Agriculture in New ZealandNew Zealand is one of the largest global exporters of dairy commodities. It also exports large volumes of beef and sheep meat, wool, fruit, vegetables, and wine. Climate in New Zealand is firmly linked with the country’s economic performance, as a significant amount of the country’s economic activity is based on agriculture production. New Zealand has a variety of climatic conditions. Tempartures range from sub-tropical in the far north of the country to temperate in the south. Western regions are typically wetter than eastern areas, due to a mountain chain along much of the lengths of the two islands, protecting eastern areas from the prevailing westerly winds and rain.
New Zealand is one of a number of sets of islands that make up Oceania, also referred to as the Pacific Islands, a region occupying the western and central Pacific Ocean.
As an island nation, New Zealand’s coastlines and oceans are some of its most important geographic features. New Zealand has one of the world’s largest exclusive economic zones, an oceanic zone over which a nation has exclusive rights of exploration and exploitation of marine resources. New Zealand’s exclusive economic zone covers more than one million square miles.
The agriculture (incuding forestry, and fishing industry) is a major production and export industry in New Zealand. In the year ended March 2021, the gross domestic product (GDP) of this industry amounted to over 12.77 billion New Zealand dollars, contributting approximately 5% to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Agriculture land in New ZealandIn 2029, arable land as a share of land area for New Zealand was around 1.9 %. Arable land as a share of land area of New Zealand fell gradually from 11.3 % in 1969 to 1.9 % in 2018.
At the same time around around 83.3 thousand people were employed in agriculture industry. Because farming is such a large part of New Zealand’s history, rural culture has informed New Zealand culture as a whole and a lot of depictions of the ‘typical’ New Zealander involve farming. The stereotypical New Zealand outfit is a black singlet, stubbies (shorts) and gumboots (Wellington boots). For a long time this was a common outfit for farmers in New Zealand. And speaking of gumboots, rural life has also influenced New Zealand language! Words like bush (forest), razorback (a steep ridge), paddock (meadow), gully (valley), Taranaki gate, Swanndri (a brand of woollen shirt) are all common in Kiwi language today.
The range of primary activities done in different regions of New Zealand reflects the variety of climatic conditions. Horticulture, arable crops, dairy, sheep, beef and deer farming are done at different locations around the country. Pastoral farming is common in many areas, with the more productive, wetter and warmer grass growing regions generally used to farm the more profitable dairy cows. Sheep and beef farming is often done in regions to the west of the mountain range, which are drier and less suited to growing lush grass.
The arable sector produces grains (mainly wheat, barley, oats and maize), predominantly for domestic consumption. New Zealand produces approximately 1 million tonnes of grain. About 300-450,000 tonnes of grain and 1 million tonnes of palm kernel expeller are imported Farming of sheep and cattle is the main type of agricultural activity, but horticulture is also common. Sheep farming has been crucial in the development of the New Zealand economy, and for 130 years was the most important agricultural industry. The image of New Zealand as a country full of sheep is well founded. Sheep are farmed for their meat and wool. The major sheep breeds in the North Island and southern districts of the South Island is the Romney. Merino are the predominant breed in the South Island High Country; while the remainder of the South Island utilises Corriedale and Halfbred sheep. Popular types of sheep in New Zealand include: Merino sheep: Originally from Spain, producing fine wool Corriedale sheep: A cross between the Merino and some English breeds. New Zealand Romney sheep: One of the most populous sheep breeds Drysdale sheep: Hairy coarse wool, often used in carpet Perendale sheep: Good for both meat and wool Coopworth sheep : Good for both meat and wool New Zealand is the world’s 8th largest milk producer, with more than 4 million dairy cows producing over 15 billion litres of milk annually. The main regions for dairy farming in New Zealand are Waikato, Taranaki, Southland, Northland, Horowhenua, Manawatu and Westland. The main breeds of dairy cows in New Zealand are Holstein-Friesian, Jersey and Ayrshire as well as the more recently bred KiwiCross. Livestock is mainly grass-fed. New Zealand accounts for 3% of total world production of dairy and exports about 95% of its production; The top five markets for New Zealand dairy exports are: China, United States, United Arab Emirates, Australia, Japan; New Zealand produces more than 100 types of dairy products, including whole milk, cream, butter, cheese, milk powder and buttermilk. Cattle are also farmed for their meat. Cattle and sheep are often farmed together and fed on grass. Common cattle breeds in New Zealand include Herefords, Angus and Shorthorns. Deer farming is also on the increase and New Zealand is the largest exporter of farmed venison in the world. For the year ending September 2016, total deer industry exports were $245 million. This includes venison exports, velvet exports, deer hides, leather receipts and co-products. 24% of all venison exports goes to Germany, while China remains the biggest velvet export destination. New Zealand’s fertile soil is great for growing fruit and vegetables. like peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots and cherries in the Hawke’s Bay and Otago regions, while apples and pears grow well in the Hawke’s Bay and Tasman district. The kiwifruit (also known as the Chinese gooseberry or just kiwi) is New Zealand’s largest horticultural export by value. It is mostly grown in the Bay of Plenty region, along with avocados, which thrive in the climate. For citrus, head to the Northland, Gisborne and Auckland regions, while grapes are grown to make wine around the country but particularly in Marlborough, Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne, Martinborough, Marlborough and Central Otago. Key vegatable crops include leafy greens, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, kumara, lettuce, broccoli and cauliflower. Over 90% of vegetable production is for the domestic market.. New Zealand wine has developed a reputation for itself over the past few years, and the export value of wine was valued at close to two billion New Zealand dollars in 2019. Around a third is exported to North America, with another third to the UK and Europe. The remaining third is supplied to the domestic market. There are just over 700 wineries in New Zealand from Northland to Otago. Marlborough is the dominant winegrowing region and is well known for wines made from the grape varietal Sauvignon Blanc. Other important wine growing regions are Auckland, Gisborne, Wairarapa, Nelson, Canterbury/Waipara, and Central Otago. Bees are critical to New Zealand’s agricultural sector as they pollinate around one third of our food sources. New Zealand produces many different types of honey (clover, manuka, thyme and other varietals) as well as other bee products.19,885 tonnes of honey are produced from 684,000 hives. Around half of the honey produced in New Zealand is exported to 50 countries, with a value of $315 million.
