The nowhere-near complete guide to writing your Nuffield Scholarship application.

So, you’re looking to craft a cut-through Nuffield Scholarship application. If you’re like most people, the real struggle is getting started. There is something you can do while you stare blankly at the blinking cursor – ask yourself why?

Why are you applying for a Nuffield Scholarship? Your motivation is important. It will help you form a plan. A plan almost always leads to a better crafted anything really.  

Let a strong, singular motivation shine through, in not only the way your writing sounds, but how it feels too. For the reader, it’s the difference between wanting to read something compelling, and words on a page. 

Now, we can’t give you tips on what your motivation might be, but let’s just say anything along the lines of ‘I want to give back to the food and fibre sector’, is a good place to start. Remember you are submitting to a panel of smart, motivated people like yourself, who are determined to see New Zealand leading the future of food and fibre on the global stage.

Here are some tips from those who have read a few applications, to make the answering-questions-brilliantly-bit easier.  

1. Be clear and concise as to why you want a Nuffield Scholarship. 
Choose your words well and be economical. A good answer does not have to be a long-winded one. The more concise you are, the more the reader will gain a sense of your single-mindedness. That your motivation is clear.  
2. You’re likely to be clear about what a Nuffield Scholarship can do for you.
Make sure the reader is clear about what you will do for Nuffield. The reader, also known as ‘The Selection Panel ’, will want to know about your propensity for giving back. That’s a big part of Nuffield. Bringing back the thinking and ideas that might advance New Zealand’s food and fibre sector. 

A good application will show an understanding of how a Nuffield Scholarship will enable you to develop and implement strategic ideas and opportunities. Put simply, show you understand what a Nuffield Scholarship is.  

3. Sell yourself, but don’t overcook it. 
A critical piece of your sell is including examples of community leadership involvement, and ideally sector leadership experience as well. Recent is best. Play any ace cards up front, don’t bury them. 

Before you submit your application. 

Have you read it out loud? 
Does it sound the way you imagined it would when you wrote it? Try reading it out loud, it will help you find the things that aren’t quite working. 

Can you make it shorter? 
Less is more. There will always be a few words you don’t need. 

Have you asked someone else to read it? 
As great at writing as you may be, a second pair of eyes helps proof and sense check. When you’re the one writing, you’re often too close to see the obvious, like, glaring errors the spellcheck missed. 

Any big words you can replace with simpler ones? 
Enough said. 

Did you enjoy writing it? 
Are you pleased with what you’ve written? If so, chances are your reader will enjoy reading it too. 

Tracy Brown on Country Life on Radio New Zealand

On 4 June, our Tracy Brown, one of our 2020 Nuffiled Scholars, was a guest in the Radio New Zealand’s Country Life programme.

In this interview, Tracy talks about her recent experience as a Nuffield Scholar on the National Focus Programme.

Interested in the process of change in Dairy Farming, Tracy is focused on getting dairy farmers onboard with doing the right thing – through improved actions for the environment and better connections with community. A big part of this is improving dairy farming’s social licence to operate, or right to farm – that is, helping the public understand why dairy farmers do what they do.

Listen to the full interview here.

Tracy Brown is 2020 Nuffiled New Zealand Farming Scholar, Chair of the DairyNZ Dairy Environment Leaders Programme, Chair of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards Alumni, and is a farmer representative on the Dairy Environment Leadership Group.

2021 Food and Fibre Sector Insights Report

2021 Nuffiled New Zealand Farming Scholars Insights Report

Dead-ends or transformation - Redesigning NZ farming to thrive through change.

The environmental, social and economic contexts in which we farm and grow are changing rapidly. The pressure many primary sector New Zealanders feel is the collision of ‘business as usual’ with accelerating forces of change. Under these new conditions, protecting long-held structures and models becomes untenable. To thrive in a challenging new world, we must choose to self-disrupt and transform fundamental parts of our sector: however difficult that process may be.

This is the core insight of the Nuffield 2021 ‘World Tour of New Zealand’ – a redesigned Nuffield Farming Scholarship experience that saw 10 emerging primary sector leaders travel the length of the country to gather insights into the challenges and opportunities ahead.

This report is a culmination of those insights, as viewed through five pillars fundamental to a thriving NZ food and fibre sector:

Incentives – How the end of the ’farming for capital gain’ model is forcing us to redefine value, and restructure our organisations to capture it.

David Eade and Ben Anderson

Innovation – Mapping innovation potential across the sector to find what separates the status quo from the game-changers.

Shannon Harnett and Ben Mclauchlan

People – How leading organisations put people at the centre of what they do.

Lynsey Stratford and Edward Pinckney

Silos – How systemic silos across leadership, research and data management are restricting the potential of the sector.

Philip Weir and John Foley

Leadership – Why transformation must be led by values and purpose-driven leaders.

