Geoff Mansell of Kotare Farm

24/06/2022

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2022 Finalists: Geoff Mansell of Kotare Farm – Horticulture

Horticulturist Geoff Mansell is not just preparing for climate change, he’s planning for it – developing his tropical fruit business based on a foundation of scientific knowledge.

Primarily a fig and feijoa orchard, Kotare Farm has more recently started growing bananas and a covered sub-tropical fruit nursery has been built – growing papaya, pineapple and Honduran-type bananas. The nursery is a trial to explore the viability and productivity of the covered plants.

Geoff is growing fruit across 3ha, with about 60% of his income derived from 900 feijoa plants. He gets about one-third of his income from the 100 banana plants, with the balance coming from figs and selling plants.

He’s had Kotare Farm for about eight years and during that time has participated in two scientific research projects which have informed his management practices.

In one, he partnered with Plant and Food Research on a successful trial that has reduced the incidence of Guava moth on feijoas. He also supplied banana plants for AgResearch’s Tai Pukeng project which successfully produced new plants through tissue culturing in the lab.

Good management practices and efficient irrigation are minimising the business’s impact on freshwater, while the team closely monitors soil quality. There is an active focus on reducing waste and recycling, including chipping and mulching prunings, plus all plants are referenced to authenticated varieties.

Looking to the future, Geoff is working on a new business venture that will enable him and other sub-tropical fruit growers to market their produce through wholesale and retail channels. He’s also working with groups including iwi to promote the diversification of crops in Northland.

Essentially, Geoff’s business model is designed to capitalise on climate change, with the investment in sub-tropical fruit and the transfer of knowledge setting him up well for the future.

Geoff was the winner of Massey University Innovation Award.

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