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FORST sows financial support for seed industry

14 July 2008

- for immediate release

FORST sows financial support for NZ’s seed industry and Lincoln University research

New Zealand’s seed production industry - ranked 13th in the world for exports - is poised to make a major new contribution to the New Zealand economy through a research project funded today (14 July) in the latest round of grants announced by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology.

The research team headed by Lincoln University’s Professor of Seed Technology, John Hampton, and Canterbury University’s Professor Biology Paula Jameson, received $2.5 million over five years for their project titled Advanced Seed Production Systems”.

The project, headed by Lincoln University, is collaborative with AgResearch, Crop and Food Research and industry partners the Foundation for Arable Research, NZ AgriSeeds Ltd and Seed Force Ltd.

The research will make a three-pronged attack on the major constraint on New Zealand’s seed export sales - variable yields and quality. It will seek to remove these constraints by
• developing a seed production system that ensures consistency of seed yield, high seed yield and high physiological seed quality in white clover and forage rape;
• improving the distribution of plant resource allocation to seeds;
• determining a plant breeding strategy for improved seed yield in species valued for their ability to produce quality forages.

The work is based on the researchers’belief that genomic and physiological control of flowering, seed set and seed development in indeterminate plants will increase seed yields and seed physiological quality, resulting in increased economic value of the seed product.

The researchers’ industry partners will make a major contribution to the work and its implementation, for example they will use established market channels to deliver greater quantities of higher quality seed to the internal and international markets.

Agricultural seeds (mainly pasture seeds) and vegetable seeds are the industry’s principal export products. About 95 percent of this production is based in Canterbury, where the New Zealand seed industry was founded over 150 years ago.

Professor Hampton says that FORST’s recognition of seed production in New Zealand is a fillip for a small but important industry which over the past 10 years has shown the potential for make a major contribution to New Zealand’s diverse portfolio of land-based export enterprises.

Lincoln University’s Acting Vice-Chancellor, Dr Chris Kirk, describes the funding as a “strong endorsement of our world-class expertise in seed technology and the vital role that seed production plays in New Zealand’s bio- economy.”

He says it is particularly pleasing that Lincoln University will be working in a “strong regional collaboration with two Lincoln-based CRIs, AgResearch and Crop and Food Research, and with colleagues at the University of Canterbury”.

Lincoln University also received research funding from FORST of $4.3 million for a project addressing bio-diesel feedstock issues and Lincoln Ventures Ltd, the University’s wholly-owned research, development and consultancy company, received funding for two projects, totalling $10.2 million.


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