NZ Zero spearheads fossil fuel free growing

 

Innovative agribusiness company NZ Zero (NZ0) has its sights set on export of the world’s first certified zero emissions produced cherries during the 2022/23 season, following start up support from AGMARDT.

The company’s focus is on eliminating fossil fuel used in the growing and harvesting of produce and to eliminate or reduce its use across all other aspects of its supply chain. It is also aiming to achieve New Zealand’s first zero fossil fuel certification.

NZ0’s first grower, Forest Lodge Orchard, near Cromwell, was established in 2019 by Mike and Rebecca Casey, who co-founded NZ0, along with Angus Curry.

Initially the orchard, which has about 9,600 cherry trees, allowed for fossil fuel use but by September 2021 it had completely converted all day-to-day operations to the latest electric technology – the first New Zealand grower to do so. This includes irrigation, frost fighting fans and orchard vehicles. Extensive solar power has also been installed on site.

The first ‘fossil-free’ harvest in 2021/22 was sold into the New Zealand market but the upcoming harvest will also be exported.

An AGMARDT grant helped NZ0 through its establishment phase. This included incorporation with the NZ Company Office, approval of trademarks, launch of its website and building its social media presence. The funding also supported NZ0 in the creation of an open source certification for food production with zero emissions, through AsureQuality, a pre-sales marketing campaign and retail and consumer research.

Angus Curry said market trials had been highly successful, demonstrating that New Zealand consumers were willing to pay a premium for sustainable food, with data showing that electrification for growers was highly viable – they have also developed an electrification payback model.

Forest Lodge has attracted significant media interest, including for the introduction of its electric tractor and bespoke electric foliar sprayer. It was a finalist in the 2021 Sustainable Business Awards and has been used as a case study by the Sustainable Energy Association New Zealand.

“NZ0’s purpose is to become a catalyst for true, quantifiable change in the production methods of growers,” said Mr Curry. “As a brand, it will add value to both growers and consumers while acting as a point of difference for NZ from other global producers.”

Mr Curry said that, recognising that impactful change of New Zealand’s carbon footprint depends on scale, NZ0 is developing a conversion plan for other growers to model.

The company now aims to build on its initial market research and data by expanding product offerings from cherries to other important commercial crops. Next steps include finalising its zero fossil fuel certification, working towards on-boarding new growers and establishing new sales channels domestically and internationally.

“We believe the ‘NZ brand’ would benefit greatly from its next market catalyst, identifying with carbon conscious consumers both domestically and globally to regain our premium niche in the market,” said Mr Curry. “This is a sector in which NZ could become the sole true participant based on our government’s target of a 100% renewable grid by 2030, the only large scale food exporter to do so.”

E Tipu 2022: Boma NZ Agri Summit

 

AGMARDT helped fund world-class speakers for E Tipu 2022: the Boma NZ Agri Summit, New Zealand’s biggest food and fibre cross-sector event.

AGMARDT led a workshop session at the summit,  funded the digital event programme to share all international talks and showcase domestic speakers to a global audience, along with recording, live streaming and post production for all the international speakers’ talks. These professionally-edited talks can be viewed on the Boma Global YouTube channel.

Boma offers transformational learning experiences for leaders and changemakers. The event, held at Christchurch Town Hall in June, proved highly successful, with over 750 attendees, from 242 organisations, the largest number since E Tipu’s launch in 2019. It was hailed by attendees as a world class event, with a significant number of delegates booking immediately for E Tipu 2023.

It included 31 world class speakers and panellists, a series of interactive workshops, designed to ignite action, and extensive networking opportunities.

Jude Leferink, brand and marketing director for Boma New Zealand, said AGMARDT was a natural partner for E Tipu, which has become a critical platform for informed, thoughtful and future focused dialogue around the issues that really matter for our primary industries.

“As a national event with global reach, E Tipu connects Aotearoa’s food and fibre sector with the world – bringing thoughtful and future focused dialogue around the issues that really matter for our primary industries,” said Ms Leferink.

“E Tipu connects Aotearoa’s food and fibre sector with the world — bringing together remarkable speakers and changemakers to ignite vital conversations, share mind-blowing insights, and help shape the future of Aotearoa’s primary industries.

