Rural round-up

September 29, 2014

Te Puni Kōkiri Chief Executive Hails Growing Success Of Māori Agribusiness at Ahuwhenua competition launch – 2014 FOMA Conference:

Speaking at the official launch of the 2015 BNZ Māori in Farming Award – Sheep & Beef (Ahuwhenua Trophy) at the FoMA Conference in Whanganui this evening, Te Puni Kōkiri chief executive Michelle Hippolite said: “The Ahuwhenua Trophy Competition remains a preeminent showcase for excellence, achievement, and for growing Māori innovation for economic prosperity.”
Looking around the room, Michelle said that those at the conference showed the depth and calibre of talent at the helm of large Māori farming enterprises around the country.

“Over the years, most of these Māori farm enterprises had featured as entrants and finalists in the Ahuwhenua Trophy Competition,” she said. “Today the competition could be credited with driving continued improvements occurring in Māori agribusiness, and which were now pushing it to the forefront of the sector.” . . .

Second hand TradeMe buys boosts farm change – Jill Galloway & Sandra Crosbie:

Ryley Short says that when the Fonterra tanker first came to collect milk at her Mt Stewart farm there were 10 people there cheering. They were all involved in converting the farm to dairy, wanting to see it succeed.

“The tanker driver was a bit surprised,” Ryley says. “He asked if this was the first milk picked up. It was. It had been a sheep and beef farm before the conversion.”

The switch by Ryley Short and her husband Mike to dairying is a conversion with a difference. They have relied a great deal on Trade Me for secondhand equipment, which they often get cheaply. Even the dairy shed came through the online auction website. . .

Production at demo farm reaches record level  -

Daily milksolids (MS) production for each cow on the Waimate West Demonstration Farm near Manaia in Taranaki is at its highest ever.

The daily per cow MS production has reached two kilograms in the third and final season of a trial that’s investigating the viability of integrating cropping on the dairy platform.

Twenty-five per cent of the farm is being planted in crops for the trial.

At last week’s spring field day on the farm, DairyNZ scientist Kevin Macdonald produced figures showing daily milksolids per cow to mid-September was almost half a kilogram higher than last year’s figure of 1.56kg. . . .

National’s Freshwater Fund may spur on-farm wetlands:

 Having worked with DairyNZ to analyse the $100m freshwater fund policy, recently announced by the National Party, Federated Farmers believes it could vastly improve water quality outcomes.

“The Fund to retire farmland would be perhaps better interpreted as a policy to create on-farm wetlands,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers Environment spokesperson.

“After talking with the team at DairyNZ we’ve arrived at a very different conclusion to that other groups have come up with.

“Instead of looking at this as a linear purchase of land, or trying to recreate MAF’s old farm advisory division, think more along the lines of NIWA’s guidelines for constructed wetlands.

“A fund $10 million a year could purchase at least 286 hectares. Using NIWA guidelines and if turned into strategically located wetlands, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers believe it could remove 60-70 percent of Nitrogen from around 9,500 hectares of farmland. . .

 Sweet Success for Villa Maria at International Wine Show:

It was sweet success for Villa Maria last evening, collecting nine gold medals and the trophy for Champion Sweet Wine at the New Zealand International Wine Show, held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Auckland.

The New Zealand International Wine show is the country’s largest wine show, in its tenth year with over 2000 global entries, it gives recognition to wines that are or will be sold in New Zealand.

The world renowned show organised by Kingsley Wood of First Glass Wines of Auckland, has a panel of over twenty experts judging the high calibre of entrants, overseen by Chief Judge Bob Campbell, MW. . .

 


Rural round-up

September 28, 2014

Building an educated workforce – Rick Powdrell:

How about that election result then! The most interesting result took place up in Te Tai Tokerau with Labour‘s Kelvin Davis being elected.  Can I give a big thumbs up to the average Kiwi voter who responded to electoral nastiness by sending one political movement packing.

New Zealanders have dodged a bullet and it restores your faith in democracy.  The party I am thinking about wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about what we farmers do on-farm either.

In this election, it was clear to me that some people do not understand that farming is the most international business we have.  A business you can’t up sticks and transfer with the click of a mouse.  It’s here because the people, climate, soils and temperature are all right here.  Industries collectively generating $35 billion a year; 73 percent of our merchandise exports.  . .

Nepalese adding value in Waimate – Sarah Rowland:

When Ikawai dairy farmer Lyle Green employed Nepalese Ashok Shrestha 11 years ago he was so impressed with his works ethic he looked for more.

Green’s uncle had told him of a hard-working Nepalese man who wasn’t being treated well in his job and to employ him if he could, but at the time Green had no vacancies.

However, when a position opened he tracked down Shrestha and employed him.

It turned out to be one of the best choices he had made for his business, he said.

When another employee left for another position Green asked Shrestha if he had a friend who wanted to come to work for him and he said he had two. . .

Loving it for the lifestyle – Gerard Hutching:

”I wouldn’t change it for anything – it’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle,” says Landcorp dairy farm manager Letitia Hamill.

At the age of 22, Hamill is the second youngest Landcorp farm manager in the country. And as a woman, she is a relative rarity for the state-owned enterprise, which has just five female managers out of 137.

Hamill manages one of the nine Landcorp Moutoa dairy farms in the Foxton region. At 68 hectares and running 216 cows, hers is one of four smaller properties in the complex. . .

Boost for breeding as salmon return to river  – David Bruce:

About 1% of a first release of 2000 salmon raised in the Waitaki River returned in the past fishing season, boosting breeding in a stream whose water was used to raise them.

The Waitaki Riparian Enhancement Society started hatching salmon at a hatchery next to Welcome Stream and released its first 2000 tagged fish in 2012.

They were due to start returning in the past season, and the first was caught in February.

Society secretary Linn Koevoet said five of those fish were weighed in at a competition and another three were reported caught. . .

‘Shear for life’ fundraiser - Yvonne O’Hara:

Two farmers hope to raise $24,000 for the Cancer Society by shearing sheep during a 24-hour ”Shear for Life” marathon in Tarras in February.

Farmer James Hill, of Teviot Valley, and stock manager Cole Wells, of Tarras, want to raise money for the society in memory of family members who had died of cancer.

Mr Hill’s father Dick died of stomach cancer in 2012 and Mr Wells lost his grandfather to prostate cancer. . .

Dairy delegation heads to US - Narelle Henson:

A group of 30 large-scale New Zealand dairy farmers and industry representatives are heading to the United States of America tomorrow to see what lessons they can bring home. 

The country is increasingly being punted as New Zealand’s major competition in the Chinese market.

The USA’s milk supply is around four times that of New Zealand, according to DairyNZ statistics, 40 per cent of which comes from 800 ”mega-dairies”, with 2000 or more cows.

Fieldays chief executive Jon Calder is going on the nine-day trip, and said lessons in keeping costs down would be a major focus. . .

 

Tongariro triumphs at Otiwhiti -Jackie Harrigan:

Told you we should have left the shield in the van.”

That was the triumphant cry from one of the supporters of the agri-skills team from Tongariro School last week when they won the Land Based Training Otiwhiti Station Interschool Challenge Shield at the Rangitikei station for the second year in a row.

Tongariro team leader Chicago Albert was proud of his team and of the win, saying they had been training hard to retain the shield. 

“I reckon it’s really cool to come back and win for a second time.” . .


Rural round-up

September 25, 2014

ECan commissioner vents spleen at nutrient meeting -

Environment Canterbury commissioner David Bedford lost his cool at a packed zone committee meeting in North Canterbury.

Trying to resume the meeting after a short tea break, Bedford used several expletives suggesting he was sick of farmers who turned up to meetings for just a short time.

His outburst reflected the often tense tone of the meeting, which drew several hundred dryland sheep-and-beef farmers to the small Waikari hall.

They came to express their concern at nutrient regulations that would leave many low-emitting dryland sheep-and-beef farmers unable to increase their lambing percentage, plant a stand of Lucerne, or grow an extra feed crop. . .

Agri-food opportunities in China – Keith Woodford:

Over the last two years I have written, together with my colleague Xiaomeng (Sharon) Lucock,  a series of six articles on various aspects of China’s  agri-food industries. They have been published in the Journal Primary Industry Management, which is the quarterly journal of the New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management.

The first article, attached at the bottom of this post, was written in late 2012.

Some things have moved on since then – for example we reported in that article that New Zealand’s exports to China in the year ending 30 June 2012 were $NZ6.1 billion, which was a three-fold increase in only five years. In the two years since then to 30 June 2014 they have almost doubled again to $NZ11.6 billion. However, the key drivers of change as we set out in that article remain the same.

