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AgResearch welcomes Govt commitment to primary sector
Feb '08
Speaking at the Southern Field Days at Waimumu near Gore AgResearch CEO Dr Andrew West said that the Prime Minister's commitment to the primary sector, announced in her speech to parliament yesterday, was greatly encouraging.

“In the past we have attempted to diversify this economy at the expense of our R&D investments in food, beverages and textiles. Now we are saying it is legitimate and desirable to invest in research in this country's greatest strengths. That, frankly, is a relief and a recipe for success. Never have farming food and textiles needed science more than they do now.”

He said pressure on resources poses significant challenges to farmers throughout the country and that environmental sustainability was often closely linked to economic sustainability in farming.

“Water is a precious resource and increasing numbers of dairy conversions mean a greater uptake from the water table. Greater intensification means reduced flexibility in times of shortage. It also means more use of nitrogen fertilisers – up from about 35 thousand tonnes of nitrogen in 1985 to around 350 thousand tonnes today.”

Dr West said with the high price of fertiliser today, driven by the dual forces of high world demand and the high price of hydrocarbons used to make fertiliser, intensifying sustainably is becoming an economic challenge as well as an environmental challenge.

Parasite resistance in livestock is a threat to productivity, because parasites appear to be developing resistance to many existing drenches, he said.

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