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Liam O’Callaghan

BY LIAM O’CALLAGHAN

Scientist recognised for Psa fight

New Zealand scientist Philip Elmer has received multiple awards for his services to the kiwifruit industry

Scientist recognised for Psa fight

Kiwifruit New Zealand chairwoman Kristy McDonald presenting the innovation award to Philip Elmer

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Philip Elmer, senior scientist at Plant & Food Research, has won the kiwifruit industry’s top innovation award for his contribution to the fight against diseases and the industry’s efforts to become more sustainable.

The New Zealand scientist was awarded the Sir Brian Elwood Award at Zespri’s annual Harvest Dinner, he also received The New Zealand Institute of Agricultural & Horticultural Science AGMARDT Technology Transfer Award.

Elmer received the Sir Brian Elwood Award for leading the team that developed the organic-certified biological control agent Aureo Gold, which is being used in the fight against Psa.

He expressed his gratitude for the award and accepted it on behalf of his whole team.

“When we started, we had our fair share of sceptics and many thought that Psa was just too tough for a biological control to handle. Therein lies the heart of why we do what we do – our team loves a challenge and Psa was the biggest one we had ever faced,” Elmer said.

“This award means a huge amount to my team and recognises all the hard work and technical barriers we had to overcome - from discovery in 2012 to commercial product being sold in 2018.”

“Our mission does not end here for the kiwifruit industry. We are constantly looking to improve what we have developed and right now we are working on a new plant defence booster that will help boost the power of Aureo Gold – so watch this space,” Elmer added.

The AGMARDT Technology Transfer Award recognises contributions to the New Zealand horticultural business community through technology transfer. 

It was given to Elmer in recognition of his work with growers and industry bodies, he successfully communicated with all participants whilst delivering the knowledge and/or products required.

Elmer’s work has made a major contribution to the development of biocontrol technologies through the effective transfer of science and technology for industry.

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