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Helping farmers manage the most valuable resource

Helping farmers manage their most valuable resource

A Land Management Index (LMI) computer tool to help farmers predict the consequences of management decisions on soil quality and future productivity is about to be rolled out around the country.

The tool has been developed by a team of Crop & Food Research soil scientists with input and backing from a wide range of farming organisations and funding bodies, including the Sustainable Farming Fund.

The tool's development has been in response to the rapid intensification of farming occurring in the arable, vegetable and pastoral sectors throughout New Zealand. Identifying and employing appropriate management practices have become increasingly important to farmers to ensure financial viability while avoiding negative impacts on the wider environment.

The LMI is a simple tool to help growers predict changes in soil quality based on soil and crop management information. It will be demonstrated to arable farmers and vegetable growers at a series of workshops beginning on August 11. The main focus will be on showing farmers how to use the tool to benefit their business. The cost will be $35 (including GST) and will include:

·A copy of the LMI tool (on CD),

·Training on how to use the tool within the context of their farming operation

·A chance for relaxed discussion over light refreshments.

The half-day workshops will be held in the afternoon at the following locations and on the following dates:

 

Lincoln                       Monday 11 August

Timaru                        Wednesday 13 August

Gore                           Thursday 14 August

Pukekohe                   Monday 18 August

Hamilton                    Tuesday 19 August

Gisborne                    Wednesday 20 August

Hastings                     Thursday 21 August

Palmerston North     Friday 22 August

 

Soil scientist Erin Lawrence says farmers are increasingly confronted with decisions to change their crop and soil management practices in response to changes in land use, shifts in market demand and new information about environmental resources.

"This tool can help farmers to make decisions about the length and composition of their crop rotations and the intensity and frequency of tillage practices used to establish crops. It can help farmers calculate the benefits of incorporating winter cover crops into traditionally winter fallow systems, and to think more strategically about the effect of management decisions on soil quality.

"Our main aim is quite simple: we want to help farmers and growers to identify management practices that will improve their soil quality and future productivity."

Registrations are essential as numbers are limited, so don't delay. Farmers and growers can register by contacting Erin Lawrence at Crop & Food Research (email lawrencee@crop.cri.nz, phone 03 3259364, or fax 03 3252074).

The LMI computer tool has been produced with funding from the Sustainable Farming Fund, the Foundation for Arable Research, Horticulture New Zealand and regional councils from around New Zealand.

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