Forestry in New ZealandPlantation forestry is a significant land-use activity. It is the country’s third largest export earner behind dairy and meat, and employs about 40,000 people. The export value of New Zealand’s logs and forest products is reached $6.3 billion for the year ending June 2021 In the east and south of New Zealand’s North Island is land renowned for providing excellent conditions for Radiata pine. Pinus radiata is the main species utilised in New Zealand along with smaller amounts of Douglas fir, eucalyptus and other species.
The Wairarapa, Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay regions meet all of Forest Enterprises criteria for productive plantation forestry – good growth rates and land of medium contour, plus access to essential infrastructure for log processing and export. Wairarapa is the southern-most region of New Zealand’s North Island. It is an hour north of the capital city Wellington, only 90km by rail and 100km by road from Masterton. The Gisborne region is located on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island. Gisborne has long held the reputation for growing the best radiata pine because of its climate and topography. Forestry is a major contributor to the regional economy.
The Hawkes Bay area is in the east of New Zealand’s North Island, south of Gisborne. The region has 130,000 hectares under radiata pine, mostly in private ownership, including corporate forest owners, iwi, farmers and investors like ours. It has well-established forestry infrastructure including a significant mill, a busy export port and rail transport links.
Fishing industry in New Zealand Commercial fishing operates around New Zealand with mussel, oyster (including the famous Bluff oyster) and salmon farms around the country. New Zealand has a coastline of 15 100 km, and the world’s fourth largest Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.3 million km2. Over 16 000 marine species have been identified in New Zealand waters, of which 130 species are commercially fished. Deepwater fishery is carried out within and outside New Zealand’s EEZ, particularly off the east coast and Chatham Islands and the Southern Ocean.
Total production from this sector in 2013 was 217 167 with the main species being hoki, Macruronus novaezelandiae (61% of landings), oreo dory, Pseudocyttus maculatus (7%), ling, Genypterus blacodes (6%) and orange roughy, Hoplostethus atlanticus (7%). New Zealand’s aquaculture sector is also a significant primary industry, estimated in 2015 to have revenue in excess of $500 million, of which about 75 per cent is exported to 79 countries.
The high quality of New Zealand’s coastal waters, the abundance of plankton, and the prevalence of sheltered harbours and inlets means that the country has considerable aquaculture potential. The most commonly farmed species in New Zealand are the indigenous green lipped mussel, which is not farmed anywhere else in the world, the introduced Chinook salmon (also called King Salmon) and the Pacific oyster. The main harvestable mussel species is the native New Zealand green-lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus), the shell of which can be up to 260 mm long, 110 mm wide and 90 mm deep. Mussels are predominantly farmed in the Marlborough Sounds, as well as in Tasman and Golden Bay, the Coromandel Peninsula, Waiheke, Northland, Opotiki, Great Barrier Island, Canterbury and Stewart Island.
A mussel farm consists of a series of rope ‘back-bones’ suspended in, or on top of, the water column by a series of buoys. A continuous rope (the ‘long-line’), on which the mussels are grown, is suspended from the back-bone line. The backbone is anchored to the seafloor at either end. A three-hectare farm would typically have nine lines of 110 surface metres length each. Each line is supported by 50 to 70 large plastic floats. Each float may support one ton of mussels. One 110-metre line will generally support 3500 to 4000 metres of crop rope.
Once the spat are at the mussel farm, approximately 1000 to 5000 juveniles are wrapped onto each metre of rope, using biodegradable cotton stocking mesh. This mesh gradually disintegrates, by which time the spat have attached themselves to the rope. The mussels are left to grow for three to six months, and then these nursery lines are lifted and the young spat are stripped from the ropes, reseeded onto a final production rope at approximately 150 to 200 per metre, and then returned to the sea to grow. Mussels take between 12 and 18 months to grow to a harvestable shell size of 90 to 100mm. The mussels are harvested by pulling the ropes up onto barges and removing the mussels. King Salmon are farmed in the Marlborough Sounds, Canterbury and Stewart Island as well as South Island rivers.
Pacific oysters (Crassostrea giga) are mainly farmed in the Far North, as well as at Coromandel, Auckland and Marlborough. They are grown on wooden racks and baskets in sheltered and shallow intertidal bays around the northern North Island coast and in the Marlborough Sounds. The seed used to stock most farms is caught from the wild, predominantly from the Kaipara harbour. Oyster larvae drifting in the water settle on bundles of wooden sticks which are placed in the water column. The sticks are then transported to marine farms, where the larvae are transferred to racks for on-growing the baby oysters. Sometimes, the oysters are transferred to mesh bags, hanging baskets or wire racks for growing. Using baskets suspended on wires can be an effective method of farming, allowing oyster farms to be located in more exposed locations, because in rough weather the baskets swing and thereby resist the damage that would be caused to the traditional fixed racks. Pacific oysters grow to marketable size within 12 to 18 months. The oysters will be on-grown to bigger sizes, before they are transferred to locations where the water temperatures and environmental conditions create a risk of small oysters succumbing to the virus.
New Zealand also has growing industries in pāua and seaweed. Other species, including kingfish, eels, geoduck clams and Hāpuku have been farmed or trialled as possible species of the future. Land-based aquaculture is also a rising sector.