Dan Black

Research Orchard Manager, Kerikeri

How I got here

After a lot of time at a popular Whakatane bar I realised it was time for a career change and turned to a long time interest in horticulture.

With that realisation my partner, dog and I packed up that life and bought a campervan and travelled NZ twice over before ending up in the far north where I turned my clean drink pouring hands in to rough dirty pruning hands. Once my hands got dirty, the opportunities and challenges didn’t stop. I learnt just about every aspect of the commercial kiwifruit canopy management world from winter pruning to summer girdling and everything in between, whilst working and studying my way to achieving a degree in horticulture.

The opportunities at a pack house came next, from machinery maintenance to Coolstore operation, and then the pack house division which involved overseeing 80-100 nightshift staff and packing $200-250k of local grower fruit per shift.

At harvest completion it was time for the next challenge which was to be the operations side of the 96ha orchard management division. A few years later, my on-going desire to learn more about other aspects of the horticulture industry led to me apply for a role at Plant & Food Research.

Why I like working at Plant & Food Research

I find it very satisfying facing growing challenges that the average grower may never experience or imagine from the breeding programme, to the wide range of other science projects on the Kerikeri Research orchard.

My personal highlight working at Plant & Food Research

Appointment as the Research Orchard Manager but also, knowing I am providing a quality environment for the Scientists to complete their work, making it easier and more time efficient. Being able to share/teach some of my knowledge about horticulture to local college students with the outreach project is a newly established collaboration.

My work has an impact on our industries by

By applying the skills I have learnt from being in the kiwifruit industry and also having some understanding how kiwifruit grows in the northland region, I can focus on delivering a great environment for the scientist to do their work. The outcomes are that results are more meaningful.

What I love about my job is

Being involved in a wide range of activities and trials on this orchard and gaining understanding of what Plant & Food Research do for the horticulture industry, makes me feel very proud and privileged to work in this environment.

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