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We recently hosted our second Regenerative Farming Project field day at our Gisborne farms.

Growers from around the country, as well as our partners from Woolworths Supermarkets, Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and The New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research Limited attended.

We reviewed some of the data so far and visited the two cover crop and compost trial sites. The farm visit also included proposed wetland site visits, commercial trials with biochar, various cover crops and a phosphorus bioreactor.

We also had updates from two aligned industry programmes in which LeaderBrand is involved: Sustainable Vegetable Systems and A Lighter Touch (New Zealand) This is another step in our journey to explore the science supporting the adoption of sustainable practices across our vegetable industry.

Check out the story NZ Herald did on The Regenerative Farming Project and Our Field Day – Click Here

What is the Regenerative Farming Project?

We are leading a joint project with Woolworths Supermarkets and The New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research Limited which is the first industry-wide collaboration to investigate the impacts of regenerative farming practices in vegetable farming, particularly in relation to productivity, profitability, people and environment.

We are running the project from our Gisborne farm and have a demonstration site established to trial regenerative practices and evaluate the impacts of using compost and cover crops across varied crop rotations.

The trial site is being run next to the control site operating under current management practices, so that the impacts of the regenerative practices are being compared over time. 

The project has just completed its first full year of field trials and the research team has found some initial positive effects from composting, likely to be from soil conditioning rather than any additional nutrient supply from the compost.

Our Sustainability Manager, Stuart Davis says work with composts has already shown a lift in soil health, measured in crop performance. Another part of the project was a knowledge review of the crop pest and beneficial species associated with perennial native species which would be used in large wetland restoration projects being planned for two of LeaderBrand’s Gisborne farms.

The project is also focussed on the role of perennial plantings in facilitating ecosystem restoration, and is engaging with staff, community, and iwi to create practices that work with, and for the wider community. 

Our General Manager of Farming, Gordon McPhail, says the project has been good for the business: “It has to be something we all buy into and make it commercially viable to be sustainable.  It may not stack up commercially on day one but ultimately it must have a goal to take us to that point – and that’s where we get sustainability and can build momentum and trust through the industry that we can do this.”