Vegetable Research & Innovation

An online search to discover New Zealand based research papers for horticulture in New Zealand

Featured Research

This research catalogue contains published papers and reports and other research reports commissioned by the VR&I Board and contributing Product Groups.

Many of these documents are available directly on-line, in some cases they may be available only be emailing the Product Group concerned.

This page contains links to a selection of the latest research that has been supported by the VR&I Board.


Joining the dots (2020 update) (2020)


Joining the Dots is a structured approach to progressing from problem recognition, to implemented and audited mitigations, and benchmark sustainability reporting.

The original intent of the project was to create Farm Environment Plans (FEPs) that could be audited under the New Zealand Good Agricultural Practice (NZGAP) Environmental Management System (EMS) add-on, to provide assurance to regional councils that the outdoor fresh vegetable industry is undertaking continuous improvement with the goal of increasing sustainability.

As part of the work to date, Agrilink NZ and NZGAP, commissioned by the Vegetable Research and Innovation Board (VR&I), have stepped a grower through the process using the problem of soil erosion on cultivated vegetable paddocks. The case study grower developed an Erosion & Sediment Control Plan (a component of an FEP), which has a staged implementation, and has been audited through NZGAP.

The research results are from the Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) project ‘Don’t Muddy The Water’ underpins the Erosion & Sediment Control Guidelines for Vegetable Production.

The project also explored the potential for collection, aggregation, analysis, and display of national and regional scale metrics via NZGAP EMS. Individualised benchmarking reports could be generated for growers to inform future decision making and priority management areas, as well as aggregated environmental metrics to report on the industry’s sustainability progress over time. This report demonstrates individualised reporting using soil erosion and mitigation data, as well as regional and national level reporting.

The next phase needs to be rolling out, at scale, FEPs, as the vehicle for growers to adopt and document further good and best management practices. Alongside this is further development of the data collection, aggregation, and dashboard system. As the number of completed FEPs builds, the baseline data will become more robust and form a factual basis for prioritising areas for improvement, and setting targets, timelines, and reviews. This then feeds back into problem recognition, new research, and targeted grower engagement and extension activities.

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Guidance on use of acephate and methamidophos on vegetable crops (2020)

OP Poster Vers 1 01/02/2020

Acephate and methamidophos (organophosphates) are insecticides that are not allowed to be used off-label on vegetable crops. This is a legal requirement and these restrictions have been in force from 2015. This poster is provided as a guide to vegetable growers to ensure legal use of these agrichemicals.

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Minimising soil movement by vehicles off farm (2019)

VR&I Code of Practice 09/12/2019

This code of practice for vehicle washdown has been developed by Agrilink for the Vegetable Research & Innovation Board.

This COP is designed to assist you in determining which vehicle cleaning measures are best suited for your operation.

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Minimising soil movement by vehicles off farm: Background material (2019)

VR&I Code of Practice 09/12/2019

This background document supports the Minimising Soil Movement by Vehicles Off Farm Code of Practice. It covers the
existing literature on a range of mitigation measures designed to minimise soil transport between farms or onto the road.

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Generic IPM Guideline for Vegetable Crops (2019)

PFR SPTS No. 17561 11/09/2019

While an integrated pest management (IPM) approach to pest and disease management is generally crop-specific, the
components and principles of an IPM programme are more generic.

The aim of this guideline is to provide vegetable growers, crop scouts, crop consultants and crop managers with an understanding of the key components and strategies for growing vegetable crops using IPM.

Original publication: Walker M, Davidson M, Wright P. March 2019. Generic IPM Guideline for Vegetable Crops. A Plant &
Food Research report prepared for: Vegetable Research & Innovation Board, Horticulture New Zealand Inc. Milestone
No. 80265. Contract No. 36516. Job code: P/336075/01. SPTS No. 17561.


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Nitrate quick test mass balance tool (calculator) (2019)

MPI SFF project Nitrogen – Measure it and Manage it 29/08/2019

This tool is a simple calculator to convert quick test strip results into an estimate of the crop's demand for nitrogen. N supply estimates are automatically calculated from the input information.

