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International students flocking to NZ to study farming

Here in New Zealand, we are incredibly lucky to have such a diverse and rich environment to enable hands-on training for the farmers of the future. However, it's not just our renowned exports that are drawing international attention, it's also the wealth of educational resources we have to offer students considering entering the agriculture industry.

Massey University is just one of our higher education institutions dedicated to training up the next generation of farmers, and now their Dairy 1 research project is attracting not just local, but international young talent as well. 

Teaching the world's future leaders in agriculture 

The project is based at Dairy 1, a 147 hectare 'living research farm' situated on the Manawatu River just adjacent to the university's Palmerston North campus. It's run as a real life profitable dairy farm, with 65 paddocks and a mix of over 240 Jersey, Friesian and cross breed cows. 

As part of Project Dairy 1, which was first founded in 2013, students are learning about profitable and responsible dairy farming, making use of smart technologies and data to inform their education. Now students from Chile, France, Belgium and the Netherlands are joining local Kiwi talent to take advantage of our cutting edge resources. 

Some, like Chilean PhD student Constanza Descalzi, were interested in studying here due to how closely aligned her country is with New Zealand in terms of agriculture. 

"Chile and New Zealand have similar farming systems and climates and therefore face similar challenges," says Ms Descalzi.

"I feel fortunate to be able to learn from, and work with, one of the top scientists in this area, Professor Peter Kemp [head of Massey's Institute of Agriculture and Environment]. He came to Chile every year for five years so I had a connection already."

New Zealand is a unique prospective for international students

Of Massey University's over 4,000 international students, some have come to participate in Project Dairy 1 because of the contrast our country's landscape represents to their own.

"I'm interested in dairy systems and here the system is very different to the one in Europe," says Kristof van Bouwel from the Netherlands. "I wanted to come here because I didn't know a lot about it."

Mr van Bouwel, who is looking into the productivity of cows under Dairy 1's once-a-day milking scheme adds that the opportunity was a great way to combine a visit to New Zealand with study. What makes Project Dairy 1 and the associated International Sheep Research Centre such an attractive prospect is the chance to gain real-world, hands-on experience while studying. 

"As well as working on my project, the best part of the experience for me was being able to help out on other projects," says Dutch PhD student Hanneke de Cook. 

"We're only here for what seems a really short time, so we're living life to the max to see lots of the university and the country."

International students are taking part in Massey's Project Dairy 1.