Lincoln University is setting up a new farming operation, which it hopes will be a shot in the arm for sheep farming and the red meat industry.
It's converting 20 hectares of farmland at its Te Waihora campus in Selwyn into a facility for sheep farm education, training and research.
Vice-chancellor Andrew West says that while dairying is dominant, sheep and beef farming is still the country's second most important land-based industry. He says having sheep physically back alongside the university will make it easier to train farm workers and do research.
Dr West says although the sheep and beef industry is going through some difficult times it offers New Zealand a lot of export earnings right now and alternatives to dairy farming are needed, because prices will fluctuate.
He says sheep farming also provides an alternative in terms of land use - for instance, steeper land is ideal for sheep.
The new facility will include a sheep breeding unit, as well as an intensive finishing operation for lamb and beef.