Like-minded farmers started Ravensdown in 1977 with a pioneering spirit and a belief that strength comes from pulling together. As a co-operative, everything is dedicated to growing the prosperity of shareholders and the Kiwi economy.
The Ravensdown story began with what became known as the ‘gumboot revolution’. Back in 1977 two large private companies supplied super-phosphate in New Zealand. When Kempthorne Prosser (KP) announced it was going to buy its rival, Dunedin-based Dominion Fertilisers, farmers were up in arms and so they revolted.
Already frustrated by rising costs and falling fertiliser quality, they would now be at the mercy of a monopoly. Then as now, fertiliser is a significant cost, second only to servicing farm debt.
The presidents of the South Canterbury, Otago and North Otago Federated Farmers went to farmers in the area to ask them to become founding members of a new co-operative which successfully completed a takeover bid for KP in August 1978.
Ravensdown Fertiliser Co-operative began trading in November that year and became 100% farmer-owned in 1987 with the purchase of the remaining shares from FERNZ and a merger with East Coast Fertiliser.
With the exception of aquaculture, all food grown for humans and animals comes from our soils. And when that food is worth $23 billion to the New Zealand economy each year, there is a fair amount of nutrients to put back into the ground.
This is where Ravensdown comes in, says Chief Executive, Greg Campbell.
“In a nutshell, we’re here to help you improve the fertility of your soil, the quality of your crops and livestock, and the profitability of your farm,” he says.
As well as animal health products, the co-op offers a complete agronomy package – high performance seed, agrochemicals, lime, fertiliser and technical know-how.
State-of-the-art laboratories, award-winning mapping technology, laser tracking measurement of grass growth, nutrient modelling software, GPS-controlled application and algorithms to help calculate soil nutrient status from the air, are all part of Ravensdown’s innovative tool-kit.
“Owned by farmers, we work for farmers. We’re not here to make record profits or sell more than is needed. We pass on value to shareholders throughout the year, and in the form of an annual rebate on the fertiliser they buy.
”Now more than ever, customers need a partner to be by their side who can help them make the right choices for their farm. For the Ravensdown team, the reason we come to work every day is all about building a sustainable future and growing prosperity: for our owners, for our agri-sector and for our country.”
Greg heads an eight-member leadership team focused on the co-operative’s mission: ‘providing competitively-priced essential inputs and world beating nutrient know-how, based on sound science and sustainable practices’.
“Our strategy and focus is on providing financial returns for shareholders and delivering quality and value to the country’s most important industry sector,” he says.
Like all co-operatives, Ravensdown is an active supporter of community events. 2016 marks the 30th year of sponsorship for the Young Farmer Contest and an array of other rural community causes.
As a co-operative 100% owned by farmers, Ravensdown’s board includes eight shareholder-elected directors, and two independent directors. It is chaired by John Henderson, a Marton-based lawyer and beef and sheep farmer.
|The new-look Ravensdown logo – the ‘leaf’ symbol – represents growth, progress and contribution to the NZ economy.|