Lincoln Agritech granted $13m for MBIE research programmes


Oct, 2018

Lincoln Agritech Ltd scientists have been awarded two new MBIE-funded programmes through the highly contested Endeavour Investment Fund.

One aims to reduce the pollution of New Zealand’s freshwater resources and the other will assist medical professionals to diagnose bone and tissue damage.

Drs Roland Stenger and Blair Miller, along with their environmental research team, are leading a $7.8m programme to help upgrade freshwater management.

They will deliver methods and tools for characterising and quantifying transfer pathways at a sub-catchment level. By defensibly establishing the link between land use and its effects on freshwater quality at the sub-catchment scale, they will enable more effective and spatially targeted land use and management, mitigations and policy.

“To better manage freshwater pollution, we need to find out more about how nitrogen travels from land to waterways at a sub-catchment level,” says Dr Miller.

“We have to understand how quickly nitrogen travels and how much of it is naturally removed by microorganisms as it moves from the soil through the groundwater into a surface waterway.

“Only catchment scale resolution is possible at the moment, but it’s at the sub-catchment scale that the best management and mitigation options are available to prevent nitrogen from getting into our waterways”.

“We’ll also be looking at matching land use to existing natural removal capacity or installing mitigations where they have the greatest effect,” says Dr Miller.

Understanding nitrogen pathways is a high priority for Federated Farmers, and the organisation has endorsed the programme.

The programme aims to help farmers, iwi, industry and councils to achieve community-mandated water quality goals, with all councils requiring a water quality management policy by 2025.

Lincoln Agritech will be working alongside New Zealand regional councils, research organisations, industry and iwi partners to ensure the programme’s success. Collaborators includeAqualinc Research, Lincoln University, GNS Science, Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research Institute, AgFirst and IK and Associates Ltd and co-funded by Waikato Regional Council and DairyNZ.

Electromagnetics Professor Ian Woodheadand Dr Ian Platt and their team of scientists are leading a $6m programme to develop a hand-held, non-contact medical scanner that images bone and tissue with a sub-millimetre resolution.

Professor Woodhead says the scanner’s simplicity, cost-effectiveness and portability will differentiate it from currently available imaging equipment and be used in ambulances and medical facilities.

Royal NZ College of General Practitioners Chair Dr Kēri Rātima adds that it is also expected to provide “real value to rural communities, including Māori, and to others struggling to access services”.

Scientists will develop the scanner by harnessing their understanding of the unique focusing properties and imaging potential of evanescent waves, which are components of microwaves.

“We are working on making scanner lenses provide high image resolution using very low power microwave signals, that can safely penetrate the body,” says Professor Woodhead.

“We are also developing methods to reconstruct the scanner’s two-dimensional images into three-dimensional representations of scanned bone or tissue.”

While the programme will focus on rapid medical diagnosis of sub-surface trauma, the scanners may be adapted to a wider range of uses in the future, including veterinary scanning and the scanning of built structures to increase the economic value of New Zealand’s manufacturing sector.

Lincoln Agritech will be collaborating with Universities of Waikato, Auckland, and Nice-Sophia Antipolis; with linkages to hospitals Auckland, Christchurch and Nice (France) and to healthcare for remote communities.


Image: Dr Ian Woodhead and Dr Ian Platt with research programme collaborators from Fraunhofer Institute, Germany.
Lincoln Agritech granted $13m for MBIE research programmes