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More Sustainable Farming Fund Grants Allocated

Three more grants from the Sustainable Farming Fund have been made, Agriculture and Rural Affairs Minister Jim Sutton said today.

The new grants are to: · Blackcurrants NZ Ltd, for a project on soil quality management for berryfruit growers; · Regional Summergreen Grower Discussion Groups, for expert support for summerfruit community grower groups; and · The NZ Avocado Growers Association, for a project implementing orchard best management practices for the avocados.

This brings the number of grants from the first round of the fund to 22 so far.

Applications are now open for the second round of the Sustainable Farming Fund. The closing date for applications is 15 March 2001.

Mr Sutton said funding in this round was for projects that were ready to go from July this year.

"There is no lower limit. Smaller projects with costs under $10,000 are now included. Also, water management issues previously funded from other sources will now be eligible for Sustainable Farming Fund grants."

Wellington

The application for Sustainable Farming Fund assistance from Blackcurrants NZ Ltd has been approved. The contact person is Ian Turk (ph 04 472 4730)

The project title is Soil Quality Management System for Berryfruit Growers. The objective of the project is to adapt and transfer the arable soil quality management system (SQMS) to berryfruit growers. This will be achieved by evaluating and refining the proposed SQMS indicators on blackcurrant and boysenberry blocks in Canterbury and Nelson.

The relationship between SQMS indicators and crop yields/production costs will be determined to define the optimum range for each indicator.

On-farm field trials will be conducted to identify the appropriate management practices for restoring soil quality. On-farm demonstrations and training in the use of Berryfruit SQMS for growers and consultants will be conducted and a website to provide decision support will be developed.

The total SFF grant approved for this project is $95,689 over three years.

*****

Otago/Alexandra

A successful Otago application for Sustainable Farming Fund assistance was from Regional SummerGreen Grower Discussion Groups. The contact person for this applicant group is Earnscy Weaver (ph 03 449 2203).

The title of the project is Expert Support for Summerfruit Community Grower Groups. The objective of the project is to promote the adoption of integrated fruit production principles in summerfruit (the "SummerGreen programme") by providing access to technical expertise and facilitating summerfruit community grower discussion groups. These are currently based in Hawkes Bay, Marlborough and Central Otago.

SummerGreen promotes the use of sustainable and environmentally responsible fruit production techniques which do not compromise fruit quality, yield and overall financial performance. The project aims to employ a facilitator for each grower community discussion group to help the group focus on implementation of sustainable and environmentally responsible fruit production techniques in their orchards.

As well the services of experts will be secured to assist the discussion groups to refine integrated management techniques to take account of unique growing conditions and market requirements for their fruit crops.

The total Sustainable Farming Fund grant approved for this project is $145,170 over three years.

*****

Bay of Plenty/Tauranga

The applicant group New Zealand Avocado Growers Association has been successful in its application for a Sustainable Farming Fund grant. The contact person for the group is Dr Jonathan Cutting (ph 07 571 6174).

The project title is Implementing Orchard Best Management Practices for the Avocado. The aim of the project is to increase average industry yields to 12 tonnes per hectare and reduce export outturn failure to less than 3 percent outturn failure by 2005. This will be achieved by establishing five regional demonstration orchards and focus groups to develop best practice production methods and monitor orchard performance.

Field days and demonstrations will take place on these orchards, and the results of the best practice techniques and monitoring results will be made widely available.

The aim is to increase average export packout rates from 60 to 75 percent by application of these practices.

The total Sustainable Farming Fund grant for this project is $300,000 over 3 years.

ENDS

Office of Hon Jim Sutton


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