Paeroa-based AgriSea is a family-owned business pioneering the sustainable use of seaweed to make a range of products for the health of soil, animals, and people. Clare and Tane Bradley, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Innovation Officer respectively, are the second generation to run the company which has been in operation for more than 25 years.
AgriSea products, which make use of native New Zealand brown kelp, are having a massive impact on the primary sector enterprises that use them, as well as lifestyle blocks owners and home gardeners. AgriSea Soil and Plant biostimulants provide soil microoganisms a complete food source. These microorganisms require the right balance of nutrients in order to do their job – and healthy soil is the necessary foundation for healthy plants and healthy, high-performing animals.
Alongside selling its range of biostimulants, AgriSea is leading a project called Rere ki Uta Rere ki Tai, where they are working alongside 10 farms on the Waikato and Bay of Plenty to trial methods of biological farming that restores the mana and mauri of the soil. The project merges indigenous knowledge and regenerative agriculture principles to test if soil and waterway health can be improved.
AgriSea is at the forefront of science and innovation, and in 2022 was named Callaghan Innovation High-Tech Māori Company of the Year.
Farming solutions are at the heart of what AgriSea does. Being in the Waikato, the dairy farming hub of the North Island, allows Clare and Tane to be amidst the farmers, understand the challenges they face, and how they can continue to offer them innovative solutions to farm smarter.
The land availability in the Waikato has allowed AgriSea to expand over the years. In 2019, they sold their three factories to purchase the former freezing works, giving them over 80,000sqm of land area. The company has forged relationships with Te Waka, Thames-Coromandel and Haruaki District councils and iwi partnerships for space to grow seaweed in high rate algal ponds on land in Kopu. They now have more than 40 staff, bringing steady employment to Paeroa, a town of 5000.
Engaging with the community and forming connections is important for Claire and Tane. They often host hui for people coming to visit and show them around the factory. The Waikato is the heart of the golden triangle making it easily accessible, but without the congestion of Auckland, just an hour north.