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Practical solutions for sustainable agriculture

Practical solutions for sustainable agriculture

12 May 2015

2015 is the UN designated International Year of Soils, and soil management will be a key feature of a series of one day workshops for farmers and horticulturists interested in finding ways of increasing sustainability on their farms.

The free events, kick-off in Ashburton and Timaru next week, then move north to Palmerston North and Pukekohe in early June. They are being run by the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) and the Future Farming Centre (FFC), and are aimed at all growers of arable and horticultural crops.

FAR CEO Nick Pyke says it is clear that agriculture is entering a period of major change and that the workshops will help growers identify practical ways of introducing sustainable techniques and technologies onto conventionally farmed properties.

"The 20th century focus on yield and productivity gains remains, but we must now find ways of achieving those gains, and feeding the growing world, without compromising environmental factors such as biodiversity, fresh water and soil."

Charles Merfield of the Future Farming Centre, who will deliver the workshops, agrees that for a number of reasons, sustainable farming practices are now moving into mainstream agricultural production.

"Some of the tools that have been the mainstay of 20th century farming, such as pesticides and mineral fertilisers are facing growing challenges from the development of resistance and restrictions on use. The on-going focus and development of legislation around water and nutrient use is also impacting on all farmers. Farming harder is not going to address this situation, what is required is smarter farming that will sustain farminglivelihoods as well as the environment and food production. These workshops will provide information on sustainable soil, pest and disease, and weed management, and introduce some practical solutions."

There is no charge for attendance at these workshops, however, registration is required in order to arrange catering. Further information is available on the FAR website www.far.org.nz or by contacting FAR on 03 345 5783.


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