Media Advisory May 28


The University of Waikato is once again a strategic partner of the National Agricultural Fieldays. This year’s Fieldays theme is The Changing Face of Farming. As the key tertiary institution in the Waikato region - New Zealand’s agricultural heartland - the University of Waikato is part of that industry and is heavily involved in research impacting on land-based industry. At Fieldays the university has two stands, the Premier Feature Stand and a marquee with interactive exhibits. To follow the University of Waikato’s build up to Fieldays, and what's happening during Fieldays, follow the university on Facebook and twitter.


A summer studying cows has given a University of Waikato student an unparalleled insight into bovine behaviour. Dushyant Parmar’s farming experience was pretty limited before he started working with farmer cooperative Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC), in the Protrack department over summer. Now he’s something of an expert. Parmar, a mechanical engineering student was involved with the development and testing of LIC’s new Protrack Drafter product that uses an automated drafting gate. The gate will be on show at one of two University of Waikato stands at Fieldays in June. “New-borns will follow anything,” he says. “The teenagers are a lot more rebellious and like to do things their own way in their own time. And then there’s the older cows – they’re too lazy to be bothered trying to figure things out for themselves so they’re very compliant.” The gate works like an extra pair of hands for farmers. Cows are fitted with an electronic identification tag, and a farmer pre-programmes which animals need drafting - during milking the automatic gate takes care of the rest. Upgrades have been made to the milking screen in the Herringbone shed pit which instantly shows which cows have been drafted, which are due to be drafted and total draft numbers. Pop-ups also tell a farmer when a cow has reached the gate.


On a Waharoa dairy farm two special machines aren’t missing a trick. Twenty times a second they record the amount of carbon dioxide going in and out of the soil and they will keep measuring it at the same rate for the next year. There’s something going on in the dairy farming pastures of New Zealand and a team of University of Waikato scientists is determined to discover exactly what. Lead researcher Professor Louis Schipper, co-researcher Dr David Campbell, research fellow Dr Susanna Rutledge and technician Aaron Wall are behind the testing which is being carried out under the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre and funded through the Primary Growth Partnership. In addition to measuring the amount of carbon going in and out of the soil, the team must also factor in how much carbon is going out in other ways, such as milk or feed imports.


The Director of the University of Waikato’s Honey Research Unit, Professor Peter Molan, has won an award for his scientific review of the efficacy of honey-based wound dressings. The 2011 Comfeel Literary Award for Best Literature Review went to Professor Molan’s paper “The evidence and rationale for using honey as a wound dressing”, published in the official journal of the Australian Wound Management Association which sponsors the award. The Comfeel awards are also supported by Coloplast, an international healthcare company that manufactures wound dressings.


Waikato University screen and media senior lecturer Dr Gareth Schott ended a year-long research project on online communities by releasing a debut CD. The extended play CD called The Darkest Dark Goes is the end product of a collaboration between musicians from across the globe, all of whom approached Dr Schott after he uploaded music onto Soundcloud, a part social networking, part community of practice website. “Soundcloud allows musicians at all levels to upload their own music and get feedback from other users,” says Dr Schott. “I produced and learned to edit my own music and stumbled upon Soundcloud so decided to upload a few songs for fun. I would record a song and send it to the singer who would work with the producer before sending it back to me.” Dr Schott was then approached by a Portuguese record label, Feedback Loop, which was interested in releasing an album for him. The Darkest Dark Goes has had favourable reviews since release including one reviewer saying the CD “has managed to capture fragments of the dream world and make then comprehensible in the real world – for that we owe them our thanks”.


In his upcoming Inaugural Professorial Lecture, University of Waikato Accounting Professor Charl de Villiers will discuss why businesses have begun to promote their social, environmental and sustainability programmes. Professor de Villiers has been researching the choices managers make when they decide what social and environmental information to disclose in their annual reports, on their websites and in other reports. He says the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 is a great example of a company strategically releasing information to the public. During his free public lecture on 26 June, Professor de Villiers will explore the reasons behind companies releasing information to the public, the potential financial consequences and the influence information can have on investors’ decision making. “Organisations distribute a lot of information about environmental and sustainability issues. One of the questions I explore is why managers would disclose the information voluntarily. They must see some benefit.” The Inaugural Professorial Lecture takes place at 6pm in the university's Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts.


Five Waikato University students are among the recipients of this year’s Freemasons Charity scholarships. The Freemasons Charity has awarded more than $3 million worth of scholarships since 1978 to New Zealand university students. The scholarships recognise students who are academic high achievers and are also actively involved in the community. Among this year’s Waikato recipients are PhD student Gail Hutcheson, who received $10,000, and university students Dayne Addenbrooke, Hilary Max, Ella Tappin and Timothy Carpenter, who each received $6,000. Timothy is also a Sir Edmund Hillary scholar. The scholarships were awarded to the students at a ceremony in Wellington on 22 May.


Theatre Studies students at the University of Waikato are stepping well back in time for this year’s annual production.  The Play Production class is performing The Convent of Pleasure – a play about a group of unmarried women who choose to avoid all the trappings of men and marriage by creating their own community.  It tackles gender issues and marriage with some cross-dressing thrown in. It was written in 1668 by Margaret Cavendish, arguably the earliest woman to earn a living from her pen.  Director Gaye Poole says she needed a play with three men and 14 women so researched a lot of options – mostly plays set in substantially female environments like schools, boarding houses, convents, etc.  She says she’s taken an eclectic approach to the production, emphasising different styles, including romantic comedy, pastoral and masque interludes, knockabout, dancing and metatheatrical episodes. The Convent of Pleasure runs four nights, June 6-9, in the Playhouse at the university's Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts.


University of Waikato student Mark Benseman has been awarded a $15,000 Hicks Scholarship to research a new way of measuring dry paddock matter. Not much can be said about the idea until he gets the idea patented, but Benseman will be researching the feasibility of it while be completes his Masters. The purpose behind the Hicks Scholarships is to promote all forms of farming in New Zealand, by assisting students to undertake relevant research. Only two are awarded per year. The Hicks Scholarships were established in 2011, as part of the Hicks Trust’s wider objectives of promoting all forms of farming in New Zealand.

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