Rural round-up

April 20, 2014

High-Performing Sheep Operation Wins Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Kaituna sheep and beef farmers Matt and Lynley Wyeth are Supreme winners of the 2014 Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Judges said the couple’s 800ha (effective) farming operation, Spring Valley Enterprises, was exceptionally well run.

“This is an extremely high performing business with a defined aim to stay in the top 10 percent of equivalent farming operations.”

At a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on April 16, Matt and Lynley also collected the Beef+Lamb New Zealand Livestock Award, the Hill Laboratories Harvest Award, the Massey University Innovation Award and the PGG Wrightson Land and Life Award. . .

Getting ready to kill the evil weevil  – Tim Cronshaw

Scientists are nearing the halfway mark of their target of sucking up one million wasps from Canterbury paddocks and sending them to Southland to combat the clover root weevil.

AgResearch teams armed with modified leaf blowers are sucking up weevils infected with an Irish wasp.

After counting their numbers in a laboratory, they are sent down in groups of about 100 to go to as many as 1000 Southland farmers. The wasp is a natural enemy of the weevil, which has attacked Southland clover in pastures and limited sheep, beef and milk production since arriving in 2010.

A mild winter allowed the weevil to take its small foothold on Southland farms to a widespread infestation. . .

Moths, beetles free farm of stock-threatening weed  – Iain Scott:

Once covered in ragwort, a Manawatu farm is now almost free of the stock-threatening weed thanks to the introduction of moths and beetles.

Kiwitea dairy farmer Wayne Bennett credits the cinnabar moth, flea beetle and plume moth for ridding the farm of the yellow-flowered weed that had spread through the farm two years after he bought it.

Ragwort has the ability to compete with pasture species and contains alkaloids that are toxic to stock. A single plant can produce more than 50,000 seeds. . .

Marijuana growers causing ‘level of fear’:

Many people in rural areas are ”living in fear” of drug growers and dealers taking advantage of isolated conditions, Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) executive officer Noeline Holt says.

RWNZ and Federated Farmers New Zealand asked their members for feedback on the Ministry of Health’s New National Drug Policy, which sets out the Government’s approach for tobacco, alcohol, and illegal and other drugs.

Mrs Holt said the main concerns of the almost 400 people who responded were about legal highs, marijuana plantations and methamphetamine manufacturing.

”Some of the most isolated homes and houses can be easily accessed and [drug manufacturers] can discreetly manufacture to their heart’s content. . .

Grape Harvest beats rain -

Nelson wineries are relieved the region’s grape harvest has largely finished ahead of prolonged rain.

Nelson Winegrowers Association chairman Richard Flatman said most people he had talked to had managed to get their grapes in.

He described this year’s harvest as perfect, as it had been early and was big on flavour. “It will be fantastic for Nelson,” he said.

Waimea Estates general manager Ben Bolitho said they had been delighted to have all but finished harvest ahead of 10 days forecast rain. . .

 


Rural round-up

April 12, 2014

Drought causing problems in Rawene – Sophie Lowery:

The top of the North Island has been given a good dousing of rain today, but the region that desperately needs it received just a thimbleful.

Rawene, on the Hokianga Harbour, is just days away from running out of water and there are serious concerns for the local hospital.

The tiny Petaka Stream is the only water supply for the 250 residents of Rawene and it is almost dry.

“The situation in Rawene is critical. We are urging residents wherever they can to minimise their use of water to the essential uses only before we have to impose any more austere methods,” says the Far North District Council’s Tony Smith. . .

Exports to the motherland - Keith Woodford:

 There was a time when New Zealand’s exports went almost exclusively to Britain. Before and during the Second World War, and for many years thereafter, New Zealand was Britain’s farm. It was only in 1973 when Britain joined the EU, which itself had food surpluses, that we had to search for alternative markets.

Now, some forty years later, the only two major products exported to Britain are sheep meat and wine. Britain takes about 20% of New Zealand’s sheep meat exports and is the second most important sheep meat market after China. For wine, Britain also takes about 20% of New Zealand’s exports and is the third most important market after Australia and the USA. Minor export products include apples at about 10% of total apple exports. For wool, about 5% reaches the shores of the UK. Overall, only 3% of New Zealand’s exports are destined for Britain. . .

Minister welcomes Manawatu River clean-up progress:

Environment Minister Amy Adams has welcomed a new report on cleaning-up the Manawatu River, saying it shows that progress can be made even on the most difficult environmental problems when communities work together.

“It is still early days as far as the time frames for cleaning up polluted water ways are concerned, but I am pleased to see the Manawatu Leaders Accord reporting overall improving trends in nutrient levels and levels of bacteria in the Manawatu River,” Ms Adams says.

“The Government regards its $5.2 million investment in cleaning up this river as well worthwhile. By working together, we can achieve far more than leaving it to one group or organisation. . .

LIC scientists discover ‘fat gene’ in cows:

LIC scientists have discovered genetic variations which affect milk composition in dairy cows.

All cows have the ‘fat gene’, named AGPAT6, but LIC senior scientist Dr Matt Littlejohn said the variations they’ve discovered provide a genetic explanation for why some cows produce higher fat content in their milk than others.

“If you think of milk production in the cow’s udder as a factory assembly line, this variation is one of a few workers in the ‘fat chain’, with that worker being very efficient in some cows, and a bit lazy in others,” he said.

“The finding of AGPAT6 helps us to better understand what goes on in a cow’s mammary gland and how milk composition is regulated by genes.” . .

Pukekawa grower named New Zealand’s best young vege grower:

Brett Parker was crowned the New Zealand Young Vegetable Grower 2014, beating six other competitors, at the national competition on April 10.

Held in Pukekohe, the day-long event saw seven contestants go head-to-head in a series of theoretical and practical challenges needed to run a successful vegetable growing business.

Parker, 26, works at Hinemoa Quality Producers in Pukekawa as an assistant crop manager, and won $2500.

Of that $1000 will be used for professional development.    . . .

Diverse Farming Business Scores Supreme Double in Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Kaiwera farmers Andrew and Heather Tripp, Nithdale Station Ltd, have won the Supreme title in the Southland Ballance Farm Awards for the second time.

The Tripps were announced Supreme winners of the 2014 Southland Ballance Farm Awards (BFEA) at a special ceremony on April 10. They also collected the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award, the Massey University Innovation Award, the LIC Dairy Farm Award and the Alliance Quality Livestock Award.

Since first winning the Supreme title in the inaugural Southland BFEA in 2002, the Tripps have added a dairy farm to their diverse farming operation based on historic Nithdale Station, south east of Gore. . .

Support to build winter feed with urea price drop:

As the dry summer conditions ease, a drop in urea prices by Ballance Agri-Nutrients will be welcomed by farmers looking to build up feed reserves to meet stock requirements over winter and early spring.

Ballance dropped the price of urea from $695 to $645 and SustaiN from $751 to $697 yesterday on the back of a slump in global prices for urea.

Ballance General Manager of Sales, Andrew Reid, says that the imbalance between supply and demand that put upward pressure on urea prices earlier this year has now reversed.

“Currently global supply is exceeding demand, which has resulted in international prices easing,” said Mr Reid. . .


Rural round-up

April 10, 2014

Personal tragedy drives ‘worker representative’ on ACC forestry sector injury prevention committee:

ACC announced today that following a nationwide ballot of forestry workers, Wiremu Edmonds and Neil Thomas will be the worker representatives on its new injury prevention programme, aimed at encouraging safer practices in the forestry sector.

Both are experienced forestry workers and passionate, experienced health and safety advocates – and in Wiremu’s case, his passion is strengthened by the personal tragedy of having lost a son to the industry.
The ‘ACC Forestry Sector Injury Prevention Programme’ is being developed and implemented in collaboration with WorkSafe NZ, the NZ Forest Owners Association (FOA), the Forestry Industry Contractors Association (FICA) and the Council of Trade Unions (CTU). . .

Aquaduct NZ wins IrrigationNZ Innovation Award:

Aquaduct NZ and its entrepreneurial founder Gerard van den Bosch took out the highly-sought-after 2014 IrrigationNZ Innovation Award at its biennial conference in Napier last night.

Aquaduct’s entry (alongside associate company Bosch Irrigation Ltd) included its ground-breaking solution for the manufacture of irrigation pipe for Valetta Irrigation Scheme’s new 84km underground pipe network.

A factory to produce pipe on-site was created in a paddock within the scheme’s boundaries slashing welding requirements by 80% and reducing installation time and costs. The company supplied over 80km of pipe in sizes from 1.6m diameter to 200mm – in lengths up to 250 metres. The factory is New Zealand’s largest capacity plant pumping out 5800 tonnes of pipe in 60 days. . . .

Irrigation champions share 2014 Ron Cocks Memorial Award:

For the first time ever, IrrigationNZ has awarded its Ron Cocks Memorial Award to two individuals at its national conference.

Retired MAF Policy Manager Grant McFadden and farm business consultant and rural valuer Bob Engelbrecht were jointly awarded the prestigious title at last night’s IrrigationNZ conference dinner in Napier.

McFadden from Christchurch and Ashburton-based Engelbrecht have together more than a century of involvement in advocating for agriculture and irrigation interests, said IrrigationNZ chairman John Donkers who presented the awards.

Grant McFadden began his career as a farm advisor with MAF in the mid 1960s and was a key support for farmers in the Lower Waitaki as they initiated their irrigation scheme in the 1970s. From the early 80s, McFadden worked with farmers going through deregulation and drought experiences and later moved into MAF Policy “as I realised there were opportunities in the policy area to make a real difference to people.” . . .

Minister welcomes first investment by Crown Irrigation company:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the first investment by Crown Irrigation Investment Ltd, with draft terms agreed for $6.5 million towards the Central Plains Water scheme in Canterbury announced today.

“Last year the Government put $80 million towards creating Crown Irrigation as an independent investor to help kick-start regional water infrastructure projects.

“It’s great to see the first investment decision made. Central Plains Water will help irrigate around 60,000 hectares of land on the Canterbury plains once all three stages are complete, giving a real boost to the region’s economy.

“Without this funding, it’s unlikely the scheme would be developed to the size and scale required. . . .

Proactive Mindset Helps Tihoi Farmers Win Supreme in 2014 Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

A unique and innovative approach to farming in an environmentally sensitive area has earned Tihoi beef farmers Mike and Sharon Barton the Supreme title in the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

At a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on April 8, the Bartons, who farm 142ha Glen Emmreth Farm on the western side of Lake Taupo, were also presented with the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award and the Massey University Innovation Award.

Mike and Sharon bought the Tihoi farm in 2004 at a time when strict environmental legislation to protect the health of the lake was looming. They faced this challenge head-on, determined to make their farm as environmentally sustainable as possible.

BFEA judges said the business “has been built from its inception with the understanding that it must be made environmentally sustainable in an extremely difficult location”. . . .

Busy winter ahead for contestant - Sally Rae:

Winter is shaping up to be a memorable season for Glenham farmer Dean Rabbidge.

Mr Rabbidge (28), a member of the Wyndham Young Farmers Club, is Otago-Southland’s representative in the grand final of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest in Christchurch on July 3-5.

He and his wife Sarah are also expecting the arrival of their first child on June 18.

”It’s just going to be busy enough this winter,” he quipped. . . .

Central Otago wineries “delighted” to showcase the region’s wines to Duke and Duchess of Cambridge:

Central Otago wineries are gearing up for what could be the most important wine tasting of the century ahead of the Duke and Duchess’s visit to Queenstown this Sunday April 13.

A handful of local wineries and staff have been selected to present their Central Otago wines to the young Royals at a private wine and food event to be held at host winery Amisfield.

Central Otago Winegrowers Association president James Dicey is the lucky man who will escort the Duke through the tasting, while Central Otago Pinot Noir Chairwoman Lucie Lawrence will accompany the Duchess. . .

Final call for applications – leading farm business management program:

Applications are to close at the end of this month for this year’s Rabobank Farm Managers Program, Australasia’s leading agricultural business management course for the next generation of farm leaders.

Now in its ninth year, the prestigious Rabobank program offers young farmers from across New Zealand and Australia, and a range of agricultural sectors, the opportunity to develop and enhance their business management skills.

Rabobank business programs manager Nerida Sweetapple says the Farm Managers Program is constantly evolving to reflect the changing challenges and opportunities in agriculture.  . . .

Steer and dog BFFs – Thomas Mead:

They’re usually each other’s worst enemy, but down south in Ranfurly a farm dog and steer have found a forbidden love.

Scotty, a jersey cross steer, and Bo, a purebred kelpie, have been inseparable after meeting on the job late last year. The unlikely duo often sneak away to play together, wrestling, licking and jumping around the farm.

Owner Jan MacKenzie says they’d spend all day together if they could.

“[Bo's] not allowed to be out there by himself – he does sneak over the fence when no one’s looking,” she says.

“He tries to play with everybody but they’re cows and he’s a dog. Everybody else, [except Scotty], understands it’s meant to work that way.”

But Bo, who is a working farm dog, knows the difference between work and play. . .


Foreign investment welcomed

April 10, 2014

Foreign investment gets negative press but this story shows the positive side:

The potential investment in a Central Otago vineyard by a global luxury goods group is ”ecstatically good news” for the region, a wine industry leader says.

Subject to gaining Overseas Investment Office approval, the 23ha Northburn Station vineyard at Cromwell and The Shed cellar door and function centre on the same site will be sold to Cloudy Bay Vineyards.

”I think this is a real coup for Central Otago wines for a major player like this, a global luxury brand, to be putting a stake in the ground,” Northburn owner Tom Pinckney said yesterday. . .

He and wife Jan bought Northburn Station, northeast of Cromwell, in 1993 and run sheep and cattle on the 13,000ha property.

They diversified into grapes in 1999 and opened The Shed on the property in 2008.

They would remain on the farm and the sale of the vineyard and function centre was good timing, he said. It would give him more time with his young family and to explore new projects ”which I’m keeping under my hat for now”.

As well as focusing on the farm, he would continue to grow the Northburn 100-mile mountain run, launched four years ago, which attracted endurance athletes from around the world. ”We won’t be getting out of wine altogether, though. We’ll remain the most important part of the wine industry – consumers.” . . .

Those opposing foreign investment often overlook that the vendors can use the money for other projects.

Central Otago Winegrowers’ Association president James Dicey, of Bannockburn, said the conditional sale was ”ecstatically good news”.

”To have Cloudy Bay in the region is a wonderful endorsement of what this area’s wine industry has achieved and continues to achieve and the profile we’ve generated,” Mr Dicey said.

The deal would have ”fantastic” spin-offs for Central Otago winegrowers.

”It will mean our wine, Central Otago wine, will get in front of a lot more consumers from all around the world, because of the iconic brands involved, and pinot noir drinkers are inquisitive and will want to know more about the area.

”It will do a power of good for Central Otago and develop new markets and contacts that would have taken us years to reach.” . . .

The Pinckneys were finalists in the Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards last year and won the Donaghy’s Farm Stewardship Award.

If this sale goes through it will benefit the vendors, Central Otago wine in general and the wider economy.


Rural round-up

April 8, 2014

A taste of Waitaki -  Pam Jones:

Pam Jones travels a create-your-own wine and food trail in Waitaki Valley and gives the region top marks.

There is no formal wine and food trail in Waitaki Valley but it is not hard to create your own.

Take a trip from Omarama to Kurow and back to Oamaru and you will discover pinot noirs and aromatics that knock your socks off with their flavours and minerality.

Then add some gourmet treats or rustic farmers’ fare on the side.

It is a recipe for a wonderful day of wining and dining, or stay the night at places along the way to turn it into a multiday sojourn.

We start our loop at the Ladybird Hill Cafe, Restaurant and Winery in Omarama, tucked to the side at the southern entrance of the busy crossroads town. . .

Edendale Nursery sold to large forestry biotech – Sally Rae:

Forestry biotech company ArborGen has expanded its stable of nurseries with the acquisition of Edendale Nursery in Southland.

ArborGen, in which NZX-listed Rubicon has a 31.67% stake, is the largest supplier of seedlings in New Zealand.

It sells up to 25 million trees annually, predominantly in the North Island, and owns five production nurseries, two seed orchards, and a manufacturing facility for the production of radiata varietal seedlings. . . .

Making horseshoe among Young Farmers tasks – Sally Rae:

When Sonja Dobbie entered the North Otago district final of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest, she did not expect to do well.

The competition was held at Totara Estate, near Oamaru, last November and members of her Five Forks club encouraged each other to enter to ensure good representation.

But Miss Dobbie (23), a first-time entrant, finished third behind Marshall Smith (Upper Waitaki Young Farmers) and Steven Smit (Glenavy-Waimate), ensuring her a place in this month’s Aorangi regional final. . .

Sustainable, High-Performing Dairy Operation Collects Supreme Award In 2014 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Okaihau dairy farmers Roger and Jane Hutchings are the Supreme winners of the 2014 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Judges described the Hutchings’ 680-cow business in the Bay Of Islands, Lodore Farm Ltd, as a very sustainable high-input system which is profitable across all aspects of the operation.

“There is a clear balance between the financial performance of the operation and the environmental and social aspects.”  . . .

 Beef + Lamb New Zealand appoints top genetics positions:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand has appointed a Chairman and General Manager to run the new entity Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics.

Former Landcorp CEO and Massey University Chancellor Chris Kelly will chair the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics Board and Graham Alder the former Genetics Business Manager of Zoetis, has been appointed General Manager of Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics.

The appointments follow the successful vote at the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Annual Meeting to combine the organisation’s current genetics investments. This means Sheep Improvement Ltd (the national sheep genetic dataset), the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Central Progeny Test and Ovita, with added investment in beef genetics, come together with government funds to create the new entity Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics. . .

More success for PGP programmes:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming success by three Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programmes this week, including an award nomination for a revolutionary seafood programme.

“The Precision Seafood Harvesting Programme has been nominated for a KiwiNet Research & Business Partnership Award. This is fitting recognition for a programme that could revolutionise the global fishing industry.

“The programme is developing new sustainable fishing technology that will allow fish to be landed on fishing boats alive, and in perfect condition, while safely releasing small fish and other species.

“The potential economic and environmental benefits of this are huge, and it’s no surprise it is attracting so much attention. This is a $52 million project with funding coming from both industry and government.” .

Another PGP programme – Shellfish Production and Technology New Zealand Ltd (SPATnz) – has also reached a milestone in selective breeding of greenshell mussels. . .

Telecom’s expanding mobile network connects locals in the Far North:

Locals and visitors to Houhora, Pukenui and the coastline north to Rarawa Bay may notice a boost in mobile coverage in the area, with Telecom announcing today that it has invested more than $175,000 on improved coverage to the region.

Telecom’s investment in the Houhora Central Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) site responds to the increasing demand for mobile coverage in the area and will give locals and visitors added access to voice, mobile broadband and text services over the Telecom mobile network, which has been built specifically for smart phones.

The improved mobile coverage is part of Telecom’s commitment to open up access to mobile data and applications for rural communities. . .

New Zealand seafood goes online in China promotion:

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) has joined forces for the first time with China’s most popular business-to-consumer online shopping platform Tmall.com, to promote New Zealand seafood in a week-long campaign.

The promotion with Tmall.com will take place between 9-15 April, allowing Chinese shoppers to buy live seafood fresh from the sea in New Zealand, then have it packaged and air freighted to Shanghai within 36 hours. Within 72 hours, the seafood orders will be delivered to Chinese consumers across the country. The New Zealand products available for sale include paua, greenshell mussels and Bluff and Pacific oysters.

The ability to sell and deliver live seafood to Chinese consumers is a significant milestone. A similar Tmall.com campaign with Alaskan seafood last year resulted in a total of 50 metric tonnes supplied to Chinese consumers. . .

The ‘B’ word – Mad Bush Farm:

Yesterday I read the forecast for Northland and I used the “B” word. It’s now Autumn, and yet again we’re in a drought. So is the Waikato and things are looking rather grim where rainfall goes. I’m letting the Toyota crew there say the “B” word on my behalf, and the rest of the rural crew out there looking up at the skies and praying it rains and soon!


Rural round-up

March 31, 2014

Drought relief some way off – Mike Dinsdale:

Northland’s drought-stricken farmers can’t expect any rain relief over the next two weeks as an urgent call goes out for help with grazing and supplementary feed.

This week most of Northland’s west coast, from Cape Reinga to Pouto Pt, has been classified a localised drought area under government regulations for a small-scale adverse climatic event, covering an estimated 400 dairy farms and 700 sheep and beef units.

It’s the third drought in four years in the area and there’s little chance of any significant rain to end the drought for at least the next two weeks. . . .

 ‘Green’ dairy farming proves profitable – Tina Law:

Mark and Devon Slee are proving dairy farmers can remain profitable while adopting techniques to care for the environment.

The South Canterbury couple, who have 2640 cows on 1014 hectares at Ealing, south of Ashburton, won the supreme award at the Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards, announced last week.

Mark Slee said it was great to win the award, and he and Devon were keen to highlight the good environmental practices they had adopted.

“There is a lot of concern about the expansion of dairying, and we just wanted to be out there saying ‘this is what we are doing with our property’.

“It’s worthy of mention,” Slee said. . .

Farmer’s win more significant after near death - Diane Bishop:

Four months after suffering a near-fatal cardiac arrest, Kaiwera farmer John Chittock is at the top of his game.

The 55-year-old won three of the four events at the Mossburn sheep dog trials this month – the short head and yard, the straight hunt and the zig-zag hunt with Blue, Pod and Angus, respectively.

Chittock said he had won two hunt events at a district competition before, but this was the first time he had won three events in almost 40 years of dog trialling.

“I took it with a grain of salt.

“It wasn’t until people started congratulating me that I thought it was pretty special,” he said. . .

Picking up the pace – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra’s confirmation last week of a record milk payout forecast came with a commitment to stay on course, but pick up the pace.

The forecast cash payout of $8.75 a kilogram of milksolids is 42% more than last season and the first-half revenue of $11.3 billion was up 21%.

Full-year milk production in New Zealand is expected to grow 7% and that means farms will receive nearly $14b this year, at least half of which will be spent in the regions.

However, normalised earnings and net profit in the first half of the financial year were only half those of the previous corresponding period because high commodity prices have slashed margins on value-added products. . . .

Powell wins Shepherd of the Year competition:

The 2014 Shepherd of the Year was awarded to Jason Powell on March 27 after a successful tour of the farm he works on, while answering questions from the two judges Shayne Rankin and George Tatham about his role.

He won $4500 in cash and prizes and the two merit placegetters, Jakeb Herron and Cameron Dallas, both won a Lister handpiece.

The inaugural competition was part of the Wairarapa Farm Business of the Year competition.

The Farm Business of the Year winners were Don McCreary and Anna Johnston and a field day was held on their farm in Hinakura in the Martinborough area.

Of the seven finalists in the Taratahi Shepherd of the Year competition, three were ex-Taratahi students, including Powell.  . .


Rural round-up

March 23, 2014

Irrigator wins Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

IrrigationNZ congratulates Mark and Devon Slee on taking out the main prize at last night’s Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards. Mark is a board member of IrrigationNZ with an irrigated dairy farm in Ealing within Ashburton District employing 13 full time and two part time staff.

IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis says Mark and Devon’s sustainable irrigation practices and investment in technology played a large part in their win.

“Mark and Devon are among our top performing irrigators because of their significant investment in technology and personal commitment to reducing their environmental footprint,” says Mr Curtis. . .

PGP Forestry programme takes big step forward:

Primary Industries Ministers Nathan Guy and Jo Goodhew are welcoming commercialisation of new forestry technology this week as a big step forward in improving both productivity and safety.

“The Steepland Harvesting Programme is a very exciting Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) project, with $6 million in joint funding from the industry and the Government and a vision of ‘No worker on the slope, no hand on the chainsaw’,” says Mr Guy.

The new technology involves harvesting on steep slopes using new mechanised technology, rather than exposing forestry workers to risk.

The project was demonstrated to around 55 forestry contractors and company representatives at a Future Forest Research field day in Maungataniwha forest near Napier this week. . .

Minister signs new conservation accord:

An accord between the newly established $100 million NEXT Foundation and the Government was signed in Nelson today by Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith.

“The NEXT Foundation is an incredible deed of generosity which has the potential to deliver huge steps forward for conservation in New Zealand. This Accord is about providing the right framework for DOC to partner with the Foundation and to ensure we maximise the conservation gains from this huge investment,” Dr Smith says.

“There are two key elements to the Accord. The first is in ensuring these funds go to new projects that are out and above the work the Government would have ordinarily done. The second is in providing a commitment that the conservation gains are maintained into the future. . . .

Ministers leading agribusiness delegation to South America:

Trade Minister Tim Groser and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy are leading an agribusiness delegation to Chile and Colombia from 23-28 March.

“Latin America is a valued trading partner for New Zealand and a fast growing region,” says Mr Groser. 

“Our relationship with Chile is thriving with a high level of engagement in areas such as energy and environment, agriculture and education. They are encouraging New Zealand business to explore future investment opportunities and we hope to build on this.

“In Colombia we are aiming to build a greater understanding of the market, through a range of farm visits and meetings with local Ministers and authorities.” . . .

Arable research body sets strategy:

The Foundation for Arable Research has just launched its next three-year strategy, which aims to keep arable farming a good viable option for farmers.

Chief executive Nick Pyke says the key points include making sure they have the right people doing the research and having leading research that has the ability to make a difference for farmers.

He says arable farming is buoyant at the moment and they want that to continue. . .

The Peterson Farm Bros’ Beef With Chipotle (Part 2): The Definition of a Family Farmer – Greg Peterson:

Chipotle’s videos depict today’s farmers as huge, industrial farmers, concerned not about ethics and animalwelfare, but motivated rather by greed and money. This could not be further from the truth!

There are over 2 million farmers in this country. Each of whom are working long hours, braving extreme weather, and tirelessly caring for land and livestock. How many of those farmers are family farmers? 96 percent of them, according to the USDA, including the farm I work on with my brothers, my parents and my sister. In fact, I’ve never actually met a farmer who isn’t a family farmer! Have you? I’m sure there are a few out there, but even then, do you really think a farm run by non-family members would operate any differently from those that are? . . .

Rural Women™ International Year of Family Farming Roadshow kicks off next week:

Four South Island towns will be celebrating the International Year of Family Farming next week, as the Rural Women NZ roadshow series gets underway. Three North Island events will follow in early April.

“Rural Women NZ has always backed families working on the land, and in the rural communities that surround them,” says Liz Evans, who is promoting the Rural Women NZ roadshow to be held in Marlborough’s Rai Valley on 30 March.

“For this reason, we were ‘first in’ to initiate a nationwide programme of events to support the UN International Year of Family Farming, a timely opportunity to celebrate the dedication and contribution of farming families, past, present and future.” . . .

Lick block increases lamb survival in triplet bearing ewes:

Significant improvements in lamb survival have been demonstrated by using Crystalyx blocks in a University of Auckland trial in Southland.

Crystalyx Extra High Energy molasses blocks were provided as a supplement to ewes from three weeks prior to lambing through to weaning and resulting in an 11% increase in lambs presented for docking, compared to the control flock.

Barry and Julie Crawford’s Rosebank Farm near Gore was the venue for the trial to determine the benefits of targeted supplementation on triplet bearing ewes. . . 

The Rosebank property is part of the FARMIQ programme. . .

Seed Industry Opens New Office in Templeton, Christchurch:

The New Zealand seed industry is pleased to announce the official opening of its new office in Templeton, Christchurch.

The opening on Wednesday was officiated by the Hon Nathan Guy, Minister for Primary Industries, and attended by over 100 VIPs and guests including Kelvin Coe, the Mayor of Selwyn District.

“It’s a huge honour for our industry to have the Minister officiate and his acknowledgement of the vital importance of our sector to the wider primary industry,” says General Manager Thomas Chin. . .


Rural round-up

March 3, 2014

Golden end to a golden event:

A packed stadium of thrilled spectators were kept on the edge of their seats watching the cream rise to the surface as shearing’s elite battled it out for the prized Golden Shears open crown.
The 54th“Goldies” ended on supreme high after three days of hard slog and sweat, as some of the world’s most skilful shearers and woolhandlers performed out of their skins to make world championship teams, and to take the coverted crowns.
It was high tension in the 20-sheep final, with the top guns of the shearing shearing their flock at a frenetic pace. Four-time shears champ Johnny Kirkpatrick was a sheep behind defending champion Rowland Smith well after the half way mark but it in an absolute humdinger race to the finish, Kirkpatrick’s handpiece just flew as he went a sheep ahead and finished first on the clock.
But there can be only one winner of the ultimate shearing prize and it was the current champ Smith who clinched the open shearing championship for second time in a row.
The win books him one of two spots in the kiwi teamfor the the World champs in Ireland in May. The second spot will be decided at the New Zealand shearing champs in Te Kuiti atthe end of this month. . .

How precision farming is changing UK agriculture – Caroline Stocks:

Just a few decades ago, the idea of robots on farms and tractors that drove themselves would have been the stuff of agricultural science fiction.

But now more than half of the UK’s farmland is reportedly farmed using precision technology in some form, and that figure is expected to rise dramatically during the next few years.

For precision farming consultant Ian Beecher-Jones, precision technology is not a new concept. . .

Joint venture excites Charolais breeder – Sally Rae:

Drew Dundass reckons the Charolais breed of cattle is a ”beautiful animal”.

Mr Dundass, who jokes that he married into the breed, and his wife Carolyn (nee Aitken), manage Glen Ayr, a 1577ha property in the Paerau Valley, home to the Taiaroa Charolais stud.

Glen Ayr Ltd comprises two properties – Glen Ayr, and Glenfield, a 600ha finishing property on the Maniototo Plain which has a 343ha run block in the White Sow Valley, managed by Mrs Dundass’ sister, Dawn Sangster, and her husband David. . .

Invermay’s key role emphasised -  Sally Rae:

Deer farmers attending a recent field day at Invermay were urged to recognise they were ”at the Mecca” for deer biological research.

The AgResearch campus was looked on as the ”fountain of all knowledge” and farmers should realise that and the prospect it might not continue, Prof Frank Griffin, of the University of Otago, said.

Prof Griffin, who has collaborated with researchers at Invermay for three decades on solving animal health problems in the deer industry, has previously expressed major concerns about AgResearch’s decision to cut jobs from Invermay. . .

Katikati Couple Claim Top Title in BoP Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

A focus on protecting marginal areas of their farm while lifting productivity of grazeable land helped Katikati farmers Rick Burke and Jan Loney take out the Supreme title in the 2014 Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Rick and Jan, who farm 350ha Pukekauri Farms in the foothills of the Kaimai Ranges, also picked up a string of category awards at a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on February 28.

BFEA judges praised the couple’s teamwork and excellent people skills, noting the outstanding plantings on riparian areas and marginal land that “look stunning and greatly enhance biodiversity”. . .

North Island iwi join forces to buy into Kaingaroa Timberlands:

Six central North Island iwi have joined forces to buy a 2.5% stake in New Zealand’s largest forestry business, Kaingaroa Timberlands. The investment is one of the biggest ever involving an iwi collective.

