Photo Competition to Mark Ag Science Centenary To mark a century of agricultural research at the first research laboratory to be established in the southern hemisphere, senior New Zealand high school students are being asked to enter a national agriculture and science photography competition. “The photography contest is a way of encouraging young people to investigate and look closely at the science, pastoral and horticultural sectors as fascinating and exciting places to work,” a statement from AgResearch, which owns the century-old Wallaceville campus in Upper Hutt, says. New Zealand’s competitive advantage in farming, AgResearch says, will be maintained only by having scientists working in areas relevant to New Zealand farming.

For the best agriculture photo, the winner will receive $1000, a camcorder and airfares to attend the centennial celebrations at AgResearch’s Wallaceville campus.

 

“There aren’t enough young people going into careers in the science, pastoral and horticultural sectors. In particular, farming, orcharding and food processing are great places for a career with a decent income,” the statement says. Students in the last three years of high school have until the beginning of March to enter photographs into either the agriculture or the science category of the competition. The agricultural image can be related to any aspect of New Zealand agriculture or horticulture, while the science photo must reflect some aspect or field of New Zealand science.

 

For the best agriculture photo, the winner will receive $1000, a camcorder and airfares to attend the centennial celebrations at AgResearch’s Wallaceville campus, which are being held in March. The best science photographer will receive a digital camera, airfares to attend the centennial event and a trip to the Science Expo in Brisbane next July. The best photo by a local Upper Hutt student will win a trip to Brisbane Science Expo as well.

 

According to the Historic Places Trust website, Wallaceville’s century-long history had its genesis in 1892, when New Zealand’s Department of Agriculture was formed. Part of the new department’s work was to undertake research on livestock which was first carried out in makeshift accommodation in Wellington. In 1904 land was bought at Wallaceville and in the following year a small research laboratory was built, the first such in the southern hemisphere, However, even as the centenary nears, major changes are looming for the research centre.

 

In a bitterly contested decision, AgResearch, the biggest of the public research institutes known as Crown Research Institutes, has decided to relocate most of the staff from the Wallaceville campus and to sell off the land and facilities there.

 

The staff who work in the area of immunology and parasitology will move to Massey University’s Palmerston North campus by June 2006. Many of the infectious diseases team will also move to Palmerston North. Scientists who work on diagnosing infectious diseases will remain at Wallaceville and become part of a new National Centre for Biosecurity and Emerging Diseases. And in one of the most harshly criticised decisions, the highly respected reproduction science team will have to move to Dunedin in four years time.

 

Despite the trenchant criticism, including petitions and public pleas to New Zealand parliamentarians, AgResearch’s managers believe that the move takes the intuition back to its pastoral science roots.

 

“The three national centres will help… reinforce the country’s reputation as a global leader in pastoral science,” AgResearch chief executive Dr Andrew West has argued.

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