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News 285 views last update:6 Aug 2012

NZ to invest in agriculture and environment

$34 million will be invested in public and private sector research to boost farm productivity and curb agricultural pollution in New Zealand. The projects will aim at squeezing more energy out of stock feed and reducing contamination from farm run-off.

The Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (FoRST), the government's research funding body, teams up with three industry bodies to pump the money into two AgResearch projects aimed at increasing agricultural output while easing the sector's environmental impact.
FoRST said it would provide the projects with $4.3 million a year for four years, with Dairy Insight, Fonterra and Meat and Wool New Zealand together matching that amount.

Farmer friendly tools
AgResearch beat other competitors for the funds with bids centred on proposals to help farmers squeeze more energy out of stock feed and reduce contamination from farm run-off.
AgResearch senior scientist Cecile de Klein, who will lead the team tackling environmental fallout, said the project hoped to develop "farmer-friendly" tools and technologies for monitoring, measuring and reducing nitrogen, phosphate and faecal material pollution into waterways.

Alternative feed sources
The second project, headed by AgResearch's Derek Woodfield, aims to boost farm productivity by increasing the amount of energy animals could extract from their feed.
His team would investigate alternative feed sources to traditional ryegrass-clover pastures and research changes in composition via genetic manipulation and traditional breeding to boost traits in foraging plants that either delivered more energy or increased the breakdown of feed during digestion, he said.

The research planned for the next four years would bring together seven organisations and deliver "some concrete outcomes", he said.

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