The six iwi representative organisations, Ngati Rangitihi, Ngati Whakaue Assets and Te Arawa River Iwi Limited Partnership, Ngati Whare, Raukawa, Te Arawa Group Holdings Limited and Tuwharetoa, have formed Kakano Investment Limited Partnership (Kakano) and purchased the stake from the New Zealand Superannuation Fund (NZ Super Fund) for an undisclosed price.

Raukawa chairperson Vanessa Eparaima has been appointed chairperson of Kakano. Ms Eparaima said the investment was a major strategic and commercial step forward for iwi, and a win-win that ensured iwi were involved in the forestry business itself as well as being the land owner. . .

Seafood industry supports permits for shark tourism:

The seafood industry welcomes the announcement by Conservation Minister Nick Smith on permits for shark cage tourism operators.

Commercial paua divers and other marine users are concerned that the burgeoning
shark cage tourism industry around Foveaux Strait may change the behaviour of great white sharks and increase the risk of shark attack.

The paua industry has, for many years, been urging government agencies and
responsible Ministers to work together to ensure that shark cage diving is safe for tourists, sharks, and other marine users. . . .


Rural round-up

February 28, 2014

It’s ‘Good Times’ following record dairy forecast:

While the dry summer is starting to bite in parts of Waikato and Northland, Fonterra has delivered excellent news for New Zealand by upping its 2013/14 forecast Farmgate Milk Price to a record $8.65 per kilogram of Milk Solids (kg/MS).

“You can say New Zealand is truly a land of milk and honey with the two being at record highs,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson, speaking from Federated Farmers Dairy Council in Wellington.

“I also think this will put a huge smile on Minister Guy’s face when he speaks to us later this morning.  If the forecast sticks this represents ‘good times’ for all Kiwis.

“In 2010, the NZIER said a $1 kg/MS rise in Fonterra’s payout makes every New Zealander nearly $300 better off.  Given this latest 35 cent kg/MS uplift, every New Zealander could be $100 better off as a result of what we do. . .

Forefront of farming’s great journey - Annette Scott:

Sarah Crofoot is a young woman with a clear vision, who is advocating passionately for farmers in the modern New Zealand economy. She talked to Annette Scott.

Sarah Crofoot grew up on a farm 45 minutes from New York City.

She treasures her rural upbringing and at just 23 she is clear on what she wants for her children and future generations.

“Because I grew up in New York it has made me appreciate how lucky we are in New Zealand, with the amazing opportunities we have in agriculture,” she said.  .  .

More than 5300 farmers to benefit from TB changes:

From 1 March 2014, more than 5300 herdowners across some 1.7 million hectares will benefit from reductions in both Movement Control Areas (MCA) and cattle and deer bovine tuberculosis (TB) tests.

Herds throughout parts of the Central North Island, Southern North Island and Northern South Island will no longer require pre-movement TB testing, but will continue to be tested annually.

Farmer and Wellington TBfree Committee Chairman Peter Gaskin no longer has to pre-movement test his cattle. He said the progress made by the TB control programme through movement restrictions and wild animal control has been particularly satisfying.

“It’s been very pleasing for farmers to be able to enjoy another on-farm benefit, resulting from the sustained pressure applied by TBfree New Zealand, as it implements the national TB control plan,” said Peter. . .

Growing Dynamic Leaders with Rural Women NZ:

Eleven women from around New Zealand arrive in Wellington today for the start of a three day leadership course co-ordinated by Rural Women NZ and sponsored by Landcorp.

The women – all Rural Women NZ members – are active in their communities and are now looking to grow their communications skills, enhance their networks, and learn more of the work of our organisation at a national level.

“The women will explore what makes an effective leader, how to influence others and the importance of networks both within the organisation and in the broader rural sector,” says Rural Women NZ national president, Wendy McGowan. . . .

ACC announces new forestry sector injury prevention initiative:

ACC announced today that work has begun developing a new injury prevention programme, aimed at encouraging safer practices in the forestry sector.

The ‘ACC Forestry Sector Injury Prevention Programme’ will be developed and implemented in collaboration with WorkSafe NZ, the NZ Forest Owners Association (FOA), the Forestry Industry Contractors Association (FICA) and the Council of Trade Unions (CTU).

ACC’s Head of Insurance Products and Injury Prevention, David Simpson, says “For the past eighteen months, the safety record of New Zealand’s forestry industry has lagged behind other New Zealand industries, as well as forestry sectors globally. Recent fatalities, eleven since January 2013, have highlighted ongoing safety concerns. . .

Online tool compares energy efficiency of dairy sheds across NZ:

Dairy farmers could save $42 million through electricity efficiency measures in the dairy shed, and now an online tool is available that gives individual farmers an idea of how well they are making use of the electricity they pay for.

EECA BUSINESS has launched the Dairy Farm Energy Efficiency tool, which compares a dairy farm’s electricity use to other dairy farms in New Zealand, and to best practice.

The average New Zealand dairy farm spends over $20,000 a year on electricity, but dairy sheds vary a lot in how efficiently they use their electricity, says Kirk Archibald, EECA projects and relationship manager.

“Some dairy farms are using three times as much electricity as others for the same milk-solids production.” . . .

Federated Farmers’ Executive an environmental leader:

Federated Farmers Meat and Fibre Executive member, Sandra Faulkner, along with her family business partners, husband Rob and brother and sister in laws, Bruce and Jo Graham, have won the Supreme Award at the East Coast Balance Farm Environment Awards last night, taking them through to the national finals on 24 June.

“We are incredibly proud of Sandra, who is both a national and provincial executive for Federated Farmers, and her business partners for taking out this award. This meat and fibre farm is as diverse as it is environmentally friendly,” says Peter Jex-Blake, Federated Farmers provincial president for Gisborne-Wairoa. . .


Rural round-up

February 25, 2014

Sewer discharge called a disgrace:

A leading Hawke’s Bay wine industry figure says sewerage pouring into Hawke’s Bay’s rivers is a disgrace and potentially damaging to the region’s food and beverage producers.

The group Friends of the Tukituki is threatening legal action if the Central Hawke’s Bay District Council is unable to meet new resource consents for discharging town sewerage into the Waipawa and Tukituki Rivers.

It says the brown smelly discharge currently going into the rivers is unacceptable.

Central Hawke’s Bay District Council says the discharge is within its resource consent, and is confident a new sewage plant will be operating by October which will discharge crystal clear water. . . .

Minister flags Maori land potential:

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has highlighted the potential for Maori agribusiness as part of the Government’s goal of doubling primary sector exports by 2025.

The ministry now forecasts the sector will earn $36.5 billion this season – up nearly $5 billion on the last forecast six months ago.

Of the 1.5 million hectares of Maori land, only 300,000 hectares is in full production. . .

East Coast first to host Environment Awards – RivetettingKateTaylor:

The first regional dinner has been held for the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The East Coast awards, covering the geographic area of the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and the Gisborne District Council, were announced in Gisborne on Thursday.  It’s the fourth year of the awards but the first time hosted by Gisborne.

Well done to all those who entered…. and (drum roll please) the winners were Rob and Sandra Faulkner and Bruce and Jo Graham from the 600ha property, Wairakaia, which can be found on both sides of SH2 at Muriwai, south of Gisborne. . .

From the Lip – Pulse of rural NZ at field days - Jamie Mackay:

What follows are some random observations from the past fortnight and some pretty cool stuff that’s happened in rural New Zealand:

1. Tis field-day season. A couple of weeks ago it was the Southern Field Days at Waimumu. This week it’s the Northland Field Days at Dargaville and in a couple of weeks it’s off to Feilding for the Central Districts Field Days.  Between that and Horse of the Year in Hastings, the PPP Farming Conference in Queenstown, the inaugural Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards in New Plymouth and the Rolling Stones in Auckland, I think I’ll just set up camp at the airport over the next six weeks.

I shouldn’t complain though, because it’s at these field days you get the real pulse of rural New Zealand and it’s fair pumping out there at the moment.  Even though I’ve been attending the Southern Field Days for 20 years – it was the first gig I did in radio – Waimumu is still a revelation. It’s a “Mini Me” of Mystery Creek, only better.  It’s Dargaville’s turn to impress this week. . . .

 

 

Milksmart events make farmers do the maths :

MilkSmart events, where farmers are shown practical ways to reduce milking times, are doing the rounds again this year.

DairyNZ have made some changes to the topics after farmer feedback.

The topics include stockmanship, milking efficiency, cow flow, milking skills, mastitis management, smart dairy design, people management, smart water use and more.

Events were run in Morrinsville and Tokoroa last week.

Sessions were designed for one of three experience levels – those who are new to dairying, operational managers, and senior decision makers or farm owners. . . .

Fonterra Announces $32 Million Foodservice Expansion in Eltham:

Fonterra today announced a $32 million expansion of its slice-on-slice cheese capacity at its Collingwood Street site in Eltham, Taranaki.

Slice-on-slice cheese is used extensively in quick service restaurants for products such as hamburgers and sandwiches.

Work will start in early 2014 and is expected to be completed in mid-2015. When complete, the expanded plant will deliver both increased capacity and improved processes to meet growth in global demand from Fonterra’s foodservice customers.

Fonterra Director of Foodservice, René Dedoncker, said the investment demonstrated the Co-operative’s drive to grow its business in the high-value foodservice industry. . . .

BEC Feed Solutions Set to Taste New Zealand Market:

BEC Feed Solutions Australia has cemented its commitment to the New Zealand agricultural market with the opening of a New Zealand trading arm, BEC Feed Solutions NZ.

The move was prompted by New Zealand’s rapidly developing animal production market and thriving dairy industry, which has seen a 70% growth in dairy production over the past 20 years[1]. This, coupled with the dairy industry’s growing preference for supplementary feeding over a solely pasture-based system, provides a sound platform for BEC – Australia’s largest independent animal pre-mix manufacturer – to officially enter the New Zealand market. . .


Rural round-up

November 28, 2013

Good Environmental Management No Add-On, Say Farming Ambassadors:

“Sustainability must be built into everyday farming, not bolted on”, was one of the key messages delivered to agribusiness and industry leaders by Canterbury farming ambassadors Roz and Craige Mackenzie.

National Winners of the 2013 Ballance Farm Environment Awards, the Mackenzies recently met with key industry stakeholders to promote good environmental practices and swap ideas on how to improve environmental management.

The five-day trip in November was organised by the New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust and included an address to the Primary Production Select Committee.

