AGRICULTURE

New Research Trust to be launched by Agriculture Minister

Monday 8 August 2011, 5:44PM
By Plant & Food Research
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The New Zealand Poplar and Willow Research Trust (NZPWRT) will be formally launched by the Minister of Agriculture, Hon. David Carter on 9 August 2011.

Soil erosion is a major issue over much of New Zealand's land surface. Poplars and willows are a key tree species for stabilising soil on pastoral farmland. An introduction and selection programme for poplars and willows was initiated in the 1950s and has continued to the present day.

The charitable trust will act as a business platform to ensure the economic and financial viability of the NZ poplar and willow research programme and aims to develop sponsor partnerships with both primary industry groups and regional councils.

The newly created Research Trust will be hosted by Massey University and its breeding programme based at Palmerston North using germplasm transferred to the Trust by Crown Research Institute, Plant & Food Research.

Trustees responsible for the management of the new entity include representatives from regional councils, pastoral farmers, host organisation Massey University and individuals well connected to the New Zealand’s primary production sectors – mainly pastoral and horticultural.

“Flooding poses an increasing risk to both farming systems and urban settlement and systems to prevent flooding are costly. Poplars and willows provide an affordable bioengineering tool for reducing erosion of stream and river banks and for managing flood risk” says Trust General Manager, Ian McIvor.

“Our role is to improve the quality, suitability and use of these resources and to support the end users through breeding, testing and releasing new poplar and willow clones, through research and the provision of extension services”.

The launch is being held at Parliament attended by senior executives from Plant & Food Research, Massey University, Regional Councils, MAF, Ministry for the Environment, Crown Research Institutes, Lincoln University, scientists in the research programme, trustees, AgITO, the Federation of Maori Authorities, as well as land and river managers and primary industries bodies.

“Plant & Food Research has acted as the custodian of the Poplar and Willow germplasm since 1991 and active in ensuring that the germplasm is protected for future breeding activities, “ says Dr Bruce Campbell.

“Establishing the New Zealand Poplar and Willow Research Trust represents a positive step toward both protecting the pastoral environment and the genetic diversity of these trees, increasing disease and pest resistance and climate adaptation.”

For more information about the New Zealand Poplar and Willow Trust see the website at www.poplarandwillow.org.nz