National Agricultural Fieldays Scholarship winners announced

22 June 2012

Fieldays scholarship winners

Agri-brains: (L to R) National Agricultural Fieldays Scholarship winners Max Arrowsmith and Mark Benseman at the University of Waikato Premier Feature stand at Fieldays.

Two University of Waikato science and engineering students have been awarded the inaugural National Agricultural Fieldays Scholarships.

Mark Benseman and Max Arrowsmith were awarded the scholarships by Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford at Fieldays last week. The University of Waikato is a strategic partner of Fieldays.

New scholarships

The scholarships, each worth $11,000, are aimed at graduate students undertaking research at the University of Waikato with a specific focus on the agricultural sector.

Mark Benseman applied for the scholarship after working for the past year and a half  for an electronics company that supplies farming products.

Dry matter

“Pasture’s the backbone of the New Zealand farming industry and it is essential for farmers to make the best use of available pasture. One of the limitations in farming is the ability to get accurate readings of the amount of dry matter in a given paddock,” says Mark.

“I’ve come up with an idea to help calculate the amount of dry matter in any given paddock. The Fieldays scholarship means I will be able to work fewer hours and focus more on this project.” 

He is hoping to have a prototype ready for Fieldays next year.

Fertiliser use

Max Arrowsmith wants to find out if precision agriculture methods can be applied to steep hill country land areas to maximise fertiliser use.

His work will take place at Blue Duck Station, 43km south west of Taumaranui, and will involve creating a model to predict the distribution of fertiliser across farmland with difficult terrain.

“My work will determine whether precision agriculture can be applied to hill and steep land area to maximise phosphorous use efficiency, so that farming and phosphorous distribution is both economically and environmentally sustainable.

“My objective will be achieved by developing a farm-scale soil-landscape model and determining the distribution of fertiliser on varying soil-landscape units.”

Waikato University and Fieldays

Waikato University has a long-standing association with Fieldays – the university’s founding Vice-Chancellor Sir Don Llewellyn helped establish the event in the 1960s.

The university is the key tertiary institution in the Waikato region and has been a strategic partner of the National Agricultural Fieldays for the past six years. The university’s Premier Feature stand this year showcased highly relevant research that impacts on farmers and land-based industry, including climate change modelling, mobile wetland use  and bore water cleaning. Waikato University also ran a series of seminars which featured, among others, the university’s new Professor of Agribusiness, Jacqueline Rowarth.

Latest stories