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March 2018 Newsletter
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Photos from Antarctica (left to right): Dr Adrian Tan tests his survival skills in the safety induction programme; measuring the snow depth of sea ice using a UAV; Scott Base with pressure ridges and basking seals in the background.

Lincoln Agritech in Antarctica


Lincoln Agritech’s Sensing Technologies team has been assisting the University of Canterbury with a subcontract delivering to the Deep South National Science Challenge. Using 4D drones to monitor cloud and snow formation, the project aims to enhance our understanding of weather systems and processes underlying climate change.

Working alongside glaciologist, Dr Wolfgang Rack, and his University of Canterbury team, Lincoln Agritech scientists and engineers have designed and built three sets of microwave sensors to measure snow depth over sea ice in Antarctica. 

Late last year, Lincoln Agritech Research Scientist, Dr Adrian Tan, travelled to Antarctica to equip a University of Canterbury drone with the snow depth radar and to assist in the first series of field trials. We talk to Adrian about his experiences in the Deep South.

[Lincoln Agritech]: Tell us about your experience in Antarctica – how long did you go for and what did you do?
[Adrian Tan]: I was stationed at Scott Base New Zealand from the 9th to 28th November. Located at the southern tip of Ross Island, we had access to the Ross ice shelf and the sea ice at McMurdo Sound. 

We conducted daily trips to locations on the sea ice around the ‘pressure ridges’ (located near Scott Base) and specific waypoints at McMurdo Sound to trial our UAV snow depth radar in surveying snow depths on sea ice. We accessed these locations using a track vehicle called a ‘Hagglund’. A Hagglund is a specialised vehicle able to traverse the rugged terrain found in Antarctica. Its heavy duty tracks and engines allow it to handle the many ridges, crevices and deep snow that would otherwise stall a non-tracked vehicle. 

At the time of our survey, the locations were still frozen – perfect for field work. In the warmer summer months - from December onwards - the sea ice melts and becomes an open sea. 

What was your induction programme like? We heard you built an ice wall.
There were just two members in my induction programme. The programme taught and equipped us with important safety skills required to conduct our experiments in Antarctica and survive in emergencies. After our training, we were expected to be fully prepared for unforeseen circumstances and scenarios that could happen while we were on field expeditions.

One of the fun aspects of the induction programme was the overnight camp where we built a snow wall. Snow walls are important as they protect campsites and tents from being inundated with blown snow, something that happens regularly at Scott Base. When there is a larger group on the induction programme, the participants get to build an igloo.   

Part of your field work was delayed by snow storms and drifts, what did you do on those days?
Snow storms happen frequently, which in hindsight shouldn’t have surprised me! These storms come with 100 km/h winds, blowing snow and generating poor visibility (a few meters). Conditions are categorised according to the severity of the storms and this determined whether we were allowed outside of Scott Base. About half the time we were there field expeditions were delayed due to storms.

While these storms blew through we waited at the Base and spent time completing unfinished work, preparing for a quick deployment once the storm was over, and engaging in indoor activities such as reading, watching movies, gym / yoga sessions, playing games etc.

During your trip, many researchers were residing at Scott Base. What was that like?
The capacity of Scott Base is about 100 people. At one point there were more than 100 personnel at the Base due to delays of inbound and outbound flights to Christchurch. Living conditions were cramped but comfortable. Naturally, resource conservation is a big concern at Scott Base due to the difficulty in obtaining supplies such as food, water, fuel and electricity. Luckily, the researchers and staff at Scott Base are friendly and easy going.

Was it difficult doing field work in Antarctica? How did your trials go and were they a success?  
Doing field work in Antarctica required a lot of training, endurance and tolerance, as well as the ability to operate calmly when things go wrong. I was lucky to have been guided and supported by my University of Canterbury team members and the talented staff at Scott Base.

The trials were a success and we were able to successfully deploy the snow radar.

The primary snow measurement objective was achieved - we successfully conducted snow mapping at a height of 15m with a cruising speed of 2m/s.

This method of assessing snow depth is considerably cheaper and faster than the traditional method of drilling core holes in the ice - a 2km transect can be flown in 30 minutes. Most importantly, it will greatly increase the amount of data that can be generated from measuring the changing depth of snow, aiding aid our understanding of climate change.

Workforce robots on the horizon


Primary sector and manufacturing employees may find themselves with some interesting new colleagues in the next few years as researchers develop robots that can be trained to work alongside people in factories and the great outdoors.  