Tracy Brown and Daniel Eb

This report builds on the 2020 Nuffield Scholars Insights and represents the start of our individual study in chosen areas. We encourage those who wish to support our research to get in touch – our contact details are included throughout.

Finally, our sincere thanks to the many hundreds of primary sector New Zealanders who shared time and insights with us along the way. While there is a need for great transformation ahead, your pride, passion and talent are a reminder that we can and will get there.

Ngā mihi nui

The 2020 and 2021 New Zealand Nuffield Farming Scholars

Download your copy here

Sophie Stanley on agri-tech, AI and art classes

Sophie has been busy. Passionate about creating meaningful changes to the way we eat, and how that connects back to our planet – each step on her career path seems well placed to help make that happen.

Sophie’s Nuffield research paper, ‘Harnessing Social Media in Agriculture’, was followed by joining agri-tech start-up Figured, moving to Nebraska to launch it in the United States.

She returned to New Zealand in 2019 to join Autogrow and later WayBeyond, providers of artificial intelligence solutions for controlled environment farms. Sophie joined the board of the Dairy Women’s Network not long after.

Now standing at the intersection of agriculture, digital technology and innovation, we asked how the Nuffield Scholarship has helped expand her thinking.

“Before I received a Nuffield Scholarship, I was focused on the pastoral farming sector. But then [on the Global Focus Programme] you’re thrown into everything from row cropping to aquaculture. You get to see so many things. I met lots of interesting people in the agri-tech space too, from all over the world. I was exposed to a lot of diverse thinking, ways to solve problems, and to technology being used in different contexts. So yeah, the interest in agri-tech was sparked.”

On the potential of technology.

“When I came back to New Zealand, I noticed huge gaps, particularly with growers. Some hadn’t innovated for twenty years. And so, they were struggling to satisfactorily address challenges like consumer dietary preferences, traceability demands and sustainability evidence. New technology is the perfect solution to help address those things.

We can have a thriving, efficient agriculture sector using technology and at the same time achieve the sustainability and climate change goals we might have as a nation.

This is where social media is beneficial. There are always trends or signals that appear, often first on social media – signposts of the future. We need to start proactively picking up on those signals. One of my personal beliefs is to have a bias towards action – just make decisions and course correct later.

In the tech industry we have this concept of MVP, or Minimum Viable Product. It’s the quickest time you can get something of value out to a customer, so that they can try it, then you improve it.

We’re seeing the same thing across agriculture. People are asking, why don’t we just try something and see how it goes? And it doesn’t have to be solving climate change. Because that’s a big problem. It’s a very complex problem.”

We should instead ask, what is the smallest piece that we can carve off and solve? We need lots of players solving little pieces of that bigger problem. And eventually, we’ll all solve it.

On thinking differently.

“I started going to art classes recently – learning to look at problems in new and creative ways. It’s interesting to see people’s differing approaches to the same task – like painting a chair in the middle of a room. We all saw it from different perspectives – but from those perspectives you build a new picture. I like thinking about how we can apply that to the way we look at things in our industry – even just allowing me to approach my job differently.

I attended BOMA, E Tipu recently. One common thread running through many of the speakers was this idea of reframing challenges so that we tackle them from the opportunity rather than the problem.

What really stood out for me was hearing from Geoff Ross. He studied agriculture, but then he focused on creating great consumer brands like 42 Below Vodka.

He presented an aspirational and inspirational idea, something that could galvanise the primary sector. This idea was, could New Zealand be the world’s first climate positive farm? That’s an idea worth exploring. With that idea we know consumers would want to buy from us.

This ties back to my Nuffield social media research as well. Three years ago, you probably wouldn’t have heard about regenerative agriculture for example. Now, because of stories shared on social media, consumers have started to ask – is this produce from a regenerative agriculture ecosystem? Supermarkets like Whole Foods in the United States recognise this too, awarding New Zealand lamb company Atkins Ranch with their Supplier Award for Regenerative Agriculture Commitment.”

I’m interested in how we might catch the tailwind of these signals and ideas to get ahead of the curve too. I think telling better work stories can make that happen.

On Artificial Intelligence in agriculture.

“AI, the version without the gloves, is well and truly here – even still, people get scared of those two letters, AI. That it’s going to take everyone’s jobs and make us all irrelevant. For a different viewpoint, I went to TEDx Auckland recently.

There, Will Hewitt spoke about how medicine is using AI. He quoted Eric Topol who said, “AI won’t replace doctors, but doctors that use it will replace doctors that don’t”. And I think in turn you can replace ‘doctors’ with growers or farmers.

…AI won't replace doctors, but doctors that use it will replace doctors that don't. And I think in turn you can replace that word with growers or farmers.

At WayBeyond we find AI is most useful to growers for modelling six weeks ahead, to predict how many tomatoes they’ll have to meet their commitments to supermarkets. They’ve got thousands of data points, from temperature, from plant growth measurements, from colour change, so many things. That’s a lot of complex data for a human to process. They might get to 80% accuracy in a model.

