Rural round-up

Award success a family affair – Gerald Piddock:

Farming, community, family, innovation and the desire to never stop learning has seen two North Otago farming families forge a successful business partnership.

The Mitchell and Webster families operate an intensive cropping operation and wholesale business producing bird and small animal feed.

Its home base is the Mitchell family’s Rosedale farm at Weston.

Their exceptional crop management and focus on long term sustainability helped them win the supreme award at this year’s Otago Farm Environment Awards.

The families entered the awards to help them learn more about their business, Mitchell Webster Group partner Jock Webster said. . .

Variable conditions a challenge – Gerald Piddock:

Variable growing conditions caused by fickle weather was the biggest challenge this season for the Lincoln University dairy farm.

It caused the dry matter produced on the 186ha farm to swing around violently throughout the season.

“It’s been more variable than most years and I would say that’s a result of those really variable growing conditions. We have seen hot and cold temperatures that have driven more variation in pasture,” DairyNZ’s Steve Lee said. . .

About face on dung beetle assessment – Richard Rennie:

One of the country’s most senior health officials has given the thumbs up to a review on the public health risk of dung beetle release.

Auckland medical officer of health Dr Denise Barnfather expressed her concerns earlier this year over the lack of risk assessment before beetle importation.

Approval for field trials on the beetle has been granted by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and these are under way in Northland. The next step is field release.

But Barnfather said this week the Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) applauded the Ministry of Health (MoH) decision to assess the potential public health risk the beetles posed before release occurred. . .

Ten-year plan to beef up venison returns  – Jon Morgan:

A plan to lift venison returns by feeding deer better, improving their health and breeding, and by finding high-paying markets for the tastiest cuts, has been put to deer farmers.

The aim is to add $2 a kilogram to the value of a processed deer over the next 10 years, the deer industry conference in Wellington heard. At current prices, that would take the value of a 60kg stag from $540 to $660 at the season’s peak.

Deer Industry NZ chairman Andy Macfarlane said deer profitability was well ahead of lamb and beef on the same land.

“But are we satisfied with that? The answer is: no.”

The industry was launching “Passion to Profit” – its plan to increase returns – “to put deer farming back into the imagination of farmers”. That would be led by a renewed push in the core German market and a campaign to sell high-quality cuts under the Cervena brand to top-end European restaurants. . .

Butcher wins RWNZ award – Rosie Manins:

Almost four decades of hard slog is paying off for Lawrence butcher Jan Harper.

She is one of four category winners in this year’s Enterprising Rural Women Awards, announced at the Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) national conference in Christchurch on Thursday night.

Ms Harper (57) has worked in the meat industry since leaving school and opened Bluespur Butchery and Deli in Lawrence’s main street in 2009. . .

Sharemilkers second in national competition -

Papakaio sharemilkers Morgan and Hayley Easton have placed second in the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Sharemilker-Equity Farmer of the Year competition.

The award, announced at an event in Wellington last night, was won by Southland representatives Don and Jess Moore.

The 2013 New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year title went to Richard Pearse, of Ashburton, and James Warren, of Winton, was named New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year. . .

Dairy farm profit down but still high - Andrea Fox:

Higher operating expenses per hectare in an otherwise-spectacular 2011-2012 dairy season resulted in farmer owner-operator profit sliding by $186 a hectare, a new DairyNZ report says.

But the 2011-2012 DairyNZ Economic Survey said operating profit which declined by 6.6 per cent to $2624 per hectare was a “still a high level”.

DairyNZ said the season was characterised by an excellent summer and autumn resulting in record milk production for all regions.

But offsetting the 9.2 per cent increase in milksolids per hectare was a matching decline in milk prices, leaving gross farm revenue per hectare almost unchanged. . . .

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