Jonathon Boyle of Four Oaks Farm


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2024 Bay of Plenty Finalist: Jonathon Boyle of Four Oaks Farm – Dairy, Avocado and Kiwifruit support

The large-scale native planting projects at Four Oaks Farm illustrate both a commitment to the environment and a U-turn on the family’s farming approach.

The Pongakawa property has been in the Benner and Boyle families for 125 years. Jonathon Boyle currently manages the dairy farm alongside parents Keith and Caroline who run its kiwifruit and avocado orchards.

Recent years have been characterised by an increased focus on biodiversity, with native plants now covering 30ha of the 270ha property. A large portion of steep land and riparian margins have been retired, plus a 2ha wetland has been developed since 2021.

The native planting demonstrates a U-turn in the family’s farming approach since Johnathon started managing Four Oaks 20 years ago. At that time, the family – along with many other farmers – were clearing native bush to transition it into pasture.

Fast-forward to today and you‘ll find an on-site native tree nursery that was started by Jonathon’s partner Debbie Porter. Last year it produced 50,000 native trees, with them planted on-farm or sold locally.

Four Oaks is primarily a dairy farm that runs 550 Friesian cows which are fed mainly with maize and lucerne grown on-site. There are no bobby calves due to the use of sexed semen and the sale of surplus beef calves.

The income from milk production is propped up by a 12.5ha orchard that is split evenly between kiwifruit and avocado.

The farm’s grazing practices don’t compromise soil structure and integrity, and include a reduction in stock numbers to enhance sustainability.

A central cowshed services the whole property, supported by new infrastructure which both reduces risks and improves efficiency.

Animal health and welfare are high priorities, guided by advice from consultants and vets.  

This multi-generational family farm continues to shine, thanks to Jonathon’s drive to keep it profitable and his ability to adapt to change. 

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