Sundar helps change Nepalese agriculture

PhD student Sundar Tiwari’s PhD research is helping to change the face of Nepalese agriculture.

Sundar, who comes from a rural Nepalese village, did his BSc and MSc in agricultural entomology at Tribhubhan University, Nepal. He works as an assistant professor at the Nepal Agriculture and Forestry University, focusing on integrated pest management

With the help of a PhD scholarship from New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Sundar joined the Bio-Protection Research Centre at Lincoln University in 2016 and began research into sustainable intensification of Nepalese agriculture.

In his New Zealand-based research Sundar is seeking an alternative approach to pest management, looking to identify “trap plants” that can draw the wheat bug (Nysius huttoni) away from kale seedlings.

His experiments show that the popular garden plant alyssum (Lobularia maritima) has the highest potential as a trap plant for the bug, and it also provides many other ecosystem services (such as providing nectar for beneficial insects).

Working in Nepal on radish crops, he showed how to reduce aphid populations without pesticides, using alyssum flower strips around the fields.

“This technique is very simple and poor farmers can easily adopt it, especially because it costs less than using pesticides,” Sundar says.

Sundar has introduced many Nepalese farmers, students, and others in the agriculture sector to the concept of habitat management and multiple ecosystem services, and his work is influencing Nepalese agricultural policy.

“This work in my home country has made a real difference and is one of the many factors which have made my PhD training at Lincoln University so enjoyable,” he says.

Sundar’s supervisor is Professor Steve Wratten; his co-supervisor is Professor Nick Dickinson.

Source:  Lincoln University

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European students explore alternative agriculture

Students from Lincoln University’s partner universities in the Euroleague for Life Sciences (ELLS), an exclusive network of leading European universities, were getting a different perspective of New Zealand farming recently.

The master’s-level interdisciplinary student group travelled to Lincoln’s Mount Grand station and the Lake Hawea area of Central Otago.

From Czech University of Life Sciences, Prague University of Copenhagen, University of Hohenheim, and University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, as well as other partner institutions, they were taking part in a summer course to investigate alternative agri-environmental farming systems.

ELLS was established to promote educational collaborations in fields such as animal, agricultural, food and environmental science; ecological engineering; natural resources management; and landscape architecture and spatial planning.

Alternative high country sheep farming futures for Mount Grand, a 1600 ha sheep station located in the High Country in Central Otago, were  investigated.

Professor Alison Bailey and Dr Wendy McWilliam accompanied the group and reported that the students gained an understanding of the station and were tasked with finding and evaluating alternative ways to improve its economic, socio-cultural and environmental sustainability and resiliency.

They scaled Mount Grand to explore key areas of existing indigenous biodiversity  and explored alternative options such as the addition of cherry farming, a vineyard and winery, tramping hut, mountain biking, horse trekking, restaurant, wedding venue, canyon swing, trophy hunting, Manuka honey production and lavender farming.

Source:  Lincoln University

Minister says potential partnership between two universities shows promise

The prospect of a partnership or merger between Lincoln University and Canterbury University has been welcomed by Education Minister Chris Hipkins.

He said he was looking for it to demonstrate how it would significantly enhance Lincoln’s unique contribution to the land-based sectors of the New Zealand economy.

“We need to encourage more people to study and work in the land-based sectors to meet industry demand, increase productivity and tackle technological and environmental challenges,” Mr Hipkins said.

“Canterbury and Lincoln’s proposal to explore a merger or partnership might help to achieve that by enhancing Lincoln’s capacity to deliver world-leading teaching and research.

“It is critical that New Zealand has strong and stable, multi-disciplinary, university-based teaching and research that best supports the land based sector, and this process will help determine whether a partnership or a merger with Canterbury would achieve this at Lincoln.”

Both parties are expected to submit their formal proposal by the end of the year.

Government commitment of up to $85 million of Crown capital funding to help Lincoln fund its share of a joint education and research facility with AgResearch is not affected by this process, Mr Hipkins said.

The Government has declared it is committed to Lincoln remaining at its present site and retaining its brand and identity.

Source: Minister of Education

Loss of noted Lincoln University scientist and teacher

Lincoln University has recorded the death of Emeritus Professor Reinhart Langer, doyen of modern plant science teaching and research and a scientist who made an immense contribution to plant and crop physiology, agronomy, ecology, genetics, and agricultural botany in a career at Lincoln University spanning more than quarter of a century.

Professor Langer came to Lincoln from Britain’s Grassland Research Institute, Hurley, in 1959 and built up a strong, busy Plant Science Department and team of staff members. Active and productive research programmes were developed in the  areas of white clover, subterranean clover, lucerne and pasture plants that thrive in Canterbury’s dry summer conditions.

Wheat was a particular interest and Professor Langer was a long-serving member and former Chair of the national Wheat Research Committee.

He was an important figure at Lincoln over more than quarter of a century in both his discipline area, and in Lincoln’s overall administration, through his roles as Vice-Principal and Acting Principal (equivalent today of Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Acting Vice-Chancellor).

As Acting Principal of the then Lincoln College, he spanned the year between the retirement of Professor Sir James Stewart and the installation of Professor Bruce Ross.

He authored several books and scientific articles and his publication Agricultural Plants, co-authored with Associate Professor George Hill, became a standard text for plant science teaching in New Zealand and overseas.

In 1978, for Lincoln’s centenary celebrations, Professor Langer had the distinction of being appointed the College’s Public Orator, a significant role in the conferring of honorary degrees on important figures in Christchurch Town Hall.

Professor Langer’s services to science, education, Lincoln College and the wider community (he was on the Board of Governors of Christ’s College for 27 years) were recognised with many awards and accolades including Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Fellow of the Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science, Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE), and an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Lincoln University.

Source: Lincoln University

Scottish politician is shown agri-science projects during Lincoln University visit

The Secretary of State for Scotland was shown a new treatment system for dairy farm effluent during a visit to Lincoln University.

The Rt Hon David Mundell was at Lincoln as part of a trip around the country to explore potential opportunities for collaboration between New Zealand and the UK after Brexit.

He and his delegation met with Vice-Chancellor Professor James McWha, then visited Lincoln’s Ashley Dene Research Development Station.

He heard from Assistant Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Edwards, fellow Scotsman Professor Keith Cameron and Lincoln Agritech’s Dr Blair Miller, about some of the innovations they have developed in recent years.

One project that attracted particular attention was ClearTech, a treatment system for dairy farm effluent which was developed in collaboration with Ravensdown and is designed to treat and recyle water at the dairy shed, thereby saving freshwater.

Professor Cameron said the visit proved “very positive”.

“The delegation were really interested in the science and technology development that we do at Lincoln University and Lincoln Agritech, because the UK and New Zealand share similar challenges in terms of sustainable production and environmental protection.”

The British High Commissioner to New Zealand, Laura Clarke, was part of the delegation. She complimented the university and Lincoln Agritech on the science and innovation that is being conducted.

Lincoln looks forward to potential future collaborations in science and innovation between New Zealand and the UK, Professor Cameron said.

Source: Lincoln University

Governor-General visits Lincoln farm during Canterbury tour

The Governor-General, Dame Patsy Reddy, and Sir David Gascoigne toured several key sites in the Selwyn District last week, Lincoln University says in a press statement today.

They started at Ngāti Moki Marae at Taumutu and finished at Lincoln University’s Ashley Dene Research and Development Station.

Former Lincoln University Chancellor and current Environment Canterbury Councillor Tom Lambie is quoted as saying the visit represented an excellent opportunity to showcase all the good work happening on the ground around the lake, and research activity at the university.

“Their Excellencies saw Te Waihora first hand, and the work being done to restore the mauri of the lake,” Mr Lambie said.

“There was a presentation by one of the Ngāi Tahu Co-Governors, Liz Brown, who gave an overview of Te Waihora and the catchment in terms of the vision for the lake and plans for restoration of its mauri.”

Landcare Research’s website includes a section which deals with Maori values . This explains:

“Everything in the Māori world has a life force, the mauri, and contamination or degradation of natural resources is seen to damage and diminish the life force (te mauri), and affect the well-being of people. Traditional Māori values contain the common Māori belief that all biophysical things and sites, plants, trees, animals and human beings have a certain amount of tapu, mana, and mauri.”

The vice-regal group stopped at several restoration sites before reaching the Lincoln University Ashley Dene Research and Development Station, where presentations were made by several Lincoln academics, including Assistant Vice-Chancellor Professor Grant Edwards, Soil Science Professor Keith Cameron, Livestock Production Professor Pablo Gregorini, Tourism Professor David Simmons, and Dr Blair Miller from Lincoln Agritech.

The group spoke about the importance of contributing to better water outcomes while driving innovation in the agriculture, tourism and conservation sectors, with particular reference to environmental protection within managed landscapes.

Lincoln University Vice-Chancellor James McWha said the visit was a great success.

The Governor-General showed a keen interest in the restoration work and in Lincoln research activities, which aim to find solutions for conserving water while improving productivity.

Source: Lincoln University

Fee waivers offered to 10 students for organics course

Ten students are being offered the chance to have their fees waived for Lincoln University’s fledgling organics course, matching the needs of prospective students who don’t qualify for fees free.

The Diploma in Organic Agri-food Production, prepares students to work in the organic food industry, at farmers’ markets or supplying restaurants with produce.

Māori and Pasifika agricultural methods are an important part of the diploma.

Lincoln University Director Kaiarahi Māori, Dr Dione Payne, said it was felt the course may also appeal to people changing career, or who may have completed qualifications, and were ineligible for the Governments Fees Free scheme.

Lincoln is also offering $5000 scholarships for students fully enrolled in the Diploma and staying in the University’s Halls of Residence.

Dr Payne said aligning the scholarships to the Diploma supports the delivery of the programme and acknowledges its Māori content, in particular mahinga kai, which is a key component of Lincoln University’s Māori Strategy.

The Diploma programme, which starts next month, is a 120-credit level 5 diploma for students with or without University Entrance.

Programme director Bill Martin says graduates of the Diploma will be able to seek employment in organic primary production or other sectors related to organics, particularly education and hospitality.

Source: Lincoln University