Country Editorial and Insights

As committed as ever

There’s every reason to feel proud of New Zealand’s rural sector and to celebrate the way it has thrived in the face of perpetual challenges.

Agritech innovators on the up

Country speaks to four innovative and exciting tech companies that are shaping the agritech sector and having an impact in New Zealand and globally.

The rise of sheep’s milk

With its highly digestible composition, nutrient-dense profile, and low environmental impact, sheep’s milk is offering exciting opportunities for farmers and consumers.

Umami-packed black garlic

Traditional white garlic is being transformed into a gourmet treat by innovative lifestyle block owners keen to make their properties more productive.

Proven and laden with opportunity

As the world tries to regain an even keel in the wake of the pandemic, it’s “steady as she goes” in New Zealand’s rural sector.

What’s the yarn with wool

Over the past 15 years the primary sector has proven again and again its ability to weather some tough global times. The global financial crisis put some economies on their knees, but thanks to strong commodity prices New Zealand held up and even thrived.

Agritech and data pave farming’s new highway

Pressure has grown on the farming sector in the past decade to better understand and manage its environmental footprint, whether that be greenhouse gases or nutrient losses. But as any farmer will quickly point out, “it’s a tough business trying to manage what you can’t measure.”

Social media taking lifestyle to a new audience

Some lifestyle block owners are documenting their journey via Instagram as they look to become self-sufficient, realise a side-line income or simply keep a personal record.

Unprecedented complexity

The global pandemic has created layers of uncertainty and disruption to the rural sector but in true Kiwi sprit, farmers “keep on keeping on” and there will always be opportunity for investment and growth.

Wide thinking needed for new world order

As the economy takes a hit, leaders take heart at the primary sector’s success and discuss where to next.

Equity partnerships offer farm options

In a tough financing environment, looking at multiple owners for a farm could be an attractive alternative.

New ways to market

Small businesses operating from rural properties lost their usual marketing channels over lockdown, but number 8-wire thinking protected their incomes.

Regenerative agriculture brings broad options for farmers

Regenerative agriculture is a phrase being heard more often by farmers in New Zealand, but one not always well understood and likely to result in blank stares and shrugged shoulders when asked to explain what exactly it is.

New Zealand food provenance – paddock to plate

In only a few decades New Zealand has soared as a high-value quality producer of sustainably-grown food, and even greater opportunities beckon.

A farm but not as you know it

Master-planned farm parks, offering lifestyle blocks within working farm properties, are proving popular with buyers wanting a slice of rural action without the work.

Leasing a pathway for next generation farmers

Land leasing options are providing opportunities to help give a younger generation of energetic, enthusiastic farmers get a foot on the ground, while also easing out an older generation keen to enjoy the fruit of their life’s commitment.

Carbon options a complex path to follow

Since the government came into power with its “one billion trees” policy almost two years ago the landscape for forestry investment in New Zealand has changed dramatically, both literally and figuratively.

Farms can offer work-life balance

For all the hard work, farming is one vocation where it is possible to finish up early and shoot away for a mid-week fish at your favourite spot, head into the bush to do some hunting, or jump on your mountain bike and find a trail.

A sweet earner for small blocks

Being a long skinny country provides ample opportunity to grow most types of berries and it is a sector that can provide opportunities for the burgeoning number of small block owners around the country. It is also a sector that brings its own unique set of challenges and risks.

A place of their own

Buying a lifestyle property used to be largely about having room for the pony, a paddock to rear a few “beefies” for the freezer, or land to run some chickens or a couple of alpacas. These days, lifestyle property owners are converting or building garages and sheds on their properties for hobbies and businesses – or for a beer and a jam session.

Not easy being green

The Coalition government’s “one billion trees” policy has some sectors of the farming community wondering just where the additional land is going to come from to reach the lofty targets. We open up the discussion to sector representatives.

Farm financing a tougher game

Reality is, bank lending is currently tougher to come by for some farm deals. However, there are finance options available that address expectations around equity, cashflow and debt. Lateral thinking goes a long way in the farm finance arena.

Farm managers the X factor in business

The tangible value of competent, knowledgeable and loyal farm managers should not be underestimated in the quest to realise a farm’s true potential return. Keeping that talent on farm when the property is to be sold, could unlock optimal value.

Pest patrol and control

Owners of lifestyle blocks can make a real difference to their own property, their neighbours’ land, and contribute positively to the health and resilience of New Zealand’s native flora and fauna through effective predator-free initiatives. We look at some of the options and support available.

Honesty is the best policy

Roadside produce stalls with honesty box payment systems have long been part and parcel of the Kiwi way of life. We talk to some stallholders about the pros and cons of honesty-based farm gate sales and profile a new app designed to streamline the payment process.

Wood value boosted with processing

With 60 percent of New Zealand’s annual timber harvest felled for raw export logs, there are calls for more added-value processing into products like panelling and engineered timber. It’s a tough call for little ol’ New Zealand to compete on the world stage in this arena – can we do it?

Hopping to a better brew

Hops are playing a big part in New Zealand’s craft brewing success story. It’s a niche crop that’s been grown in a distinct and confined geographic region, running from Upper Moutere in the Tasman district to nearby Motueka. Cheers, to that.

