all means. This section includes a list of Frequently Asked Questions.

SGRR GIA Information

If, after reading this, you still have questions or concerns, please email:

Alternatively, you may choose to attend a consultation meeting - times and dates are listed below and are also on the FAR events page.

Stink bug biocontrol approved

A biocontrol agent has been added to the mix to control brown marmorated stink bug if it ever gets into New Zealand.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has formally agreed to allow the release of a tiny Samurai wasp into New Zealand, in the event of a brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) incursion.

BMSB Council Chair Alan Pollard applauded the outcome as a major milestone against one of the greatest threats to New Zealand industry and urban communities.

“The industry greatly appreciates the positive decision and acknowledges the consideration given by the EPA to the significant number of submissions made on the application. This is a significant step towards preparing for a major biosecurity risk, which is getting greater by the day, with increasing trade and tourism crossing our borders,” he said.

The Samurai wasp is the size of a poppy seed and completely harmless to humans and animals, but a natural enemy of BMSB; the female wasp lays her eggs inside those of the stink bug, killing the larvae in the process. Studies overseas have shown that the wasp can destroy over 70 percent of the eggs in a stink bug egg mass.

“The stink bug could cause hundreds of millions of dollars of losses for our industry, as well as seriously damaging quality of life for all New Zealanders.

“With the heightened awareness of biosecurity risk across New Zealand, our industry is more aware than ever that we cannot afford to be, and never will be, complacent.

“Approving the release of Samurai as a biocontrol is an excellent step but there is more work to do before the wasp is ready to be used as a tool. It’s not the silver bullet and a stink bug incursion would require a multi-faceted approach.

“We’ve seen overseas growers rely on high levels of insecticide as the primary control for BMSB and, while this wasp provides the opportunity to reduce our dependence on chemicals, a full response will require every weapon in our armoury.”

Permission to release the wasp will be subject to a number of strict controls that will dictate when, where, and by whom it can be released.

BMSB feeds on a huge range of arable and horticultural crops including wheat, maize, peas and beans. A NZIER report, commissioned by the Samurai Wasp Steering Group, has estimated that gross domestic product would fall by between $1.8 billion and $3.6b by 2038 if BMSB became established. It also estimated the horticulture export value could fall by between $2b and $4.2b.

About the BMSB Council
The BMSB Council is a partnership under GIA between industry and government and is responsible for BMSB readiness and response. The Council consists of member organisations (Horticulture New Zealand, Kiwifruit Vine Health, Ministry for Primary Industries, New Zealand Avocado, New Zealand Apples & Pears, New Zealand Winegrowers, Summerfruit New Zealand, Tomatoes New Zealand, Vegetables New Zealand) and observers (Foundation for Arable Research and New Zealand Plant Producers Inc).

New referendum period begins for FAR

FAR has officially entered it's seventh term of “adding value to the business of cropping”.

The new levy orders for the arable industry came into force this week, following sign-off by the Governor General after last year’s successful referendum.

FAR CEO Alison Stewart says she is looking forward to the next six years of developing FAR’s research and extension focus to ensure all programmes continue to meet the evolving needs of the industry.

"We will continue to maintain a balanced portfolio of production, environmental and social research, and to monitor national and international trends and developments in order to identify issues which may have an impact on arable farm productivity and profitability. Obvious things to consider at present are biosecurity, greenhouse gas emissions, plant proteins and agrichemical availability and use."

Last year’s vote covered all three FAR levies. Results were: Arable crops, 90% support; Maize, 78% support and Cereal silage, 66% support.

FAR Profile Book

Federated Farmers' Arable Award Winners

Congratulations Nick Pyke and Syd Worsfold.

Former Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) CEO Nick Pyke was presented with the Federated Farmers Arable Biosecurity Farmer of the Year Award and North Canterbury farmer Syd Worsfold was named Federated Farmers Arable Farmer of the Year in recognition of his contribution over the last three decades to the arable industry and stakeholder groups, Federated Farmers, FAR and United Wheatgrowers.

Newly-elected Arable chairperson Karen Williams said Nick Pyke has always been a strong advocate for farmers and growers over biosecurity at three borders: national, regional and the farm gate.

"He has been involved in the Velvetleaf, pea weevil and Blackgrass responses, sitting on both the Governance Group and in a number of industry stakeholder groups. He’s also been actively involved in developing a strong and viable GIA framework for the cropping industry.

"Nick has a strong sense of what are the right management decisions to make for the overall industry, but also has a lot of empathy for growers and how decisions will affect them on the ground," Karen said.

