Thriving horticulture sector behind new degree at Massey University

A booming horticulture industry has prompted the introduction of a new degree course at Massey University.

The Ministry for Primary Industries' (MPI) quarterly outlook figures for New Zealand's primary sector estimates growth in the horticulture sector for the coming year will be 13.1 percent, a $0.7 billion increase on the previous year.

A three-year Bachelor of Horticultural Science degree is set to begin in February to cope with the expected growth.

Senior lecturer Dr Huub Kerckhoffs told RadioLIVE's Rural Exchange that it couldn't be happening at a better time.

"If anything we should have done it earlier, but you have to go through the process of getting new degrees in," he said.

The degree is a combination of hands-on and academic papers, covering all areas of horticulture from stone-fruits to vegetables and flowers.

"We've done some horticulture here at Massey, but always part of a bigger agri-science degree," said Dr Kerckhoffs.

He said the industry has been involved in planning the course.

"The industry helped us, and guided us to put it together, so there's a whole range of skills, plants, understanding consumer needs, soil, smart technologies... you name it, " he said.

"It's a good rounded mix, and graduates will come out ready to be part of that vibrant industry," said Dr Kerckhoffs.