Colleagues from 1982 get back together
Drs Minh-Long (Long) Nguyen and Bert Quin first worked together on soil fertility at the MAF’s Winchmore Irrigation Research Station (now part of AgResearch) in the early 1980s.
Their careers then diverged, although they worked on several projects together over the years. Dr Quin went up the ranks of MAF’s Agricultural Research Division to take the newly-formed position of Chief Scientist for Soil Fertility at Ruakura from 1984-1987. Then, in 1989, Bert set up his own fertiliser company Quinphos Fertilisers (NZ) Ltd. With the financial benefit of the sale of a majority shareholding to Sumitomo Corporation, the reformed Summit-Quinphos (NZ) Ltd had, by the time of Dr Quin’s resignation in 2005, attained 12% of the total New Zealand fertiliser market. The company specialised in RPR and blends, and also introduced the inhibitor-treated granular urea product, SustaiN® . This was an immediate success for the company, increasing urea efficiency by 20-40%. Since Sumitomo’s sale of the company to Ballance Agri-Nutrients in 2010, SustaiN® has become easily Ballance’s most widely promoted product. Dr Quin has since then become involved in a range of innovative projects, both in NZ and Australia. These are described in www.groupone.co.nz.
For his part, Dr Nguyen enjoyed a stellar scientific career with the Agricultural Research Division of MAF, before moving to NIWA to continue soil use and water quality and gaseous emissions for several years. Long was then appointed to the prestigious position of Head, Soil and Water Management and Crop Nutrition Section of the Joint FAO (Food and Agriculture)/IAEA ( International Atomic Energy Agency) Division, based in Vienna. He held this position for 10 years until reaching the IAEA’s obligatory retirement age in late 2014, when he returned to NZ to live. The Joint FAO/IAEA Division specialises in the use of isotopes of nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen to trace with great precision the fate of these nutrients in agriculture and the environment.
Back together in NZ, the two men quickly found they enjoyed working together as much as always, and decided to set up an international consultancy company Group ONE Consultancy Ltd. This company has a strong focus on fostering international research and training in agriculture and the environment.
With the company only just formed, the two were visited during mid-January by one of China’s foremost agriculture and environment researchers and a good friend of Dr Nguyen, Prof Li Yong . With no business office of their own at that point, Long and Bert were kindly offered facilities at NIWA Hamilton for their meetings. Prof. Li also met with senior research staff at NIWA.