“E Tipu sits at the nexus of the practical and the radical, tackling major questions around how we can be more innovative, collaborative, sustainable and profitable — now and into the future.”

Ms Leferink said the event headlined current industry challenges and opportunities directly aligned to AGMARDT’s focus area.

“Critically, E Tipu is not a talk-fest. It’s about connecting, arming and inspiring changemakers from across Aotearoa’s primary industries and beyond for what comes next — so they can take specific, positive action the very next day. The summit sparks transformations.

“E Tipu 2022 was bigger and bolder than ever before — showcasing mind-blowing insights and igniting vital conversations to help shape the future of the sector.”

Te Hono Bootcamp

PHOTO: AGMARDT’s GM, Lee-Ann Marsh and Trustee, Ben Tosswill.

AGMARDT is a proud sponsor of the recently held 2022 Te Hono Bootcamp. Below are a few reflections from AGMARDT trustee Ben Tosswill who attended with our GM, Lee-Ann Marsh.

“What an amazing few days! It was a privilege to be part of Te Hono and meet so many incredible people in our sector. I went from one great conversation to the next with some of my thoughts and ideas validated, while also seeing new possibilities and hope for the future.   I was impressed with the vast array of organisations represented and the diversity of the attendees.

The venue was outstanding – being amongst the mountains at Aoraki/Mt Cook brought a sense of humility. Seeing evidence of climate change first hand was sobering. We learned how quickly the Tasman Glacier is retreating and the predator impact on kea numbers in the area.

I observed how biodiversity, climate change and the environment are at the forefront of many decision makers minds. This paradigm shift has come quickly and is influencing decisions today. Climate change is a human problem, not a planet problem and solutions are within our reach.

Te Ao Māori woven throughout Bootcamp was uplifting. From waiata (song) to acknowledge and thank speakers, to Tina Porou’s talk which challenged and inspired through to the spiritual elements and connectedness with the land and sea. Mātauranga Māori is key to helping us plan for the future.

The importance of storytelling and understanding how we can shift people’s mindsets was also powerful. What are the barriers to change and how can they be influenced? How do people think and what inspires change? From a farmer’s perspective, we need to own the narrative and become better at telling our story, not just for others but also to each other. Help people feel successful and create a path for them to embrace a new identity.

Balancing this will be the need for listening, especially when there are two conflicting points of view. Why do they have that view? Is there a third way of resolving the problem? Conscious listening will result in understanding.

There was this and so much more, but I’ll leave it here. I look forward to seeing how the seeds planted at this year’s Bootcamp grow. Out of challenge comes opportunity.”

AGMARDT seeking to support future leaders

Closing Date: EXTENDED to 9th October 2022!

AGMARDT will be opening applications for its 2023 Leadership Scholarships on Tuesday 6 September 2022.

The annual scholarship programme provides emerging leaders in the food and fibres sector with financial support to advance their governance and leadership skills to take up future roles within agribusiness.

It is aimed at mid-career professionals from a wide range of backgrounds across the supply chain from farmers and growers through to agribusiness and industry bodies.

“We’re looking for innovative, future-focused thinkers who want to change the world for the better and are already having a positive influence through their work and leadership,” says AGMARDT Chair Nick Pyke.

“They will have a clear and distinctive plan for their ongoing growth and development toward taking up influential roles in the sector – not just a course or two, but a diverse programme of activity that will build their capability across a range of areas.”

For example, 2022 AGMARDT Leadership Scholar Alex Worker is advancing his vision of New Zealand as the eco valley of the world, producing ethical, technology enabled food to help feed Asia Pacific more sustainably.

As the founding Chair of Future Food Aotearoa, a collective of food entrepreneurs committed to growing New Zealand’s foodtech industry, Alex is using his scholarship to complete the Harvard Kennedy School’s Public Leadership Credential programme.

“With the Harvard programme, my aim is to significantly upgrade my governance, public good thinking and leadership skills to have a greater impact on the betterment of Aotearoa New Zealand.

“I’m really grateful for AGMARDT’s support. It’s a progressive signal to take a risk on my type of profile. In turn I hope to de-risk their investment and use the opportunity to drive real, collective impact across New Zealand’s food and fibre sector.”

