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Second National Conference on Biological Farming Systems

MEDIA RELEASE (8 Oct 2013)
Second National Conference on Biological Farming Systems announced due to popular demand

A Second national conference on biological farming systems will be held on 20-21 February 2014 at the Rydges Hotel in Rotorua. Theme of the conference is “Biological farming under different land uses”.

Biological farming is a holistic approach to modify and improve soil conditions for beneficial microbes to increase soil microbial activity that helps speed-up nutrient cycling, and to re-establish mineral balance in the soil. It is a mix of conventional and organic farming practices involving careful crop and soil monitoring to ensure optimum yields, nutritional density and humus production.

The conference will provide a forum for discussion of a wide range of topics for current and future biological farming systems research. The programme will include two days of technical sessions of oral and poster presentations, panel discussions and scientist-farmer interaction.

"The first conference held in October 2011 which focussed on dairy farming was a great success. The aim of the second conference is to bring farmers of sheep and beef, deer, horticulture, viticulture etc in addition to dairy farmers together to discuss biological farming opportunities," said Malcolm Short, Chairman of the Te Arawa Federation of Maori Authorities (Te Arawa FoMA).

This conference is being organised after a number of Maori land owners, farmers, soil and environmental scientists requested the need for a second conference.

“This is timely given the lake water quality issues that are confronting many landowners in our region and the need to examine other options that support sustainable and profitable farming,” said Te Taru White, Deputy Chairman of the Te Arawa FoMA.

In addition to a two-day science conference, an 'Open Day' has been planned for 22nd of February at Waiariki Polytechnic from 10.am til 2.pm. The open day is to promote biological farming systems to the community, and to develop links with sustainability groups, and educators.

"The open day will also give an opportunity for the public and school students, especially from enviro-schools, to meet, mingle and discuss issues with bio-fertiliser companies and food producers. They will also get an opportunity to taste food prepared from biologically grown vegetables, fruits, milk and cheese," said Professor Guna Magesan, science advisor to Te Arawa FoMA and the joint-coordinator of this second conference.

In addition to land owners, farmers, and scientists, invitations will be sent to ecologists, conservationists, land management specialists, consultants, and representatives from universities, research institutes, regional councils, fertiliser companies, and analytical services, agricultural and horticultural businesses to attend the conference.

As for the first conference, this conference will bring both the scientific community and the biological farming community (including organic and other alternative farmers) onto the same discussion platform.

Soil and water resources in New Zealand must be protected and nourished so that they will continue to look after us long into the future. Soil biology plays an important role in the economic and environmental wellbeing of the soil.

“As biological farming systems are adopted by an increasing number of farmers in New Zealand, we want to encourage the scientific community to scrutinise and conduct research in biological farming systems so that it can be adopted widely by mainstream farmers,” said Professor Magesan.

One of the aims of the Te Arawa Federation of Maori Authorities (FoMA) is to help its members advance their aspirations for economic development from their ancestral lands in a sustainable and profitable manner. Providing science and research support and also encouraging Maori land owners to follow alternative sustainable farming systems such as biological farming is one such aim.

In 2011, Te Arawa FoMA appointed Dr Guna Magesan as its science adviser because he had developed an excellent reputation through his promotion and advocacy of science and community work, especially with Maori people.

In spite of working overseas, Professor Guna Magesan continues to support Te Arawa FoMA in science related matters.


ENDS

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