The benefits of getting off your ‘dung heap’

Fruition Diploma learners partaking in a watermelon sensory evaluation.

While dung heaps can create real value in terms of adding organic matter and nutritional value to a soil, getting off your dung heap can add real value when building skills, knowledge and understanding of the wider horticultural sector.

In mid-February, the first Fruition Diploma of Horticulture Production class and tutors participated in a fieldtrip/workshop that did exactly that – got people off their respective dung heaps.

The first paper in the Diploma is focused on making production enhancements.

The focus of the fieldtrip and workshops was to look at industries outside of those with which we are involved to consider how they are collecting and using data to make these production enhancements.

We visited large scale tomato and root vegetable producers who provided dynamic presentations on their collection and use of data.

On-site experience

We had presentations from an economist from MyFarm, MyFarm enables eligible investors to invest in hard-to-access primary industries.

MyFarm targets double-digit annual returns from investments in meticulously chosen businesses and land-based horticultural assets including vineyards, apples, avocados, kiwifruit, hops, cherries, forestry, manuka honey and rural commercial property.

These are a combination of longer term development opportunities and investments in established assets offering immediate cash returns.

MyFarm uses data to forecast trends and make investment decisions and from a charitable trust whose reason for being relates to the democratisation of data – trying to make data accessible and understandable to all.

The participants of the programme enjoyed, not only getting to know one another in a more informal setting, but also being challenged by the presenters regarding the use of data and how it can help businesses to make better decisions.

More than data

They were also encouraged to not be slaves to data, in the end data can only tell one part of the story and it is people who, in the end, are more important than numbers on paper or in a spreadsheet.

While on the fieldtrip, the class had the opportunitiy to visit AS Wilcox Ltd, A. S. Wilcox and Sons Ltd was established in 1954 and has continued to grow and market potatoes, onions, and carrots ever since, becoming an integral part of New Zealand’s agricultural industry.

During our workshops at AS Wilcox Ltd we were also able to be a part of the data gathering process but partaking in a taste test of the seedless watermelon being grown by this family owned business. Our opinions were gathered and collated to show our preference for the three cultivars being grown.

The fieldtrip really did take the learners and tutors off their dung heaps and in doing so gave us a lot to think about the way in which we collect and use data on a daily basis for making better decisions.

For more information on any of the training offered by Fruition go to their websites: or:


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