New projects to reduce horticultural pests

12 July 2012

Developing new methods for controlling pests and diseases on New Zealand farms is a key focus for new Sustainable Farming Fund projects at Plant & Food Research.

The Institute will be providing research support for a total of 14 projects, designed to deliver economic, environmental and societal benefits to New Zealand. Eight of these projects are around investigating new methods of controlling pests and diseases that reduce the need for chemical pesticides.

One project is looking at the Great White Cabbage Butterfly, which destroys vegetable crops such as cabbages, broccoli and many crops used for animal feed and recently discovered in the Nelson/Tasman region. The project will look at the rate at which the butterfly is establishing in the region and investigate the potential for using natural predators, such as parasitoidal wasps, to control it.

Another project is investigating the best way to manage botrytis and brown rot in summerfruit orchards in Hawke’s Bay and Otago, as well as the control of Carpophilus bettle which can transfer brown rot. Current management methods are reliant on chemical controls and the research will look at biological control methods for both the pest and the diseases, which will support the industry in meeting its target of nil detectable residues.

Research has also been funded to investigate control of Australian Citrus Whitefly, apple replant disease, the tomato potato psyllid and grass grub, and methods to keep new wine grape vines free from leafroller virus. A project to establish habitats for beneficial insects, as biological controls and as pollinators, on cropping farms has also been funded.

Another group of projects focus on the long term sustainability of farming, particularly in maintaining or reducing the environmental footprint of farming practices. Projects will look at reducing nitrogen and water inputs in crop production, introducing cropping for feed on Taranaki dairy farms, optimising the production of cereal silage crops and maximising the yield on blackcurrant farms. A project to develop decision support tools to allow farmers to better manage risks and costs associated with extreme rainfall has also been funded.

The Sustainable Farming Fund administers New Zealand government funding for farmer, grower and forester-led projects that deliver economic, environmental and societal benefits to New Zealand’s land-based primary industries. Most successful projects leverage additional funding or in-kind support from agribusiness, sector or regional organisations to complement the grant.

Contact:
Emma Timewell
Communications Manager, Corporate Communications,
Plant & Food Research Mt Albert,
120 Mt Albert Road, Sandringham
Auckland, 1025, New Zealand
EMail: media@plantandfood.co.nz
Telephone: +64-9-925 8692
Mobile: +64-21-2429 365

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