The E Tipu: The Boma Agri Summit held last month was a chance for rural leaders to come together and share new ideas, inspiration and address confronting issues with likeminded people.
We spoke with a handful of up-and-coming rural leaders from Lincoln University about what they thought about the conference, some key takeaways and how they think it might apply to them as they transition into their own careers within the sector.
Emma Blom, a second-year student working towards a Bachelor of Environment and Society, told us she got a lot out of the conference, saying it was an amazing opportunity to see the future thinking of the agriculture industry in New Zealand and globally.
“Some common themes were the issues around climate change, however it was really cool to see that even within these really difficult challenges there’s been a lot of collaboration from different industries,” Emma said.
She also highlighted some important perspective changes which came after hearing certain seminars (listen below).
Among the many different new ideas and concepts which were talked about during the conference, Emma says she heard all about things like synthetic meats, vertical farming and new sheep that produce less methane.
“Dr Susan Rowe had a really good presentation on sheep that produce less methane on average, and it’s being included in the breeding value. So that’s another futuristic point to keep in mind,” she said.
“Overall I really enjoyed the conference – lots of ideas came out, a few weird ones, but hopefully we’re not farming insects in the next 50 years. But we shall see.”
Becky Rickard, who is currently in her fourth year of a Bachelor of Agricultural Science degree doing honours dissertation on Merino Wool, highlighted how much of a fantastic opportunity the conference was learning how the agri-sector can effectively turn threats into opportunities.
“The first day at the conference was very daunting in a sense that it was very, you know, here’s all the issues, here’s what’s happening, this is what’s going to happen in the future and a lot was around climate change,” Becky said.
“But the next day was very focused on how we can resolve these issues and the technologies and science around new systems.”
She also noted that although it’s not the traditional way of farming we are used to, the future is going to be something very different and we have no choice but to grow with it.
Becky’s favourite speaker during the conference was Lain Jager, a hugely successful food marketer best known for his time at Zespri as chief executive.
She says that what she learnt while listening to Jager will be easily translated into her own work, as well as her career once leaving university.
“So that is definitely something that I will be taking into consideration when going into my rural practice, as I really enjoy helping farmers and I want them to reach their full potential,” she said.
While Maegen Blom, Emma’s sister, who is currently one year out of her Bachelor of Agribusiness and Food Marketing degree and working as operations manager at Mills Bay Mussels, attended the event for the second time. She returned because she was she was so full of inspiration and energy last year that she decided on the spot she would be back.
“I enjoyed it a lot this year, E Tipu is quite a special gathering of people,” Maegen said.
“It’s quite cool how Kylah organises it; she’s not a farmer herself so she puts things on the stage that maybe people who have a strong background in farming might be too scared to say.”
She says her favourite aspect of the conference was its ability to become a space for people to inspire one another and spark new ideas, although thinks there could have been more of a focus on solutions rather than problems within the industry.
Her favourite speaker was Nick Butcher, chief executive of Nelson-based CarbonCrop, a company making it easier for farmers to earn carbon credits from native plantings.
“My favourite talk was Nick Butcher from CarbonCrop. I couldn’t pick any holes in it while I was listening and it seems like a very viable option for farmers while all these pine trees are being planted for carbon credits,” she said.
“So I look forward to seeing that progress a little bit more in NZ’s less productive farmland.”