Agribusiness Central Tour 2024

Wednesday 27th March 2024

Honey, apples, lavender, bikes and sheep’s milk highlighted this year’s Central Tour!

Bike Glendu showcases a farm’s transformation to a successful Agri -tourism endeavour…
Bike Glendu showcases a farm’s transformation to a successful Agri -tourism endeavour…

The annual Agribusiness Central Tour focuses on an agribusiness’s ability to future-proof itself through innovation. Most of this year’s businesses have achieved this through diversification.

Image by: Craig Preston

The primary lesson learn't from the trip was that diversification continues as the top future-proofing strategy in the present time of uncertainty. Wright's Honey has its fingers in a number of honey pots, including on-site accommodation for the passing traveller. 

Tinwald Farm has a diverse range of enterprises including sheep milking, ice cream, a pinot noir and beef. Bike Glendu (formerly Glendu Station) has the (international grade) mountain bike park, a wedding venue, grain production, and is in progress with an international golf course for good measure!

John McRae, a JMC old boy, has converted his farm into a successful agri-tourism business... — Image by: Craig Preston
Tinwald Farm runs the milking shed, pivots and all accommodation off theses impressive solar units... — Image by: Craig Preston

The Wanaka Lavender Farm has embraced everything Lavender and run farm tours, activities for children, produce lavender essential oil which is put into numerous products, and have a coffee shop on site as well.

By placing a lavender door in the middle of a lavender paddock, the farm gains Instagram marketing from people taking 'scenic' shots of the surrounding mountains 'through the door' - it's free, so you just turn up and click away! — Image by: Craig Preston
Supplying soaps for motels, hotels etc... — Image by: Craig Preston

The apple packhouse in Ettrick future-proofs in a different way; Stephen Darling monitors market fluctuations constantly and adjusts his export destinations daily and weekly depending on the best opportunities. They also rely on innovative technology, like their colour coding/sorting machine (worth a whopping $500K), which instantly photographs each apple from numerous angles to determine colour grading and calculate the percentage of blemish on each apple in cm2!

InVision 9000 colour codes and calculates blemish area per apple in an 'instant'... — Image by: Craig Preston
InVision 9000 takes 40 photos of EACH apple and shows (and calculates) the % blemish... — Image by: Craig Preston
InVision 9000 takes 40 photos of EACH apple and codes it for colour coverage, then sorts it... — Image by: Craig Preston

The highlight for the boys, though, was definitely their time with Mike and Tracey Wright, long-time supporters of the Agribusiness programme. The boys were in the thick of extraction time and were able to undertake all the tasks in the factory themselves. The Wright's kindly sent packed combs and a jar of honey home with each boy gratis.

James (Ligget, front) undertakes the sticky business of honey extraction. Serge (Meeuws) focused on the task at hand (back)... — Image by: Craig Preston
Mr Hancox (Jnr) cuts and packages honey-filled combs bound for Hong Kong... — Image by: Craig Preston
"Gift for you, Mum" (Liam Ross) — Image by: Craig Preston

Our sincere thanks (again) to all our hosts - without them we simply have stodgy material in books, rather than living, inspirational examples of innovative agribusinesses.