Massive jump in R&D off back of Government investment

The Government’s level of investment in research and development is paying off with new figures out today showing total expenditure in R&D hit record levels last year and has increased by 67 per cent since 2016.

Total R&D expenditure reached over five billion dollars in 2022, covering the business, government, and higher education sectors. Government investment has increased by $2.11 billion since taking office.

“The Government’s focus on R&D as a key driver of our economic growth is paying dividends,” Minister of Research Science and Innovation Hon Dr Ayesha Verrall said. Continue reading

$1 billion in research and development supported through tax incentive

The Research and Development Tax Incentive is supporting more tan $1 billion in research and development activity in New Zealand,, Research, Science and Innovation Minister Ayesha Verrall announced today.

She described the tax incentive as a part of a wider economic strategy to help improve the well-being and living standards of New Zealanders through better productivity, sustainability and inclusive growth.

She did not provide enough information to allow AgScience to gauge if agricultural and horticultural science is getting a fair share of the investment encouraged by the incentive.

But she did give the country’s aerospace industry a special mention. Continue reading

B+LNZ to exit its Lanercost Future Farm after reviewing priorities

After reviewing current and future priorities, Beef + Lamb New Zealand has decided to exit Lanercost, its hill country Future Farm next March.

B+LNZ’s General Manager Farm Excellence, Dan Brier, says the decision to end the lease on the North Canterbury property was made after consulting with the B+LNZ Board, the local Farmer Council and its national executive.

He says much has changed since 2018 when B+LNZ acquired the lease on Lanercost and B+LNZ must ensure its priorities align with those of its levy payers. Continue reading

Government targets innovation-led growth to turbo-charge business potential

Hundreds of New Zealand companies are set to benefit from the launch of two new grants aimed at fuelling firms that want to innovate, Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods said today.

The $250 million investment over the next four years was a sign of her commitment to some of New Zealand’s brightest businesses, and to turning great ideas into building a higher-value, more sustainable economy, Dr Woods said.

“I want to turbo-charge all the tremendous potential I see in our business ecosystem, by introducing grants to help out with the high costs and steep learning curves associated with R&D, and to provide an on-ramp to our existing R&D Tax Incentive. Continue reading

R & D opportunities open as Govt helps fast-track organic medicinal cannabis industry

The Government has partnered with the country’s largest and only organic certified medicinal cannabis grower to accelerate the growth of the industry.

This support could enable it to become as successful as our wine industry in the near future, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said.

His announcement highlighted three points, including the research and development opportunities:

      • Government supports the industry to follow in the footsteps of the $2bn wine industry;
      • It will provide an economic boost for regional economies amid an export boom;
      • It will provide jobs in research and development, cultivation, business development, construction and facilities management.

“Now is the perfect time to grow this high-value industry, as international demand for medicinal cannabis takes off while New Zealand is amid an export boom,”  Damien O’Connor said.

“The $32.2 million joint project will further support the country’s economic recovery from COVID-19, providing jobs and growth in our regional economies.” Continue reading

Almonds – a new high-value nut for researchers to crack

The Ministry for Primary Industries is making no secret of its supporting a nutty idea.  It is investing $67,000 in a Plant and Food Research feasibility study to determine if almonds can be grown sustainably in Hawke’s Bay.

The project has backing from central and local government, alongside Picot Productions Limited, producers of the Pic’s brand nut spreads.

“We’re already supporting peanut growing trials in Northland – now it’s almonds’ turn,” says Steve Penno, Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI’s) director of investment programmes. 

“The first step is to see whether we can successfully produce almonds with a low carbon footprint at scale and for a competitive price in New Zealand.”

MPI’s $67,000 investment in the $100,000 project is being made through the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund

Plant and Food Research business manager Declan Graham said the goal is to provide diversification opportunities for local dry stock farmers rather than trying to replicate the large-scale almond monocrop system of California. Continue reading

Successful funding bids set to identify kiwifruit plant stress and optimise forestry yield

Scientists from Tauranga’s PlantTech Research Institute are celebrating their involvement in two successful funding bids to the Ministry for Business, Innovation & Employment’s (MBIE) Endeavour Fund, New Zealand’s largest contestable research fund.

In this year’s round of funding, 69 new scientific research projects were awarded more than $244 million.

Tauranga headquartered PlantTech Research Institute is leading a two-year international project, that will use airborne remote sensors to discover what is causing plant stress in kiwifruit orchards, thanks to a successful bid for $1 million.

Another MBIE-funded project, led by Scion, Seeing the forest for the treestransforming tree phenotyping for future forests, involves using PlantTech’s capability in hyperspectral imagery analysis to support research that will identify the best genotype to plant in different environments for commercial production and indigenous uses. Continue reading

New water-saving technology has big impact on world stage

Lincoln Agritech has signed a licensing agreement with an Israeli company, Autonomous Pivot, for a cutting-edge new water-saving technology.

Developed by a team of scientists at the Lincoln University-owned research and development company, the technology allows farmers to see actual soil moisture in any part of a field in real time and save water without the loss of yield associated with traditional irrigation practices.

Trials have shown water savings of 25%.

“Traditional soil moisture sensors have to be buried in one position in a field, but our non-invasive, ground-penetrating radar measures soil moisture from a centre pivot irrigator,” said Lincoln Agritech CEO Peter Barrowclough. Continue reading

Voting on levy (and on research) is about to get under way in B+LNZ’s referendum

Voting packs for the 2021 sheepmeat and beef levy referendum will arrive in farmers’ mail boxes from Tuesday 1 June.

Beef +Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) is funded and directed by farmers via the levies, which are  paid on all sheep, beef and dairy cattle processed in New Zealand.

Under the Commodity Levies Act 1990, B+LNZ must ask sheepmeat and beef producers (including dairy farmers through their cull cows) if they want to continue funding activities and programmes for a six-year period.

The rates of sheepmeat and beef levies for the levy years commencing 1 October 2019 and 1 October 2020 were 70 cents per head for sheepmeat and $5.20 per head for beef.

B+LNZ’s chairman, Andrew Morrison, says voting runs until 9 July.  He strongly encourages farmers to have their say about the future of their levy-funded organisation.

Ag scientists have good reason to keep an eye on what is happening.

Research, market access and market promotion are among the activities funded by the levy. Continue reading

Good news for horticulture: govt is ploughing $8m into research to develop leaf protein concentrate

Damien  O’Connor, the  minister  who earlier this year distinguished himself   by  telling  the Australian  government to  show  more “respect” in its  dealings  with  China, has  at  last won a  battle in  Cabinet. He  got  his  colleagues,  some of  whom are always reluctant to do  anything to help the country’s primary industries and  farmers, to  agree  to  support a new programme to lead New Zealand’s plant protein sector development.

The government is partnering with Lincoln-based  Leaft Foods on a $20m research and development programme that could put NZ on the map as a leading leaf protein concentrate producer.

Through its Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures fund, the Ministry for Primary Industries is contributing $8m to the five-year programme to develop technology that extracts edible protein from NZ grown green leafy crops.

Leaft Foods’ technology will be used to produce high-quality protein in the form of gels or powders that can be used in a range of foods in the fast-growing global market for plant proteins.

The plant-based protein start-up will also produce an animal feed that is optimised for ruminant nutrition and has the potential to lower nitrogen losses and emissions on-farm: a  vital  step in  the  battle  against  global warming. O’Connor  says a growing number of global food manufacturers and consumers are demanding that their proteins come from a sustainable source. Continue reading