FAR Focus

FAR Focus 13 - Biodiversity

Biological diversity or “biodiversity” describes the variety of all biological life, being plants and animals, fungi and microorganisms, the genes they contain, and the ecosystems where they live. Biodiversity encompasses all life forms and their interactions with each other. Biodiversity is seen as being New Zealand’s biological wealth. It contributes to the productivity of our landbased primary production; farming, forestry and horticulture and provides a number of services, without which our farm systems would become unsustainable. It also contributes to the well-being of all New Zealanders.

This FAR Focus contains information on:

  • What do we mean by “biodiversity”
  • Eco-system services and the benefits for arable farms
  • The benefits of biodiversity plantings on arable farms
  • Biodiversity and arable soils

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FAR Focus 12 - Integrated Pest Management

FAR-focus-12-coverRoutine use of broad-spectrum insecticides can result in insecticides being applied unnecessarily, the enhanced development of insecticide resistance and the loss of beneficial insects. This in turn can lead to pest outbreaks and increased dependence on insecticides. Integrated pest management (IPM) offers an opportunity to move away from a routine broad-spectrum insecticide-based approach to pest management. Over the past few years, the number of pest management options available to farmers has increased due to the greater availability of selective insecticides. Farmers may also be more familiar with natural enemies of the pests in question and may be more inclined to only use these insecticides when required.

This FAR Focus summarises nine years of IPM research in arable crops from three projects funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries Sustainable Farming Fund. Information is split into five sections:

  • Biological control
  • Cultural control
  • Chemical control
  • Monitoring and decision making
  • A cereal case study (wheat)

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FAR Focus 11 - Weed Management for Maize

Weeds in maize coverWeed management is the most challenging component of maize agronomy in New Zealand.

Many maize farmers have developed successful management practices for weed control but there are instances when weeds can become a problem. These include times when; herbicide programmes fail because of environmental conditions, weeds become resistant to recommended herbicides or the crop is being grown on leased land where weed control has been poor in the past.

This FAR Focus draws on information from five years of investment into weed research. It covers the principles of weed management and provides guidance for the successful control of broadleaf and grass weeds in the maize crop.

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FAR Focus 10 - Crops for Cows

Crops for Cows - CoverIn the last five years FAR, DairyNZ and MPI’s Sustainable Farming Fund have funded a number of projects focussing on the integration of arable and dairy systems.

This FAR Focus summarises the results from these projects and provides evidence of the benefits of the integration of arable and dairy systems. In particular it focuses on:


1. The opportunity for maximising the productivity of a range of forage crops for dairy supply, both on and off the dairy platform.
2. The opportunity for using crops on the dairy platform to manage the nutrients associated cropping after long term pasture and effluent application.

Fodder crops for cows are grown under two scenarios.
1) Dairy farmers grow crops on the dairy platform as part of their pasture renewal programmes, to supplement the feed supply and to manage nutrient overloads in their effluent blocks.
2) Dairy support cropping farmers grow continuous rotations of cereal and maize silages, grain crops, forage brassicas and pasture for wintering off or to supplement the feed supply produced on the dairy platform.

This FAR Focus reports on three projects investigating the integration of cropping and dairying in both of these scenarios.
1. SFF project 08-016 – Cropping on the Waimate West demonstration farm (WWDF). This project compared the productivity of an all pasture dairy system with a system that that combined a period of cropping with long term pasture. The demonstration herd was split into two to measure the productivity of the two systems. The cropping sequences at WWDF were designed to fit in with the dairy pasture renewal management programme and were up to two years in length. An important additional focus of the project was implementing and demonstrating best practice for the cultivation and nutrient management of the crops.

2. SFF project 07-037 – Using maize to manage dairy shed effluent specifically addressed the opportunity of growing crops on high fertility soils that are to be cultivated after long term pasture and/or have received regular applications of dairy shed effluent. Nitrogen leaching from these soils can be an environmental risk but this can be lessened through careful agronomic practice.

3. SFF project 08-040 – Maize Silage: Other Side of the Coin looked at arable cropping sequences for dairy supply with the aim of maximising dry matter production per hectare. The project focused on maize silage as the summer crop option and a range of cereal silages and legumes as the winter crop options, measuring the productivity of the combined summer and winter crop sequence.

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FAR Focus 9 - Crop Sensing for Nitrogen Management

28161 FAR focus 9 - cover

Crop sensing uses reflected light to measure crop biomass and chlorophyll content. It captures in-field variability, providing growers with information which can then be used to adjust inputs such as nitrogen and plant growth regulators.
This Crop Sensing for Nitrogen Management project was set up to investigate whether fertiliser efficiency in wheat crops could be improved by the use of crop sensing technologies. The project had two distinct elements; one based on replicated trials examining how best to use the link between crop reflectance and nitrogen status of the crop canopy, and the other exploring how different manufactured sensors can be applied in the paddock for zonal management (e.g. variable rate fertiliser within the paddock).