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  • Position: Stakeholder Relationship Manager for Māori Agribusiness, (formerly Scientist), AgResearch.
    Field: Environmental science (soil)

    Dr Selai Letica’s interest is in soil nitrogen cycling in agriculture.

    Rights: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato

    Testing for nitrous oxide

    Dr Selai Letica collects an air sample from a soil chamber. She is testing for the presence of nitrous oxide, released to the atmosphere, from the area within an experimental enclosure.

    She is involved in research into the nitrogen cycle in agricultural soils. For example, she conducts research into the effects of DCD (dicyandiamide – a nitrogen inhibitor) on the losses of nitrogen from soil. She is also involved in research into mapping and quantifying where nitrogen losses occur in agricultural landscapes, as well as investigating the causes of soil nitrogen losses and how to advise farmers to change farm practices to avoid nitrogen losses.

    Rights: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato

    Nitrous oxide

    Dr Selai Letica explains some of the causes of nitrous oxide emissions in agricultural soils and why it is important to limit them.

    Select here to view video transcript and copyright information.

    She enjoys the process of designing and conducting experiments and being part of a research team that is focused on improving the environment for everyone to use and enjoy.

    If you want to work on a farm one day and fly to an overseas conference to present your results the next day, then this is a job you’ll love.

    As a teenager, Selai was interested in the outdoors and was really into sport and Māori culture but didn’t really know how to turn those interests into a job. As an undergraduate at university, she majored in botany and ecology before taking up a PhD candidate position at AgResearch. Doing a doctorate in environmental science allowed Selai to combine her love of the outdoors with her work. Selai hopes that one day she can contribute positively to her iwi by improving the management of our agricultural lands. As a young field technician, she got to snowboard, hike or go fishing on her way to many of her field sites. Now as a scientist, Selai is exposed to cutting-edge research and technology in the area of agriculture, which is New Zealand’s largest export earner.

    Rights: University of Waikato

    Reducing nitrous oxide

    Dr Selai Letica explains her work in managing the risk of nitrogen loss to the atmosphere through the use of nitrification inhibitors.

    Selai advises that, if you want a job that allows you to work on environmental solutions that will help farmers and wider communities enjoy the natural environment, this is a job for you.

    Since we met Selai she has taken on the role of Stakeholder Relationship Manager – Māori Agribusiness, which has her working across all science areas at AgResearch, connecting with stakeholders and encouraging scientists to consider how they could make their science impactful for Māori enterprises.

    Selai enjoys social and competitive sport, fishing and diving as well as tramping. She also enjoys travelling and likes reading when she’s not busy with her family.

    This article is based on information current in 2013 and 2018.

    Related content

    Find out more about Selai's work managing nutrients and reseaercch into nitrification inhibitors as well as livestock management practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    Useful links

    Watch this 2017 YouTube video from Mana Magazine in which Selai answers a varirty of questions.

    In this article Integrating Māori values with environmental solutions, Dr Selai Letica, talks about why the shift to Māori values is happening and why it matters.

      Published 30 July 2013, Updated 19 August 2018 Referencing Hub articles
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