In the early 60s Jonathan Moffett left Northern Ireland and a budding international rugby career (he played two test matches for Ireland) to emigrate to Hawke’s Bay. Shortly after arriving in New Zealand he met and married Christine and they leased their first block of peaches in 1968.
50 years and 200 hectares later, Jonathan, Christine and sons Jonty, Joe and Sean manage a large family owned and operated apple orchard in Hawke’s Bay, along with being large growers of rockmelon and watermelon.
“We run our office from the original block that Christine and I first planted and raised the family on,” says Jonathan. “With 100 hectares of apple orchards and 100 hectares of cropping land, the family operation has diversified from its original pipfruit focus.”
When it comes to identifying the biggest threat to their very successful operation, Jonty, son and General Manager, is unequivocal in his answer. “Pest, disease, biosecurity and market access are always risks for us. There are some big outbreaks overseas at the moment, so we need to ensure we remain vigilant and take action when we see it.”
That’s why, he says, you need to have complete confidence in the products you have at your disposal. “We need new products and different chemistry, new ways of managing some of these pests and diseases that potentially could come in here and devastate this country’s horticulture crops.”
For Jonty that means staying with proven companies and chemistry (“there have been large stuff-ups with incorrectly manufactured products in the past”) therefore proven products with high efficacy is key. “Companies like BASF are essential to agriculture. I depend on them and their R&D programmes to help me overcome the challenges we face.”
Looking to the future, Jonty says one of the world’s biggest challenges is feeding its growing population. “For the human race it’s pretty essential that we protect our food supplies. And that means looking after the land as well.”