Lincoln University has unveiled plans for what is expected to be a globally-unique Energy Demonstration Farm to help the primary sector meet its future zero-carbon obligations.
Acting vice-chancellor Professor Bruce McKenzie said the funding, to replace earthquake-damaged buildings, would enable a major step forward to even more valuable research outcomes for New Zealand, delivered in “fit-for-future” facilities.
“The new science facilities will lead to many more innovations in the land-based sector, particularly associated with food and fibre production.
“Ultimately, the campus development programme will deliver an increased return on investment in land-based research and education in New Zealand, and contribute significantly to a sustainable and productive economy.”
The announcement by Education Minister Chris Hipkins follows a long period of uncertainty for Lincoln, which had planned a much-hyped $206 million joint facility in concert with AgResearch. That was finally abandoned after Hipkins rejected successive proposed business cases, and AgResearch has since announced plans for its own new building on the Lincoln campus.
Lincoln says it continues to work closely with AgResearch.
“A collaboration known as the Lincoln Precinct is at the intersection of a critical and growing mass of researchers, educators and facilities belonging to Lincoln University, AgResearch, Manaaki Whenua, Plant and Food Research, DairyNZ, and other commercial entities,” said McKenzie.
“The new science facilities on campus will allow the precinct to become the leading centre of land-based research in New Zealand. Research and teaching will take place across the precinct, leading to the development of the world’s smartest and most sustainable food production systems.”
Lincoln says its development programme includes new student social spaces, a revamped recreation centre, landscaping and a series of smaller projects designed to enhance the vibrancy of the campus and promote a positive learning, teaching and research community.
It also includes energy diversification projects aimed at transitioning away from fossil fuels and achieving carbon neutrality within the next decade.
McKenzie said the programme was about much more than just buildings and landscapes.
“It’s about bringing people together and facilitating greater opportunities for collaboration.
“This programme will help us to increase the number of New Zealand graduates who can make a difference to the land-based sector, and significantly contribute to a globally competitive agri-tech industry.”
In his funding announcement, Hipkins said the money would assist Lincoln’s recovery by replacing damaged buildings with teaching and research spaces that are safe, modern, flexible and future-proofed, and which are attractive to students, staff, and research and investment partners.
“At the same time, Lincoln will be modernising the way it teaches, undertakes research, and partners with other agencies.”
Hipkins said AgResearch’s complementary facilities on campus will enable greater collaboration between students, researchers and commercial partners and make the Lincoln precinct a real ‘power-house of science and research’, with an ability to tackle some of the biggest challenges and sustainability issues facing the land-based sector.