Primary industries trailblazers – from scientists breeding low-methane emitting sheep to designers/makers of world-leading milking equipment and a team that diverted produce from being wasted to foodbanks during COVID lockdowns – have been honoured in Auckland tonight.
The fourth annual Primary Industries New Zealand Awards recognised rising stars and lifetime leaders among our food and fibre producers.
Reflecting the primary industries’ intense focus on looking after the environment, three award winners are directly involved in that mission, and it is a feature of several of the others’ accomplishments.
The Science and Research Award went to Dr Suzanne Rowe and the AgResearch team that has spent more than a decade pioneering research on breeding low methane-emitting sheep. They’ve proved significant rates of genetic gain for this trait are realistic, without impact on selection for other important traits, especially meat quality. The methane breeding value offers a practical tool for our farmers to lower greenhouse gases – a global first for any species of livestock.
Also in the environment space, Bremworth’s Sustainability Programme took out the PINZ Innovation & Collaboration Award and the Manawatū River Leaders’ Accord won the inaugural Guardianship & Conservation/Kaitiakitanga Award.
The decision by Bremworth to take a different path from their flooring market competitors and choose wool over synthetics was a make or break decision for the company. In their determination to find pursue sustainability, Bremworth is not only well on its way to pushing synthetics – and waste in general – out of their business – but is supporting the rural economy and driving greater awareness of the huge potential of coarse wool.
The Manawatū River Leaders’ Accord started out in 2010 when that awa was – inaccurately – described as the most polluted river the in the world. Since then, harnessing the resources, goodwill and mahi of more than 30 community and iwi groups, as well as farmers and landowners, the Accord is monitoring the health of the awa and wider catchment and is starting to see reductions in E. coli and sediment, and bringing water use back within allocation limits.
Outgoing Federated Farmers national board member Chris Lewis, Pāmu dairy farmer Quinn Morgan and Professor Stewart Ledgard were honoured for their individual endeavours.
Primary Industry Champion Chris Lewis has been an elected leader for Feds at regional and national level for 17 years and in recent years has stepped up that voluntary contribution to fellow farmers and the wider industry by highlighting workforce shortages, successfully advocating to government for agricultural worker border exceptions during COVID, encouraging more New Zealanders into the industry and championing the ‘Good Boss’ campaign.
Emerging Leader Quinn Morgan has also been outstanding inspiring others – particularly young Maori like himself – to look at a career in the primary industries, as well as giving back to the dairy sector and those who have helped him on his way.
AgResearch Principal Scientist Professor Ledgard has given 40-plus years of science and leadership in soil fertility and environmental management, with a particular focus on helping grassland farmer reduce nitrogen leaching and developing the Overseer tool. A thoroughly deserved winner of the Outstanding Contribution of New Zealand’s Primary Industries, results Prof. Ledgard’s research (242 peer-reviewed journal articles and conference proceedings) have been integrated into farmer practice.
The Team Award went to United Fresh NZ Inc, which in the face of the COVID lockdown, quickly pivoted from their 5+ a day role to ensuring produce that could no longer be used in Fruit and Vegetables in Schools and by closed businesses ended up in foodbanks. Not only were nearly 350,000 boxes of produce provided to whanau in need, but growers received a fair market return when many of those fruit and vegetables could have gone to waste.
High-tech milking equipment designed and made by Producer Award winner MilkTechNZ – in particular the CR Electronic Cup Removers for Cow Sheds – is now being used in farms all over New Zealand, Australia, the UK and Brazil – thanks to the massive labour savings from their simply and robust technology. In just four years, the company’s turnover has gone from $500,792 to $7.5 million.
The full list of 2022 PINZ Award winners, with award sponsors in brackets, is:
- Team Award (BASF) – UFMT’s Foodbank Fruit & Vegetable Box Project
- Science & Research Award (Yashili) – AgResearch Breeding Low Methane-emitting Sheep Team
- Innovation & Collaboration (AsureQuality) – Bremworth
- Emerging Leader (Lincoln University) – Quinn Morgan, dairy farmer, Pamu
- Industry Champion (Norwood) – Chris Lewis
- Producer (Kotahi) – MilkTechNZ
- Outstanding Contribution (AgResearch) – Professor Stewart Ledgard
- Guardianship & Conservation/Kaitiakitanga (Rabobank) – Manawatu River Leaders Accord