One System – Canterbury trial results are available here.
‘News and Opinion’ is just that. It contains posts of important and interesting news relating to agriculture and climate change, water use and quality, soil fertility and fertiliser, and our opinion on these posts. We welcome your opinion on our opinions!
Long Nguyen recently returned from the cold European winter and a 3-week expert consultancy assignment (26 January-13 February 2015) in Vienna, Austria, working with the IAEA Technical Cooperation Quality Assurance Section (TCQAS) in the Department of Technical Cooperation (TC) at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). During the course of his assignment Long had an excellent opportunity to learn about the work of the TCQAS, which provides guidance and expertise on quality issues relating to TC projects in IAEA Member States.
These projects are managed by the IAEA-TC Department through the TC Programme and technically supported by the four IAEA Technical Departments (Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications, Department of Nuclear Energy, Department of Nuclear Safety and Security and Department of Safeguards). The TC Programme covers a range of areas such as food and agriculture, water resource assessment, soil and water management, environment, human health, industrial applications/radiation technology, energy, nuclear knowledge development and management, and safety and security
The aim of the TC Programme is to provide support to many countries (commonly termed Member States) in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and Latin America to assist with capacity building, technical support and the procurement of equipment and materials for the peaceful use of nuclear science and technology to:
For information on the use of nuclear techniques in the range of areas mentioned above, please refer to the following IAEA websites:
In areas relating to soil and water management and crop nutrition, additional information can be obtained from the attached file (Nguyen et al., 2011).
Within each region of the World, the TC Programme helps participating Member States to address their specific needs through their national TC projects. The TC programme also has regional/inter-regional TC projects which aim to facilitate cooperation between different countries within a region or across regions.
Overall the IAEA TC Programme provides support to more than 125 Member States in areas directly relating to the UN Millennium Development Goals (Pre-2015) and UN Sustainable Development Goals (Post-2015). To provide this comprehensive assistance the IAEA also works with many other UN organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) through the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture.
Besides this opportunity to be involved in an exciting assignment, Long enjoyed some brisk walks in the snow-covered landscape, tasting his favourite Viennese coffee and sour cherry strudel and meeting friends and previous colleagues.
Nguyen, L.; F. Zapata, R. Lal and G. Dercon 2011. Role of nuclear and isotopic techniques in sustainable land management: Achieving food security and mitigating impacts of climate change. Chapter 8. Pp. 345-418. In: Advances in Soil Sciences-World Soil Resources and Food security. Lal, R and Stewart, B. A. (eds.), CRC Press Taylor & Francis Group. Boca Raton, London, New York.
www.groupone.co.nz has been asked to explain whether a company called Quinspread Technologies (NZ) Ltd still exists, as it was mentioned on the original website. This company’s shareholders were parties associated with Gavin Wealleans, Grant McComb, Gordon Findlay and Dr Bert Quin. The intention was to promote the use of technology to crush granular urea on board the spreading truck and apply the crushed product as a thick fluid after mixing with water. While the technology improved the efficiency of urea very significantly, the high cost of the equipment, narrow spreading swath and resulting high spreading costs meant that the company struggled to make progress.
The company went into voluntary liquidation in 2011; the liquidator is John Whitfield. The company has no debts. The company’s assets were acquired by an entity whose shareholders are parties associated with Gavin Wealleans, Grant McComb and Gordon Findlay. The liquidator has advised that Quinspread Technologies (NZ) Ltd has not been deregistered purely because legal action being taken by these parties regarding patents applied for by parties associated with FPA Ltd and Brett Emeny requires the existence of Quinspread as a company. Dr Quin has no involvement in this action.
Follow-up discussions between Group ONE Consultancy Ltd’s Drs Long Nguyen and Bert Quin and Chief Professor Yong Li of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science (CAAS) have gone very well.
The two parties have agreed to initiate a field comparison in China of water quality downstream of watersheds where farmers continue to use current fertilisers and practices, with those where ONEsystem® technology will be used.
Prof. Li has generously offered offices and support staff for Group ONE Consultancy Ltd to set up an office at Prof. Li’s research institute in Beijing, the Institute of Environment and Sustainable Agriculture (part of CAAS), where the Chief Professor heads up the Agriculture Clean Watershed Research Group (ACWRG).
Spikey® is a very innovative solution to the serious problem of leaching of nitrate-nitrogen from cow urine patches on grazed pastures by Pastoral Robotics Ltd, a member of Group ONE.
