Avo Haven – Case Study

Tucked up against the side of the mountain in Maungatapere is Avo Haven. ‘A nice place to live’ says Mark Rowlands from Avo Haven. Mark purchased the orchard, Avo Haven, 7 years ago as a retirement plan. Mark, who is 74 does most of the work on the 7.5 hectare orchard containing 1600 avocado trees.

They initially purchased an orchard of 600 trees, then when the orchard next door became available, two years later, they bought this too and joined the two together and now operate them as one orchard. The trees on the orchard were 15-20 years old when they first purchased them and the orchard was run down. There were lots of sick trees with Phytophera and a lot of the orchard had been badly pruned, or not at all.

The previous owner had used a lot of glyphosate on the orchard and Mark felt that the health of the soil biology really need to be ‘turned around’ due to the damage done by the herbicide. Mark had been a fertilizer representative in the past and through the extensive trial work he has carried out with seaweed on farms, he knew that the answer to healing the soil microbiome lay with seaweeds. He knew that he didn’t want to try imported seaweed powders, as they did not mix well and Mark wanted to buy a ‘local’ product. He has been using AgriSea on his orchard from the start and has never looked back.

At Avo Haven they use AgriSea foliar spray, this enhances photosynthesis, thus increasing root exudates which feed the soil biology. In addition to the benefit of turning around the health of the soil microbiome the trees have also become increasingly pest resistant and the fruit production has increased. They have not had the thrip problem to the same extent as has been experienced by other orchards in the area.

AgriSea Foliar is used at a rate of 5L/hectare and is sprayed 5 to 6 times a year. With diesel prices the way they are the cost of putting on a spray is expensive. Mark thinks carefully about what is coming up and what spray’s can be mixed. AgriSea foliar is tank mixed with each spray and enhances the performance of many of them. AgriSea foliar is safe to spray on leaves and fruit and has no withholding period. Spraying when trees are starting to bud up, enhances fruit set.

The orchard is now performing so well that Mark’s advisor recently said to him that he should be using AgriSea on his own orchard after seeing the results Mark has had. Avo Haven sells a percentage of their fruit at local markets and they are told they have ‘the best tasting Avocado around’, Mark attributes this to AgriSea Foliar, people keep coming back and back for the creamy taste of the Avo Haven Avo. It is not just the fruit which is fabulous but also the avocado oil which is a more recent venture. Avo Haven Foods at www.avohaven.co.nz is the name of an offshoot company which creates beautiful avocado oils which are available online.

Although the orchard is irrigated they do not use it very much, now that the soil biology has improved so has the water holding capacity in the soil. The orchard is on a volcanic clay and is subject to many frosts.

Although Mark does most of the day to day work, Mark’s son does most of the pruning and the family will do the ground picking before getting the contractors in to pick the rest. Mark is not planning on stopping on the orchard just yet but when the time comes to hand over the reigns in this family trust his stewardship and his legacy of looking after the land will stand his successors in good stead.

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