Research Themes

A systems approach is being undertaken to identify and assess the risks and opportunities associated with disruptive technologies and change drivers, for industry and the country. The development of innovative technologies identified from this assessment, and their integration into new pathways for NZ agriculture, will be the focus of future research.

Challenge: How will disruptive technologies change future agriculture pathways (globally and NZ)?

Future Agriculture Systems Analysis diagram

Automation and sensors can be used to optimize the application of water and nutrients, target pests and weeds, and improve harvesting efficiency and overall agricultural production. Research initiatives are being undertaken at UC to develop precision spray robotics, land/water sensors for agriculture, and other technological advances. 

Challenge: How can technology be best used to improve the profitability, resilience and sustainability of agriculture?

Machine spraying plants

The use of artificial intelligence (AI), wireless technology, modelling, and data analysis is necessary to improve agriculture. UC has a wide range of expertise in these areas with strengths in the wireless research centre, data science and AI groups.

Challenge: How can digital technologies be used to improve agriculture from source to consumer?


Changes in climate are forcing us to re-thing how we use our land and water resources, and evaluate risk to productivity and the environment.

Challenge: How will anthropogenic climate disruption affect agricultural systems?

Drivers of change

Policies and changing markets can be drivers of disruptive technologies which can lead to different pathways of future agriculture. Research is needed to understand how.

Challenge: How can policy be used to improve governance of ag-tech and sectoral disruption?

Agriculture Policy

The development of fit for purpose infrastructure such as green houses, vertical farming, and product storage is necessary to support future agriculture.

Challenge: How can agricultural infrastructure be redesigned and improved to efficiently supply food products for our growing cities?