The hunt is underway for examples of innovation within New Zealand’s irrigation sector as industry body IrrigationNZ gears up for its bi-ennial conference in Hawkes Bay.
Entries have just opened for IrrigationNZ’s ‘Innovation in Irrigation Award’ in association with Aqualinc, which will be presented at the conference and expo next April, being held in Napier for the first time.
The prestigious award, which comes with a $2500 prize, celebrates, encourages and promotes innovation within New Zealand’s irrigation industry.
Nominations close 31 January with entries required by 14 February 2014. Nomination forms are now available on the IrrigationNZ websitewww.irrigationnz.co.nz/events-and-training/innovation-in-irrigation-award/
IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis says the category is extremely broad and encompasses technical innovations by industry, initiatives which protect the environment and innovative thinking where irrigation has helped create resilient communities.
"Innovation is commonplace within our sector as irrigators are constantly responding to regulatory and community feedback to improve performance. Unfortunately too often the focus is on the negative, and many significant advances made by our industry have been overlooked."
"The reality is most irrigators strive to be efficient water users and are considerate of their environment. There are lots of exciting things happening within our industry and the award gives us an opportunity to recognize the positive impact irrigation plays in many communities."
Past winners of the award include the North Otago Irrigation Company in 2012 which used its prize to re-establish the North Otago Sustainable Land Management Group (NOSLAM) to promote responsible farming in its area. The company worked alongside the Otago Regional Council, local Runanga and NOSLAM to develop its ground-breaking Environmental Farm Plans. These plans guide farmers in good management practice including irrigation, riparian, soil, fertiliser and effluent use.
In 2010, Fielding-based Precision Irrigation won for its variable rate irrigation systems, which uses GPS to more effectively target water application. The company has since been purchased by multinational Lindsay Corporation and has sold over 160 variable rate irrigation systems throughout Australasia.
IrrigationNZ is also calling for nominations for the Ron Cocks Memorial Award with nomination forms also available on the IrrigationNZ website www.irrigationnz.co.nz
The award recognizes a person who has made a significant contribution to irrigation within New Zealand. Named after J.R (Ron) Cocks, a Mid Canterbury farmer who was an early leader in water issues, the award is given every two years to a New Zealander who has demonstrated leadership, voluntary dedication and achievement within the irrigation sector. The 2012 recipient was Brian Cameron from Ashburton. Nominations close 11 February 2014.
The proposed method of improving the water quality of the Tukituki River is flawed, and the impact of intensive farming may be impossible to step back from, according to Forest & Bird. Hawke's Bay Regional Council has applied for a plan change that relies on controlling algal growth in the river by focusing efforts on limiting the amount of phosphorus entering its water.
Ecologist Mike Joy, giving evidence for Forest & Bird, said this was a "very risky approach" and was based on several flawed assumptions.
Among these was the controversial Tukituki river model (Trim), devised by Niwa, which Dr Joy said was based on "dubious input data", the assumption that algal growth in the river was limited by the amount of phosphorus at all times, and setting nitrogen limits at levels based on their toxicity to aquatic species rather than on algal growth. The "single nutrient" model had not been proven and it remained best practice to manage for phosphorus and nitrogen, he said.
A cow is dead after standing in the path of a truck on a state highway this morning. The small truck collided with the cow on State Highway 2 near the intersection of Burma Rd, south of Hastings shortly after 6am today, Senior Sergeant Hector Douglas said.
The driver was in shock, but was not thought to be physically hurt. The truck, though, had tipped on to its side and was in the ditch on the side of the road.
There was a lot of mess on the road and traffic was backing up on the highway, the main route south out of Hawke's Bay.
Regions are stepping up to protect our ‘100% Pure’ branding in the absence of a clear direction from central government over issues like genetic engineering (GE), the Green Party said today.
A Colmar-Brunton survey of one thousand New Zealanders found that 79 percent want local councils to decide where and whether genetically modified crops can be grown in their region. The National Government is proposing changes to the Resource Management Act to take away the rights of regions to protect their agricultural sector from GE.
