2019 sustainable agriculture & viticulture mission to France: scientist interviews

France and New Zealand share common academic and research interests, which are developed through researcher mobility and exchanges, co-publications, common projects and partnerships.

In October 2019, eight NZ scientists travelled to France to further this scientific cooperation, especially in sustainable agriculture and viticulture.

Here are the interviews and feedbacks from this sustainable mission.

Nicholas Dickinson - Ecologist and soil scientist / Phytoremediation

Nicholas Dickinson

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Biography

I am an ecologist and soil scientist, recognised internationally for my research in phytoremediation: the use of plants to clean-up and improve the environment. My career history in East Africa, UK and New Zealand has taken me along a parallel pathway to my colleague in Nancy, Bordeaux and Nantes, focussing on soil quality and soil health in agricultural and other human-modified landscapes.

Interview

Could you please introduce yourself and your field of work?

My interested are in agroecology, specifically concerned with introducing more biodiversity into agricultural systems and improving soil health.

Did you already have any professional links with France before the mission you took part in?

I have no active research or teaching projects, but I have a long-standing professional knowledge of the groups I visited.

What was the mission about?

Urban agriculture and soil quality: ensuring that food production in cities takes place on safe and healthy land.

Is there anything else that you would like to share?

This collaboration between France and NewZealand is potentially very valuable, because it will become necessary to produce more food and manage wastes better in urban areas. The two countries provide a contrast between land that has a long history of previous use and development, and land that has only a recent history of development. We have much to learn from each other about soil management and use.

Nathan Tomer - Research Technologist working at Plant and Food Research

Nathan Tomer

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Biography

I completed my undergraduate studies at Drake University, in Iowa, majoring in Math, Physics and Computer science. Continuing on with postgraduate studies I completed a masters in computer science at the University of British Columbia. Following that I moved to New Zealand to work at Plant and Food Research. My hobbies include hiking, computer games, guitar playing and martial arts.

Interview

Could you please introduce yourself and your field of work?

I am a Research Technologist working at Plant and Food Research. Most of my work revolves around computer vision projects, or writing computer programs. The computer vision projects currently focus on in-orchard imaging and postharvest evaluation of fruit, while the more general software writing can cover topics like numerical simulation of light inside produce, or program interfaces for data collection from fruit grading equipment.

What was the mission about?

Our mission to France was focused on establishing relationships with researchers and organizations with the goal of developing collaborative research programs in the near future.

Do you think your mission could be followed by additional collaboration with French partners?

Plant and Food Research is in the process of establishing a co-sponsored PhD position with the IMS lab in Bordeaux.

Is there anything else that you would like to share?

This collaboration between France and NewZealand is potentially very valuable, because it will become necessary to produce more food and manage wastes better in urban areas. The two countries provide a contrast between land that has a long history of previous use and development, and land that has only a recent history of development. We have much to learn from each other about soil management and use.

Nicola Schreurs - Animal Scientist in the School of Agriculture and Environment at Massey University

Nicola Schreurs

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Biography

My research specialty is the area of meat science, meat production, animal nutrition and animal science. A key topic of my research is the utilization of calves of dairy origin for beef production in dairy-beef systems. For this we are developing a new product called New Generation Beef.

Interview

Could you please introduce yourself and your field of work?

Bonjour! My name is Nicola Schreurs and I am an Animal Scientist in the School of Agriculture and Environment at Massey University.

Did you already have any professional links with France before the mission you took part in?

I spent 2 years from 2006-2008 doing my post-doc at INRA Theix (near Clermont Ferrand). During this time I learnt about French beef production and was working on a project to look at how muscle characteristics changed as cattle grew.

What was the mission about?

A key objective of the mission was to development the New Generation Beef research programme that is currently in place at Massey University. New Generation Beef utilizes dairy-origin cattle for a new class of beef. Secondly, it was an opportunity to develop research relationships by finding commonality in sheep and beef research.

I started my mission in Rennes where I visited the veal production research station of the Institut de Elevage (Idele) at Le Rheu. This is the only research facility for veal production in France. In France the calves are reared to produce white meat graded using the EUROP system with an added colour score (with lighter being better). This visit provided me with a perspective on how they utilise calves from the dairy industry. Like New Zealand, cow-calf separation, welfare of calves for veal and indoor beef/veal production are all on the agenda for research in France.

Of interest was research that was about to get underway to look at Jersey, Jersey x Blond Bleu and Jersey x Charolais calves in different rearing systems either utilising the traditional indoor milk and concentrate systems or a complete outdoor pasture grazing system after a period on milk/concentrate (like NZ!) or a mix of the two system types with processing for beef at 16-18 months of age. It was agreed to keep in contact regarding the results.

