Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Research looks to combat soil water shortage on farms

10 April 2014

Flower Fellowship recipient’s research looks to combat soil water shortage on farms

As New Zealand farms continue to face problems associated with ongoing drought, University of Waikato doctoral student Jack Pronger, originally from Cambridge, hopes his current research project will contribute to an improvement in pastoral drought resilience.

As the recipient of the Flower Doctoral Fellowship in Agribusiness, a scholarship worth $30,000 a year for three years, Jack will look to address the ongoing impacts of drought on dry land farming, or farms that aren’t irrigated.

The Flower Fellowship is awarded to a student whose research has relevance in the agribusiness sector, focusing particularly on issues of food production, farmer ownership and labour issues, New Zealand’s role in global agriculture and the preservation of fertile soils. The University of Waikato has a comprehensive agribusiness programme, headed by leading agriculture commentator Professor Jacqueline Rowarth.

Jack’s research will focus on identifying approaches to increase drought resilience by using more diverse mixes of pasture species - research that could have a significant impact on farm production. The research is being supervised by Professor Louis Schipper and Dr Dave Campbell from the School of Science.

His PhD will look at differences in seasonal water use between mixed sward pasture systems (a combination of different grass, legume and herb species) and ryegrass/clover pasture systems under dairy grazing.

“The current knowledge of paddock-scale water use and water uptake efficiency is pretty limited,” he says. “To cope with the increasing incidence of drought, farmers need pasture species that can access water deeper in the soil, and/or reduce paddock-scale water use while maintaining agronomic production.”

He says there’s been little research into paddock-scale water uptake of managed pasture systems in New Zealand, a gap he feels is worth addressing. With the economics of farming practices changing and the ongoing issue of climate change, identifying ways to combat the effects of drought is more important than ever.

Compared to traditional pasture systems of perennial ryegrass and white clover, mixed sward pasture systems have been shown to increase dry matter production during dry periods, while maintaining similar cumulative dry matter production year-round.

“Mixed sward pasture systems might also potentially reduce some of the negative environmental effects of farming through reduced nitrate leaching and nitrous oxide emissions and increased soil carbon sequestration,” says Jack.

Increased dry season pasture production may support more milk and meat production, bringing with it wider economic benefits for New Zealand.

“The knowledge gained through my research will hopefully contribute to more efficient water usage of pastoral systems, and increased pastoral production that will likely benefit the economy down the track.”

Jack couldn’t be more grateful for the Flower Fellowship. “It is a very generous scholarship and also well thought out in that you are encouraged to get your research out into the community.”

Hamilton couple Bill Flower and his late wife Joan established the Flower Fellowship for the simple reason that they, as Mr Flower says, “wanted to do something good”.

The Flowers have made a habit of giving back. In addition to the Flower Fellowship they have previously made available undergraduate prizes in global and environmental economics, and they often used to take in less fortunate young people onto their farm to work and live.

Mr Flower says that success comes down to having an inquiring mind and the willingness to work hard. “You only get out of this world what you put in,” he says.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Forestry: Man Charged After 2013 Death

Levin Police have arrested and charged a man with manslaughter in relation to the death of Lincoln Kidd who was killed during a tree felling operation on 19 December 2013. More>>

Smells Like Justice: Dairy Company Fined Over Odour

Dairy company fined over odour Dairy supply company Open Country Dairy Limited has been convicted and fined more than $35,000 for discharging objectionable odour from its Waharoa factory at the time of last year’s ”spring flush” when milk supply was high. More>>

Scoop Business: Dairy Product Prices Decline To Lowest Since July 2012

Dairy product prices dropped to the lowest level since July 2012 in the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction, led by a slump in rennet casein and butter milk powder. More>>

ALSO:

SOE Results: TVNZ Lifts Annual Profit 25% On Flat Ad Revenue, Quits Igloo

Television New Zealand, the state-owned broadcaster, lifted annual profit 25 percent, ahead of forecast and despite a dip in advertising revenue, while quitting its stake in the pay-TV Igloo joint venture with Sky Network Television. More>>

ALSO:

Insurers Up For More Payouts: Chch Property Investor Wins Policy Appeal In Supreme Court

Ridgecrest NZ, a property investor, has won an appeal in the Supreme Court over insurance cover provided by IAG New Zealand for a Christchurch building damaged in four successive earthquakes. More>>

ALSO:

Other Cases:

Royal Society: Review Finds Community Water Fluoridation Safe And Effective

A review of the scientific evidence for and against the efficacy and safety of fluoridation of public water supplies has found that the levels of fluoridation used in New Zealand create no health risks and provide protection against tooth decay. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Croxley Calls Time On NZ Production In Face Of Cheap Imports

Croxley Stationery, whose stationery brands include Olympic, Warwick and Collins, plans to cease manufacturing in New Zealand because it has struggled to compete with lower-cost imports in a market where the printed word is giving way to electronic communications. More>>

ALSO:

Prefu Roundup: Forecasts Revised, Surplus Intact

The National government heads into the election with its Budget surplus target broadly intact, delivering a set of economic and fiscal forecasts marginally revised from May to reflect weaker commodity prices and a lower tax take. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Computer Power Plus

Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news