Tuesday 12 October: Biofortifying Vegetables – Prospects and problems for improving the mineral nutrient contents of vegetables grown for humans and animals

Jeff Reid, Honorary Research Fellow, Plant & Food research

Date: 6.00pm Tuesday 12 October 2021

Venue: Lecture Theatre 1, EIT Taradale

Admission: Gold coin donation

Many believe – and with some scientific support – that the mineral nutrient content of our vegetables has declined in Western societies. How could that happen? Does it affect our health? There appears to be a viable business opportunity to grow and market vegetables with enhanced concentrations of some mineral nutrients for humans. Domestically, seasonal imbalances of mineral nutrients like magnesium and calcium can have serious health consequences for dairy cows in particular. In some of our non-traditional export markets there may be worthwhile opportunities to help overcome human dietary deficiencies in nutrients like iron and zinc.

Biofortification is the posh name given to attempts to increase the concentrations of mineral nutrients in plants grown for food. It turns out to be surprisingly difficult – plants are not just hapless sponges that we can fill up as we want by spreading manure, compost, and fertilisers around. They show surprising selectivity in their own composition through time. Soils themselves can be similarly fussy about what they do and don’t make easily available to plants. So if we want a particular outcome, often we will have to be cunning…. This talk will look at the general principles involved in this, and give specific examples of our team’s work to improve the magnesium content of vegetables. This will include up to the minute snapshots of work in progress.

Jeff Reid is an Honorary Research Fellow at Plant & Food Research, Havelock North. Before retiring last year he had been a Principal Scientist for New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Limited, a past President of Hawke’s Bay Branch of The Royal Society of New Zealand, Chief Judge for the Future Scientist category of the NZ Prime Minister’s Science Prizes, and a member of the Zespri Innovation Board. He is an Honorary Fellow of the NZ Society for Horticultural Science, and with Jeff Morton authored the book “Nutrient management for vegetable crops in New Zealand” (Nutrient management for vegetable crops in New Zealand | Zenodo).

Date to be determined: Transforming the governance of freshwater: A case study of farmer and regional council change in Hawke’s Bay

Charlotte Drury

Director of View, a Resource Management consultancy

Date: to be determined

Venue: Lecture Theatre 1, EIT Taradale

Admission: Gold coin donation

In New Zealand, two groups of actors are particularly involved in freshwater governing: namely farmers, who manage large areas of the countryside, and regional councils – the governing entity that has the legislative responsibility to manage the freshwater resources of a region.  

Based on the findings of her doctoral research, Charlotte will talk about freshwater management practices in the Tukituki Catchment region of Hawke’s Bay, and the regional council’s governance of farmland. The unexpected findings illustrate the raft of factors that shape freshwater governance, and provide some explanation as to why improvements in freshwater quality are yet to be fully realised.

Charlotte grew up on a sheep farm in West Otago, and studied geography and planning at university. Upon graduation she took up a job with the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, where for 12 years she worked within the policy, consents and land management teams.  In 2017, Charlotte left to set up her own planning consultancy, View Consult.  She undertook her PhD study at Massey University, while continuing to live and work here in Hawke’s Bay. She is passionate about freshwater and farming, having been involved with both topics both personally and professionally throughout her life, and was keen to draw those together in her study and career. 

Monday, 16 August 2021: Professions and Researchers – in Ethical Decline?

Dr Andrew Cleland

Distinguished Fellow of Engineering New Zealand and Fellow of the Royal Society Te Apārangi

Date: 6.00pm Monday 16 August 2021

Venue: Lecture Theatre 1, EIT Taradale

Admission: Gold coin donation

This is a joint meeting with the HB Branch of Engineering New Zealand.

Andrew will examine the way in which self-regulating professions have evolved, with a focus on how the engineering profession in New Zealand has responded to challenges over the last thirty years. Maintaining standards – both technical and professional – in the face of mounting commercial pressure has proven increasingly difficult. Notable failures, such as the CTV building in Christchurch, have led to regulatory intervention by Government.

He will then turn to the research sector and talk about the changing nature of peer review, ethics and what respecting the public interest means in practice. In seeking to answer the rhetorical question of the title, Andrew brings together his experience in both fields and identifies opportunities for engineers and researchers to learn from one another.

This presentation was first delivered in April 2021 to the Manawatū branches of Engineering New Zealand and the Royal Society Te Apārangi, as the 2021 Earle Lecture, a two-yearly recognition of the work of Professors Dick and Mary Earle, and their contribution to engineering and technology in New Zealand.

Andrew came to Palmerston North to study technology in 1972, majoring in Professor Dick Earle’s department. After completing his PhD study, he worked for 18 months with Professor Mary Earle on a contract to survey energy use in the food industry. Then he worked 15 years as an academic, before he joined the Food Technology Department for six years. Andrew joined what is now Engineering New Zealand in the early 1980s, and became a Fellow in 1995, and the Chief Executive in 2000. Andrew was appointed Chief Executive of the Royal Society Te Apārangi in 2014.