The scholarships, up to a maximum of $15,000 (incl GST) per scholar, are available annually and successful scholarship applicants will have the opportunity to:

  • Achieve their potential as identified through their own comprehensive, personalised development plan
  • Develop and advance their management, leadership and governance skills
  • Explore their personal development beyond New Zealand’s borders, and
  • Participate in programmes that make a positive difference to New Zealand’s food and fibre sectors and are aligned with AGMARDT’s strategic interests and purpose.

Applicants must be New Zealand citizens or permanent residents, living here, who intend to maintain a career in the country’s food and fibre sectors and want to advance their leadership potential and skills and create impact.

Preference will be given, but not limited to: applicants who have not previously received AGMARDT assistance, who are involved in the agricultural, horticultural and/or forestry sectors and who are seeking new and innovative approaches to development.

They will show strong potential as a future leader and demonstrate, through a comprehensive plan, their intention to undertake a broad range of study/development.

For full details of criteria and the application process see, www.agmardt.org.nz.  Applications should be submitted via the online portal (http://applications.agmardt.org.nz/).

ENDS

Farmer appointed as new trustee to AGMARDT

 

Photo – Ben Tosswill.

Hawkes Bay farmer Ben Tosswill has been appointed as a new Trustee to the AGMARDT Board of Trustees.

Ben is owner/operator of Birch Hill Station with his wife Libby in the Hawkes Bay. He is also Chair of the Beef+Lamb NZ Eastern North Island Farmer Council and a member of the Beef+Lamb NZ Farmer Council National Executive.

AGMARDT Chair Nick Pyke says Ben brings a valuable mix of skills, experience, and perspectives to the Board, says Chair Nick Pyke.

“We are really thrilled to welcome Ben to the table. As a farmer, he brings an understanding of the industry, a strong focus on what will benefit it going forward, and his networks and connections in the sector.

“With his significant experience in the finance industry globally and locally, he also brings a keen interest and eye for future investment trends, innovation and new technology.”

Prior to farming Ben worked as a rural bank manager before travelling throughout Africa, South America, and Europe. He lived in London for three years, where he worked as an analyst in corporate and investment banking.

Ben says he is excited to be appointed as an AGMARDT Trustee and looking forward to being part of a team that helps shape the future.

“We are living in an exponential era where the speed of technological change is accelerating, and people are adopting modern technology rapidly.

“AGMARDT plays a crucial role in fostering innovation, enabling emerging leaders to develop their capabilities, and driving positive change in the food and fibres sector.

“I want to see our sector leading the world in terms of reputation, opportunity, and innovation. Collaboration will be a key driver of this, something that AGMARDT helps to facilitate.”

Nick says AGMARDT is also farewelling Richard Green, who has stepped down from the board having fulfilled the role of both a Trustee and the Chair over his six years with AGMARDT.

“We want to say a huge thank you to Richard who has provided his time and significant expertise to help AGMARDT and the industry,” says Nick.

“We have valued his knowledge and understanding of the food and fibres industry and his guidance across the range of projects, as well as his business and financial acumen. This has helped ensure our fund is more secure in these volatile times.”

ENDS

For more information contact

Alice Taylor 021 02785648

www.agmardt.org.nz

Taranaki Rural Energy Project

 

Photos – Property of Venture Taranaki and Taranaki Catchment Community.

A pilot project in Taranaki is trailblazing initiatives to help farmers improve on-farm energy-efficiency, energy resilience and reduce on-farm emissions.

The Taranaki Rural Energy Project is a collaboration between Federated Farmers, Taranaki Catchment Communities, Taranaki Regional Council and regional development agency Venture Taranaki – working closely with farmers, energy companies, equipment suppliers, programme partners, and agencies.

AGMARDT funding has enabled the project to take its first steps, undertaking initial pilot trials in farmer education and advice for energy efficiency.

Anne Probert, Venture Taranaki GM Regional Strategy and Sectors says on-farm energy use presents an area of opportunity, and farmers are keen to be more sustainable, identify efficiencies, and advance low emission energy options.

“To be able to do this and to capture these gains, they need help to understand their on-farm energy profile and how they can improve low-emission productivity. They also need to know what the best low-emission investment options are and have confidence about making those investments.