I also visited the Agrocampus Ouest to present information to students about Massey University and the meat production research done in the Animal Science group. This will hopefully entice some students to Massey for their overseas experience component of their programmes.

After Rennes it was a 630km drive to Clermont-Ferrand to visit the “old stomping ground” at INRA Theix and catch-up with colleagues from when I did a post-doc. They are looking at feed efficiency in cross-breed beef cattle (e.g., Saler x Angus) and looking at using more outdoor grazing along with mixed sheep and beef systems. This is unique for France because cattle production has traditionally been done with straight breeds (no crosses) and housing cattle usually prevents a mixed sheep and beef enterprise from being feasible and economical.

I ended my visit to Clermont Ferrand discussing research opportunities and collaborations and identifying areas of research similarity that are likely to be useful for collaboration

Do you think your mission could be followed by additional collaboration with French partners?

Yes, absolutely. Many of the research themes are similar and there was interest from the French colleagues I visited to work on collaborative projects that can aid the sustainability of beef production in both New Zealand and France.

Seth Laurenson Remy Lasseur - Senior scientist & landscape ecologist at AgResearch

Seth Laurenson and Remy Lasseur

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Biography

Dr Seth Laurenson is a senior scientist and Science Impact Leader for Soil and Water at AgResearch specialising in soil and water dynamics, his current research uses biophysical and spatial models to understand environmental dynamics at a landscape level. Recently Seth has been combining animation and gaming techniques with biophysical and spatial models to build visualisation tools to support landuse decision-making.

Dr Remy Lasseur is a landscape ecologist at AgResearch. He has a PhD in ecosystem services mapping. He has a strong background in spatial modelling of landscape processes, remote sensing and assessing land multifunctionality. Remy has also worked in France and UK on different ecosystem mapping projects from local to continental scale.

Interview

Could you please introduce yourself and your field of work?

Seth and Remy are working together to develop a new generation of digital support tools using visualization technologies that will facilitate the sustainable transformation of landscapes in NZ.

Seth is interested in environmental sustainability at a farm and landscape level. He is particularly interested in knowing how our landscapes can be designed to better incorporate a wide range of interests promoting food production, ecosystem services and financial opportunities.

Remy is interested in landscape ecology and ecosystem services. He uses spatial modelling of landscape processes and remote sensing to develop assessments of landscape multifunctionality. Remy is from Avignon, France and has been living in NZ doing a postdoc since January.

Did you already have any professional links with France before the mission you took part in?

Remy had some existing professional links with colleagues in France that assisted in the organization of our programme in France. We also used the opportunity to develop new collaborations.

What was the mission about?

The objective of our visit to France was to meet with researchers from a range of different organizations/institutes to share experiences and expertise around landscape multifunctionality. We want to understand how communities and landowners (including industry) might achieve greater multifunctionality. We also wanted to understand incentives and barriers as well as the the suite of positive outcomes that are delivered from a more diverse landscape arrangement. Learnings from our visit compliment our existing work on HyperFarm which is a web-based platform enabling users to simulate different land use mosaics on their land while also assess the financial, environmental, social and cultural effect in response to changes.

Our trip provided us the opportuntity to meet with colleagues expert in a range of different aspects relevant to the overall mission objectives. Expertise included participatory science (INRA/CIRAD/IRSTEA), tools for visualising future scenarios (DigitAg/AMAP) and Governance structures (Agricultural chambers). We also spent one day visiting farms in Saint-Bauzille-de-Montmel with a local government representative to better understand some of the social tension around land allocation, impact on livelihoods. After our week of meetings we took the opportunity to visit the French Alps to meet with sheep and dairy farmers and primary producers including a cheese factory in Beaufort.

Do you think your mission could be followed by additional collaboration with French partners?

We have a number of next steps from our trip including VC meetings, a new joint proposal for research under the Global agenda for sustainable livestock, action network 2: Restoring Value to Grasslands and a joint proposal (submitted) into the Pacific fund from the French Embassy in New Zealand.

Is there anything else that you would like to share?

We are both very grateful to the French Embassy for the funding we received it was an enjoyable trip and although short, highly rewarding and rejuvenating.

Wendy Parr - Wine sensory scientist

Wendy Parr

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Biography

I am a New Zealander who has been interested in France for many years. My personal interests include food and wine, bush/forest walking, environmental issues, and philosophical discussions. As a psychologist (Ph. D in cognition and psychophysics) and wine scientist (Ph. D. in wine sensory phenomena), I have had the pleasure to work with French scientists for close to 2 decades now, becoming friends as well as professional collaborators with many colleagues.

