20 Nov 2012

Carbon study 'beneficial' for growers and Zespri

3:04 pm on 20 November 2012

Plus Group Research analysed soil samples taken from various depths on more than 100 blocks from Northland to Motueka and concluded that kiwifruit vines sequester about 90,000 tonnes of carbon a year.

Research manager Allister Holmes says the results are significant.

"There's obviously great to Zespri as a marketer to validate the sustainability of production in New Zealand.

"Just today I was made aware of questions from a market for Zespri fruit in Europe asking specific details of producers, which this sort of information will be able to answer the questions that they require for their consumers.

"Being aware of this carbon in the soil, that carbon has great benefits to the growers as far as storing water, ameliorating nitrogen in the soil and offering ongoing benefits with climate change that we're likely to experience, especially in the kiwifruit growing regions of New Zealand."

Mr Holmes says Plus Group Research is keen to find out what soil carbon other horticultural crops store and has received inquiries from the pip and berry fruit industries.

Zespri's sustainability team leader Alistair Mowat says the kiwifruit exporter will be able to use the research results as a marketing tool.

Mr Mowat says the best way to do this is by interacting with its retail customers, some of whom are looking at indicators for soil health and soil quality as part of a broader range of sustainability metrics.

"Increasingly, global consumers and retailers are becoming concerned about food security and the availability of food over extended periods of time.

"Soil health, associated with the production of food, is a good indicator that food supply may be more resilient to extreme environmental effects or the overall fertility of the crop land is being sustained."