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Agri Comments

Welcome to Agri – Comments, where we will profile one of our customers every few months. 

Pip and Dean Pye

Pip and Dean Pye live with their four children at Dorie, Mid Canterbury, where they farm 1600ha in process vegetables and vegetable seed crops. Their main crop is potatoes (which are mostly processed into French fries) and onions, with other areas sown in wheat, grass seed, clover and specialty vegetable seed multiplication crops. They have been farming at Dorie for 20 years, and the silty loam and free-draining soil is ideal for growing vegetables.

The property is spray irrigated by a combination of groundwater and surface water delivered by the Acton Irrigation Scheme. Dean was part of the farmer group in the area that got the Acton scheme up and running. It draws water from the Rakaia River, under a consent held by the Barrhill Chertsey Irrigation Scheme, and delivers it to around 50 farmers in the Acton and Dorie areas via specially-widened Ashburton District Council stockwater races. The whole project cost $16 million, was initially funded by Rooney Earthmoving, and eventually bought out by farmers. Dean says the surface water is a top-up for many farmers, and helps take pressure off precious underground aquifers. He is proud of the scheme and his involvement and says the community has been both united and strengthened by it.

The biggest challenge on-farm right now is how to make their whole operation more sustainable, and more importantly meet new nitrate discharge limits being imposed by the Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan. Dean is already far down this track. He regularly sends soil samples to the United States for testing, and is trying to improve the health of the soil he farms intensively. The farm already operates under global Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) standards so onions can be exported to Europe. The property is audited annually to ensure the produce that will be sold in supermarkets throughout the Continent and UK meets sustainable farming requirements.

The couple employs seven full-time staff who are fully indoctrinated in the process of meticulously recording crop health, inputs, and weather conditions ensuring the traceability timeline is complete and transparent. Molloy Agriculture Ltd has one full-time staff member and spray truck stationed permanently at the Pye property to meet the year-round demands of the mixed operation. A big part of that job is the management and control of the potato psyllid, a pest spreading throughout New Zealand since 2006 with the potential to cause serious crop losses. The potato industry is worth about $500 million to the country’s economy and research into psyllid control is being conducted by Potatoes New Zealand, an organisation representing growers, producers and processors. Dean was elected to its national board in early 2012.

Dean’s passion for the land is obvious and while he sees himself growing potatoes for a long time yet, he’s open to the possibility of growing other specialty crops. Watch this space.

Agri Comments - Best Advice

Welcome to Agri – Comments, where we regularly profile one of our customers every few months. This time around, we meet Clibborn farms. More here.


Hamish and Vicki Mee. More here.

Pip and Dean Pye. More here.

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