25 May 2012

Science boost good for rural sector - professor

9:48 am on 25 May 2012

A university agribusiness professor says the Budget's boost to science will benefit the rural sector.

Science, innovation and research will receive $326 million over four years in announcements made on Thursday.

Science and engineering courses, and research are the biggest beneficiaries in the tertiary sector. They get almost all the $70 million a year that is being saved from cutbacks to student loan and allowance spending.

Engineering gets an extra $42 million over the next four years (an almost 9% increase), while science gets an extra $17 million (an increase of 2%).

The Budget also commits an extra $100 million over four years to tertiary funder, the Performance Based Research Fund.

Professor Jacqueline Rowarth from Waikato University says that is positive for the rural sector.

"This is all very good news in terms of the signals it sends to society that these are the areas that are valued.

"Everything that we do in the rural sector is based on science. It's farmers at the coalface thinking, 'Gosh there must be a better way to do this' and then going and working with a consultant or a scientist that actually comes up with the new things.

"We've got lots and lots of innovations in New Zealand that come from the two working together."