Federated Farmers National Biosecurity spokesperson Guy Wigley said Nick was outstanding in each of the responses the arable industry was involved in over the last three years and the award acknowledged his efforts.

"Nick was able to provide credible scientific information to aid in the response decision-making and ensure the best outcomes for arable farmers were achieved," Guy said.

The Arable Farmer of the Year Award is about recognising excellence in the sector, acknowledging someone who balances production and profit drivers against environmental, sustainability and other compliance requirements. Syd Worsfold fits that bill.

Feds Arable Vice-Chair Brian Leadley said Syd has worked extensively "not only for the betterment of his own arable farming business but also his peers and future generations of arable farmers".

Syd, who today farms 400 hectares at Greendale in partnership with his son, has been involved with Federated Farmers as North Canterbury Arable Chairperson (1992 to 1994) and then on the Arable Council. He has been involved with United Wheatgrowers for the last 30 years, first as an Electoral College member and then a Director. Syd was also part of the first committee which looked at establishing the Foundation for ArableResearch (FAR), and a member of the Northern South Island Arable Research Group (ARG). He has also been a member of the Arable Industry Marketing Initiative Committee (AIMI) since its inception.

The Federated Farmers outgoing Arable Chairperson Guy Wigley described Syd as a quiet, unassuming and effective leader.

"This award is in recognition of his achievements, leadership and contribution to the arable industry, which despite contributing around $750 million to the nation’s GDP, typically flies under the radar in New Zealand".

Federated Farmers

CROPS 2018

Since its inception in 2002, CROPS has developed into FAR’s key field event, a ‘must-do’ for cropping farmers and industry personnel. Over 600 people attended CROPS in 2016, making it New Zealand's largest one day agricultural extension field event.

FAR’s CROPS event will be held on Wednesday 5th December 2018.

FAR’s CROPS event will be held on Wednesday 5th December 2018. CROPS is more than just a field day. It is a full day event which allows farmers to view demonstration plots investigating everything from cultivars to cultivation, and to see and hear the latest research findings from New Zealand and international experts. The aim is to provide every grower with new information to take away and apply to their own farming operation.

FAR spokesperson Anna Heslop says there has been great support from industry for demonstration and exhibition sites, and that the programme of 12 talks highlighting issues and options for the cropping industry, is close to being confirmed.

“We’re pleased to confirm that herbicide resistance expert Dr Peter Boutsalis from the University of Adelaide will be giving a presentation. Peter provides herbicide resistance support and extension to growers, agronomists and the chemical industry and also manages Plant Science Consulting, an Adelaide based company specialising in Herbicide Resistance Testing.

CROPS is held at the FAR Chertsey Arable Site, a 13.5 ha mix of irrigated and non-irrigated land on SH1 just north of Chertsey. FAR has had demonstrations at the site for 15 years, providing a long-term show-case for a number of high profile research projects, funded by grower levies and external grants, on a number of crops.

Arable Farmer & Biosecurity Farmer of the Year Awards 2018

Nominations are now open for Arable Farmer of the Year and Biosecurity Farmer of the Year Awards.

The Federated Farmers Arable Industry Group Executive is now taking nominations from members for the Arable Farmer of the Year 2018 and Biosecurity Farmer of the Year 2018. The Arable Farmer of the Year award is designed to recognise a Federated Farmers member who balances production requirements against environmental, sustainability and other compliance requirements. The Biosecurity Farmer of the Year is someone who has demonstrated intuition and motivation in addressing the potential risks posed by pests, weeds and diseases to their businesses and livelihoods. This award aims to promote and reward excellence in on-farm biosecurity practices in the arable industry

The winners of these awards will be announced at the Federated Farmers Arable Industry Group Conference on Wednesday 6 June. If you know a deserving recipient for either of these awards or for more information, please contact Philippa Rawlinson ( or 021512971).

Closing date for nominations is the 25th May 2018.

Arable Farmer of the Year - Nomination form

Biosecurity Farmer of the Year - Nomination form

Mycoplasma bovis, dairy grazing and biosecurity

Several growers have raised concerns about the potential biosecurity implications of taking on dairy herds for winter grazing.

FAR has initiated a conversation with DairyNZ with regard to what precautions can and should be taken by cropping farmers who are taking on herds for dairy grazing this winter. Staff at Dairy NZ along with those at the Ministry for Primary Industry are aware of our concerns and are working to develop an information package for all graziers.

In the meantime, they have provided the following answers to questions we have posed:

Can you be sure that cattle arriving on your farm do not have, or have not been exposed to, M bovis?