“We’re really grateful to AGMARDT for coming on board and making it possible for our Taranaki collective to design and trial such a farmer-led rural energy advisory service”

This involved engaging two people to visit a cross-section of farms, undertake on-farm energy audits and identify some ‘quick wins’ as well as longer-term energy solutions. Outcomes were also collated for the project team along with practical feedback on the value and potential extension of such a service and how it could be used to foster sharing of rural energy information and best practice.

Learnings from this pilot are being used as a foundation for potentially establishing a farm energy adviser role, which could serve as a blueprint for similar programmes throughout Aotearoa New Zealand.

Future plans could also include the possibility of farm visits, events, and information sharing on rural energy to support initiatives within the programme focus areas.

Funding from AGMARDT has enabled the project to develop a business plan and launch a centralised hub online where farmers can engage and access the programme.

Leveraging the collaborative nature of the project, core focus areas include working with partners to develop data systems that enable farmers to make the required energy-related investment decisions to support the project goals.

Another area is working to identify local resource capacities such as solar and river flows for renewable energies and the feasible technologies to support these.

The project is also supporting collaboration between energy infrastructure companies and the Taranaki rural community to increase supply resilience and support transitions to new technologies.

“Ultimately, the big focus of this project is creating a collaborative and farmer-led approach that fosters practical advice and support and closes the information gap farmers currently face in relation to the rollout of cost-effective, technically feasible, and readily available energy solutions.

“Learnings, case studies, and resources from the project will be available to all farmers in New Zealand. Over time, this will help to future-proof farms in terms of meeting their energy supply needs and also place them at the forefront concerning trialling, testing, and utilising new energy technologies and low emission options.”

 

Marlborough Research Centre Trust – Upscaling Organic Waste Streams

 

Gerald Hope – Chief Executive Marlborough Research Centre Trust, John Patterson – Associate MRC, Bernie Rowe – Chairman, Edwin Pitts – Trustee, (Absent is Ivan Sutherland – Trustee)

 

AGMARDT provided funding that enabled the Marlborough Research Centre Trust to undertake a waste mapping study across Te Tau Ihu, the top of the South Island. This will support strategies for upscaling organic waste streams.

Industrial scale use of insects to convert waste streams into high quality animal feed is just one of the potential outcomes that could spring from the Te Tau Ihi waste mapping study.

Marlborough Research Centre (MRC) recognised that a comprehensive inventory and analysis of bio resources (waste streams) across the top of the South Island would be a valuable starting point to develop regional strategies and multi-sector business opportunities to recycle and upcycle waste.

MRC associate John Patterson said significant economic benefits are expected to come out of the study, which is now publicly available. It will provide a valuable resource for organisations considering launching new ventures using waste. It is also hoped it will provide a step towards establishment of an industrial waste upscaling plant to produce high value animal feeds.

“The region wishes to establish an environment of cradle to cradle nutrient circularity and reuse,” said Mr Patterson. “The findings of the study can be applied to progress multiple upcycling of organic waste streams. The study has identified what and where the waste streams are and what the resources are and is a fundamental first step to progressing a strategy to upcycle waste streams.”

MRC contracted the study to Plant & Food Research which worked with a bio-waste and insect bioconversion technology expert John Macdonald, of Food Security Solutions Ltd, to survey businesses across the regions that produce waste streams, including the wine industry, other primary producers and processors.

“For instance, grape marc, such as residual skins and leaves, is the waste stream for wine production,” said Mr Patterson. “The Marlborough region produces around 70 to 80 tonnes of this annually.

“Insect farming is one of the opportunities. Insects can potentially be fed using waste streams and then processed for use in high quality animal feed. However, a range of waste streams is needed to create the ‘recipe’ of ingredients required to feed the insects. Organisations considering new insect farming ventures now have easier access to information showing whether sufficient quantities of those waste streams might be available in the region.”

Industrial scale insect farming would implement the latest innovations in sustainable protein production, using the Buhler Insect Technology Solutions (BITS) which uses insects to turn organic residues into protein for feed. While further feasibility studies would be needed, it is estimated such a project would create 50 new full-time jobs and bring investment of $85 million to the region, plus associated value creation.

“The information is now out there and people are starting to use it,” said Mr Patterson. “We have had interest from companies nationally including those looking to understand the financial viability of insect farming, so we will be doing some collaboration to progress how insect farming might evolve in the region. There has also been a lot of interest from the industries that are producing the waste streams.”