"The survey commissioned by Pure Hawkes Bay highlights the popularity of being GE free but also shows how strongly some regions want to protect our ‘100% Pure’ brand," said Green Party genetic engineering spokesperson Steffan Browning.
"Regions like Hastings, Whangarei, the Far North, and Auckland City are trying to protect New Zealand’s valuable clean, green brand in the absence of strong leadership from the National Government.
"National thinks it can have it both ways - being ‘100% Pure’ while also doing all those activities that undermine our clean, green brand, like GE, intensive dairying, and rising carbon emissions.
"The Green Party supports a cohesive, country-wide approach to securing our "100% Pure" brand supported with a strong liability regime that would protect growers from GE contamination events.
"Staying GE free is a golden opportunity in a world demanding safe, clean food," Mr Browning said.
New Zealanders overwhelmingly reject government plans to override the ability of local authorities to declare regions free of genetically modified crops, according to research by pollsters Colman Brunton for the Pure Hawkes Bay lobby group.
The poll of 1,000 New Zealanders, taken in July and August, found 83 percent thought it was either important or very important (51 percent) for "New Zealand's reputation to remain GM free in food production."
Some 79 percent agreed that local councils should be allowed to keep their districts GM free, and 78 percent want councils to be able to "make those who trial or use GM crops pay for the costs of GM contamination."
Taken for an inter-council working party on GM organisms, the poll proved the government's proposals to make all GM crop decisions the responsibility of the Environmental Protection Authority is "way out of step with New Zealanders," said Bruno Chambers of Pure Hawkes Bay.
PHB has been lobbying to establish the region as GM free as part of a wider strategy to position food and beverages from the area as high quality, premium-priced products, especially for export markets.
Its concern is not with the scientific arguments about whether or not GM crops are safe, but with the clear demand from well-heeled consumers not to consume products that contain GM ingredients.
"Food producers and exporters are far better placed to understand regional economic opportunities than a Wellington-based regulator," said another PHB spokesman, John Bostock, in a statement. "And the message from the marketplace is that loud and clear: premium buyers and high value markets want GM free."
Auckland City is already pursuing GM free status for its region as part of its Unitary Plan, despite announcements by Environment Minister Amy Adams that the EPA will regulate the sector, through its responsibility for hazardous substances and new organisms (HSNO).
The Whangarei, Kaipara, Far North District and Hastings District Councils are also intending to go down the same route.
"Concerns (about GM crops) have not abated, but rather have increased over time," said Whangarei mayor Sheryl Mai in a statement.
Ring-necked doves, a scourge of agricultural crops in some parts of the world, should be banned in New Zealand before they become a problem, says Hamilton agricultural consultant Vaughan Jones.
Mr Jones, who was brought up and farmed in South Africa during his earlier years, said in Africa large numbers of the doves learned to follow maize planters and eat the seed.
Ring-necked doves are classified as an "emerging pest" by the Australian Department of Agriculture.
In Australia, where there are isolated populations in the wild, the Agriculture Department said they pose a serious threat with significant potential to establish further populations and become a pest.
Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) principal conservation advisor Erik Van Eyndhoven said ring-necked or Barbary doves were first introduced into New Zealand in the late 19th century.
Today they were mainly kept as captive birds in aviaries, but some had escaped and formed small feral populations, mainly around Auckland, Whangarei and Napier.
He said they had no official status under the Biosecurity Act 1993.
"We are aware that ring-necked doves are a pest in other countries, however they've had little impact in New Zealand to date. While MPI has no immediate plans to regulate or manage this species we do monitor introduced organisms to determine any emerging risks."
He said regional councils had the ability to manage established pests in their regions, but to date no councils had listed the dove as a pest on their regional management strategies.
Mr Jones said people in Hamilton had ring-necked doves in dovecotes in their gardens, and like domestic pigeons, the doves were free to come and go.
"Here it will be 20-30 years before they increase to uncontrollable numbers. They should be forbidden, and all disposed of now when it is possible to do so. Now's the time to fix it.
"[In South Africa] these jolly things in their thousands would land and walk along the rows. They're pretty smart. They were very bad in the Cape Town area where we farmed."
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