Some of the nation’s top farmers are helping to spread the word about the hard work done on farms by poplars and willows.

The Poplar and Willow Research Trust, with the support of Regional Councils, has appointed a group of farmers to act as ambassadors; these farmers are experienced in the planting and management of poplars and willows and their goal is to support other farmers deciding the best trees to plant in various areas on their farms.

New rules to protect New Zealand’s waterways passed into law at the end of the 2017-2020 parliamentary term. The Government requires mandatory and enforceable farm environment plans, with measures to minimise erosion as a key component. Poplars and willows are a key tool in meeting this requirement.

The Trust welcomes government initiatives to encourage tree planting but notes most of the publicity and encouragement has been for planting natives and plantation pine forests. The Trust wishes to ensure the unique advantages of poplars and willows in soil stabilisation, while still allowing for pastoral grazing, are more widely known, along with other important attributes such as provision of shade and shelter and food for bees.

Ambassadors are available to talk one to one with other farmers about the environmental and financial benefits of planting these trees and their experience in planting and managing them. Invitations to visit their farms to see these trees in action is also possible. Some will also be available on request to speak at field days and meetings.


Bryce Lupton

Bryce and Aneta farm a 534ha equity partnership business 10km west of Maungaturoto on the shores of the Kaipara Harbour, winter finishing lambs and trading bulls. The home block of 377ha has been in Bryce’s family since 1890. Soils are winter wet and summer dry, and prone to erosion and slumping. Poplars and willows have been planted for many years. Old trees are being cleared and replaced with modern timber-growing poplar genetics and managed accordingly. The property has native bush in DOC estate and QEII National Trust covenants. In addition, retired land is being progressively planted in natives - with14,500 plants to date. Bryce and Aneta were finalists in the 2017 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Bryce is happy to talk to farmers, host farmers, and speak at events.

Telephone: 021-514 328


Ken Haywood - King Country

Ken and Rebecca Haywood farm a 440ha dry stock property at Piopio, west of Te Kuiti. 270ha is in grass. There is a small area of pines and an extensive area of native bush and QEII National Trust blocks. Ken and Rebecca previously had a property subject to extensive land movement where poplars and willows were integral in stabilising the land. On their present property they are targeting the more vulnerable areas first, including the provision of shade for stock. He says understanding why the land is moving, planting the poles in the right place and the ongoing management required is important for successful and attractive plantings.

Ken is happy to talk to farmers about the benefits of planting poles.

Telephone: 027-276 8540

Bill Garland - Cambridge district

Bill and Sue Garland farm on the slopes of Maungatautari, 18km south of Cambridge. A land management agreement with the Waikato Valley Authority in 1980 saw the steeper parts of the farm soil mapped, 1100 poplar and willow poles planted, and several steep patches of bush fenced off. The farm has 370ha of pasture, 20ha of mixed species forestry, five QEII National Trust covenants, 8ha of native restoration planting, and an 8km pest-proof boundary with Maungatautari. A two-year-old farm environment plan is being upgraded to paddock scale. Bill was involved in the redesign of Whatawhata hill country research station, which involved a large area of reforestation, extensive pole planting and intensification of the better land. He is a past regional and national chairperson of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Bill is available for talking to farmers on a one to one basis, showing farmers his property and undertaking speaking engagements.

Telephone: 07-827 1807

Bay of Plenty

Brent Mountfort

Puriri Farm is located at Matata, Bay of Plenty. It is a traditional sheep and beef farm finishing up to 90% of what is bred on farm. On the 267ha property (157ha effective) Brent has 28.2ha in QEII covenant and 31ha in pine on its 2nd rotation. The balance is regenerating bush and wetlands largely protected through an environmental plan with the BOP Regional Council. In addition, poplar and willow trees have been planted to help with erosion and provide shade and shelter. They are past supreme winners of the BOP Environment Awards.

Brent is happy to talk to others who may be interested in assessing the value of planting poplars and willows on their property. He is also happy to show people over the farm.

Telephone: 07-322 2040


Roger Pearce - Waitotara district

Roger farms 2000ha in the Waitotara valley. The land is a mixture of majority steep class 7 hill country, some easy hills and some cultivatable land. Roger has planted more than 2000 poplars on medium slump ground and steep faces for erosion prevention and shade for stock. He has also retired and planted large areas of Manuka for honey production.

Roger is available to talk to farmers and his property is available to view.

Telephone: 06-346 5765

Mark Shaw - Mokau district

Mark and Hailey have been planting poplars and willows on their North Taranaki sheep and beef unit since buying it seven years ago. Wet and erosion prone areas were identified as part of the Farm Management Plan with the Taranaki Regional Council, and each year poles have been used as a tool to mitigate some of these risks. The poles have also been used to protect infrastructure such as fences and tracks from erosion damage. Other benefits they have found include stock shade, potential summer feed and improving farm aesthetics.

Mark is available for talking to farmers on a one to one basis, which could lead to showing farmers his property.

Telephone: 06-752 3118


Rob Faulkner

Planting of poplars and willows is an intergenerational practice for Gisborne farmer Rob Faulkner. Wairakaia Station at Muriwai, winner of the 2014 East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards, was originally settled by Rob’s great-grand parents in 1900; subsequent generations of the family planted trees for agroforestry, erosion control and aesthetics. Wairakaia is a 600ha sheep, beef and cropping operation farmed by Rob and Sandra, running about 5000 stock units on contour that ranges from flat to very steep. As well as 32ha of forestry, it has a poplar nursery growing Veronese and Crow’s Nest that supplies the farm and sells around 1000 poles annually.

