Article ‘misleading’ says AgResearch

AgResearch’s work is much broader than described in the article “Protectionism versus truth-telling” which appeared in the March issue of Coast & Country News, and on the Coast & Country News website, says AgResearch Science Group Leader Tony Conner.

“We feel people may get a misleading view of AgResearch’s work from the piece, when in reality the work is much broader than described.

“The comments by Sue Edmonds misrepresent the work AgResearch is doing in areas of non-chemical based pasture development, and many of these were featured at the presentation that Sue attended.

“They include the pasture persistence work through the Sustainable Farming Fund in the Bay of Plenty and Waikato, the use of biocontrols and biopesticides to control pests like the Argentine Stem Weevil and Clover Root Weevil, the use of endophytes (a naturally occurring fungus embedded in the plant) and the Trojan female project that the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has recently funded AgResearch to undertake.”

Also highlighted, says Tony, was work on projects in regard to use of effluent on pastures. One of the projects presented covered improving rhizobia efficiency which will reduce the need for additional nitrogen application to pastures, and this project appears to be central to the area of work that Sue Edmonds demonstrates concern. This work is underpinned by science expertise in the area of plant, microbe and soil interactions.

“We have also had success with field trials showing the effectiveness of a new bacterium against two significant agricultural pests, grass grub and Manuka beetles.

“This is part of the Next Generation Biopesticides Programme (NGBP) with AgResearch and is running in collaboration with Lincoln University, Plant and Food Research, FAR, Agrimm, Grasslanz and Zespri. The project aims to find new, safe and sustainable solutions to New Zealand’s key insect pest and disease problems.

“As was offered at the seminar mentioned in the opinion piece, Ms Edmonds was invited to speak with our teams about the work we are doing in this area of reducing chemical use in pasture development. That offer stands,” he says.

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