Amidst the grim news about Cyclone Gabrielle’s impact on our region’s farmers and growers, there are some welcome developments as well.

One of these comes courtesy of the Hawke’s Bay Future Farming Trust.

After a year-plus of project development and negotiation, the Trust was awarded a $2 million grant by MPI (matched by another million in local funding and in-kind support) for a six year project in Hawke’s Bay to investigate regenerative farming principles in New Zealand cropping systems, and test whether soil carbon can be regenerated – and to what extent – in soils used for intensive field cropping.

The project is unfolding in partnership with Hastings-based LandWISE, who manage the ‘microfarm’ at Ruahapia Road, where regenerative practices will be ‘tested’ alongside conventional cropping methods. Heinz Wattie’s and McCain Foods are keen partners as well, alongside HBRC and a raft of science partners.

While Agriculture O’Connor formally announced the grant in February, with the project effectively greenlighted earlier, the team managed to get a sweetcorn crop planted at the turn of the year despite wet conditions pre-cyclone. 

And before that, careful soil sampling was completed across the site to enable start-up benchmarking and eventual comparison of impacts like water and nutrient retention as the various cropping practices are implemented over the next several years.

Although the farm was flooded by the cyclone, the water drained quickly and the crop is doing nicely, head high. Will be picked in early April.

Here’s a more complete description of the project from the HB Future Farming website. And here’s a podcast interview with Dan Bloomer, LandWISE manager, who is the hands-on supervisor of the project.

Principal Sponsors of the Trust are Napier Port, Baileys Country, Hastings District Council and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *