Horticulture is fast becoming the primary sector's "fourth engine" and will soon rival the meat industry in export receipts Nathan Penny says.

The ASB Rural Economist spoke to The Country saying that the industry is behind dairy, meat and forestry but "if we throw viticulture in with horticulture we do get something very similar to what forestry does in terms of exports."

Horticulture provides more diversity for New Zealand's economy says Penny "and that can only be a good thing."

Read more: Booming horticulture exports forecast to soon rise to $5.6b

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One reason the future looks bright for horticulture is it has room to expand, (in areas such as the Bay of Plenty, Nelson and Northland), whereas industries such as dairy are more constrained in growth - especially when it comes to environmental issues says Penny.

Also in today's interview - Nathan talks about the kiwifruit industry, a challenging climatic season for farmers and ASB's production forecast for dairy.

Listen below: