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June Newsletter 2018

Tēnā koutou,

We hope you are all having a good winter!

For the past two months we have been in writing and meeting modes here at Farming & Nature Conservation. Back in May most of our core research team met up in Hamilton to check the progress of the project and make sure everyone was on the same page. We also got a chance to catch Fleur up on what we’ve accomplished in the last seven months, and outline our plans for the next year or so.

From left to right: Valance, David, Fleur, Estelle, Jennifer, Brad, Hannah and Kevin at our meeting in May.

Shortly after this, the team at AUT got together with David and Margaret for a writing workshop. We have plenty of academic papers either on the go or in the pipeline and look forward to sharing these with you when they’re done. Some of these include a global review of the effect of non-crop vegetation on agroecosystem processes, a classification framework for native vegetation on farms, and Māori perspectives on biodiversity in agroecosystems.

We must congratulate our team members Hannah and Valance for being featured on Te Karere for their article published in the Bulletin of the British Ecological Society, co-authored with Dr John Perrott (AUT). The article was about why it’s important for scientists to publish in the indigenous language of the place where research was conducted. Hannah says that publishing in Te Reo Māori is a way of engaging and collaborating with people in a meaningful way. While their publication wasn’t for this project, we will definitely be hoping to do the same with our Farming & Nature Conservation papers in the future!

Our tea bag project was also in the limelight recently, being featured on the Biological Heritage website. We will be repeating our tea bag experiment on all of our farms over spring and summer so if you’re curious, visit the page to read a little bit more about why we’re travelling around the country burying perfectly good tea bags.

In June our PhD candidate Febyana Suryaningrum presented a brilliant proposal for her research on carbon monitoring on farms. She’s being supervised by Hannah, Brad and Dr Rebecca Jarvis at AUT. Febyana is focussing on quantifying carbon, especially biomass carbon from woody vegetation on sheep and beef farms. She will model carbon dynamics on sheep and beef farms based on future land management scenarios. If all goes well, her findings will be able to be scaled up to a national level and contribute to the New Zealand Greenhouse Gas Emissions mitigation strategy.

Febyana with her supervisors Brad, Hannah and Rebecca.

But, of course, we can't forget those of us who are mad enough to be doing field work in the middle of winter! Sophie Williams, an ecologist from Wellington, joined us earlier in the year to do some native vegetation surveys on our Ruapehu farm and she has come back to make a start on the “Recce plots” on our Kaipara farm. Joining her is Tim Logan, a BSc student from Canterbury University who has a passion for New Zealand conservation.

Together they are spending two weeks up north getting wet and muddy . . . all in the name of science. Our Recce plots (short for reconnaissance) involve many small plots within which all the vegetation is surveyed – from the biggest tree to the smallest fern – and the total amount of biomass measured.

Tim Logan
Tim measuring the diameter of native trees on our Kaipara farm.

This will give us a thorough look at the overall plant biodiversity on each farm and its potential as habitat for native birds. It will also allow us to quantify the amount of carbon stored in this vegetation on each farm.

Kia ora rawa atu,

The Farming & Nature Conservation team:

Hannah Buckley, David Norton, Brad Case, Margaret Stanley, Jennifer Pannell, Valance Smith, Estelle Dominati, Margaret Brown, Fleur Maseyk and Stacey Bryan

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