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Anderton welcomes Northland soil and climate findings

Crops like blueberries, avocado’s, Maori potatoes and figs are more likely to be found in Northland in the future following the completion of the Government funded Northland Soil and Climate survey.

“Better understanding of Northland’s soil and climate will have a significant benefit for the Northland economy and will aid the creation of local jobs,” says Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton.

The soil and climate survey project started two years ago and the work was undertaken by NIWA with funding from the Ministry of Economic Development of $200,000 supplementing local funding of $60,000.

“The Soil and Climate study builds on Northland's regional agriculture and horticulture success and will allow better matching of economic activity with the geography and weather across the region.

“Although Northland has regional growth of four per cent, which is higher than the average New Zealand growth rate of 3.8 per cent, there is room for even stronger Northland economic growth and better use of land is crucial for that objective to be met.

“One of the land use issues in Northland is under-utilised Maori land. Iwi can use the soil and climate survey findings to determine the most productive economic uses for their land with a greater degree of certainty.

Jim Anderton believes that using the land to create more jobs is particularly important for Northland as the region has an unemployment rate of 9.6 per cent (as at March 2003), which is the highest in New Zealand.

The final survey consists of 28 climate and 7 soil maps. Information about climatic and soil requirements for ten individual crops is given including where they could be most suitably grown. Relevant market and general information is also provided.

The survey revealed a number of positive factors including proximity to the Auckland market, a relatively warm climate and subsequent ability to supply early in the season when prices are high. Northland also shows a strong suitability for ‘organic’ and ‘niche’ market production.

The ten plants selected by local groups that best matched the soil and climate were peanuts, Maori potato, manuka (for oil), hydrangea, banana, mate tea, avocado, cherimoya, fig, and blueberry.

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