The Mackenzies also met with sponsors of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards and were impressed with how these organisations had taken the sustainability message to heart. . .

Equity partnership options to buy into a farm:

Equity partnerships offer an opportunity for young farmers and smaller investors to take part in the rise in farm values driven by high dairy payouts and continuing confidence in the long-term future of agriculture, says Justin Geddes, Crowe Horwath’s Dunedin-based Principal.

“Equity partnerships are a great vehicle to grow your own wealth for both farmers and investors,” said Mr Geddes.

The capital cost of running an economic farm unit runs to several million dollars, and one of the pressing issues facing the rural sector is how to get young farmers into farm ownership. . .

Fonterra Australia finalises purchase of Tamar Valley Dairy assets:

Fonterra Australia today finalised the purchase of the assets of Tasmanian yoghurt business, Tamar Valley Dairy. The Tamar Valley Dairy business is now under full Fonterra ownership and management.

Under the terms of the sale, Fonterra has acquired the processing equipment, the related services, and intellectual property and trademark for the Tamar Valley Dairy brand. Fonterra worked closely with Deloitte Restructuring Services to achieve the completed sale.

Importantly, 122 positions of the Tamar Valley Dairy workforce will now transition to Fonterra to ensure the right skill-set and expertise are available to ensure continuity of operations and the long-term sustainability of the business. Regrettably, 18 roles are not required and have been made redundant by the Administrator. . .

Fonterra Wins National Accounting Award:

Two of Fonterra’s senior finance managers picked up the 2013 Innovation of the Year Award at last night’s New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants Awards in Auckland.

Patrice Wynen, Director, Finance Delivery Centre, and Ken Stephens, General Manager Reporting Services, were recognised for a new month-end financial acceleration projects that reduced Fonterra’s group reporting time by 50 per cent.

Through the project, Fonterra’s group month-end financial close was reduced from six days down to just three. The reduction was achieved in less than eight months and without any form of technology change. . . .

Comvita posts 1H loss of $790k on margin squeeze - Paul McBeth:

Comvita, which makes health products from Manuka honey, reported a first-half small loss as its margins were squeezed by expensive honey and as trading conditions in Australia and the UK were stretched by stiff competition.

The Te Puke-based company made a loss of $790,000, or 2.7 cents per share, in the six months ended Sept. 30, from a profit of $2.39 million, or 7.95 cents, a year earlier, it said in a statement. Sales fell 4.6 percent to $43.4 million.

That was in line with guidance last month, and Comvita affirmed its annual forecast to beat last year’s profit of $7.4 million and sales of $103.5 million, with about 60 percent of revenue expected to come in the second half. . .

ANZ Young Farmer Contest sets sights on Taupo:

The ANZ Young Farmer Contest is pleased to announce the 2015 Grand Final events will be held in Taupo.

The decision comes after a unanimous vote by the ANZ Young Farmer Contest Management Committee.

The ANZ Young Farmer Contest alternates between the North Island and the South Island each year. This year it was held in Auckland and the upcoming 2014 Grand Final will be in Christchurch, 3-5 July.

“After three Grand Finals based in larger metropolitan areas, I think the 2015 ANZ Young Farmer Contest Grand Final hosted in an increasingly agricultural area will go down as one of the most exciting and well-run events in the history of New Zealand Young Farmers,” said Terry Copeland, New Zealand Young Farmers CEO. . .

Trust announces Christmas present for the New Zealand wine industry:

Directors of Wine Competition Ltd, the company that owns and organises the Spiegelau International Wine Competition and Marlborough Wine Show, have established a Trust to fund initiatives designed to enhance the success of the New Zealand wine industry.

Margaret Cresswell and Belinda Jackson established Wine Competition Ltd in 2011as an independent company that owns and organises wine competitions and associated events in New Zealand. Knowing that there were a significant number of unopened bottles following the judging process, the pair decided to establish a Trust to which these bottles were donated. The Trust then auctions the wine with the objective of returning the ensuing funds to the industry.

Trustee, Belinda Jackson explains, “Producers pay to submit their wines for the judging process and send us samples. Though we request the least number possible – just three bottles, we feel strongly that those not used should be returned to the industry somehow.” She continues, “The easiest way is to monetise them and then offer that money back in the form of funding for industry grants and scholarships.” . . .

Queenstown trophy station on market - Chris Hutching:

Sothebys in Queenstown is marketing Homestead Bay overlooking Lake Wakatipu on Remarkables Station next to Jack’s Point golf resort.

The trophy property has been owned by three generations of the Jardine family after being founded in 1861 by Queenstown’s first European settler William Rees. The 45ha site comes with development potential for a resort village plus 27 less intensive building sites.

The station is a working farm that descends down terraces to the lake. . . .

Exporting New Zealand forward:

Federated Farmers is buoyed by surging primary exports that has turned in the lowest trade deficit for an October month since the mid-1990s.

“These export trade figures when coupled with the New Zealand Institute for Economic Research’s outlook for 2014 tells me we are turning the corner,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“The primary industries have got our collective foot to the floor and in the month of October by value alone, dairy exports surged an incredible 84.7 percent, followed by logs (26.2 percent), red meat (9.4 percent), fish (5.7 percent) and wine (3.2 percent).

“Of our big six primary exports fruit admittedly did go backwards but the trend overall is positive. . .

NZ winery first in southern hemisphere to trade with bitcoin:

A small high-end winery in North Canterbury is set to become the first wine business in the southern hemisphere to accept bitcoin payment to make transactions easier for its strong domestic and international customer base.

Pyramid Valley Vineyards, Waikairi, produces collectable wines in New Zealand and sees the new currency as a development in line with its innovative approach to business.

“It’s exciting times we live in and bitcoin is a movement that is gaining huge international traction as a currency that is borderless,” says Caine Thompson, managing director of Pyramid Valley. “We’re increasingly getting requests from our international customers to be able to pay with bitcoin, particularly for our exclusive Home Collection wines. They don’t want to be worried about exchange rates and costly transaction fees.” . . .

Record year as NZ Racing Board continues transformation:

At the NZ Racing Board AGM, held at the Head Office in Wellington today, the NZ Racing Board reflected on a record-breaking financial year and outlined its ambitious vision and goals for the future.

Financial achievements in 2013 included a record turnover of $1,956.8m, and record distributions of $147.7m to the racing industry and sporting organisations.

Speaking at the AGM, NZ Racing Board Chair Glenda Hughes said the organisation and the industry still faced significant challenges, and ongoing transformation and a collaborative approach is key to further, sustained success for an industry that contributes almost 1% of GDP. . .


Rural round-up

November 9, 2013

Central Plains Water gets the green light from shareholders:

Thirteen years after it was first mooted, Central Plains Water Ltd (CPWL) Board have given approval for the giant scheme to become a reality after 90% of Stage I shareholders and over 72% of Stage II and III committed to the 60,000ha scheme.

For the scheme to progress it needed commitment for 18,000h of Stage I and 26,000 ha of Stage II and III. Both thresholds have been met fully by existing shareholders.

Chief executive Derek Crombie said that achieving this level of commitment from shareholders is testimony to the phenomenal dedication and hard work put in by so many over the years.

“I’m sure that there were many times when the hurdles seemed too great, so now all that is required is for the board to confirm our construction programme and to allocate shares,which should happen in the next week. To get this high level of uptake for the scheme from the existing shareholders is a fantastic result. This commitment ensures that the ownership remains local. We set a pretty high bar but are now delighted to say that we have managed to clear it,” he said. . .

First water released in irrigation scheme – Tony Benny:

The first water from the Rangitata South irrigation scheme is now available to some farmers as commissioning of the project, that will eventually irrigate 16,000 hectares between the Rangitata and Orari rivers and out to the coast, begins.
One of the project’s seven storage ponds on the south side of the Rangitata, near Arundel, is now 90 per cent full and water has been released into irrigation races to allow leak testing, part of a commissioning process that will take up to four months.

The seven ponds will hold a total of 16 million cubic metres of water, drawn from the Rangitata River when it’s in flood – a flow of more than 110 cumecs, enough to provide 30 days of irrigation storage. Farmer shareholders are also required to have an additional week of storage in their own ponds. . . .

Food safety forum to come to NZ for first time:

A number of food scares, including the botulism scare caused by Fonterra, has inspired the organisers of the Global Food Safety Forum to hold it in New Zealand for the first time.

“NZ has been caught out on a number of occasions and the dialogue and interaction will be focused on preventing further issues,” food integrity consultant Dr Helen Darling said.

The conference, to be attended by the 160 delegates from China, US and Australia, will look at emerging threats and ways to address them before they become a problem she said. . .

Challenges ahead in Ballance awards:

BALLANCE AWARDS organiser, the New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust, is gearing up for another big year as it strives to help farmers face the challenges of the future.

NZFE chairman Alistair Polson said at the annual meeting that 2013 was a successful year for the trust’s flagship enterprise, the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA). Regional and national BFEA competitions, ceremonies and field days are popular and well supported.

Another highlight for the trust was the addition of the Taranaki region for 2014, bringing the number of regions involved in the BFEA competition to 10. “We hope to include the remaining regions in future.” . . .

Nelson peony venture blossoming – Tracy Neal:

Growing “big blousy flowers” for America is far from Georgia Richards’ early ambition to grow culinary herbs, but the peony venture is proving highly suited to the quiet block of Dovedale land she farms with partner Dot Kettle.

The business is blossoming in a new direction beyond export grade flowers, to one that utilises the benefits of peonies in soaps, skin creams and even tea blends.

The pair have just launched Dove River Peonies soaps and creams, which like many new creations, was driven by need. In their case it was the lack of any good skin products for their sons’ eczema that drove them to create a product specially for sensitive skins. With the help of Nelson firm Global Soap, the soap range was born combining powdered peony root in an olive oil base for sensitive skin, or citrus blends for an “indulgent” soap. . .

It’s blooming time for quality fruit - Farming Unlocked:

Regular readers of my blog will know that I do not particularly enjoy our cold winters. However as spring envelops us, the weather warms up and the sun’s rays soak into my skin and prise something open from within. My heart feels somehow warmer and I feel invigorated and alive.

This is mirrored in my surroundings. At this time of year, no matter which window I look out, I can see a mass of white apple blossom, contrasted against the lush, green of tender new growth. I find myself in an almost constant state of distraction, drawn to gaze out at the breathtaking beauty with a sense of wonderment and respect.

I find that I cannot adequately put into words the magnificent performance that the orchard puts forward at this time of year, so I will try to show it in pictures instead. . .


Rural round-up

October 12, 2013

Living up to our global responsibilities - Bruce Wills:

Not to give you the wrong impression, but I am writing this column from Geneva, where I have co-presented the World Farmers Organisation’s trade policy to the World Trade Organisation. I am back in Europe thanks to the WTO but it has helped to advance New Zealand’s agricultural diplomacy.

As a trading nation, we absolutely depend on trade in a world that is utterly dependent upon food. There are some things which keep me awake at night. Adverse weather events and biosecuirty being chief among them but there is a third which increasingly gnaws at me. That is a perfect storm of food production not keeping pace with a world population expected to hit 9.3 billion stomachs in the year 2050; an amazing 2.3 billion more than today.

Henk-Jen Brinkman, of the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office, called food insecurity “a threat multiplier”. . .

Angus farmers see grass is greener - Tim Cronshaw:

New Zealand’s grass-based feeding system for cattle was the main talking point of 110 international visitors at Te Mania Angus, during one of the first stops of a South Island tour, before the World Angus Forum in Rotorua next week.

Overseas visitors were treated to a wide selection of angus heifers with calves, mature calving cows, yearling bulls and herd sires, at the breeding operation at Conway Flats, south of Kaikoura.

They were also impressed by food prepared by celebrity chef Al Brown for their Monday visit at one of the largest angus breeding operations in New Zealand, and its setting next to the sea, with a snow-topped mountain backdrop. . . .

Milk powder scare will cause long term disruption – Alan Barber:

It may be a statement of the obvious, but the effects of Fonterra’s botulism scare will last much longer than originally hoped or imagined. Its impact on New Zealand’s international trade reputation gives the impression of being more disastrous than an outbreak of foot and mouth disease, always assumed to be the biggest disaster that could possibly happen.

Economically there is no comparison between the two, because the botulism that wasn’t has initially done no more than cause infant formula manufacturers a loss of business. There has been no apparent impact on dairy payouts or even global auction prices. Fonterra appears to be pretending the whole saga wasn’t even its fault, if its reaction to Danone’s damages claim is any guide.   . .

Sainsbury’s evaluating merits of docking – Alan Williams:

Big United Kingdom supermarket chain Sainsbury’s will be guided by the science on issues it is working on with leading lamb supplier Alliance Group.

These are the docking of lambs’ tails and the use of high-sugar grasses as a livestock feed in New Zealand.

Animal welfare and sustainable production were key parts of Sainsbury’s strategic vision and its work with Alliance was part of the process to have matching values between the main UK lamb supply group and NZ suppliers, the chain’s agriculture manager Philip Hambling said.

The first year of a three-year tail-docking research programme, reported in The New Zealand Farmers Weekly, has been completed.

It produced interesting findings but it was too early to draw conclusions, Hambling said. . .

Gisborne forest boom predicted – Pam Graham:

The harvesting of forests in the Gisborne-Tairawhiti region on the East Coast will create 630 jobs by 2020, potentially reducing drug abuse and crime in the region, according to a report.

A study by Waikato University for the Eastland Wood Council says that by 2020 up to 10 percent of the population of Gisborne will be involved in, or derive a living from forestry.

Salaries and wages to Gisborne residents are likely to increase to $151 million a year in that period.

The number of people receiving welfare benefits will go down, schools will benefit from having parents employed and there may be less drug abuse and crime. . .

Weather helping croppers – Murray Robertson:

THE weather has been helping the district’s croppers in the past week to catch up with their planting programmes after heavy rain last month.

This is a crucial time for every crop and cropper in the district.

Leaderbrand general manager Richard Burke said they had everything they needed at this time.

“Things are pretty good really. . .

Awards offer chance to put spotlight on sustainability - Sue O’Dowd:

There’s no time like the present to enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, says national judging co-ordinator Jamie Strang.

Earlier this week the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFET) confirmed eight entries had been received for the Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The prestigious awards, which are held in 12 regions, are being staged in the province for the first time.

While some farmers said they wanted to delay entering the competition because they thought their farm wasn’t quite ready, often they’d say the same thing in following years, Strang said.

Many farmers did not like being in the spotlight, but entering the awards offered many benefits. . .

Solid start to avocado export sales:

The first of this season’s New Zealand avocados have started hitting the supermarket shelves in Japan this week in a buoyant start to export sales there, and opening prices in Australia are at their best.

Rival Mexican supply is lower, which has allowed Avanza, the international export brand channel for AVOCO, to start early season negotiations in Japan at significantly improved market prices. While this is partly offset by an unfavourable exchange rate it still reflects a significant improvement in grower OGR (orchard gate returns).

At the same time, interest in New Zealand avocados is proving to be strong in developing markets such as Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia and there are encouraging signs that Avanza sales will resume in Hong Kong after a two-year absence. . .


Rural round-up

August 28, 2013

Badger cull beings in Somerset in attempt to tackle TB -

A badger cull is under way in England despite protests, the National Farmers’ Union has confirmed.

About 5,000 badgers are expected to be killed in controlled shootings over six weeks in Somerset and Gloucestershire.

Supporters say the cull is necessary to tackle bovine TB, which can be spread from infected badgers, but opponents say it is inhumane and ineffective.

The RSPCA said it was “saddened”, while anti-cull protesters held a vigil as the pilot began, initially in Somerset.

It is understood the cull in Gloucestershire will start later this week. . .

Non-chemical varroa control shows promise:

A bee breeding project that promises another non-chemical option for varroa control is gaining ground.

Nelson company, Rainbow Honey is continuing a programme started by Plant and Food Research to build up populations of honey bees that control the killer parasites in hives by interfering with their breeding cycle.

The bees carry a genetic trait, called the varroa sensitive hygienic or VSH trait.

Project leader Rae Butler says they’ve been building up VSH bee numbers in 80 trial hives to the stage where they’ve been able to reduce the number of chemical treatments needed to keep varroa under control. . .

Native larvae attacks grass grub:

Scientists are investigating a potential new biological control for one of New Zealand’s most voracious pasture pests, the grass grub.

Researchers from the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) made the discovery in Southbridge, Canterbury when they found grass grub pupae being eaten alive by maggots.

They identified the maggots as the larvae of a little known native carnivorous fly. . .

International Standard for Manuka Honey Already Exists Says Airborne Honey:

New Zealand’s oldest honey brand urges producers to stand together and support current international honey guidelines to save industry’s reputation

According to Airborne Honey, New Zealand’s oldest honey brand, embracing the existing CODEX International Standard for Honey would be the most appropriate and immediately effective response to global criticism of Manuka honey and how it is labelled and tested. This call for the industry to stand together comes as New Zealand honey hits the headlines again. Problems have surfaced in the UK about Manuka honey not being true to variety and also in Hong Kong where it has been reported that a large amount of honey is mislabeled as well as being significantly heat damaged. . .

MPI initiative to boost industry partnership a success:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has welcomed two new secondees from industry to its policy branch, after an initial secondment into the standards branch has proven to be a success.

Alistair Mowat from Zespri International Limited and Mark Ward from the Riddit Institute bring industry expertise to the policy group’s strategic team which focuses on long-term decision making and future work programmes. This follows on from an initial secondment in March.

“Having worked with a range of primary sectors at different levels of development enables me to add a unique set of strategic and innovative skills to the team,” says Mr Mowat who is working on the Export Double programme. . .

Increased forecast milk price, a positive for dairy farmers and all of New Zealand: Brown:

All of New Zealand will benefit from today’s announced 30 cent increase in the Forecast Farmgate Milk said Fonterra Shareholders’ Council Chairman, Ian Brown.

The Fonterra Board of Directors today announced a revised Farmgate Milk Price forecast of $7.80 per kg/MS for the 2013/14 season, a 30 cent increase, keeping the advance rate at $ 5.50 and the previously estimated dividend at 32 cents per share.

Ian Brown: “This result shows the strength of demand on the international market for dairy products and the benefits will flow through New Zealand from farmers increased ability to spend on the inputs required to operate our dairy farms. . .

Entries open for 2014 Ballance Farm Awards:

Entries are now open for the 2014 Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The Awards, which have been running in the region for 11 years, celebrate responsible land stewardship and sustainable farm management practices.

Jocelyn Muller, the Canterbury Regional Coordinator for the Ballance Awards, said the awards continue to go from strength to strength in Canterbury.

“The Awards recognise and celebrate that best practice on-farm management is good for business and good for the environment. . .

Positive start to season for Zespri SunGold:

Zespri’s recently-commercialised gold kiwifruit variety SunGold is enjoying solid sales in 2013 and a great reception from consumers around the world.

Zespri President of Global Sales and Marketing Dan Mathieson gave growers an update from the markets on a recent visit to New Zealand and spoke about the growing level of confidence Zespri’s customers have in SunGold (also known as Gold3 in New Zealand).

“We’ve had an overall positive response to this juicy new variety and its refreshing sweet/sour taste balance in Japan, the rest of Asia, Europe and North America. With an increased volume, we’re now able to transition from Hort16A (Gold) to SunGold in more key markets and sales are going well,” says Dan. . .


Rural round-up

August 22, 2013

Age crisis dawns as sunset years sets on workers - Hugh Stringleman:

KPMG has delved into the perplexing reasons why young people don’t take careers in agriculture more seriously in a country which relies upon the primary sector. Hugh Stringleman has read its latest Agribusiness Agenda report.

The capability of the people who work the land has made New Zealand what it is today.

While competitors can replicate equipment and processes, it is not easy to replicate the insight and relationships that people have developed over decades, according to the latest KPMG agribusiness report.

But the ages of existing farmers, orchardists and scientists continue to rise and the entire primary sector faces manpower shortages now and in the future. . .

Balance sheets under stress from lower livestock numbers – Allan Barber:

After the discussions between meat companies, lobbying by MIE, conferences and strategy debates, right now an eerie calm has settled over the meat industry. This is partly due to the mid winter slowdown in processing activity with only bobby calves to get excited about

At this time of year companies are doing their best to minimise any losses in the last quarter. There is no doubt the final results will be a lot better than last year, but they have to be, because the large companies could not sustain another big hit to their balance sheets.

Combined current and non-current debt between Silver Fern Farms, Alliance and ANZCO of $710 million at 30 September 2012 to fund losses and inventories means a substantial improvement this season is absolutely essential. The noises from the processors suggest moderate profits at best, mainly because of a sell down of inventory leading to reduced current debt and better control of procurement, offset by lower margins. . .