Rob is happy to discuss pros and cons of planting poplars and willows and to speak at farming events.

Telephone: 021-529 042

Hawke's Bay

Philip Holt - Napier

Maraetara is located on the coastal hills north west of Napier city. The Holts have four generations of the family living on the farm. Maraetara originally had very few trees but Philip has been a passionate tree planter for forty years and now realises how important it is to plant the right tree in the right place for the right reason. Poplars and willows have multiple benefits, although a wide range of other species have also been planted. In addition, the farm has a large open space QEII covenant plus two other separate QEII covenants. Their land stewardship helped them to become the supreme winner of the 2017 East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Philip is happy to talk and/or show examples of their plantings.


James Hunter - Central Hawke’s Bay district

James farms Rangitoto, 660 hectares of coastal hill country north of Porangahau. Notable farm features are extensive poplar and willow plantings, the work of three generations as lessons of past slipping and slumping of unstable clay soils have been absorbed. Carbon positive is the theme with significant areas of these plantings in the PFSI and ETS systems. Additionally, there are 51ha of regenerating natives and wetlands in QEII covenants, and 32ha of pine forestry. James was Hawke’s Bay Farm Forester of the Year in 2004 and supreme winner of East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards in 2012.

James is happy to discuss pros and cons of planting poplars and willows and to speak at events.

Telephone: 06-855 5265

Dave Read - Wairoa district

Waiau Station in the Wairoa district has a 20ha QEII National Trust covenant as well as 38ha fenced bush, 15ha wood lots, 20ha regenerating manuka and 120ha unfenced bush. Dave and his wife Judy Bogaard were finalists in the 2019 East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards, taking home four category awards. The farm has about 4000 poplars and willows for erosion control, shade and shelter, and fodder when needed.

Dave is available for talking to farmers on a one to one basis which could lead to showing farmers his property, and on occasions he could be available for undertaking speaking engagements.

Telephone: 06-838 8976


Ash Rodie - Manawatū

Ash is a commercial beekeeper in the Manawatū and has beehives on many different farms throughout the Manawatū and Wanganui areas. Willows in New Zealand are a great source of nectar and pollen for hive development in the early spring. Where appropriate Ash encourages farmers owning land where he sites his hives to plant willows. Before beekeeping Ash was dairy farming for eight years and he also has experience with sheep and beef on hill country stations.

Ash is happy to speak to farmers and beekeepers about what has worked for him – available by email initially please.


Shane Carroll - Ashhurst district

Shane and his wife Nicola have farmed Westview, a 1600ha equity partnership in the Pohangina Valley, for 34 years. They also farm two other equity partnerships and have had two forestry equity partnerships. They are committed to farming sustainably and trees have always played a big part in this. Westview has 25% of its land area in native/production forestry of various species, plus planting at least 200 poplar or willow poles a year for the past 30 years to protect against erosion while still supporting grazing. One of the dairy run offs has two small QEII blocks. Westview was the winner of the 2016 Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Shane can be available for occasional field days or just one on one advice or farm visits.

Telephone: 06-329 4822

Greater Wellington

Guy Williams - Masterton

Guy and Kim Williams farm Te Parae, a 650ha property 15km east of Masterton. They plant 250 to 300 poles a year plus 1000 to 2000 native trees. Poplars and willows are used for stability in the hills, shade for stock and feed for stock in dry years (summer dry, winter wet). They also have 12ha of eucalyptus trees as part of a New Zealand trial and 10ha of native bush.

Guy would be welcome to talk to people one on one, speak at the occasional field day or show people around Te Parae.

Telephone: 06-372 2822

Hamish Sims - Martinborough

Hamish and Suzanne Sims farm Awanui, a 470ha hill country property in Wairarapa. The summer dry, sheep and beef farm is in the Tuturumuri district, south east of Martinborough. Hamish’s father planted poles from the early 70s with limited success, but the introduction of the modern pole sleeve and possum control has immensely improved survival rates. Hamish has been planting since 1991; 150 poles are planted each year for erosion control, stabilising above and below access tracks, and riparian plantings. The farm has a 3.8ha QEII National Trust native block and some small pine forestry blocks. Hamish is a committee member of Greater Wellington’s Awhea Opouawe Catchment Scheme.

Hamish is available for talking to farmers on a one to one basis, possibly showing them his property, and undertaking speaking engagements.

Telephone: 06 307-8108


Hunter Harrison

Hunter has Kahurangi Angus and White/Blackshire Shedding Sheep on his West Coast-Murchison farm, which borders Kahurangi National Park. The 225ha farm has 100ha of native bush and regenerating hill country and 4km of fenced waterways. The farm uses natural fertilisers and has great diversity in plants and biological life, above and below the soil. Poplars and willows are used for ground stability, and shade and shelter during extreme hot summer conditions. They are also fodder when needed, as willow contains health benefits not only in the nutrients it can access deep in the soil, but also other beneficial compounds like phenolic glycosides (similar like aspirin).

Hunter is available for talking to farmers on a one to one basis, possibly showing them his property, and undertaking occasional speaking engagements.

Telephone: 027-833 1368


Neil Cullen - Catlins

Neil has had experience with growing poplars for many years, firstly on a farm at Lovells Flat, planting on a low lying flat, poplar poles at 10m by 9m spacing. These trees, now 31 years old, have a DBH of more than 60cm and have excellent form. Subsequently, poplars are being used on the family’s farm in the Catlins area, where they play an important role in providing shelter and in riparian planting. This 650ha property also has 130ha of indigenous and 155ha of exotic plantings. Neil is a former President of NZFFA.

Telephone: 027-415 8416