Agronomists play a key role in the cropping industry and for his part Paul Johnston was named the 2023 Agronomist of the Year at the recent arable industry awards event.
Johnston works with Yara Fertilisers NZ based in Canterbury.
New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association (NZGSTA) grains and pulses business group chair Ed Luisetti said the award was recognition for Johnston’s high level of technical abilities combined with exceptional agronomy service for his clients.
Earlier in his career he helped Mid Canterbury farmers Eric and Maxine Watson become world record holders for the highest yielding crop of wheat.
Luisetti said agronomists play a key role in the success of farmers’ crops.
Providing expert knowledge on herbicides, fungicides and insecticides as well as specific nutrient requirements and timings of application, agronomists help farmers maximise their financial returns.
They also ensure crops are grown sustainably and to the best environmental practices.
“Agronomists visit their crops on a regular basis throughout the growing season and build strong trusting relationships with farmers.
“An agronomist will take just as much satisfaction out of growing a successful crop as their farmer clients do,” Luisetti said.
The Agronomist of the Year award was sponsored by the NZGSTA and recognises an agronomist who has up-to-the-minute knowledge of crop options and agronomy and goes above and beyond to help their growers produce high- quality, profitable crops.
The Barenbrug NZ plant breeding team was the winner of the Plant Breeder-Researcher award presented by the NZ Plant Breeding and Research Association (PBRA) at the awards ceremony held in Christchurch.
The breeding team were recognised for their contribution to crop development and the impact on seed quality and yield.
Barenbrug head of research and development Courtney Inch said the award validates the breeding work done over many years.
“The work of all plant breeders adds to the strength of plant breeding in NZ and helps keep our agriculture sector at the forefront,” Inch said.
PBRA general manager Thomas Chin said plant breeding is the starting point for the arable and seed industry, relying on the skills of many talented individuals as they strive to meet the needs of farmers and growers.
“Their positive contributions mean a more productive and profitable primary industry and ultimately all of NZ,” Chin said.
Plant breeders underpin the arable sector, generating $800 million in annual sales, including $245m from exports.
Bringing a new seed variety to market can take several years from concept to commercialisation – and often up to 10 years.
“What the new variety will bring may include improved yield, persistence, climate tolerance or resistance to disease and insects with these traits mainly driven by customer demand,” Chin said.
The inaugural Plant Breeder-Researcher award was sponsored by NZPBRA to recognise individuals or breeding teams whose work makes an outstanding contribution to the arable and pastoral industries and the advancement of plant breeding of NZ.