Applying Supercritical UV technology to the dairy sector

AGMARDT funding is helping take a revolutionary new UV treatment technology to the dairy sector where it has potential to significantly reduce biosecurity risk and improve animal well-being.

Super critical UV (SCUV) is a patented technology designed at Massey University. SCUV is a potentially simple and cost-effective solution for rapidly disinfecting low clarity liquids like industrial effluent, juice, wine, and milk for which standard UV treatment is not normally considered feasible due to these liquids’ low ‘UV transmissivity’ (UVT).

SCUV is also potentially a cost-effective way to enhance the shelf life of products and treat them far more cheaply than other methods like pasteurisation – without high temperatures that impact nutrition and flavour.

Led by Professor Andy Shilton, who has a PhD in Environmental Engineering and more than 25 years’ experience working in solutions for water and wastewater treatment, Massey has already developed a market-ready industrial scale SCUV system.

Now Professor Shilton and his team are testing a prototype for the dairy industry – where SCUV has multiple potential benefits including reducing the biosecurity risks from waste milk and effluent.

Professor Shilton says farmers are particularly interested in the ability of SCUV to lift the quality of milk fed to calves by reducing potential disease spread, especially if the waste milk derives from multiple farms.

From talking to stakeholders a prototype has been refined and has been tested on milk spiked with E.Coli and Bacillus cereus spores and was shown to be effective and fit for purpose for the next stage of long term rigorous testing.

Professor Shilton says without AGMARDT funding this critical stage of the work wouldn’t have been possible.

“While we had been able to undertake preliminary testing that indicated potential, without this AGMARDT funding the young Bio/Chem Research Engineer that we had trained in this area would have had to be laid off and work on applying Supercritical UV technology to the dairy sector would have ceased.

“This funding gave us the opportunity to continue and enabled us to secure co-funding from Fonterra to apply for a second stage of AGMARDT funding that will allow longer-term testing including on-farm trials.”

This work will build a rigorous data set to allow practical proof of concept and economic feasibility analysis.

“Ultimately this work has the potential to provide a significant reduction of biosecurity risk, improvement in animal well-being and lift in profitability across New Zealand’s dairy sector.”

New generation apples for new markets

AGMARDT funding is helping Next Generation Apples better understand consumers in Vietnam and China as it works to introduce two new varieties of New Zealand-bred apples into these markets.

Next Generation Apples is a joint venture between long-standing Kiwi apple growing companies Golden Bay Fruit and Taylor Corp. The company is taking new varieties of apples to the world, growing them in the best apple-growing regions and delivering them to apple-loving consumers.

Next Generation’s first two varieties are T003 and T093, the latest to be developed by New Zealand and world-leading fruit, vegetable, and arable developer Plant Food & Research.

Golden Bay Fruit Branding Imagery

The two new varieties have all the right ingredients for commercial success from a grower and consumer perspective.

Steve Hayden, Project Manager says the company wants to get closer to the consumer rather than following the traditional New Zealand apple industry model of going to wholesalers.

To do this, it has undertaken an extensive Market and Customer Insight Programme to build in-depth understanding of specific markets and the customers, to inform naming of the apples, branding and overall marketing approaches.

During 2020 and 2021, Next Generation Apples has completed key phases of the programme, gaining an extensive but not exhaustive understanding of the experiences and perceptions Chinese and Vietnamese consumers have around food, fruit and specifically apples.

New Zealand apples are regarded as a desirable and premium product for a growing middle-class shopping at specialty fruit and vegetable outlets and online.

“We are aiming for this premium market and confident that there is huge potential and demand. New Zealand is still regarded in these markets as clean and green, and our COVID-free status has only worked to boost that reputation and increase demand.”

The other core component of the insights programme is in-market consumer taste testing and interviews, Due to COVID, some of these were completed in 2020 with Vietnamese and Chinese consumers.

However, during June to August 2021, the programme is heading into five cities across Vietnam and China working with consumers to experience branding concepts and marketing.

“AGMARDT funding is invaluable for us. Without it we wouldn’t be able to do this critical component of in-market consumer testing and interviews,” Steve Hayden, Project Manager

Supporting leadership and governance capability

For the second year AGMARDT has funded To the Core, a unique and award-winning leadership and commercial governance development programme for the primary sector.

Launched in 2018, the programme is designed to provide Farmlands and Silver Fern Farms shareholders with an opportunity to learn about governance in both co-operatives, as well as develop skills needed to operate at board level.

The programme is held in Christchurch during June each year. Over three days the 24 participants learn about a wide range of topics presented by experienced governors from internal and external boards and the Chief Executive Officers from both co-operatives.

Mark McHardy, Farmlands’ Director of External Relations says demand for To the Core is growing year on year with the 2021 event attracting over 80 applications from the shareholders of both co-operatives.

The programme is delivering results to the extent that an extension course has been developed with the support of AGMARDT funding.

“Through the To the Core courses completed to date, there have been a number of elite delegates who have illustrated an ability and desire to govern at a higher business level,” says Mark.

“The new To the Core extension course provides an advanced level of governance training that will prepare our top performers to pursue governance positions in rural / regional business organisations. This is good for our primary sector businesses.”

The extension course elevates already high achieving participants into simulated board governance situations and prepares them for the rigours of business governance. The goal is to offer the extension programme to alumni of To the Core every alternate year.

“The great thing about AGMARDT funding is that it has enabled us to continue developing the To the Core programme, leveraging off learnings from previous years. We couldn’t do that without AGMARDT.” Mark McHardy, Farmlands.

AGMARDT Chair Richard Green was invited to attend the June 2021 programme finale dinner where he says it was clear that participants were all enthusiastic about the leadership journey they were undertaking.

“At AGMARDT we are passionate about supporting development of leadership capability in the food and fibre sector. So, it was very pleasing to feel the huge energy in the room and hear the participants talking about the value they had received from the programme. Learning from experienced leaders and realising their own potential, stimulated them to continue their own development.”

“We are very grateful to AGMARDT for helping fund this opportunity alongside Silver Fern Farms and Farmlands.” To the Core participant June 2021