Kevin and Mark Strawbridge of Northland Forestry Nursery


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2024 Northland Finalists: Kevin and Mark Strawbridge of Northland Forestry Nursery – Forestry

An innovative approach that’s based on strong technical knowledge means this forestry nursery is supplying the Northland region with millions of radiata pine seedlings in a sustainable way.  
Under the guidance of Kevin and Mark Strawbridge, Northland Forestry Nursery produces up to 13 million high-quality radiata pine seedlings per year. Established in 2001, the 50ha (32ha effective) operation spans two Kaikohe sites and has a history of supplying hardy, in-specification seedlings. 
This reliability is due to the team’s strong technical understanding of crop growing, combined with innovative approaches and a modern, efficient plant. 
By making continuous improvements to the quality of cultivation, sowing, spraying, plant nutrition and monitoring, they have achieved a significant jump in yield per hectare – from 500,000 to 750,000 plants. 
The use of technology is also contributing to this result. This includes using a state-of-the-art vacuum sower, along with precision agriculture techniques, to ensure crops and soil receive exactly what they need for optimum health and productivity. 
Innovation extends to trialing and adopting new growing technologies. For example, fungi are used to boost growing, and microorganisms are used to promote soil health.  
Soil management is a priority and includes a cultivation plan comprised of a three-yearly crop rotation. The judges were impressed with the excellent management of sediment runoff, including the use of silt traps and automatic floc emitters. 
High staff retention reflects the positive work culture created by Kevin and Mark. This includes offering development opportunities to permanent staff, and staying connected to the wider industry. 
As Mark and Kevin look to the future, they’re keen to keep the business in the family and have good succession planning in place. Their commitment to delivering a top-quality product while being conscious of environmental impacts will also ensure the business thrives for many years to come. 

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