Tuesday, 20 July: AGM and lecture on New Zealand’s Biological Heritage National Science Challenge Progress after seven years and prospects for the next three

The Branch will hold its 2021 Annual General Meeting at 5.30pm, followed by:

Dr James Buwalda
Chair, Governance Group for the New Zealand’s Biological Heritage NSC

Date: 6.00pm Tuesday 20 July 2021

Venue: Lecture Theatre 1, EIT Taradale

Admission: Gold coin donation

National Science Challenges (NSCs) were established in 2014, to enable collaboration across New Zealand research organisations to focus on issues of national importance. The New Zealand’s Biological Heritage NSC, focusing on biodiversity, biosecurity and ecosystem resilience, involves researchers from every university and CRI, as well as MPI, DOC and the Cawthron Institute.

Over the first 5 years, the focus has been on establishing a ‘right teams’ approach, targeting new knowledge and solutions spanning our knowledge of our biodiversity, technologies for eradicating pests and diseases, and designing landscape-scale approaches to strengthening ecosystem resilience. Now part way into the second 5 years period, the emphasis is on a Treaty-led approach, supporting communities to develop and apply new knowledge and tools, to achieve material gains for New Zealand’s biological heritage. A targeted investment addressing myrtle rust (Left, image of rust symptom is from NSCs) and kauri die-back (Right, image of kauri is from NSCs) is also implemented.

image from NSCs

While this NSC is due to conclude in 2024 (after 10 years), how to lock-in new ways of working, especially the community-based approaches to designing and implementing innovative solutions for our biological heritage are considered in the project.

Dr James Buwalda has been Chair of the Governance Group for the New Zealand’s Biological Heritage NSC since its inception in 2014. He is also involved in governance of research collaborations for biosecurity (Better Border Biosecurity) and artificial intelligence for horticulture (PlantTech), and chairs the OSPRI Stakeholders’ Council. Previously, James was Chief Executive of the Department of Labour and the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology, following an earlier career as a research scientist. James lives near Haumoana in Hawke’s Bay.

Thursday 1 July: Fermented foods – what’s brewing?

Professor Steve Flint
Professor of Food Safety and Microbiology, School of Food and Advanced Technology, Massey University.

Date: 6.00pm Thursday 1 July 2021

Venue: Lecture Theatre 1, EIT Taradale

Admission: Gold coin donation

Steve will start by discussing the different microbes that are used to ferment food – yeasts, moulds and bacteria. He’ll explain the differences in fermentation results with wild microbes and those that are commercially available.

Fermentation has a long history in the food industry as a method to preserve natural sources of food. Foods such as cheeses, yoghurts, wines and beers are examples of traditional foods that are widely consumed today. However, there are changes towards a new range of fermented foods, driven by the potential effects on our health and the search for novel sensory experiences.

The latest Institute of Food Technology journal identifies some of the most recent trends in fermented foods in the USA. For example, sales of yoghurt fell by 6% in 2019, while sales of skyr Icelandic-style yoghurt jumped 23%. High protein fermented plant-based foods, such as tempeh and seitan, are attracting interest from consumers. Products such as Gochujang, a fermented Korean red pepper paste, is becoming a trendy condiment in the US. Fermented flavours such as miso, kohi and yuzu kosho are of growing interest. In the US, sales of kombucha grew 43% in 2018 and we are seeing a similar trend in NZ, with kombucha filling supermarket shelves. We appear to be entering a new era of consumer interest in fermented foods, providing new opportunities for the food industry.

Steve Flint teaches food safety and microbiology at Massey University in Palmerston North. He has a background in the dairy industry, having worked for the Fonterra Research Centre for 20 years before joining Massey University in 2008. Steve has a team of 10 research students working on various aspects of food microbiology.

Monday 21 June: Regenerative Agriculture’s Importance for New Zealand

Associate Professor Edgar Burns

Date: Monday 21 June 2021 at 6.00pm

Venue: EIT Lecture Theatre 1, 501 Gloucester Street, Taradale

Regenerative agriculture is a set of farming principles and practices that enrich soils and improve water quality and management. It is a farmer-led movement that reduces tilling, fertilizer and spray use, and increases ground cover. Regen ag shifts from maximizing production to maximizing profit, animal and farmer wellbeing. Environmentally, it approaches farming as a biological system. The term ‘regenerative’ acknowledges that simply being ‘sustainable’ at present levels of agricultural damage is no longer sufficient.

Dr Edgar Burns will talk about how regenerative agriculture could benefit New Zealand. He outlines the main features of ‘regen ag’ and gives answers to several questions: 1) How does this farmer-led movement support rural viability? 2) How does it mesh with government water and environment policies? 3) How does the media buzz compare with what critics say?
Social science research frames conventional science answers in new ways that include wellbeing and motivation.

Edgar Burns is an Associate Professor at Waikato University and currently Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Chair of Integrated Catchments. He is also a member of the MPI (Ministry of Primary Industries) TAG (Technical Advisory Group) for regenerative agriculture.