Massey Agriculture sets sights on future

College of Sciences Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Ray Geor, Head of the School of Agriculture and Environment Professor Peter Kemp, and Massey University Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas.

Massey University’s School of Agriculture and Environment gave stakeholder’s a glimpse into its future plans yesterday, including the announcement of a new research centre.

It began with a bus tour showcasing some of the University’s operations, which included the new Apple Innovation Orchard, BioLumic’s work with ultra-violet light at the Plant Growth Unit, and the Dairy 4 Plantain Programme. It ended with speeches at the Sir Geoffrey Peren building, where the plans for the school were unveiled.

Massey University Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas spoke about the school's past and how it aims to make further history.

“We believe we are a significant university in the global scene, we intend to grow that, we intend to make a difference to New Zealand, we intend to make a difference working in partnership with our stakeholders, our businesses, our communities and our governments. We aim to help drive the primary sector to being something we can all be proud of now and in years to come.”

Among the announcements were commitments to refresh the agriculture, horticulture and animal science degrees, as well as brokering further community engagement across all that the school does.

However, the biggest announcement on the day came from College of Sciences Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Ray Geor when he announced the Massey Agritech Partnership, a new Massey research centre.

“We have a reputation for innovative agritech developments and we plan to build on these with our latest research centre, Massey Agritech Partnership,” Professor Geor said. “The centre is about partnerships both within Massey and in working alongside industry. It brings together engineers, technologists, programmers and business analysts who generate ideas and work with businesses to find solutions.”

Professor Ian Yule leads the new centre and he is joined by post-harvest engineer Professor Andrew East, robotics expert Professor Johan Potgieter, and their respective teams. Initial projects will be in the areas of sensing and imaging, rapid data processing and modeling and simulation. The centre will focus on harnessing data for real-time decision making to predict pasture growth, yield and quality at proposed harvest times and to direct products to appropriate markets.

Dr Huub Kerckhoffs at the Apple Innovation Orchard.

New direction

However, the day was about more than just a new centre; it signalled new thinking and direction for the school. 

Head of school, Professor Peter Kemp spoke about Massey Agriculture and Massey Horticulture working together better to be more productive and to improve people’s well-being through innovation, but also through community engagement at all levels. 

“Massey Agriculture has a long and proud history of excellence in advancing knowledge in the primary industries and developing leaders, but it’s like all organisations, you can’t rest on your laurels. You have to move forward, there’s plenty of new challenges and to respond to those you have to change.”

“We’re taking a fresh approach to how we go about this at Massey. We believe innovation in how we do things will help create greater value. We know working together is what can really make a difference. We believe we can work together better, both within Massey and with our partners. We’ve been discussing what you think we need for the future and engaging more with our communities of interest for our degrees, what research we should be doing, and the technology developments and innovations we should focus on.”

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