Funded PhD Project on NZ Horticultural Sector

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Leveraging Life Cycle-Based Environmental Sustainability In the New Zealand Horticultural Sector for a Profitable Future

A PhD scholarship is available from Massey University for a three year project in association with Plant and Food Research’s programme on “Socio-economics of land use and land use change”.
The successful student will receive $25,000 per year plus payment of study fees for three years.

There has been little research on the opportunities and challenges of life cycle-based environmental sustainability schemes in NZ horticultural sectors, and how it relates to different industry structures. However, demonstration of environmental credentials is recognized as a key attribute for leveraging competitive advantage in international markets (Green Growth Advisory Group, 2011). And previous research by McLaren and Garnevska (2014) identified that, in the wine sector, wine companies recognized that such schemes provided a mechanism for differentiating themselves in international markets. More recently, the development of the Origin Green programme in Ireland for the agricultural sector has renewed interest in similar schemes in New Zealand, and McLaren et al. (2017) have identified the attributes required for such schemes. 

This research project will address one or more of the following research questions depending upon the skills and interests of the successful applicant:
1. How do NZ horticulture sectors currently respond to life cycle-based environmental sustainability signals in markets?
2. What are the key attributes of successful sector-wide environmental sustainability programmes? Are qualitative or quantitative indicators most effective in influencing enterprises to become more eco-efficient?
3. Are different types of environmental sustainability programmes required to suit different industry structures?

Expressions of Interest
Expressions of interest are invited from students awarded a Bachelor (Honours) or Master’s degree at first class or second class (division 1). Please send your CV and a short expression of interest indicating your proposed focus for the research to Professor Sarah McLaren (

Please note that the closing date for applications is 30th November 2017.

Green Growth Advisory Group. (2011). Greening New Zealand’s Growth. Wellington: Ministry of Economic Development.
McLaren, S.J. and E. Garnevska. (2014). Why Practice Life Cycle Management? Case Study of the New Zealand Wine Industry. Presentation at 9th International Conference LCA of Food, San Francisco, 8-10 October 2014. Available at:
McLaren, S.J., Singh, R., & Clothier, B. (2017). Environmental certification: adding value for New Zealand’s primary producers, or a waste of time and money? In: Science and policy: nutrient management challenges for the next generation (Eds L. D. Currie and M. J. Hedley). Occasional Report No. 30. Fertilizer and Lime Research Centre, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand. 8 pages.