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Revolutionary agriculture imaging and more at Field Days


Images from a new state-of-the-art aerial tool with the potential to transform farming were on show at this year’s Central District Field Days, alongside the latest in sheep fertility research and food innovation.

Massey University Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey says the tool enables farmers to manage nutrients, soils and water for each blade of grass. “The new imaging system brings precise scientific evidence to pastoral management and helps land owners ensure production systems are sustainable.”

The $500,000 Fenix hyper spectral imaging system was purchased by Massey University from Finnish company Specim. The technology is part of a Primary Growth Partnership programme between Ravensdown and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) – the aim of which is to improve how fertiliser is applied to hill country.

Professor of Precision Agriculture Ian Yule was at Field Days to demonstrate what the technology can do and says the remote sensor enables New Zealand to capture unprecedented amounts of information about the nutrient content of large sections of land that may have been previously inaccessible.

“This is a game changer,” Professor Yule says. “It’s like turning the whole of New Zealand into a living lab, where you can observe exactly what is going on and describe it in greater detail than ever before.”

Professor Yule says the tool can make New Zealand agriculture more efficient, profitable and environmentally friendly. “It would be a great advantage for accurately applying fertiliser on hill country but also great for the dairy sector. You could put the sensor over a whole catchment to show you where your hotspots are, to help determine where there is nitrogen run-off,” Professor Yule says.

Other Massey expertise showcased at Field Days included the latest in breeding ewe lambs (hoggets). Members of the International Sheep Research Centre were on hand to discuss the advantages and considerations to breeding hoggets, including more lambs produced on farm, more efficient use of herbage in Spring and increases in lifetime performance.

Massey University was also featuring the latest developments from its School of Food and Nutrition – great tasting, healthy snacks with a light satisfying crunch are among the product lines available to try. These extruded products are made from beans, look great and are perfect to pop into school lunch boxes.

Alongside showcasing the research and innovation areas of the university, recruitment staff were there to discuss agriculture study options at Massey University. The field of agriculture is wide-ranging, encompassing science, engineering, technology, food, retail and much more. The potential for jobs is agriculture is also huge – with the Ministry for Primary Industries predicting the need for 55,000 jobs in the next decade.

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