Media release: Fieldays scholarship to study environmental compliance

A University of Waikato student has been awarded $17,000 from the New Zealand Agriculture Fieldays Sir Don Lewellyn Scholarship to study the cost of environmental compliance in the dairy industry.

Management masters-student Thomas Macdonald’s study will aim to bridge the information gap between regulators and farmers, as well as the rural urban divide regarding the investment made in protecting the environment.

He said the regulations regarding nutrient-management continue to increase, and he would find out what the different options are for farmers and how much they cost.

So far he had interviewed about a dozen farmers in the Waikato region to find out what specific compliance issues they have addressed and what their costs have been.

He said: “The costs are usually between $100,000 and $200,000, but several farmers have paid well over $500,000.

“This is the biggest issue for farmers going forward, and with more than 3,500 farmers in the Waikato and over 11,000 nationwide there is a huge amount of money being poured into compliance. Maximising the effectiveness of such compliance investment is the key aim of this research.”

Meanwhile, a second Fieldays scholarship of $5,000 has been awarded to biological sciences student Brooke Wilson, who is working with AgResearch’s Stem Cell research team to investigate the expression of genes throughout the early stages of embryonic development in cattle.

The National Agricultural Fieldays scholarships are awarded each year to graduate students undertaking research at the University of Waikato with a specific focus on the agricultural sector.

Fieldays CEO Jon Calder commented: “Thomas and Brooke will be fantastic ambassadors for Fieldays, the university and New Zealand. Their work and research will make a real difference to New Zealand agriculture.”

He said both of their work complemented this year’s Fieldays theme, which is “managing resources for a competitive advantage”. Read more about Fieldays 2014 here.

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Photography: Ann Huston

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