Lincoln Agritech was founded in 1964; then known as the New Zealand Agricultural Engineering Institute (NZAEI) it was formed to undertake applied research to accelerate the development and adoption of new agricultural engineering innovation by New Zealand’s primary sector.
The NZ Cabinet approved the formation of the Institute at Lincoln College (now Lincoln University) in 1963 and the first staff member joined in October 1964. Financed primarily from Ministry of Agriculture grants, early research concentrated on tractor safety frame testing, fencing, carcass disposal, farm water supply and agricultural aviation. In 1979, NZAEI opened a second research division in Ruakura, Hamilton. Lincoln Ventures Ltd was created in 1994 through merging NZAEI, the Kellogg Farm Management Unit and the Centre for Resource Management. In 2012, the company changed its name to Lincoln Agritech Ltd to better reflect its unique position as an independent agritech-focused science and engineering research company owned by New Zealand’s only specialist land-based university, Lincoln University.
From early beginnings, primarily as a heavy machinery testing facility, Lincoln Agritech has expanded to become a leading innovator for the agricultural, industrial, and environmental sectors. Numerous technology innovations have been developed at Lincoln Agritech and adopted by the primary sector in NZ and internationally.
- A mechanical blackcurrant harvester, developed and manufactured commercially from 1973, with machines sold across NZ and internationally.
- In the 1970s the company pioneered water harvesting in dams and other types of storage to meet the growing needs of stock and irrigation, including the design of the Glenmark Irrigation Scheme in Waipara.
- In 1980, NZAEI developed a direct drilling machine called the Rotodrill in conjunction with MAF which enabled ploughing and seeding of land in a single step.
- IRRICAD, a world-renowned software package used to design pressurised irrigation systems sold in more than 60 countries.
- Aquaflex, a soil moisture sensor sold worldwide since 1991.
- The Canterbury Water Management Strategy had its genesis with staff in the Environmental division.
- Sir William Gallagher of the Gallagher group bought a Lincoln Agritech patent (granted in 1986) and incorporated into his electric fence energisers to measure the earth return, and thus pulse strength.