All posts by Dan Bloomer

Dan is the part time Manager of LandWISE Inc and one of the small initial group that established it some ten years ago. For the rest of his professional life he runs Page Bloomer Associates, a consultancy focused on sustainable land and water management and community development

Onions Update Field Walks: Franklin and Canterbury

Franklin event

When: Tuesday 16th January 2018, 13:00 to 15:00
Where: A.S. Wilcox SFF trial site, Highway 22, Pukekawa

(1km past GAS Pukekawa, gate on right)

Canterbury event

When: Wednesday 17th January 2018, 10:30 to noon
Where: Lovett Family Farms, Mossgrove Block,
1212 Chertsey Kyle Road, Pendarves

If wet we will meet in shed on the property.

The field events will demonstrate the following:

Managing variation in onion crops

Dan Bloomer (LandWISE) and Bruce Searle (Plant and Food Research) will demonstrate the mapping of onion crops, the use of smartphone apps to capture canopy information and the SmartFarm website for data processing. You will be able to assess the crop variation in the fields and discuss what might be driving the  variation seen. We will also discuss the fertiliser management trials being conducted at LandWISE.

Practically managing soil N using quick tests

Plant and Food Research have been evaluating a quick test for soil nitrates which they will demonstrate at these field sessions. Measured nitrate concentrations can be compared with critical threshold limits that have been established for a number of crops to assess the crop requirements for nitrogen fertiliser.

Electric Weeding Demonstrations (Franklin only)

Kazel Cass, Hotgrass Ltd, will demonstrate a ROOTWAVE PROTM electro-thermal weeder, used for amenity weeding. Electro-thermal technology uses electricity to turn the water in plant tissues to steam. Electricity flows through the stem and the roots, killing the whole plant. Foliage dies back and, along with the dead plant roots, turns into organic matter. It works systemically and is very efficient compared to alternative technologies such as flame or steam weeding.

Come along and see for yourself!

Note: The Franklin field walk will be followed by a HotGrass electric weeding demonstration, see more here>

Our Onion Research is in conjunction with Plant and Food Research. It is funded by Onions NZ and the Sustainable Farming Fund.

Thanks to A S Wilcox, Murray Wymer, Dean Pye, the Le Poutre and Lovett families for hosting trials. Thanks to Seed and Field, Pukekohe Grower Supplies and PGG Wrightson for helping with monitoring.

This season our MicroFarm work is being aided by Apatu Farms who are helping with field operations and harvest and we are very grateful for their support. The MicroFarm is supported by the Centre for Land and Water, BASF Crop Protection and Ballance AgriNutrients.

Electric Weeding Demonstrations

In conjunction with Kazel Cass at Hotgrass, we have some electric weeding demonstrations. So if you’re interested in non-herbicide non-mechanical weeding, get along for a personal encounter.

Next opportunity – Franklin

When: Tuesday 16th January 2018, 13:00 to 15:00
Where: A.S. Wilcox SFF trial site, Highway 22, Pukekawa

(1km past GAS Pukekawa, gate on right)

General enquiries:
Kazel Cass ( or 021 033 2428)

Hotgrass uses the RootWaveTM Pro Electrothermal Weeder technology designed and manufactured by RootWave in the UK. They suggest this is:

  •  Sustainable, using a generator it uses a fraction of fuel required for thermal (steam, hot water) weed control.
  • Organic, the only input is electricity.  No need to carry tonnes of water, or toxic agri-chemicals
  • Effective, trials in the UK show it is effective against some of the toughest weeds because it gets down to the root of the problem.  It is able to control weeds that are resistant to herbicides
  • Manoeuvrable, because the device has a small footprint, and doesn’t require any water, it can be loaded onto small utility vehicles

Charles Merfield, head of the BHU Future Farming Centre, has reviewed electric weeding. His very detailed review is here. Worth your time reading too.