Interview

Could you please introduce yourself and your field of work?

I am a wine sensory scientist who works with psychological phenomena (perception, memory, judgment) to understand how we appreciate wine.

Did you already have any professional links with France before the mission you took part in?

Yes, I have had links with France for about 15 years, working primarily with researchers at University Paris VIII in Paris and at University of Burgundy in Dijon. I have also been invited to University of Bordeaux II for seminar presentations and meetings with scholars.

What was the mission about?

My programme within the Mission to France had two major aims, one with colleagues at the University of Burgundy, and the second with colleagues at University Paris VIII. At the University of Burgundy we progressed work already established within a project titled Understanding the key factors driving perceived quality in New Zealand and French Pinot noir wines, planning a new experiment to be conducted in 2020. I also gave a talk on Complexity in Wine to the university’s Masters’ students, and had meetings with 5 other French researchers with whom I have worked previously and co-authored science publications. It was a most valuable visit to the University of Burgundy.

At the University Paris VIII, I worked with Professor Isabel Urdapilleta on a project investigating mental representation of wines produced by various methods of agricultural production as a function of culture (France; New Zealand) and wine expertise (wine consumers; wine professionals). While I was in Paris, we began analysing our data based on interviews previously undertaken to investigate attitudes, ideas, and thoughts about wines as a function of wine method of production (conventional agriculture; organic production; Natural wines), taster culture, and wine expertise. It was an extremely successful and valuable two days of meetings where I met new colleagues, widening my circle of French scholars to work with.

Do you think your mission could be followed by additional collaboration with French partners?

Absolutely. I have already new collaborations planned both in Burgundy and in Paris. The opportunity to meet face-to-face with researchers on the other side of the world fosters and encourages us to want to work together for the betterment of both countries, France and NZ.

Is there anything else that you would like to share?

I felt very privileged to be part of the 2019 Mission to France. My colleagues in France were also most appreciative of the Embassy for providing an opportunity for me to visit them at their universities and participate in person in various meetings, seminars/talks, and events (e.g., a French wine and cheese matching exercise for the Masters students at University of Burgundy).

Andrew McGlone - Physicist, Applied Sensors Team, Plant&Food Research

Andrew McGlone

Biography

I’m NZ born and bred, trained as a physicist and now working as a sensor development scientist at Plant&Food Research, leading a team of about 8 scientists who work on sensor development for horticultural applications. The team’s main focus for many years has been development of grader technology for high speed fruit sorting in terms of internal quality attributes like taste, texture and the presence of defects. More recently we are starting to look at in-orchard applications, to measure various tree or vine attributes in the field such as health (e.g., resilience to disease) and yield (e.g. of fruit).

Interview

Could you please introduce yourself and your field of work?

Physicist, Applied Sensors Team, Plant&Food Research.

What was the mission about?

To seek collaborative opportunities with French researchers

Do you think your mission could be followed by additional collaboration with French partners?

Yes, definitely.

Is there anything else that you would like to share?

The French people and companies visited were most welcoming, very friendly and open, and certainly interested in collaboration. There is the real advantage of having access to two seasons in one calendar year if we can work collaboratively.

Racheal Bryant - Senior Lecturer in the department of Agriculture at Lincoln University

Racheal Bryant

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Biography

Racheal is a Senior Lecturer in the department of Agriculture at Lincoln University. Completing a PhD in 2002 on the development of a ryegrass selection index for nutritive value, Racheal has since moved on to specialise in ruminant nutrition, grazing ecology and dairy farm systems. Her recent research investigates the role of grazing management, forages and supplements on nutrient cycling in dairy systems with special interest in environmental outcomes of farming systems.

Interview

Could you please introduce yourself and your field of work?

I am a senior lecturer at Lincoln University, teaching and researching in ruminant nutrition and farm systems.

Did you already have any professional links with France before the mission you took part in?

I had limited professional links with France. For many years I have been the supervisor to a number of Engineering students who come to NZ to complete project work.

What was the mission about?

The mission was to meet agricultural scientists at INRA in Rennes and learn about the approaches they were using to manage sustainability in agriculture. The aim was to build relationships and share ideas for future collaboration for research to benefit farmers - dairy in particular.

Do you think your mission could be followed by additional collaboration with French partners?

Already the mission to France has been very successful as contact has continued and plans are being made to conduct research together early next year.

Is there anything else that you would like to share?

I think this has been an excellent initiative and a great opportunity.

Dernière modification : 05/02/2020

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