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Home arrow Human Interest arrow Local arrow Hills Harvest Award - Leonie Batt
Hills Harvest Award - Leonie Batt PDF Print
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Human Interest - Local
Written by anon, New Zealand Farm Environment Award Trust brochure   
Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Leonie Batt

Leonie Batt’s 70ha avocado orchard and dry stock property near Whangarei is maintained through hard work and regard to the consequences for the environment.

Inspirational Leonie has a very good long term sustainable vision for the property, said the Ballance Farm Environment Award judges.

The present attractive state of the property is a tremendous achievement since the death of her husband in 1974, including working in the city and bringing up six daughters.

Now in her 70s, Leonie is very active in the orchard. She employs two part-time workers of similar age.

The orchard and farm contain some of the best examples of conserved native bush in Northland.

Almost all the 25ha of bush and the waterways have been fenced to exclude stock and pests are actively controlled. Her vision is to have an economic unit without destroying native bush.

The avocados cover 4ha canopy, split between mature trees over 20 years and young 8-year trees.

Leonie has continued involvement in the avocado industry, serving on grower committees and hosting research trials.

She has attended avocado conferences around the world and continues to take a lively interest in all industry developments.

Different varieties of avocados are grown, as fruiting and shelter trees, to maximise the income streams from export, local market, seed for nurseries and oil pressing.

The orchard is known for producing high yields of top quality avocados.

A seedling avocado tree from the property shows potential as a possible commercial variety and has been named Batt.

The property on the Ngunguru Rd has been in the Batt family since about 1945. Originally it was 260ha and was a mix of sheep, beef, pigs and dairy. Leonie sold off about 190 ha to leave a more manageable sized property.

A mix of cattle and sheep along with a few goats are run on the property.

Pasture and stock health problems in the 1970s led to a relationship with scientists, the major problem at the time being a recurring dramatic infestation of soldier fly. The ongoing effort and enduring relationships shows determination and initiative on the part of Leonie, commented the judges.

Other problems that have been addressed are low cobalt levels rectified through top dressing and the use of salt licks to address problems caused through a combination of low sodium levels and a kikuyu dominated pasture.

The pasture has good levels of both red and white clover. Weed control is very good as there are minimal weeds and they are mainly pulled by hand or grubbing.

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