Posts Tagged 'Kawarau Gorge Mining Centre'

Term-II, Week-7 (08th – 12th June)

Monday, 08th June : Soil-less media

SunnyToday we have learned a new topic, Soil-less media. We had little idea about all these things. During the topic introduction, Jo explained about use of soil less growing media in horticulture industry.  A growing media is the substances in which a plant can grow. Soil less media is always called Potting Mix.  Soil is always not enough  for growing  plants in containers  due to its poor level of aeration, drainage, water holding capacity and sometimes may contain pathogens.  But potting mix like growing medium can provide a stable anchor for roots, an excellent reservoir of all necessary nutrients, enough oxygen for roots and sufficient water for plant’s growth. Beside these functions, potting mix should be  weed free, heavy, light enough to handle (transport etc), well drained and better water holding capacity. While arrange  a potting mix we have to consider the following factors like  cost, availability of the materials, consistency  in batches, stability of the media overtime and environmental issues.  Most common materials used for a genuine potting mix are Peat, bark, Sand, Pumice, Perlite and vermiculite.  Other materials like coir, sawdust, green composted waste, vermicast, grape marc, brewery and tobacco waste, cotton seed and rice hulls, oat husks, sure cane, polystyrene, lignite, paper and rockwool can also be used for making a growing media. Physical, chemical and biological characters of the materials are important while considering these things.

Physical properties like AFP (Air Filled Porosity), RAW ( Readily Available Water), bulk density, partical stability, wettability, flowability and infiltration rate.  Chemical properties reflect the level of avaiilabe nutrients. Biological properties may include pest, diseases and disorders, environmental issues and its kind of characters.

PH level is an important factor for a plant’s growth. 7.0 is neutral, below 7 is acid and above 7 is basic or alkaline.

Peat – dugs from swampy areas in temperature zons like New Zealand, Ireland and Canada. It is a mix of partly decomposed remains of plants that grow in swamps. Sphagnum mosses like things.

Bark – Pinus radiate bark used in New Zealand. Softwood bark is the better choice. This stripped barks composted using CAN for 4 – 8 weeks. When the bark goes black and loses resin smell, it can be used for making a media.

Sand  – Most common material, used for making the a growing media. It improves the drainage. Avoid calcareous  or coastal sands.  Particle size of the sand is an important thing to improve its water holding capacity.

Pumice – Mined volcanic pumice. It provides aeration and improves the porosity.

Vermiculite – Is a mica mineral produced by heating. It supplies potassium and magnesium.

Perlite – Is also a heat expanded volcanic rock.


Tuesday, 09th June : Growsafe

Wednesday, 10th June : Growsafe

 We are going to cover the topics of Growsafe on today and tomorrow. For me it is an interesting subject. From my agricultural (family) background, I had already experienced advantages and disadvantages of the  use of agrichemicals. I still remember that during my childhood, my  grant father was using DDT (Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane) for most of the pests or insects. Later on we realiazed that all of the good guys including worms  disappeared and most of the pests achieved a kind of self immunisation to overcome the effects of this DDT.  Later on we have started to make our own compost and organic supplementary for our plants. But it has taken a long time to go back to the previous stage and still struggling in some cases. Lack of awareness was the main reason for this mistake.

Today we have covered the topics like Management of Agrichemicals, Transporting Agrichemicals by Road, Storing Agrichemicals, Using Agrichemicals, Calibration, Disposal and other supporting information. Management of Agrichemicals include The product label, plant protection products – label information, veterinary medicines and animal health products – label information, priority identifiers, schedule heading, hazard classifications and packing groups, toxicity and LD50 figures, agrichemical residues in food, poisoning, protective equipments (PPE) and clothing and respirators. Section named Transporting Agrichemicals by Road include Transporting agrichemical – land Transport Rules and General requirements for transporting agrichemicals. Storing agrichemicals include Physical features of the store, managing the store, agrichemical use and tracking records and Location Test Certificates. For Using Agrichemicals, Notifications, sensitive areas,  handling and mixing,  signage, avoiding or minimising the spray drift, cleaning and decontamination and records including spray diary.  In Calibration, Calibration methods, calibration phases, volume based spraying and area based spraying and its calibration steps.  While covering the disposal  section, we understand that the disposal of concentrates, disposal of diluted ( mixed) agrichemicals and disposal of empty containers including triple  rinsing. Supporting information like useful contacts, RMA definitions, HSNO regulations, HSE definitions, spray equipment components and droplet size, non application periods for substances toxic to bees and measurements and symbols.

During the second half we were working with its assignments to complete them on time. Most of us have successfully complete the assignments next day during the first half. On Wednesday, the second half, I was working with Pest, diseases and disorder assignments and still pending that. 

Thursday, 11th June : Propagation – Nursery

Grape Cuttings

Grape Cuttings

Welcome back to Nursery. As I told before, most of the Thursdays, we will be in Nursery to learn some new techniques of propagations. As an introduction, Jo told us that, today we are going to do some deciduous hardwood cuttings – Grape cuttings. We have selected some ornamental grapes and “July Muscat” for propagations. Softwood grape cuttings will take 7-10 days root developments. Semi-hardwood cuttings of the grape will take 15-22 days and Hardwood cuttings of the grape will take 25-35 days for its root developments.

