DairyNZ strong supporter of soil science research
11 September, 2013
DairyNZ strong supporter of soil science research at Waikato University
Budding soil science students from the University of Waikato continue to benefit from DairyNZ funding, which has been provided over the past six years to increase research in the area of pastoral agriculture.
The funding agreement began in 2007, providing support for a masters study of how nitrification inhibitors might alter denitrification in soil. Since that time the relationship has blossomed significantly and with six projects currently underway, DairyNZ has now contributed to the research of 17 Waikato students.
“Support from DairyNZ for student stipends and operating costs has been invaluable for our students throughout the years. The organisation has also been extremely generous in providing students and staff outstanding opportunities to conduct research at DairyNZ’s research farm – Scott Farm,” says University of Waikato Professor Louis Schipper.
Over the last six years, the industry organisation representing New Zealand dairy farmers, has allocated funds to Waikato University research, which is then distributed by Professor Schipper to masters and PhD projects who’s research has direct relevance to DairyNZ’s goals around sustainable dairy farming.
“Our dairy farmers and our own scientists benefit from the extra dimensions the student projects provide and this investment creates important skills for our farming and science future,” says DairyNZ Chief Scientist Eric Hillerton.
Earth Sciences PhD student Sam McNally is carrying out just one of the current research projects supported by the funding. Much of his research is being carried out on DairyNZ’s Scott Farm, and the objective of his project is to determine whether different pasture swards with greater root biomass can increase net carbon balance of dairy pastures.
Additionally, master’s student Nadia Laubscher is investigating why ‘flipped’ soils are better than undistributed soils for growing grass in Galatea. She anticipates completing the project early next year.
Other current research topics supported by DairyNZ include nitrate removal in denitrification beds, pasture pulling on pumice soils, root and soil carbon dynamics in diverse pastures, and effects of land use on soil carbon and nitrate stocks.
At undergraduate level, DairyNZ has also been generous in hosting visits to Scott Farm for Professor Schipper’s third-year soil science paper, allowing students to talk with DairyNZ staff. In addition, the funding relationship between the University and DairyNZ has fostered collaboration between the two parties outside of student projects, and expert advice from DairyNZ staff has been instrumental for Waikato University staff designing large scale pasture diversity studies near Waharoa.