Bay of Plenty Winners

Paengaroa based kiwifruit growing company BAYGOLD

Bay of Plenty BFEA Supreme Winners

Leighton Oats, Matt Nelson from BAYGOLD


Paengaroa based kiwifruit growing company BAYGOLD have been named Supreme Winners of the 2016 Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA).

For the Paengaroa based company, growing the future is about producing top quality kiwifruit and it’s also about growing opportunities and skills for its staff, benefiting the wider community and enhancing the environment.

Part of the Baygold Group is Baygold Joint Venture partnership which has a number of shareholders and directors who make up theequity partnership. It all began in 2005 with the development the Coach Road Orchard. The larger La Vigna Orchard was started in 2007.

As well as owning its own orchards, the group has a management company called BAYGOLD Limited. This company manages the shareholder interest and some private interests. It is BAYGOLD Joint Venture which has entered the 2016 Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

This season the company expects to harvest 1.4 million trays of G3 kiwifruit from its own orchards, with 200 people in 16 teams, picking up to 1000 bins of fruit a day.

BAYGOLD Limited’s General Manager is Leighton Oats and with Matt Nelson as orchard manager for Coach Road Orchard, while Keiran Harvey manages the La Vigna property. All the BAYGOLD Limited team are proud to be part of the company and share its strong focus on sustainability, people, kiwifruit and innovation.

This year’s busy harvest scene will be in stark contrast to 2013 when just 30,000 trays were picked from the orchards which, like all in the region, were severely affected by the vine disease Psa-V.

Leighton says the impacts of the disease, which caused thousands of vines of the previously lucrative Hort16 A gold variety to be cut out, was a dramatic reminder of how vital the kiwifruit industry is to the country and the Te Puke region in particular. “We had to let staff go, which meant decreasing our permanent staff by 50 per cent. The effects of the disease were felt across all aspects of the kiwifruit industry from orchards to contractors, post-harvest operators and in the wider community, local shops, businesses and schools.”

Remarkably the industry, and the BAYGOLD orchards, are now well and truly in recovery mode, thanks largely to the Psa-V tolerant variety G3.

However, Leighton and Matt say the disease is here to stay requiring careful and consistent management. As well as following industry standard Psa-V management strategies and protective sprays, BAYGOLD is conducting trials on one block at La Vigna Orchard, to measure other applied Psa-V control strategies.

BAYGOLD is optimistic about the results it is getting from the trial block and is well aware that more tests need to be done.

On all its orchards BAYGOLD strategically drives nutrient management, ensuring their efficient use to minimise or avoid adverse environmental impacts.

The plan involves reviewing all sources of nutrient input - output and considering manufactured fertiliser use as part of the mix. Compost is applied, along with nutrients supplied by fertigation. Nitrogen is fixed from the atmosphere by clovers and other legumes. BAYGOLD also works to increase biological life in the soil with the use of fish, seaweed and humates.

The company has a strong focus on biodiversity which its owners believe contributes to everyone’s wellbeing. On both properties, they have planted native trees (manuka, kanuka, flax, coprosma, akeake, and makomako) around ponds and any steep areas that are difficult to control.

The plants are supplied from a local land care group and grown from eco-sourced seed within Coach Road Orchard and La Vigna.

“When choosing the specimen trees to collect seed from, we choose the trees that are covered in flowers and seed as these are the most viable specimens shown to have “adapted” to the local environment,” says Matt.

“Our Pest Management strategy is constant control of stoats, possums, rats and cats. During the 2014/2015 season, we trapped 46 stoats, 152 rats, three cats and numerous possums. With this consistent pest control both staff and management have noticed an increase in nesting ducks on the ponds, and more native birds within the orchard.

“This season we were lucky enough to have a nesting pair of kaka in a hollow tree, something that is rarely seen.”

The soil type for BAYGOLD orchards is a Te Puke Sandy Loam and its classification is a Typic Orthic Allophanic soil. This soil type is formed from weathered rhyolitic tephra (very thin Kaharoa and Taupo tephra, on Mamaku, Rotoma, and Rotorua tephra on older rhyolitic tephra). The soil has good physical properties and a warm climate in the area makes this a versatile soil. The soil structure is weakly developed due to contouring, the roots of the plants penetrate it relatively easily. The soil is free draining yethas high soil water storage levels. Te Puke Sandy Loam soils have low magnesium and potassium levels with medium phosphate retention being typical.

BAYGOLD is committed to Health & Safety and takes all practicable steps to provide a safe workplace for staff and contractors.

Currently one appointed management staff member has the health and safety responsibility for the business; it is their role to coordinate the meetings, investigations and interface between the business and WorkSafe. Every month, this representative reports on any accidents, incidents or near misses to the directors of the business, then ensures that all documentation is completed and filed. All records are retained at La Vigna and maybe viewed at any stage.

BAYGOLD beginnings can be traced back to 1978 when Jim McBride purchased his first Hayward Green 3ha T-bar orchard in No. 3 Road Te Puke. The McBride family came from a Waikato dairy farming background with a family of two daughters and three sons. Jim believed there was good confidence in the kiwifruit market with plenty of opportunity for the children to work on their kiwifruit skills and sometimes earning pocket money.

This succession continued with Murray, the middle child, taking up his opportunity to build a life and business within the industry.

His dedication, investment and commitment led to the development of multiple orchards and a management company today known as BAYGOLD Limited.

Over the years BAYGOLD Limited has built a strong team plus intellectual property and infrastructure, developing a reputation for competently managing shareholder and independent orchards to a high level of return.

BAYGOLD employs staff from Vanuatu for six months under the Recognised Seasonal Employer Scheme, to assist with the kiwifruit harvest and winter pruning. In addition to its permanent team, the company employs seasonal workers.

As well as employment opportunities, the company supports local mission and community work, which are part of its larger vision to ‘Grow the Future’.

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