Primary sector science roadmap: Te ao tūroa

Science, technology and innovation are important for strengthening our bioeconomy. The roadmap outlines future science needs and opportunities for New Zealand's primary sector.

Why a roadmap?

This roadmap provides an integrated, shared view of future science needs and opportunities. It is a critical starting point for better aligning science across the primary sector.

Download the roadmap [PDF, 5.6 MB]

Get a copy of the flyer [PDF, 1.1 MB]

 Video – primary sector innovation (3:23)

[Video begins with a close-up shot of Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, Prime Minister's Chief Science Advisor. His name and title appears on the bottom of the screen.]

Sir Peter: "The primary industry has got the greatest growth potential perhaps of any of our industries if we use science properly."

[While Sir Peter is speaking, a man is shown taking measurements in a vineyard. A harvesting vehicle is shown harvesting in the vineyard.]

Sir Peter: "We've just got to get over the mindset that agriculture is low technology. It's in fact very high technology. Although I think we're only a small part up the ladder."

[Professor Cather Simpson of Auckland University starts talking while laser equipment in the Photon Factory is shown.]

Professor Simpson: "We really need to take advantage of the fact that we have not just got really strong primary industries here but we have absolutely fantastic high-tech innovative researchers."

Dr Mark Ferguson, Production Science Manager, New Zealand Merino: "We don't get stuck in what is traditionally done. We think about how we can – we look at a production system and how we can tweak that to have a more valuable product coming out from New Zealand."

[While Dr Ferguson is talking, 2 scientists are shown working on microscopes. Camera moves to close-up of hand adjusting one of the microscopes. Image from microscope on computer screen appears. Dr Ferguson is shown pulling some wool with his hand to measure it.]

Helen Mussely, General Manager, Plant & Food Research: "For me, the way our science gets used is the really important thing."

[While she is talking, video of fish swimming in a new type of fishing net is shown. A person on a fishing vessel brings the net on board. A small boat moves across the water. Underwater mussel lines are shown, and are brought up onto the boat by a person.]

Helen: "That it goes to help industry to do things better, to make their industry more sustainable in the long run, both economically, but obviously environmentally as well."

[Craige Mackenzie, farmer and CEO/Director, AgriOptics New Zealand stands in front of irrigation equipment that is operating on his farm.]

Craige: "We start with things like auto-steer on the tractor and once you have it on one, you've got to have it on all of them. So, you turn at the end, hit the button and it automatically drives to the far end. But that allows us to spatially apply different products and fertiliser in different areas to match exactly what the crop needs."

[While he is talking, a tractor is shown being driven across a paddock with spray equipment.]

Mr Mackenzie: "The returns are huge. The opportunities to even the crops up – it just means that we can really drive productivity without actually necessarily using as much fertiliser."

Ellen Ashmore, Food chemistry scientist, ESR, stands in a laboratory. While talking, we see Ellen pouring liquid from a bottle into a funnel. There is a close-up of a beaker with Ellen's hands behind holding a pipette. Ellen places the pipette in a stopper at the top of beaker.]

Ellen: "There is much more need to collaborate with those producers overseas and the importers and exporters. And that brings together scientists from all over the world, but also from the different disciplines of science."

[Close-up of Associate Professor Māui Hudson, University of Waikato, who is sitting down. His name and title appear at the bottom of the screen.]

Māui: "Certainly within the Māori space, when thinking about Mātauranga Māori, all of it has been informed by an evidence base."

[Close-up of pine tree branch with 3 men walking in the background. They walk down a forest road and talk to each other.]

Māui: "Just like there is no end point to science, it's something that's constantly evolving and we're developing our understanding and deepening our knowledge. We do the same thing both with mātauranga and also the relationship between the 2 and how we can use them."

[Close-up of Traci Houpapa, Chair of the Federation of Māori Authorities and Landcorp New Zealand. Her name and title appear in the bottom of the screen.]

Traci: "Uplift and performance, productivity and profitability is going to come from research and technology, is going to come from innovation."

[Woman putting labels on small jars in a lab]

Dr Mark Harris, Global Marketing Manager, Gallagher, sits at a desk. His name and title appear in the bottom of the screen.

Mark: "Innovation has become part of our culture. So everyone who works here knows that what we do is we redefine the future. We try and improve the lives of our customers, you know, so we're constantly trying to change the way farmers use our technology."

[Shot of 4 people working at a production line.]

[Person putting stake into the ground with cow in the background.]

[Close-up of Aaron Gunn, Technical and Resource Manager, Port Blakely NZ. His name and title show on bottom of screen.]

Aaron Gunn: "There's so much more complexity to the forestry sector. It's not just a person on chainsaw or cutting a tree down. Our field operations are changing so much. We've got robotics coming in. We've got UAVs. We've got laser technologies that we use from the sky. It's a constantly changing world, and it's just so fascinating."

