The Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF)
Landcare Research and the Sustainable Farming Fund: an enduring relationship that delivers for New Zealand
The Sustainable Farming Fund is embarking on a series of nationwide roadshows in April to celebrate the contribution it has made to New Zealand’s primary sector. Its many successes have been achieved thanks to relationships it has built with partners like Landcare Research.
‘Science that delivers’ is one of our key values at Landcare Research. I often wonder if we had in mind our relationship with the Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) when we identified this value. It is a phrase that conjures words like excellence, relevance and integrity .
Partnering, caring and common purpose underpin our value of manaaki tangata – caring for the people. Our shared history with the SFF perfectly demonstrates this value.
That history dates back to 2003, when a team of scientists, in partnership with the West Coast Ragwort Control Group, successfully applied to SFF for funding ($258,269) that went on to become the catalyst for one of our most successful and high-impact collaborations.
Ragwort was a massive weed problem, costing the farming community millions of dollars every year in control costs, let alone lost production. But thanks to the SFF, Landcare Research was able to import control agents, which included a flea beetle with a massive appetite for the weed. Ragwort has all but disappeared from our landscape, and a recent quantitative study revealed the insect is saving dairy farmers $44 million a year in control costs.
The science was excellent, relevant and executed with integrity. We shared a common purpose with the SFF and West Coast farmers and recorded an impressive return on investment.
Since then Landcare Research and community groups have collaborated many times, supported by the SFF, and have grown to value and benefit from each other’s expertise. This enduring partnership was demonstrated in the most recent funding round, when the SFF funded five new projects with Landcare Research as the lead provider of science in areas as diverse as biocontrol, pest detection and soil science.
We congratulate the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the Sustainable Farming Fund, who are rightfully celebrating the contribution they have made to New Zealand, and look forward to many more years of partnership.
Q&A: Landcare Research and the Sustainable Farming Fund.
When did Landcare Research first collaborate with the Sustainable Farming Fund?
Our relationship dates back to 2003, when scientist Hugh Gourlay and the West Coast Ragwort Control Group joined forces and the SFF agreed to finance ways to control ragwort. The project was hugely successful, and our relationship with SFF has flourished ever since.
How many projects involving Landcare Research has the SFF funded?
In total the SFF has funded 33 different research projects in which Landcare Research has been the project lead .
What kinds of science programmes has the SFF supported?
A wide variety. The SFF has financed research into the biocontrol of weeds and pests like wasps. It has supported important research projects to contain rabbits. The fund has also been a strong supporter of soil health.
What has the financial contribution been?
The SFF has contributed about $6 million towards science research. In the latest round of funding Landcare Research received the green light to launch five new research programmes, meaning the relationship between Landcare Research and the SFF remains robust and productive.