Seaweed (karengo) fertiliser game-changer for Kiwi farmers

By Taroi Black

Tane Bradley and Clare want farmers to break away from chemical fertilisers

A Māori agriculturalist has come up with an alternative native fertiliser that could revolutionise pastoral dairy farming, an industry that makes half of New Zealand's carbon emissions.

The New Zealand government's aim is to reduce net emissions by 50 percent below 2005 levels, by 2030.

Paeroa-based Tane Bradley (Ngāti Maniapoto) and his wife Clare's seaweed company, AgriSea, has developed an international award-winning product that produces rich soil and cuts nitrogen in cow’s urine by 18%, which limits the level of greenhouse gasses.

“We've done a lot of research on our products both in the labs and on the farms. We've realised there's a number of ways we can support the farmers, mainly to reduce their chemical loading on the soil,” Bradley says.

A native seaweed could be the game-changer for pastoral farming and reduce rivers of runoff pollution.

AgriSea is already supplying hundreds of farms and orchards across the country.

“We identified some studies into a gut parasite that's in the bees and we thought maybe our plan can be in supporting the bees to be healthier particularly and we all know our bees are getting a hard time.”

Tane’s wife Clare was instrumental in the research into the use of native seaweed and wants to expand their company by farming it from the moana.

“We know that farming in the ocean will have huge effects for climate change for the help of the ocean rainforest if you like,” she says.

“You've got better capacity for water to stay in the soil when it needs to. So, that will help us with resilience with droughts, will also help with absorbing water when we get floods.”

In Glasgow at the United Nations summit, India Logan-Riley no Ngāti Kahungunu told world leaders indigenous knowledge will help slow down the clock.

It's a notion many indigenous peoples are trying to get across to world leaders before it's too late.

"Land back, oceans back. This is all part of indigenous leadership. This is what 'keeping warming below 1.5 degrees” Logan-Riley says.