Evaluation and Enhancement of Ecosystem Services on Dairy Farms
Project Update. Period: To April 9, 2013
Arrival of Autumn
Fig.1: MxG plantings at Aylesbury Farm
The amount of new growth of the MxG plants at Karetu varies greatly as illustrated by figs. 4 and 5. Plants planted on November 27, 2013 have a higher number of plants exhibiting rapid re-growth compared to those planted on December 6, 2013. This indicates that planting earlier in the year would result in the majority of plants being able to survive summer drought conditions. What is surprising is that, even with planting so late, many plants have survived the drought especially considering the poor soil conditions found here. Fig. 6 shows the soil profile at the location of the MxG shelterbelt.This is typical of the Lismore soils found in this area which are characterised by very shallow deposits of silty loess covering a very stony substrate.
Fig. 2: Poplar trees next to the MxG plantings at Karetu farm.
Fig. 3: New growth from MxG plantings at Karetu farm.
Fig.4: MXG plants at Karetu showing early signs of new growth.
Fig. 6: Soil profile below MxG planting area at Karetu farm.
Fig.5: MxG plants at Karetu showing recent rapid growth.
Weed control in MxG Shelterbelts
Fig.6 : Unsprayed area of MxG shelterbelt in paddock 21 at Aylesbury farm.
Fig.7: Sprayed area of MxG shelterbelt in paddock 21 at Aylesbury farm.
Fig. 8; Bar chart showing mean MxG plant height in sprayed and unsprayed plots 30 days after spraying.
Future implications of spray trial
One of these is Acaena inermis purpurea, (Fig 9), an endemic New Zealand plant species. It has been used successfully in vineyards where it spreads well, does not compete with the crop and delivers a wide range of ecosystem services including weed suppression as well as pollen and nectar for bees, pest predators and butterflies While the benefit for pest control on dairy farms is unclear its other attributes make trial plantings of A. inermis in future MxG stands a worthwhile addition to this research on the ecosystem services benefits of planting MxG shelterbelts on dairy farms.
Fig.9: Acaena inermis purpurea
The lincoln-based team consider that a media release covering the key points of the work to date may be appropiate and we are contacting Steve Attwood at Westland Milk Products to explore this idea. Of course we will not pursue any media links without the invlovement and full approval from the company.