Dr James Millner staff profile picture

Contact details +6469517811

Dr James Millner

Senior Lecturer in Agronomy

School of Agriculture and Environment

Academic Dean - Agriculture

College of Sciences

Current research activity is dominated by a project based at Massey University providing research services for Manuka Research Partnership Ltd., in a joint venture with Comvita NZ Ltd. Funding comes from the joint venture partners and Ministry for Primary Industries via the Primary Growth Partnership scheme. (http://www.maf.govt.nz/Portals/0/Documents/agriculture/assist-funding/pgp/media-bkgrnd-hpmp.pdf). My research is focused on Objective 2 of this project: Field/plantation trials based around large scale manuka plantations that focus on aspect, slope, planting densities, plantation management and the importance of companion biota for production of manuka honey with high umf (unique manuka factor) content. Includes locations across the lower North Island (Ahu Ahu, Nukuhau, Ruatiti, Tutira and Rangitatau West). Provenances from manuka stands in the North Island known to produce high UMF honey and clones resulting from selected crosses are being assessed for agronomic performance and nectar attributes at these sites. This research is potentially valuable to hill country farmers because it will improve the viability of establishing woody species (manuka) to reduce soil erosion by generating greater income from manuka honey.

Other current research activities include: Assessment of cow pea (Vigna unguiculata) provenances colected from Malawi for drought tolerance; endophytes in forage brassica species and assessment of revegetation projects in Java, Indonesia.

Recent international collaboration includes the College of Pastoral Agriculture Science and Technology , University of Lanzhou, Lanzhou, China.

Research interests

Crop production: Yield and quality of cereal grain crops; forage crops including cereals, maize for silage and brassica crops; seed production of crop and herbage species.

Farm forestry:Trees in sustainable hill country production systems.  Plantation manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) for production of high methylglyoxal (UMF) honey.


Undergraduate:Teaching in the 283 and 119 series papers in the BAgriScience degree. Emphasis on crop agronomy, agricultural systems and trees on farms. As BAgriScience director I provide advice and guidance to students in the programme.

Postgraduate:Supervision and teaching of postgraduate students at masterate and PhD level.

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Contact details

  • Ph: 84811
    Location: 302a, Ag/Hort B
    Campus: Turitea

Research Expertise

Research Interests

Farm Forestry: Past research included evaluation of eucalypt species in hill country with a focus on assessment of the growth, form and wood density of different species on different hill country microsites. Curent research is focused on assessment of manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) provenances and clones, including  genetotype x environment interactions, for production of high unique manuka factor (UMF) honey.

Crop agronmy:Ongoing research activity in crop agronomy has focused on summer forages, maize and sorghum, in particular establishment in maize, modelling growth, development and yield of maize and yield and forage quality of sorghum and sorghum hybrids. Additional research has included water and nutrient use efficiency of modern and Maori potato cultivars and assessment of cow pea provenances from different climatic zones in Malawi for drought tolerance.


Resource Development and Management, Future Food Systems

Area of Expertise

Field of research codes
Agricultural And Veterinary Sciences (070000): Agroforestry (070501): Agronomy (070302): Crop and Pasture Biomass and Bioproducts (070304): Crop and Pasture Nutrition (070306): Crop and Pasture Production (070300): Forestry Biomass and Bioproducts (070502): Forestry Management and Environment (070504): Forestry Sciences (070500)


Crop agronomy: Cereals, forages, seed crops

Farm forestry: silviculture of farm woodlots and timberbelts.

Research Projects

Summary of Research Projects

Position Current Completed
Project Leader 0 1
Team Member 0 2

Consultancy and Languages


  • English
    Last used: Everyday
    Spoken ability: Excellent
    Written ability: Excellent

Teaching and Supervision

Teaching Statement

I teach crop agronomy (forage crops and grain crops), agricultural systems and farm forestry to undergrad students in the BAgrScience and BAgriCommerce programmes at 1st 2nd and 3rd year level.

Courses Coordinated

Summary of Doctoral Supervision

Position Current Completed
Main Supervisor 4 3
Co-supervisor 4 4

Current Doctoral Supervision

Main Supervisor of:

  • Joan Ropiha - Doctor of Philosophy
    Study of selected native shrubs for sheep and bee forage, and for biodiversity and environmental enhancement, on hill country farms and landscapes.
  • Aung Thant - Doctor of Philosophy
    Comparison of Maize Silage and Traditional Forage Crops in New Zealand
  • Arini Hanifa - Doctor of Philosophy
    Evaluation of pigmented rice landraces from Toraja, Sulawesi
  • Surya Diantina - Doctor of Philosophy
    Comparison of Seed Traits of Tropical (Indonesia) and Temperate (New Zealand) Orchid Species to Support Orchid Seed Conservation

Co-supervisor of:

  • Moon Chen - Doctor of Philosophy
    A German-New Zealand collaborative research project - Establishing the tools for breeding of new apple (M. domestica) cultivars with altered flowering time that are better adapted to climate change
  • James Wangui - Doctor of Philosophy
    Use of New Zealand native browse shrubs on sheep and beef hill country farms.
  • Sarmini Maheswaran - Doctor of Philosophy
    Nutrient leaching under intensive sheep grazing
  • Rohit Lal - Doctor of Philosophy
    Development and evaluation of sustainable nutrient management strategies for taro growers on Taveuni Island, Fiji

Completed Doctoral Supervision

Main Supervisor of:

  • 2019 - Davood Roodi - Doctor of Philosophy
    Bio-prospecting for endophytes of Brassica
  • 2017 - Wayne Simpson - Doctor of Philosophy
    Hordeeae Epichloe endophytes and the formation of synthetic symbioses with cereal grasses
  • 2015 - Lawrent Pungulani - Doctor of Philosophy
    Exploring the genetic potential of locally adapted germplasm for drought tolerance: A case for cowpea (Vigna Unguiculata (L.) Walp) from Malawi

Co-supervisor of:

  • 2018 - Julia Bohorquez Rodriguez De Medina - Doctor of Philosophy
    Companion biota associated with Leptospermum scoparium (mānuka; Myrtaceae)
  • 2013 - Isaac Fandika - Doctor of Philosophy
    Comparison of heritage and modern crop cultivars in response to irrigation and nitrogen management
  • 2013 - Muhammad Naeem - Doctor of Philosophy
    Analysis of seed production traits in interspecific hybrids between Trifolium repens (white clover) and Trifolium uniflorum
  • 2011 - Rowland Tsimba - Doctor of Philosophy
    Development of a decision support system to determine the best maize (Zea mays. L) hybrid: Planting date option under typical New Zealand management systems

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