New Zealand has relied heavily on a brand image provided by our natural environment, sea and mountain scapes. However this image has been rapidly eroded over the past decade with intensification; any observant rural tourist can now point out the sickly rivers and the glyphosate flats and hills. A quick glance out an aircraft window in Spring is a savage reminder that the clean and green in New Zealand these days is under fire.
Globally a sea change is underway with large clothing manufacturers looking to provide products with integrity to consumers increasingly concerned about ‘sustainable’ and humane practices.
Large international brands such as Patagonia and North Face, are now offering clothing grown using regenerative soil practices. I know of three separate occasions where these companies and others have been taken on tours by NZ wool representatives who have told them it’s not possible to do regenerative practices in NZ. What the? “New Zealand never had mammals” they said, “we have such low phosphate levels that superphosphate must be applied to grow grass” and “it’s just not possible in NZ”. I shouldn’t be shocked by the ignorance, but I was. Maybe I’m a little angry too. And you should be too, as these companies are now looking to South America and even Australia to source regenerative wool. Our buddies across the ditch are now outcompeting us on the “clean and green” market.
These companies contacted Integrity Soils to ask “ is it true that regenerative soil practices are impossible in NZ”, and I called BS. There are many farmers who have been practicing biological/regenerative farming for well over a decade, without the use of superphosphate or urea. The need for soluble fertiliser is an indicator that the soil-gut-biome has broken down. The answer is not more inputs; instead methods which can restore healthy soil gut function. Solutions lie in improved grass management, feeding microbes and addressing water and carbon cycles.
New Zealand farmers are being sold a merry dance of degenerating practices which continue to be undermined by the organisations who govern market opportunities. We cannot compete in a commodity, low quality marketplace; our biggest opportunity lays with a niche market, high quality, and high value products. Regenerative farming practices provide profitable outcomes, while providing wide benefits across environment and society.
If you’re interested in learning more about how you can produce high quality regenerative wool and meat products, please get in touch with us. firstname.lastname@example.org