Supporting farmers

Supporting-farmers

Ballance has reinforced its commitment to supporting and promoting sustainable farming practices

February 29, 2012

SUPPORTING FARMERS

Ballance has reinforced its commitment to supporting and promoting sustainable farming practices.

Speaking at the first regional 2012 Ballance Farm Environment Awards ceremony in the Bay of Plenty last week, Ballance Chief Executive Larry Bilodeau said all New Zealanders understood the economic contribution made by pastoral industries, but there was growing unease at the perceived environmental cost.

“The public pressure is building and farmers are feeling it. These awards have created a pool of farmers who demonstrate great environmental leadership, but we’re not leaving all the work to them. We are putting our weight behind the pastoral sector, so they can achieve their goals of farming productively and sustainably.”

Mr Bilodeau said Ballance’s Clearview Innovations research and product development initiative will see $19.5 million invested over the next seven years to develop new products and offer expert advice to help maximise nutrient use efficiency. He said the work was already well underway, with nitrification inhibitors being field tested in the Waikato and Lower South Island this autumn, along with trials of improved biological controls for grass grub.

Ballance’s research secured $9.75 million of funding from the Government’s Primary Growth Partnership programme late last year, and has a specific emphasis on doubling the nitrogen and phosphorus efficiency of fertilisers and developing new biologically-based forms of fertiliser and pest control. The programme also includes a strong focus on science extension to translate the research into farming practices which can be applied by farmers easily.

“We have hit the ground running with a programme targeting the major challenges facing farming today; nutrient efficiency, water quality and rising farm costs.”

Mr Bilodeau says the co-operative’s Clearview Innovations initiative has been met with a good response from farmers and the scientific community.

“A seven year programme of research not only shows we’re serious, but also gives researchers the confidence to think long-term. Nobody is short of ideas, but some take a little longer to feed into the research pipeline. Having a seven year programme enables that to happen and we benefit from retaining research capability in New Zealand.

“The beauty of the programme is that it will continue when the funding runs out because it’s designed to be sustainable in itself with new products coming to market and generating revenue which in turn will be reinvested in further research. The aim here is to provide farmers with the smarts to be the best in the world; smart products, smart advice and smart technology, and because these smarts are backed by sound science, farmers can have full confidence in their effectiveness.”

Describing the pastoral sector as “the tractor towing New Zealand’s economy through the ruts of a recession”, Mr Bilodeau said the significant investment that the Clearview Innovations programme represents demonstrates Ballance’s commitment to delivering long term prosperity for farmers and the New Zealand economy.

This commitment includes renewing its sponsorship of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards for a further four years. This year’s awards are well underway with regional judging running through to May before the grand finale to select the national winner at Parliament Building in Wellington on 23 June 2012.

29 February 2012

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