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Source: Massey University

 A still taken from the new film, The Spatial Awareness Project (Location: Hairy Feet Waitomo).

Massey University is proud to return to Fieldays as a major partner for the third year, showcasing how our latest research and technology is advancing Aotearoa and making a difference to our people and communities.

Massey University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas says as the largest agricultural event in the southern hemisphere, Fieldays is an important opportunity for both the university and the primary industry sector.

“New Zealand has remarkable social capital, is small enough to get things done, and has a natural propensity to lead internationally. To me, this is what Fieldays is all about – a collision of new research, technology and ideas.

“It’s also a chance to learn from one another and broaden our thinking to help find solutions to some of the gnarly problems that face the sector, New Zealand and the world.”

Massey will share its latest research in agritech, food, environmental science, health, and the intersection of humans’ relationship with the environment, across three sites this year.

“Fieldays is a prime opportunity for our team to meet and inspire future students and explain where a Massey University qualification can take them. We also enjoy connecting with current students who study across the motu (island), as well as alumni who are leaders or emerging leaders working in the primary industries,” Professor Thomas says.

Dr Cadey Korson and her drone

Environmental relationships the focus of new film to be launched at Fieldays

As science and technology have advanced, so too have philosophy and perspectives on land and water use. It is this change in thinking that prompted Senior Lecturer in Human Geography Dr Cadey Korson to explore the complexity of human environmental relationships through a film, ‘The Spatial Awareness Project’.

The idea for this arose following conversations with students where she was continually surprised by how few of them have travelled around the country.

“Here I was talking about pollution, tourism, climate change and urbanisation overseas, yet they had little experience with the complexity of these issues in their own backyard.”

The film, to be launched at Fieldays, uses stunning drone footage of New Zealand landscapes to pose the question of whether our land use classifications reflect our aspirations for the environment and values.

The inclusion of mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) is explored within the film as a solution to create new opportunities around the future for humans and the environment.

One of the project’s collaborators, Associate Professor Krushil Watene, says Māori communities’ relationships with local environments are grounded in rich knowledge and understanding of our natural environment.

“Much of our land use assumes and constrains the way that we utilise land. If the aim is to relate to land as stewards, then we need to rethink how current land use is enabled.”

Hannah Wood, founder of Little ‘Lato

Massey food tech alumni turned gelato entrepreneur on the stand

Hannah Wood decided to study food technology with Massey after a representative visited her high school. Today, she owns and operates award-winning gelato stores Little ‘Lato, across New Zealand after being awarded an industry scholarship to learn the art of gelato making at Carpigiani Gelato University in Bologna, Italy.

Hannah, a former finalist in the New Zealand Food Awards powered by Massey University, wants to share her journey of where a qualification in food technology can take someone. Her story highlights that a career in the food sector can lead to owning your own business, developing new products or, in her case, putting her own creative and seasonal twist on a much-loved product.

Her award-winning flavours include oat milk latte, salted butterscotch and mango lassi, and she will be serving these up to visitors on the Massey stand.

 Nitrate reduction to improve water quality

Helping farmers reduce the impact of their farms on surface water quality, and conserving drainage waters for use as irrigation have been the focus of years of work for Ranvir Singh, an Associate Professor in Environmental Hydrology and Soil Science, and Associate Professor David Horne. They are focused on reducing the demand on water sources while improving water quality.

The pair will showcase their research into potential pathways to better utilise naturally existing and/or purpose-built new nitrate attenuation capacity in farmed landscapes.

“Nitrate contamination is increasingly linked to public health concerns, to toxicity, to aquatic species and biodiversity losses in freshwater ecosystems.”

Dr Singh says solutions-based research is key to helping improve our waterways; “this approach is what situates Massey University as a world leader in this area.”

How loud is too loud? A focus on sound health 

An interactive mannequin named Grace will take centre stage at Massey University’s stand in the Health and Wellbeing Hub to help people understand safe listening levels and experience how loud is too loud.

The focus is on safe listening levels and durations to protect hearing, and draws on the School of Health Sciences’ expertise in occupational health and safety and environmental health.

Grace the mannequin will wear a set of low-cost headphones and has microphones inside her head which connect to a sound level metre. An identical set of headphones will be available for visitors to wear, and they’ll be asked to choose a favourite song and set their normal volume. That will then be plugged into the mannequin at the same level they selected to raise awareness of what their listening habits may mean for their hearing health.

Robots on show with Massey AgriFood Digital Lab 

Two robots will be featured as part of Massey AgriFood Digital Lab’s stand on partner sites GoHort and Lincoln Agritech.

Farm Bot: The lab is working with a US based start-up to see how they can take an opensource community planting system and use it as a data driven production scale opportunity. The drive is for an artificial intelligence solution to monitor plant growth and optimise crop for a variety of conditions and crops.

Forestry Robot: The project forms part of the SfTi Robotics spearhead to create a robotic workforce to work alongside forestry workers to autonomously deliver seedlings to the planters in the forest. This will reduce overall labour costs with increased productivity. The robot has completed a first round of trials in forest.

Visit Massey at Fieldays

Massey’s main stand will be in the Mystery Creek Pavilion (site PC49, PC51, PD50, PD52)

Health and Wellness Hub (site HW11)

GoHort (site PB43,PB45,PB47) and Lincoln Agritech (site E28)