The waste mapping project cost $69,000 in total and Mr Patterson said that is unlikely it would have been possible without AGMARDT funding.

“The funding was very valuable. To be truly effective the study needed to cover the entire Nelson, Tasman and Marlborough regions. Different regions have different priorities and it would have been difficult to get everyone lined up. AGMARDT support enabled us to do a comprehensive cross-region study.”

The waste mapping report is now available on MRC’s website at https://www.mrc.org.nz/project-reports

Strategic Thinking for Agrifood Management Programme (STAMP) – Applications open now

Ensuring our future leaders are equipped to take on the challenges facing the agrifood sector is a big part of what AGMARDT does.

So, we’re thrilled to be a major sponsor and business partner of the Strategic Thinking for Agrifood Management Programme (STAMP), which supports the development of emerging leaders from all areas within New Zealand’s agrifood sector.

Developed and piloted by New Zealand food innovation hub FoodHQ in collaboration with Massey University agribusiness academics, Professor Nicola Shadbolt and Dr Elena Garnevska, over the past three years, the programme focuses on accelerating emerging leaders’ strategic thinking, broadening sector awareness and helping build local and global personal and professional networks.

“The young people who have come through this programme are so inspiring and appreciative,” says FoodHQ Chief Executive Dr Abby Thompson.

“They realise the status quo is not an option and that there are a lot of opportunities waiting to be opened, to build on our strengths like meat, dairy and kiwifruit and introduce greater diversity and innovation.

“It’s so great to have AGMARDT on board to ensure we can continue to help accelerate the skills they need to make change. Without AGMARDT that wouldn’t happen.”

The core approach with the programme is case study analysis based on the time-honoured Harvard Business School methodology.

“Case study analysis not only stimulates the mind to think strategically but gives students some insight to discuss and reflect on real-life situations, the kind of management problems they are likely to face in their careers.

“They get to understand the many different considerations involved, the approach leaders have taken and to learn analytical and problem-solving skills techniques to come up with their own recommendations.”

Another core focus of the programme is extending students’ awareness of the agrifood sector through exposure to its different disciplines and components. This happens through case study work as well as site visits, meetings and panel discussions with those who have knowledge and expertise.

Integral to these activities is bringing participants together with their peers from across the sector and sector organisations to help build networks and relationships.

“Diversity in the cohort is really to ensure we’re getting those different cross-sector perspectives from different aspects such as science, markets and industry on and off-farm, sharing ideas and building relationships.

“Ultimately, collaboration and partnership are fundamental to the future of food, helping build the innovation ecosystem in agriculture, food and technology that New Zealand needs to take to ensure our nation’s future success.”

The programme invites applications from New Zealand based young professionals and postgraduate students (under 30 years of age) from any part of the agrifood sector.  Diversity is a key part of the programme’s success, and current participants include people working in various parts of industry, government and research; and across the whole of the value chain from farming and growing through to consumers and everything in between. It’s not an easy choice with on average 70-100 applicants per year – limited to an annual intake of approximately 10-15 new participants who can participate for up to three years.

“We have between 30-35 participants at any given time, with a current cohort of 32 ranging in age from early twenties to early thirties, with around half of them female.”

The programme is designed not to be an onerous commitment for these often very busy young professionals, with just three to four weekend events a year – and the opportunity to attend the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA) conference – and participate in the IFAMA Student Case Study competition.

In fact, in June 2022, three teams were sent to IFAMA in Costa Rica, two of which won first and second place in the case study competition for young professionals.

To apply, please complete the application form and forward with a 2-page CV to [email protected]m by 9am on Monday 22nd August 2022.  Please send any questions about the programme to this email as well. 

Perspectives: AGMARDT’s Lee-Ann Marsh on taking action for the collective good

General manager of food and fibres sector funder AGMARDT Lee-Ann Marsh brought a career in global marketing, consumer insight and innovation to the table when she took the helm of the organisation in August. Here she shares insights from initial conversations with industry leaders.

Lee-Ann Marsh

Ngā mihi o te tau hou ki a koutou katoa.

In my first few months as AGMARDT’s new general manager (spent locked down in Auckland while trying to keep home chaos to a minimum) I spoke with a wide range of sector participants and leaders to get a feel for the issues and opportunities they’re seeing. Here are my thoughts, based on the korero and my own thinking and experience.