Onions Update Field Walk

LandWISE MicroFarm
21 Ruahapia Rd, Waipatu, Hastings
Monday 11 December 2:00pm

In our final year of “Benchmarking Onions” we have again planted a crop at the MicroFarm. It went into a suitably moist soil, emerged reasonably evenly but has shown increasing variation. We now have very good areas and very disappointing areas. 

We’ve mapped the crop with our CoverMap system again this season so we can compare 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18 growth patterns. Are there areas that consistently perform better or worse? What is driving the variation we see?

We also have a few different varieties we are tracking to see how canopy development fits our web calculator. We want to know if the same calculations can be applied to phone images or if variety-based tweeks are necessary.

In a couple of fertiliser application trials we comparing standard and late application because we understand most nitrogen is taken up at or after bulbing. And based on our mapping, we are comparing the effects of full and half rates on areas where canopy cover is low. Maybe we can cut back, save fertiliser and leaching and get the same yield with improved bulb quality.

Come along and see for yourself!

Note: This field walk follows the HotGrass electric weeding demonstration, see more here>

Our Onion Research is in conjunction with Plant and Food Research. It is funded by Onions NZ and the Sustainable Farming Fund. This season we are being aided by Apatu Farms who are helping with field operations and harvest and we are very grateful for their support.


Field Connect Weather Station

Since April 2017 we’ve been hosting a Field Connect weather station at the MicroFarm.

The station offers a set of weather readings comparable to our Plant and Food HortPlus weather station. The main advantage to us is easy access to (nearly) current conditions as the FieldConnect station is updating regularly during the day.

Being web-based we can view the data from anywhere, anytime. This has been helpful in checking wind conditions when irrigation or spraying is due and for our records after spray applications.

The online dashboard is easily customised, selecting the date range and sensors reported with a few clicks. That lets us compare soil moisture, PET and rainfall for example as shown below.

Over winter the station has been monitoring soil moisture in our access strip between cropped areas, but we can shift the sensor into crops to monitor those as we want.

The FieldConnect station is supplied by Cervus Equipment and was shown at the LandWISE Field Walk at the MicroFarm on Monday 11th December 2017.

Field Scale Electric Weeder Consortium

Do you have an interest in field scale electrothermal weeders and being part of a project to make that happen?

Charles Merfield is leading a proposal to develop equipment in conjunction with Ubiqutek,  a UK company who originally designed electric weeders and have weeders in use in the UK and HotGrass, the NZ agent. 

The current commercial machines are ‘only’ hand held weeders aimed at the urban weed control market, e.g., councils, and their contractors.  However, the handheld machines can clearly demonstrate the potential of electrothermal, and Kazel Cass of Hotgrass, is doing a series of demonstrations around the country which you may be interested in attending.

If you would like more information about electrothermal weeders have a look at the FFC Bulletin article.

In any normal situation, Ubiqutek and Hotgrass as the owners / suppliers of the weeders would be developing field weeders themselves, however, both are very small business startups with limited funding and people resources, so they are unable to start work on a field machines for several years.  They also lack expertise in what is required from field machines especially for the different sectors, e.g., pasture, cropping, viticulture and other permanent crops, and therefore how to design them. 

The aim of Charles Merfield’s project is to accelerate the development of a field scale weeder so that NZ farmers & growers get access much sooner. To do this he is seeking farmers and growers who are interested in the technology and willing to contribute some funding. 

For more details, contact Dan at LandWISE or Charles Merfield at the Future Farming Centre.


PA17 – Tri-Conference on Precision Agriculture

PA17 – The International Tri-Conference for Precision Agriculture 

PA17 in Hamilton in October was three conferences in one. The 7th Asian-Australasian Conference of Precision Agriculture and the 1st Asian-Australasian Conference on Precision Pasture and Livestock Farming both have strong emphasis on research. The Digital Farmer and Grower conference was aimed at practitioners with farmers and consultants presenting and forming discussion panels. All ran in parallel with some joint sessions and delegates could jump from one to the other.

