Science and Innovation Summit

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Around eighty people gathered for NZPPI's inaugural Plant Producer Science and Innovation Summit in Rotorua on 4 and 5 May 2017.

Day one got off to a great start, and the value of such gatherings was rapidly realised - shortly after a presentation on the impact of myrtle rust on Raoul Island, the meeting learned of the detection of the rust in Kerikeri. The discussion on biosecurity, risk management and science became very personal, very quickly.

The excitement didn't end on Thursday through. Friday's wrap up was curtailed by a fire alarm. There's never a dull moment at an NZPPI event!

We heard about:

  • How Endophytes can revolutionise the nursery industry as they have for pasture grasses
  • What's driving innovation in the nursery industry - now and in the future?
  • The threat of myrtle rust to New Zealand and how science is contributing to our preparedness
  • The complicated science funding landscape
  • Scion’s plans to automate propagation systems and nurseries
  • Driving innovation to make nurseries far more sustainable than what they are!
  • How a large SE Asia nursery became fungicide-free using kiwi ingenuity
  • Robots and automation under development to make nurseries more productive

You can read more about this in the links to presentations in the column to the right.

Key issues for science and innovation investment

On Friday afternoon delegated work-shopped a key question - “What are key issues for plant production that can be addressed by science and technology?”

Six key drivers were identified and six groups were formed to address the driver and related issues.

  1. Labour – which includes availability and also health and safety issues etc;  
    Includes drivers to replace people it would seem; but also, perhaps science to improve training
  2. Plant quality – and this is about nutrition, standards, health etc
  3. Biosecurity and germplasm imports – issues around getting new germplasm into NZ
  4. Sustainability – soil, containers, water,
  5. Regulations
  6. Knowledge access/communications

You can read more about each of these drivers in our Summit Report Back.

A delegate's feedback

We've had lots of great feedback - here's some from Nicola Rochester:

It Got Me Thinking

It was fantastic to participate in the Science Summit.   Much will come out of it that will be a catalyst to taking our industry to a higher level in many ways. 

The announcement of myrtle rust at the Summit did fill the room with a sense of foreboding but after listening to the scientist and the diagnostic kit they developed for myrtle rust for MPI I got a glimmer of hope.  Then listening about genetic markers work to speed up selection and breeding for traits in the forestry sector made me realise that there are answers amongst us.   It was only minutes before someone asked the question “could genetic markers be found for myrtle rust resistance” and the answer was given that there had already been work done on this and I started to feel quite optimistic about the future and my mind started wandering around how many fab new ornamental plants we could have with this breeding technique. 

Then there was all the talk and presentations around mycorrhizas & trichoderma which got me thinking ‘underground’. 

While robotics is not really my thing, but when I saw the cool stuff Waikato University was involved in, you couldn’t help being addicted! 

After participating in the Science Summit, you realise that it is forums such as this that extend your mind and your imagination and being in amongst a diverse range of people from all sectors is critical to this but we must reach out. 

We must reach out to the science community, the team leaders, communicators and the universities and let them get to know us the people involved in Plant Production, our industry.  All we need to do is to be a willing participant with an open mind and a smile on our dial! 

Thanks to the board of NZPPI for the vision and making it happen.

Next Steps

Informed by the Summit, we're moving rapidly on scoping the approach to the development of a science and innovation strategy. And then to the funding of the strategy development. We'll have a report on progress for Conference.

The Board has also identified an early project to identify, collate and/or improve access to the wealth of research is already available and improve access to this.

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Speakers Presentations

  • New plant cultivar production through innovation - John Caradus, CEO Grasslanz Technology
    “Endophytes can revolutionise the nursery industry as they have for pasture grasses”
  • What's driving innovation in the nursery industry - now and in the future?
  • Painting the complicated landscape of New Zealand science - Kat Webb, Scion Business Development Manager
  • Callaghan Innovation overview - Nicky Molloy, Business Innovation Advisor, Callaghan Innovation
  • The Myrtle Rust threat - Beccy Ganley, Scion Research Leader, B3
    “Myrtle rust is potentially a ticking time bomb.”
  • Scion's initiatives in new plant production technology - Heidi Dungey, Scion Science Leader
    "Scion’s plans to automate propagation systems and nurseries”
  • What areas of science and technology have significant potential to drive innovation in the nursery industry? - Ed Morgan, Plant and Food Research Science Leader
    “We can make nurseries far more sustainable than what they are!”
  • Kiwi ingenuity leads to fungicide-free nurseries - Robert Hill - Bio-Protection Research Centre, Lincoln
    “A large SE Asia nursery became fungicide-free using kiwi ingenuity”
  • The brave new world of nursery production - Mike Duke (Presentation | Video), University Waikato “Robots and automation are being developed to make nurseries more productive"


We gratefully acknowledge the support of AGMARDT


Speakers, Programme, Registration