Final ten rural projects granted research funding

Ten projects have been selected in the final round of funding for rural professionals from the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge.

These projects all have the potential to support improvements in food and fibre farming systems or benefit farming communities, says Professor Rich McDowell, chief scientist at Our Land and Water.

“Some innovative ideas were completely new to us, such as the potential to grow daffodils in hill country to supply a key ingredient in Alzheimer’s medication. Others met urgent practical needs, such as analysing the impact of the nitrogen fertiliser cap introduced in 2020.”

The ten projects tackle questions including:

  • How are dairy farmers managing nitrogen inputs following the nitrogen fertiliser cap in 2020?
  • How can New Zealand address phosphate supply risks?
  • What system variations are being applied by dairy farmers that reduce emissions and retain profitability?
  • What’s the potential collective benefit for water quality of land-use change across separate farms?
  • Can legumes be encouraged to persist in hill-country pasture with strategic grazing techniques?
  • Could strip-till cultivation further improve environmental outcomes for fodderbeet?
  • Could agroforestry systems benefit the dryland corners of irrigated Canterbury dairy farms?

The projects all have one thing in common: if the concept is proved, it could create real benefit for farming communities, our land, or our water.

“The Rural Professionals Fund allows us to quickly explore a lot of options,” explains Prof McDowell. Communicating the results of both successful and unsuccessful projects to the wider rural profession and farming community is a crucial part of the process. “We hope to see successful projects share their results and grow uptake quickly.”

Chief executive Jo Finer says the NZ Institute of Primary Industry Management was pleased to again support this opportunity to pilot innovative ideas that drive improvement on farm.

“Rural professionals play a valuable role as trusted advisors to farmers, and this provides them with a unique opportunity to generate ideas which can be tested with the support of funding.”

The Rural Professionals Fund was established in 2020 by the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge. It invests up to $75,000 in projects that will rapidly test ideas and innovations within nine months. Project teams are required to include a rural professional, a farmer or grower, and a person with relevant scientific or technical expertise, or mātauranga Māori or kaupapa Māori research expertise.

Thirty-two groups submitted proposals for the funding round.

Projects funded in the previous round are due to complete in the coming months.

Progress updates about current projects are posted on and

Source:  National Science Challenges 


Author: Bob Edlin

Editor of AgScience Magazine and Editor of the AgScience Blog