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  • Author or Editor: M.B. Kirkham x
  • HortTechnology x
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In 1992, all governmental resourcing and investment in New Zealand, including that for science, underwent dramatic reform. The global philosophy driving the reform was new public management—a method by which nations could be run more economically by emulating the commercial world. Central to the reform was separation of policy, purchasing (investment), and providers (in the case of research scientists). The reform led to a large reduction in the number of governmental scientists. For example, in 1 year alone, 2001–2002, the Horticultural and Food Research Institute, one of the nine governmental branches of science, lost 51 staff members, 10% of its work force. Over a decade later after the establishment of the reform, in July 2003, the New Zealand government's investment agency announced its budget for the next 6 years. The government-funded science sectors considered to do modern research such as computer technology and biotechnology, and halved funding for land-related sciences. The reduced budget dramatically limited New Zealand's capacity for research in soil and land-use science and ended all research positions in this area (38 jobs). Public outcry through newspaper editorials and from leading businessmen, along with effective leadership from the scientific community, led to the reestablishment of funding in the form of a virtual national center called Sustainable Land Use Research Initiative (SLURI). The elimination of funding for soil and land-use science research in New Zealand was an unexpected and potentially disastrous result of new public management. New Zealand's experience has relevance for the United States, because budgets for agricultural research are being severely reduced or converted to competitive funding. The U.S. President's fiscal year 2006 budget proposed to cut formula funding by 50% and to zero it out in fiscal year 2007. The funds would have been put in competitive grants. In New Zealand, the lack of ability to respond to a scientific problem demonstrated that a balance must be maintained in funding decisions so that scientific capability is retained to solve unforeseen future problems.

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A survey was conducted of 81 growers managing 185 high tunnels in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa to collect information about their high tunnel management practices. The survey was administered from 2005 to 2007 using internet-based and written forms. The average respondent had 4 years of high tunnel experience. The oldest tunnel still in use was 15 years old. Twenty-five percent of respondents grew crops in their high tunnels year-round. Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), lettuce (Lactuca sativa), spinach (Spinacia oleracea), cucumber (Cucumis sativus), pepper (Capsicum spp.), leafy greens, and flowers were the most common crops. Organic soil amendments were used exclusively by 35% of growers, and in combination with conventional fertilizers by an additional 50% of growers. The summary of management practices is of interest to growers and the industries and university research and extension scientists who serve them. Growers typically reported satisfaction with their high tunnels. Growers with more than one high tunnel had often added tunnels following the success of crop production in an initial tunnel. Labor for crop maintenance was the main limiting factor reported by growers as preventing expanded high tunnel production.

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