A cropping systems research manager at the Foundation for Arable Research, who has worked to support cropping farmers in the areas of economic and environmental sustainability since 2010, has been bestowed the organisation’s top honour for 2019.
FAR CEO Alison Stewart says awarding Diana Mathers the 2019 Researcher of the Year award recognises the significant impact she’s had in her areas of work.
“Working with growers around the adoption of new technologies is a current focus for Diana, who helped to test and calibrate DIY Quick N testing kits as part of the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Farming Fund project Nitrogen - Measure it and Manage it.
“The results of this project have confirmed that Quick N testing strips are an efficient and inexpensive tool to help growers understand exactly how much nitrogen is available to their crops at any given time, and therefore, how much they need to apply to reach target yields.”
The judges’ citation for awarding Diana the accolade says she has been, and continues to be, actively involved in a number of national and regional research projects, which focus on ensuring high quality information is made available to farmers in a format that is easy to understand and apply.
“She’s led a number of environmental and biodiversity projects such as the Good Management Practices For Winter Dairy Grazing On Arable Cropping Land, the Building Better Biodiversity on Arable Farms, and the Trees for Bees projects.
“Diana was instrumental in developing a Farm Environment Plan template for cropping farms, which was released in 2015 and has been extremely well received by growers and regional councils. Its success comes from Diana’s determination that it should able to be completed easily by the landowner and form a valuable information base for the farm business.”
The FEP is now being delivered to farmers through ongoing workshops and will become an increasingly more important tool for growers as the Government increases its environmental compliance requirements, say the judges.
“Diana has also had significant involvement in benchmarking Overseer for crop farms and delivering information on nutrient management on crop farms to arable and vegetable crop farmers through a series of nutrient management workshops across NZ.
“In all these projects she’s focused on using data collected on-farm and farmers’ own records to inform improved on-farm decision making.”
The judges say Diana also provides valuable input to a number of regional council groups throughout NZ where she helps to ensure policy is practically aligned with farm practices, particularly in relation to nutrient management. “She’s a strong advocate for the implementation of good farm management practices and works closely with growers to support their adoption and uptake.
“This award is fitting recognition of Diana’s empathy with growers and her determination to help them understand and negotiate the increasingly complicated issues associated with on-farm environmental management.”