Thursday, July 7, 2022

Plan to rejuvenate high country

An innovation programme to develop precision fertiliser application for hill country is to receive government funding through the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP).

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has approved co-funding of $5.13 million for the seven-year Ravensdown Transforming Hill Country Farming PGP programme.

The money will be matched by the fertiliser co-operative Ravensdown, making the overall base funding for the project $10.26m.

The new PGP programme will combine remote-sensing of soil fertility on hills with GPS-guided aerial topdressing to improve hill country productivity and reduce nutrient runoff.

“This is an excellent example of harnessing modern technology to transform farming on hill country, which is facing some serious challenges."

Scott Gallacher

MPI deputy director-general

The research partners are Massey University’s Precision Agriculture Group and AgResearch.

The Ravensdown programme expects to generate $120m a year in economic benefits to New Zealand by 2030.

“This is an excellent example of harnessing modern technology to transform farming on hill country, which is facing some serious challenges," MPI deputy director-general Scott Gallacher said.

Ravensdown chief executive Greg Campbell said the research partnership will help enable hill country farmers to grow more pasture and increase returns as well as reducing the environmental effects of fertiliser application.

“If we grow more pasture our beef and sheep production will rise at a time when those farmers desperately want to reverse the gradual decline of the past years,” Campbell said.

The seven-year programme is planned to begin this year with the gathering of data from eight research farms.

Related story: Dairy programme gains funding

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