Pathways to Transition

Gratitude for Our Ground Breakers

To mark the final issue of New Ground magazine, we celebrate the achievements of all the rural professionals, farmers, and scientists who participated in the Rural Professionals Fund – the 49 projects that were funded, and the 150 ideas submitted. Thank you to all those who collaborated in this ground-breaking initiative.

I’m delighted to introduce this fourth and final issue of New Ground, which highlights learning and insights from 10 projects funded by the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge through its Rural Professionals Fund.

This $3 million fund, a partnership initiated by the NZ Institute of Primary Industry Management, has once again demonstrated the vital role of collaboration and innovation in advancing our agricultural practices. It’s been a valuable partnership and a rewarding four-year journey.

Since its inception in May 2020, the Rural Professionals Fund has inspired an impressive array of projects – 49 in total out of over 150 innovative ideas submitted – with each endeavour aiming to deliver tangible improvements within our farming systems. Each project had up to $75,000 and nine months to rapidly test their ideas and innovations. A very high proportion of the 49 funded projects resulted in meaningful advice, new practices, or useful tools.

The projects showcased in this issue reflect the hard work and creativity of our rural professionals and farmers, who have bravely embraced the challenges of scientific inquiry and experimentation.

New Ground 2024
New Ground (issue 4, June 2024) is our magazine summarising the results of the final round of Rural Professionals Fund projects, distributed via the New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Managers

The collaborative approach, where most projects partner farmers with scientists, has fostered an investigative mindset. It is thrilling to see rural professionals and farmers taking the lead on research projects, applying scientific methods to their innovative ideas. This blend of practical experience with scientific rigor has enriched our understanding and management of the land.

A remarkable aspect of this initiative has been its embrace of both successes and failures. True to the spirit of scientific exploration, we have recognised that every outcome leads to deeper understanding of what works – and what does not.

Our commitment to sharing all results publicly and in detailed technical reports remains a foundational principle. This transparency ensures that the entire community benefits from every project, learning from each other’s experiences and continuously pushing the boundaries of what is possible.

The projects featured in this issue have brought forward many meaningful advancements. From assessing the effectiveness of cow collar technology and the 2020 regulatory limit on nitrogen fertiliser, to finding onshore phosphorous resources and the profitability ‘sweet spot’ when reducing greenhouse gas emissions, these projects have sparked discussions and interest among the public and within our rural communities.

As the National Science Challenges come to an end in June 2024, all those involved in these projects over the past four years will carry forward the spirit of innovation and collaboration that has been nurtured by the Rural Professionals Fund. For many rural professionals and farmers, it has been their first opportunity to experience how research can be applied at farm scale, and we hope they will seek other opportunities to connect with relevant research and researchers in the future. This will ensure that our agricultural sector remains resilient and vibrant, with innovative ideas that can help us meet the challenges and opportunities of the future.


Jo Finer

Jo Finer is CEO of NZIPIM

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