  • No-one can give that guarantee. However, the herd owner should be able provide the results of surveillance bulk milk tests. Negative results should provide some assurance.
  • If you have stock from more than one source on your farm, implement strict measures to keep them completely separate. That way, if a herd were to come under suspicion, the rest of the stock on the grazing block will not have been exposed.
  • If you must graze stock from two sources in one paddock, fence off a two metre strip across the centre of the paddock to separate stock.
  • If the neighbouring property has cattle, arrange for each farm to fence off a one metre buffer along the boundary. If you neighbour won’t co-operate, take responsibility and create a two metre buffer on your side. The feed in these buffer zones can be utilised when there are no longer stock on the other side of the fence.

What biosecurity measures should you take for stock arriving on and leaving the farm?

  • The biggest risk for the spread of M bovis, is through nose to nose contact between cattle. For this reason, it is important to manage the arrival of stock onto the farm in such a way that herds from different sources do not get close.
  • Try to arrange for different herds to arrive on different days, or at least space out the time of arrivals.
  • Give yards a good clean out to reduce the build-up of muck, which will inhibit cow flow and will also reduce the effectiveness of any disinfectant spray that may be used. Time between the arrival of different herds should be based on the time it takes to apply a disinfectant spray (backpack sprayer) along the sides of the unloading ramp and yards, and the time it takes for that to work (most work in 10 minutes or so). Transporters will have to be involved so that you don't have trucks from different herds arriving at the same time.
  • Consider the use of portable ramps to allow unloading of cattle as close to their grazing paddock as possible, avoiding the yards completely.
  • As many treatments (tagging, drench, copper bulleting, selenium injections, vaccines, etc) as possible should be carried out before animals arrive to minimise use of yards.

What precautions do you need to take while the animals are on the farm?

  • Have a biosecurity plan in place before the animals arrive. DairyNZ are working on some recommendations around personal protective equipment (PPE) and protocols. Effluent is a much lower risk for disease transmission than nose to nose contact.
  • Ring feeders can get quite ‘slobbery’. Disinfect them if moving between herds or paddocks.
  • Consider options for disinfecting hands/gloves between herds.
  • Leave machinery (bikes and tractors) outside paddocks as much as possible, because curious cows licking these vehicles is a contamination risk.

What happens if cattle grazing on the farm are found to have M bovis while they are there?

  • This would be a matter for MPI, however, if you have implemented strict biosecurity protocol (can prove that herds have not had contact) it will be much easier for all concerned.

What happens if, despite a contract being in place, the dairy farmer is unwilling to bring stock to graze because they are worried about M bovis issues?

  • Not covered by MPI compensation. Work it out with herd owner and try and find someone else to take up the grazing.

What happens if, despite a contract being in place, the dairy farmer is unable to bring the stock to graze because M bovis has been detected in their herd and they are under movement control?

  • Contact MPI to discuss possibility of compensation.

Further information about M bovis management is available on the followng wesites:

Crop residue burning rules

Do you know the new rules around stubble burning?

Key points

  • Stick to the rules and regulations around stubble burning. Smoking out neighbours or roads is a sure way to encourage complaints about the use of this practice.
  • Check to ascertain the fire season status before you burn.
  • If you are in the Ashburton or Selwyn District and you can still burn crop residue in a restricted fire season, but you must comply with the Crop Residue Burning Code of Practice.
  • Anywhere else in a restricted season (e.g. in South Canterbury), you will need to comply with existing requirements until the new permitting regime being developed by Fire Emergency NZ is rolled out.
  • Remember to fill out a Burning and Smoke Management Plan Form (available on FAR website).
  • Be aware of Environment Canterbury's new rules around burning (see below).

Farm boundaries
There has been some confusion about how close you may burn to a farm boundary. Please note that the rules about fires being 50 or 100 metres from neighbouring properties do not apply to stubble burns.

ECan conditions around crop residue burning:

  1. The discharge does not cause an offensive or objectionable effect beyond the boundary of the property of origin, when assessed in accordance with Schedule 2; and
  2. The burning does not occur within 100m of any National Grid power line or substation unless permission has been obtained from the owner of the infrastructure; and
  3. The person responsible for the discharge holds a smoke management plan prepared in accordance with Schedule 3; and
  4. The discharge is managed in accordance with the smoke management plan; and
  5. The smoke management plan is supplied to the CRC on request

Further information
Crop Residue Burning Code of Practice and Burning and Smoke Management Plan Form are both available from the list on the Forms page of the FAR website

Environment Canterbury website click here

Red clover pest widespread across New Zealand

Red clover casebearer moth now widespread.

A red clover pest first formally identified in New Zealand just 15 months ago, has now been found right across New Zealand.

