Youth, biosecurity focus for Nuffield Scholar
“I’ve experienced first-hand the impacts of the vine disease It was because of his obvious leadership abilities and industry Psa-V on the industry and will probably focus on biosecurity knowledge that Simon was encouraged to apply for the as my research project,” says Simon who is on the executive of scholarship and in November he became a Nuffield scholar, Kiwifruit Vine Health and New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. along with four others.
“I always want to raise the profile of the Nuffield Scholarship and the learning and leadership opportunities it provides, to encourage other young people in the kiwifruit industry to apply for the scholarship, because we need younger leaders to step up.” At 42 Simon is among a small number of young growers in leadership roles and he’s fully aware that, with 60 the average age of growers, the industry has an aging population.
“In 30 to 40 years’ time I want to be sure there are young people coming along with the skills to run the industry.”
Katey and Simon decided they wanted to give their children a rural up-bringing so moved to Te Puke in 2003 where Simon joined his father Bob in establishing the orchard spraying company Ranfurly Orchard Services Ltd.
“We were also fortunate, with family assistance, to be able to buy a five canopy hectare kiwifruit orchard, on land farmed by my grandparents since the 1950s.”
The block adjoins that owned by his parents Bob and Robyn and other members of the extended family. Called “Cottlevale Farm”, it is named for Simon’s great grandmother Mary Cottle who with her husband William Huse, bought the farm as part of a returned services ballot in 1950.
“They then put my Grandmother Peggy Huse (who invented the Peggy square for knitting blankets) and grandfather Bill Cook onto the farm.” Kiwifruit were first planted on the land 30 years ago.
Through their contracting business, Simon and his father are acutely aware of how hard many growers were hit by the disease Psa-V, first identified in New Zealand in 2010.
“We are fortunate that this orchard was not severely affected by Psa-V, largely I think because of its favourable location with free-draining soils and well established shelter.”
Simon and Bob’s response to the disease was to learn all they could about the most effective sprays and spray delivery to control the disease and Simon worked for Kiwifruit Vine Health, the body established to combat Psa-V, to help with technical transfer to growers and orchard managers.
“I think among the reasons the industry was so successful in rapidly recovering from Psa was the $50 million fund, half from government and half from the industry, much of which was spent on research and development.” Ranfurly Orchard Services was involved in spray trials which included testing a range of delivery methods.That work helped confirm for Bob and Simon that the air-blast delivery system of the Andreoli self-propelled sprayers their company uses is the best technology for delivering sprays where they are needed in kiwifruit orchards.
The company now also has sprayers adapted specifically for avocado orchards.
Simon and Bob have been to Italy to visit the Andreoli factory where the technical team, including members of the Andreoli family, works closely with the University of Modena on the design and optimisation of the blowers for spray equipment.
To learn more about international markets for kiwifruit, Simon has travelled to China, Korea, Japan and Europe. “I think it’s important to understand what happens to our fruit off-shore and what consumers demand. It gives you a fresh perspective on orchard management and quality standards.”
As part of his 12 month long Nuffield Scholarship, Simon will have the chance to spend up to 20 weeks travelling overseas, firstly as part of an organised study tour and secondly based around his individual research project.
“I think at this stage I’ll join the study tour to India,Turkey and the Middle East. India is certainly a potential future market for kiwifruit and I’m sure I will learn a lot from this tour.”
Simon has yet to plan exactly where he wants to go to look at biosecurity issues, or to finally confirm that’s the topic he wants to explore.
The scholarship will mean significant time away from Katey and their daughters Kody 10, Jessy-Mac eight and Sammy seven. “I’m so fortunate that Katey fully supports me in this opportunity.”
Simon is among the most diverse group of scholars for many year, as it has traditionally been dominated by people from the red meat and dairy industries.
The other 2017 scholars are Andy Elliot, of Wakatu Incorporation, Nelson, who has 20 years’ experience in New Zealand’s aquaculture industry; Turi McFarlane of Bank Pennisula who works for Ravensdown Environmental with experience in agricultural systems and sustainable land management; Solis Norton from near Port Chalmers, who manages the industry funded national animal health and productivity programme for the New Zealand Deer Industry and Kate Scott, from Central Otago, owner of an environmental planning and surveying business which services a broad range of agri-sector businesses.
Heard it all before? I don’t think so. This 37 can/ha orchard is an exciting orchard opportunity and would ideally suit a trust entity or syndicate group. The basic facts are as follows, get this orchard up to its full potential and excellent returns will follow. • 18.95 can/ha of G3 (Sungold) • 10.84 can/ha of Hayward • 7.92 can/ha of G 14 (sweet green) There is also a further 1.53 ha block which could be planted in a variety of choice. With an approximately 50 ha orchard platform complete with renovated subsoil drainage, frost protection, ozone sanitising system, artificial fast track shelter, load out area and staff-accommodation block and facilities completes a spectacularly set up horticultural enterprise. With 9 titles; lot 1 being the access roads, load out areas and accommodation block and facilities. Lots 2-10 equal 9 producing Kiwifruit K pins of various sizes and varietal mix. The orchard has been under development since 2005 and with double planting season enables easy conversion to desired varietal changes as and when required. The row spacings are 3.8 x 6.0 with strong Agbeam structures. The desire and plan going forward is to convert east-west males to strip male system, this conversion is well under way. The orchard has two main water sources, 2 storage catchments, being a pond and a dam, with 4 diesel powered pumps for supply. This property is truly a rare opportunity and with united management this solid platform will become a very fruitful enterprise in more ways than one.
buy shares. So when growers left the industry, they hung onto their shares and that led to a large number of shares now owned outside the industry.
To be fair on those who have left the industry under the old rules, Zespri suggested allowing those past shareholders to sell their shares over a seven-year period, while overshared shareholders would have three years to sell some of their shares.
Shares would have a targeted buy back and a targeted offer, where a valuation would be offered to non-producing shareholders and those shares would then be offered to current shareholders or those without shares at that same price.
Those eligible for shares would have to be submitting fruit and not just owning land or packhouses, he said. Shareholders get to vote on the proposal on March 14 next year.