15 February 2019
Switching from a successful career in dairy farming to kiwifruit was a risky decision for David and Rebecca Timms. David signed up for a horticultural cadetship with Satara in the same week PSA hit the Bay of Plenty in 2010. David’s perseverance was recognised in 2018 when he won two awards for his successful management of Gold Nugget kiwifruit orchard near Pukehina.
In 2014 David and Rebecca embarked on their own nursery business by growing Bruno rootstock for the local kiwifruit industry. Bruno rootstock provides an excellent base to graft both gold and green fruit.
In their first year they produced 4,000 rootstock plants, while still working their full-time jobs. Today D&B Hort produce 63,000 rootstock on 2.5 hectares. Seedlings are planted in polythene mounds with a drip line running beneath which is connected to a fertigation system. The seedlings grow well on their volcanic sandy loam soil and are certified through Kiwifruit Vine Health to meet strict PSA hygiene standards.
An intermediate crop of kale, mustard and lupin is grown as a crop rotation to reduce run-off and help build soil organic matter. Soil fertility sampling is done every two years. “We only use fertiliser when we need it. We’re very conscious about what we are putting back into the soil,” says David.
Managing pests is an ongoing challenge on their 22 hectare property which backs onto a native reserve. “Working with our neighbours on pest management has proved to be a good strategy.” They both enjoy the 4.5 hectares of fenced native bush and look forward to planting more natives to protect the steep areas from erosion. “We also run a few cattle and deer to manage the pasture areas.”
David and Rebecca continue to take steps towards more sustainable production. “PSA made us more aware of looking after our plants, soil and our land.” Where possible, materials are re-used and mulch is applied to improve soil health and keep weeds down. “Sustainability is also about looking after people, that’s why we pay our staff a living wage. We see our land as a forever home for ourselves and our children. We want to build something here that will be enjoyed for many generations to come,” says Rebecca.
David and Rebecca’s ultimate goal is to own a kiwifruit orchard. This dream is about to become reality as they start to develop a 3 hectare orchard on their property this winter.
Massey University Innovation Award