Spierings leads charge of change – Fran O’Sullivan:

Fonterra boss Theo Spierings has consolidated his powerbase at the dairy co-operative with chairman John Wilson’s emailed statement to shareholders that the board has confidence in the way the chief executive is handling the tainted whey protein affair.

The brutal truth is that long-time senior executive Gary Romano – who ran the New Zealand operation – had already offered himself up as the sacrificial lamb.

Romano’s resignation came before the various inquiry teams had even started delving into who to blame for the late discovery of “clostridium” in a batch of whey protein which had been made into infant formula and other products.

Since then two other executives have been put on leave – a clear indication that Fonterra already has a good idea where the buck will stop on this fiasco. . .

Auctioneers competition returns:

Following a successful inaugural event, the Heartland Bank Young Auctioneers Competition will return to the Canterbury A&P Show in 2013. 

The competition aims to showcase and develop young livestock auctioneers and improve the standard of auctioneering across the board. 

During the judging, which includes a test of auction rules and a mock auction, each entrant will be required to sell three lots of heifers/bulls. . .

Eastern Southland Dairy Conversion Benefits from Farm Environment Competition:

Entering the Ballance Farm Environment Awards helped a fledgling Southland dairy operation measure its progress as a successful and sustainable farming business.

South Coast Dairy Ltd, an equity partnership between five families, owns 202ha between Curio Bay and the Haldane Estuary in Eastern Southland. The former sheep and beef farm was converted four years ago and now milks 385 cows on a 135ha milking platform.

Mindful of the farm’s location in a sensitive coastal area, the owners have made a big effort to mitigate the environmental impacts of dairying, with extensive riparian fencing and planting work conducted following consultation with the Department of Conservation, Environment Southland, Landcare Trust and Fish and Game. . .

Brancott Vineyard celebrates its 40th anniversary:

As the pioneers of the Marlborough wine region and its signature varietals, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, Brancott Estate is excited to celebrate 40 years since the first planting of vines at Brancott Vineyard, home of world-renowned Brancott Estate wines.

On 24 August 1973, in front of a crowd of local media, politicians and business leaders, the Marlborough wine industry was born. At the time, the founder of what is now Brancott Estate, Frank Yukich made the statement that “wines from here will become world-famous” – and indeed they have, receiving many prestigious awards and accolades around the world. . .


Rural round-up

August 2, 2013

Debt puts pressure on large companies to achieve solution – Allan Barber:

If there was ever a compelling reason for the meat companies to sort out the problems of procurement competition and excess capacity, the debt levels on the balance sheets of the big three at the end of last season provide one.

Between them they stacked up combined current and non-current borrowings of $710 million, 45% of these on Silver Fern Farms’ books, 28% on Alliance’s and 27% on ANZCO’s. No wonder they can’t afford another loss-making year like 2011/12 which makes this year so important for getting back into as healthy a condition as possible.

The forecast livestock volumes, especially sheep and lambs, for the next four years place a great deal of pressure on the companies to find a solution urgently before procurement competition breaks out yet again. MPI’s Situation and Outlook Report which came out in June predicts a gradual recovery in values, but livestock numbers and export tonnages are virtually static or declining, because of the effects of the drought, herd and flock rebuilding and the impact of dairy on land use. . .

Ballance pays record rebate after record performance:

 Ballance Agri-Nutrients shareholders are in line for a record rebate and dividend of $65/tonne, along with a recommended 60 cent increase in the value of their co-operative’s shares to $8.10.

The rebate averaging $60.83 per tonne and a fully imputed dividend of 10 cents per share will be paid out nearly six weeks earlier during mid-August, with Ballance Chairman David Graham saying the payment has been brought forward to reward shareholders and assist them with cash flows at the start of the season.

“The drought may be over but the financial impacts are not, so we are fast-tracking the payment for shareholders in recognition of that so they can gain the full benefits of a good year for their co-operative as quickly as possible.” . . .

AgResearch creating the ‘Silicon Valley of Food’

 With food being to New Zealand what ‘Silicon Valley’ is to the United States’ technology sector, Federated Farmers is backing AgResearch’s strategic move to create two major research campuses supplemented by two smaller ones.

“Federated Farmers is backing AgResearch in what is an important strategic move for it and New Zealand,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President.

“Its masterplan is about supporting primary exports to reach $64 billion by 2025.

“We cannot deny there is a human element to this change and while 40 positions are slated to go, the actual number will be low given this is a four- year transition. That said, it will require a number of staff and their families to consider where their long-term futures lie.

“Federated Farmers is encouraged to see that no staff will be required to relocate until 2016. . .

Reduce nitrate leaching with mobile milking system – Milking on the Moove:

Unconventional ways to reduce nitrate leaching

Part 1 
A few weeks ago I explained how agroforestry is a farming system that is able to reduce nitrate leaching.

Part 2
Today I will talk about how a dairy farming system based around a mobile cowshed is able to reduce the level of nitrate leaching.

A traditional cowshed is in a fixed location. The cows have to be within walking distance of the cowshed because they need to get milked twice a day.

The main cause of nitrate leaching on dairy farms in the cows urine patch.

For this reason, the cows are always grazed on the same block of land surrounding the cowshed. . .

Honouring the unsung young heroes of the Hawke’s Bay wine industry:

Moore Stephens Markhams Young Viticulturist of the Year Competition Friday 2 August 2013.

Hawke’s Bay is internationally renowned for its wine. The local wineries and winemakers are household names, with exceptional reputations in New Zealand and further afield.

Less well known, but just as crucial to the crafting of world-beating wine, are the viticulturists. They are intimately involved in all aspects of vineyard management; their extraordinary knowledge ensuring winemakers have the best possible grapes to work with after each harvest.

The region’s best up-and-coming viticulturists are being honoured on Friday 2 August at the Moore Stephens Markhams Young Viticulturist of the Year Competition. This is being held at Mission Estate – their viticulturist Caine Thompson took out the Hawke’s Bay competition in 2009. He went on to win the national awards, before being named New Zealand Young Horticulturist of the Year. . .

Technology could be future boon for kiwifruit growers:

A new online system is being developed that might one day help kiwifruit growers make decisions on when to spray orchards for pests and diseases. The system is in the early stages of development in a joint project between the University of Waikato and Plant & Food Research (PFR).

The web-based tool is should help reduce time and costs associated with pest monitoring in kiwifruit orchards and spray application.

The current process of physically monitoring pest levels is time consuming, says University of Waikato summer research scholarship student Michael Fowke.

“Spraying is a necessary exercise for growers and a lot of time is spent trying to identify when or whether spraying is needed,” he says. “It will need a lot more testing in the field but potentially this system could cut that time down considerably.” . .

Iwi Suggests To Pull Plug on Dam:

At a Hui an Iwi held at Matahiwi marae last night, Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated was asked by several Heretaunga hapū to oppose the Ruataniwha Dam project on their behalf.

The main reasons given were inadequate consultation, selective information release, and the failure by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to recognize and acknowledge the Tino Rangatiratanga that hapū had exercised over rivers and water bodies from time immemorial. . .

Keen-To-Learn Farmer Turns to Ballance Farm Environment Awards for Information and Inspiration:

Returning to the family farm five years ago was an in-the-deep-end experience for Waikato farmer James Bailey and his wife Ella.

‘Momona’, a 440ha (effective) Tirau sheep and beef farm, had been in the Bailey family for five generations, so James was eager to start off on the right foot. While he was mindful of the work performed by past generations, he was also keen to improve the environmental sustainability of the business.

James, a keen surfer, is co-founder of Sustainable Coastlines – an award-winning registered charity that organises coastal clean-ups, educational programmes and riparian plantings. . .


Rural round-up

July 31, 2013

Fonterra’s ‘overdraft clearing forecast’ for 2013/14:

A milk price of $7.50 per kilogram of milksolids (kg/MS), now being forecast by Fonterra Cooperative Group for the 2013/14 season, is an ‘overdraft clearer’. Federated Farmers believes farmers will look to pay back credit lines extended to them during the drought.

“This increase in the payout forecast from $7 to $7.50 kg/MS comes off a very strong balance sheet,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairman.

“Obviously this and an advance payout of $5.50 kg/MS, is great news after a disappointing back end to the last season. Given this time last year payout forecast were being paired back, seeing it go up is a huge relief. . . .

Increased forecast milk price, advance payout evidence of Fonterra’s strength: Brown:

A 50 cent increase in the forecast Farmgate Milk Price and advance for the 2013/14 season is reflection of the Co-operative’s strength said Fonterra Shareholders’ Council Chairman, Ian Brown.

The Fonterra Board of Directors today announced a revised Farmgate Milk Price forecast of $7.50 per kg/MS for the 2013/14 season, including a $5.50 advance, and an estimated dividend of 32 cents per share.

Ian Brown: “This outcome is evidence of a strong organisation that has moved appropriately for the benefit of its supplier Shareholders. . .

Latest water quality trends ‘red letter day’ for farming:

Good environmental farm management is starting to show through in the Ministry for the Environment’s (MfE) latest River condition indicator.  This shows that over a decade at 90 percent of the sites tested, most of the MfE’s key indicators were either stable or improving.

“Improved management of the land and water resource by everyone may be starting to show up in these water quality results,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“In broad brush terms New Zealand’s water quality is steadily improving.

“In recent years, farmers and communities have really stepped up their efforts but we know we can and must do better. This latest report shows we are heading in the right direction and we need to take this as encouragement to further step up our collective efforts. . .

AgResearch Plans Its Future Footprint:

The country’s largest Crown Research Institute, AgResearch, has released further details of its plans to reinvest $100 million into its campus facilities and resources.

AgResearch Chief Executive Dr Tom Richardson says the proposal is now with staff for consultation and involves a major reconfiguration and reinvestment of AgResearch’s campus and farm infrastructure to create a vital agricultural research institute for the next 50 years.

“We will be modernising our science facilities, co-locating our capability wherever possible, and participating in large agriculture innovation hubs, all of which will generate greater returns across the pastoral sector.

“This is a once in a generation opportunity to put AgResearch in the best possible long-term position to do more quality science more effectively and efficiently, and to make a much bigger difference to the agricultural sector’s productivity and profitability,” he says. . . .

New on-line weather forecast service:

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith today launched a new online mountain weather forecast service that will improve the enjoyment and safety of trampers, hunters, mountain bikers, skiers and fishers using New Zealand’s National and Forest Parks.

“New Zealand’s mountain environment can quickly turn from warm and calm to treacherous. We can improve the safety and enjoyment of users by providing more frequent and detailed weather forecasts on the internet,” Dr Smith says.

