Media Releases

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

2018 SFF success for FAR

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.”

Screening for control of adult male red clover casebearer moth

Work is underway to identify control options for red clover casebearer moth (Coleophora deauratella).

Moths were collected from a red clover paddocks in mid-Canterbury on 12 December 2017. These were held in vented cages in a shade house. Humidity in the cages was kept elevated using tissue moistened with tap water.

On 13 December 2017, moths were treated with field rates of Mavrik® (a.i. 240 g/l tau-fluvalinate), Lorsban (a.i. 500 g/l chlorpyrifos), Karate Zeon® (a.i. 250 g/l lambda cyhalothrin) and Exirel® (a.i. 100 g/l cyantraniliprole. Control treatments were water only and water plus adjuvant. Each treatment was replicated eight times with 7-8 moths in each dish.

Moths were placed into 150 mm Petri dishes lined with filter paper and confined with a coarse metal mesh lid. Treatments were applied using a knapsack sprayer. At the completion of application, dishes were transferred to a controlled environment room (18oC, natural light) where the mortality assessments were made. At the completion of the mortality assessments, dishes were sprayed with tap water and loosely covered with plastic lids.

Assessment took place approximately 4.5, 24 and 48 hours following treatment.


There was rapid mortality using Mavrik®, Karate Zeon® and Lorsban™ 50EC following application as evidenced by high mortality after only 4.5 hours following treatment (Table 1).

Table 1 Mortality of adult male red clover casebearer moth after treatment with selected insecticides. Mortality corrected using Henderson-Tiltons formula


Corrected mortality percentage*

4.5 hrs

24 hrs

48 hrs





Water and adjuvant












Karate Zeon®








* Results subject to change following further analysis

The results provide a promising indication that some of the insecticides currently used provide effective control of red clover casebearer moth. However, the provisos are that in the field, adults may not receive a direct application due to location in the foliage. In addition, female moths may be less mobile and therefore not come into contact with residues.

Always consult your agrichemical adviser before implementing control measures and practice bee-safe application techniques.

Early stem rust in ryegrass

Early stem rust is starting to show up in ryegrass due to the heavy dews and sunny days. Keep an eye out for this disease, but remember to take witholding periods into account if applying fungicides.

Fungicide withholding periods for straw and post-harvest grazing in ryegrass seed crops

Be aware of your obligations when trading straw which has been treated with fungicides for the control of disease e.g. stem rust (Puccinia graminis subsp. graminicola). This is of particular importance in crops where the residue (or seed/grain) may be used as animal feed.

When products are registered through ACVM (Agricultural Compounds & Veterinary Medicines) legislation, they are required to include withholding periods for both re-entry of livestock to the paddock where treatment has occurred and for the use of forage (straw) to prevent accumulation of fungicide residues in livestock.

As harvest approaches, carefully consider your options if fungicides have been applied. Options are:

  • If fungicide has been applied that contravenes the withholding period, either burn or incorporate all crop straw and seed, ensuring livestock cannot ingest crop residues.
  • Undertake a fungicide residue test, at your own cost, to ensure residues are at or below the maximum residue limit (MRL) for the product.

Remember: For all fungicide products, harvest is considered as cutting, not threshing.

Interpretation of the labels for the main fungicides used in ryegrass seed crops.


Label withholding period:

  • Do not harvest ryegrass seed crops within 21 days of last application. This withholding period means that the ryegrass seed crop should not be cut or direct headed within 21 days of the last Opus application.

2Allow 35 days from last application until re-entry of stock for grazing. This withholding period means that livestock can re-enter the seed crop 35 days after the final application as long as the combined or cut straw has been removed from the paddock. i.e. last application approx. mid head emergence and prior to flowering.


Label withholding period:

  • Ryegrass seed crops 14 days. This with-holding period means that livestock can re-enter the seed crop 14 days after the final application as long as the combined or cut straw has been removed from the paddock.
  • Ryegrass forage 35 days. In seed crops this means that the straw from seed crops cannot be feed to livestock unless the final application was 35 days prior to cutting i.e. last application approx. mid head emergence and prior to flowering.


Label withholding period: Do not harvest ryegrass seed crops within 21 days of last application.

  • This withholding period means that the ryegrass seed crop should not be cut or direct headed within 21 days of the last Comet application. The Comet® label states a final application at the end of flowering, Zadoks GS 69.
  • Allow 35 days from last application until re-entry of stock for grazing. This withholding period means that livestock can re-enter the seed crop 35 days after the final application as long as the combined or cut straw has been removed from the paddock. i.e. last application approx. mid head emergence and prior to flowering.


  • Green feed / silage from ryegrass seed crops: 28 days. This with-holding period means that sheep can re-enter the seed crop 28 days after the final application.
  • Grain crops: 35 days. In seed crops this means that the straw from seed crops cannot be feed to livestock unless the final application was 35 days prior to cutting i.e. last application approx. mid head emergence and prior to flowering.

Seguris Flexi®

Label withholding period:

  • Ryegrass seed crops: 14 days. Seguris Flexi can be applied up to 14 days before cutting with no issues associated with grazing re-growth or feeding crop residue.

​Resistance of Ramularia to SDHI fungicides in New Zealand

Ramularia resistance update

Over the 2016-17 season there were reports of difficulty controlling Ramularia leaf spot in barley crops. Recent laboratory tests carried out by Plant and Food Research have identified Ramularia collo-cygni (Rcc) isolates from Canterbury and South Otago with low sensitivity to the succinate dehydrogenase inhibitor (SDHI) fungicides in microplate assays. Three mutations which may impact the performance of SDHI fungicides have been confirmed. What impact these mutations will have on the field performance of this group of chemicals is yet to be determined, with further testing ongoing.

Resistance to strobilurins has also been confirmed in New Zealand Rcc field isolates. Strobilurins have not been effective against Ramularia in field trials for several seasons. So far no shifts in sensitivity to the triazole group of fungicides has been detected. Although, now that the efficacy of SDHI fungicides against Ramularia is questionable, other diseases, including scald, net blotch and leaf rust, remain key threats and also need to be controlled. The only guidance that can be given at this time is around the importance of spray timings, fungicide mixing partners, and a maximum of two SDHI applications to the crop in a growing season (see Cereal disease management 2016, FAR Cropping Strategies).

If Ramularia mutants are confirmed to be completely resistant to SDHI fungicides, then a mix of triazole and strobilurin fungicides would become another option but we are not at that point at present.