Regional Supreme Winners 2023: Brett & Fenella Wheeler of BFG Kiwi Ltd – Kiwifruit
An approach that blends technology, knowledge and sign-posts from nature is proving successful for Glenbrook kiwifruit growers Brett and Fenella Wheeler.
Since 2015, the couple has been running BFG Kiwi Ltd – a 22ha property that spans two orchards, with 13ha of the land being effective. Always striving to improve, they work together using a science-based approach that is tailored to the natural environment.
The property’s soil is tested annually and has been fully mapped – providing a clear picture of its structure and properties. This knowledge is combined with the use of technology to guide irrigation and fertigation with pinpoint precision – tailored to each plant’s age, stage of growth and variety.
The orchards are divided into seven sections, each with its own water meter and irrigation system that are controlled and monitored through a mobile app.
Plant health is central to the team’s approach, and this is achieved with minimal use of sprays. A comprehensive leaf testing programme helps to ensure the plants remain healthy, with this supported by active pest control.
Netting stretches across most of the orchard, protecting it from major weather events. At the boundaries, the netting reaches to the ground which stops spray drift to and from adjacent properties.
Trialling new methods is a common theme at the orchard as the team strives to enhance production while reducing inputs. They’ve trialled new kiwifruit varieties to support business resilience, and planted different varieties of grass between rows to improve soil health. Limited mowing of pasture between rows minimises water evaporation and increases organic matter.
With one eye on the natural environment and the other on the market, Brett and Fenella are constantly fine-tuning their business to ensure its success into the future.
Brett & Fenella are the winners of the Hill Laboratories Agri-Science Award, Norwood Farming Efficiency Award, NZFET Innovation Award and Auckland Regional Supreme Winner 2023.
Enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards