Friday, April 12, 2024

New ideas to be tested

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Rural professionals and scientists will team up with farmers to test exciting and innovating ideas that could lead to significant improvements in farming systems.
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A new fund has been established by the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge to support projects benefiting farming communities.

“Farmers and their rural professionals often try out new ideas and apply different farming practices because they are curious to see what will happen,” Primary Industry Management Institute chief executive Stephen Macaulay says. 

“We thought it would be great to see some of these promising ideas move beyond the farm gate and be researched further.”

The fund will invest up to $50,000 in projects to rapidly test ideas and innovations within six months. Their outcomes and lessons will be shared with the wider rural profession and farming community, including projects that did not have the desired outcomes. 

“We know that the Kiwi farmer is innovative and resourceful,” Our Land and Water chief scientist Rich McDowell says. 

“Now is the time to connect those innovations with science and tell others of the results, good or bad.”

“Communicating the results of both successful and unsuccessful projects will be an important part of the learning process,” Macaulay says. 

“If projects show promising results they could apply for other research funding for further examination. If the opposite occurs we can fail fast, learn from the experience and move on to the next exciting prospect.” 

Our Land and Water was established in 2016 to enhance primary production and productivity while maintaining and improving land and water quality for future generations. 

Its work has three themes.

Future landscape addresses the need for greater diversity of land uses and practices matched to what the land is most suitable for to support the vitality of land, water, air and living communities. It will involve a mix of existing and new land uses and practices and build evidence to demonstrate the economic, environmental, social and cultural viability of mixed systems.

Incentives for change seeks high-value products and collaborative value chains that improve the health of land, water and people and to identify the market, social, cultural, natural and regulatory signals and the monetary and non-monetary rewards motivating behaviour and beneficial changes.

Capacity for transition provides opportunities to bring together people and organisations from across the agri-food and fibre system to create new paths to future landscapes. Identifying the barriers to change and how to overcome them and implementing and practically demonstrating new land use options and value chains.

Project teams will include an institute member, a farmer and a researcher from one of Our Land and Water’s partner organisations.

They will develop links and collaboration and look for ideas that will build evidence for innovative ideas and practices and speed up testing and implementation. Successful projects might become eligible for continued investment from the likes of the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures Fund. 

Applications close on July 17.

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