Many of the 500 delegates were international, many were younger and many were women; quite different to almost every other precision agriculture event I have attended. Also notable was the breadth of sectors represented. Precision agriculture has been strongly rooted in broadacre cropping, now we are seeing strong interest in animal management and for permanent crops such as pipfruit and viticulture.

A choice of field visits included trips to see Massey University hyperspectral research at Limestone Downs, production facilities at Gallagher Engineering, robotic milking at the LIC Automation research dairy farm and visits to FAR, Plant and Food, and Ballance AgriNutirents research sites.

Below there are short profiles of the international profile, a sample of the international speakers that presented at the international tri-conference in Hamilton.

PA17 was presented by the Precision Agriculture Association of New Zealand and chaired by Armin Werner from Lincoln Agritech.

International experts

Prof Derek Bailey
Derek Bailey is a Professor of Range Science and has been at New Mexico State University (NMSU) since 2005. He teaches courses in rangeland management, research methods, vegetative monitoring and livestock handling. In addition to teaching and research responsibilities, he is the Director of the Chihuahuan Desert Rangeland Research Center (a 24700 ha research ranch). 

Prof Daniel Beckmans
Daniel Berckmans obtained a Master Degree and a Ph. D. in Bio-Science Engineering at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium. He is full professor, leads the Division M3-Biores (Measure, Model and Manage Bioresponses), Department of Biosystems, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.

Mr Jeffrey Bewley
Jeffrey Bewley is from Rineyville, Kentucky where he grew up working on his grandfather’s (Hilary Skees) dairy farm. He received a B.S. in Animal Sciences from the University of Kentucky in 1998. 

Mr Mark Branson
Owner manager of ‘Branson Farms” a 1200ha mixed farm at Stockport, 80km North of Adelaide. The farm grows Wheat, Barley, Canola, Field Peas, Faba Beans, Lentils, and breed fine wool merino sheep that run on cereal and legume pastures. He went to Roseworthy Ag. College where he graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Agriculture.

Dr Karel Charvat
Karel Charvat graduated in theoretical cybernetics. He is a member of ISPA, RDA, Club of Ossiach, CAGI, and CSITA. He was in period 2005 – 2007 President of European Federation for Information Technology in Agriculture Food and Environment (EFITA). He is currently representative of HSRS in OGC Agriculture DWG. He has long time expereince in ICT for Agriculture and Precision Farming.

Dr Daan Goense
Daan Goense studied Agricultural Engineering at what is now Wageningen University. After a five year research project in Suriname on the design of a mechanized farming system for dry annual crops in the humid tropics he became Assistant and later Associate Professor at the department of Agricultural Engineering of Wageningen University in the field of farm machinery management.

Prof Naoshi Kondo
Naoshi Kondo is currently a professor, Graduate School of Agriculture, Kyoto University and is working on automation and sensing systems in agriculture, livestock and aquaculture aiming precision farming.He graduated from undergraduate and graduate schools (Department of Agricultural Engineering), Kyoto University in 1982 and 1984 respectively, and was engaged at Okayama University in 1985 as an assistant professor for 15 years.

Dr Nicolas Tremblay
Nicolas Tremblay, Ph.D., agronomist, is senior research scientist for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC; the Federal Department of Agriculture in Canada). He graduated from Laval University in 1982 and joined AAFC in 1985. He studied the management of vegetable transplants and crop fertilization in both muck (carrot, lettuce) and mineral soils (tomato, broccoli, vegetables for processing).

Prof Mark Rutter
Mark Rutter is Professor of Applied Animal Behaviour at Harper Adams University, Newport, Shropshire, UK. After graduating in Agricultural Science at the University of Leeds, he gained an MSc in Biological Computation from the University of York before being awarded a PhD in animal behaviour from the University of Edinburgh.

Dr Manjeet Singh Makkar
Manjeet Singh joined Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) in the year 1996 in the College of Agricultural Engineering and Technology. He had completed his B E (Agri Engg) from College of Technology and Agricultural Engineering, Udaipur, M Tech and PhD In the field of Farm Power and Machinery from PAU, Ludhiana. He has joined as Head of the Department on December 24, 2016.

Miriana Stephens
Miriana was born in Motueka and raised by her grandparents. Her qualifications include a Bachelor of Arts (NZ History) and a Law Degree. She currently resides in Motueka and has four children. She was recently awarded the 2016 Aotearoa NZ Māori Woman Business Leader award in recognition of outstanding success and excellence in business.

⁠Prof Maohua Wang
Maohua Wang is now as Professor, College of Information & Electrical Engineering, China Agricultural University (CAU), Chairman of Academic Committee of Key Laboratory of Modern Precision Agriculture System Integration Research under Ministry of Education and Key labolatories Group on Agricultural Information Technology under Ministry of Agricultiure , P.C. China.

Prof Raj Khosla
Raj Khosla is Robert E. Gardner Professor of Precision Agriculture at Colorado State University (CSU). In addition, he holds the title of CSU distinguished Monfort Professor. In 2015,Dr. Khosla was recognized as the “Precision Ag Educator of the Year 2015”, a national honor bestowed by the agricultural industry.

Dr Sjaak Wolfert
Sjaak Wolfert studied Plant Science in Wageningen and finished his PhD ‘Sustainable agriculture: how to make it work?’ in 2002. Currently, he is working as Senior Scientist at Wageningen University; Research in the field of Information Management; ICT in Agri-Food.

Brad Wooldridge
Brad and Tracy Wooldridge are mixed farmers at Arthur River (450mm av. growing season rainfall ) and 250km away at Kalgan (South coast 800mm ) in Western Australia, running a 2600 head composite sheep flock and cropping  barley, lupins, canola and oats.


Onions NZ Research Seminar and AGM

2017 Research Seminar, AGM & Dinner

Onions New Zealand warmly invites all growers, exporters and the wider onion industry to come together before the main harvest commences to the Research Seminar, AGM and Dinner. The Research Seminar has a number of speakers addressing future  opportunities as well as addressing current concerns.

When: 1:30 pm, 18th October 2017
Where: Indian Association Hall, 59 Ward St, Pukekohe
(in the back room)
Cost: Free due to funding from ONZ & our sponsors contributions 

RSVP is Mandatory by Wednesday 11 October.
Email James Kuperus, send a letter, call or text James with the number of people attending from your organisation.

Programme details available here.

By now all Onions New Zealand members should have received a formal invitation to attend the 2017 Research Forum, AGM and Dinner. If your organisation has not please contact James Kuperus. 



Public Lecture on Gene Editing

Biotechnology and genetic modification 40 years on and the rise of gene editing

Dr Elspeth MacRae, General Manager Manufacturing & Bioproducts, Scion
Date: 6.00pm Wednesday 11 October 2017
Venue: National Aquarium, Marine Parade, Napier

Admission: Gold coin donation

People have been improving plants and animals for many centuries. Most of the foods we eat and drink have been changed (domesticated) by humans. For many centuries this was done by selecting naturally occurring changes (or mutations) and using them to breed improved plants or animals – a very slow process. More recently we have been able to use biotechnology to make the same sort of changes in a much faster and more predictable way.

This Royal Society Te Aparangi talk will describe these Genetic Modification technologies, including the recent developments in gene editing (CRISPR-cas9). Examples of improved products will be highlighted, and the potential of gene editing to revolutionise food production will be discussed.

Dr Elspeth MacRae is the General Manager Manufacturing & Bioproducts at Scion in Rotorua. She is a member of the management group for the 2014 New Zealand National Science Challenge in Science and Technology for Industry, and leads the design, materials and manufacturing portfolio.

Scion is a Crown Research Institute that specialises in research, science and technology development for the forestry, wood product, wood-derived materials, and other biomaterial sectors.

Great DDT Muster

Don’t miss this chance to rid your property of DDT!

Sent to LandWISE subscribers on behalf of 3R

We’re urging farmers and other users of agrichemicals and pesticides to check their sheds and chemical stores for DDT or other banned pesticides as The Great DDT Muster does a final sweep of the country.

The Great DDT Muster is a nationwide campaign for the collection and disposal of Persistent Organic Pollutants, referred to as POPs.

We’ve been running the Muster for two years now and have collected around 10,000 kg of chemicals, but we believe there are still more POPs out there.

These include DDT, Lindane, Dieldrin, Chlordane, Aldrin and other pesticides which were in widespread use in rural New Zealand in the 1940s to 1970s. 

While POPs haven’t been sold or used in NZ for many years due to known harmful impacts on health and the environment, some properties still have POPs stored, either not knowing what they are, what to do with them, or being unwilling to pay for collection.

The Great DDT Muster is your best, and possibly last chance, to get rid of these pesticides for free.

Bookings close 31 October 2017




You can also call 0508 374 768 for more information. 

Even if you are unsure what your chemicals are, it’s safer to give us a call than to do nothing!

Please return booking forms to or 3R Group, PO Box 1216, Hastings 4156. Please note, online bookings are done through 3R Group’s ChemCollect service.

How does the Muster work?

Bookings and collections are managed by 3R Group Ltd, programme manager for the Muster.  Bookings made are strictly confidential and individual booking information will not be shared with third parties. 

We need to receive your booking before the end of October 2017. We will then be in touch to confirm details. Other chemical types can be booked at the same time but these may be subject to collection fees. Applicable fees will be quoted prior to any collection activity. Collections will be carried out during November and December 2017.

The Great DDT Muster has received financial support from the Waste Minimisation Fund, which is administered by the Ministry for the Environment.

So, what are POPs?

POPs are chemicals that persist in the environment and are known to cause adverse effects to health. They are bio-accumulative, building up in the tissue of living things, and can be passed between species through the food chain or from mother to baby. 

Among other effects, POPs have been identified as hormone disruptors which can alter normal function of endocrine and reproductive systems in humans and wildlife.  Cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes have been linked to POPs. Exposure to POPs during pregnancy has been linked to developmental defects in the resulting offspring.

It is illegal to use, store or discharge POPs into the environment, so this is a great chance for you to dispose of POPs safely and for free!

If you’d like to know more, visit for full details of the project.

Don’t miss out, book here today!

LandWISE Board Update

Revised Constitution Accepted

Following the AGM decision to revise our Constitution it has been submitted and accepted by Charities. You can download it here>

A major change was to the Board make up, and reducing the size of the Board to 5 elected members supported by the Manager.

Current Board Members:
  • John Evans – Tregynon Farm, Canterbury (CHAIR)
  • Mark Burgess – Commercialisation, University of Auckland
  • John van der Linden – Vineyards Systems Manager, Villa Maria
  • Simon Wilcox – Operations Manager Supply, A.S. Wilcox
  • Oliver Knowles – Precision Ag Specialist, Ballance AgriNutrients
  • Dan Bloomer


The new Board met at the LandWISE MicroFarm in May after the Conference, and again in September at A.S. Wilcox in Pukekohe. We greatly appreciate being hosted and the opportunity for Board Members to better understand the business and some of the issues it faces.

LandWISE Board at A S Wilcox, being shown around the packing and despatch areas by Simon

We have submitted project proposals on drainage for permanent crops and good nitrogen management for vegetables to the Sustainable Farming Fund and wait on the outcome. We have also responded to an Expression of Interest to review new high precision GPS/GNNS signals that we believe can radically change some important tasks on New Zealand farms.

Conference 2018 -Tech for Timely Actions

23, 24 May 2018, Havelock North

Planning for the 2018 Annual Conference is underway, so if you have ideas or requests, please contact us. We’d love your input.

Membership Subscriptions

At the AGM we agreed to leave subscriptions at the same level, where they have sat for a number of years. But the Board has determined that the free third member offer (originally introduced for one year) will now not be offered. Board members feel the fees are very low and encourage you to join more people depending on the size of your business.

Members’ subscription invoices will be sent out soon.