Originally established by the NZ Forest Service in 1966, Proseed was created as a separate business by the NZ Forestry Corporation in 1987. It was then purchased by Ngāi Tahu in 2001. It is managed by a permanent staff of six, which expands each year to include around 80 seasonal workers during the winter.
The company’s seed orchard is located at Amberley. The site was originally chosen specifically for its good soils and climate which are ideal for seed production. Covering 160 ha it contains around 150,000 trees (ramets), most of which are Pinus radiata (110 ha), with the balance in Douglas-fir, cypresses, and a number of eucalypt species including E. nitens, E. fastigata and several durable heartwood eucalypts. The large area of radiata pine orchard simply reflects the dominance of this species in the New Zealand plantation industry.
Radiata pine is further divided into 60 ha of open-pollinated (OP) and 50 ha of control pollinated (CP) orchard. In the CP orchard the flowers are bagged and selected pollens are injected into each bag, allowing control of both parents' contribution to the seed. In the OP orchards, pollination of the radiata flowers occurs naturally by the wind. In order to manage the production processes every tree is recorded in a central database and every detail of the pollination and extraction processes is digitally tracked.
"While control pollination is labour intensive the process enables us to produce seed products with the characteristics our customers want”
Proseed General Manager, Shaf van Ballekom.
Shaf van Ballekom – General Manager
Shaf van Ballekom, CEO has a Bachelor of Forestry Science (Hons) from the University of Canterbury and has managed seed orchards for 21 years. Prior to managing Proseed, Shaf spent much of his early career managing forests. A background in silviculture and resource planning gives him a good perspective on the challenges faced by forest growers. Shaf has earnt the respect of both corporate forestry and farm foresters alike for his enthusiasm and sector expertise. He chaired the NZ Radiata Pine Breeding Programme (2001-2005) and is currently Chairman of the New Zealand Drylands Forestry Initiative – a collaboration which has introduced a range of new eucalypt species to New Zealand with more than 100,000 trees now under test throughout the country.
Paul Schroeder – Technical Manager
Formerly a science technician and nurseryman with Forest Research Institute (now SCION), Paul has been technical manager at Proseed for over 15 years. He is passionate about growing plants and has recently designed and project managed Proseed's new propagation greenhouse, which now produces 30,000 radiata and eucalypt grafts and eucalypt cuttings each season for orchard establishment and breeding trials. Paul is a member of the International Plant Propagators Society.
Jayne Arscott – Orchard Manager
Jayne has over 20 years’ experience in the forest seed industry and is responsible for the day-to-day management of Proseed’s seed orchard. This includes recruiting, training and managing all seasonal workers for the harvest and extraction of radiata pine seed as well as the co-ordination of freight forwarding, shipping and domestic transport logistics. Jayne is also Ngai Tahu’s appointed on-site Health and Safety Manager.