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          Areas of Academic Leadership

          At the University of Waikato we have identified five key areas in which we contribute to healthier, more prosperous, safe and diverse societies. Through our world-leading teaching, research and expertise we play an important part in local, national and global efforts to improve and sustain:

          1. The health of the environment
          2. The physical and mental wellbeing of the world’s population
          3. The equality and rights of indigenous communities
          4. The productivity and environmental impact of food production
          5. The security and safety of people, communities, property and intellectual assets

          Let's Dig Deeper

          Security & Safety
          New threats emerge every day. Here's how we're working to make the world a safer place.
          Today's farms bring together technology, science, engineering, environmental stewardship and business.


          The latest advances in technology, science, engineering, environmental stewardship and business come together on the farm.

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          **_In 1964 the University of Waikato was founded on rolling farmland and orchards on the outskirts of Hamilton. More than 50 years later the original farm cowshed remains a permanent feature of the Hamilton campus; an enduring reminder of the University of Waikatos strong ties with agriculture_.**

          **_Better, safer crops_**

          In the science lab, University of Waikato researchers are working to support and protect farmers livelihoods, identifying new ways to improve crop quality and address environmental threats. Postgraduate student Danielle Le Lievre is working to improve the taste of the new disease\-resistant Zespri kiwifruit variety \(known as SunGold\) by looking at how orchard conditions contribute to the gradual accumulation of flavour compounds from flowering to harvest.

          Danielles project is part of a larger collaboration between the University, Plant & Food Research and Zespri that looks at how sugars, acids and starch are made as the SunGold fruit grows, providing a better understanding of how to grow the best\-tasting fruit. The results are already providing new information on how fruit growth responds to orchard management and the environment. Thats good news for growers, exporters and the Christmas pavlova.

          > Shannons results will not only be important for the vibrant and expanding avocado industry. They'll also be useful for understanding the threat of loss of control of several other _Phytophthora_ pathogens affecting the agricultural sector.

          The NZ Avocado Industry Research Council and Scion are collaborating with Shannon on her research, which involves gathering samples from six avocado orchards in the Bay of Plenty. She says New Zealands use of phosphite to manage avocado root rot for more than 25 years means it provides an excellent model system to study fungicide resistance. Her scholarship will fund a research trip to the USA where she will work with researchers from the University of California, Riverside to test their cultures from avocado orchards and the University of California, Berkeley, to test other important species for phosphite resistance.

          Stevie Noe spends most days in a greenhouse collecting and analysing nectar from mnuka plants in order to produce better honey. His Masters research involves measuring how much nectar is produced in the flowers and how its quality changes based on different growing conditions such as temperature, humidity and light. As part of this, Stevie tests the quality of the nectar based on how much dihydroxyacetone \(DHA\) is present. DHA converts tomethylglyoxal \(MGO\) which is the key ingredient that gives mnuka honey its reputed health properties. The more DHA there is in the nectar, the more MGO there will be in the honey.

          > Honey is a big deal at the moment. The industry is trying to grow as theres more demand than supply, and the government is backing this growth. Hopefully by the end of my study Ill be able to tell growers how best to test their mnuka plants to get top results.

          Stevies research has been helped along by two Waikato postgraduate scholarships, as well as Pre\-Seed Accelerator Funding \(PSAF\) from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, testament to the importance of his work to New Zealands booming honey industry.

          The robot revolution

          A farm might not be somewhere youd expect to meet a robot but Professor Mike Duke from the Universitys Faculty of Science and Engineering wants to turn robots into everyday farming tools. Professor Duke and his team are taking robots from factories to fields, using robotics to do everything from picking kiwifruit and asparagus, to planting, lifting and grading pine tree seedlings back\-breaking work that depends on precision and careful handling. All the while these machines are also collecting data about the crops theyre processing, allowing better decisions to be made about current and future harvests.

          Robots will increasingly be used in industries that struggle to attract and retain staff. With New Zealands primary industry\-linked exports set to double by 2025, there simply arent enough humans to keep up with demand.

          > Robots never sleep, which makes them ideal workers. Theyll do the work humans should no longer be expected to do, and they work through the night without any extra cost.

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          **_Driving success beyond the farm gate_**

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          > New Zealand agribusiness provides huge opportunities to gain experience in international commerce as our products are sold on every continent, reaching high\-end consumers and the protein needs of people with limited incomes.

          **_Dishing the dirt on climate change_**

          **_Healthy communities, healthy farms_**

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          > We need to be supporting our rural areas better. Rural communities are the backbone of New Zealand, yet their access to health services is poor.

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          Weaving sustainability into science
          Through science, engineering & innovation, we're helping protect the planet.

          Our work supports innovative and effective solutions to real-world problems, inspiring and nurturing new generations of change-makers along the way.

          We believe that the world's biggest challenges can be solved. What role will you play in helping us to tackle them?

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