Simon Cook, a third generation kiwifruit grower from the kiwifruit capital of the world and owner of a spray contracting business, summarises how environmental stewardship envelops his business ethos with the Maori proverb, Whatungarongaro te tangata toitū te whenua – translated to ‘As man disappears from sight, the land remains’. “I’m on a property that’s been here for three generations and I’m hoping to pass it on to my kids. I don’t want to leave something behind that they’re going to have to clean up in the future. Part of that is dealing with chemicals and minimising their impact,” says Cook.

Cook and his family grow green and gold kiwifruit varieties in Te Puke and have recently branched out to growing avocados. He also owns and manages Ranfurly Orchard Services – a Te Puke business awards supreme winner. Cook started the business with his father Bob sixteen years ago because he saw the need to adapt to changes in orchard ownership – an increase in managed or leased operations – coinciding with the availability of a new generation of sophisticated crop sprayers suitable for large scale crop spraying.

The Nuffield scholar says that environmental stewardship and minimising waste has “improved drastically” for growers and is still improving as people’s awareness increases.

“In the last couple of generations we’ve become a lot more aware of how we handle chemicals and, particularly, how we dispose of containers,” Cook says. Before programmes like Agrecovery, waste was “just thrown away.” There is still a legacy of waste. ”All sorts of things were tossed away together – even with washing machines. But we’re taking a much more environmentally-friendly approach now,” he says.

“Now we use programmes like Agrecovery and containers are taken away, which is fantastic.”

“We liked the concept of Agrecovery right from the start. As soon as companies started using it, we actively sought to use agrichemicals from manufacturers which had the Agrecovery label on them.”

Cook says that recycling programmes are very important. Not just from an environmental point of view, but also for ease of use. “As spray contractors, they make our lives easier. We go through hundreds and hundreds of containers, so having a safe and easy way of disposing of them is beneficial to us,” he enthuses.

All the agrichemicals used by the spray contracting business are recovered through the Agrecovery programme. The clients never see or handle the chemical or the containers. It’s all done for them.

Environmental sustainability extends to the post harvest facility the family orchard uses for packing kiwifruit. They are leaders in sustainability and all the packaging can be recycled.

To those growers who still burn and bury, or rely on landfill, he says that there is a better, easier, safer and more environmentally-friendly way of doing it.