These key drivers are increasing wealth, urbanisation, changing cuisine, food safety, agricultural production constraints, and associated food security issues. . .

Sheep meat in China and the opportunities for NZ – Keith Woodford:

This is the second of the “China series’  that Xiaomeng (Sharon) Lucock and I wrote for the journal  ‘Primary Industry Management’. It was written in December 2012 and published in March 2013.

As with everything relating to China, the statistics do not stand still.  In the year ending December 2012, 13% of New Zealand’s sheep meat exports income came from China. Move forward six months, and in the 12 months ending June 2013 this had risen to 21%. Then in the 12 months to June 2014 it rose again to 30%.  On a monthly basis, the latest statistics for March 2014 show the China component of New Zealand’s sheep meat trade was 31% by value and 44% by volume. . . .

Doing Agri-business in China – Keith Woodford:

This is the third of a series of six papers written for the journal ‘Primary Industry Management’. This one was published in June 2013.

For this paper we had three authors: Xiaomeng (Sharon) Lucock, Malcolm Cone and myself. The work was led by Sharon and formed the first part of her PhD studies.  It is based on case study work undertaken with New Zealand firms operating in China.

The focus of the work has been on cultural differences and how they affect business practices and relationships. About half the interviews were with Kiwis and undertaken in English. The other half were with Chinese and mainly undertaken in the Chinese language. . . .

Venison finishing margin better – Joanna Grigg:

Daniel Stack puts it bluntly.

“If venison prices are the same as last year venison farming will struggle to be both sustainable and competitive with alternative land uses, like dairy grazing.”

That said, he is poised to increase deer numbers if things come right. The Canterbury Plains venison finisher and dairy grazer hopes that indications from some venison exporters of the October schedule peak reaching $8/kilogram (kg) for 55 to 60kg AP stags will bear out. This would put returns at a level seen in 2012, when the average published schedule peak was $7.95/kg. It is also up on the past season’s $7.40/kg peak.

Stack said that to increase the number of deer weaners bought in, back to his typical 500 a year, he would need to see the schedule price at eight dollars. . .

 Take a long, hard look at your farming systems:

Industry body DairyNZ says the latest drop in Fonterra’s forecast Farmgate Milk Price for the 2014/15 season is a signal to farmers to reassess the costs of their farm system.

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today reduced its forecast Farmgate Milk Price for the 2014/15 season from $6.00 to $5.30 per kg milksolids (kgMS). It also increased and widened the estimated dividend range from 20-25 cents per share to 25-35 cents – amounting to a forecast Cash Payout of $5.55-$5.65 for the current season.

DairyNZ’s general manager of research and development, David McCall, says most farmers should cope with lower prices this season, provided another drought doesn’t hit the country. However, around a quarter of the country’s farmers, those with a lot of debt, may have difficulty meeting their farm working expenses and interest payments. . . .

 Cattle and dairy lead rise in exports:

Goods exports rose $227 million in August 2014 compared with August 2013, to $3.5 billion, Statistics New Zealand said today.

Live animals led the rise in exports, due to live cattle. Milk powder, butter, and cheese exports also contributed to the increase, led by higher quantities. The 16-percent rise in milk powder, butter, and cheese was led by milk fat and cheese.

“Cattle, milk fat, and cheese contributed to the rise in exports,” international statistics manager Jason Attewell said. “It is the first time in three years that a rise in dairy was not led by milk powder.” . . .

Award winner becomes Dairy Women’s Network Chair:

Dairy Women’s Network has appointed one of its past Dairy Woman of the Year winners as incoming chair.

Incumbent network chair Michelle Wilson has announced 2013 Dairy Woman of the Year winner Justine Kidd as the organisation’s new chair; a role she will assume following the organisation’s annual general meeting on 22 October.

“It is a credit to the Dairy Women’s Network board to have a person with Justine’s knowledge of agriculture and governance experience at the helm,” said Wilson.

“As outgoing chair I take a lot of comfort in knowing that the organisation will continue to grow from strength to strength with strong leadership at the board table.” . .


The sky isn’t falling

September 25, 2014

The cut in Fonterra’s payout isn’t good news but it isn’t the disaster that many are proclaiming.

