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Sustainable Farming Fund Grants Allocated

The first grants from the Sustainable Farming Fund have been allocated, Rural Affairs Minister Jim Sutton said today.

The fund, promised by Mr Sutton before the general election, was set up by the Government in September last year. Applications for the first round closed in October.

Mr Sutton said there had been some exciting proposals put forward in the application process.

"There is a lot of innovation in the rural sector, and I'm delighted that the Government can help bring some of this innovation to bear fruit."

Thirteen grants have been made.

These are to: · "Dairy Sustainability Focus Farm for Clutha District" (applicant: Dairy Advisory Group of Clutha Agricultural Development Board); · "Farm forestry for economic and environmental sustainability" (applicant: NZ Farm Forestry Association Inc); · "Maori land use options resource kit" (applicant: Opotiki Development Project); · "Subsistence sheep farming to strong financial success" (applicant: Clutha District Sheep Council); · "Best practice dairying catchments for sustainable growth" (applicant: NZ Dairy Research Institute); · "Minimum tillage, optimum water, maximum productivity crops" (applicant: LandWISE Hawkes Bay);; · "Enhancing NZ organic exports by providing information" (applicant: Organic Products Exporters Group Inc); · "Enhanced skill and knowledge for organic pipfruit growers" (applicant: Organic Pipfruit Growers of NZ Inc); · "Study of small cell size to naturally control varroa mites" (applicant: South Canterbury Branch, National Beekeepers Assn Inc); · "Building capability for Southern NZ bulb industry" (applicant: Clutha District Council Economic Development Board, for Southern NZ Bulb Industry Stakeholders); · "A predictive water use model for quality wine production" (applicant: Marlborough Irrigation Scheduling Clients); · "Demonstration of sustainable irrigation practices" (applicant: Sustainable Irrigation Practices); and · "Grower energy minimisation project" (applicant: Foundation for Arable Research/NZ Vegetable & Potato Growers' Fed Inc).

The aim of the fund is to help rural communities or groups in the sustainable use of land-based resources. It provides money for projects that bring together communities to address problems, enable access to information, to technology or tools, or improve the community economic base.

It provides a percentage of the costs and individual projects can be up to three years' duration. The total amount provided per project, per year, is up to $200,000. Total funding allocated in the first funding round is over $4 million.

More than 350 applications for financial support for projects were received in the first application round.

A second funding round, due to open in February, is for projects ready to become operational from July 2001. Eligibility in this round will be extended to include smaller projects under $10,000 and water management issues previously funded from other sources.

"I am delighted with the response so far to the Fund, as it confirms this Government's policy of commitment to support rural New Zealand," Mr Sutton said.


Otago/Balclutha

A successful applicant for the Sustainable Farming Fund in the Clutha area is the Dairy Advisory Group of the Clutha Agricultural Development Board. The contact person for this group is John Labes (ph 03 418 3188).

The project title for this successful application is Dairy Sustainability Focus Farm for Clutha District. The aim of the project is to demonstrate on a whole farm basis, what management practices need to be implemented for intensive dairying to be conducted at negligible risk to the environment. It will monitor the environmental effects of a conversion from sheep to dairy farming. To do this it intends to bring together the expertise of local farmers, veterinarians, consultants, regulators and scientists. The project proposes to select a new dairy conversion farm in the Clinton/Clydvale area of South Otago, having measured the characteristics of the soils, pastures and water before conversion. This will include activities such as measuring the inputs of nutrients and effluent outputs. This information will provide the base against which changes can be recorded when cows are introduced. The information is intended to be of use to farmers in South Otago who doubt the environmental sustainability of dairy farming. The information gained will be transferred to farmers, industry, schools and careers advisers. The total SFF grant approved for this project is $38,138 over three years

Ends

Otago/Balclutha

Another application for the Sustainable Farming Fund is the Clutha District Sheep Council from Balclutha. The contact person is Alan Shaw (ph 03 418 0402).

The project title for this successful application is Subsistence Sheep Farming to Strong Financial Success. The aim of the project is to provide technical and "mentor" help for sheep farmers seeking help in "making ends meet", or who want to improve the performance of their flock, improve profitability, or who need to improve farming knowledge, expertise and business management skills.

The project also seeks to improve negative attitudes within the farming community towards the industry. The project will undertake a survey of over 100 farms in the area to find out what breeds and combinations are working well. The results will also indicate the best sheep farming practices for success.

The project will make available the best technical information as applies to the Clutha District.

The total SFF grant approved for this project is $45,000 over three years.

Ends

Otago/Balclutha

The application from the Clutha District Council Economic Development Board for Southern NZ Bulb Industry Stakeholders has been successful in its application for assistance from the Sustainable Farming Fund. The contact person for the applicant group is Murray Brass (ph 03 418 1350).

The project title of this successful application is Building Capability for Southern NZ Bulb Industry. The aim of the project is to remove the barriers and maximise opportunities which were identified in an industry development strategy developed by the stakeholders earlier this year.

