Wednesday, 05 December 2018 13:34

It’s World Soil Day!

Written by 
Happy World Soil Day! Happy World Soil Day!

New Zealand scientists are taking a leading role in the global effort to preserve and improve soil health. 

Today, December 5 has been declared World Soil Day by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). 

With the world’s population expected to reach nine billion by 2050, growing our knowledge of soils and how best to keep them healthy is something the agricultural sector and the world needs to continue to keep top of mind. Without healthy soils, our ability to grow food to feed this growing population will be significantly impeded.  

New Zealand is a major contributor to international soil research through the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA) which brings countries together to find ways to grow more food without increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. New Zealand’s soil research efforts into the GRA are focussed on understanding the effects of pastoral farming management practices on soil properties such as soil carbon dynamics. New Zealand researchers currently collaborate with researchers in France, Germany and Ireland. 

Through the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC), work is underway on a broad-spectrum research programme entitled: “Plants and greenhouse gases”.

Waikato University’s Professor Louis Schipper, one of the leaders of the NZAGRC’s Plants and 

Greenhouse Gas Research Programme, says that maintaining soil health requires constant and careful management in partnership with land managers.  

“The NZAGRC-funded research programmes are producing usable results, outputs and publications. We ensure outcomes lead to practical solutions, some of which are already happening at a pilot scale on New Zealand farms.” 

Cecile De Klein, another of the Plants and GHGs programme leaders, notes that the NZAGRC’s approach to managing soil health is through a combined nitrous oxide and soil carbon research programme. 

“It’s important to understand plants’ interactions with soil and then the greenhouse gases, such as nitrous oxide, that are emitted through agricultural activities. With an all-encompassing programme, we’re able to identify plant traits for low emissions, and mitigation practices that maintain soil health – and carbon stocks – while reducing nitrous oxide emissions at paddock scale.” 

The Plants and GHGs work programme on the ground, in paddocks and in laboratories, includes animal feeding trials to investigate whether growing plantain as a fodder would modify nitrogen processes in animals and soils. A sward containing 60% plantain has been established at a Waikato farm. Carbon balances and nitrous oxide emissions have been continuously measured in comparison to a ryegrass/clover sward.  

Other work includes measuring the impact of importing feed for cattle. Carbon balance measurements over maize are continuing so that the carbon balance of feed production and importation of feed can be compared.  

All of which are managed within the context of improving plant and animal productivity while maintaining a healthy soil. 

De Klein says “NZAGRC and GRA funded researchers are playing key roles as new policy and industry led initiatives are developed, for the benefit of New Zealand and the international community. World Soil Day gives us a chance to showcase the efforts we are making to support national and international initiatives.” 

More like this

All hot air

This old mutt was not surprised to recently learn about the blatant hypocrisy of many of the academics who lecture us all on the evils of climate change.

PhD Précis: Jess Ryder

Climate change is likely to impact on the regionally distinct microbial communities in New Zealand vineyards and wineries, says PhD student Jess Ryder.

Featured

Merlo goes greener

Obviously not wishing to get left behind by some of its competitors, Italian manufacturer Merlo is planning to add to its green-liveried telehandler range- with another set of green credentials in the shape of an all-new, all-electric battery-powered Merlo e-Worker model.

 

Growing a family legacy

What started with planting some acacia trees 25 years ago has become a multi-generational passion for the Hunt family in Te Awamutu.

Moves to improve winter grazing requirements

DairyNZ says it supports recommendations to the Government from an advisory group looking to improve winter grazing rules for farmers and achieve better environmental outcomes.

National

Machinery & Products

Good growth year for Claas

While many sectors of the agricultural machinery were hit by the ravages of Covid-19, the effects of the pandemic did…

Green machine frugal on fuel

According to the industry respected independent DLG PowerMix test, John Deere appears to be the best choice of tractor for…

App takes pressure off

TRS Tyre & Wheel, owned by Trelleborg Wheel Systems, has introduced the TLC Plus App to the New Zealand market.

New MF 5S series arrives

Just before Christmas, Massey Ferguson quietly released details of the successor to its popular MF 5700S range in the shape…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Seriously?

Your old mate reckons the nomination of the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) management team as a finalists in…

Good riddance!

The Hound reckons 2021 is off to a rollicking start with news that professional whinger and anti-farming drone Martin Taylor…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter