Rural round-up

August 27, 2014

$150 million boost for Rural Broadband Initiative:

National’s Communications and Information Technology spokeswoman, Amy Adams, today announced a re-elected National-led Government will establish a new $150 million fund to extend the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI).

Ms Adams made the announcement in Greymouth with Prime Minister and National Party Leader John Key.

“The RBI is making an immense difference to the way our rural firms do business, the way our kids learn and the way our health services deliver to us as patients,” Ms Adams says.

“Already, nearly 250,000 households and businesses have access to faster broadband under the RBI. However, National wants to see more rural homes and businesses benefit from faster, more reliable internet. . .

New partnership a boost for sheep and beef farming:

Lincoln University officially launched its lower-North Island base for vocational training and demonstration in lamb and beef finishing systems at a function in the Rangitikei today.

The University, along with the newly-formed Lincoln-Westoe Trust, will operate the 400 hectare Westoe Farm north of Bulls as a training facility, offering land-based certificate programmes for students looking to enter into primary sector careers. The training will have a particular emphasis on sheep and beef farming, and a special focus on training youth from Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Apa.

Over time, the Westoe Farm will also be developed as a demonstration farm for the finishing of lambs and the raising and finishing of beef cattle. This demonstration activity will be underpinned by objective scientific measurement of the farm’s performance, including its environmental footprint. Demonstration activity will be supported by commercial sponsors. . . .

A1 beta-casein a threat to dairy industry – Keith Woodford:

Evidence that A1 beta-casein might be a human health issue has been available for more than 15 years. However, the mainstream dairy industry has always fought against the notion that it might be important.

Back in 2007, I wrote a book called ‘Devil in the Milk’ which brought together the evidence at that time. The mainstream industry and even some elements within the Government were not impressed. They made it clear that this was an issue which New Zealand did not need to air publicly. The industry, with considerable help from the Food Safety Authority, was largely successful in dousing the public concerns, leaving just a few little puffs of smoke to remind those who were watching carefully that the fire might not be totally out. . . .

Landcorp, keen user of Fonterra’s guaranteed milk price, looks to reduce dairy exposure – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Landcorp, New Zealand’s biggest corporate farmer, has been an enthusiastic participant in Fonterra Cooperative Group’s guaranteed milk price scheme as it reduces exposure to volatile dairy prices, while looking at ways to reduce the dominance of dairy in its portfolio.

The state-owned farmer’s milk revenue soared 70 percent to $129 million in the year ended June 30, contributing to a more-than doubling of operating profit to $30 million. It won’t see a similar benefit from dairy prices in the current year, given dairy prices have tumbled this year from their highs in February.

“We’re making sure we don’t get too reliant on dairy income so the more volatile dairy sector doesn’t become too dominant in the portfolio,” chief executive Steven Carden told BusinessDesk. Landcorp’s strategy includes exploring fixed-price contracts, hedging and greater cooperation with customers across both dairy and meat, he said. . . .

Country of origin law rejected – report:

The Meat Industry Association is supporting the finding by a World Trade Organisation disputes panel that has ruled against the United States over a country of origin meat labelling law.

Canada and Mexico, backed by New Zealand and Australia, amongst others, opposed a new US rule that requires more information on labels about the origins of beef, pork and other meats.

They regard the country of origin law as a potential trade restriction. . . .

Conservation grant supports bird recovery:

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith today announced Wildbase Recovery Community Trust is to receive a $90,000 grant from the Department of Conservation to put towards a new state-of-the-art rehabilitation facility for birds and wildlife.

“New Zealand’s most challenging conservation issue is the decline in our native bird populations. We need to raise public awareness of the threat from pests like rats, stoats and possums that kill 25 million native birds each year. We need facilities like Wildbase Recovery to improve public understanding of our special birds and save those birds that are injured and can be rehabilitated back into the wild,” Dr Smith says.

Wildbase Recovery Community Trust is a charitable trust formed in partnership with local iwi, Palmerston North City Council, Massey University, Rotary and the Department of Conservation for the sole purpose of building, operating and maintaining the community-funded Wildbase Recovery. . .

Benefits from dairy demonstration farm New Zealand wide:

 A new demonstration dairy farm in the Waikato has a key role in helping New Zealand achieve the Government’s target of doubling revenue from primary industries by 2025.

This was a consistent theme from speakers at the launch of the St Peter’s – Lincoln University Dairy Demonstration farm in Cambridge on Thursday 14 August. 

