Damien O’Connor pays tribute to 2018 Biosecurity Awards winners

Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor has paid tribute to the winners of the 2018 New Zealand Biosecurity Awards.

He described them as the people and organisations who go above and beyond to protect the country from pests and diseases “to ensure our unique way of life is sustained for future generations”.

The New Zealand Biosecurity Supreme Award winner was Environment Southland for its Fiordland Marine Pathway Management Plan.

The Minister’s Biosecurity Award was won by Greg Corbett, Biosecurity Manager at the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

Mr O’Connor said:

“Greg has shown leadership from the grassroots up for over 35 years, protecting New Zealand’s farms, forests and waterways from animal pests since 1983.”

The winners are:

  • New Zealand Biosecurity Community Award – Pirongia Te Aroaro o Kahu Restoration Society
  • New Zealand Biosecurity Industry Award – Kiwifruit Vine Health
  • New Zealand Biosecurity Science Award – Scion: New Zealand Forest Research Institute
  • New Zealand Biosecurity Emerging Leader Award – Dr Amanda Black
  • New Zealand Biosecurity Māori Award – Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Te Rangi Iwi Trust
  • New Zealand Biosecurity Local and Central Government Award – Environment Southland
  • New Zealand Biosecurity Innovation Award – Jacson3 Limited
  • New Zealand Biosecurity Supreme Award – Environment Southland
  • Minister’s Biosecurity Award – Greg Corbett

Further detail is at www.mpi.govt.nz/biosecurityawards

Source:  Minister of Biosecurity


Plant & Food Research scientists recognised at Science New Zealand Awards

A leading materials scientist, an emerging kiwifruit scientist and a team that develops genetic markers to enable breeders to select elite seedlings, all from Plant & Food Research, were honoured at the Science New Zealand 2018 National Awards at Parliament in Wellington.

Dr Nigel Larsen, Principal Scientist, was presented with the Plant & Food Research Lifetime Achievement Award for his 35 years of contribution to the knowledge of food science and materials science in New Zealand and overseas.

In addition to co-founding the Biopolymer Network, a company that converts sustainable natural resources to biopolymers and biocomposite products, he has played significant leadership roles in numerous large multi-year, multi-agency research projects in food science.

Dr Larsen has led significant government-funded initiatives in collaboration with the New Zealand cereal industry to enhance the quality of the cereal-based consumer products that the industry produces. Most recently, he has been leading a multi-faceted strategy to lower the levels of proteins in foods made from New Zealand wheats that trigger coeliac disease. This involves projects across breeding, farming, milling and baking.

Dr Sarah Pilkington, scientist, received the Plant & Food Research Early Career Researcher Award for her impact on the kiwifruit industry. As an early-career researcher, she has already led a project that can save the industry millions of dollars in land and science resources a year.

Male kiwifruit vines are pollinisers that are non-fruiting. Her work allowing unproductive male vines to be eliminated from the breeding programme at an early stage using a universal molecular marker is highly valuable.

The Mapping & Markers Team*, formed in 1992, received the Plant & Food Research Team Award. The team’s work has cemented New Zealand’s position as the international leader in the development and application of molecular and genomic technologies to assist fruit breeders develop new varieties efficiently and in a targeted fashion.

Their DNA marker technologies help breeders select genetically elite individuals that carry “must have characteristics” desired by consumers and growers from populations of thousands of seedlings. These range from enhanced sustainability, improved resistance to pests and diseases, to fruit colour, flavour and texture, as well as female plants in kiwifruit and hops.

Current crops include apple, pear, hops, kiwifruit, raspberry, blueberry, summerfruit and, most recently, mānuka. Two of the original team members still contribute to team’s research today.

* Members of Mapping & Markers Team are Dr Sue Gardiner, Heather Bassett, Bev Breslin, Dr David Chagné, Dr Emily Buck, Deepa Bowatte, Dr Claudia Wiedow, Dr Chris Kirk, Dr Mareike Knaebel, Dr Jibran Tahir, Dr Elena Lopez-Girona, Dr Elena Hilario and the many past members who have contributed since 1992.

Science New Zealand represents the country’s seven Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) including Plant & Food Research. The annual awards recognise research excellence at each CRI.

Source: Plant & Food Research

High innovation honour for Lincoln Agritech at Canterbury business awards

Lincoln Agritech Ltd has been recognised for its cutting-edge innovations at the annual Canterbury Westpac Champion Business Awards.

The research and development company owned by Lincoln University won the Christchurch NZ Champion Innovation award, which honours businesses that have developed products, services or business model innovations to improve commercial performance, effectiveness or customer engagement.

Lincoln Agritech CEO Peter Barrowclough, expressing delight with the win, paid tribute to his organisation’s team of scientists and research engineers “who work hard to deliver leading-edge knowledge and technologies across the primary sector value chain.

One of Lincoln Agritech’s latest inventions is the HydroMetrics optical groundwater nitrate sensor. The sensor can be placed down wells to provide accurate real time nitrate monitoring in groundwater.

The HydroMetrics sensor, now commercialised and available for purchase, is priced at a third of the cost of international equivalents.

“This is disruptive technology which will help us monitor the environmental impact of NZ’s primary production systems,” Mr Barrowclough said.

“Our innovation stems from our unique combination of strategy, our people and culture, our collaborative  approach and our strong industry partnerships.,” he said.

“With just 55 staff we regularly punch above our weight when compared to NZ universities and Crown Research Institutes in the highly contested annual MBIE funding rounds.”

In the latest funding round, announced last week, the company was awarded $13 million for two five-year research programmes.

One programme aims to  further understand critical nitrate pathways into groundwater  and the other will assist medical professionals to diagnose bone and tissue damage using hand held non-contact novel technology.

Mr Barrowclough said Lincoln Agritech had experienced significant growth in revenue over the past five years.

Private sector research revenue has increased by almost 400% and revenue for Government-funded research has more than doubled. Repeat business for professional services was 90% in 2017.

Last year, Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Woodhead, won the prestigious Scott Medal for engineering science from the Royal Society Te Apārangi in recognition of the wide range of sensors he has developed for the agricultural and environmental sectors.

Lincoln Agritech is wholly owned by Lincoln University, with an independent board of directors.

Source:  Lincoln Agritech  

Commission for Agricultural Meteorology gives award for exceptional service to Dr Salinger



The Award for Exceptional Service has been given to Dr Jim Salinger for outstanding contributions and exceptional service to the Commission for Agricultural Meteorology (CAgM) of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

“Very few people receive this award so I am very honoured,” Jim told AgScience.

The commission’s role is to provide guidance in the field of agricultural meteorology by studying and reviewing available science and technology; to propose international standards for methods and procedures; to provide a forum for the examination and resolution of relevant scientific and technical issues; to promote training and the transfer of knowledge and methodologies, including the results of research, between WMO members; and to promote international cooperation.

Jim has been a member of the commission and New Zealand’s principal delegate from 1986 – 2010, and has been a member since, totalling 32 years.

During that period he chaired several CAgM working groups and expert teams, was its vice president for eight years, and was its ninth president from 2006 – 2010.  Subsequently he has chaired a task team.

“So as well as guiding the policy and work plan of CAgM for member states, I have produced many publications,” Jim said.

The most significant ones are listed below.

His next task is to provide an update of Climate Variability, Agriculture and Forestry.


Technical Note No. 196, 1994: Climate Variability, Agriculture and Forestry. Report of the CAgM-IX Working Group on the Study of Climate Effects on Agriculture including Forests and of the Effects of Agriculture and Forest on Climate, WMO-No. 802, 152 pp.

Technical Note No. 199, 1997: Climate Variability, Agriculture and Forestry: An Update, Salinger, M.J., Desjardins, R., Jones, M.B., Sivakumar, M.V.K., Strommen, N.D., Veerasamy, S. and Lianhai, W., WMO-No. 841, 51 pp.

Technical Note No. 200, 2000: Climate Variability, Agriculture and Forestry: Towards Sustainability, Salinger, M.J., Desjardins, R.L., Janzen, H., Karing, P,H., Veerasamy, S. and Zipoli, G., WMO-No. 928, 41 pp.

Salinger, M.J., Sivakumar, M.V.K. and Motha, R. (eds). Increasing Climate Variability and Change: Reducing the vulnerability of agriculture and forestry. Springer, Dordrecht, 362 pp. 2005.

Salinger, M.J. (ed). Climate and Oceanic Fisheries. July 2013. Special issue of Climatic Change.

Science category included in 2018 NZ Biosecurity Awards

Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor has announced the opening of nominations for New Zealand Biosecurity Awards, to celebrate the people who help to keep New Zealand’s flora, fauna and vital primary sectors.

His remarks can be viewed and heard HERE. 

The awards were launched last year with six categories.  Three new categories have been added this year – Emerging Leader, Innovation and Science awards.

Entrants might be innovators, scientists, communities, or leaders – anyone who has taken an active interest in the continuous improvement of New Zealand’s biosecurity system, Mr O’Connor said.

“The awards are a way to thank and shine a light on people and organisations who are protecting Aotearoa – in our communities, businesses, science organisations, iwi and hapū, and central and local government.

“Biosecurity is our number one challenge because it is critical to our economic base and way of life. Recent reports show that only 2 per cent of Kiwis feel a biosecurity breach would affect their lives – I think this level of awareness is changing and there’s a growing understanding that every New Zealander has personal responsibility for ensuring we maintain a resilient and strong biosecurity system.”

Finalists will be announced on Friday 12 October and winners named on Monday 12 November at an awards dinner in Auckland.

Entries are open until 31 August.

The award categories are:

  • New Zealand Biosecurity Community Award
  • New Zealand Biosecurity Industry Award
  • New Zealand Biosecurity Science Award
  • New Zealand Biosecurity Emerging Leader Award
  • New Zealand Biosecurity Supreme Award
  • New Zealand Biosecurity Māori Award
  • New Zealand Biosecurity Local and Central Government Award
  • New Zealand Biosecurity Innovation Award
  • Minister’s Biosecurity Award

You can find out more HERE.

Source:  Minister of Biosecurity

Massey professor becomes first NZ recipient of international dairy award

Massey University Distinguished Professor Harjinder Singh has become the first New Zealander to receive the 2018 American Dairy Science Association Distinguished Service Award.

The Riddet Institute director received the award during a ceremony at the American Dairy Science Association (ADSA) annual meeting in Knoxville, Tennessee. The award recognises unusually outstanding and consistent contributions to the welfare of the dairy industry.

Professor Singh is a world-renowned food scientist and a major figure in the development of dairy science research.

His contributions to dairy science in the United States have been recognised previously by ADSA through other prestigious awards – the International Dairy Foods Association Research Award in Dairy Foods in 2015 and the Marschall Rhodia International Dairy Science Award in 2001. In 2008, he was awarded the William Haines Dairy Science Award by the California Dairy Research Foundation.

Professor Singh’s research has had a major international impact, both in the dairy industry and academic community.

He has published more than 350 peer-reviewed papers in international journals and has mentored over 60 PhD students and postdoctoral researchers. He has also shown great skill as a leader, both in his role leading Riddet Institute, but also heading the School of Food and Nutrition, and the Massey Institute of Food Science and Technology from 2015-17.

Source: Massey University

New animal welfare award and grant launched

The National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC) has launched the Aotearoa New Zealand Three Rs Awards.

The new awards, which aim to celebrate achievement in the development and implementation of the Three Rs, include a $50,000 research grant. The grant will provide funding for research specifically targeted at developing ways to replace, reduce, or refine the use of animals in research, testing, and teaching.

Chair Grant Shackell says NAEAC expects the awards to actively encourage innovation around the Three Rs.

“The Three Rs are guiding principles for ethical use of animals in research, testing, and teaching,” says Mr Shackell.

“The concept of the Three Rs is to replace and reduce the number of animals used in research, testing, and teaching, and refine experimental techniques to minimise pain or distress.’

NAEAC is targeting the discovery or implementation of scientific knowledge, methodologies and or technologies that enhance Three Rs principles.

There will be two awards, to be made every two years. The first award, of $5,000, will be given to an individual, group, or institution within New Zealand that shows significant commitment to implementing the principles of the Three Rs.

The second award will provide a $50,000 research grant to an individual, group, or institution within New Zealand to underpin a research project that specifically targets at least one of the Three Rs principles.

The first awards will be presented in November.

The awards are funded by AgResearch Ltd, The Australian and New Zealand Council for the Care of Animals in Research and Teaching (ANZCCART), Lincoln University, Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, Massey University, University of Otago, and Victoria University of Wellington.

The scope of the awards will not be limited to animal researchers and organisations operating under a code of ethical conduct.  Applications from New Zealand institutions or companies that are outside the animal-based research community, but can demonstrate a role in developing or implementing the principles of the Three Rs, will be considered.

Applications forms and terms of reference can be found HERE. 

Source:  Ministry for Primary Industries