[Forestry data images on a computer screen. Aaron working at the computer and looking at images on the computer screen. Image of a forest block.]

[Close-up of Lucy Griffiths, Marketing Consultant and Owner of Innov8 Aotearoa. Her name and title are shown at bottom of the screen.]

Lucy: "You can be working with, you know, the Callaghan Institutes and the Riddetts and be creating products that are high value and branding those – and then carrying them to the world with our New Zealand imagery."

[Close-ups of New Zealand food products.]

[Close-up of Ian Proudfoot, Global head of Agribusiness, KPMG. His name and title are shown at the bottom of the screen.]

Ian Proudfoot: "We've got this challenge – we're not local. But we can use technology to make ourselves local and that's a huge opportunity for us to reposition where we sit in the supply chain."

[Close-up of pipette being used, and 2 researchers working together. One is stirring something in a bucket and the other researcher is using the pipette. Ian voiceover,

[Close-up of Dr Ian Ferguson, Departmental science advisor, MPI. His name and title are shown at the bottom of the screen.]

Ian Ferguson: "There's a lot of areas where science is used now. And I think what I would want to see – and hope that young people want to see – is that this is somewhere they can develop a passion."

[End of transcript]

Guiding the primary sector

The roadmap supports and guides activities throughout New Zealand's science system including:

  • funding and investment decisions
  • aligning research
  • developing science capability
  • encouraging industry partnerships and international collaborations

Focus for the future

Four cross-sector areas identify future challenges that science needs to support.

Farming and science images in a circle to illustrate the four roadmap areas

  • Sustaining, protecting, and adapting our natural resources
  • Growing productivity and profitability with environmental, social, and cultural acceptability
  • High-value products for consumers
  • Integrating primary production systems, people, communities, and values


Eight interconnected science themes are identified to guide users of the roadmap. Each theme contributes to the 4 cross-sector areas.

Expand All
Find out more about the 8 themes
These themes are the priority directions for science along with research opportunities.

Adding value

Achieving greater profitability across the supply chain, driven by consumer and market insights and preferences, and co-innovation, resulting in a greater diversity of high-quality products and services.



Harnessing the value and power of data

Advancing the definition and collection of critical data, use of connected data sources, data handling, interoperability, management and governance for more efficient and adaptable production systems that have a positive impact on the environment.



Innovating with advanced technology

Developing and implementing new technologies, including advanced, disruptive, and transformational technologies to ensure the New Zealand primary sector is globally competitive.



Innovating through genetics

Creating knowledge and techniques leading to plant and animal production that is more efficient, safer and adaptable, with less negative environmental impact, allowing rapid development of new generations of food and non-food products.



Innovating through Kaupapa Māori

Contributing through Kaupapa Māori research approaches to distinctive and transferable primary sector innovation informed by tikanga Māori, mātauranga Māori and science working together.



Protecting and sustaining resources

Future-proofing new and existing production systems so that terrestrial- and aquatic-based resources, are mapped, measured and monitored to protect the resources and support their use under rapidly changing conditions.



Deriving value from complex systems

Enhancing sustainability of diversified and multifunctional, terrestrial- and aquatic-based systems and the development of novel products through better understanding and using complex systems.



Integrating people and values

Supporting the development of future primary production systems that are publicly and socially integrated and enabling uptake of science and technology through effective engagement and partnerships.


The New Zealand science system and the roadmap

Relationship with other Government science initiatives.

The roadmap is part of the Government’s overall strategy for the science system, as set out in the National Statement of Science Investment 2015-2025. It also aligns with the Conservation and Environment Science Roadmap.

The roadmap also provides strategic direction to 7 National Science Challenges:

Case studies
Science and technology at work.

New Zealand’s primary sector scientists and businesses are world-leaders in cutting-edge science, technology and innovation. Here are some examples of primary sector research and development.

Thinking tank inspection? Think robots

Wall-climbing robots that inspect large tanks with no risk to the operator are addressing primary sector health and safety challenges. This Kiwi-developed technology was designed to remotely inspect dairy equipment, but it can also be used for the inspection of a range of spaces such as wine tanks, aircraft, grain silos and water tanks.

Maximising the benefits of high-resolution weather forecasts

The web-based subscription forecasting and information service by NIWA use very large multivariate datasets generated by numerical weather prediction models. This service provides location-specific 15-day forecasts that have huge economic and environmental benefits, such as for scheduling helicopter time for frost fighting over vineyards.

Overcoming the challenge of distance in our food industry

Stress-free capture, storage and transport have been developed for crayfish by international and New Zealand-based engineers and materials scientists, working in partnership with the seafood industry. This is allowing high-value products to reach overseas markets such as China in premium condition.

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