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Research & Development


Our Knowledge

Here at Fruitfed Supplies our Research and Development (R&D) team conduct over 50 product trials a year, testing how a product performs in local conditions as well as trialling it alongside other products within a spray or control programme. For growers, this provides a level of reassurance that when a new product is used, it delivers results.

With first-hand knowledge of how a product performs, Fruitfed Supplies has a real advantage in understanding a product’s technical application. Technical Specialists in the Extension team transfer this information to in-store representatives and Technical Horticultural Representatives so they can provide growers with the most up to date product choices as part of a tailored spray and control programme.


Meet Our Team
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Vonny Fasi
Research & Development Manager

Vonny joined the Fruitfed Supplies technical team in 2016 having graduated from Lindon University in 2007 with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science Degree.  After graduating Vonny worked at Lincoln University, Foundation for Arable Research and Bayer Crop Science.  While working on dryland pasture and crop research, Vonny discovered her passion for the sector, in particular helping farmers find solutions to problems through the use of technical expertise.

Karen McCallum
Technical Advisor - Canterbury

Karen joined the Fruitfed Supplies technical team in 2021. She studied a Bachelor of Agriculture Science Degree at Lincoln University, graduating in 2017. Prior to starting with the Fruitfed Supplies technical team, Karen was working in the apple and kiwifruit industry in a Technical Managers role in the Nelson/Tasman region. Based now in Canterbury, she works with our suppliers to test their new products over a wide range of crops (onion, potato, brassica, fodder beet, cereal, corn and pea).

Erin Garnett
Technical Advisor - Bay of Plenty

Erin joined the Fruitfed Supplies technical team in July 2021.  Following a BSc and MSc from Massey University she spent 5.5 years with DairyNZ as a Research Technician in the Farm Systems team in Canterbury. Working in the Velvetleaf and m.bovis responses sparked her interest in biosecurity, so she then spent 2.5 years as a Senior Technician in the Biosecurity and Biocontrol team at AgResearch. She enjoys using her research skills combined with biosecurity and entomology knowledge and applying this to an industry where plant protection is highly relevant and significant.    

Paula Watkins
Technical Advisor - Hawkes Bay

Karen joined the Fruitfed Supplies technical team in 2021. She studied a Bachelor of Agriculture Science Degree at Lincoln University, graduating in 2017. Prior to starting with the Fruitfed Supplies technical team, Karen was working in the apple and kiwifruit industry in a Technical Managers role in the Nelson/Tasman region. Based now in Canterbury, she works with our suppliers to test their new products over a wide range of crops (onion, potato, brassica, fodder beet, cereal, corn and pea).


The Importance Of Trials
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Fruitfed Supplies works closely with industry bodies and suppliers across a range of crops including vegetables, kiwifruit, pipfruit, stonefruit, citrus, avocados and wine grapes to prioritise and run product trials. Fruitfed Supplies’ trials, as Kevin Manning Technical Manager explains, are of great importance to the horticultural industry. “With fresh produce exports facing phytosanitary barriers, growers want to be confident their produce is ready for export. The bar is very high; to ensure access to a number of export markets growers face a nil tolerance for a range of pests and diseases.”

The Research and Development team is involved in product trials for two or three years before the assessed product may gain registration for use in New Zealand. When that product arrives in PGG Wrightson retail stores, a sound knowledge of the technical application of the product already exists amongst the Fruitfed Supplies team and customers can be reassured the product has been objectively assessed. It has the "Fruitfed Technical Tick", as we refer to internally. 

What we trial:

The breadth of assessments conducted is wide ranging across the horticultural sector. Our Technical Advisors trial various agri-chemical, biological and organic products in areas such as pest and disease control, plant growth regulators, herbicides for weed control and dormancy bud breakers. We not only look at product efficacy, but with equal importance, test to determine if a product damages a crop or fruit.

In most growing situations, products are not used in isolation but rather alongside other products within a control programme. For this reason, along with efficacy, Fruitfed Supplies’ trials assess what products are compatible for use within a programme. As a grower this information, including product choice and timings, is critical when creating a successful spray or control programme in consultation with a Fruitfed Supplies Technical Horticultural Representative.


Our Technical Extension Approach

Forming the Extension team, Fruitfed Supplies’ Technical Specialists keep up to date on the latest research, assessing how new products and technological innovations can benefit New Zealand growers. This includes informing product trials conducted by the Fruitfed Supplies R&D team to ensure they address top-of-mind issues for the indsutry, and sharing the findings with in-store representatives and our Technical Horticultural Representatives as well as growers.