The Management committee has asked me to look into the need to promote the research side of the organisation.  The research fund has not been widely used over the past few years and funds are available to branches for their use.  Is it due to a shortage of ideas, an uncertainty as to whether a topic or project is worthy of the name research, a lack of knowledge of how to apply for funding, lack of members with time or expertise to carry out research, or all of the above?

Past funding has been given to studies on the compounds in apples, a search for pheromones for the Guava Moth and its distribution, and research into the flowering of Hazels.  Is it time some basic research was done on crops relevant to the local situation and of direct benefit to that branch, or perhaps nationwide projects whereby individual members can participate by making local field observations?

Some suggestions for research projects:

  • A North Island Survey to determine the current spread of the Guava Moth.
  • National Survey of a specific crop and varieties to determine bud burst, flowering and fruit maturity dates to ascertain the suitability of crops for regions in N.Z.
  • Study of a crop’s phenology for a particular area (stages in growth and fruit production cycles). This can be applied to determining the best time and type of fertiliser application.
  • Local compilation of crops suitable for year round fruit and nut production.
  • Pruning methods and their effect on yield, any crop.
  • Any other suggestions

On an organisational level do we need to have a more centrally driven direction for research or leave it up to branches as at present with the research committee just giving guidance so that research results are reliable?

Does the funding criteria and procedure for application need clarification or advertising?

Where should the research findings be held and how accessible are they to members?

This is a “Starters” paper to stimulate your thoughts and bring ideas out of the woodwork.  Your ideas and comments would be most welcome.

Bill Rae.