Cromwell’s Landpro executive director, Kate Scott, is in for an extremely busy year.
Named as one of five 2018 New Zealand Nuffield scholars, she has just returned from the first part of the year-long agricultural scholarship programme, which includes trips to the Netherlands, Ireland, Mexico, the United States and Brazil, and within New Zealand.
She and other scholars from around the world attended the Contemporary Scholars Conference in the Netherlands in March, then spent six weeks on a global focus programme.
The group visited various agricultural operations, including one of the biggest farms in the world.
They learned about many of the challenges facing those countries’ agricultural industries.
“It became apparent the challenges the agrisector faces throughout the world are the same; just the degree of scale is different,” Ms Scott said.
“Things like succession in agribusiness, as well as access to capital, increasing labour costs, increasing regulation and the environment.
“The issues are just about the same but the mix of issues in play from one country to another are slightly different.
“It [the global focus trip] was such an amazing opportunity to get an appreciation of agriculture in worldwide sense,” she said.
While in Ireland they visited two huge dairy farms and the Coolmore Horse Racing Stud in County Tipperary, one of the word’s biggest and best thoroughbred racehorse breeding operations.
The group also visited almond orchards in Washington DC and talked with the United States Agriculture Department.
“That was really insightful in terms of political challenges during the current term.
They visited Brazil’s Mata Grosso state to see Bom Futuro Group – one of the world’s largest privately owned farms – which has about 280,000ha of cropping land, 120,000ha for beef finishing and a fish farm, and employs 5000 people.
Brazil had significant infrastructure and roading challenges but was “making headway in that space”, although funding that development was an issue.
While in New Zealand, the group talked with representatives from DairyNZ, LIC and a Maori agribusiness group in Taupo.
“It was a really fantastic way to showcase something unique about our culture and, in particular, how successful Maori businesses have become.”
Ms Scott said she suffered from “information overload”.
“I did try to take advantage of many hours on aeroplanes to write my notes and order my thoughts.”
Husband Scott Levings stayed at home to look after their three boys, George (7), Ted (3) and Harry (2).
“I was able to skype most days and a lot of the time zones allowed me to talk before they went to school and in the evening.
“The boys would want to talk for a couple of minutes then lose interest.
“Scott did a fantastic job.
“They are all alive and have all their digits, which is a great start.”
She now has to plan her itinerary for travel for her research topic, “The role of technology and policy to find solutions to reducing the environmental footprint of agriculture”.