Massey and Lincoln Universities collaborate on primary sector projects

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A wide range from Aquatic Plant Research to Mental Health wellness

Fields Stock Image from Massey University Website

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Palmerston North, May 14, 2022

Five research projects which will benefit the primary sector have been announced as recipients of funding from the Massey-Lincoln and Agricultural Industry Trust Capability Development and Research Fund (MLAIT CDR).

The year-long projects which are led by researchers from Massey and Lincoln Universities have received combined funding of $611,000.

Spanning a diverse range of research topics and approaches, these projects reflect the highly collaborative intent of the fund, with teams comprising researchers from both universities working alongside industry partners and stakeholders to achieve positive impacts for the primary sector.

The research topics include creating novel 3D printed foods from plant and animal proteins, delivering resilience and positive mental health programme for students from the rural community, and converting wastewater from legume manufacturing processes into high-value, nutritious ingredients.

Massey University’s Provost Professor Giselle Byrnes (Website Photo)

Strengthening outputs

Massey University’s Provost Professor Giselle Byrnes says collaborating with Lincoln University strengthens the outputs of the projects.

“Both universities are internationally recognised for our research, teaching and knowledge translation across the broad fields of agriculture, horticulture, agri-technology and biological sciences. The CDR Fund seeks to capitalise on these strengths, by supporting genuine collaborations between the two universities, working alongside industry stakeholders and end users,” she said.

Professor Travis Glare, Director of Lincoln’s Research Management Office said that the projects offer the potential to deliver a high degree of capability development in a way that will maximise benefits to New Zealand’s primary sector.

“These projects will foster productive collaborations between the two universities and with industry and other relevant stakeholders,” he said.

2022 MLAIT CDR Projects

Lincoln-Massey microalgae and aquatic plants centre: Collaborating to build research to commercialisation of scalable capability – $140,000- led by Dr Wim de Koning from Lincoln University Faculty of Agribusiness and Commerce, with Professor Benoit Guieysse, Head of Massey’s Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering Department.

This project will set up New Zealand’s first microalgae and aquatic plants research and teaching farm with commercial capacity. This Massey-Lincoln joint facility will enable academics, students, farmers, entrepreneurs, food manufacturers and policymakers to engage, learn, collaborate and innovate in all areas of plant-based food production, from cultivation to automation, processing, product development, nutrition, marketing and sales.

This unique collaboration will provide the research capability critically needed to diversify New Zealand’s primary sector towards the production of high-value food products with low environmental footprints.

Also working on this project are Rob Reynish from Lincoln’s Faculty of Agribusiness and Commerce; and Dr Maxence Plouviez from Massey’s School of Food and Advanced Technologies.

Director of Lincoln’s Research Management Office Professor Travis Glare (Website Photo)

Improving biocontrol potential of entomopathogenic fungi for use in biopesticides – $139,825- led by Professor Murray Cox from Massey University School of Natural Sciences alongside Professor Travis Glare and Dr Jo Narciso from Lincoln.

The growing need for more environmentally safe, less toxic pesticides has led to a huge demand for biopesticides. Biopesticides made using naturally occurring microbial pathogens of pest insects. However, they are more difficult to develop than synthetic chemicals and can suffer a loss of virulence or sporulation, which can prevent mass production in commercial facilities. The researchers have identified a potential solution to this problem and this study will generate the molecular understanding of the potential solution to facilitate its widespread commercial adoption.

Design and analysis of novel 3D printed foods from New Zealand plant & animal proteins – $139,356- led by Professor Jim Morton from Lincoln University’s Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences, with Associate Professor Jaspreet Singh from Massey University’s School of Food and Advanced Technology.

This research project aims to develop the tools and prototype processes to fully utilise existing animal and plant-based proteins by improving their functional and nutritional value through 3D printing. These advancements will enable the industry to up-cycle low-cost but high-value protein sources.

Also working on this project is Hannah Yun Young Lee from Lincoln’s Faculty of Agriculture and Sciences, and Dr Lovedeep Kaur from Massey’s School of Food and Advanced Technology.

Researching WellMates – A Resilience and Positive Mental Health Workshop for Students from the Rural Community – $127,766- led by Dr Jorie Knook from Lincoln University’s Faculty of Agribusiness and Commerce, with wellbeing counsellor Dr Louise Winder from Lincoln and Dr Nicky Stanley-Clarke from Massey’s School of Social Work.

The project’s purpose is to reduce lives lost by suicide in rural communities. First-year students enrolled in agriculture courses at Lincoln and Massey will have access to the WellMates programme where they will learn the skills to stay mentally well and the strategies for returning to positive well-being after challenging times. The grant funding will allow the Lincoln Research Team to set up a new collaboration with research staff and students at Massey University to introduce the WellMates programme onto the Massey campus.  The project will also allow the collection of empirical, publishable data about whether students who have taken part in WellMates show positive changes in their resilience and mental health.

Physicochemical properties of value-added ingredients from upcycled New Zealand legumes – $64,257. Dr Serventi Luca from Lincoln University’s Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences, with Dr Sung Je Lee from Massey University’s School of Food and Advanced Technology.

Legume wastewater has the potential to be converted into high-value, nutritious and functional ingredients which will also reduce waste from the manufacturing process. This research will investigate the potential of converting wastewater, obtained from the processing of legumes by various techniques (soaking, boiling, steaming, canning, sprouting), into a range of high-value ingredients and food products. The finished product could be processed and used in the same way as food hydrocolloids, emulsifiers, foaming and gelling agents, for example. This is a totally novel application for the legume industry as well as the food industry.

About the Fund

The MLAIT CDR fund was launched in 2019 to support innovative research, teaching, professional development and/or industry-focused commercialisation in agriculture, horticulture, biological sciences, social sciences and related fields, that will benefit the primary sector.  The charitable trust was established to facilitate collaboration between, and capability development by the two universities, working alongside primary sector stakeholders and primary industries.

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