Now, if you can use AI, you can continuously look at these data points and at the correlations between them. You go from 80% to 90% pretty quickly. The impact of that could be millions of dollars to the bottom line for large scale growers – and hugely reduced food waste.

There’s plenty happening within an operation that a computer just isn’t going to see though. You still need to walk the greenhouse. There are tweaks the grower needs to backfill with their experience.”

So, AI is a support tool for people to make better decisions, not the end of all our jobs.

On the next big leaps in agri-tech.

“They’ll be around solutions that are focused on sustainability. Because it’s something that consumers are driving and it’s important in terms of our shared planetary goals.

We’re going to see more around planetary accounting and carbon, things like that. Consumers want produce they can feel good about, produce that contributes to their morals and ethics.

We’re starting to think about how we can be more sustainable in aquaculture and commercial fisheries. We heard a bit about that at BOMA as well.

We’re in the very early stages of where we could be with artificial intelligence and neural networks. There’s likely to be many more technology applications here.”

…creating a digital twin of a plant or even a cow, would mean we can model and predict so many possible outcomes.

“Things like creating digital twins* of biological systems, and plants too. Digital twins have already been used with aircraft engines and other complex machines. Bringing it into a biological space and creating a digital twin of a plant or even a cow, would mean we can model and predict so many possible outcomes
– like the impact of disease. It’s something we’re looking at within controlled environment growing.”

On making good things happen.

“We’re really focused on return on investment for our grower customers – being able to show the benefits of an innovative change. The innovation must provide value back to them. So, whenever we’re doing a proposal, we’re always showing what the return on investment will be – to the bottom line and to the environment too.

Real industry-wide change will only happen if we hear those stories. Stories about the leaders breaking new ground for the rest of us to follow. And again, social media is key here.

At the end of the day, our customer is that person on the other end of the tweet, or the Instagram post. They’re buying our products, especially when we’re using all the technology at our disposal to do things better, not just by the environment but by future generations too.

I want to help make meaningful change in the way we eat, and the way that connects back to the planet. I’d like to be part of telling the stories that help connect and create solutions for change.”

I think by tackling little parts of big problems, using technology and sharing the stories that inspire others to act, we’ll get there together.

*A Digital Twin is a virtual representation of a physical object or process. It enables the testing of scenarios under varying conditions.

2021 Nuffield Applications : Promo Material

Kia ora!

We’re so pleased to have you promote the Nuffield Farming Scholarship through your networks either as a sponsor or an industry partner.

We appreciate you are busy so this page has everything you need to promote the programme.

Copy and paste the text from sections below to share on your social media channels and EDMs.

Please send any copy outside of the below that you wish to use to  tamneyhoyle@ruralleaders.co.nz to ensure our message is consistent.

We will be posting more content on our social media profiles throughout the campaign to attract more applicants. Your support with our posts is always appreciated!

If you have any additional avenues that could help promote the programme, we’d love to hear from you!


The Nuffield NZ team

To request a copy of our brand guidelines please email Tamneyhoyle@ruralleaders.co.nz.

If you feature our logo on your website or have it stored on file. Please make sure it is our most recent version – one of the below:


Applications close 23 August 2020

Are you an emerging leader with ideas you’d like to explore and bring to life?

Do you have a desire to help shape and lead the future of the Primary Industry? 

If you are, then we strongly encourage you to apply for a Nuffield NZ Farming Scholarship.

There’s no better time then right now to fast track your development as an emerging leader with our Food and fibre sector positioned as the only sector to lead our national economic recovery. Become an expert in your chosen field of study and lead the conversations on the issues the agri-food sector faces today.

A Nuffield experience will help you develop personally, build new networks and gain new insights to share within the business and wider-agri sector.

There is no better way to expand and broaden your experience, transform your way of thinking than a Nuffield Scholarship.

APPLY NOW! For a 2021 Nuffield NZ Scholarship and become a world class leader for our country.

Please forward scholarship enquiries to nuffield@ruralleaders.co.nz.

Five $40,000 NZ Scholarships available 
Applications close on Sunday 23 August 2020.

Useful Links:




Are you an emerging leader with a desire to help shape and lead the future of the Primary Industry?

If you are, then we strongly encourage you to apply for a Nuffield NZ Farming Scholarship.

There’s no better time then right now to fast track your development as an emerging leader with our food and fibre sector positioned as the only sector to lead our national economic recovery.

Become an expert in your chosen field of study and lead the conversations on the issues the agri-food sector faces today.

Five $40,000 Scholarships available
Applications close Sunday, 23 August 2020

Apply now for a Nuffield NZ Farming Scholarship and become a world class leader for our country

Useful Links:



Nuffield NZ Farming Scholarships

Applications close 23 August 2020, don’t miss out! Register your interest! https://ruralleaders.co.nz/interest-form-nuffield/