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The Rural Professionals Fund enables individuals and businesses to partner with scientists to test exciting and innovative ideas that could lead to significant improvements in farming systems.

The fund will invest up to $50,000 in projects that can test ideas and innovations within six months. An important part of this fund is the requirement to extend what is learned to the wider rural profession and farming community.

Applications for the 2020–21 funding round are now closed. Subscribe to our newsletter for announcement of the next funding round.

Information for Applicants

Applications should align with the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge objective: “To maintain and improve our land and water quality for future generations, while enhancing the value of the primary sector to New Zealand.”

Our Land and Water is interested in applications that contribute evidence and innovative ideas to our 3 research themes:

Future Landscapes: We need greater diversity of land uses and practices, matched to what the land is most suitable for, to support the vitality of te Taiao (our land, water, air and all living communities). Future landscapes will involve a mix of existing and new land uses and practices. We need evidence to demonstrate the (economic, environmental, social and cultural) viability of mixed systems.

Incentives for Change: We need high-value products and collaborative value chains that improve the health of land, water and people. We need to identify the signals (from market, social, cultural, natural or regulatory sources) and the monetary and non-monetary rewards that motivate behaviour and changes that benefit te Taiao.

Capacity for Transition: We need to bring together people and organisations from across the agri-food and fibre system to create new pathways towards future landscapes. We need to identify the barriers to change, and how to overcome these barriers (eg new sources of investment, new models of processing infrastructure). We need to implement and practically demonstrate new land use options and value chains.

Our Land and Water is looking for ideas that will:

  • build evidence for innovative ideas and practices (successful projects may become eligible for continued investment, such as the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures Fund)
  • speed up the testing and implementation of exciting and innovative ideas
  • develop links and collaboration between rural professionals, farmers and researchers
  • extend what is learned to the wider rural profession and farming community

The New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Managers (NZIPIM) and the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge will review applications.

The project team is to include a rural professional who is a member of the NZIPIM (applicant; see NZIPIM Member Directory), a rural entrepreneur (farmer), and a researcher from one of Our Land and Water’s partner organisations (Challenge party; see Our Key Collaborators).

The researcher should be selected based on their expertise, location (to minimise travel costs) and availability. Our Land and Water may be able to make this connection if required, but applicants are encouraged to establish their own project team prior to application.

Successful project teams will be notified by 7 August 2020.

The project team will then need to co-design and rapidly test these new and exciting innovation practices as a proof of concept.

The approved project team will be contracted by way of a multi-party contract with Our Land and Water.

All funds will be paid to the Challenge Party who will disseminate funds as agreed. The Challenge Party will report to Our Land and Water about the project and will manage the contract, but will be discouraged from taking the lead in presenting or writing up the outcome of the research project.

The underlying purpose of this fund is to create benefit for New Zealand farming communities. The research team will be required to communicate the outcomes and extend what is learned from their project into the wider rural profession and farming community. This requirement includes projects that did not have the desired outcomes as soon as the project is complete.

Findings must be communicated in a form that is accessible by everyone, including open access for any journal publications (Our Land and Water may be able to offer support for open access publication charges).

The NZIPIM will also provide a platform to communicate the findings of the projects through its network of ten branches across New Zealand and through its quarterly journal.

Other ways to communicate results include presentation at conferences such as National Society conferences (who emphasize farmer participation), the New Zealand Grasslands Association, New Zealand Society for Animal Production and others.

Conditions for Applications

i) Ideas and innovations should be quickly tested within a 5–6-month period if possible.

ii) Communicating the project outcomes is a mandatory part of the project and should be adequately resourced (at least 10–20% of project funding)

iii) All information provided or acquired by the parties to this proposal are for the purposes of preparing this proposal, and such information will remain the property of the party supplying it.

iv) Starting date of the project can be negotiated, provided projects run for five to six months from the start date and are completed by 30 June 2021.

v) The initial payment (up to 50% of the project budget) will be made on commencement of the project. The second payment (up to 20% of project budget) will be made once Our Land and Water has accepted a final report. The final payment (30% of project budget) will be made once the outcomes of the project have been disseminated as agreed by Our Land and Water.

vi) No legal obligations will arise between applicants and Our Land and Water until such time as a contract is established between the relevant parties.

vii) All the people named in this proposal for the purposes of the project must formally approve their involvement, have the capacity to contribute and be committed to supporting a successful project outcome.

viii) Project teams agree that Intellectual Property developed in the project will aim to maximise national benefit and agree to provide open access to data and information, and to protect privacy and mātauranga Māori.

ix) This fund is not intended to fund the development of commercialisable intellectual property, or capital expenditure.

Rural Professional Fund Application

Rural Professionals Fund Information and Application Form

Email your team's completed application form to
Applications were due by 17 July 2020. No further applications will be received.

Successful project teams will be notified by 7 August 2020

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