16 Mar 2019

UK agricultural sector eyeing farming opportunities in NZ

12:46 pm on 16 March 2019

Representatives from the British agricultural sector are looking to collaborate on new farming technology with New Zealand.

cucumber field growing with drip irrigation system in the countryside

cucumber field growing with drip irrigation system in the countryside Photo: 123RF

A UK delegation has travelled to Wellington, Palmerston North, Lincoln University before finishing their tour in Auckland.

The UK's Agri-EPI Centre project manager Duncan Forbes said New Zealand and the UK faced common challenges.

"The one that comes out a lot is environmental challenges. By 2050 we're expecting the world's population to have expanded to 9.8 billion, that means we've got to produce 75 percent more food than we are producing now, globally, and we've got to do that whilst having less impact on the environment," he said.

Mr Forbes said food traceability was helping producers to be able to add value to their product.

He added luckily there were a lot of young entrepreneurial farmers in New Zealand and in the UK, who saw this as an exciting challenge and opportunity.

He added one area that piqued his interest was the efficiency in farmer's use of forage, operating a year-round grazing system in dairying and using technology to measure the grass.

During the groups visit they met Stewart Dairyland managing director James Stewart to talk about his innovation lab, and Kate Gwilliam, chief executive of Zeddy in Palmerston North about her and her husband's in-field feeding system.

He said although there was a distance challenge from being on opposite sides of the world, there were some massive opportunities to accelerate research.

"The term I had not come across before is counter-seasonality, so you get two summers in one year, one in each country, so if you need growing seasons to test your new technology, use both countries to do that," he said.

Another delegation will be arriving in June and there will also be a New Zealand representative visiting the UK later this year.

Mr Forbes hoped some partnerships could be made before then.