A two-year, $2m project funded by the Science for Technological Innovation National Science Challenge Board is examining how next-generation robots can work with humans in a safe and flexible manner. 

Researchers will focus on developing robots to work in small-scale manufacturing and unforgiving outdoor environments. 

Such technology could become a global specialty of New Zealand robotics businesses, with great export opportunities and long-term solutions for the country’s economic needs. 

The interdisciplinary research programme involves robotics experts from Lincoln Agritech and Scion, as well as researchers and PhD students from the universities of Auckland, Canterbury, Massey, Otago, Victoria and Waikato.

The programme is laying the groundwork for follow-up projects over the next few years that will focus on making New Zealand a competitive country for the production and use of robots in small-scale, flexible manufacturing businesses and challenging environments such as those found in agriculture and forestry. 

“We will advance the science required for a new generation of industrial robotic solutions,” says Dr Armin Werner, Lincoln Agritech Group Manager in Precision Agriculture.

“These robots can provide enormous benefits to the primary and manufacturing sectors. Both industries require fast adaptation to different products and markets, and constant responsiveness to changing outdoor environments. 

“The robots can assist with complex tasks such as pruning tree or vine crops, safely felling trees on steep slopes or assembling small batches of appliances on demand.”  

To develop the technology, researchers will investigate how sensors and artificial intelligence can allow robots to perceive and understand their surroundings, flexibly handle new situations through learning or training by humans or other robots, and work in challenging environments.  

All the while, the robots will work collaboratively with humans, behaving safely around both people and animals. 

“The robots will be adaptable and create new solutions for the often small-scale and highly flexible production environment in New Zealand and many other comparable regions in the world,” says Dr Werner. “The targeted innovation represents a major shift from the notion of isolated robots solving single tasks.” 

The technology is expected to help the country’s industries thrive globally and create an international hub for innovative robotics development.
 
To ensure industry-informed science, project coordinators Dr Werner, Associate Professor Will Browne of Victoria University of Wellington, and Associate Professor Johan Potgieter of Massey University, will work closely with an industry advisory group that includes robot manufacturers, food and manufacturing industries, Māori businesses and Government funding agencies. 
Lincoln Agritech inks IRRICAD™ distribution partnership with Netafim in China 
 
Left to right: Stephan Titze, Head of the APAC Division and the China Chairman of Netafim signs the IRRICAD Chinese exclusive distribution agreement with Peter Barrowclough, Lincoln Agritech CEO.
 
Lincoln Agritech has signed an exclusive distribution agreement with Netafim (Guangzhou) Agricultural Technology Co Ltd in China. The subsidiary is owned by Israeli firm, Netafim, a global leader in smart drip and micro-irrigation solutions. The Guangzhou company will distribute and support Lincoln Agritech’s irrigation design software, IRRICAD™, in the Chinese market.

This agreement comes on the back of a ten-year relationship between Lincoln Agritech and Netafim, which has seen Netafim switch to using IRRICAD™ in their global offices. The agreement is aimed at strengthening Lincoln Agritech’s presence in the emerging Chinese market, where increasing investment in irrigation has been largely driven by government policy towards efficient irrigation in agricultural production.  

“We are confident that our newly established distribution partnership with Netafim will deliver more efficient use of irrigation water to Chinese farmers through improved design and equipment choices. IRRICAD™ is sold in over 80 countries and is recognised as the leading irrigation design software, worldwide. It is available in Mandarin and will help Chinese farmers and the Chinese government manage their water resources more efficiently. That is good for the Chinese people and is good for the planet.” said Peter Barrowclough, Lincoln Agritech CEO. 

He emphasised that the sheer size of China’s irrigation market potential, which shows rising demand for advanced irrigation design and equipment, aligns well with Lincoln Agritech’s growth strategy. IRRICAD™ is a premium and integrated solution for irrigation designers worldwide. It is expected to have a large customer base among Chinese institutions that specialise in irrigation design, including government design institutes, universities and irrigation supply companies. 

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise has provided significant support to Lincoln Agritech in growing the Chinese market’s awareness of IRRICAD™, both in the public and private sectors. 

For more information about IRRICAD™, click here.
Lincoln Agritech welcomes Mike Friedel



Michael recently joined Lincoln Agritech as a Data Analytics Science Leader. He has expertise in using “big data” and computationally-intelligent workflows to characterise and predict the effects of natural and human pressures on, and feedback from,  the atmosphere, biosphere, geosphere, and hydrosphere across spatiotemporal scales.

