It is predicted that by 2050 the world’s population will reach 9.2 billion people and we continue to make ever-increasing demands on our environment. Primary production is an essential part of New Zealand’s economy and many of the agricultural tools and techniques of the past are losing their effectiveness. As a land-based specialist university, Lincoln University has a role to play in training the next generation in how to deal with these issues to meet future demands.
Now into its third year, the University’s AgroEcology course has grown from 33 to 56 students. The course, led by Dr Roddy Hale, explores the science of sustainable agriculture. “It focuses on current issues in the agricultural environment and explains how an understanding of the ecology of farming can help to improve productivity and sustainability of farming practices. We look at the role of nature in farming and then continue on to cover financial and policy aspects of sustainable farming. The course takes a look at real alternative approaches of future farming practices” says Dr Hale.
Lincoln University’s Professor of Ecology Steve Wratten agrees, adding “The University identified a need to ensure New Zealand’s agriculture can be ‘future proofed’ against the 21st century challenges and in 2010 introduced this course. To see such a high level of student interest in this vital topic highlights the importance of and seriousness that the future of the primary industries plays in New Zealand.”
“Students learn that by working across three agricultural sectors (dairy, arable and horticulture) and developing and deploying farmer-friendly tools based on agro-ecological research, economic, environmental and social aspects of New Zealand agriculture will be enhanced and sustained. At the end of this course students will have the tools to help mainstream agriculture transition to a sustainable model to meet both current and future needs.”