Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

New science projects

Science to underpin next-generation S-map and smarter land management decisions

Better soil mapping to enable more informed decisions on efficient irrigation, how to use of marginal land, and what nutrient leaching mitigation options are relevant to this soil. The research is needed to meet urgent demand from industry for cost-effective extension of mapping coverage. The benefits will be increased regional economic growth and Maori land productivity; informed irrigation development; better nutrient management, and avoided environmental costs.

Key contact(s): Sam Carrick
Funding: Endeavour Fund Research Programme


Soil ecosystem health and resilience – a pathway to prosperity and wellbeing

Using innovative methods, we will test long-term land use sequences on different soils to determine if land use intensification affects soil characteristics thought to be stable over human lifespans. This research will ensure landowners can increase the productive capacity of soils while operating within environmental limits and meeting community and market expectations

Key contact(s): Bryan Stevenson
Funding: Endeavour Fund Research Programme

Integrated research and tools for wilding conifer management and ecosystem restoration

Research on invasion dynamics and management interventions to ensure future management efforts can slow or reverse wilding conifer invasion by 1) increasing the effectiveness of wilding control through early detection, 2) maximising gains in biological heritage and ecosystem services from wilding management, and 3) forecasting the optimal combination of current and future interventions to achieve desirable long-term outcomes while minimising costs and negative impacts of both invaders and their management.

Key contact(s): Duane Peltzer
Funding: Endeavour Fund Research Programme


Security for iconic species: Kiwi rescue

Working with DOC and Kiwis for Kiwi, we will clarify how many kiwi species there are, develop new DNA-based techniques to estimate kiwi population size from feathers and scats and identify predatory dogs, stoats and ferrets at the individual (not just species) level. We will assess impacts of cats on the little-understood Rakiura tokoeka kiwi at Stewart Island, and help achieve approval of new, experimental meat baits that target stoats. To weave these strands together, we will model cost, social and regulatory factors that determine the feasibility of current and new management options.

Key contact(s): John Innes
Funding: Endeavour Fund Research Programme

Building resilience and provenance into an authentic Māori honey industry

We will partner with Maori agribusiness to develop a comprehensive model (‘The Honey Landscape’), to increase production of native honeys and improve their value, as well as more sustainably manage the honey resource. The model will be at a scale relevant to Maori landowners, incorporating both novel science and tikanga Maori to ensure uptake.

Key contact(s): Gary Houliston
Funding: Endeavour Fund Research Programme

Innovative ways to reduce farm nitrogen losses by manipulating carbon input

Innovative on-farm solutions are needed urgently to enable conversion of dryland areas to be farmed intensively and profitably while managing potential adverse environmental effects. In a novel research programme, for the first time in stony soils, we will investigate the biological processes that modify both soil carbon and nitrogen cycling, leading to nitrogen leaching and gaseous losses. To do this, we will experimentally manipulate carbon inputs to soils, measure the impacts on nitrogen losses, and use molecular techniques to reveal the biological drivers. We will use this new knowledge to inform farm nutrient budgets and demonstrate improved management practices that farmers can apply to reduce nitrogen losses

Key contact(s): David Whitehead
Funding: Endeavour Fund Research Programme

‘Biosecure-ID’: Machine learning to automate image-based identification of species

We will develop a prototype, image-based system for rapid, automatic identification of potential pest species in New Zealand. It will enable users to upload a photo online, and rapidly receive a species identification and information on whether it is a pest, or not and will use the latest advances in machine learning and automated image classification.

Key contact(s): Aaron Wilton
Funding: Endeavour Fund Smart Ideas

Optimal release strategies to maximise biological control: RHDV in rabbits

A new strain of RHDV is being considered for release. We aim to maximise the success of this and future releases to give better and longer-term suppression of rabbits by developing a model to determine the best timing and spatial pattern of releases for an optimal release strategy for the new RHDV strain to give higher and longer-term rabbit population suppression, saving pastoral farmers and the country millions of dollars in lost production and control costs.

Key contact(s): Mandy Barron
Funding: Endeavour Fund Smart Ideas


Using genome mining to identify targets for developing species-selective toxins

Using novel applications of innovative pharmaceutical technologies we will identify targets in the possum to which we will develop, for the very first time, possum-selective poisons that have little or no effect on non-target species. These toxins can be used in conjunction with current poisons, greatly reducing the amounts needed, and possibly replacing them altogether.

Key contact(s): Brian Hopkins
Funding: Endeavour Fund Smart Ideas


Wetland Assessment and Monitoring Tool (WAAM): pre-human baselines for assessing, monitoring and restoring New Zealand’s wetland ecosystems

In this research programme we will develop a world-first tool for assessing the current state of a wetland relative to its long-term (past 2,000 years) history using ancient DNA preserved in wetlands to elucidate the biota that formed wetland communities in the past and link this information with radiocarbon dating, analyses of charcoal (from past fires) and element concentrations (to inform on factors such as sediment input). Better knowledge of the current state, relative to the historical state, will allow prioritisation of restoration activities in wetlands where relatively little effort is required to return or maintain a sta­­te similar to that in the past.

Key contact(s): Janet Wilmshurst & Jamie Wood
Funding: Endeavour Fund Smart Ideas


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