October 2019 newsletter
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Research to uncover crucial knowledge on braided rivers

A new five-year research programme is aiming to help regional councils manage their water resources and meet the Government’s freshwater quality standards by 2025. 

Lincoln Agritech Ltd has been awarded almost $8m in New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) funding for the research programme, which will provide the first accurate information about how much water is lost from braided rivers into groundwater. 

“Braided rivers are unusual worldwide, but very important in New Zealand because of their provision of natural habitat, sources of agricultural and drinking water, and their recreational use,” said Programme Lead Scott Wilson, Lincoln Agritech Hydrogeologist.

“Regional councils currently set water limits and identify management plans for braided rivers without knowing how much water is lost as rivers traverse their alluvial plans. The impact on groundwater recharge and river flow during dry periods is also unknown.”

The programme will deliver new knowledge regarding the Selwyn/Waikirikiri, Wairau and Ngaruroro rivers, along with models allowing councils to estimate water loss from any part of any braided river. It will also quantify the environmental and economic benefits of different river management strategies. 

“Our research will help regional councils to enact policy with defensible freshwater quality and quantity standards to meet the Government’s National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management (NPS-FM) requirements by 2025,” he said. “It will also ensure that society’s competing needs for water can be met in the best way possible.

“Our new understanding will help manage the trade-off between environmental and economic benefits, ensuring that rivers can continue to have a role in agriculture, while providing high-quality drinking water, recreational activities and important native habitat.”

The multidisciplinary research team includes experts from Lincoln Agritech Ltd, as well as NIWA, Lincoln University and its Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit (AERU), University of Canterbury - Waterways Centre for Freshwater Management, Flinders University (Australia), Technische Universität Dresden (Germany) and Aarhus University (Denmark).

The team has the required range of skills in field data collection, hydrological modelling and cost benefit analysis to make this a major step forward in understanding New Zealand’s braided rivers. 

Seeking environmental water quality researchers 

We are looking for environmental water quality researchers to join the Lincoln Agritech team.

We have three newly created roles and are seeking a Geophysicist, Modelling Scientist, and Environmental Monitoring Technician.

 If you wish to apply, click here for the job and position descriptions

Lincoln University to remain an independent institution

From Professor Bruce McKenzie, Lincoln University Acting Vice-Chancellor

The Lincoln senior management team welcomes the Government’s decision not to proceed with a proposed formal partnership between Lincoln University and the University of Canterbury (UC). It is a vote of confidence in Lincoln and shows a strong commitment to the land-based sectors.

The news offers certainty about their future direction and means the university can retain its independence while continuing to collaborate with UC and other organisations. Their unique culture, identity and brand are significant strengths as they continue with their mission to deliver the best possible teaching and research outcomes for the benefit of New Zealand.

A working group that was formed with UC during partnership discussions will continue to operate, with the aim of developing further joint programmes.

They are excited to move forward in the knowledge that the University will remain an independent institution. We hope you will join us in celebrating this news.

Lincoln Agritech attends the 2019 New Zealand Agritech Summit in California

Lincoln Agritech staff members, Peter Barrowclough (CEO) and Dr Armin Werner (Group Manager for Precision Agriculture), travelled to California in June to attend the 2019 New Zealand Agritech Summit hosted by Callaghan Innovation and Agritech New Zealand; they also visited a number of agricultural robotics companies. 

The 2019 New Zealand Agritech Summit participants included individuals from AgResearch, Agritech New Zealand, Auckland UniServices and University of Auckland, Callaghan Innovation, CR Automation, GPS IT, Massey University, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), Plant and Food Research, PlantTech Research Institute, Robotics Plus, TracMap, University of Waikato, and Zespri. 

The New Zealand delegation spent the first few days meeting representatives from several major USA grower associations to understand the current challenges faced by the industry such as rising costs and lack of labour. They discussed how technological developments such as robotics, automation and sensing technologies can help the agricultural industry. As well as field trips to visit growers on farm, the New Zealand delegation attended the Forbes 2019 Agtech Summit in Salinas, California.

Peter Barrowclough and Armin Werner relished their time networking with like-minded New Zealand and American counterparts and were pleasantly surprised by the calibre and seniority of attendees at the Forbes Summit. 

Overall the trip was a great success. Some ‘take home messages’ were: a) everyone is using artificial intelligence and it is regarded as mainstream technology; b) weeding robots are likely to be the first on the market; and c) New Zealanders are just as talented as Americans in designing agricultural robots.
Lincoln Agritech welcomes Tina von Pein 

Tina has more than 30 years of experience in education delivery, facilitation, and project management. She has worked for local and central government programmes and privately and publically funded projects. Her experience provides a broad base of skills, knowledge and contacts.

Tina is project managing several of Lincoln Agritech’s large multi-year science programmes including:
  • Subsurface processes in braided rivers (Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) research programme)
  • Grape yield analyser (MBIE research programme)
  • Robotic Spearhead project (National Science Challenge)
  • Human Assist/ Maara Tech (University of Auckland subcontract, MBIE research programme)
  • Optical sensors for dairy pastures (Sustainable Farming Fund project, Ministry for Primary Industries)
Tina is based at our Lincoln offices and can be contacted on:
(p): +64 3 325 3795
(m): +64 27 201 1000
Sophie Rebbeck appointed to the Agritech NZ Executive Council

Sophie Rebbeck, Business Development and Marketing Group Manager, has been appointed to the Agritech New Zealand Executive Council.  This follows  her success in being inducted onto the Precision Agriculture Association of New Zealand (PAANZ) committee earlier this year.

