Tararua District Council is undertaking research that will support local farmers to make informed decisions on alternative land use that will:
- Improve profitability and give real options to dairy farmers that are struggling to meet Horizons One Plan consent conditions to maintain their income,
- Create new industries and employment in the district over the long term, while growing NZ exports,
- Reduce nutrient loadings in local soils that will result in improved freshwater outcomes,
- Enable council to promote alternative realistic sustainable land uses that meet Horizons One Plan rules.
In the early 2000's, research on climate and soil types in the Tararua District was carried out to identify crops that would grow well here. Subsequent to that, the Council released this information under what was called the "GO! Project".
The purpose of the current research is to update the previous information and further develop sound scientific and financial information to determine whether feijoas, cider apples, hazelnuts, berries are viable and sustainable options for horticulture land diversification.
The market demand for these crops has significantly changed since the GO! Project was carried out. Cider is seeing huge increases in demand in New Zealand and overseas and Tui Brewery in Mangatainoka has recently added a cider to their range. Berries (Blueberries) was identified in the Coriolis Report (Emerging Growth Opportunities In New Zealand Food & Beverage), as a crop with the potential to deliver significant growth to New Zealand exports.
Council is focused on identifying profitable alternative land uses that are attractive to existing farmers who are struggling to meet the soil nutrient requirements of the Horizons One Plan. While Council wants to identify emerging market opportunities, this must be grounded in achievable and proven market access and returns. In addition, this must be possible within the existing Regional Plan rules. The current research seeks to identify the alternative land uses that result in gains to the environment, employment, incomes and resilience.
By partnering with AgFirst to carry out the technical research and analysis, and Plant and Food to input on the latest research and carry out peer review, Council is focused on providing real market information and practical farming realities, coupled with sound soil and climate science. For several of the identified crops this research has never been done in an integrated study.
This research is anticipated to be completed by October 2019.
Council intends to hold workshops to share the results of this research. If you are interested in participating in the workshops, please contact the Tararua Business Network on 06 374 4989 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.