This year’s LASRA Conference was the 64th and signalled a significant Milestone for LASRA, celebrating its 40th year on the Palmerston North site, and the 25th and 35th year of employment of two of its most senior staff, Dr Sue Cooper and Mr Peter Roy, whose combined experience and knowledge help make LASRA such a successful organisation – they are certainly both used to the idea of providing solutions to a never ending range of different problems!

This year’s conference had as its main theme how to make the best use of what we’ve got. Whilst there is a steady growth in dairying, there is a similar drop-off in beef cattle and lambskins. Capturing as much of the intrinsic value of these finite resources for NZ as possible is the only way we are going to be able to contribute to the government’s targets for growth in the Primary Sector over the next 12 years.

Interesting talks on this theme from Rob Davison and Kelvin Whall, both from Beef + Lamb NZ, and Dr Sue Cooper on the contribution of Hides & Skins, were followed by more detailed papers on how LASRA research is engaged in generating a more valuable product.

Presentations on REACH from Dr Campbell Page (TFL) and the IULTCS from Dr Richard Edmonds brought the first day’s technical program to a close before the Conference Dinner and Student Awards.

The second day’s program began with a technical paper from Dr Gill Norris (Massey) on the analysis of proteins in lambskin, followed by an interesting insight into the application of nanomaterials on leather for property enhancement and a rallying cry from Peter Roy on striving for new markets in the high performance leather footwear sector. Nathan Rosandich explained how LASRA was implementing various computer technologies to simplify and speed-up our service before Dr Clive Jackson-Moss (ISTT) provided an interesting perspective on training in South Africa.

Overall, it was a very relaxed, enjoyable and productive conference. We look forward to doing it all again next year – preferably without the 6.6 earthquake at the end!