HIRE US:

Sustainable Vegetable Systems (SVS)

 

Vegetable Production

Nitrogen is a critical nutrient for crop production. It is needed to make chlorophyll in plants, which is used in photosynthesis, as well as to

produce amino acids.

 

Vegetable growers use nitrogen in the form of fertilisers to produce food. Nitrogen fertiliser is usually required to produce the crop yield and

quality necessary to keep horticultural enterprises operating and, most importantly, to grow healthy food for people at an affordable price.

Dependence on fertiliser however has led to instances of overuse, resulting in nitrate leaching into groundwater. Nitrogen leaching

contributes to eutrophication in rivers, lakes and groundwater.

Elevated nitrogen concentrations in water can make rivers unswimmable, damage valuable ecosystems, and even have negative

effects on human health.

Opportunity

SVS aims to improve the horticulture industries knowledge of nutrient management, promoting improved practices, and developing grower facing tools and technologies for sustainable nitrogen use. Controlled field trials and intensive on-farm monitoring of soil and plant nitrogen has generated data that is being used to develop a nitrogen balance tool – NSight.

NSight is designed to support grower decision making for nutrient application, and has the additional benefit of providing evidence of operating with best practice to consumers and regulators.
At a broader scale, SVS continues to promote collaboration and knowledge sharing across the horticulture industry, empowering growers to better sustainably manage nitrogen.

NSight has been developed through collaboration and input from growers, the wider service industry, and scientists from Plant & Food Research (PFR). This cross-industry approach has resulted in a tool that can be used by both growers and consultant agronomists, as well as researchers.

Project objectives and the role of Agrilink

SVS aims to secure NZ growers’ social and regulatory license to grow vegetables for domestic and export markets. However, the ultimate outcome is contributing to a sustainable horticulture industry and a healthy environment.

Agrilink is the project manager for this large multi-stakeholder programme. Agrilink is working with industries, government, regional councils, and research organisations to meet the goals of this programme.

Agrilink is also involved directly, in soil and plant sampling for the regional monitoring workstream, in developing and trialing the nitrogen model, and in engaging with participating growers through nutrient benchmark reports, nutrient budgets, and modelling workshops.

Research

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Figure 1. Soil mineral nitrogen and crop nitrogen uptake graph from SVS regional monitoring data.

The NSight tool

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Figure 2. Selected outputs from the NSight tool. Nitrogen balance graph and soil mineral nitrogen and crop uptake graph for an onion crop.

The NSight tool is designed to support grower decision making for nutrient application, and has the additional benefit of providing evidence of operating with best practice to consumers and regulators.

Link – NSight