11 months ago

Selwyn Times: January 17, 2017

34 Tuesday

34 Tuesday January 17 2017 SELWYN RURAL LIFE SELWYN TIMES Scientists find new ways of potentially reducing agricultural emissions A group of New Zealand and American scientists have discovered a new way of chemically converting reactive nitrogen common in soil before it turns into a harmful greenhouse gas. The discovery, which was published in the latest edition of the prestigious scientific journal Nature Scientific Reports, could lead to new alternatives for emission reductions from the New Zealand agricultural sector. The New Zealand scientists – Landcare Research’s Rebecca Phillips, Andrew McMillan, Gwen Grelet, Bevan Weir and Palmada Thilak – discovered that reactive nitrogen (N) could be chemically converted to unreactive di-nitrogen gas (N2) without forming the harmful greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O). This is important because agriculture contributes more N2O than any other sector worldwide – primarily through nitrogen fertilisation. This greenhouse gas is 300 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide and 10 times more effective than methane. N2O also moves into the stratosphere and destroys ozone. The team was the first to report that organic N can react with inorganic N to create hybrid N2 (one organic N combined with one inorganic N) under standard conditions of temperature and pressure. Until now, it was thought this was only possible biologically. N2 makes up 78 per cent of our atmosphere and is considered a permanent sink for nitrogen. The discovery could lead to new opportunities for mitigating excess reactive N in the environment. Dr Phillips believes this research sets the stage for many practical applications. For example, further research could inform farmers of how to “cultivate soil organic matter useful for N management”. Organic forms of soil N, such as exudates from plants and fungi, could function in the conversion of excess inorganic N that would otherwise be lea nched into water or emitted as N2O into a form that isn’t harmful to the environment. However, more research is needed to test exactly which forms of organic nitrogen are most effective. The international team, which included Professor Craig Tobias (University of Connecticut) and Bongkeun Song (Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences), presented their findings late last year at the Annual Project Directors Meeting in Washington DC, sponsored by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the National Integrated Water Quality Program. The discovery was an example of international co-operation. The only analytical instrument capable of measuring atmospheric concentrations of both N2 and N2O in New Zealand is located at Landcare Research in Palmerston North. This equipment helps new advancements in the field of soil N cycling in New Zealand that were not previously possible. Analytical instruments at the University of Connecticut, tuned to detect isotopes of N2, utilised microbiological protocols developed by the New Zealand team and provided independent data. An international team effort was then able to distinguish chemical formation of hybrid N2 as completely independent of N2O production – a finding that has not been reported until now. The team is now developing proposals for further funding that will allow them to investigate on-farm applications for transforming excess N from soil and water into unreactive atmospheric N2 gas without producing N2O. This may allow scientists to develop options to manage the fate of agricultural N while avoiding greenhouse gas emissions. Not just a tyre shop! On-FaRM SERViCES No CaLLout Fee (SElwyn diSTRiCT) aGRiCUlTURal TyRES Courtesy car available. Kiddie’s toys & entertainment. Enjoy a free coffee, massage (chair) & TV while you wait. • 24 hour fleet service • Full mechanical repairs • Nitrogen fills, batteries, WOF, shock absorbers • Car tyres, 4x4 tyres, light truck tyres, truck & bus tyres • Wheel alignments, puncture repairs, full groom Mon-Fri 7.30am-5.00pm, Saturday 9am-12pm Call 03 347 4702 or 0800 838 973 847 Jones Rd, Rolleston • 3 TRUCKS 3 CARS 3 LUBES 3 SERVICING 3 FLEET WORK 3 BOATS 3 DIESEL INJECTOR 3 & PUMP SERVICING 3 ENGINE TUNING 3 BRAKES 3 MAXXIS TYRES 3 WHEEL ALIGNMENTS 3 BATTERIES 3 WOFs 3 CAMBELTS AND MUCH MORE! Mon-Fri 6.45am-6pm, Sat 8am-12 noon (WOFs only) 839 Jones Road, Rolleston P.O. Box 16 Rolleston Phone Simon on 347 7110 or Mobile 027 272 9213

SELWYN TIMES Tuesday January 17 2017 35 SELWYN RURAL LIFE Research foundation looks to the future In 2015, the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) marked 20 years of research, development and extension in the arable industry. A year on, the organisation is looking at the most important issues for the industry moving forward, says CEO Nick Pyke. “It is over 20 years since FAR was formed to deliver the benefits from investment in cropping research and extension to farmers,” Mr Pyke says. “Throughout this time, we have regularly considered how FAR is operating and determined if our research investments are in the right areas and delivering the right outcomes to crop farmers. “Also over this time, there have been huge changes to our industry and FAR has changed its focus with regard to some areas of research and extension. Early research was nearly all on production and agronomy, but in recent years, investment in environmental research, farm systems, biosecurity and new products has become more important.” The demand from farmers for FAR to invest in research and extension in “right to farm” areas has required the organisation to increase levy rates for the first time since 2004. “This increased revenue will ensure that we can maintain our investment in existing research areas while increasing investment in environment –including employing a person to focus on this area, and new crops-related research and extension,” Mr Pyke says. “FAR will not invest in policy work, this is the role of Federated Farmers and others, but we will continue to provide good-quality scientific information for such organisations to utilise.” Mr Pyke points to an ever-increasing emphasis on trying to increase the value of products New Zealand grows, either by growing new crops or capturing more value from the value chain through processing. He says this is increasingly important as new irrigation schemes come on stream, biosecurity incursions impact on some areas, and, in the future, as climate change potentially influences the crops grown and where they are grown. FAR is working with other groups to evaluate new crop and product options for New Zealand and some of the revenue from the increased levy rate will be used for this purpose, he says. “Seed production has and will continue to be a significant opportunity for our growers. Unfortunately, capability in seed research in New Zealand has been gradually eroded in recent years. FAR is working with industry to increase investment in seed research, “The joint investment will see the development of a dedicated seed research and technology centre with expertise from all parties contributing collaboratively to research, extension and education.” extension and education through grower, company and government investment into ensuring there is the right combination of short and long-term research to sustain the seed industry. “The joint investment will see the development of a dedicated seed research and technology centre with expertise from all parties contributing collaboratively to research, extension and education.” Over the last few months the first-ever external review of FAR has been undertaken. The review panel has indicated that FAR is operating efficiently across a range of areas, but has also identified a number of areas where FAR can improve, including some areas of governance, management and science and extension. FAR will be working to put some of these recommendations in place over the next few months, Mr Pyke says. CEO, Nick Pike Selwyn Auto ALL YOUR MOTORING NEEDS › WOF’s › Diagnostics › Repairs › Servicing › Batteries › Tyres Phone 329 5841 | 132 Leeston Road, Springston | Rural Section Roundwood Farm posts Deer Fencing Post and Rail Fencing Yarding Timber Oregon Rails Oregon Gates Sheep and Deer Netting Gallagher Strainrite Fencing Systems HOURS Mon - Fri: 7am - 5pm Saturday: 8am- 12pm Weedons Ross Rd to Rolleston We are here Berketts Rd Trents Rd Main South Rd / SH1 Your Local Timber Merchant Jason Pester 1304 Main South Road, Christchurch P 03 3477465 F 03 3477032