Michael’s 30 years of experience has seen him working in both research and consulting sectors at a variety of companies and he has taught at academic institutions including GNS Science, US Geological Survey, US Bureau of Mines, Victoria University of Wellington, and University of Colorado. His profession and lectureship roles have led Michael to many countries, including Brazil, China, El Salvador and Finland.

Michael is a member of the American Geophysical Union and the European Geosciences Union.

His research areas include:
  • Recognising signals within natural variability 
  • Defining mass flux and energy balance in natural and constructed systems 
  • Identifying feedback between natural and perturbed systems 
  • Determining proxies for biodiversity and ecosystem health
  • Quantifying consequences, effects, uncertainty and risk
Michael is based in our Hamilton office. You can contact him on:
(p) 07 858 4845
(e) michael.friedel@lincolnagritech.co.nz
See you at Fieldays

Lincoln Agritech will be exhibiting alongside Lincoln University at the National Agricultural Fieldays in Hamilton. Held from the 13th to 16th of June, we will be located at site E28. We look forward to seeing you there.
Happy Easter!

We wish you and your family a happy and safe Easter break.
Lincoln Agritech welcomes Dean Williamson



Dean grew up on a high country sheep and beef farm in West Otago and spent his career working in primary and manufacturing industries, including the forestry, seafood and packaging markets. 

He has over 25 years of experience in international sales and marketing. His previous roles include being the General Manager for a large Christchurch-based manufacturing facility that exported 85% of its products worldwide; and independently establishing two successful import/export businesses in the engineering and healthcare sectors. Having since sold one of his businesses, Dean returned to his primary sector roots to concentrate on business development and consulting.

Dean is involved in client management, strategic planning and growth of IRRICAD’s international markets.

Dean is based in our Lincoln office. You can contact him on:
(p) 03 325 3706
(e) dean.williamson@lincolnagritech.co.nz
Lincoln Agritech welcomes Zheng (James) Wang

Zheng (also known as James) grew up in the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) precinct surrounded by the Beijing science community.

He has a background in journalism, specialising in agri-technologies. His academic qualifications include a Bachelor of Arts from the Beijing Foreign Study University, China and a Master of Management in Agribusiness from Lincoln University, New Zealand.

Prior to joining Lincoln Agritech, he held several key roles in agribusiness media and consultancy groups including: Senior China Correspondent for Asian Agribusiness Media in Singapore, Marketing Specialist for Holstein Farmer Magazine in China, and freelancing as an Agribusiness Consultant for NZX Agri in New Zealand.  

Zheng is familiar with Asian international markets and has bilingual fluency in both Chinese and English. At Lincoln Agritech, he is primarily involved with IRRICAD™, responsible for customer growth, and technical sales and training in the China region. Zheng also supports the business development team to secure contract research and development projects.

Zheng is based in our Lincoln office. You can contact him on:
(p) 03 325 3704
(e) zheng.wang@lincolnagritech.co.nz
Lincoln Agritech welcomes Amy Cruickshank



Amy has joined Lincoln Agritech’s New Materials Group as a postdoctoral scientist to research new uses for wool. She has a strong interest in chemistry and materials science and has experience working in both academic and commercial environments.

Amy has a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Canterbury. Her doctoral research focussed on developing alternative electrochemical approaches to process industrial wool that has lower impact on the environment than conventional chemical methods. Her work was co-sponsored by Canesis Network Ltd and AgResearch Ltd. 

After completing her PhD studies, Amy moved to the United Kingdom and worked as a postdoctoral scientist at Imperial College London for four years where she researched the electrodeposition of zinc oxide nanostructures on molecular thin films for photovoltaic applications. 

Since returning to New Zealand, she has worked for several start-up technology companies, including ArcActive Ltd, a company engineering a new electrode for lead-acid batteries for micro-hybrid vehicles, and CertusBio Ltd, where she worked on developing lactose biosensors.

At Lincoln Agritech, Amy looks forward to developing new skills and contributing to the New Materials Group.

Amy is based in our Lincoln office. You can contact her on:
(p) 03 325 3733
(e) amy.cruickshank@lincolnagritech.co.nz 

HydroMetrics is now online!

Lincoln Agritech has developed a low-cost sensor capable of measuring the concentration of nitrates in groundwater via monitoring wells. To learn more about the product and its specifications, visit our newly created website at www.hydrometrics.co.nz.
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