Agritech New Zealand was formed to highlight sector alignment in attracting funding, raising government support, and developing export opportunities for New Zealand’s agritech sector. By contrast, PAANZ advocates and supports the on-farm adoption of new precision agriculture technology in land-based primary production systems.  

The Agritech New Zealand Council has board representatives from Agritech New Zealand, PAANZ, New Zealand Tech, Callaghan Innovation, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Blinc Innovation, the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund, Spark New Zealand, Sprout Accelerator, Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC), Farmlands, Fonterra, Gallagher and Tech Future Labs.

IRRICADTM workshops in Israel

Jo Vivier, IRRICADTM Consultant, travelled to Israel to teach a three day IRRICADTM training workshop. The session covered the basics from learning how to use the software through to creating advanced irrigation designs. Although this session was held in the Middle East, several workshop participants travelled from New Zealand, India and Brazil to attend.

Jo Vivier talks to us about her latest business trip and adventures in the Middle East.

[Lincoln Agritech]: Tell us about your experience in Israel – how long did you go for and what was the aim of your trip?
The aim of my trip was to teach beginners how to use IRRICADTM software as well as upskilling current users. The workshop attendees flew in from variety of continents and all of them were from an internationally renowned irrigation manufacturing company. I was fortunate to spend a week in Israel and managed to squeeze in some sightseeing trips in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem before travelling to Nazareth for the training workshop.
What impressed you the most?
It felt incredible visiting famous sites that I have read about, and walking where prominent historical figures have been. I visited the Mount of Olives, Kidron Valley and touched the walls of Jerusalem.

I was impressed with Israel’s history and found it fascinating how recent generations have built new settlements in, around, and on top of the foundations of old buildings. At the archaeological dig sites, you can visibly see all the layers of civilisation.
What did you learn on your trip?
A kibbutz is unique to Israel and is a rural cooperative or collective farm that has its roots based in the agricultural sector. In 2010, there were 270 kibbutzim that generated 40% of agricultural output worth over $1.7 billion.

All irrigation manufacturers in Israel are kibbutz owned and run.  As the training took place at the manufacturing plant on the kibbutz I was able to tour the kibbutz and it was very interesting. It gave me an insight into Israeli culture and way of the kibbutz communal life. 

Israel is well-known for its very successful desert agriculture and is known as “the land flowing with milk and honey”. The area around Nazareth does indeed look like that. It was the middle of winter when I visited and it was beautifully green and full of growing crops
Would you go again?
Yes, I would love to return to Israel to reconnect with the irrigation designers, teach more IRRICADTM workshops, and go sightseeing. There is so much to see and do!

Lincoln Agritech researchers present and discuss research in Denmark

Staff members from Lincoln Agritech’s environmental team, Dr Roland Stenger (Principal Scientist) and Scott Wilson (Hydrogeologist), recently travelled to Denmark to give several oral and poster presentations at the international Land Use and Water Quality (LuWQ) 2019 conference and hold a knowledge exchange workshop with their Danish research programme collaborators.

Lincoln Agritech is leading the Critical Pathways Programme (CPP), a five-year research programme funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), to elucidate the relatively shallow and short pathways operating at the sub-catchment scale, and to represent them in water flow and contaminant transfer models. 

Our staff met with researchers from the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS) and the HydroGeophysics Group (HGG) from Aarhus University. The Danish collaborators are assisting Lincoln Agritech with the acquisition, quality control, and interpretation of geophysical data. The newly gained information will enable us to adequately model water and contaminant fluxes in the shallow subsurface environment (upper 20m below the ground surface) at two Waikato catchments; specifically, the Waiotapu Stream catchment and Piako River headwater catchment.

The group discussed research subjects ranging from airborne geophysical surveys to groundwater redox chemistry. In addition to sharing their latest findings, the Danish hosts took the New Zealand team to see some of their field sites. 

Overall the Europe trip was a great success and the CPP team looks forward to hosting their Danish collaborators in New Zealand in 2021.

Out and about

Lincoln Agritech staff have been busy networking over the past few months; here are some shots from industry events that we have participated in.
Dr Blair Miller (Group Manager of Environmental Research) joined the two week New Zealand Agritech Mission to the UK and Ireland in September. The delegation, pictured here, are at Harper Adam's University's Hands-Free Hectare Farm where they use fully automated machines to grow arable crops.
Lincoln Agritech colleagues Dean Williamson (Business Development Manager) (pictured on the left) along with Dr Scott Post (Chemical Applications, Research and Training Manager) and Dr Armin Werner (Group Manager of Precision Agriculture), were excited to be at the New Zealand Winegrowers and Bragato Research Institute National Conference in Hawke's Bay to learn more about NZ wine industry's latest research, market trends and topics facing the industry. 
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