Heading to town to grow farm wealth

Farmers considering retirement, succession and wealth creation are increasingly turning to the commercial and industrial property sector for a passive income after a lifetime of hard graft on the land. We look at the ins and outs of property investment for farmers.

It’s show time again

The local A&P Show remains a must-do on most New Zealanders’ social calendars – despite the changing world we live in and the creep of cities towards the rural hinterland. We take a look at four thriving A&P Shows and how they’re reinventing themselves for 21st century life.

Ribbons and cups for lambs and calves

Learning how to raise and care for an animal is a quintessential part of a country upbringing. Calf Days, Pet Days and Ag’ Clubs still play an important role in rural schools and the fundamental principles remain. Now that deserves a ribbon.

Brave new world for forecasters ahead

Weather Watch director Philip Duncan takes a look at the new technology and vast data sources which when combined mean New Zealand farmers will soon have forecasts tailored to their farming needs.

Farms to boost forests’ fortunes

Whether for carbon or for timber, there is a buzz in forestry circles. Once again this major industry is on target to play a big part in re-booting regional economies, and putting New Zealand on track to meet its environmental commitments to the rest of the world.

New minister kicks off at pace

We chat to Damien O’Connor, Minister for Agriculture and Rural Communities, about his goals for the portfolios he is tasked to lead. He shares his take on the challenges and opportunities ahead for the primary sector.

To market, to market

Farmers’ markets around New Zealand are the ideal place for lifestyle block owners to tout their locally-grown produce. We look at the philosophy behind the farmers’ market movement and talk to a couple of growers about getting seasonal produce to the stall.

Help is on its way

You’ve bought the lifestyle block, got some sheep to keep the grass down and for now, everything’s sweet. With some help from professionals and others in your local community, we show you how you can manage your block – and still have a life.

Farming smarter, not harder

Information technology and associated high-tech’ applications are making their presence felt. These advances can help New Zealand farmers farm smarter, reduce their environmental impact and improve efficiencies – in a way that is accessible, affordable and downright clever.

Young guns fire on the land

New Zealand’s primary production future is assured with high-calibre talent now making their mark on the land. The next generation are challenging the established ways of the land and providing innovative and practical future-led ideas and solutions.

Having the tough talk

Planning for smooth and fair farm succession is never an easy issue to front. Talking about the practicalities along with the pros and cons earlier, rather than later, can have some surprising upsides – so let’s get succession on the table for discussion.

Organic way of life

The decision to “go organic” on a lifestyle block goes beyond the soil and the produce. It involves a holistic approach to the production and consumption cycle. We talk to a couple of lifestyle property owners who have gone down the organics route.

Hi honey, I’m home

Beehives are hitting the sweet spot for lifestyle block owners, with the upsides of honey and pollination being the main drivers. There’s plenty of help at hand to set you on the honey trail and, as with most things in life, good preparation is key.

A profession off the sheep’s back

Shearings quiet contribution to rural New Zealand and the economy belies a colourful, inventive and competitive history. Its history, its evolution and its role make a fascinating strand in our nationhood.

More milk, less cow

Cows are no longer the only means to generate dairy returns, with exciting new developments in sheep and goat milking afoot. Is the non cow dairy sector worth a look?

Heading for the hills

Land values remain strong across the spectrum of rural New Zealand, with good market prospects and strong buyer interest helping kick off the new year in the provinces.

Sense to make dollars

Turning a dollar on a lifestyle block takes research, planning and passion. Country checks out three properties which are proving profitable for their owners.

From A to B&B

Opening a B&B operation on a lifestyle property could be a way to tap into New Zealand’s growing tourism market. Here’s some pointers to consider.

More Bang for their Buck

Venison prices are at their highest level since 2011 and demand for New Zealand produce is huge, but deer numbers are at their lowest level in 26 years. Is now the time to invest in a deer farm?

A Sporting Chance

Sports clubs are the beating heart of rural New Zealand. They have the power to bring communities together and raise spirits when times are tough.

The Undiscovered Country

A small rural town’s heart-warming story shows just how desirable country New Zealand can be, not only to inner-city Kiwis but also to the rest of the world.

Early Start a Good Start for Succession Planning

Aging farmers without farm succession plans to help them step into well earned, enjoyable retirements are among the greatest concerns for realtors, financiers and farm advisors in New Zealand.

Manuka Gold Flows Through Back Country

The humble honey bee is contributing to a quiet land use revolution in some of the country’s more remote farming regions, bringing options and opportunities for farmers and rural communities.

Digesting the Goat sector

There is strong international demand for goat products but any possible growth in the New Zealand goat farming sector will be coming off a small production base. Country looks at the three main areas of the goat industry – dairy, fibre and meat.

Food for Thought

With the Ministry for Primary Industries seeking to lift the productivity and profitability of New Zealand’s primary sector and double export returns by 2025, Country looks at some of the value-add challenges we face.

Putting the Glam into Camping

As urbanisation has taken hold in New Zealand, it has become increasingly difficult for city dwellers to access rural life in a meaningful way. Glamping is giving urban dwellers a chance to reconnect with this country’s pastoral roots, have a break and help farmers’ incomes. Country speaks to some glamping site entrepreneurs.

La Dolce Vita

The good life is what those choosing to own a lifestyle block hanker after – a life where the land expands horizons beyond fenced-in suburbia. For one Italian couple, a parcel of land in Northland allows them to live their life with zest.