Farmers and other landowners can receive funding from both Direct Landowner and Partnership grants under the Government's Billion Trees programme.

Landowners get funding support of $1800/ha for mānuka plantations of 5ha to 300ha, plus additional support of $1000/ha to $4000/ha for planting other trees that will support bee health.

The new fund also provides $500/ha for planting on erosion-prone land.

"We are on the verge of releasing some very exciting plantation trial site results for high-grade mānuka and the Government's announcement is a major boost to get more landowners considering mānuka as a land use alternative."

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Welcoming the funding announcement this week, Mānuka Farming New Zealand chief executive Stephen Lee said it would ensure large-scale landowners considered the many environmental and economic benefits of planting mānuka.

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Some new mānuka cultivars look promising as an alternative income source for farmers. Photo / Getty Images
Some new mānuka cultivars look promising as an alternative income source for farmers. Photo / Getty Images

"We are on the verge of releasing some very exciting plantation trial site results for high-grade mānuka and the Government's announcement is a major boost to get more landowners considering mānuka as a land use alternative," he said.

"Our initial test results have confirmed that scientifically bred cultivars planted in the right growing conditions have the potential to provide a new income source for landowners."

Lee said the funding support was significant for landowners, especially those planting over 100ha, as the ability to enhance the quality of mānuka could now be supported with funding for trees that complemented mānuka.

As well as economic benefits, mānuka offered environmental benefits in keeping waterways clean, dealing with sediment and nutrient issues in water ways through to soil protection from erosion.

"We now have five high performing mānuka cultivars that flower at different times and have been field tested in a range of environments over several years and can now be best matched to sites to produce high UMF honey that has a higher return for the landowner at the farm gate," Lee said.

Mānuka Farming NZ will also look to further develop partnerships with regional councils, Māori organisations, research organisations and New Zealand businesses as part of the Partnership Grant fund.

"Our priority areas align with this fund, with our organisation being created on similar fundamentals of large scale plantings for environmental benefits; using science to create high grade mānuka, both in quality of the seedlings as well as planting the right tree in the right place," Lee said.

Priority was given to surge regions identified in the Provincial Growth fund.

"This also aligns well with the establishment of mānuka plantations as we have had considerable success in trials in regions such as Hawke's Bay, Manawatū and Northland."

Manuka Farming NZ will have a limited number of seedlings available (for about 1300ha) for planting in 2019. For more information call Stephen Lee on 020 412 22858.