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  • Author or Editor: Nancy Beck x
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The restructuring of government research and extension organisations within New Zealand provides a rare opportunity to reshape our approach to technology transfer. This paper describes the approaches which HortResearch is taking to develop its technology transfer activities and extension services to New Zealand's horticultural industries.

Research is without purpose if the resultant technology is not transferred from scientists to growers and other industry groups and vice versa. Effective research planning in HortResearch and the provision of decision support information to growers, will depend on good working links between researchers and other key industry players. Rapid development of this linkage is crucial due to the loss of the traditional free extension service in the restructuring process.

A working party assessed the industry's needs and concepts of technology transfer. A workshop to discuss technology transfer option was held with key people from the horticultural industry; this was followed later by an in-house workshop. Proposals for the Institute to establish link teams for each horticultural sector were the outcome.

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Summer cover crop rotations, compost, and vermicompost additions can be important strategies for transition to organic production that can provide various benefits to crop yields, nitrogen (N) availability, and overall soil health, yet are underused in strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa) production in North Carolina. This study was aimed at evaluating six summer cover crop treatments including pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum), soybean (Glycine max), cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), pearl millet/soybean combination, pearl millet/cowpea combination, and a no cover crop control, with and without vermicompost additions for their effects on strawberry growth, yields, nutrient uptake, weeds, and soil inorganic nitrate-nitrogen and ammonium-nitrogen in a 2-year field experiment. Compost was additionally applied before seeding cover crops and preplant N fertilizer was reduced by 67% to account for organic N additions. Although all cover crops (with compost) increased soil N levels during strawberry growth compared with the no cover crop treatment, cover crops did not impact strawberry yields in the first year of the study. In the 2nd year, pearl millet cover crop treatments reduced total and marketable strawberry yields, and soybean treatments reduced marketable strawberry yields when compared with the no cover crop treatment, whereas vermicompost additions increased strawberry biomass and yields. Results from this study suggest that vermicompost additions can be important sustainable soil management strategies for transitional and certified organic strawberry production. Summer cover crops integrated with composts can provide considerable soil N, reducing fertilizer needs, but have variable responses on strawberry depending on the specific cover crop species or combination. Moreover, these practices are suitable for both organic and conventional strawberry growers and will benefit from longer-term studies that assess these practices individually and in combination and other benefits in addition to yields.

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