Word of the day

July 31, 2011

Laodicean -  lukewarm or healf-hearted, especially in regard to religion or politics; a person with such an attitude.


6/10

July 31, 2011

Luck has everything to do with this one.

I knew only one answer but still managed 6/10 in the Herald’s entertainment quiz.


Rural round-up

July 31, 2011

Owen Glenn: use science to be innovative:

In the second of a series leading up to the election, Owen Glenn says exporters’ form matters even more than the All Blacks’.

Every four years, rugby puts New Zealand on the world stage. Our exporters do the same every day.

Unlike the All Blacks, when exporters aren’t playing to their full potential, the whole country loses.

With two out of three jobs dependent on it and $4 of every $10 our economy produces generated by it, exporting matters. . .

Lonely bull still waiting for rescue – Kathy Marks:

When Victoria was hit by catastrophic floods in January, a bull named Bernard sought refuge on an island in the middle of a lake.

Six months later, he’s still stranded and his owner is appealing for help to reunite the increasingly bad-tempered animal with his herd. . .

8% rise in lamb numbers forecast - Sally Rae:

Reasonable conditions this lambing should see a rise in the total number of lambs by 2 million – up 8% – pushing export lamb production back towards 20.5 million head in 2011-12.

Export lamb production in 2010-11 was expected to finish at about 19 million head, down 11% on the previous season, according to the ANZ Agri-Focus report for July . . .

Researcher seeks tonic in pasture - Sally Rae:

It is a long way from managing a farm in the UK to being a research fellow in Dunedin – but Dr Marion Johnson has led an interesting life.

Dr Johnson, who grew up in Zambia, the UK and New Zealand, initially studied agriculture at Massey University.

She worked as a shepherd around the Wairarapa before shepherding on hill farms in Wales and Scotland . . .

Feeding out made easier – Sally Rae:

Dave McCabe, a North Otago contractor and farmer, has devised a method of pulling strings from bales on feed-out wagons that saves time and machinery.

Previously, he used a loader to pull out the strings. . .

Collaboration succeeding – John Aspinall:

Prior to 1987, most Crown-owned land in New Zealand was managed by the Lands and Survey Department (L&S).

In 1987, L&S was restructured into the Department of Conservation (Doc), Landcorp and Forestcorp. Most of the commercial-minded senior management people went to Landcorp and Forestcorp.

Doc gained practical hands-on field staff, but many of their management people took a very idealistic view that they would save the environment and could do it alone . . .

Farmers’ web portal winner:

AG-HUB, an agriculture web portal for farmers, has been awarded the Telecommunications Users’ Association of New Zealand (Tuanz) “best of the best” prize at its 2011 innovations awards.

Ag-Hub captured information from on-farm recording devices such as feed readers, effluent irrigators, moisture tapes and weather stations. . .

Fascinating new pastures for dairy cows thanks to innovative farmers - Pasture to Profit:

Many pasture based dairy farmers in both France & the UK are experimenting with mixed pasture swards. These “New Pastures” always include an abundance of clovers & increasingly include herbs such as Chicory & Plantain. The inclusion of the deep rooting herbs adds a completely new dimension to pastures for grazing dairy cows.

These pastures are very different from conventional pastures in many ways. Nitrogen fed pastures tend to be monocultures of ryegrasses. Well managed ryegrass clover pastures are highly productive. The clover content is related to the grazing intensity & the amount of nitrogen used. The mixed pastures offer considerable biodiversity, interesting possible changes to the cows diet, generally higher protein levels but more complex grazing properties. In mixed species pastures some plants are grazed out & its difficult to graze according to every plant’s requirements. However these new pastures might well enhance the health benefits of grass fed milk . . .

Alpaca breeders get serious about business - Jon Morgan:

Peter McKay gives a demonstration of the mating ritual of the alpaca. It’s not what you think. The Hawke’s Bay farmer tilts back his head, opens his throat and goes “orgleorgleorgleorgle”.

This rumbling gargle is the male alpaca’s foreplay. It starts the female ovulating. Mr McKay and wife Tessa have 160 alpacas on their 235-hectare sheep and beef farm at Maraekakaho.

Mrs McKay tells what happens next. “They mate sitting down. It’s called a cush,” she says. “Then we wait two weeks to see if she is pregnant. If she goes into the cush for him, it didn’t work the first time. If she spits at him, it did.” . . .

Wine moguls thrive in hard year - Michael Berry:

Most Marlborough-linked wine magnates listed in this year’s National Business Review Rich List managed to increase their wealth in a tough year for the wine industry.

Siblings Jim and Rosmari Delegat, owners of Oyster Bay Vineyards Marlborough and who own much of the NZX-listed Delegat’s Wine Estate dropped to 39th this year, while increasing their net worth by $35 million to $150m . . .

Record rebate for Ballance Farmers:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients will pay shareholders a record rebate and dividend of $50.29 per tonne after achieving an $85.9 million operating profit for the 2010/11 financial year, more than four times the $20.7 million achieved in the prior year.

The total average payment to shareholders of $50.29 per tonne includes a rebate of $46 per tonne on fertiliser purchased and an imputed dividend of $0.10 per share, resulting in a total distribution to shareholders of $49 million. Ballance’s rebate payment is calculated based on both the quantity and the value of the product purchased. This means that farmers who have purchased higher-value products such as DAP, triple superphosphate or potash will receive a rebate and dividend in excess of $62 per tonne, with urea returning a rebate of over $54 per tonne. . .