Excess nitrogen (N) in pasture and feed is excreted by the cow mainly as urea-N in the urine. This urea-N gets converted, firstly by an enzyme and then by soil bacteria into ammonium-N then nitrate-N. This is the form of N preferentially taken up by plant roots, but the problem is that the amount of N returned to the soil in the small areas affected by urine is far greater than the pasture can usually recover. Much of the nitrate-N, which is highly water-soluble, gets leached through the soil by rainfall and irrigation. It finds its way into groundwater, streams, rivers and lakes, where it contributes to weed growth and algal blooms. Nitrate-N in drinking water is a precursor to carcinogens and has been linked with deaths in young children.
If a solution to this problem is not found, dairy farms will either have to reduce stocking rates and farmer incomes, or put considerable capital resources anf ongoing maintenance and management in housing cows in sheds, from where the effluent can be collected and spread evenly over the entire farm. This would represent the end of year-round grazed dairy farming as we know it in New Zealand, and are known for it the world over. So there is a real problem.
PRL directors Geoff Bates and Bert Quin believe that the solution to this problem is provided by Spikey®, the result of two years intensive research and development by the agritech engineer and soil fertility scientist, both of whom have strong business skills as well.
Spikey® is basically a combination of a considerable number of spiked metal wheels on an axle which detect individual fresh cow urine patches (up to several days old) by measuring the surface soil conductivity at very small intervals. It is currently towed across the pasture by quad bike or ute, but ultimately it is intended for this to be done by the small robotised vehicle Mini-ME® currently under development by Pastoral Robotics Ltd. Spikey® detects then sprays any fresh urine patches with a proprietary combination of totally safe products which are already widely in use applied to pastures for other purposes; all have proven to be totally safe environmentally.
Both technologies had their first on-farm technical demonstrations to an audience of leading nitrogen and the environment researchers on January 23. Both technologies performed right up to the expetations of PRL, and promoted lively discussion. It was agreed than testing of the Spikey® technology in a grazed dairy farm situation where nitrate leaching could be monitored was the ideal next step.
Then, on February 12, Geoff Bates will be presenting their results to an audience of over 200 scientists, advisors, regional council staff and farmers at Massey University’s FLRC Conference.
Dr Quin believes that the net cost of detection and treatment would be very easily negated by combining the technology with switching from granular urea as the main source of fertiliser N to ONEsystem® . This utilises spray technology to wet prilled urea, treated with the urease inhibitor nbpt. Independently-run trials under grazing as shown a massive reduction of 50% in the amount of N required to grow a given amount of extra grass.
Drs Minh-Long (Long) Nguyen and Bert Quin first worked together on soil fertility at the MAF’s Winchmore Irrigation Research Station (now part of AgResearch) in the early 1980s.
Their careers then diverged, although they worked on several projects together over the years. Dr Quin went up the ranks of MAF’s Agricultural Research Division to take the newly-formed position of Chief Scientist for Soil Fertility at Ruakura from 1984-1987. Then, in 1989, Bert set up his own fertiliser company Quinphos Fertilisers (NZ) Ltd. With the financial benefit of the sale of a majority shareholding to Sumitomo Corporation, the reformed Summit-Quinphos (NZ) Ltd had, by the time of Dr Quin’s resignation in 2005, attained 12% of the total New Zealand fertiliser market. The company specialised in RPR and blends, and also introduced the inhibitor-treated granular urea product, SustaiN® . This was an immediate success for the company, increasing urea efficiency by 20-40%. Since Sumitomo’s sale of the company to Ballance Agri-Nutrients in 2010, SustaiN® has become easily Ballance’s most widely promoted product. Dr Quin has since then become involved in a range of innovative projects, both in NZ and Australia. These are described in www.groupone.co.nz.
For his part, Dr Nguyen enjoyed a stellar scientific career with the Agricultural Research Division of MAF, before moving to NIWA to continue soil use and water quality and gaseous emissions for several years. Long was then appointed to the prestigious position of Head, Soil and Water Management and Crop Nutrition Section of the Joint FAO (Food and Agriculture)/IAEA ( International Atomic Energy Agency) Division, based in Vienna. He held this position for 10 years until reaching the IAEA’s obligatory retirement age in late 2014, when he returned to NZ to live. The Joint FAO/IAEA Division specialises in the use of isotopes of nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen to trace with great precision the fate of these nutrients in agriculture and the environment.
Back together in NZ, the two men quickly found they enjoyed working together as much as always, and decided to set up an international consultancy company Group ONE Consultancy Ltd. This company has a strong focus on fostering international research and training in agriculture and the environment.
With the company only just formed, the two were visited during mid-January by one of China’s foremost agriculture and environment researchers and a good friend of Dr Nguyen, Prof Li Yong . With no business office of their own at that point, Long and Bert were kindly offered facilities at NIWA Hamilton for their meetings. Prof. Li also met with senior research staff at NIWA.