The Jubilee Medal, the NZIAHS’s most prestigious award, is awarded to Nick Pyke for his outstanding contribution to the arable industry through primary resource science and extension and as a researcher, manager, facilitator and communicator.
Under Nick’s leadership, first as research director, then chief executive, the Foundation for Arable Research developed into a nationally and internationally recognised research and extension organisation that has made substantial contributions to improving on-farm performance and environmental management.
FAR has won a reputation for research excellence and innovative extension programmes, contributing substantially to the sustainability of New Zealand’s relatively small arable industry’s resource use and environmental management and to its recognition as the world’s best in areas such as cereal, ryegrass, vegetable seed and clover yields.
Nick’s dedication, leadership and vision have ensured that FAR operates as a true industry-good organisation, allowing farmer levy payers to determine the development of their industry and communities.
Nick began his science career with HortResearch, where he was a member of a team investigating pathogens, pollination and post-harvest problems in kiwifruit. He was appointed Research Director of FAR in 1995.
FAR became one of the first organisations in the primary sector to recognise the importance of whole-farm systems over individual crop and management issues, leading to the arable industry’s engagement with Environment Canterbury in implementing the Canterbury Water Management Strategy, its work with councils nationally on land and water management issues, and its push for pan-sector research and extension programmes.
The systems approach and research excellence led, too, to FAR accepting a request to carry out potato research.
Nick is recognised as a skilled negotiator who is as comfortable in academic, agri-business and political circles as he is on-farm. He continues to present science and industry updates at grower events around the country and is always available to discuss agronomic and wider industry issues on a one-to-one basis with levy payers and industry representatives.
Biosecurity is another key issue for the industry and Nick was instrumental in facilitating industry responses to recent black grass, velvet leaf and pea weevil incursions.
In the 2017 Queen’s Birthday Honours, Nick became a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his contribution to the arable industry.