FAR Seed Research Manager Richard Chynoweth says the red clover case bearer moth (Coleophora deauratella) was discovered in Auckland in October 2016, setting off alarm bells and prompting a nationwide monitoring campaign. Special pheromone traps were imported and distributed to red clover growers up and down the country over this summer’s clover growing and flowering period.

“Traps were placed on farms from the lower North Island to the south of the South Island. The results are not good news for red clover growers, with moths being found on farms, roadsides and other areas everywhere from Wairarapa to Southland. As it was first identified in Auckland, we can assume they will be found across the North Island as well. Given the numbers and spread of this pest, it seems likely that it has been here for quite a while. My guess would be that it’s been around for at least a decade and could have been affecting red clover seed yields for several years.”

Red clover casebearer is a small moth (about 8mm long) and is very similar to two other species of clover casebearer moth (Coleophora spp.) that are already well established in white clover in New Zealand, however in this case, it’s principal host is red clover. Adult moths lay eggs on developing red clover flower heads and once hatched, the larvae tunnel into the florets to feed, destroying the growing seed. As the larvae grow, they adhere themselves to a chewed off floret, using use it like a cape or case for protection and camouflage. Feeding damage to seeds can severely impact on crop yields.

Richard Chynoweth explains that as not a lot is known about red clover casebearer in New Zealand, researchers have a lot of work on their hands.

“We will continue to monitor its spread, but more importantly, we need to understand its life cycle and exactly how that links with the red clover growth cycle. Once we have a clearer idea of that, we can start to consider control options, so that arable farmers can continue to grow this specialist crop.

“Late last year we carried out initial laboratory based insecticide trials and the results indicate that some insecticides currently registered for use in clover crops are effective against red clover casebearer moth. However, field trials will be required, as adult moths moving within the foliage of a growing crop may not receive a direct application due to location in the foliage. Further work will investigate whether any of the parasitoid species which already help to control other Coleophora spp. in white clover crops could be of use.”

In the meantime, farmers who wish to check their crops for the presence of red clover casebearer, should inspect flowers looking for millimetre sized holes chewed into the base of individual florets and, or, distinctive black droppings, also at the base of the florets. They may also be able to see the case bearing larvae, which look like small red-brown cigars on the flowers. If evidence of casebearer is found, discuss management with your crop agrichemical advisor.

This work is conducted by FAR with support from the Seed Industry Research Centre.

FAR announces CEO appointment

New FAR CEO will take over in March 2018.

Dr Alison Stewart has been appointed the new CEO of the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR).

FAR Board Chair David Birkett says Dr Stewart, who is currently General Manager Forest Science at Scion, will bring with her a unique combination of skills.

“Alison is an internationally recognised scientist with specialist knowledge in the area of plant protection. She has a wealth of experience in managing research groups, programmes and institutions in New Zealand universities and CRIs, with research encompassing everything from cutting edge molecular technologies to product development and on-farm trials. As such, she has a strong understanding of the New Zealand science sector, particularly as it relates to primary industries.

“She has also worked in the commercial sector in New Zealand and the USA, successfully developing and commercialising several biologically based pest and disease management technologies for the agriculture, horticulture and nursery sectors, and sat on the boards of Plant & Food Research in New Zealand and The Waite Research Institute at the University of Adelaide.

“Alison is also familiar with FAR and its research, having been involved in several FAR funded research projects and a member of the independent External Programme Management Review panel which carried out a high-level overview of FAR’s activities and research in 2016.”

Dr Alison Stewart will take up the role of CEO in mid-March, replacing founding CEO Nick Pyke who has been with the organisation since it was formed in 1995.

Further information:

As GM Forest Science at Scion, Dr Stewart leads a range of activities including breeding, agronomy, biosecurity, remote sensing, wood quality and value chain optimization, and is also responsible for Scion’s strategic relationships with a number of national and international stakeholders.

  • Dr Stewart is an applied plant scientist who has focused on sustainable disease management, soil biology and plant biotechnology
  • PhD in Plant Pathology from the University of Stirling
  • First female Professor at Lincoln University (1998)
  • Founding Director of the Bio-Protection Research Centre at Lincoln University (2003-2011)
  • AgResearch Technology Transfer Award (2002)
  • MAFBNZ Biosecurity Award for Excellence (2008)
  • Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in recognition of services to biology (2009)Distinguished Professor of Plant Pathology, Lincoln University (2011)
  • Member of the MPI led Primary Sector Science Direction Steering Committee (2017)
  • Fellow of the NZ Institute for Agricultural and Horticultural Science
  • Fellow of the Australasian Plant Pathology Society