P H Williams, M H Beare, D Curtin, G S Francis, P M Fraser, A Pearson, S M Thomas and T van der Weerden

Crop & Food Research, Private Bag 4704, Christchurch

The current New Zealand government* has issued soil science with a challenge. In outlining their science policy, they have presented the vision that New Zealand requires a "knowledge based economy". What role does soil research have in a knowledge economy? Agriculture is currently the dominant industry in New Zealand, accounting for 50% of our export revenue. While changes in international consumer trends and advances in biotechnology make it difficult to predict what products will be produced in the future, there is no doubt that exports from our land-based industries will continue to have a major role into the 21st century. Soil is a vital component of our land-based industries as it supports plant growth and has a major role in maintaining the health of the ecosystem in which we live and work. For the arable and vegetable industries, particular challenges include preserving the productivity of the soil resource under continuous cropping while minimising any adverse environmental impacts. Land managers are also under pressure to ensure their crop management practices conform to market requirements. Quality assurance standards are becoming more important in the arable industry as are resource management issues including soil quality, nutrient leaching and greenhouse gas emissions. In this paper we outline the advances Crop & Food Research are making in soil research that will help the arable and vegetable industry address these issues.

*(pre November 1999 election)

Return to Paper List