MPI dishes out sustainable farming funding

Dawn Dalley
Dawn Dalley
The Southern Dairy Hub Farmer Reference Group is one of the beneficiaries of the latest round of funding from the Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF).

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) last week announced funding of $9.8 million for 31 new SFF projects.

The other southern project to receive funding was an initiative by the New Zealand Landcare Trust to help gain a better understanding of the impact of sheep winter grazing.

Lead scientist at the Southern Dairy Hub, Dawn Dalley, said one of the challenges the Hub faced was effectively communicating the results of its research to the wider dairy farming community.

''Obviously the focus of efforts is on research and these extra funds will help us increase the reach of our research,'' she said.

She said much of their work is focused on reducing the environmental footprint of dairying and the Hub farms were not in a position to test everything.

''Part of this project will be to get alongside farms using a variety of different systems,'' Ms Dalley said.

''We want to get alongside other farmers and look at how they are going about mitigating environmental impacts from their operations.''

The plan is to develop a series of satellite farms which would be used to form the base to build a community of interest around these topics and encourage further actions.

Another area where limited resources had constrained research was looking at the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from dairying. Ms Dalley said the SFF funds would allow more work to be done in that area. Janet Gregory from the NZ Landcare Trust said her group was still finalising arrangements with its partners and not yet in a position to announce full details about the project.

The SFF provides funding for projects led by farmers, growers, and foresters aimed at building economic, environmental and social sustainability in the primary sector. It has recently been replaced by MPI's new Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) programme.

The 31 projects were in the pipeline prior to its launch in October 2018.

''The SFF has been instrumental in kicking off both small and large innovative, community-led projects, and laying the groundwork for SFF Futures,'' Steve Penno, director of Investment Programmes said.

The new 31 projects covered areas from apiculture and dairy to soil management and horticulture.

SFF Futures has replaced the Sustainable Farming Fund and the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP).

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