This tool should be used alongside the 'Quick test mass balance user guide' which may downloaded from this website (keyword search: nitrate), or from the FAR website (

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The nitrate quick test mass balance tool (2019)

MPI SFF project Nitrogen – Measure it and Manage it 29/08/2019

A nitrogen mass balance budget is a method to determine how much nitrogen fertiliser
should be applied to the crop to achieve its potential yield. However, for the budget to be
developed, estimates are required for the crop’s demand for nitrogen and how much of this
will be supplied by the soil.
Currently, there are two tests used to quantify soil nitrogen supply.

  • The mineral N test, which provides a measure of how much nitrogen is immediately available for plant uptake.
  • The anaerobically mineralisable N (AMN) test. This is an estimate of the N supply from the mineralisation of organic N.

For an effective nitrogen mass balance, both sources of nitrogen need to be measured. The
amount of mineral N in the soil can change quickly over a short period of time, especially as
crops take up nitrogen. It is useful to have quick and inexpensive methods for estimating soil
mineral nitrogen levels throughout the season. Previous work in New Zealand has shown
that Nitrate Quick Test strips are efficient and inexpensive.
This Guide provides guidance to growers on how to measure the soil nitrogen supply with
Nitrate Quick Test strips and make an informed fertiliser decision for the crop.

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Good Management Practice: Neonicotinoids (2019)


The Vegetable Research & Innovation Board (VR&I) and the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) have commissioned a review of neonicotinoids to guide the development of Good Management Practices for New Zealand growers using neonicotinoids, while minimising the impact on the environment. The impacts of neonicotinoid use in horticulture has led to public concerns around the use of these agrichemicals in crops and as seed treatments. Public concerns focus particularly on impacts on the environment, the effect on the health of bees and colony collapse, and a decline in insect numbers in many countries, as well as human health and food safety issues. Agrichemical products in this group include clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam; and acetamiprid and thiacloprid which are less-widely used in New Zealand.


The key practices for neonicotinoid use have been highlighted in a brochure “General Principles for Good Management Practices: Neonicotinoids” developed specifically for New Zealand growers. In addition to implementing GMP, a key to ensuring best practice is communication and collaboration between growers and beekeepers, keeping each other informed of their activities throughout the seasons. 

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Don't Muddy the Water. Final Summary Report (2019)

MPI SFF Project 407925 30/06/2019

Authors: Andrew Barber, Henry Stenning and Murray Hicks

Don’t Muddy the Water, was a 4 year long Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) project focussed on Erosion & Sediment (E&S) control on cultivated horticultural land. The full analysis and results are contained within their own final reports available from HortNZ.

Agrilink and NIWA conducted a trial to determine the efficiency of Sediment Retention Ponds (SRP) on cultivated horticultural land. Weirs and autosamplers measured flow rates and collected suspended sediment samples from three different sized SRPs on a cultivated vegetable production site on Pukekohe Hill in Auckland.

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Nutrient management of vegetable crops in New Zealand (2019)


By JB Reid and J D Morton

In 1986, MAF published Fertiliser Recommendations for Horticultural Crops. The book summarised nutrient requirements for the major vegetable crops based on research results obtained up till then (Wood et al. 1986). In 2000, the Vegetable Growers Handbook (Wallace 2000) contained information for fertiliser use, but the scientific basis for many recommendations was unclear. Since then, much has changed in the business, social and regulatory environment of horticulture. Crop location, varieties, management practices and yield expectations have changed, and growers are more aware of the impact of their practices on the environment. New scientific approaches have enabled researchers to quantify the influences of many of the key interactions between plants, soils, and management that influence productivity, profitability and risk.

This book builds on the 1986 recommendations with the results of a further thirty-odd years of research. In addition, there is information on environmental impacts and improving the efficiency of fertiliser use. The format is deliberately brief and direct.These recommendations are intended to be a guide based on the best current experimental evidence; they are not prescriptive requirements. At times it may be beneficial to use the skills of a nutrient management adviser to interpret and if necessary modify them for specific circumstances.

This book is intended to be a resource of best-practice advice to manage the nutrition of vegetable crops in New Zealand (NZ). The emphasis is firmly on practices that are scientifically defensible.

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