A successful year for AgResearch

On-farm pest control, new value-added products and improved environmental performance are three of the significant contributions made by AgResearch scientists to New Zealand’s agricultural economy over the past year, according to its 2012 annual report.

At the same time, the country’s largest scientific organisation has sought to realign itself more closely with its farmer, government, industry sector and other stakeholders, says Chief Executive Dr Tom Richardson.

“There is still much to do and we have valued the willingness of our sector partners to engage with us,” he says.

“This greater interface will improve the implementation and impact of our science, and is increasing the level of private sector co-investment in research and development.”

AgResearch Chair Sam Robinson says the company had achieved a very satisfactory performance for the year.

“The organisation has exceeded its key financial targets for the year with a surplus of $8.5 million (before tax and extraordinary costs) versus a budget of $6.2 million.”

Mr Robinson says that, even after a $5 million write-down of three buildings at its Invermay campus, the company met its net profit after tax budget of $4.2 million.

“This strong result is a credit to our staff and is a very positive reflection on the refocusing of our strategic direction. We have an efficient internal operation and closer relationships with the sector which is beginning to translate into commercial revenue growth,” says Mr Robinson.

Dr Richardson says the company has continued to make significant and important scientific and technological contributions to the agriculture sector during the year.

“Our Annual Report outlines a wide range of areas where our scientists and staff have excelled in innovative and groundbreaking work on behalf of the pastoral sector,” he says.

“Some of the important science breakthroughs we’ve made during the year include new ways to improve clover breeding which underpins our competitive advantage, accelerating genetic gain in cattle to improve productivity, a variety of new weed and pest control methods including the Irish wasp as a control agent for the destructive and costly clover root weevil, improved farm production efficiency and environmental management techniques, advanced genetic selection techniques for sheep breeders– the list goes on.

“This year the Fertiliser Association of New Zealand’s member companies will use AgResearch’s nutrient budgeting software, OVERSEER™, to produce nutrient management plans for more than 5,000 dairy farms, or about half the total dairy farming sector, in a programme to reduce the environmental effects of nutrient losses into our waterways.

“Our work is about delivering value through science and innovation to the pastoral sector, and enabling our partners to continue to deliver increased export earnings for New Zealand which in turn benefits all New Zealanders.”

Dr Richardson says to deliver the best possible science and technology to its sector AgResearch has begun planning to invest significantly in new infrastructure.

“We are looking at options to develop the best facilities for our people and equipment in locations where we can catalyse real centres of agricultural innovation. This will be concluded in 2013 and will define the shape of AgResearch’s science footprint for the next 20-30 years.”

Click here to view the Annual Report