Plant & Food Research success in Sustainable Farming Fund latest funding round

30 January 2019

On-farm nitrogen (N) management, reduced use of agrichemicals in onion production, pest management in strawberries, and management of avocado fruit quality are amongst the seven proposals selected for the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) latest funding round for which Plant & Food Research will be providing research support. 

These projects will attract a total of $4.2 million of SFF and collaborating partners’ funds over the course of three years. The seven projects and industry partners are as follows:

  • Mineralisable N to improve on-farm N management: This Plant & Food Research-led project will conduct on-farm demonstration trials in arable and vegetable cropping systems to validate use of a new laboratory test (published 2017) to predict in-field N mineralisation. Trials will include different crops, soils and climates to demonstrate the benefits of the new test in minimising unnecessary fertiliser N use and reducing the risk of N losses to the environment. This is a collaboration with the Foundation for Arable Research, Horticulture New Zealand, Ravensdown, Hills Laboratories, ARL, Eurofins, Waikato Regional Council, Environment Canterbury and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council.
  • Sustainability of maize cropping rotations ‒ use of cover crops as an N mitigation tool in maize silage and maize grain: This project will provide on-farm research and extension tools to successfully established cover crops under maize silage and grain rotations to reduce N leaching and sediment losses from maize cropping systems. Results will provide flexibility to harvest contractors and minimise pressure to meet cover crop establishment deadlines. This is a collaboration with Genetic Technologies and the Foundation for Arable Research.
  • Reducing use of agrichemicals within the onion industry: This Onions New Zealand-led project will focus on achieving sustainable onion production while reaching production targets and maintaining New Zealand onion industry’s position as a world-leading onion producer and premium exporter. While the primary driver is environmental, and more specifically the objective to lower residues, the project will also address other sustainability issues by identifying new management approaches to replace or minimise the use of agrichemicals.
  • Development of an industry Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategy: Current practices to manage thrips in strawberries are heavily reliant on non-selective insecticides. This Plant & Food Research-led project aims to increase knowledge and develop and implement new tools and techniques to manage thrips in strawberry productions. It will empower growers to adopt production-wide IPM strategies for more sustainable and profitable growing and future-proofing thrips management in strawberries. This is a collaboration with Berryworld Ltd., Strawberries New Zealand and the agrichemical industry.
  • Developing practical, sustainable and effective Best Practice guidelines for the management of fruit quality on avocado orchards: This New Zealand Avocado-led project is part of the on-going research that helps the industry deliver premium quality avocados to consumers in New Zealand and in export markets. It aims to develop best practice guidelines based on practical, sustainable, and effective strategies for the management of fruit quality on orchards. This will be done by comparing orchard blocks and developing grower-friendly technology transfer to increase the uptake of best practice recommendations. It will provide growers with greater clarity in managing fruit quality and sustainable tools to combat factors which may be detrimental to fruit quality. 
  • Building capability to manage biosecurity threats: This work encompasses the development of response- and preparedness- plans for the possible establishment of fruit fly and brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) in pipfruit production regions. It seeks to build industry’s capability and knowledge to effectively minimise biosecurity threats to growers and consumers while maintaining the positive impacts of Integrated Fruit Production. This is a collaboration with New Zealand Apples & Pears Inc. 
  • Control of anthracnose disease in feijoa: An aggressive anthracnose disease is causing extensive crop losses in feijoa orchards in Northland. Without any control programme in place, the disease could drastically impair the industry should it spread to other regions. The project aims to deliver an all-round protective programme to manage and control the disease by identifying cultivars with tolerance to the disease, developing a protective fungicide spray programme and developing best orchard cultural practices to prevent inoculum build-up and reduce infection. This is a collaboration with New Zealand Feijoa Growers Association.

SFF supports applied research projects led by farmers, growers, and foresters who come together to tackle shared problems or develop new opportunities. 

Since 2000, the SFF has supported more than 1,000 projects, many of which have involved Plant & Food Research as a collaborating partner.

This year, 31 projects received a total of $9.8 million over three years from the Fund.

Nickkita Lau
Senior Communications Advisor, Corporate Communications,
Plant & Food Research Mt Albert,
120 Mt Albert Road, Sandringham
Auckland, 1025, New Zealand
Telephone: +64-9-925-7204
Mobile: +64-21-569-221