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Lincoln University collaborates with Chinese scientists to reduce nitrate leaching

6 May 2008

China is tapping into research being carried out at Lincoln University to reduce nitrate leaching from agricultural land into waterways.

Professor Hong Di, a soil and environmental scientist at Lincoln University, who visited China as part of Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker’s delegation to Christchurch’s sister cities of Wuhan and Gansu has been collaborating on the research with scientists at Wuhan’s Hauzhong Agricultural University since 1999. In addition to his full-time role at Lincoln University, Professor Di was made an Honorary Professor at Hauzhong last month when the Wuhan University’s vice president visited Lincoln University.

Professor Di said that the level of cooperation between Lincoln and Hauzhong strengthened even further two years ago when Lincoln’s Dr Chris Kirk was part of the Mayor’s delegation for the signing of the Christchurch-Wuhan Friendship City relationship.

“In common with the situation that we face in New Zealand, China is facing increasing pollution from nitrate leaching from farmland. The research that we have been doing at Lincoln University on this subject is very relevant to the Chinese situation,” he said.

Professor Di said he and fellow scientist Professor Keith Cameron had developed a nitrification inhibitor technology, Eco-N, which reduced the conversion of ammonia to nitrate in the soil to decrease nitrate leaching from animal urine patches. It also reduced greenhouse gas nitrous oxide emissions and increased pasture production.

“The inhibitor is a bio-degradable chemical that does not leave long term residues in the soil. In New Zealand it is applied twice a year, in late autumn and early spring,” Professor Di said.

The Government (FRST) funded the research and Ravensdown Fertiliser Cooperative Ltd entered a joint venture with Lincoln University to develop and commercialise the new technology. It was released onto the New Zealand market in 2004. Its use on New Zealand dairy farms has increased rapidly since then.

“At present the product is not available in China. However there is a lot of interest in this product in China and there is potential for its use there,” he said.

While in China Professor Di attended the Science to Market conference in Beijing with Mr Parker where the Minister of Research, Science and Technology Peter Hodgson referred to the joint research programme involving Lincoln University and the Chinese collaborators as an outstanding example of existing collaboration between scientists in China and New Zealand.


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