Nor was the timing the political conspiracy that Winston Peters suspects:

Just four days after the General Election the true state of the dairy industry is revealed – returns for milk that the New Zealand economy is reliant on have slumped.

“Questions need to be asked by New Zealand voters on why they were not informed about this serious decline before Election Day,” says New Zealand First Leader, Rt Hon Winston Peters.

“The drop in payout is a $5 billion hit to the New Zealand economy and 2 per cent off nominal GDP.

“It appears the government and Fonterra joined forces to keep the facts hidden from voters? . . .

Fonterra makes announcements on its previous season’s final payout and any revision to the current one at this time every year.

The record final payout for last season was no surprise. Nor was the cut in this season’s forecast.

Anyone with even cursory knowledge of the global milk market was expecting it after successive drops in the GlobalDairyTrade price index and with the knowledge that the milk supply here and around the world was outstripping demand.

Lower income will impact on farmers, those who service and supply them and the wider economy but the news isn’t all bad.

The value of our dollar fell after Fonterra’s announcement which will help all exporters.

And while dairy prices are falling, demand and prices for sheep meat and beef are improving:

Rabobank New Zealand CEO Ben Russell said the softening in overall rural confidence was clearly a reflection of the impact of the bearish global dairy outlook and lower milk prices on dairy farmer sentiment.

“Falling dairy commodity prices are the overwhelming factor at play here. At the time of the survey being taken, the globalDairyTrade auction prices fell six per cent, taking them down 45 per cent from their February peak,” Mr Russell said.

“And with global dairy supplies continuing to increase from all key exporting regions, a significant price recovery is not imminent.

“That said though, farm commodity prices move in cycles and, clearly, dairy commodity prices are entering a lower part of the cycle right now. While this is always a difficult time, the important thing to remember is the medium to long-term picture for the dairy industry is strong.”

Mr Russell said dairy farmers were also cautious with the dairy industry approaching a critical time in the year, with the peak production and selling period for New Zealand milk just weeks away.

The dampened confidence among dairy farmers was reflected in their business performance expectations in the coming 12 months.

Dairy farmers had the most pessimistic outlook of their own farm business performance. However, Mr Russell said, it should be noted this was coming off record highs for business performance expectations among dairy producers over the past 12 months.

The latest survey found almost half of dairy farmers surveyed (47 per cent) expect the performance of their own farm business to worsen in the coming 12 months, up from 30 per cent with that expectation in the previous quarter. Just 20 per cent expect an improvement in performance, compared with 27 per cent previously. A total of 32 per cent expected performance to remain stable.

While there was also a tempering in sentiment among beef and sheep farmers, after reaching three-year record highs in the previous survey, confidence in this sector remained at overall strong levels.

Mr Russell said lamb prices were up on the previous season and beef prices were currently hitting record highs due to tight global supply.

In terms of expectations of their own businesses, the number of beef and sheep farmers expecting improved performance declined from 57 per cent last quarter to 48 per cent this survey. However, the percentage expecting their farm business performance to worsen remained stable, at just seven per cent. A total of 42 per cent anticipated business performance would remain at the same level.

Despite the decline in overall confidence, New Zealand farmers’ investment intentions were overall stable, the Rabobank survey showed.

Sheep and beef farmers increased their investment appetite – with 43 per cent indicating they intend to increase investment in their farm businesses over the next 12 months, up from 37 per cent previously. Only six per cent intended to decrease investment (compared with four per cent in the past quarter).

For dairy however, investment appetite had waned, with 21 per cent intending to invest less in their businesses (up from just seven per cent with that view in the previous survey) and 20 per cent expecting to increase investment (down from 27 per cent). This was the lowest level of dairy farmer investment intentions in more than five years (since August 2009).

Mr Russell said this change in sector investment dynamics may be an early indication the decline in the national sheep flock and the rate of dairy farm conversions were slowing. . .

Federated Farmers says farmers will be down but far from out:

Fonterra Cooperative Group farmer shareholders will welcome confirmation that the 2013/14 season has ended exactly as promised with a total payout of $8.50 per kilogram of milksolids (kg/MS).  That good news is balanced by a sharp revision downwards in the 2014/15 forecast.

