The Hawke’s Bay Future Farming Trust was initiated by the Regional Council as an independent organisation a couple of years ago to encourage and celebrate leading edge farming practices in our region.

Its mission: Promote, inspire and celebrate profitable farming systems that enrich the environment and the community.

The Trust has been sponsoring workshops and field days on improving grazing practices, pasture management and soil health; performing detailed economic/environmental ‘audits’ on farms pursuing serious change; supporting installation of real-time water quality monitoring technology in the Mangaone catchment, and supporting detailed soil carbon measurement on a set of ‘regenerative’ dairy farms in Patoka.

This last project has quite a story to tell about how so-called ‘regenerative’ farming practices can build and sequester soil carbon (potentially more carbon than planting pine trees, with massive implications for farmer balance sheets if offsets ultimately allowed), reduce nutrient leaching into waterways, and retain more water in the soil – a trifecta of rewards, environmentally and economically.  

Here’s a video telling that story.

But we encourage you to visit the Future Farming Trust website as well, where you’ll find heaps more information on what our region’s innovative farmers are doing and the challenges they are facing. You might even want to sign-up for the Trust’s monthly e-newsletter – watch there for two major announcements in the coming month regarding Trust activities.

Apart from initial seed funding from the Regional Council, Keystone Sponsors of the Trust currently include Napier Port, Bayleys Country and the Hastings District Council. More are invited!

The Trust’s current Board members are: Liz Krawczyk, Phil Schofield, Scott Lawson, John van der Linden, Tim Aitken, Will Foley and Tom Belford.

Join the Conversation


  1. HBRC voted some years ago to abandon he RWSS ( effectively the Makaoro Dam) because the then HBRC ,governed by a group calling themselves Rex and the Romans , believed that it was possible to farm without irrigation water by planting lucerne and using minimum tillage etc .To demonstrate how this might be done they instituted the Future Farming Trust under the leadership of Tom Belford ,one of the Romans. The trust was going to show that the RWSS was unnecessary and we could farm quite easily with only the water that fell from the sky .To date and after two massive droughts ,the trust has failed to prove this hypothesis with devastating results for the entireHB community. .It is a shame that the Trust has not faced up to this fact. Those of us who grow lucerne and have noticed that it does not grow very well without regular watering are still waiting for FFT to make good their promises to demonstrate how to farm successfully with recurrent drought and increasing heat from global warming .The trust was not formed to celebrate and encourage leading edge farming. That is the excuse the trust now uses to deflect attention from the fact that it has failed to deliver on its original aim which was how to farm in CHB without a secure adequate reliable water supply .

    1. Despite Tim Gilbertson’s conspiracy theories, my past, present or future views on damming the Makaroro River are irrelevant to the mission of the HB Future Farming Trust, which has never discussed the matter. And surely Trustees like Will Foley and Tim Aitken would weigh in if we did.

      No, in fact our focus is entirely on what happens behind the farm gate, and building evidence that farmers and growers can reduce their environmental footprint and protect – even enhance – their profitability at the same time.

      As the Trust sees it, much of this hinges on adopting practices that restore and build soil health. And key to this for pastoral farmers is rich diversity of plant species covering the ground year round.

      In any event, the ‘agenda’ and projects of the Trust are plainly presented on our website, which I encourage you to browse for an accurate picture of what the Trust is up to.

      Tom Belford

  2. A good, positive story which holds out hope for a future in which farming will be seen as restoring the environment instead of mining or depleting it – there are alternatives to industrial/intensive farming practices, but it will take time to change the status quo.

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