Rural round-up

September 2, 2014

Farming app in running for award – Phillipa Webb:

A Manawatu-developed smartphone app could see dairy farmers spending more time on smartphones and less time in paddocks.

The Grass2Milk app developed by the OneFarm Centre of Excellence in Farm Business Management – a joint venture by Massey and Lincoln universities – was shortlisted in the environmental category of the 2014 World Summit Award mobile competition.

Massey University agri-business student Hamish Hammond helped to test the app, which allowed farmers to see whether herds were fed enough to reach daily milk and body condition targets to plan feed allocations for the day.

“Most farmers would be really intuitive when it comes to feeding, but they could use [the app] as a gauge.” . . .

China deal factor in Fonterra’s lower credit rating – Sally Rae:

Fonterra’s credit rating has taken a hit following the announcement of its proposed partnership with a Chinese infant food manufacturer.

Credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s has lowered the dairy co-operative’s long-term rating from A+ to A and affirmed its short-term rating of A-1.

Last week, Fonterra said it was forming a global partnership with Beingmate to help meet China’s growing demand for infant formula.

Fonterra’s proposed sizable shareholding in a commercial company operating in China indicated a financial risk appetite that was ”more aggressive” than Standard and Poor’s had factored into the previous rating, credit analyst Brenda Wardlaw said in a statement. . . .

Teasing out the beta-casein evidence – Keith Woodford:

In last week’s column I advocated that the mainstream dairy industry should convert New Zealand herds away from the production of A1 beta-casein. To not do so creates unnecessary long term risk to the industry. However, the mainstream industry remains locked into a defensive position.

In this article I will therefore briefly review some of the major strands of health evidence. I cannot cover it all – it took me a whole book to do so back in 2007. Since then, there has been a lot more evidence forthcoming.

In assessing the evidence, it is helpful to recognise that A1 beta-casein is the consequence of a historical mutation. Goats, sheep camels, buffalo, Asian cattle and humans produce beta-casein that is totally of the A2 type. It is only cows of European ancestry which produce A1 beta-casein. . .

Allied Farmers back in black as livestock unit grows – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Allied Farmers, which is rebuilding from a disastrous takeover of the Hanover and United Finance loan books, returned to profit as its core livestock unit lifted income with gains in Taranaki and Waikato.

The Hawera-based company reported a profit of $1.03 million, or 1.03 cents per share, in the 12 months ended June 30, turning around a loss of $1.12 million, or 2.94 cents, a year earlier, it said in a statement. Revenue in the slimmed down entity shrank 38 percent to $16.9 million.

“The focus for the coming year will be to continue to grow the livestock business and to leverage off the client relationships and trust that exists with those clients to provide value for money services,” chairman Garry Bluett said. “The effect of the reduced dairy payout is likely to have some uncertain impact on dairy livestock sales going forward and the continuing high dollar is already having some impact on meat exports at the early stage of this season.” . . .

 New Zealand firm creates health focused flavoured milk; export potential:

Christchurch-based New Zealand Dairy Brands believes it is a world leader in its sector in the production of health products with the launch of its highly innovative Go Milk flavoured milks.

The range has no added sugar, a low GI (glycaemic loading) and is low fat, making it suitable for diabetics and excellent in the fight against obesity. The product was a recent finalist in the NZIFST awards in the product innovation category.

Just released on New World and Pak n Save supermarket shelves in New Zealand, a trial export shipment of Go Milk has already been sent to China and the product is destined for the Australian market also. . . .

 Compass points new crop direction – Gregor Heard:

RESEARCHERS are excited about the prospects of a new barley variety set to be commercialised next year.

Speaking at a trial walk at last week’s Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) grower update in Horsham, Birchip Cropping Group research agronomist Simon Craig said the Compass variety, developed by the University of Adelaide research team and commercialised by Seednet, showed outstanding promise.

“It looks to have a very good fit right across a range of low to medium rainfall zones.” . . .


Rural round-up

September 1, 2014

Agri-careers promoted - Sally Rae:

Agriculture is ”far more than milking cows and drafting sheep”.

That was the message from Jacqueline Rowarth, professor of agribusiness at Waikato University, to a group of Dunedin secondary school pupils last week.

”It’s everything that New Zealand does because New Zealand business is agribusiness … Our whole lifestyle is from what we export,” she said. . . .

Effluent making power, hot water :

Dairy effluent could be used as a source of heat and electricity on Southland dairy farms.

If trials are successful, the dairy farming waste product could become a valued resource in the future.

Monitoring at two farms in Dacre and Pukerau has shown that anaerobic digestion of dairy farm effluent in unheated effluent ponds, is consistently producing large volumes of methane, even during the cold conditions of the Southland winter. . .

Retiring Fonterra director looks for new challenges  – Gerald Piddock:

Jim van der Poel has lived and breathed Fonterra for more than a decade.

But after serving on the board of the country’s biggest company for 12 years, the Waikato farmer will step down as a director at Fonterra’s annual meeting in November.

A board member since 2002, van der Poel was immensely satisfied with the role he played in Fonterra’s development over the past decade. . .

No excuse now – Richard Rennie:

The right kit, the right market conditions, and high-quality supply mean there will be no excuses for Fonterra’s executive not to deliver higher dividends and milk prices to its shareholders.

Large-scale south Waikato farmer Ian Elliott believes that after last week’s $1.2 billion investment announcement into plant and Chinese market ventures, the company should be poised to achieve its full potential for New Zealand and farmer shareholders.

“Having investment into plants that can produce higher value products removes that last barrier to achieving the optimum returns for farmers,” Elliott said. . .

Time to leverage export dominance -

Fonterra has given its value-creation wheel a strong crank by announcing more processing plant construction at home and a new joint venture with Beingmate, the No 1 infant formula company in China.

Its borrowing intentions of $1.2 billion will increase the debt:equity ratio to 45%.

At home it needs to expand peak processing capacity and avoid the constraints which cost farmers about $900 million last season in foregone revenue. . .

Council approves dam funds -

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has approved an advance of $3.1 million to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC) to cover the period until financial close on the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

The decision was made in a public-excluded session of Wednesday’s council meeting and supported by all councillors present.

Given the lodging of appeals to the High Court on the proposal, financial close for the scheme will no longer occur by September 30, with the best estimate now March 31 next year.

All investment funds contributed by the council in this development phase are part of its overall financial contribution to the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.  . . .

 

 

 


Rural round-up

August 31, 2014

Co-operation at a strategic level – Glenys Christian:

There could be downstream as well as upstream benefits to Fonterra’s $615 million deal with Chinese infant food manufacturer Beingmate, starting at the onfarm level in that country.

Fonterra chairman John Wilson said after the announcement of the move was made on Wednesday that discussions had been held about how the co-operative could help out in other areas.

“Beingmate has its own farms,” he said.

That meant there were opportunities to look at the two companies joining together more in farm management with Fonterra already having one hub of dairy farms up and running in China, a second hub started, and commitment to a third. 

“We’ve had discussions about more alignment,” he said.

“There may be benefits upstream and downstream in the future.” . . .

Honour for noted sheep breeder - Jon Morgan:

In 1956, 23-year-old romney stud breeder Roger Marshall sold his first rams at the Manawatu and West Coast Ram Fair in Feilding. The Rangitikei Mail reported that when the first ram was knocked down at 1400 guineas after spirited bidding the large bench of buyers broke into spontaneous applause.

“I remember being quite worried because it had rained for several days before the sale, and all my rams had wet wool, but to get 1400 guineas was terrific – that was the price of a new Holden car in those days,” the quiet- spoken farmer says. “It was a great incentive for me.”

It was a sparkling opening to a career in sheep breeding that eventually took him to the other side of the world in search of new blood to rejuvenate the sheep industry. . .

A2 poised for US start – Alan Williams:

The strong NZ dollar has cut into reported profits but A2 Milk Company remains confident it can fund development of three new markets from its existing cash and cashflows.

A2 had $16 million cash in the bank at June 30 and is booking strong Australian sales and operating cashflows.

It will use them to build on its slowly developing markets in China and the United Kingdom and to begin sales in the United States next year. . .

Manuka honey sector gets boost with trial expansion:

The lucrative Manuka honey healthcare market is set to expand after New Zealand’s largest farmer, Landcorp Farming, announced it’ll be planting an additional 93 hectares of mānuka honey trees.

The new plantings are part of the High Performance Mānuka Plantations programme — a seven year Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) between the mānuka honey industry and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to increase the yield and reliability of supply of medical grade mānuka honey.

The PGP trials, involving Landcorp, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, Comvita, Aborex Industries, Don and Conchita Tweeddale and Nukuhau Carbon Ltd, were launched in 2011 to increase the value of the mānuka honey industry from an estimated $75 million towards $1.2 billion per annum by 2028.

Maori Trustee Te Tumu Paeroa is also a shareholder in the programme. . .

Californian drought is so severe it’s ‘causing the ground to move':

Vanishing water is causing the ground to rise in the western United States, according to a new study.

 Scientists estimate that 63 trillion gallons of water has been lost in the west over the past 18 months. 

The surface of the Earth is much more springy than you might think. When you put something very heavy on it, there’s a good chance the ground will sink at least a little bit. And in the same way, when you remove something very heavy, the ground will lift.

As it turns out, 63 trillion gallons of water is pretty heavy. . . .

Rural Women Drive Post-conflict Recovery in Bosnia and Herzegovina – Food tank:

The International Fund for Agricultural Development‘s (IFAD) Livestock and Rural Finance Development Project has helped transition rural businesses in Bosnia and Herzegovina from the initial stages of post-conflict recovery to long-term sustainable development. The program has financed rural infrastructure redevelopment and provided credit and training to small business owners. This program has particularly focused on reengaging women in the workforce.

On a macro-level, the program has helped to improve producer access to markets. At the local level, the program has encouraged the formation of producers’ associations and helped provide individuals with machinery and technical support services. For example, members of the Nevesinje’s Producers’ Association have received credit and trainings on food safety, handling, and storage of their product from the program.

The program has also helped open up a discriminatory workforce to women. In the decade following the Bosnian War, there was a marked decrease in women in the workforce and a resurgence of traditional attitudes about gender roles. . .

 

Just punctuate. </p><br /><br /> <p>#grammar


$22.5m for forestry

August 31, 2014

National’s Forestry Spokesperson, Jo Goodhew announced plans to invest invest $22.5 million over five years to further encourage and support the planting of new forests if the party is back in government:

Mrs Goodhew made the announcement at Knapdale Eco Lodge in Gisborne with Prime Minister and National Party Leader John Key, National’s Primary Industries spokesman, Nathan Guy, and local East Coast MP Anne Tolley.

The Afforestation Grant Scheme (AGS) is a grant to help landowners to establish new forests of between five and 300 hectares.

“The previous AGS wound up last year. Through National’s responsible economic management we are able to commit to extending this worthwhile scheme for a further five years,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“Our commitment to afforestation is another example of National’s long-term economic investment in regional New Zealand.

“Other examples are our recently announced $150 million investment in the Rural Broadband Initiative, our $212 million investment in new regional roading projects, the investment of $120 million into new irrigation projects, and initiatives like the recovery of windblown timber on the West Coast.

“Contrast that with Labour and the Greens – they would stifle the regions by bringing in a big new carbon tax, imposing large water resource levies, and introducing a capital gains tax on 100 per cent of productive businesses,  including farms.

“National backs the country’s regions to succeed.

“The start-up costs for forests can be a huge barrier, as forestry is a long-term game. It can be 25 to 30 years before forests are ready to be harvested and generate value. That’s why National wants to lower those cost barriers for regional New Zealand and make planting new forests easier,” says Mrs Goodhew.

The scheme will build on the success of the earlier AGS, but will be improved and simplified to make participation easier.

“We have looked at how the scheme could be further enhanced, to make it more accessible and flexible for applicants,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“The scheme is projected to result in around 15,000 hectares of new forest being established. Much of this is expected to be on low-quality land not ideal for farming.”

The criteria for the new scheme will include:

Individual parcels of land between 5 and 300 hectares per grant application

Planting must be on land that is not already forestry land

A flat grant rate of $1300 per hectare from one funding pool for all applicants.

In return for a grant, grantees will forfeit carbon credits to the Crown for up to a decade.

“We expect the majority of people taking up this scheme will be farmers and other landowners wanting to diversify and better use marginal land,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“The grant will go some way to alleviating the start-up costs of new planting, but we expect grant recipients to meet the long-term costs associated with developing and sustaining a forest.”

Forests have a number of environmental benefits. New planting will help property owners address soil erosion, water quality and biodiversity.

“The removal of carbon by forests plays an important role in helping New Zealand meet its long-term climate change commitments. Planting new forests contributes positively to reducing New Zealand’s net emissions.”

The Afforestation Grants scheme complements work already undertaken in this area, including the Permanent Forest Sink Initiative, the Erosion Control Funding Programme on the East Coast and the Hill Country Erosion Fund.

 

National backs our regions to succeed. This announcement is another example of our long-term investment in regional New Zealand. ntnl.org.nz/1vTC2oO #Working4NZ

 

 


Rural round-up

August 30, 2014

Writing software, beet machine snag awards  – Kelsey Wilkie:

Judges broke the rules by announcing two winners at the Innovate business competition last night.

They could not choose between a computer program that helps children with writing and a machine to reduce the growing cost of fodder beet, so they awarded both $10,000 each.

Innovate is a Manawatu-based competition to help take an idea for a new business, an invention, early-stage research or technology with commercial potential and turn it into reality. . .

Challenge boosts protection of biological heritage:

The National Science Challenge – New Zealand’s Biological Heritage Ngā Koiora Tuku Iho – is to receive funding of $25.8 million over five years for research to protect and manage the country’s biodiversity, improve our biosecurity, and enhance our resilience to harmful organisms.

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce says the Challenge spans a wide range of scientific disciplines and will include researchers from nearly all New Zealand’s relevant research institutions.

The Challenge will be hosted by the Crown research institute Landcare Research. It includes researchers from the other six Crown research institutes, and all eight New Zealand universities. . . .

Device may boost quad bike safety  – Jack Montgomerie:

A South Canterbury man thinks the anti-roll bar he designed could reduce quad bike accidents.

Farmer and rural contractor Charles Anderson, of Fairlie, said he was inspired to design the retractable “anti-roll bars” after learning of several fatal and serious accidents involving quad bikes rolling over.

“I was just getting sick of reading about all these accidents. I couldn’t believe there were that many.” . . .

Taranaki farm wins effluent fitness warrant – Sue O’Dowd:

What is believed to be the first dairy effluent warrant of fitness in Taranaki has been awarded to an Okato farm.

The warrant of fitness scheme was developed by Dairy NZ to improve farm dairy effluent infrastructure around the country. Certified assessors determine whether farm infrastructure meets industry good practice.

New Plymouth assessor Colin Kay, of Opus Consultants, awarded the warrant to Blue Rata Investments after auditing its 204ha (effective) Okato farm, named for the nearby bush reserve on the banks of the Stony River. . .

From the worst dairy farm to one of the best:

A Thames farming company has turned its business around after prosecution on four environmental offences led to instructions to stop milking.

Tuitahi Farms Ltd was investigated by Waikato Regional Council after an aerial monitoring flight in September last year.

When council officers investigated the farm, they discovered a range of unlawful discharges of milk vat waste and dairy effluent into farm drains that flow to the Waihou River and the Firth of Thames.

The council initiated a prosecution for offences against the Resource Management Act. The farm was convicted on four charges and fined $47,250 in the Auckland District Court in July. It was also ordered not to commence milking until a new dairy effluent system was in operation. . . .

Spring cereal sowing underway:

Canterbury’s grain growers, responsible for nearly two thirds of New Zealand’s total annual grain harvest, are looking to make up lost ground this spring after poor weather stymied autumn seeding for many.

“The Canterbury Plains are NZ’s cereal bowl and the key planting period is upon us. Farmers and contractors are already busy servicing and readying their tractors and seed drills for what they hope will be a productive spring,” says Thomas Chin, general manager of the New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association (GSTA).

Where the soil is dry enough the bulk of Canterbury wheat, barley, oats and maize crops, for both the feed and food processing industries will go into the ground over the coming weeks. . . .

                                   * * * * *


Rural round-up

August 29, 2014

Synlait Milk receives MPI approval:

Synlait Milk has received approval of its Risk Management Programme from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for its dry blending and consumer packaging plant.

The approval enables Synlait Milk to now pack and export retail-ready product from its manufacturing site, having met the New Zealand food safety requirements of the Animal Products Act 1999.

The only exception is for exports of finished infant formula to China. Documentation required to support Synlait Milk’s application for registration as an exporter of finished infant formula to China was sent to the Chinese regulatory body today by MPI. . . .

Beef + Lamb NZ expenditure on overseas promotion under review - Allan Barber:

Next year sheep and beef farmers will have their five yearly referendum under the Commodity Levies Act when they get to vote on whether they wish to continue funding Beef + Lamb New Zealand as their industry good body.

It was a fairly close run thing last time and actually resulted in the motion to continue with wool promotion being defeated, although this is now back on the agenda. However there is obviously some nervousness about the likely outcome of the next referendum, although this may be unfounded if farmer returns continue to be positive

One element of B+LNZ’s activity which tends to provoke debate among farmers is the use of funds for overseas promotion. Within the last 20 years, and especially more recently, there has been an agreement within the meat industry that promotion should be jointly funded by MIA members and B+LNZ. . .

Westland farmers braced for hard season:

Farmer-shareholders of the dairy cooperative, Westland Milk Products, will be watching spending very closely as the country’s number two dairy cooperative has cut 60 cents per kilogram of Milksolids (kg/MS) to a range of $5.40 – $5.80 kg/MS before retentions.

“Given Fonterra’s hold on its benchmark payout forecast, this isn’t exactly the best news to go into spring with,” says Renee Rooney, Federated Farmers West Coast Dairy Chairperson.

“The fact the world produced seven billion litres of milk for export in the first half of 2014 isn’t a secret and hasn’t happened overnight, so this further revision is disappointing. . . .

TNZ and NZ Winegrowers sign MOU:

Tourism New Zealand and New Zealand Winegrowers have today announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to jointly promote New Zealand as a visitor destination and premium wine producer internationally.

The two-year MOU will see the organisations formalise their activity to enhance both brands, ultimately driving more visitors to New Zealand and increasing the sales of New Zealand wine in key markets.

The MOU was jointly signed by Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive Kevin Bowler and Phillip Gregan Chief Executive Officer for New Zealand Winegrowers, at the wine organisation’s annual conference in Blenheim.

Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive Kevin Bowler says that the MOU will see both parties work together to leverage and enhance each other’s international profiles. . .

 

Possum-fur yarn makes double debut at NZ Fashion Week

Wellington yarn maker, Woolyarns New Zealand were rapt to find out this week two designers, Zambesi and Maree MacLean, are featuring their luxury possum fur product, Perino in collections for New Zealand Fashion Week 2014.

Up until now the luxury yarn has been used exclusively in the tourist market. Woolyarns NZ Marketing manager Jimad Khan says the move into high fashion is an exciting development for the company.

Both Zambesi and Maree MacLean are using the top-end yarn as features in their New Zealand Fashion Week collections.

“Zambesi is very keen to source local, sustainable product and on being approached by Woolyarns New Zealand got excited by the idea of possum yarn,” says Zambesi designer Dayne Johnston. . . .

Spark brings high speed mobile broadband to rural New Zealand:

Spark New Zealand announced today that it has begun its rollout of 4G services on the recently acquired 700MHz spectrum in the Waikato, enabling 12 sites with 4G in the region.

Following a successful trial earlier this year Spark, in conjunction with Huawei Technologies has now livened up sites with 4G in Te Aroha, central Hamilton, Morrinsville, Mystery Creek and other surrounding areas in the Waikato – allowing customers to access high speed mobile broadband over the 700 MHz spectrum.

Spark Networks Chief Operating Officer, David Havercroft, said: “Today marks the start of an accelerated rollout of 4G services to regional New Zealand. Over the next few months we’ll continue to widen our 4G footprint in the Waikato region, including the Coromandel, and will bring this technology to existing sites by February 2015. . .

Finally, a cloud based solution even the number crunchers can get excited about:

Xerocon Australia 2014 proved to be the perfect launch pad for iAgri, the agri-add on partner for Xero’s farm accountancy solution.

With more than 1,300 delegates cramming into the Dome in Sydney to hear the latest news from Xero and check out the latest add-ons and services from 82 exhibitors, the Canterbury based farm software company was one of the real winners.

iAgri CEO John Lay says there was a huge degree of interest in the product. “Farming is as important in Australia as it is in New Zealand so we fielded a lot of enquiry. Plainly, a lot of the accountants and bankers, many of whom had travelled from all over Australia specifically to view the iAgri add-on, have been waiting for a comprehensive solution like this to take to their clients and they were super excited – about as excited as an accountant can get anyway.”  . . .

 


Canty dairy compliance continues to improve

August 29, 2014

Good news for farming and the environment:

Canterbury Regional Council says it is pleasing no dairy farms had to be prosecuted for a lack of compliance with environmental standards this year.

Council officers visited more than 1000 dairy farms in Canterbury and found over 70-percent fully complied with the conditions of their dairy effluent consents.

Seven abatement and 13 infringement notices were issued. . .

This is the result of a lot of hard work by farmers and their advisors:

Canterbury’s dairy farmers 72 percent full effluent compliance result, with no prosecutions, for the 2013/14 season shows they are taking their responsibilities seriously and the hard work is paying off.

“Firstly, I would like to congratulate the 1093 dairy farms in Canterbury that have made this happen,” says Jessie Chan-Dorman, Federated Farmers mid-Canterbury Dairy Chair.

“Farmers have really stepped up and are making adjustments to meet conditions in their effluent consents. Whilst we are not at 100 percent full compliance yet, we are seeing a positive trend with a reduction in the level of non-compliance.

“This has by no means been easy, but there has been a lot of investment by farmers, and support through industry initiatives, such as the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord and the Canterbury Dairy Effluent Group, which have pooled resources to help drive change within the industry.

“The proof is in the pudding, where farmers have been much more proactive and meticulous in understanding and adhering to the conditions in their effluent consents.

“Effluent compliance is not a one day a week job; it is seven days a week 52 weeks of the year, so full compliance for 2013/14 being 32 percent higher than in 2008 is a huge feat. We are pleased to see the positive trend.

“We are moving to the next step now with effluent where it is not just about compliance. There are economic benefits on-farm if we can use effluent wisely as a nutrient source.

“Now that we have better outcomes with our use of effluent, the next challenge for Canterbury dairy farmers will be nutrient management, especially in the face of the Land and Water Regional Plan and the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.

“I know we will see continued improvement if we are to reach realistic targets and time frames,” concluded Mrs Chan-Dorman.

This confirms my observations of a change in attitude and practice by farmers to ensure they are doing all they can to protect and enhance the environment.

There’s been a lot of work done to ensure compliance with effluent consents and reduce leaching of nutrients and all the farms in our area have fenced waterways and carried out riparian planting.


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