“The 2014/15 season which offered so much has turned into a breakeven one for not just Fonterra suppliers but the entire industry,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“Like Synlait’s revision this week, there is a ‘good news and bad news’ dimension in this.   The good news is that we take the 2013/14 confirmed payout and the lowest revised forecast for 2014/15, we are talking an average total of $7kg/MS across the two seasons.

“A $5.30 kg/MS milkprice is also a lot higher than some commentators had expected if the forecast sticks.  If being a little word with a big meaning.

“Losing 70 cents kg/MS on the milkprice is really going to hurt.  Farmers will be kicking capital works into touch and will be pruning herds to rid themselves of any passengers.

“Speaking to DairyNZ, farm working expenses this season, before depreciation and interest payments, are expected to be around $4 kg/MS this season.  Feed, fertiliser as well as repairs and maintenance are going to be cut back.  We’ll only do what needs to be done.

“What we know from DairyNZ is that two-thirds of dairy farms have working expenses of between $3.25 and $4.75 kg/MS.  Of course when you start paying back the bank manager, the average cash costs on-farm head up to $5.40 kg/MS.

“As you can tell from what the forecast currently is, the current surplus is a wafer thin 15 to 25 cents kg/MS.  Expressed as retail milk, that’s about 1.25 to 2 cents a litre this season.

“It means that upwards of a quarter of our guys will be making a loss this season. 

“We also believe that unlike the Global Financial Crisis, dairy farmers have been listening and have focussed on building financial freeboard.  Sadly for some farmers, they’ll have to dip into that big time.

“Federated Farmers’ advice is to watch costs but to keep your bank, farm consultant, accountant and family fully in the loop.  Take a no surprises approach to get through.

“This season has been a perfect one for global milk with ideal conditions everywhere compounded by civil unrest in the Middle East and dislocation of European milk due to what is happening in Eastern Ukraine.

“We can only hope there is no more bad news but I am optimistic we may be back above $6 kg/MS for 2015/16,” Mr Hoggard concluded.

Agricultural prices are always cyclical.

Dairy farmers creamed it last season, now it’s sheep and beef farmers who have a brighter outlook. Both know that what goes up comes down and what comes down goes up again, sooner or later.


Rural round-up

September 20, 2014

New products to help meet regulations:

Agri-companies are under pressure to come up with innovative new products to assist dairy farmers as they struggle to comply with tough new environmental regulations.

For example, if a farmer fails a water quality test, they face stringent conditions such as wash down before and after every milking, as well as increasing fines.

At present, the most popular method of treating water is to run it through an UltraViolet lamp, but this can sometimes cause problems if it is not cleaned regularly. . .

Kick start your career with Balance:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients is calling for applications to its 2015 agricultural and process engineering scholarship programme.

Specialist skills in the areas of engineering, science, precision agriculture and agri-business have been identified, by a Ministry of Primary Industries report, as key areas to support the future of New Zealand’s primary sector. This is a view shared by Ballance.

The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) released a research paper ‘People Powered – building capabilities to keep New Zealand’s primary industries internationally competitive’, on 6 June 2014, in partnership with Beef + Lamb New Zealand and DairyNZ. The report summarises the expected capability needs for each of the primary industries and associated support services. . . .

A market for all except for the roar of the stag:

Pampered pooches in America and pizzle hot pots in China are helping support venison prices to farmers.

While the top priority for the deer industry is building restaurant demand for farm-raised venison, it also caters for customers eager to source every part of the animal except, perhaps, the roar of the stag.

“In the United States, venison and other game meats are now vital ingredients in gourmet pet foods. The inclusion of 10 per cent venison in a chicken-based formula can give it serious cachet, dramatically increasing the price consumers are willing to pay for the product,” says Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) chief executive officer Dan Coup. . . .

 

Increase in milk production drives additional rail services for Hokitika:

Westland Milk Products has reached an agreement with KiwiRail for an additional daily rail service between Christchurch and Hokitika to meet the dairy company’s increasing freight needs.

Westland Chief Executive Rod Quin says the move will have substantial benefits for Westland, road users and the environment.

“During the last few years Westland’s rail freight requirements have increased substantially,” Quin says. “This has been driven by record increases in production by our shareholders, up nearly 22 percent in the 2013/14 season alone, along with an expanding product range and growing sales success in international markets. When our new nutritionals dryer comes into production in August next year, we can expect our demand for additional freight to increase further.” . . .

 

ASB Farmshed Economics Report

Mixed fortunes for long term commodity prices

• ASB revises its milk price forecast down to $5.30/kg of milk solids

• Beef prices could hit record high by year’s end.

• Lamb price gains running out of steam

The dairy markets can’t seem to catch a break, according to the latest ASB Farmshed Economics Report.

“With bumper production driving down prices, the recent Russian dairy import ban will further add to the sluggish dairy price woes,” says ASB’s Rural Economist Nathan Penny. . .


Rural round-up

September 17, 2014

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Outlines Priorities Ahead of General Election:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand has outlined what it sees as the policy priorities for the incoming government.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chairman, James Parsons says the policy manifesto covers a range of issues that will support a confident and profitable sheep and beef sector.

“The red meat sector is hugely important to the New Zealand economy – worth $8.5 billion a year, so it’s critical that the incoming government is aware of the issues that affect our sheep and beef farmers,” Parsons said.

“Our first priority is securing investment in research and development that will increase farm productivity and continue adding value to our sheepmeat and beef products. . . .

 

It all depends on China – Keith Woodford:

New Zealand agribusiness, led by dairy, has hit a rough spot. Some will see this as confirmation that dependence on China involves big risks. More important, is the need to recognise that China is also the solution.

Chinese demand for dairy products in particular has grown so rapidly that it was inevitable there would be speed wobbles. With hindsight, we can see that it was the New Zealand drought of autumn 2013, combined with increasing Chinese demand, that led to shortages of milk products in Chinese supermarkets during late 2013. The Chinese importers then over-reacted, and purchased heavily during our summer months. Increased autumn production in the current year has then coincided with Chinese inventories already fully replenished. . .

Water quality rules ‘work in progress’:

The national water industry body says rules on water quality are not set in concrete and will develop further.

New national fresh water standards which, for the first time, set minimum quality requirements for rivers, lakes and aquifers were announced earlier in the year.

Water New Zealand is holding its annual conference in Hamilton from today. Chief executive Murray Gibb said the rules are a work in progress and would be reviewed in 2016.

“There’s been debate as to whether or not it’s sufficiently tight and there’s been a lot of debate over whether or not the corner-stone policy that it imposes a requirement on councils to maintain and improve overall water quality within their regions might lead to declining water quality in some water bodies. . . .

Make a fuss of scheme:

    The prime minister was in Ashburton last Thursday. He then visited Timaru to wander up and down the main street, talking to voters.

A slight detour between those two destinations would have taken him to the seven massive ponds that are the Rangitata South Irrigation Scheme, at the very time they were being filled to capacity for the first time.

It would have been a great photo op for the prime minister, and a fitting tribute to the scheme’s backers, to have the PM officially “open” the out-of-river storage project.

Maybe such a function is planned but chances are it’s not. And that’s not a snub to the prime minister, but a reflection more of the personality of the man behind the scheme, Gary Rooney.

He’s a doer, not a talker. He doesn’t go looking for pats on the back.

Where the Herald had plenty of coverage of the Opuha Dam as it was being built in the 1990s, with this project it has been like drawing teeth to get updates.

It’s not that Rooney and his workers were being obstructive, they just did not see the need to speak to the media. They were too busy building the thing.

But if he’s not going to blow his trumpet on the project, we will. . .

Generations of shearing in Brett’s family blood – Sally Rae:

Brett Roberts was destined to a shearer.

Not only does his grandfather, Cliff Waihape, have a shearing contracting business based in Mataura, but four of his uncles, Chad, Chop, Cliff jun and Cody, are also shearers.

”Our family, it’s in our blood,” he said.

Mr Roberts (20) started shearing at a young age, while still at school in Menzies College, Wyndham, with his family members showing him the ropes. . .

 

Southland swede group underway:

A cross-sector industry-led working group is coming together to co-ordinate research and advice to farmers following an issue with swedes affecting dairy cattle this season.

Across Southland, there has been a number of cases of cows becoming ill, and in some cases dying, while (or shortly after) grazing on swede crops.

A joint working group with representatives from a range of sector groups will be chaired by industry body DairyNZ and meet for the first time on Wednesday September 17. The group includes representatives from Southland veterinary practices, Federated Farmers, Beef+Lamb NZ and PGG Wrightson Seeds. It will also bring in specialist advisors on veterinary pathology and plant science.
DairyNZ has already sent an email survey to more than 2,600 Southland and South Otago farmers seeking information on whether they have been affected by the issue. It has also been advising farmers to be vigilant if their cows are feeding on swede. . .