Globally focussed

A need to be globally focused is critical. What I’ve heard and experienced is that some farmers don’t have a full appreciation of the global consumer demands fuelling the pace of change (including regulation). Anecdotally, those that do are much more open to change.

For some, it’s about a mindset shift from farming as a lifestyle to farming as part of a global export industry; these are not mutually exclusive. Industry should be continually communicating the expectations and opportunities from market back to farm to make it exciting and real.

Water

Water is not being widely discussed. Water is not just about quality, but usage, storage, and conservation, all so critical to sustainable food production.

Consumers are looking to reduce their water consumption and globally companies are acting on this. For example, Unilever is helping people use less water through innovations such as quick-rinse conditioners, spray-on clothes fresheners and smarter irrigation solutions. What are the equivalent solutions for New Zealand agriculture?

One project that AGMARDT is proud to support is Croptide, an agtech solution that aims to give growers the information required to give plants exactly the water they need.

As an industry we need to be thinking more critically and collaboratively about water to be resilient in the face of changing consumer expectations, not to mention weather patterns.

GMO vs Gene editing

Innovation in genetic technologies is another hot topic. I’m not talking about genetic modification (GM), but gene editing which can achieve the same results as traditional breeding but more precisely and rapidly.

The United Kingdom is currently revising how it governs use of genetic technologies.

While this field has been controversial, when benefits such as animal welfare and environmental gains start to outweigh risk, I believe there will be less consumer concern and greater demand for these solutions.

We need to engage meaningfully in conversation and make decisions on this technology rather than continuing with a ‘do nothing’ approach.

Regenerative agriculture

Consumers are wanting to reduce their environmental footprint and food businesses are seeking the same outcomes across their supply chains – regenerative agriculture (RA) is a shortcut to that.

Lee-Ann Marsh

In simple terms, RA is about demonstrable, continuous environmental improvement across soil, water, biodiversity, and carbon.

A recent Beef + Lamb NZ  and New Zealand Winegrowers report shows a clear market opportunity with New Zealand well positioned to take a leadership role. It’s great to see companies exploring and developing programmes to meet market needs and attract stronger premiums such as T&G, Zespri and Silver Fern Farms.

We need to encourage and support farmers and growers who see opportunity and alignment with their businesses to join the RA journey. For others thinking about how to adapt their systems to capitalise on consumer trends, areas like decarbonisation are key even if the regen label is not adopted.

Working for the ‘collective good’ 

In a somewhat siloed industry, I’ve heard examples of groups coming together, then going away to fight for their own piece of the pie, making it difficult to take a holistic, long-term approach to the challenges and opportunities our sector is facing.

We need a new mindset that transcends sub-sectors and enables us to explore new ways of working for the collective good of the sector.

A good example is He Waka Eke Noa, the primary sector partnership working with farmers and growers to reduce Aotearoa’s emissions and build resilience to climate change.

Another, that AGMARDT is funding is Taiao Ora, a pioneering programme for the food and fibres sector based on genuine partnership between Māori and Pākehā, shared values and the wellbeing of nature.

In addition, there’s a need to build capability and leadership through a joined-up approach and to support the unique opportunities within Māori agribusiness. Both topics are high on AGMARDT’s agenda.

Ultimately AGMARDT is here to ignite a better future for food and fibres in Aotearoa, so I encourage you to visit our website to learn more about how we support and fund innovators and leaders. Wishing you all a fantastic start to 2022.

I orea te tuatara ka puta ki waho | A problem is solved by continuing to find solutions

9th February 2022 By Contributor | [email protected] | @foodtickernz

2022 AGMARDT Leadership Scholarships Announcement!

We are pleased to announce that the Board has selected 11 recipients for the 2022 AGMARDT Leadership Scholarship.

It wasn’t easy as we had a record number of applicants, all very high calibre and a good mix of diversity across gender, ethnicity and the value chain.

Happily, we were also able to award more scholarships than usual – a total of $148,000 – as we did not award any last year due to COVID-19.

In making our decision, we have looked for people who are not only talented and have innovative approaches to developing their skills and ideas – but bring a collective mindset to leadership. Leaders who want to have a wide impact are vital to setting up our sector for future success.

Congratulations to all our new scholars and we look forward to watching your journeys unfold.