Look for the golden glow – AgResearch at Fieldays


A golden cow and meat lovers’ chocolates are examples of science collaboration and innovation on AgResearch’s National Agricultural Fieldays stand at Mystery Creek this year.

The glow, from AgResearch’s stall at PC40 and PC42 in the main pavilion, comes from the foil-wrapped cow, Coco, and highlights a novel new way of utilising meat cuts: meat lover’s chocolate.

Scientists at AgResearch have developed a way of creating a meat-based chocolate and in doing so, provide another way to encourage uptake of meat products. This highlights new and innovative ways to consume meat, and scientists will also gain valuable consumer insights through surveying those sampling the product.

Chief Executive Dr Tom Richardson says the stand’s theme is “Science collaboration to accelerate agricultural innovation” which is closely linked to the Fieldays theme “Collaborate to accelerate agricultural innovation.

“We need science collaboration and innovation to remain internationally competitive. Our stand highlights how we are working with others, including our Lincoln Hub and FoodHQ partners, to further advance our research and its benefits to New Zealand farmers and the economy,” he says.

In addition to Coco, the stand features a successful collaboration between AgResearch and premium red meat pet food producers Bombay Petfoods Ltd, K9 Natural Ltd and ZiwiPeak Ltd.

AgResearch scientists are studying the nutritional benefits of their products because the local industry needs scientific evidence to support development of new super-premium products and therefore boost exports in this rapidly growing market.

“Benefits from this project will also extend to New Zealand sheep, beef and venison farmers by diverting meat cuts that are currently achieving lower value returns into branded premium products,” Dr Richardson says.

AgResearch scientists will also be highlighting the importance of the rumen in sheep and cattle as part of a display highlighting our ‘Early Life Nutrition’ programme.

Nutrition during the animal’s earliest stages of life – prior to birth and pre-weaning – has the potential to influence the overall performance of an animal during its lifetime.

Researcher Dr Sue McCoard says the analogy is to the saying ‘we are what our mothers ate as well as what our grandmothers ate’.

The ability to use nutrition, and even specific nutrients, to manipulate how organs and tissues such as the rumen, mammary gland and skeletal muscle develop and function may offer the potential to “programme” lifetime performance of the animal. Dr McCoard says research of this nature – aimed at the earliest life stages – is novel.

“The impact for industry is the ability to intervene or to change a certain phenotype (an observable characteristic) in a very small window early in development that could change the entire life performance,” she says.

AgResearch scientists will also be highlighting their involvement in the Pastoral 21 (P21) programme that aims to provide farmers with simple, solutions and systems that lift production and profitability while reducing nutrient losses.

One of the solutions that will be on display is a simple grazing management strategy for winter forage crops grown on slopes that reduces sediment and nutrient losses by protecting soils in winter-wet conditions.

The work of the Margot Forde Germplasm Centre, New Zealand’s national gene bank of grassland plants, will also be showcased. The Centre collects or obtains seeds from across the world for conservation, research and development of new varieties.

Last month the centre’s director Dr Kioumars Ghamkhar took nearly 800 samples of ryegrass and white clover seeds, and their wild relatives to the underground Global Seed Vault, near the North Pole. The vault holds the world’s largest collection of crop diversity and was built to protect the world’s food supply and be used as a ‘back up’ in case of natural disaster or war. New Zealand’s involvement in the vault and with its caretaker, the Global Crop Diversity Trust, will also be highlighted on AgResearch’s stand.

Dr Richardson says Fieldays are a great opportunity for AgResearch staff to talk about their work with farmers and the general public.

“The combination of these features enables us to demonstrate how we are using science with pasture, animals, farmers, business collaborators and processors to accelerate agricultural innovation and make a difference through science.”

Fieldays Gold Coco Cow