Field walks a celebration of research and development

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By Gemma Carroll, Communications and Engagement Officer PNZ

 

February heralded my first foray into managing field walk events and it was a rewarding and fun exercise. 

The scientists we align with at Plant and Food and Landwise, are brilliantly passionate about their work. The supporting organisations and businesses like Teralytic, Balance Agri-Nutrients, regional and district councils, CleanbootsLeicesters and FAR, add just the right level of interest and product knowledge to enhance our projects. 

Our nationwide tour, through our major potato growing areas, saw us visit 3 farms in Canterbury, 1 in Pukekohe and 1 in Levin. 

The Canterbury walks got the ball rolling and were a huge day, which included a travelling group of Australian potato growers, agronomists and rural professionals from AUSVEG and beyond. The Aussies had their own itinerary but met us along the way at one farm and then invited Potatoes NZ to an enjoyable evening at The Lakehouse, where we shared ideas and experiences over a relaxed meal and heard from UK agronomist John Sarup, on the challenges that face the UK industry, which are mostly common to the challenges in NZ and Australia. Land, water, climate, regulations – are a common theme for farmers. Thanks to Andy Bailey, Tim Pike and Daniel Lovett for hosting in their paddocks. 

In Pukekohe, Vinay Parsot, welcomed us all in a relaxed and friendly way, as the morning sun shone hotly on our large group gathered next to his vibrant green crop. The soils in Pukekohe are amazing from what I could see, but in an aside Vinay mentioned the challenges of small farms, water and encroaching urbanization in the area. 

Finally the afternoon in Levin, had us sheltering from the prevailing wind, in Chris Pescini’s shed. The dark clouds looming never spoilt the afternoon and much interest was shown by those in attendance, especially at the Teralytic probes and the potential data available, once in place.  

Dan Bloomer and his Landwise team also had a lot to say here, on Future Proofing, efficient spraying, nitrates and a multi-pronged approach to managing the stringent demands of farm practice, environmental performance and water quality. 

The PNZ R & D Projects, which our field walks shone a light on wereTeralytic Probe trials, Landwise’s Future Proofing Vegetable Production, Psyllid Management, Tamarixia Trials, Powdery Scab, Regreening Spray trials and soil fumigation, Climate Change Impacts (a PHD research topic), and our latest Biosecurity advice. 

We encouraged everyone to done their boot covers and had Rusty from www.cleanboots.co.nz demonstrating best practice for entry to farms. This is timely after our recent PMTV Biosecurity incursion. As Rusty said, biosecurity needs to be everyday, not in response only. We will be posting out a new PNZ Biosecurity Poster at Easter time. 

 

If you missed the walks but want an overview, you can see our Booklet on the website. https://potatoesnz.co.nz/mdocs-posts/2019-field-walk-booklet-2/  

Our upcoming biennial conference in Christchurch will also cover all R & D projects in detail. Remember to read our newsletter, to keep up to date with all events and to be notified when conference registrations open.