NZPPI Science and Innovation Summit

29 June 2017

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In less than a week Plant Producers and Industry Partners will meet for the first New Zealand Plant Producers Conference in Hamilton.

It’s a chance not only to get together with friends and celebrate milestones, but also to convey ‘where we are at’ on many important industry priority projects.

The highly successful Plant Producer Science and Innovation Summit held just six weeks ago was the starting point of a journey towards a more empowered and positive future for growers.

However it also marked the start of potentially one of our most significant biosecurity challenges with the arrival in New Zealand of Myrtle Rust. The incursion was uncannily ‘right on cue’ to underline and bold the need for greater scientific collaboration and understanding on key issues affecting growers.

Post Summit Update

Around eighty people gathered for NZPPI's inaugural Plant Producer Science and Innovation Summit in Rotorua on 4-5 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 though. 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 tomorrow’s nurseries far more sustainable
  • How a large SE Asia nursery became fungicide-free using kiwi ingenuity
  • Robots and automation under development to make nurseries more productive

You can access these presentations in full on NZPPI’s website – visit

Key issues for science and innovation investment

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

Six key drivers and related issues were identified:

  • Labour – which includes availability, health and safety issues, robotics and automation, utilising technology to offer enhancements in training and skill development of the workforce.
  • Plant quality – incorporating improved diagnostic services, optimising nutrition and growing media, the role of soil microbes, and surveillance protocols.
  • Biosecurity and germplasm imports – issues include getting new germplasm into NZ, promoting ‘sensible’ science based internal biosecurity practices, awareness of best practice tissue culture technologies, Import Health Standards liaison and post entry quarantine ‘de-bottlenecking’.
  • Sustainability – soil health, planting media, lessening reliance on plastic pots and containers, water quality and leachate/recycling, genetic diversity,
  • Regulations – championing a firmer scientific basis for regulatory decisions backed by targeted scientific studies and communication with regulators.
  • Knowledge – enhanced access/communications of the research of the past and present collated as fact sheets for members, technology transfer forums like the summit are valued.

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've contracted Summit faciliator, Bill Dyck, to begin work on the development of the NZPPI science and innovation strategy. He'll have a report on progress for Conference, and we'll keep in touch on progress and how you can help ... and there's still tme to book for Conference ... more here



©2017 NZPPI
New Zealand Plant Producers Incorporated
PO Box 3443, Wellington 6140
Level 5, 23 Waring Taylor Street, Wellington
P: 04 918 3511 | F: 04 499 9589
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