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.”  . . .

 


Rural round-up

August 16, 2014

 Not celebrating yet - Andrea Fox:

Bay of Plenty farmer David Jensen’s commitment of nearly a third of his milk production this season to Fonterra’s June guaranteed milk price (GMP) of $7 a kilogram of milksolids (MS) looks set to boost his coffers by at least $80,000 but he’s not crowing.

He knows that would be foolhardy, given the roller-coaster ride of the milk price this year and the long stretch of the season ahead.

This is Jensen’s second round on Fonterra’s new fixed milk price programme. In last year’s pilot scheme his business posted a $45,000 opportunity cost after he committed milk at $7/kg MS in what is set to be a record $8-plus payout season. . .

Pipfruit sector’s future ‘very bright’ – Pam Jones:

Good returns are expected in the pipfruit industry this year following a record season last year, Pipfruit New Zealand chief executive officer Alan Pollard says.

Mr Pollard was one of the keynote speakers at the two-day Pipfruit New Zealand conference in Queenstown last week, and visited three Central Otago orchards and one winery with delegates during a field day after the conference.

The conference built on the Pipfruit New Zealand strategic plan, which was released at last year’s conference and outlined how to achieve a goal of developing the pipfruit industry into a $1 billion export industry by 2022, Mr Pollard said. . .

Innovative sheep farmers winners -

Southland and Otago did well in the third annual Beef and Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards in Napier last week.

AbacusBio managing director Neville Jopson, of Dunedin, received the Focus Genetics sheep industry science award in recognition of his work in the industry, while Mount Linton Station, in Southland, won the Alliance Group terminal sire award for lamb growth and meat yield and the SIL-ACE award for terminal sire for lamb growth.

Andy Ramsden, of Wanaka, was awarded the Allflex sheep industry innovation award for his input to increasing the productivity of New Zealand sheep during the past 20 years, and Riverton’s Blackdale Coopworth stud won the Telford dual purpose award for reproduction, lamb growth plus adult size and wool production. . .

Agricultural drones taking off on farms:

Robots are not only taking their place in milking sheds or on vineyards and orchards – aerial drones are increasingly being used to extend the reach and view of human farmers.

Unmanned aerial vehicles or aerial robots – known in the military world as drones – are increasingly being used for a range of activities on farms, including checking fences and water systems, and monitoring and even moving stock.

Linda Bulk of the Aeronavics company, said farmers were surprised at how easy they were to use.

“It’s so practical,” she said. “There’s that eye in the sky, what you see from above is so much more informative than when you’re on eye level to start with and it gets into those hard to reach areas that are often a hazard for quad bikes. . . .

Improved Returns See Rise in Cattle Numbers:

Dry conditions in the northern North Island and continued land use change in the South Island saw New Zealand’s sheep numbers decrease 3.2 per cent over the 2013-14 season, while beef cattle numbers increased 1.6 per cent.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Economic Service carries out a stock number survey annually. Its latest survey shows sheep numbers dropped to 29.8 million in the year to 30 June 2014.

B+LNZ Economic Service Chief Economist Andrew Burtt says strong mutton prices, driven by rising demand from North Asia, encouraged a high level of cull ewe processing for the second year in a row.

Breeding ewe numbers, at 19.96 million, were slightly down (-1.4%) on the previous June. The largest contributor to the overall decline was the South Island, reflecting the continued land use trend towards dairy and dairy support activities.

 

Meadow Mushrooms Opens Second Stage Of $120 Million Redevelopment:

The second stage of a $120 million redevelopment and expansion project at one of New Zealand’s largest agricultural enterprises will be opened this week.

The $12 million investment into the extension of Meadow Mushrooms’ Christchurch farm will add a further 60 jobs and increase production by 37,000 kilograms of fresh white mushrooms a week.

This project follows the $45 million expansion undertaken by the company on site in 2011 and is the second of three stages to completely reconfigure the company’s infrastructure in New Zealand. A new office administration and headquarters construction project will commence before the end of the year and will be followed by an expansion of the compost facilities and growing shed conversions.

“This development demonstrates Meadow Mushrooms’ confidence in the future market and our commitment to the industry,” said John Barnes, CEO of Meadow Mushrooms. . . .

 

 

 


Tech tantrum

July 16, 2014

This came in an email, but oh how it resonates:

WINDOWS: Please enter your new password.
USER: cabbage

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password must be more than 8 characters
USER: boiled cabbage

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password must contain 1 numerical character
USER: 1 boiled cabbage

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password cannot have blank spaces.
USER: 50bloodyboiledcabbages

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password must contain at least one upper case character.
USER: 50BLOODYboiledcabbages

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password cannot use more than one upper case character consecutively.
USER: 50BloodyBoiledCabbagesShovedUpYourAssIfYouDon’tGiveMeAccessNow!