Sheep: barnyard brainiacs -

It turns out that sheep are far more intelligent than their reputation for barnyard slowness would lead one to believe. In recent research published in PLoS ONE1, Professor Jenny Morton of the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Cambridge and her colleague Laura Avanzo reported that domestic sheep can perform extremely well on tests of designed to measure cognitive abilities, possibly as well as any animal other than primates.

Professor Morton, who had been studying Huntington’s disease, wanted to find out whether transgenic sheep with a specific genetic defect might be useful in preclinical research regarding potential treatments for this neurodegenerative disease. Because Huntington’s is characterized by cognitive deterioration, Morton was particularly interested in seeing how well sheep would perform cognitively, since suitable research subjects for neurologic disorders like Huntington’s inevitably must undergo systematic cognitive testing relevant to the disease. . .

Hat Tip: Tim Worstall


Just a coincidence?

July 31, 2011

A  lot of farmers in the south have recently received a letter from Act MP John Boscawen seeking their views and support.

MPs have access to electoral rolls which give names, addresses and occupations but this letter doesn’t appear to have gone to all farmers.

All those I know have received the letter are members of Federated Farmers and I’ve yet to find any who isn’t a member of Feds who’s got the letter.

I’m not suggesting that the Federated Farmers’ data base has been used – Feds works with and keeps its distance from all political parties.

And my sample may not be representative. There could well be Feds members who haven’t got the letter and non-members who have.

But I did wonder if the announcement that former Feds president Don Nicolson was standing for Act and the apparent targeting of this letter is just a coincidence.

UPDATE: – Bulaman’s comment below shows at least one non-Feds member got the letter.


Small-scale hydro face of future

July 31, 2011

A private power scheme, sparked by a conversation in a paddock over the back of a ute, is generating enough power from more than 1,000 homes.

The Paul Wilson power scheme on Talla Burn on Beaumont Station  in Central Otago has been operating since November.

In officially opening it on Friday Deputy Prime Minister Bill English said small-scale schemes like this are the face of the future.

“The days of the big hydro scheme might be numbered – but don’t tell that to Contact, who have plans for Beaumont up the road,” Mr English said.

It was getting more difficult to build large dams and New Zealand had plenty of opportunities for smaller-scale operations, such as Talla Burn.

The two families behind Talla Burn had taken a considerable financial risk and it was fantastic to see a project like this come to fruition when such schemes were usually associated with big companies, he said.

“This scheme is a tribute to the practical wisdom and skills of the people of this part of the country.”

The length of time and expense of getting through the consent system adds huge costs to any power scheme. The bigger the scheme the more time and money it takes.

A media release from Pulse  which retails power generated from the scheme says:

The scheme . . .  20 km from Millers Flat, was the brainchild of Alan Hore, the farmer and Jeff Wilson, the sparky who saw the potential to harness the river’s power.

“The idea really came about from a conversation we had in a paddock over the back of a ute,” says Jeff Wilson. “It continued around the kitchen table with our families all involved and four years later we are opening the station. We’ve rattled a few cages to get our commercial investment going and plan to rattle them more to get a good power deal for consumers.

“We’d like a rethink of the Resource Management Act because there are ways to harness power without destroying the environment. This scheme has been developed and built by people who are part of this land. We respect and love it and will take care of it for our future generations,” he said. . .

The scheme will generate 2.4MW of electricity to supply Central Otago households with power at a price expected to be considerably lower than competitors.

“The Talla Burn scheme is an example of the tenacity of the little battlers who put their money and ingenuity where their mouth is to overcome commercial and regulatory obstacles. The Hore and Wilson families have built an environmentally friendly generation scheme that contributes to the national goal of increasing energy self sufficiency,” says Pulse Managing Director Dene Biddlecombe.

Alan and Jean Hore and Jeff and Sue Wilson who took the risk, spent their own money and  persevered in spite of many obstacles is to be commended.

The scheme is named after the Wilson’s son and project engineer who drowned while collecting water samples for the project.


History without many pictures

July 31, 2011

In case you’re wondering why there are far fewer pictures on today’s history post than normal, it’s because pages take too long to load.

You can see pictures for individual events or people by clicking on links in each item or see them all at once by clicking on the link at the bottom of the post.


Democracies don’t have famines

July 31, 2011

Quote of the week from Roger Kerr:

Less edifying was a session titled ‘An Uncertain Harvest: Investigating Global Food Security’. Malthus seemed to have a couple of seats at the table in a round of agonizing about food security and whether the world can feed its population in the 21st century.

I made the point that food security is often the code word for agricultural protectionism. It has been the excuse for the common agricultural policy and protection of Japan’s rice farmers, for example. If markets are allowed to work, trading is free, and property rights and contracts are secure, it is hard to see why global supply and demand will not balance over the longer term.  As one delegate said, there’s never been a famine in a democracy.  

Consumers never win from protectionism and in the long-term producers don’t either. New Zealand is proof of that.

We might have been dragged kicking and screaming into the real susbisdy-free world in the 1980s but New Zealand farmers are much the stronger for it now.

Protectionism increases the power of politicians and bureaucrats which adds costs and uncertainties.

It also upsets the law of supply and demand, creating unwanted surpluses or unnecessary shortages.

Aid might be needed in the short-term but the best way to tackle famine is to open borders and ditch subsidies.

Fair Trade is a compelling slogan but the only really fair trade is free trade.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,411 other followers

%d bloggers like this: