Integrating mānuka into a traditional sheep and beef farm on the Whanganui River Rd has moved the business from supporting one family to providing for six.
Adam Marshall saw an opportunity to create more income from his 810ha sheep and beef farm at Koriniti by letting wild mānuka regenerate across the property, setting up Marshall Honey to harvest and sell wholesale honey.
"We saw an opportunity to make more money and that's what we've done," Marshall said.
"It used to support one family, now it supports six.
"I grew up here, and my kids are now growing up here. Looking after the land is about making sure I leave it in a way that they are able to raise their own kids here."
Over the winter season, Marshall took up an offer of free seedlings from Te Uru Rākau (Forestry New Zealand) and has planted 128,000 high grade mānuka seedlings across 80 hectares of the hill country farm. The seedlings have been planted around the regenerating mānuka.
"We had a whole farm plan done thanks to Horizons Regional Council which basically tells us a good deal about what types of trees should be planted across the property to make it the most productive land," Marshall said.
"That pinpointed mānuka as a really good option for us."
Te Uru Rākau (Forestry New Zealand) contracted Mānuka Farming New Zealand to run the free mānuka seedling scheme as part of the government's initiative to increase planting to reach one billion trees by 2028.
Mānuka Farming New Zealand chief executive Stephen Lee said integrating mānuka into landscapes was a great way to diversify income.
"Mānuka is a growing industry and there is enormous potential for landowners to plant mānuka across their land," Lee said.
"We work with landowners... across the country and we are seeing a lot of progress with integrating mānuka into farms. It's a great way for landowners to achieve the best results on their land."
A new One Billion Trees Fund is offering up to $4000 per hectare to plant mānuka as part of the government's further push to increase the country's planting rate – particularly native planting. There are also top-up grants for different land types; for example, landowners could receive up to $500 per hectare extra if the planting is on erosion-prone land.
"This is a great way to get started, whether you're looking to retire land on a farm or integrate into a working farm, mānuka should be an option to look at and this fund provides a great incentive to do this," Lee said.
"It's definitely a long term investment though, with mānuka seedlings beginning to flower in about years four and five, and taking six years to reach full production."
More information on funding for mānuka planting through the One Billion Trees Fund can be found at www.teururakau.govt.nz/1bt or at www.manukafarming.co.nz