A $1.5 million fund to help landowners in the Lake Rotorua catchment trial low nitrogen land uses is open for expressions of interest.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council, principle adviser Rotorua catchments Anna Grayling said all properties were eligible.

"The fund will help set-up practical small or large scale working examples of ways land can be used to develop new income streams for farmers other than traditional farming.

"We want people to try new crops or ventures on the land, so we can share the knowledge... We want to know what does and doesn't work in the catchment, can it be profitable, what are the pitfalls and any other learnings along the way."


Examples of alternative land uses could include growing kakakawa for traditional Māori medicine, manuka oil plantations, crops not yet trialled in the catchment or even establishing agri-tourism ventures.

"This funding is not for research projects. It is for practical applications on the land for ideas that have already been vetted as possible in the catchment."

Background work to identify low nitrogen land diversification options in Rotorua has been completed.

The information is available in the Rotorua land use directory or as a booklet from the regional council offices.

"We have identified the possibilities, we now want people to trial the options. This fund is not about landowners selling their nitrogen.

That is a separate fund. Landowners do not need to sell nitrogen to receive this funding.

"Funding can be used towards set-up costs, consultants and support to get the new land use going, or even marketing costs for the new venture. "

The fund is intended to remove financial barriers to landowners changing land use.

The regional council is offering help to complete an expression of interest and develop ideas, until the cut off on Friday September 28.

The fund has a minimum funding level of $10,000.

Any applications more than $200,000 will need to have other sources of funding to contribute to the project.

Anyone interested is encouraged to contact the regional council or visit www.rotorualakes.co.nz for more information.