Massey and Lincoln universities collaborate on primary sector projects

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 that 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 led by researchers from Massey and Lincoln universities received combined funding of $611,000.

Covering a wide range of research topics and approaches, these projects reflect the highly collaborative intent of the fund, with teams comprised of researchers from both universities working alongside industry and stakeholder partners to achieve impact. positive for the primary sector.

Research topics include creating new 3D-printed foods from plant and animal proteins, delivering a resilience and positive mental health program for students in the rural community, and converting wastewater from making pulses into high value nutritious ingredients.

Massey University head teacher Giselle Byrnes (photo from website)

Strengthening outputs

Giselle Byrnes, senior professor at Massey University, says collaboration with Lincoln University strengthens project results.

“Both universities are internationally recognized for their research, teaching and knowledge translation in the broad fields of agriculture, horticulture, agro-technology and biological sciences. The CDR Fund seeks to capitalize on these strengths, supporting genuine collaborations between the two universities, working alongside industry players and end users,” she said.

Professor Travis Glare, director of Lincoln’s Office of Research Management, said the projects have the potential to deliver a high degree of capacity development in a way that will maximize benefits for New Zealand’s primary sector.

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

Projects CDR MLAIT 2022

Lincoln-Massey Microalgae and Aquatic Plant Center: Collaborating to Strengthen Research for the Commercialization of Scalable Capacity – $140,000 – led by Dr. Wim de Koning from the University of Lincoln’s School of Agribusiness and Business, with Prof. Benoit Guieysse, Head of the Department of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering at Massey.

This project will establish New Zealand’s first microalgae and aquatic plant research and education farm with commercial capability. This joint Massey-Lincoln facility will enable scholars, students, farmers, entrepreneurs, food manufacturers and policy makers 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 much-needed research capacity to diversify New Zealand’s primary sector towards the production of high-value food products with a low environmental footprint.

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

Director of Lincoln’s Office of Research Management, Professor Travis Glare (photo from website)

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

The growing need for environmentally safer and less toxic pesticides has led to a huge demand for biopesticides. Biopesticides made from natural microbial pathogens of harmful insects. However, they are more difficult to grow than synthetic chemicals and may suffer loss of virulence or sporulation, which may prevent mass production in commercial facilities. Researchers have identified a potential solution to this problem and this study will generate the molecular understanding of the potential solution to facilitate its large-scale commercial adoption.

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

This research project aims to develop the tools and prototype processes to fully utilize existing animal and plant proteins by improving their functional and nutritional value through 3D printing. These advances will allow industry to recycle low cost but high value protein sources.

Hannah Yun Young Lee from Lincoln’s College of Agriculture and Science and Dr. Lovedeep Kaur from Massey’s School of Food and Advanced Technology are also working on the project.

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

The goal of the project is to reduce the number of lives lost to suicide in rural communities. First-year students enrolled in agriculture courses at Lincoln and Massey will have access to the WellMates program where they will learn the skills needed to stay mentally healthy and strategies to regain positive well-being after difficult times. Funding from the grant will enable the Lincoln research team to establish a new collaboration with research staff and students from Massey University to bring the WellMates program to the Massey campus. The project will also allow the collection of empirical and publishable data indicating whether students who have participated in WellMates show positive changes in their resilience and mental health.

Physicochemical Properties of Value Added Ingredients from Recycled New Zealand Pulses – $64,257. Dr. Serventi Luca from Lincoln University’s School of Agriculture and Life Sciences, with Dr. Sung Je Lee from Massey University’s School of Food and Advanced Technology.

Pulse 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 for converting wastewater, obtained from the processing of legumes through various techniques (soaking, boiling, steaming, canning, sprouting), into a range of ingredients and food products from great value. 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 completely new application for the pulse industry as well as for 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 commercialization in agriculture, horticulture, life sciences, social sciences and related fields, which will benefit the primary sector. The charitable trust was created to facilitate collaboration between the two universities and the development of their capacities, in collaboration with primary sector stakeholders and primary industries.