Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Lincoln aims to get in touch with grassroots

In a move aimed at securing its future, Lincoln University is seeking to engage better with grassroots industry.

A group of handpicked farmers has been appointed to provide direction for the university to increase its portfolio of farms, its relationship with farmers, and to work towards improving the Lincoln students’ specialised experience.

The committee, taking in a diverse range of farming, is Murray Jamieson (Northland), Hew Dalrymple (Bulls), Shane Miles (New Plymouth), Sue Prouting (South Canterbury), Lisa Anderson (North Otago), Andrew Morrison (Southland), Murray Turley (South Canterbury), and Charles Duncan (Hunterville).

It is headed by Waikato agri-businessman Ross Hyland.

The group brings expertise from a diverse range of farming systems, with the eight farmers appointed involved in sheep, beef, intensive lamb finishing, merino fine wool, deer, precision agriculture, intensive vegetable growing and arable, dairying, and forestry.

The farmers will be joined by senior university academics Bruce McKenzie, Ken Hughey, Grant Edwards and Keith Woodford, alongside South Island Dairy Development Centre director Ron Pellow and the university’s farms’ manager Andrew Lingard.

The farms committee will oversee the development of the 3900ha of farmland owned and run by the university. It has been established to help Lincoln University make the most of its farms to improve the student experience, to improve scientific research on productivity and the environment and, most importantly, for enhanced interaction between the university and New Zealand’s farmers, Hyland said.

The university would also be looking to expand the portfolio in strategic partnerships with other entities, he said.

“The combination of academic expertise and practical experience will create a wonderful incubator for ideas and innovation. The university has traditionally used the farms well for research, student experience, commercial demonstration, and investment. We want to build on that now.”

Lincoln had to face reality and had to refocus, Hyland said. There was no free lunch any more and no more government money.

“It has got to paddle its own canoe and that is what Lincoln is going to do.”

Lincoln had a huge amount of goodwill and history, he said.

“The primary sector in this country absolutely needs to grab that with both hands.

“Going to Lincoln was not just going to university, it was a specialised university. We need to better engage students with farmers, get them more exposed and more involved.”  

Lincoln was not planning to sell any of its farming properties, rather it might add to them in the future, he said.

It had formed a partnership with the Smedley training farm recently that was now teaching Lincoln courses in Hawke’s Bay. The university was negotiating for more opportunities in Manawatu and Northland.

As a specialised university Lincoln could no longer be Canterbury or South Island-centric. It had to be national – the Government had made that clear, Hyland said.

Lincoln has 13 farming and horticultural properties. While most are in Canterbury, the farm portfolio includes a dryland sheep and beef property in Marlborough and the Mount Grand high-country station in Central Otago. 

They are used for research, demonstration and teaching. A couple are leased and some also provide income for scholarships.

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