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Ōpōtiki – Te Ahu Haumako

Integrated Farm Planning Seminars and Focus Groups

Brought to you in conjunction with MPI Ōpōtiki – Te Ahu Haumako is a series of integrated farm planning wānanga and focus groups, for people from all sectors – beef and lamb, dairy and horticulture. These sessions will be attended by local industry groups and local council, giving you the opportunity for introductions and questions.

Soil Matters Seminar

With soil experts: Nick Collins and Murray McEwen (Rere ki Uta, Rere ki Tai) and Phil Carter (Biostart)

Date: 6 March 2024
Time: 10.00am - 3.00pm
Location: Woodlands Hall

The day will give an introduction to soil basics (Phil Carter from BioStart) followed by some time for Brainstorming and discussion, linking back to integrated farm planning. We will provide a delicious lunch and then Nick and Murray will give a presentation on the importance of soil and the functions that it provides. They will also tell us about the amazing project that they are involved with – Rere ki uta, rere ki tai – which you can read more about here

The day will be jam packed with practical tips for managing soil on your farm or orchard. 

You don’t want to miss it!

About the experts:

Nick has been immersed in farming throughout his entire life, growing up on a sheep and beef farm north of Auckland. For seven years, he worked as a shearer in both Aotearoa and abroad.

He eventually accepted a job milking cows, which ended up with 18 years of farm ownership. Throughout this period, he operated under the Fonterra Organic program.

Six months after taking over the farm, he made the decision to convert to organic farming, driven by a commitment to stewardship of our land and water. His primary focus was on nurturing the soil microbiome and establishing diverse pasture swards. Additionally, he planted 20,000 trees on the property to serve various purposes, including riparian protection, shelter, shade, fodder, habitat creation, ecosystem restoration, and carbon sequestration.

Murray possesses a diverse professional background, having engaged in various facets of the agricultural industry. His experience includes roles as a stock agent, wool classer, and involvement in export, as well as hands-on experience in dairy farming and milk processing.

Throughout his career, Murray has been actively involved in fertiliser application, farm nutrient management (including the use of Overseer), and the design and management of dairy effluent systems. Drawing from practical experience, he has worked in both conventional and organic agricultural production. 

Phil is the Horticulture Territory Manager at Biostart, overseeing the regions of the Bay of Plenty, East Coast, and Lower North Island with dedication spanning eight years.

Raised on a poultry and sheep farm in the Wairarapa, Phil brings a wealth of agricultural knowledge to his role. He holds a Bachelor of Agriculture and a Postgraduate Diploma in Horticultural Science from Massey.

Prior to working at Biostart, Phil has held pivotal roles, including serving as the Horticultural Sales Representative and Kiwifruit Export Representative for Wrightsons, as well as the Williams & Kettle Horticultural Representative and company fertiliser co-ordinator . His expertise further extends to overseeing Fruitfed Hastings representatives, demonstrating a comprehensive understanding of diverse crops. 

What will be covered:


With VSA expert Graham Shepherd

Date: 22 March 2024
Time: 10.00am - 3.00pm
Location: Woodlands Hall

The day will start with a presentation at Woodlands Hall to give an introduction to VSAs  then, after lunch, we will head to a property nearby where Graham will demonstrate how to complete a VSA on both a farm and an orchard. 

There will also be the opportunity to bring along your own soil sample for Graham to have a look at and go through the management options available.

Hands holding healthy soil

About the expert:

Graham Shepherd is a VSA expert, soil scientist and agricultural consultant. He is the director of the company Bioagrinomics who specialise in linking soil conditioning, soil function, plant nutrition, animal health, farm productivity and a farm’s environmental footprint with smart fertilisers and smart farm management practices.

Focus Group One - Mapping workshop

9 November 2023, at Te Tāhuhu o Te Rangi
Integrated Farm Plan Mapping workshop
Integrated Farm Panning mapping workshops

seminar oNE - Introduction to Farm PLanning

28 September 2023, 10.00am – 2.00pm at Ohui Domain Pavilion