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password cannot contain punctuation.
USER:
ReallyPissedOff50BloodyBoiledCabbagesShovedUpYourAssIfYouDontGiveMeAccessNow

WINDOWS: Sorry, that password is already in use.


Facebook down, back up

June 19, 2014

Facebook went down this evening.

Emergency services report no major problems.

However counselling services report a rush of calls from people seeking advice on communicating with people face to face.

Media were also busy with photo opportunities of people talking to each other, reading books and even working.


Staying connected in crowds

June 12, 2014

Whenever lots of people converge on places not usually very crowded, mobile connections falter.

It happened in Wanaka at Christmas and Easter and at the Southern Field Days at Waimumu in March.

People going to the Fieldays at Mystery Creek could be expecting similar problems but Telecom has boosted its network to cope with the extra traffic.

Telecom is supporting National Fieldays with its biggest ever mobile communications network build for a one off event – providing a combined network capability four and a half times that which was deployed for the Rugby World Cup 2011 final at Eden Park.

Telecom has deployed a complex mix of both 3G and 4G technology suitable to support more than 125,000 attendees over the four day event period at Mystery Creek Show Grounds.

Alex Lee, Mobile Network Capability Manager – Events says “This kind of capacity is required due to increased customer demand for data (especially in upload capability as people share their experiences on social media) and continuing new customer demand on the Telecom Mobile Network.”

The technology deployed at the event is equivalent to that of over 20 standard mobile sites, transmitting across multiple carriers of 3G on 850MHz, 2100MHz, and 4G LTE on 1800MHz, 2600MHz spectrum. Importantly the use of 700MHz at the event continues Telecom’s trial of 4G technology to the rural sector.

Grant McBeath, Telecom Retail GM Sales says “We’re excited to see how our agribusiness customers can benefit from the faster speeds, better coverage and increased network capacity that 700MHz 4G will deliver for New Zealand’s regions.”

Data traffic across the Telecom network increased by around 60% from March 2014 compared to March 2013. During recent major events, like the Bruce Springsteen concert in Auckland, Telecom have seen mobile uploads actually exceed download.

“As more people begin to use smart devices for things like watching video, using business apps, uploading photos and getting the most out of their music on Spotify, data speeds are going to become more and more important. 4G allows you to do all these things in seconds, and these faster speeds will quickly become the “new normal” for New Zealanders, just as 3G speeds did when they were introduced a few years ago.” McBeath says.

Telecom will be holding two ‘kitchen-chat’ style information sessions each day led by experts from the Telecom network team. The first session will lead a discussion around our networks, and what we’re doing to improve connectivity beyond the major centres. The second session will provide an overview of the Telecom 700MHz spectrum trial in the Waikato and how this will allow Telecom to hit the ground running to deliver 4G beyond the major metropolitan centres once the auction process has concluded.

Rural dwellers are used to less than ideal connections and speeds at home and being connected when you’re away has both pluses and minuses.

But if those at the Fieldays need to be in touch, they’ll be very happy if they can do it without the dropped calls and delays which have happened at other events when the technology can’t cope with the traffic.

They’ll also be keen to learn what improvements they might expect at home – and when they might expect them.


Next census target 70% online

May 20, 2014

Statistics Minister Nicky Wagner has announced that a new internet first model will transform how the next census is delivered and collected, and will increase the use of administrative data.

“The 2018 Census will have a target of 70 per cent of forms completed online, a workforce half the 7,500 used in 2013, and investment in systems and processes that support a future model that further utilises administrative data.

“A modernised census will deliver more timely and relevant data, which is important for regions that are changing rapidly and it will help inform decisions on how billions of dollars of government funding is spent.

“Modernising what was a dated model is also consistent with, and will contribute to, the government’s ICT Strategy, Better Public Services and the New Zealand Geospatial Strategy. . .

A trial was carried out in Oamaru with last year’s census to encourage people to fill in their forms online, although they could request paper versions which were delivered and collected.

About 65% of people used the online option which was nearly double the national rate.

This shows the online version was more convenient for the majority.

It shouldn’t take much to encourage most people to use the electronic version and it will result in a considerable saving in time and money.

 


Looking and learning

May 13, 2014

Discussion with Simon Mercep on Critical Mass today was sparked by:

* Look Up – a YouTube video on social media which isn’t social. (I posted hte clip a couple of days ago – well worth a look and listen).

* Important life lesson from older people

And

* How to overcome regret


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