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Pasture Symposium Announces Key Speakers

Press Release – NZ Grassland Association

29 March: Raise the topic of pasture resilience, and key themes emerge among both New Zealand farmers and researchers, especially around climate change, according to a leading pasture scientist. Over two days in May, arguably the best range of …

29 March: Raise the topic of pasture resilience, and key themes emerge among both New Zealand farmers and researchers, especially around climate change, according to a leading pasture scientist.

Over two days in May, arguably the best range of speakers on this topic ever brought together in NZ will gather in the Waikato to share their observations and latest findings at a one-off Resilient Pastures Symposium (RPS).

Organising committee chair David Chapman says it’s no coincidence that the presenters align so closely with what he describes as commonly-voiced suggestions about the future of NZ grassland farming.

Trend number one: “For farming everywhere south of Auckland, look at what people are doing in Northland. That’s what much of the North Island will be like in the future, so that’s where the answers lie.”

Trend number two: “For farming in Northland, look at Australia. That’s what Northland will be like in the future, so that’s where the answers lie.”

Trends number three and four: “It’s all about the soil and/or the farm system. That’s where the answers lie.”

David Chapman, principle scientist at DairyNZ, says speakers were not invited to the RPS solely on basis of these themes, but there’s a notable overlap.

Included in the programme, for example, are presentations from two Northland farmers who are ‘passionate pasture people’, Allister McCahon and Murray Jagger, sharing their experiences and thoughts about where to next for Northland pastures.

There are also two climate change and agronomy/systems experts from Australia, Professor Yani Garcia, University of Sydney, and Dr Brendan Cullen, University of Melbourne, drawing parallels between Australia and NZ.

Covering trends and prospects on this side of the Tasman, meantime, are NZ environment and climate change researchers Liz Keller, GNS Science; Gerald Rhys, MPI; and Cecile de Klien and Sarah Mansfield, AgResearch.

NZ soils experts Louis Schipper, University of Waikato and David Houlbrooke and Mark Shepherd, AgResearch, will talk about management of soil fertility, soil structure and soil carbon for pasture resilience, alongside soils practitioners Warwick Catto, Ballance Agri-nutrients, and Ants Roberts, Ravensdown.

Agronomy and farm systems researchers Danny Donaghy, Massey University; Derek Moot, Lincoln University, and David Stevens, AgResearch will dissect systems options, as will pasture focussed farmers like Corrigan Sowman from Golden Bay, and consultants like Jeremy Savage, Macfarlane Rural Business; Chris Lewis, BakerAg; and Phil Journeaux, AgFirst.

The symposium will wrap up with a workshop session, to distil what farmers, industry leaders and scientists identify as critical directions for future pasture research and development.

NZ Grassland Association president Warren King, senior scientist at AgResearch, notes that this collaborative group approach to tackling pasture persistence at the end of the NZGA’s 2011 symposium led to significant new pasture R&D and industry-led initiatives, including the influential DairyNZ Forage Value Index.

“Clear directions are sought from the RPS because the urgency for answers is increasing as the effects of climate change and environmental regulations intensify,” he and David Chapman say.

The RPS is being held by the NZ Grassland Association. Register online at www.grassland.org.nz before April 16th for the early-bird registration fee.

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