A lime quarry that grew from a small side project into a business supplying hundreds of farms is up for sale.
Brown's Lime Quarry, a 13.7-hectare open cast lime-producing pit near Dannevirke, is owned by Richard and Marie Brown, who plan to retire.
Richard Brown said he started the quarry in 1995 after a fertiliser company told him he needed to use lime on his farm.
"I knew I had very high-analysis lime on my farm and I had been looking at it for 30-odd years," he said. "I thought, I'm not going to cart in lime to my place - I'm going to get my own lime out.
"So of course I did that and then the neighbour wanted some, and then his neighbour wanted some, so I ended up leasing the farm out and went fulltime."
The business grew to supply dairy, sheep and beef farms in Hawke's Bay, Wairarapa, Manawatu, Rangitikei and Whanganui.
"I had a supply contract with Ravensdown until recently but now we're doing it on our own, which has got pluses and minuses," he said.
Lime is used to neutralise acidification in soil, caused by normal biological processes such as nitrogen fixation, nitrate leaching and photosynthesis.
Soil micro-organisms prefer alkaline conditions. Lime can also improve absorption of rainfall into soil.
Brown said customer numbers ran into the hundreds.
"I've started putting addresses into a folder on my computer and I've got about 110 in there now. As I say, I've only started. There's probably another 200 or 300 that I've dealt with over the years."
The business was profitable and in good financial health, but it was time to think about retiring," he said.
"I'm 68 years old and when do you stop? There comes a time in your life when you have to say well, hang on, we'd better at least find out if there's a market for it, and so far there's been a reasonable level of interest in it, actually, stronger than we expected."
Bayleys salesman Glyn Rees-Jones said mining analyst company Arcadia Resources estimated the quarry to contain between 5 million and 7 million tonnes of lime. The highest yearly production in the past 20 years had been 35,000 tonnes.
"It's unlikely this quarry will run out of lime as the existing face and cuttings are surrounded by billions of tonnes of high-grade lime."
The quarry and crushing and drying plant, including buildings and machinery, is being sold in a tender process closing on June 19.
- Manawatu Standard