Agricultural R&D – a fantastic legacy and a means to move forward

New Zealand, and its agriculture (systems) owes a heck of a lot to the billions of dollars poured into its research and development over the past 120 years.

Our wealth has, literally, been built on sunshine, soil and fresh air – and more importantly applied brains figuring out how to convert pastoral production into protein. (Actually, and to be fair, it is sunshine, soil and water – but that doesn’t work quite as well from a poetic or story POV).

For nearly a century, the ever refined pastoral method (essentially graze pasture, rest it, graze, rest…) has evolved to a quite elegant recipe.

Along the way, our scientists and science have developed deep understanding of soils, water, its microflora (with much to learn), the plant/microflora/soil interface, plants (especially grass and clover), the plant/animal connection, rumens and their biology, and optimising plant and animal growth. From a business perspective we’ve developed a way to manage quite complex systems.

(From a romance perspective, it’s working in harmony with the seasons).

Our pastoral method has deep intellectual property.

It is one reason farmers and scientists from round the world have beaten a path to our door, studying, learning, adapting.

It is one reason that back in the day, people like Mac McMeeken, Leonard Cockayne and Bruce Levy were household names from the 20’s to the 60s.

There was a public realisation that the learning we’d achieved provided a platform for an excellent standard of living.

It’s great that our economy has got away from such a reliance on agriculture, diversifying biologically and smartly. Equally, the notion that we’re trying to feed the world is well-gone.

The body of knowledge remains however.

And, even more in an environment of ‘man-made’, the proven way that products can be sustainably made from our agricultural method has a value way and above of how much we’ve dared to believe.

By naming our story, we would provide a way to associate imagery and emotion of our pastoral method with the science. pasture Harmonies (as an example of a name) would be a way for the R&D to again shine, lead improvement with the consumer onboard.

It is also a way for agricultural R&D to have greater investment, enable the wider NZ population to realise the treasure trove of knowledge behind our green hills, and provide a much stronger story with which to attract smart young and not-so-young people into the industry.

Or maybe not.

Perhaps all our agriculture needs to do is pedal ever faster, keeping our eye and focus on the ground instead of looking up and realising the potential of owning our story.


About sticknz

sticK is by Peter Kerr, a writer for hire. I have a broad science and technology background and interest, with an original degree in agricultural science. My writing speciality is making the complex understandable. I am available for outside consultancy work, and for general discussions of converting a good idea into something positive
This entry was posted in high tech, Innovation, SciBlogs, Science, Science policy, sustainability, value added food and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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