Committee Updates, May

Posted By HBFA | May 21, 2020


Hawkes Bays Endless Summer

Feed levels are extremely low for stock in Hawke’s Bay this year due to the prevailing drought conditions.  Recent rainfall, although welcome, has not been enough to promote grass growth for winter.  Farmers are keen to hear from anyone who may have grazing available or fruit, vegetables, or other types of stock feed to be distributed where the need is greatest. If you can get on board and help with drought assistance, please contact Ali Forbes  Ali@ruraldirections.co.nz 

Tile Drains Project

Improving the quality of our water in drains and streams in Hawkes Bay has been a focus for Hawkes Bay Regional Council for a number of years.  High sediment, nitrogen and phosphorus loads in the Waitangi estuary (fed into from catchments such as the Karamū),  are surrounded by predominately dry stock farming and intensive horticulture.

The overarching science required to develop robust rules around water quality has yet to be fully realised. More comprehensive data is required to fully understand the relationship between horticultural management practices, tile drains and lowland stream water quality- this information is either weak or non-substantiated.

The Tile Drains Project, an initiative developed by Agfirst Hawkes Bay, aims to provide scientific understanding of tile drainage effects on surface water bodies over time; to understand the specific timing, scale and source of the nutrients and sediment from when it leaves a cropping or orchard system through to tile drains and entering surface water.

Growers can then use this to decide whether actions are or are not necessary.

The Hawke’s Bay Fruitgrowers’ Charitable Trust has committed $2,000 per year for the three years of the project.


Technology is looking very promising in the control of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB). Palmerston North Tech consulting company Beta Solutions has BMSB firmly in their sights with the company involved in the development of ‘Bugkilla’ – a one-stop solution for identifying, attracting and killing the BMSB.

Using pheromones and light waves, the stink bug is attracted into a chamber, a photo taken, then drawn in by a fan into an electric grate which then zaps and ejects the dead bug. Power is delivered to the trap through a small solar panel charging a lithium battery. Watch this space!



As an industry we have been extremely fortunate that our businesses were classed as “essential” and were given approval to carry on during harvest. Fruit production and growth in our industry is still growing which means more jobs will become available in all of our different sectors. This is great news for us.

With all the Covid-19 restrictions especially around immigration/boarders shutting up etc, our valuable RSE work force have not been allowed to return home to their own countries. There are also RSE workers who were due to come into NZ who now of course cannot due to the same restrictions. Because of this there had been a rallying around between those who have large numbers of RSE workers to distribute them around the country. Many workers (during L4) were re-deployed down to the South Island for grape harvesting and others which have been sent up north into the kiwi fruit sector.

Our local businesses/growers have done a great job in keeping the RSE workers employed amongst themselves with harvesting, juice picking, stone fruit pruning etc – well done to all our growers for stepping up and beyond to keep these workers employed.

In saying that, our RSE workers are really missing their families especially in Vanuatu and Tonga where the cyclone has caused much damage. Let’s hope the borders can open up soon so our workers can get back to their loved ones.

EIT Trainee Update

Covid-19 has created an opportunity for the industry to overcome the shortage of labour, but not necessarily the skill shortage. EIT (NZIST) is very keen to help both issues by attracting workers with a work ethic into the industry and training them in the core skills. Last week’s budget provided $1.6 billion for training and retraining, so there is plenty of opportunity in these areas.

Covid-19 and the consequent lockdown resulted in EIT classes being delayed and rescheduled. There is currently a revamped timetable in circulation. If anyone wants a copy, please email greid@eit.ac.nz

Classes resume this week with a combination of face-to-face and some on-line learning. On-line classes require trainees to have internet access/computer. We can help with the latter if required.  Due to lock-down and the subsequent condensed time frame, a concerted effort will be required to get the trainees through this year which will put some pressure on everyone. However, we will remain supportive and flexible.

Year 1 trainees are heading into a busy time, with pruning in May and Fruit Support Structure classes in early June. The harvest part of their diaries should now be completed.

Year 2 trainees also have pruning and Soil Properties that start in May. The Botany classes that were scheduled have been delayed to August.

Year 3 trainees are also starting with pruning and next week the first class of Crop Protection.

Diploma in Fruit Production have been successfully joining classes online using the EIT on-line platform. There has been exceptionally good attendance and response to on-line activities.


The past three months have been testing times for businesses. The horticulture sector has been navigating their way through a world pandemic during harvest, which during any ‘normal’ year is challenging.

As an Association, day one of lock down at Level 4, was launch day for the website. Launch day represented 6 months of hard work, remodelling and a fresh new look for the Association. However, it also offered the Association the ability to deliver relevant and timely information to our members, particularly during these unprecedented times.  All of the greater industry partners – APNZI, HortNZ and Zespri have also actively engaged in supporting our platforms and the delivery, of consistent information flow.

Industry events have been cancelled but as an Association we are passionate to see these events continue when the time is right. Keep an eye out on our events calendar on the website which is updated regularly https://hbfa.co.nz/news-events/ 

We have also reworked our sponsorship packages. Sponsors now have the opportunity to support all three events inclusive of one sponsorship package and we have incorporated plenty of benefits for our sponsors. For more information email executiveofficer@hbfa.co.nz. It is highly likely the timing of these events will change due to Covid-19, but we are excited for businesses who will be joining us in this next phase of HBFA’s journey!

Our new website www.hbfa.co.nz should be your first port of call for regional industry information. We’d love to get your feedback, photos and comments for our social media platforms:  HBFA Facebook Page and  HBFA Instagram Page or click on the social media icons on  this page.

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