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There were 15 successful projects in the first funding round for the Our Land and Water Rural Professionals Fund.

What Are We Doing?

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. All projects are required to extend what is learned to the wider rural profession and farming community.

The fund launched in May 2020, with investment awarded to 15 projects that could rapidly test ideas and innovations. A second funding round closed on 20 August 2021, with applications now under review by representatives of Our Land and Water and NZIPIM. Funded projects will be announced in September.

Read more about the 15 projects that were successful in the 2020–21 funding round below. Follow Our Land and Water on Facebook for project updates.


Rich McDowell

Later Projects:

RPF 2021–22 (round 2)


Project Summaries

1rpf2 Increase Milk Production With Improved Water Quality

Increase milk production with improved water quality

Rural Professional: Edward Hardie, LIC FarmWise
Farmer/Entrepreneur: Stu Morgan, Dairy NZ
OLW Science Partner: Karin Schutz, AgResearch

Cattle are very sensitive to contamination of their drinking water. There is a positive relationship between feed and water intake in dairy cattle, which means that depressed water intake can lead to decreased feed intake and milk production. Anecdotal evidence from a farm in Northland showed a significant increase in milk production (up to 10%) from just changing the water supply quality. The purpose of this project is to take the on-farm field example and under controlled conditions confirm that clean pure water, that is not only good for the environment, is also good for increasing milk production and animal welfare.

Does the quality of drinking water (bore vs town supply) influence water intake, milk production and animal preferences in dairy cattle?

Edward Hardie (LIC FarmWise), Karin Schütz (AgResearch), Shen He and Frances Huddart
RPF report, July 2021

Social media update

15 October 2021


Measuring real time nitrogen losses in vegetable production

Rural Professional: Jamie Thompson, Ravensdown
Farmer/Entrepreneur: Chris Zuierwijk, Bostock
OLW Science Partner: Bruce Searle, Plant & Food Research

Being able to measure nitrogen loss in real time relative to climatic conditions (rainfall/drainage events) and then relate to management practices is the key to both problem recognition and consequential improvements in good agricultural practices. This project will combine 3 sources of information (nitrogen losses, drainage events, on farm management practices) to show 'cause and effect' of various management practices and support the development of improved agricultural practices, including nutrient and irrigation management (rates/timing etc) and other methods that might support reduced nutrient losses (eg catch crops).

RPF4 Project Report 2020/21 Q4

Jamie Thompson (Ravensdown Fertiliser), Chris Zuierwijk (Bostock New Zealand) and Bruce Searle (Plant & Food Research)
RPF report, July 2021

Nitrate-nitrogen leaching in horticulture

Jamie Thompson (Ravensdown Fertiliser), Chris Zuierwijk (Bostock New Zealand) and Bruce Searle (Plant & Food Research)
Tech Note, July 2021

Social media update

9 July 2021

33application Of Remote Sensing In Spatial Irrigation Scheduling2

Application of remote sensing in spatial irrigation scheduling

Rural Professional:  Cindy Lowe and Andrew Curtis, Water Strategies
Farmer/Entrepreneur: Kelvin Hicks, Willowmere Organics
OLW Science Partner: Hamish Brown, Plant & Food Research

Irrigation scheduling for arable and vegetable farmers is challenging. Multiple crops, of different value, often under the same irrigator, along with regular cultivation means the use of soil moisture sensors can be impractical and costly. Through remote sensing of the crop in conjunction with a water balance model, this project explores the field scale potential for the cost-effective application of true spatial irrigation monitoring across a farm. If successful, this project could provide a practical, low-cost monitoring option for cropping farmers and a new generation of pastoral farmers, alongside a new and exciting spatial irrigation scheduling opportunity.

Application of remote sensing in spatial irrigation scheduling

Cindy Lowe and Andrew Curtis (Water Strategies), Kelvin Hicks (farmer) and Hamish Brown (Plant & Food Research)
RPF report, June 2021

Social media update

11 November 2021

4integrating Horticultural And Arable Land Use Options Into Hill Country Farm Systems2

Integrating horticultural and arable land use options into hill country farm systems

Rural Professional: DJ Apparao, G&D Consulting and Dr Liz Dooley, PerrinAg Consultants
Farmer/Entrepreneur: Rita Batley, Taihape Sheep and Beef Farmer Group
OLW Science Partner: Iona McCarthy, Massey University

Selecting appropriate horticultural and arable options for hill country farms and farmers, with confidence that these are financially viable and markets exist for the products, can be challenging.  This project will evaluate tools to integrate information on factors such as local climate, soils and topography, and information on various crop requirements, management and production. The most useful tools will be selected and used in a structured approach to identify the most suitable range of crop options for a case study with several Taihape sheep and beef farmers interested in horticultural options.

Integrating horticultural and arable land use options into hill country farming systems: Site-specific crop options and value chain-based business case

Dr Liz Dooley (PerrinAg Consultants), DJ Apparao (G&D Consulting), Rita Batley (farmer), Iona McCarthy (Massey University) and Carol Mowat (Thought Strategy)
RPF report, July 2021

Integrating horticultural and arable land use options into hill country farming systems: The multi-criteria decision-making process

Dr Liz Dooley (PerrinAg Consultants), DJ Apparao (G&D Consulting), Rita Batley (farmer), Iona McCarthy (Massey University) and Carol Mowat (Thought Strategy)
RPF report, August 2021

Social media update

19 May 2021

5canterbury Farmers' And Rural Professionals' Perception Of Drone Use In Environmental Management

Perception of drone use in environmental management

Rural Professional: Sam Mander, The Agribusiness Group
Farmer/Entrepreneur: David Stevenson, Addington Pastures
OLW Science Partner: Dr Sharon Lucock and Dr Victoria Westbrooke, Lincoln University

Can drones be used to efficiently demonstrate environmental compliance and thus ecological sustainability? This research will investigate the perceptions of farmers and rural professionals about using drones for environmental compliance purposes, and how drones use can be proactively integrated into on-farm management for better environmental outcomes. Barriers will be identified to the use of drones in environmental compliance, monitoring and management, as well as incentives to overcome these barriers.

Project Final Report – Canterbury Farmers’ and Rural Professionals’ Perception of Drone Use in Environmental Management

Dr Sharon Lucock (Lincoln University), Dr Victoria Westbrooke (Lincoln University), Sam Mander (The Agribusiness Group) and David Stevenson (farmer)
RPF report, October 2021

Social media update

1 November 2021

Social media update

18 November 2020

6impact Of Regenerative Farming On Meat Quality

Impact of regenerative farming on meat quality

Rural Professional: Steve Howarth, AgFirst
Farmer/Entrepreneur: Tracey Bayliss, Grandad's Beef
OLW Partner: Katherine Tozer, AgResearch

If regenerative farming can improve meat quality, particularly intramuscular fat and flavour, this provides a significant opportunity to produce and market premium meat products from surplus New Zealand dairy industry livestock. This could increase farm profitability, reduce the environmental footprint and lead to increased sustainability of the New Zealand pastoral industry. This project will test the hypothesis that regenerative farming produces cattle with better meat quality compared to equivalent conventionally finished animals and is associated with increased pasture diversity.

Impact of regenerative farming on quality

Steve Howarth (AgFirst), Tracey Bayliss (Grandads Beef), Dr Katherine Tozer (AgResearch), Mustafa Farouk (AgResearch) and Rose Greenfield (AgResearch)
RPF report, September 2021

Social media update

30 March 2021

Project to test regen’s impact on meat

Farmer’s Weekly
8 October 2020

7bananas On Northland Dairy Farms A New Option For Forage Supply And Effluent Cycling

Bananas on dairy farms for forage supply and effluent cycling

Rural Professional: Warren King, AgResearch
Farmer/Entrepreneur: Graeme Edwards, Kahurangi Farm
OLW Science Partner: Robyn Dynes, AgResearch

New Zealand is considered too far south of the equator to grow bananas. Despite this, bananas are grown – commonly as ornamentals – over wide areas of the northern North Island. With appropriate cultivars, management and location, bananas are capable of being persistent and productive. This creates an opportunity to use banana plant material as feed for livestock. In addition, growing bananas using effluent as the source of nutrients could become a key component of a dairy farm effluent system. This project will deliver a 'proof of concept' that growing bananas on Northland dairy farms will increase the economic and environmental sustainability of the dairy enterprise.

Bananas on Northland dairy farms

Warren King, Robyn Dynes and Grant Rennie (AgResearch) and Graeme Edwards (Kahurangi Farm)
RPF report, October 2021

A potential game-changer

PSA Journal
October 2021

Television feature

Rural Delivery, TVNZ
22 May 2021

Social media update

18 May 2021

Social media update

22 March 2021

Social media update

21 October 2020

8seeing, Understanding, Believing A Farmer Led Project Into Waterway Improvement2

Seeing, understanding, believing: A farmer-led project into waterway improvement

Rural Professional: Terry Parminter, KapAg
Farmer/Entrepreneur: Christine Finnigan, Finnigan Farming Trust
OLW Science Partner: Juliet Milne and Amanda Valois, NIWA

Farmers have identified a need to measure and evaluate water quality indicators associated with their own farms, and to use the results for strategic planning and catchment group activities. This project will enable farmers to directly measure ecological health, nutrient and sediment status in water that drains critical source areas on their farms. These results will support the implementation of the Good Farming Practice Action Plan (2018) and include measures of ecological health consistent with Horizon's One Plan (Schedule E) and the new National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (2020).

Project Summary – Nguturoa SUB project

Christine Finnigan (farmer), Terry Parminter (KapAg), Juliet Milne and Amanda Valois (NIWA)
RPF report, July 2021

Catchment project fosters understanding

Farmer’s Weekly
10 March 2021

Social media update

16 December 2020

Social media update

12 November 2020

9what Are The Best Sediment Traps For My Hill Country Stream

What are the best sediment traps for my hill country stream?

Rural Professional: Peter Keeling, PerrinAg Consultants
Farmer/Entrepreneur: Blair and Anna Nelson, King Country River Care (Lower Mokau Subcatchment Group)
OLW Science Partner: Prof Russell Death and Prof Ian Fuller, Massey University

Sediment deposition, along with nutrient enrichment, are the two major stressors agricultural land use places on New Zealand waterways. In hill country sheep and beef farms erosion is the primary driver of sediment infiltration into waterways. Any management activity that will reduce sediment loss from the land to water is a benefit for both the farm and the receiving waterbody. However, there are a variety of sediment trap methodologies that can be used, and there are no guidelines on which ones are best and in what circumstances. This project will recognise and have a connection with existing guidelines on sediment traps and will focus on hill-country only.

Sediment traps in hill country

Peter Keeling (Perrin Ag), Blair Nelson (farmer), Ian Fuller and Lucy Burkitt (Massey University)
RPF report, November 2021

10novel Crop Establishment For High Value Hybrid See Crops In Canterbury

Novel crop establishment for high-value hybrid seed crops

Rural Professional: Richard Chynoweth, Foundation for Arable Research
Farmer/Entrepreneur: Nigel Greenwood
OLW Science Partner: Prof John Hampton, Lincoln University

Strip-till is widely used in New Zealand for the establishment of commercial maize crops, and to produce hybrid seed maize in Poverty Bay. It is not widely used to establish hybrid vegetable seed crops. This project will test the establishment of hybrid radish seed crops using strip till, undertaking three large-scale, replicated trials with different growers in Canterbury. The factors that will be measured will include crop emergence, weed ingress, disease incidence in crop and seed after harvest, seed yield, gross margin, pesticide use, fuel use, modelled nutrient loss and soil quality parameters before harvest.

Report on strip-till trial

Richard Chynoweth (Foundation for Arable Research), David Birkett (farmer) and Prof John Hampton (Lincoln University)
RPF report, July 2021

Social media update

14 July 2021

11risk Assessment With Mahinga Kai Values To Prioritise Actions In Feps

Risk assessment with mahinga kai values to prioritise actions in FEPs

Rural Professional: Katherine McCusker, Dairy NZ
Farmer/Entrepreneur: Gray Baldwin
OLW Science Partner: Dr Ross Monaghan, AgResearch

There are 7000 dairy farms that do not have a full FEP and require one by 2025 (or earlier in priority catchments). To maximise potential effectiveness of FEPs and promote uptake on-farm of established and developing mitigations and Good Management Practices, FEPs must be implemented in a consistent and standardised way. Providing consistency to mitigation prioritisation will give farmers the confidence to act therefore accelerating behaviour change. This project will co-develop a freely available standardised mitigation prioritisation framework tool for use across the dairy sector, and identify the potential barriers and enablers for change.

A risk assessment approach for prioritising actions in farm environment plans with mahinga kai values

Katrina Macintosh (DairyNZ), Christophe Thiange (DairyNZ), Craig Depree (DairyNZ) and Ross Monaghan (AgResearch)
RPF report, July 2021

Social media update

2 March 2021

12reducing Variation In Apple Tree Yield Through Targeted (sub Block) Water And Nutrient Applicaiton)

Reducing variation in apple tree yield through targeted water and nutrient application

Rural Professional: Greg Dryden, Fruition Horticulture
Farmer/Entrepreneur: Simon Easton, Wairepo Holdings
OLW Science Partner: Dr Ken Breen, Plant & Food Research

Industry current methods of irrigating and supply of nutrients to apple orchards are at a block-level using a 'one size fits all' approach. There is no accounting for the considerable variation in tree requirements due to variability in soil texture. Reducing tree variation also has the potential to achieve even maturity and fruit quality, which is also important for the economics of mechanisation and post-harvest outturn. The cost/benefit of implementing a strategy of reducing tree variability needs to be tested.

What are the opportunities to reduce variability in apple tree productivity through targeted (sub-block) water and nutrient application?

Greg Dryden (Fruition Horticulture), Mike Nelson (Fruition Horticulture) and Dr Ken Breen (Plant & Food Research)
RPF report, July 2021

Social media update

21 November 2021

13facilitating Farmer Economic Understanding Of Alternative Land Uses And Barriers To Adaption And Land Use Change

Facilitating farmer economic understanding of alternative land uses and the barriers to adaptation and land use change

Rural Professional: Phil Journeaux, AgFirst
Farmer/Entrepreneur: Phil Weir, Beef & Lamb Farmer Councillor
OLW Science Partner: Tracey Nelson, AgResearch

This project will explore the decision-making around land use change in real farm scenarios. The observations and experiences will be distilled to be communicable to other farmers across New Zealand. A few workshops will be held that discuss the diversification options for a region such as the Waikato, including value and supply chains, and the capacity for potential diversifiers (who have historically been involved in commodity production) to transition to value added scenarios. Areas of uncertainty will be ascertained, with a facilitator providing coaching and support to participants carrying out diversification due diligence. A final workshop will draw conclusions on the reasons for change and barriers to change.

Barriers to diversification

Phil Weir (farmer), Phil Journeaux, Jeremy Hunt and James Allen (AgFirst) and Tracy Nelson (AgResearch)
RPF report, July 2021

Social media update

4 July 2021

Social media update

23 February 2021


Watch from 04:07 to 11:25
21 December 2020

14high Performance Soils For Avocados

High performance soils for avocados

Rural Professional: Tony Bradley, Aongatete Avocados
Farmer/Entrepreneur: Sarah Sorensen, NZ Avocado Industry
OLW Science Partner: Declan Graham, Plant & Food Research

High quality fruit and high yields are targets for the New Zealand avocado industry, however, there is limited information as to what a high-performance soil looks like to help achieve these goals. This project will be the first to collect the combination of chemical, physical and biological soil characteristics and look to correlate them with fruit quality and yield. Outcomes will help inform the value of nutritional programmes, and provide nutritional and biological benchmarks from high performing orchards (yield and quality) for growers to compare themselves to.

Orchard soil characterisation

Tony Bradley (Aongatete Avocado), Sarah Sorensen and Miguel Tapia (NZ Avocado) and Declan Graham (Plant & Food Research)
RPF report, August 2021

Soil characterisation project findings

Miguel Tapia
Avoscene, September 2021

Social media update

16 June 2021

15creating A Diverse And Sustainable Dairy Farming And Forestry Landscape

Creating a diverse and sustainable dairy farming and forestry landscape

Rural Professional: Regan McCorquindale, LIC FarmWise
Farmer/Entrepreneur: Graham Smith, Miraka Farm
OLW Science Partner: Gina Lucci, AgResearch

Reduction in pasture production and quality under trees is one of the perceived drawbacks of planting more trees on farms. However, pasture production under trees can range from a 15% increase to a 77% decrease, depending on the tree species, planting density and time of year. In this project, the spatial pasture production will be measured with increasing distance from trees. This information can then be used in spatial decision support models to estimate the effects planting trees would have on pasture production. This project will also aim to determine how cows use a grazing space planted with Paulownia trees compared to a typical barren pasture environment.

Creating a diverse and sustainable dairy farming and forestry landscape

Regan McCorquindale (LIC FarmWise), Graham Smith (Miraka Farm) and Gina Lucci (AgResearch)
RPF report, July 2021

Social media update

29 April 2021

Website article

Smaller Milk and Supply Herds blog
15 December 2020

In The Media

Our Land and Water Fund projects greenlighted

Farmers’ Weekly, 28 September 2020

Fifteen projects ranging from studying the impact of regenerative farming on meat quality to the feasibility of growing bananas as forage for dairy cattle have been greenlighted after being granted funding from the Our Land and Water Rural Professionals Fund.

Fund created to boost teamwork and innovation

The Farmlander, page 17, June 2020

"We need to encourage more 'mavericks' into the industry to test smart ideas that challenge our patterns of behaviour," Stephen [Macaulay, the Chief Executive of NZIPIM] says.

New ideas to be tested

Dairy Farmer, July 2020

If projects show promising results they could apply for other research funding for further examination. If the opposite occurs we can fail fast, learn from the experience and move on to the next exciting prospect.


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