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PM excited by Lincoln dairy farm research

29 October 2007

Prime Minister excited by ‘substance’ of Lincoln University dairy farm research

It is important for New Zealand to stay ahead of the trends in food, beverage and agricultural production, preserving the New Zealand brand and its markets through science and innovation, said Prime Minister Helen Clark at Lincoln University.

Speaking to Lincoln University scientists at the University’s state-of-the-art dairy farm (26 Oct.), she said “fortunately Kiwi farmers have always shown an incredible willingness to pick up new technology.”

An example of that new technology, the nitrification inhibitor eco-n developed by Lincoln University researchers in partnership with Ravensdown Fertiliser Ltd, was described to her by soil scientists Professor Keith Cameron and Dr Tim Clough. They outlined the environmental and production benefits its use can deliver.

Environmental benefits include, downwards, a reduction in nitrate leaching from cow urine and the damage it can cause to groundwater and, upwards, a reduction in emissions of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide. Production benefits include an increase in pasture generation.

Professor Cameron and Dr Clough showed the Prime Minister projections illustrating that with 100 percent eco-n usage by the dairy sector New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions could be brought back almost to the 1990 level required under the Kyoto Protocol.

The Prime Minister said this work by Professor Cameron and Lincoln University had “real substance to it”.

“We’re looking for leadership in this area,” she said, and she described the Lincoln University work as “very exciting”.

At the Dairy Farm the Prime Minister also heard from Lincoln University’s Professor of Ecology, Steve Wratten, who outlined proposals to “green” the dairy farm using similar approaches to the “Greening Waipara” programme which he leads.

(“Greening Waipara” involves the application of biodiversity, ecosystem services and sustainable land use practices to the Waipara wine growing area of North Canterbury.)

“Biodiversity on farmland can have very high economic value,” said Professor Wratten. “That value lies in areas such as biological control of pests. This saves spending money on pesticides and helps keep and enhance our overseas markets for food and beverages.”

Overseas consumers were becoming increasingly wary of chemical residues in the products they ate and drank, he said.

The Prime Minister described Professor Wratten’s proposals as “fantastic” and said it was important to keep ahead of trends in consumer and market attitudes.

During the Lincoln University visit the Prime Minister also heard from the Director of the campus-based Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit, Professor Caroline Saunders, about her “food miles” research and reports.

The Prime Minister was accompanied on the Lincoln University visit by the Minister Responsible for Climate Change Issues, David Parker; the Associate Conservation Minister, Mahara Okeroa; and Christchurch Central MP Tim Barnett.

The Prime Minister last visited Lincoln University in 2004 to launch the campus-based National Centre for Advanced Bio-Protection Technologies.


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