To successfully implement the strategy further research and planning is necessary. The project will develop an industry Code of Practice, a business plan for the proposed bulb apprentice scheme programme, and a marketing plan to attract investment in the industry.

The project also aims to research and develop solutions to issues of immigration, industry/community relations, and trade barriers. Options for local employment programmes will also be identified and evaluated.

The total Sustainable Farming Fund grant approved for this project is $84,375 over two years.

ENDS

South Canterbury/Geraldine

The South Canterbury Branch of the National Beekeepers Assn Inc has successfully applied for funding from the Sustainable Farming Fund. The contact person for the Association is Peter Lyttle (ph 03 693 9189).

The project title for the application is Study of Small Cell Size to Naturally Control Varroa Mites. The aim of the project is to determine scientifically if reducing the cell size of honey bees will reduce the reproductive ability, and detrimental effects of varroa mites on honey bees, to a level at which bees can be farmed on a commercially economic and environmentally sustainable level, without the use of chemicals which contaminate hive products.

The project will establish a trial of forty full-size hives ? twenty of which will have frames for normal cell sizes and twenty will hive the altered, smaller cell.

The average worker size of each hive will be assessed and in the late autumn the production of honey will be removed and measured. Success will be indicated by the reduced Varroa reproduction because of reduced cell size, and that reduced cell size does not have any detrimental effect on honey production or worker size.

The results of the trial will be disseminated through the National Beekeepers Association website, the industry magazine, and appropriate media.

The total SFF grant approved for this project is $45,609 over two years.

Ends

Canterbury/Lincoln

An application from a group called Sustainable Irrigation Practices for Sustainable Farming Fund assistance has been successful. The contact person for the group is Alan Street (ph 03 325 2601).

The project title is Demonstration of Sustainable Irrigation Practices. The project aims to demonstrate the economic and environmental benefits of using the Best Management Guidelines for Sustainable Irrigated Agriculture.

This will be done by selecting a number of farmers in the Canterbury area to take part in the programme. The selection will be based on location, type of irrigation, use of a computer, farmer recognition and commitment to the project.

A monitoring programme to track performance will be put in place. Useful data will be obtained and written up as case studies for future use.

The project also aims to encourage the uptake of the Guidelines among other farmers. Improved irrigation practise has many benefits including less water used, less labour used, less electricity, less fertiliser, healthier soils and better production.

The total Sustainable Farming Fund grant approved is for $56,120 over three years.

Ends

Canterbury/Lincoln

The Foundation for Arable Research/ NZ Vegetable and Potato Growers' Federation Inc have successfully applied for assistance from the Sustainable Farming Fund. The contact person for this group is Nick Pyke (ph 03 325 6353).

The project title is Grower Energy Minimisation Project. The aim of the project is to identify and document practical solutions to minimise on-farm direct energy use (predominantly diesel).

The project aims to reduce dependency on fossil fuels and will do this by focusing on energy conservation and implementing driver education.

A literature search, both nationally and internationally, on agricultural energy minimisation will be conducted. An energy-management-plan template (spreadsheet) will be developed for use by arable and outdoors commercial vegetable growers. Six pilot surveys will be conducted, and baseline energy use indicators will be developed. Ways and means of collecting meaningful data will be developed and tested. An education programme on energy minimisation techniques will be developed and delivered by means of a workshop.

The total Sustainable Farming Fund grant approved is for $37,688 over two years.

Ends

Canterbury/Christchurch

Another Christchurch-based group with a successful application for assistance from the Sustainable Farming Fund is the Organics Products Exporters Group Inc. The contact person is John Manhire (ph 03 348 0979).

The project title for this application is Enhancing NZ Organic Exports by Providing Information. The aim is to facilitate and catalyse the industry export target ($500million by 2006) by providing OPEG members and others in the industry with extensive and up-to-date information about production, processing, certification, servicing, marketing and exporting of organic products.

Individuals and organisations can then better develop policies and strategies and make sound decisions. Opportunities will be able to be assessed as well as the risks. Individuals and organisations should then be able to execute their business operations in the direction of increasing organic output.

The project aims to extend existing services by developing the level of material available and by making it more widely available.

The total SFF grant approved for this project is $60,000 over three years.

Ends

Marlborough/Nelson

The Marlborough Irrigation Scheduling Clients application assistance from the Sustainable Farming Fund has been successful and will receive a grant. The contact person for the group is Greg Dryden (ph 03 543 9145).

The project title for this group is A Predictive Water Use Model for Quality Wine Production. The aim of the project is to develop a predictive model for the irrigation requirements of grapevines to enable sound management of the water resource while enhancing wine quality. The increase in vineyard planting is putting pressure on the water resource and in some areas development is being restricted by water availability.

The predictive model will be used to match plant water requirements with seasonal weather patterns and plant growth stage to maximise the use of underground aquifers. The model will also better match vine water requirements to enhance the quality of the wine produced.

