Farms and ranch management comes with a lot of questions:
- Am I getting the maximum yield from my land?
- How can I reduce my costs while increasing production?
- Is my soil healthy?
- How can I reduce pests, weeds and disease?
The best people to answer these questions are expert farming consultants. We are Integrity Soils and we specialise in biological farming systems and their management. For over 15 years, we have worked directly with farmers and ranchers in New Zealand, Australia and North America to reduce costs, improve the efficiency of fertiliser applications while improving the overall health of their production system.
To get immediate help for your farm or ranch, please phone us at +64 274 523 900 or contact us via email here.
We will come out to your farm and help to identify your farm’s limiting factors and how to optimise production. These one-on-one on-farm consultations include:
- A pre-visit phone orientation and soil test interpretation
- A half or full day on-site visit
- A 10 page (half day) or 16 page (full day) report
- A follow up phone conversation to go over the report.
|Case study – Kokako Vineyard|
The Kokako Vineyard is situated in the Ohiti Valley Hawke’s Bay with 100ha of vines of mix varieties split over two sites ranging from silt loams to heavy river gravels. Integrity Soils started working alongside Bruce Nimon and Kokako Farms in 2006 prompting them to look at how they could move from a high input chemical, calendar driven system towards a pro-active soil-first approach.
At that time the vines required high fertiliser, trace element, fungicide and herbicides inputs to produce a viable crop. Some of the blocks had high vigour with poor fruit ripening, and some blocks were uneven in growth and ripening, causing major headaches for the owners.
Due to a long history of cropping the silt loam blocks required 4 to 6 herbicide applications per year; higher than industry norms because of problem weeds like mallow, nettle, prickly pear, and fat hen. Low production in some blocks and high vigour in others was also a grape quality issue for Kokako.
The herbicide was having a marked impact on soil health, with structure-less mossy dead zones.
It seemed pretty clear that the herbicide with a major limitation on this property, but not everyone wants to hear “you need to pull your spray programme!” so we worked with Bruce to trial a block to immediately halve his chemical use. We achieved the same kill rate through the addition of a biological product designed to buffer chemical and increase its efficacy, whilst reducing harm to the soil microbiology (glyphosate is registered as an antibiotic). Removing the permanent herbicide strip from under the vines was the single bigger shift in the grape growing system.
Once the trials showed merit Bruce introduced biological products for vine and soil health, and began to trial other approaches including intervine plantings to build soil health and provide bio-controls.
The benefits from changing this practice were massive with improvements in vine health and grape quality, lifting kokako blocks from Premium to Super Premium.
Other benefits included:
- Better weed control
- Reduction in inter-block variation
- Ripening completion more consistent
- Vigour reduction
- Reduction and elimination in some cases of nutrient based deficiencies
- Water stress reduction
- Mealy Bug reduction in the canopy
- The return of EARTHWORMS!
- Reduction or removal of trace element nutrient applications, (boron, calcium, magnesium)
- Removal of all OP’s (Organophosphates): Improved health benefits to staff
- Reduction in total herbicide use. chemical use dropped by 2/3
- Reduction in total number of applications (11% reduction in passes)
- Reduced production costs
- Number of passes decreased
- Overall profitability increased.
A recent MPI (Ministry for Primary Industries) study of North Island Vineyards revealed that the cost reductions per ha put Kokako into the top most cost effective vineyards in the North Island.
Bruce is an absolute pleasure to work with; he has taken on his programme with an open and critical mind. He always wants to see the results and the research, which is great, as he keeps us on our toes.
In our experience, the key to success (and the biggest limiting factor) for any biological farming system is a land manager’s ability to observe, enquire and build a thirst for knowledge.