The Carbon Positive Project: A Pioneering Initiative for the Future of New Zealand Agriculture
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The Carbon Positive Project: A Pioneering Initiative for the Future of New Zealand Agriculture

The Carbon Positive project, a groundbreaking initiative to revolutionize the New Zealand cropping sector, has officially gotten underway in Hawke’s Bay. This project is a first-of-its-kind study that will be funded with over $2 million over the next six years and will involve a collaboration between central and local government, vegetable growers and processors, and suppliers to the cropping industry.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced the commitment of over $2 million for six years in Hawke’s Bay, aimed at gathering evidence on the impact and efficacy of regenerative farming in an intensive field cropping and arable system.

The study aims to increase our understanding of the benefits of regenerative agriculture principles on intensive field cropping systems. The trial will examine soil carbon stocks, soil health, crop yield, and farm economics. The project also integrates Māori principles through its partnership with Ruahapia Marae and guidance from ethnobotany Professor Nick Roskruge.

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Several prominent commercial partners are involved in the project, including Heinz Wattie’s, McCain Foods, BASF, and Hill Laboratories. Science partners involved in the project include the Ministry for Primary Industries, Plant & Food Research, Manaaki Whenua, Massey University, AgResearch, and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council. Industry partners involved in the project include HB Vegetable Growers and Quorum Sense.

According to Dan Bloomer, the Manager of LandWISE, extensive land use for cropping hurts soil quality. He explains that with prolonged and intensive cropping, the soil’s carbon levels tend to decrease, leading to soil compaction and degradation of its structure. With increasing competition for land and intensification of cropping practices, Dan believes it’s imperative to find out if a change in management can bring about positive results.

The Hawke’s Bay Future Farming Trust supports the project, and its purpose is to promote and create a hub for profitable and resilient farming in Hawke’s Bay. The project’s objective is to demonstrate the potential of regenerative agriculture to increase soil health and fertility, improve crop yields, and, ultimately, make farming more sustainable and profitable.

The Carbon Positive project is a crucial step in the right direction for the New Zealand cropping sector. Its results will have significant implications for the future of agriculture in the country. With the support of key players in the industry and the scientific community, this project has the potential to drive positive change for the environment, farmers, and consumers alike.

Photo by Tobias Keller on Unsplash 

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