Youth, biose­cu­rity fo­cus for Nuffield Scholar

The Orchardist - - Profile - By Elaine Fisher

“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.

Si­mon Cook wants to re­search bise­cu­rity and hone his lead­er­ship skills. Cot­tl­e­vale Farm was named for Si­mon’s great grand­mother Mary Cot­tle who, with her hus­band Wil­liam Huse, bought the farm as part of a re­turned ser­vices balot in 1950.

Ran­furly Or­chard Ser­vices, owned by Si­mon and his fa­ther Bob, uses the Ital­ian An­dreoli self­pro­pelled sprayers.

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