24 June 1999








FITT Funds Fifty


The Farmer Initiated Technology and Transfer (FITT) scheme has chalked up a major milestone, funding 50 different projects around the country.


They range from a field day designed to meet the information needs of rural women in the deep south, to trials near Taihape of different hill country fodder crops for sheep and in the Hawkes Bay, of different drenching options.


FITT began back in 1997 with WoolPro and Meat New Zealand agreeing to jointly fund individual projects to a maximum of $10,000.


Coordinator Richard Gavigan says there’s been an upsurge in applications over recent months as FITT funded projects have gained a better profile in the rural community.


"They’re meeting farmers’ needs because they have a quick turnaround time, are flexible and the reporting requirements are not as stringent as with other schemes," he said.


The womens’ field day held in March on the southern monitor farm was a big success says its organiser Nikki Cunningham, the rural women’s coordinator for the Clutha Agricultural Development Board, but getting funding was ‘a huge thing’.


"Rural women are invariably selfless and miss out on things for themselves to benefit the farm," she said.


"But if a field day is free or has a nominal charge they will go."



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As well as attracting female dairy farmers to the field day on a sheep property, nearly 40 per cent of the women who did attend said their partners never attended field days, giving access to a whole new group of farmers.


The Kawhatau fodder crop trials on a number of farms north of Palmerston North have looked at boosting feed supply through growing new fodder crops on hill country.


Project co-ordinators Grant and Diana Baird say FITT was easy to approach for funding and the practical aims of increasing feed supply from low productivity areas appealed to farmers.


There had been interest in the results from drought-affected areas around Gisborne and Masterton and now there was competition among commercial companies as to who would supply seed for upcoming trials.


A website was set up earlier this year to give up-to-date results and a video is available of the techniques used.


"This is an excellent use of the Meat and Wool Boards’ money," Diana Baird said.


The Hawkes Bay Ewe Monitor group involved 16 farmers from Patoka to Porongahau who ran 57 different mobs of sheep under a variety of different drenching and management systems.


One important result was the benefit shown of separating out twin bearing two-tooths from mixed aged ewes with single lambs to manage their worm problems differently.


The first group suffered more stress and needed intensive care. The second and larger mob needed drenching less frequently, resulting in a considerable cost saving.


Veterinary technician Angela Molloy said without FITT funding the trial work which allowed farmers to look at an on-farm problem and apply their own solutions, would never have got off the ground.




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For more details contact: Richard Gavigan

Tel: 06-378 8106. Fax: 06-378 8009

Email: richard.gavigan@woolpro.co.nz