New Zealand’s smart ideas
Smart Kiwi innovators
Next Monday, research contracts to the tune of $133m will take effect, boosting the research and development funding of smart kiwi companies. The first tranche of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s 2012 science investment round supports 47 research projects in the biological industries; energy and minerals; the environment; hazards and infrastructure; and health and society funding categories.
“Science is both a driver of economic growth and a strong platform for evidence-based decision making across society. These projects have been selected on the basis of their high-quality science and the difference they can make,” says science and innovation minister Hon Steven Joyce.
To see the full list of successful research grants go to: bit.ly/uUXahp
OPTIMUM N, LINCOLN VENTURES [ 2] The proposal: This programme will provide farmers with an automated process, termed ‘Optimum-N’, that will estimate the amount of nitrogenous fertiliser required in pastures, and apply the appropriate amount variably across the pasture. The program will support more responsible applications of nitrogenous fertilisers to NZ’s pastoral farms – reducing environmental damage while maintaining or improving productivity.
RESILIENT URBAN FUTURES, UNIVERSITY OF OTAGO
The proposal: Most New Zealanders live in cities. Resilient Urban Futures explores which, of several possible urban futures in the new green economy, will be most resilient, liveable and competitive. The aim of the research is to compare the broad costs and benefits and qualitative features of two possible urban development paths, one emphasising more compact development and the other emphasising greenfield development.
NEXT GENERATION BIODIVERSITY ASSESSMENT, LANDCARE RESEARCH
The proposal: This research aims to produce a method of rapid and thorough assessment of biodiversity and ecosystem function through state-of-the-art molecular techniques.
The idea is to fill the current information void around biodiversity criteria that can be used as indicators of ecosystem function in productive landscapes. To facilitate ‘green growth’, criteria must be developed from reliable, comprehensive data and will require cost-effective monitoring. Current methods for measuring terrestrial biodiversity rely on costly surveys and scarce professional labour, focusing on plants, mammals, and birds. Soil biodiversity, critical for nutrient cycling and carbon sequestration, is neglected.
MARINE ECOSYSTEM SERVICES VALUATION,
MASSEY UNIVERSITY (SMART IDEA) [ 3] The proposal: The aim of this programme is is to develop a robust framework to characterise, quantify, map and place an economic value on coastal-marine ecosystem services. Ecosystem services are benefits derived from ecological processes occurring in the natural and human-modified world that typically are not considered in economic decision-making – e.g. nutrient recycling, climate regulation, carbon sequestration, and food provision.
SMARTER IRRIGATION, LINCOLN VENTURES [ 4] The proposal: To develop a novel, cost-effective moisture sensor, resulting in increased productivity and profitability of pastoral farming, particularly dairying, while reducing negative environmental impacts. This will be achieved by reducing the water required to irrigate crops – allowing the expansion of land area that can be irrigated from existing water takes and reducing nutrient leaching from over irrigation, thus reducing fertiliser costs and groundwater contamination.
ENERGY CULTURES 2, UNIVERSITY OF OTAGO
The proposal: NZ’s transport and business sectors have the greatest potential for significant savings and increased competitiveness through energy efficiency, followed by households. Energy Cultures 2 will work with all these sectors to support a faster and more effective uptake of energy efficiency. It will also support the uptake of new energy-efficient transport technologies and practices, and identify system-wide changes that will be required.
THE SUSTAINABILITY DASHBOARD, AGRIBUSINESS
The proposal: The NZ Sustainability Dashboard project is a sustainability assessment and reporting tool in partnership with five primary industry sectors. The tool is being developed to assist producers with rational management of the large amounts of information available and assist them with their subsequent management decisions. It will also help them comply with the everincreasing demands for market and regulatory reporting.
UNDERSTANDING FACTORS THAT BUILD RESILIENCE
IN NEW ZEALAND, MASSEY UNIVERSITY [ 5] The proposal: This project will consolidate and add to knowledge about resilient communities in New Zealand, across the continuum of hazard mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery – with a particular focus on indigenous knowledge.
Building on research on the Canterbury earthquakes, the Rena oil spill, responses to economic shocks, and recovery from natural hazard events, the research will investigate post-disaster community resilience in urban, rural and Maori communities.