“Knowing is not enough; we must apply.
Willing is not enough; we must do.”
40 years ago, I came to the conclusion that simply talking about one knew – or thought one knew – was not enough. If you really believe that some things need to be done differently, but there are commercial barriers or self-interests in the way, then you have to get off your butt and provide the tools and choices to facilitate this change.
During my research career, I observed that most of my fellow scientific colleagues were quite content working away on the favourite topics of research, but saw the end-game of their role as getting the results of their research published in scientific journals. This was becoming the be-all and end-all for keeping the money-train rolling.
This is certainly important, but it is simply not enough in a relatively small country and agricultural industry where a small number of major players have so much control – direct and indirect – over which research topics can get funded and which can’t, and which findings get acted on positively. Not speaking out publicly about what needs to change, and not providing the tools to make that change, is no different from fiddling while the environment is ruined.
So I took a different path. It hasn’t made me very popular with the big players in the industry, but I think time is now proving me right.
All the applied research on improving fertiliser and effluent spreading, installing riparian strips and identifying farm ‘hotspots’ provides little net benefit if we are not greatly reducing the use of soluble P and very inefficient granular forms of urea. Target maximum Olsen P levels in NZ need to defined as
Max. Olsen P = 0.3 x P retention.
RPR can produce maximum pasture production while still meeting this limit; soluble P cannot.
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