 

New appointments at Dairy Women’s Network:

As Dairy Women’s Network grows from strength to strength, so too does its number of professionals grow.

The organisation has most recently acquired an events manager in Kym Gibson of Hamilton and a third regional convenor coordinator in Megan Edmeades of Manawaru (near Te Aroha).

Creating environments and experiences that resonate is a passion for Gibson, and something she is looking forward to fulfilling at the organisation’s 30-plus annual events.

Learning more about the “diverse and dynamic” organisation that is DWN is Gibson’s first challenge in the role, which she started in earlier this month. . . .

 

 


Rural round-up

September 3, 2014

Scientist warns of soil biodiversity loss:

The scientist responsible for making next year the United Nations International Year of Soils says far too little is known about the microscopic life forms which are critical to healthy soil.

Stephen Nortcliff is the Emeritus Professor of Soil Science at the University of Reading in England.

He said there has been a massive loss of biodiversity across the globe thanks to human intervention and it was not clear how much of that loss had happened beneath our feet. . . .

Be Good to Bees Because … September is Bee Aware Month:

September is Bee Aware Month and the National Beekeepers Association is urging all Kiwis to promote and protect the New Zealand bee population.

“We want Kiwis to Be Good to Bees Because … they support over $5 billion annually of the country’s agri-industry exports and they help to grow one third of all the food we eat, never mind helping our home gardens to flourish,” says NBA chief executive, Daniel Paul.

“The bees in New Zealand are faring a lot better than in many other countries, where bee populations are often under threat, but we still need to promote and protect our Kiwi bees. . .

University of Canterbury to help with forestry safety:

The University of Canterbury is to launch a new research project to make sure New Zealand’s new forestry roads are safe and are established with minimal environmental impact.

The New Zealand forestry industry is building more than 1400km of new roads a year and the research, to be conducted by Dr Kris Brown, will help improve design standards.

“The importance of infrastructure is widely recognised by forestry stakeholders, but the New Zealand Independent Forestry Safety Review Panel has heard that the quality and adequacy of forestry roads, bridges and skid sites are variable and often not up to the mark.

“I hope our research at the university’s School of Forestry will help raise standards for design, construction and maintenance of forestry roads. . . .

 Irrigators under pressure are offered help:

IrrigationNZ is helping irrigators respond to increasing public pressure by educating them on how they can reduce their impact on New Zealand’s waterways.

The ‘Great Irrigation Challenge’, a training and information event, will also help irrigators understand what the government’s new freshwater policy means and how to respond to it with practical and technical solutions.

“In the context of extreme public scrutiny on water use for agriculture as a dairy farmer or industry investor, sharemilker, farm manager or staff member, your livelihood and business continuity more than ever requires a high level of knowledge, expertise and skill,” says Andrew Curtis IrrigationNZ CEO. . . .

 Five vying for DairyNZ director position:

Five nominations have been received for the farmer-elected director position on the DairyNZ board:

The five farmers seeking a four year term as a DairyNZ director are:

* Donna Smit (Whakatane, Bay of Plenty)

* Murray Jamieson (Okaihau, Northland)

* Greg Maughan (Marton, Manawatu),

* Jim van der Poel (Ohaupo, Waikato) and

* Dirk Sieling (Whitianga, Waikato)
The election follows the resignation of Taranaki farmer Barbara Kuriger, who is standing down from the board to dedicate herself to her new role as the National Party candidate for the Taranaki-King Country electorate in the September General Election. . . .

 

Farmers Don’t Have to Wait for Rural Broadband

Farmers who want to harness rapid advancements in agricultural technology don’t have to wait for rural broadband to reach their property, with internet service provider Wireless Nation working with PGG Wrightson to make slow and unreliable rural internet a thing of the past.

Wireless Nation has already been receiving positive feedback from rural customers since it started rolling out satellite broadband through the Optus satellite network, earlier this year.

Paul Sheridan, Vice President, Optus Satellite, says, “We operate dedicated transponders on our D2 satellite that provide very good line-of-sight to New Zealand’s landmass. This means that Wireless Nation can be confident in the delivery of quality broadband services to their customers regardless of where they are based.” . . .

 


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