We have selected Vitis ex Jo-ornamental, Vitis ‘July Muscat’ and Vitis ‘Ornamental ex- fence’ for making cuttings and propagate. Cutted all separately with three nodes and removed bottom two nodes, used Seradix No.3 rooting hormone, We have used some pots with Perlite, some pots with Perlite and Potting Mix and some other Pots with Potting Mix and sand at 1:1 ratio for this propagation. Send them to Glass house-1 for roots developments. After that we have selected some Cistus x corbariensis from the Glass House – 4 (from the harden off) and potted in the 1.5 ltr pots and send back to GH-4 for grow. Some others potted  some Hebe ‘Oratia Beauty’ and sowed  Arbutus undeo seeds and Plagianthu regius seeds.

Golden Hands

Golden Hands

After the lunch, we decided to go to Kawarau Gorge Mining Centre for Gold Hunting…  This centre is a part of Otago Goldfields park and looked after by Department of Conservation, New Zealand. This field is a 25 hector reserve covers an area ones known as Gee’s Flat. Ground  Sluicing was the major technique employed by the first miners on Gee’s Flat and because there was always  a shortage of water, the method continued to be used by the men forced in to mining by the long Depression of 1880-1900. In 1900s there were major changes happened and lot of new developments occurred here. 1930, they started to use crude metal nozzles attached to canvas hoses to washed down the deposits. During this time, lot of underground works also started here. Tunnels and shafts are the visible marks for this development. In 1969, miners used to panned off his concentrate and for the final time saw the gleam of Gee’s Flat Gold at the bottom of his dish. In 1981, Crown purchased the site and under the management of the Department of Lands and Survey.  It was developed as a demonstration site for Otago Gold Fields Park.


After gaining the entry, we went to all the parts of the Gold Field. It was noticeable that “Chinatown”, the colourful memory of the history of Central Otago. Lot of Chinese Gold seekers rushed to this place and made a contribution  in to the culture and welfare of the  of the country. The cottages, were constructed in 1991 for a film set reflects the type of cottage the Chinese miners lived in.  Things like Tunnels, two interconnected Dams, Modern Hard Rock display tunnel, Stamp Mill and Gurdy Wheel (impulse turn system) used for pumping water for washing off the mud are wonderful memories.

They have helped us through a briefing of the history of the site, different qualities of the Gold, different gold mining technologies and many other useful information. Then we  went to recreational area for Gold panning. It was a really really enjoyable moments to doing the Gold Panning. One pan ( One scope of gravel) is guaranteed a minimum one or two small flakes of  gold. Everybody got some pieces for the memory. Returned at 3.00 PM and ended the day with small flakes of Pure Gold.







Friday, 12th June :  Pruning

Third day of the Pruning Classes. Wayne King was waiting for us to start the class. I was keeping in mind that, there will be no practical for this day because of the bad weather. During the first one hour session, we  have covered details of the pruning systems like Cordon, Tatura Trellis, Lincoln Canopy, Ebro Espalier, A or Y Frame, Axis system. As soon as we  making a pruning cut, we kill some surface cells. Suddenly a mass of new cells are formed from the cambium layer  and these cells are called Callus. They repair the wounds. Pruning in winter stimulates new bud and shoot developments. But pruning in summer will not develop bud and shoot for deciduous trees. The Top bud of the tree called Apical Dominance and shoot vertically with very little side branches. They are very common in pipfruit and cherries. Removing this apical bud at planting will remove the habit to grow up and produce side branches early in the tree. A Hormone called “AUXIN” (Indole acetic acid- IAA) is responsible for this. This hormone commercially called Indole butyric acid (IBA).Strength is an important factor for a tree to carry leaves, fruits, water at the time of the irrigation etc.

Pruning young tree is important and relatively simple. It sets the style and growth habit for the future years.  During the first winter prune the tree at one meter above the ground. Select four fruiting arms  in this layer and train them  grow horizontal for increased fruit production. Remove all branches below this layer. Remove all fruits during next spring. Next winter redefine the first layer and make second layer nearly one meter above the first layer. Remove all dead, diseased and damaged branches and allow other branches grow horizontally.   Enjoy the first fruit on the  summer. After the Cup of Tea, we started the pruning and done some pruning in Apricot,  Plum and Peaches trees. I am confident that, with the help and training  of Wayne King and Trevor, I can be an expert in pruning soon. Real experience.


Saturday, 13th June :  Weekend work


Sunday, 14th June : One day course – Relating well in New Zealand.

For building a better relationships at work, at home and in the community, Relationship services – New Zealand Immigration Services has organised a training programme in our campus. It was a one day programme and started at 10.00 AM and ended at 4.30 PM. Counsellors named  Sonya Antonsen and Bradley Terry from Relationship services Otago office presented this programme.  It was really useful for understand more about New Zealand Culture, new Zealand People, Country’s history, words and phrases commonly used in the conversations, their expressions and many more.  It was an extended opportunity to develop  knowledge and skills about migrants settlement process.  Training programme included discussion, group presentations and expression of future vision of us  through a colourful drawing . At the end of the day, everybody has awarded to the Certificate of Attendance.  Thanks for Yvonne Fogarty, International Student Adviser – Otago Polytechnic and members of the Cromwell polytechnic for arranging this programme for us.