Existing research and technologies will be brought together to form the basis of the project. Scientists will help establish the best way to collate information so it is scientifically sound. A computer model will be developed alongside existing systems and the model will be used in the field for two years.

The total Sustainable Farming Fund approved for this project is $120,000 over three years.

Ends

Southern North Island/Palmerston North

A Palmerston North?based application from the NZ Dairy Research Institute, has also received funding from the Sustainable Farming Fund. The contact person is Jim Barnett (ph 06 350 4649).

The project title for this successful application is Best Practice Dairying Catchments for Sustainable Growth. The objective of the project is to assist the dairy industry achieve the 4% on-farm productivity target in a way that also achieves and demonstrates improvements in farm practice and waterway condition.

This project intends to use a number of demonstration catchments around New Zealand, with the emphasis on areas where the industry is undergoing expansion and intensification.

Within these catchments the project will identify local issues of farm productivity and soil and water quality. It will use expert and local knowledge to develop practical management systems that address productivity and environmental issues. It will encourage and monitor the use of industry guidelines and management practices.

Farm performance and soil and water quality will be monitored and development and adoption of appropriate farm management practices will be encouraged.

The total SFF grant approved for this project is $240,000 over three years.

Ends

Hawkes Bay/Napier

Another successful applicant from the Hawkes Bay area receiving funding from the Sustainable Farming Fund is the NZ Farm Forestry Association (Inc) from Napier. The contact person is Michael Halliday who is president of the NZFFA (ph 06 839 8819.)

The project title for this successful application is Farm Forestry for Economic and Environmental Sustainability. The purpose of the project is to evaluate the role of farm forestry on hill country farms by utilising three "monitor farm programme" farms located throughout New Zealand.

In the short term the project will develop the programme on a farm in the Hawkes Bay and in the following two years apply the knowledge and techniques developed there to two other regions, such as Taranaki and South Otago.

Local practitioners and technical expertise will be involved, including land-use capability mapping and modern farm-forestry planning software to identify ways in which farm forestry can complement and enhance existing and planned farming initiatives. It will begin by identifying opportunities for farm forestry and then evaluating them in terms of their economic and environmental impact.

The total SFF grant approved for this project is $157,000 over three years.

Ends

Hawkes Bay/Hastings

The Organic Pipfruit Growers of NZ Inc have successfully applied for funding from the Sustainable Farming Fund. The contact person is Heather Gregory (ph 06 875 5606).

The title of the successful project is Enhanced Skill and Knowledge for Organic Pipfruit Growers. The aim is to enable growers to use information from this project to enhance management systems. This will give growers considering converting to pipfruit production, improved management and financial information to base their decision on.

Three key regions, Hawkes Bay, Blenheim and Otago, will be monitored and benchmarked. Changes in organic production, such as yield, quality or size, will be identified by variety and region. As well, key organic production and management issues and solutions will be identified.

Strategies to identify pest risk for market access will be developed. The research will be coordinated and information made available to grower groups through discussion groups.

The total SFF grant approved for this project is $63,999 over three years.

Ends

Hawkes Bay/Napier

LandWISE Hawkes Bay has successfully applied for a Sustainable Farming Fund grant. The contact person for this applicant group is Dan Bloomer (ph 06 835 9200 extn 9393).

The project title of the application is Minimum Tillage, Optimum Water, Maximum Productivity Crops. The project objective is to increase productivity and profitability by adopting irrigation technologies and no-till systems that meet export market demands. This objective can be best completed by supporting a cooperative venture between farmers, processors, scientists and regional council.

Relevant information resources will be compiled and local expert teams will be created that will include land users, service organisations and scientists. These will assist the adoption of irrigation farming systems with minimised tillage. Increased yields with more reliable production and long-term sustainability are expected.

A facilitator will be appointed to work with local producers and service providers and develop local groups of expertise that can lead and support others.

The total Sustainable Farming Fund grant approved for this project is for $273,285 over three years.

Ends

Bay of Plenty/Opotiki

A successful applicant from the Bay of Plenty region receiving funding from the Sustainable Farming Fund is the Opotiki Development Project. The contact person is Richard Jefferies (ph 07 315 5494).

The project title for this successful application is Maori Land Use Options Resource Kit. The aim is to establish a Maori Land Use Options Resource Kit which will centralise relative land development options in an attractive, clear, precise, user-friendly manner.

The kit will be aimed at addressing the specific needs of owners of Maori land (trusts, incorporations and others). The resource kit will provide basic information on potential land use options, steps to follow to properly establish their trust or incorporation, strategies to access capital, and identify key contacts for further support, advice and training.

The kit will comprise five sections: Introduction, Trust Structures, Access to Capital, Contacts and Reference Material, Land Use Option Information.

The initial kit will focus on the Opotiki district with land-use options likely to cover land uses currently utilised such as kiwi fruit, avocados, forestry, drystock.

The need for such a kit is supported by local organisations such as Maori BIZ and Environment BOP.

The total SFF grant approved for this project is $50,000.

Ends


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