A veteran scientist has tonight been honoured for efforts that made the kiwifruit industry cleaner and greener.

At a gala dinner at the industry's Momentum conference, held in Tauranga this evening, Dr David Steven was awarded the 2017 Fresh Carriers Hayward Medal to mark a lifetime of work around kiwifruit orchards.

"David developed the Integrated Pest Management Programme, known as Kiwigreen, back in 1991 which fundamentally shifted how the kiwifruit industry manages diseases and pests, and changed the philosophy of agrichemical use forever," said Kiwifruit Industry Advisory Committee chairman and Zespri director Paul Jones, who presented the medal.

"It also moved the industry towards using more environmentally-friendly agrichemicals to target specific pests and diseases, resulting in greater biodiversity in the orchard."

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Jones said Steven pioneered the idea of "demonstrated need" 26 years ago through the Kiwigreen programme where orchardists would monitor their orchards and only use the agrichemicals they actually needed at that time and recording it, shifting from calendar spraying to a more low-impact philosophy.

"While this is now mainstream practice, the move away from calendar spraying was radical at the time and met with considerable resistance.

Dr David Steven with his medal. Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media
Dr David Steven with his medal. Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media

"Reducing agrichemical use saved more than money: it lowered the risk of residues on fruit, reduced environmental impacts and underpinned market confidence in our fruit."

"David has continued to lead and support Zespri and growers in this vital role for many years, retiring just last year.

"His was the familiar voice at the end of the Kiwigreen helpline, on hand to help growers solve problems on orchards around the country."