“We lose about six people per year in our mountains and often these deaths are weather related. We also have about 150 mountain search and rescue callouts a year. This improved weather service will reduce risk and save lives.

“The new online mountain weather forecast service will provide standardised five day forecasts updated every day for 24 mountain locations across eight of New Zealand’s most popular parks. This compares to a previous service of eight locations with a mix of forecast lengths from two to five days and from a frequency of twice daily to weekly. . .

Speech to Horticulture New Zealand annual conference – Nathan Guy:

Today I want to talk to you about my priorities for the primary sector, of which horticulture is a major part. In particular I want to talk about the two goals that the Ministry for Primary Industries has – to grow and protect New Zealand’s economy.

As you all know, the primary sector is the powerhouse of our economy. It is worth around $30 billion a year to the New Zealand economy and makes up around 72 per cent of our exports.

Your industry is a major part of this equation, with New Zealand’s horticultural exports earned $3.6 billion in the year ended 31 March 2013. The total value of horticultural products produced is around $6.6 billion. . .

Farm Environment Awards Motivate Northland Farmers to Lift Game:

Participating in the Ballance Farm Environment Awards inspired Ken and Janine Hames to step up environmental work on their Northland farm.

Ken says they entered the awards to benchmark themselves against other farmers and “to see where we were at” in terms of environmental sustainability.

He and Janine, a vet at Ruawai, first entered the Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards in 2010 and were thrilled to win two category awards.

“I guess it showed we were on the right track,” says Ken, who runs an intensive bull finishing operation on 400ha at Paparoa, southeast of Dargaville. . .


Rural round-up

July 23, 2013

Synlait Milk jumps 19% in NZX debut after raising $75m:

Business Desk – Synlait Milk jumped 19 percent in its NZX debut after raising $75 million in an initial public offering that was restricted to clients of brokers and institutional investors.

The shares first traded at $2.62 compared with the IPO price of $2.20. They were last at $2.75, valuing the company at $402 million.

Synlait Milk will use the $75 million raised to repay debt and help fund construction of a new lactoferrin extraction and purification facility, an on-site blending and consumer packaging plant, a new dry store, a quality testing laboratory, a butter plant, and a new spray dryer, according to the prospectus. Existing shareholders took advantage of the sale to sell down their own holdings, raising $38.7 million. . .

Strong Chinese Interest in Westland’s New Infant Range:

Westland Milk Products’ launch of its new Westpro NutritionTM range in China on Thursday last week (19 July) was well received with strong interest from customers and Chinese media.

The official launch of Westland’s range of infant nutrition base powders was part of a week-long visit to Shanghai by the company to demonstrate Westland’s commitment to the China market, raise awareness of the Westland Milk Products brand and to promote Westpro Nutrition. . .

International student exchanges opportunity of a lifetime – Pasture to Profit:

International Agricultural Student Exchanges offer an opportunity of a life time experience, few will ever forget. Exchange to another country, another University with a mix of exchangees from many different nations provides endless excitement, friendships & cultural appreciation at an age when you can “suck it all in” big time. I’d like to encourage many more agricultural students to apply for exchanges.

Potential employers look very favourably on any graduate who has taken these opportunities & made the most of them. . .

Entries Open for Next Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Entries for the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards open on August 1, 2013, and organisers are again expecting strong interest in the popular competition.

Facilitated by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFE), the awards promote sustainable land management by showcasing the work of people farming in a way that is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.

Held in nine regions, the awards are open to all farming and horticultural types. . .

Chair appointed to racing board:

Racing Minister Nathan Guy today announced the appointment of Glenda Hughes as Independent Chairperson of the New Zealand Racing Board’s (NZRB’s) governing body.

Ms Hughes was appointed as Independent Chairperson following consultation with the racing industry.

The racing industry makes an important contribution to the New Zealand economy, generating around $1.6 billion annually and around 17000 jobs. . .

Rotorua to host Maori Forestry Forum:

Registrations are now open for ‘Mai i te ngahere oranga – Māori Forestry Forum’ to be held at Waiariki Institute of Technology in Rotorua on Friday 16 August.

With $2 billion in forestry assets that include land, trees and energy options, Māori are set to become key stakeholders in the future of forestry.

This inaugural Māori Forestry Forum will provide a platform for Māori land and forest owners to discuss their experiences, issues and aspirations for Māori forestry in Aotearoa. . .


Rural round-up

July 1, 2013

All of market’s wants required - Sally Rae:

New Zealand’s red meat industry needs to have the ”whole package” when it comes to market presence, robust systems, strong relationships and corporate respect.

That was one of the findings of Five Forks couple Blair and Jane Smith, the supreme winners of the 2012 Ballance Farm Environment Awards, after a 16-day study tour of specific primary industry markets in Korea, Taiwan and China. . . .

Agriculture begging for graduates – Kashka Tunstall:

It ranks as New Zealand’s most productive, innovative sector.

Entry level positions get an annual pay packet of $55,000, roughly 40 per cent more than the average arts graduate entering the workforce will earn.

Progression is a given and, with shortages in the field internationally, graduates end up having a global career.

The problem is, no one wants to study it.

Agriculture, which John Key has called the backbone of New Zealand’s economy, is an industry with massive growth potential. . .

Couple top Kiwi green farmers - Gerald Piddock:

Craige and Roz Mackenzie have been recognised as the country’s top environmental farmers after being named national winners of the 2013 Farm Environment Awards.

They received the Gordon Stephenson Trophy in front of 400 guests at the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust’s Sustainability Showcase in Hamilton on Saturday night.

The winner is recognised as an ambassador for the promotion of sustainable and profitable farming in New Zealand.

The event celebrated the contribution agriculture made to the New Zealand economy and highlighted the efforts farmers had made to find better ways to manage their farming systems.

The trophy is presented annually and is named after the Waikato farmer who started the farm environment awards. . .

Family mill does more than lumber along - Sally Rae:

Sawmilling has always been a passion for Roger Stuart.

Unsurprisingly, it was all he wanted to do when he left school, given the family connection with the timber industry.

Stuart Timber, at Tapanui, which he now manages, was established in 1980 by the Stuart family and remains a real family business.

”Sawmilling is definitely in the veins of the Stuart crew, no doubt about that,” he mused recently. . .

New president for Rural Contractors NZ:

Wellsford-based agricultural contractor Steve Levet is the new head of the Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ).

Rural Contractors New Zealand is the only national association for rural contractors in New Zealand.

Mr Levet was elected president of the association at its annual conference, held in Cromwell in late June, taking over from John Hughes who stood down after four years in the role. Southland’s David Kean was elected vice-president. . .

 

UK’s top end supermarket keen on HB red wine:

Hawke’s Bay’s “exciting” wines and the “clean living” image of this region fits the “aspirational ideals” of the customers of Waitrose, UK’s leading top end supermarket, according to its New Zealand wine buyer Matt Smith, who was here on a scouting mission to find new wines to stock the shelves.

It was Mr Smith’s second visit to the region and he was excited by the opportunity he saw for Hawke’s Bay Merlot Cabernet blends. He described the wines he tasted as being “impressive” food focused wines that had benefited from more sun and warmth than competing wines from around the world. . . .


Rural roundup

May 20, 2013

Communication key in success of group – Sally Rae:

The importance of communication has been stressed by those involved with Mitchell and Webster Group – the supreme winner of this year’s Otago Ballance farm environment awards.

The intensive cropping operation and wholesale business producing bird and small animal feed is based on the Mitchell family’s historic Rosedale farm at Weston and covers 1375ha of arable land in North Otago.

A large crowd attended a field day hosted last week by Peter Mitchell and Jock and Nick Webster and their families. . .

Exceptional Family-Run Business Scoops Supreme Award In Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

An extraordinary cropping and wholesale business run by two families has won the Supreme Award in the 2013 Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Jock Webster, Nick Webster and Peter Mitchell of the Mitchell Webster Group received the special award at a Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony in Wanaka on April 12, 2013.

Producing bird and animal feed, their intensive cropping business spans 1380ha of arable land in North Otago and is based from the Mitchell family’s historic ‘Rosedale’ farm at Weston.

The Mitchell and Webster families joined forces in 1972, creating, said BFEA judges, “an extraordinary and inspirational family business that has withstood the test of time”. . .

Scale, diversity of Asian markets noticed – Sally Rae:

An industry-backed trip to Asia has given Blair and Jane Smith a deeper understanding of the challenges facing marketers of New Zealand meat and dairy products.

Mr and Mrs Smith, from Five Forks and the national winners of the 2012 Ballance farm environment awards, recently returned from South Korea, China, Taiwan and Singapore.

They visited various markets for New Zealand sheep, beef and dairy products, with the aim of learning more about offshore markets, exchanging views on topics of interest to New Zealand farmers and of highlighting New Zealand’s stance on agricultural sustainability. . .

Ace shearer special guest – Sally Rae:

Top shearer David Fagan will be the special guest at the Royal Agricultural Society of New Zealand’s national Golden Fleece competition in Mosgiel this week.

The Otago-Taieri A&P Society is hosting the event, which is open to both fine- and strong-wool growers throughout New Zealand.

The competition has been held for more than 40 years and has moved around the country, although it had predominantly been hosted in the South Island as that was where most of the entries came from, RAS executive member Kelly Allison said. . .

Slow and steady wins farm race – Annette Lambly:

A simple but effective stocking policy has earned Paparoa farmers Janine and Ken Hames recognition in this year’s Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The couple, who own Ewenny Farms, a 351ha (256ha effective) beef-only farm on Paparoa-Oakleigh Rd, achieve meat production of 277kg CW/ha (three-year average).

This is well above average for this class of land (Waiotira clay loam) in Northland and is accomplished with all-grass feeding, with no hay or silage.

Janine, a veterinarian, has a comprehensive animal health plan for the cattle, and does regular drench checks and faecal egg counts. . .

Tradeable slaughter rights useful but may not be the answer – Allan Barber:

The Tradable Slaughter Rights concept, raised by me several weeks ago and promoted last week by Mike Petersen, was first proposed by Pappas, Carter, Evans and Koop in 1985. But its purpose was specifically to solve the problem of an industry that consisted of a lot of weak competitors with little innovation or variation in killing charges. The report identified excess costs between farmgate and shipside of $100 million or 8%.

Although the meat companies are not exactly making huge profits or enjoying strong balance sheets, it would be entirely false to accuse them of lack of innovation and high operating cost structures. What is still relevant is the issue of excess capacity, but the end result today is not too much cost, but too much procurement competition. . .


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