James has been visiting our Auckland project farmers, NZ Fresh Cuts and AS Wilcox.
The LandWISE focus at A S Wilcox is a trial introducing Controlled Traffic Farming concepts into onion and potato cropping. A split paddock trial comparing conventional practice with a permanent bed controlled traffic system is in its early stages. An onion crop was planted in Autumn, and survival and growth appear similar in both the controlled traffic and conventionally treated areas. At this stage of course, both areas have been treated similarly.
The real tests begin at harvest when significant changes to conventional practice will be required to preserve the beds. Gains are expected in soil structure, operational costs and fuel savings. Matching wheel widths across operations, and especially harvesting, are often challenging but are anticipated to be worth the effort. Watch this space.
The goal of LandWISE work with NZ Fresh Cuts is minimizing inputs while retaining high quality yields. They have adopted a permanent bed controlled traffic system across much of their salad growing operations. Fuel, time and labour savings are proving to be dramatic as the system changes are taking effect.
Next LandWISE and NZ Fresh Cuts are looking at the possibility of using of optical sensors to assist in the management of nitrogen fertilisers. Manager, Chris Butler hopes that quantifying crop greenness will enable best use of nitrogen, avoiding overuse while ensuring high quality green leaf.
Field walks will be held later in November at these two sites, dates to be advised.