The Demonstration Dairy Farm has set its sights on being in the top 3% of farms in the region for both profitability and environmental performance.  The overall aim of the farm is to promote the sustainable development of profitable dairying, principally in the Waikato but also the greater North Island.  This will be achieved through the implementation of proven scientific research, best practice farming coupled with scientific monitoring of impacts in a collaborative environment with farmers. . .

Akarua Purchases Vineyards on Felton Road

Akarua is delighted to announce a major vineyard purchase with the acquisition of vineyards located in Felton Road and Lowburn finalised on Friday 22 August 2014.

Akarua, established in 1996 by Sir Clifford Skeggs is the largest family owned vineyard in Central Otago with single estate holdings in Cairnmuir Road Bannockburn, this recent purchase will significantly boost their total vineyard area to 100 hectares in Central Otago.

David Skeggs, Managing Director of the Skeggs Group said that that the company had been actively looking at purchasing developed vineyard in Central Otago for the last 2 years. . . .

New Zealand organic pioneers place farming unit up for sale:

A sizeable landholding which is part of one of New Zealand’s oldest organic farming operations has been placed on the market for sale.

The farms just north of Tolaga Bay on the East Coast and trading under the brand Kiwi Organics, have been run by the Parker family for more than 50 years – the last 23 of those under ‘certified organic’ branding. Owners Mike and Bridget Parker are former winners of the Heinz Watties Organic Farmer of the Year title.

Kiwi Organics farm and manufacture primary products for customers throughout the Pacific Rim – including Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Australia. The company’s products are Bio Gro Certified, USDA/NOP Certified, and EU Certified and Gluten Free. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 17, 2014

Shock treatment makes waves - Sally Rae:

It has been an electrifying experiment.

A research team at the University of Otago has been using short bursts of high-voltage electricity in a bid to improve the tenderness of red meat.

The research, in conjunction with Alliance Group and led by Dr Alaa El-din Bekhit, of the university’s food science department, has been cited as having the potential to open up new opportunities for lifting returns on lower-value carcass cuts. . . .

Landowners want history kept alive:

A Taranaki Maori landowner of an award-winning farm wants tribal descendants to know about the land’s history, not just its success.

Te Rua o te Moko farm near Hawera won this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy recognising Maori excellence in farming.

The farm is made of four land blocks, one of which was confiscated by the Crown in 1863 and is being held in a land bank. It is due to be given back as part of the Ngaruahinerangi iwi Treaty of Waitangi settlement. . .

Landcorp’s huge dairy plans start to take shape -

Three new dairy farms that have been converted from forestry will begin milking for the first time in the new season as part of Landcorp’s large-scale dairy development near Taupo.

The state-owned enterprise has converted nine farms from forestry in partnership with landowner Wairakei Pastoral. In total, the nine dairy units encompassed 5300ha and milked 13,000 cows, chief executive Steven Carden said. Based on its current timetable, Landcorp hoped to have everything completed by 2020. To date, the project has cost $87 million.

“We have four this year, four the next year and four the year after. When the whole thing is finished we are looking at 24 farms and around about 30,000 cows across 25,700ha of land.”  . . .

Knock-on effects of less beer drinking – Sonita Chandar:

Fewer people are drinking beer and farmers are getting a hangover.

As beer consumption falls, breweries require less malt and malting companies need less barley from farmers.

The change in Kiwis’ drinking habits is being felt at the Marton malting factory of MaltEurop NZ.

Operations manager Tiago Cabral says some barley growers are likely to feel the effect more than others.

“We will need less barley and will have to contract less tonnage from our growers,” he says. . . .

2014 Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards Finalists Announced:

The finalists have been announced for the third Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Sheep Industry Awards.

About 300 people are expected to attend the awards dinner – which recognise top-performing New Zealand sheep breeders – on 6 August in Napier.

Five industry-related awards will be presented. In addition to the Sheep Industry Trainer of the Year, Individual or Business Making a Significant Contribution to the New Zealand Sheep Industry and the Sheep Industry Innovation Award, two new awards have been added: the Sheep Industry Science Award, recognising a project, business or person undertaking science that is having a positive impact on farming now, and the Sheep Industry Supplier Award, which recognises a farmer supplier nominated by processors for consistently meeting company specifications and other key performance indicators. . .

CRV Ambreed appoints artificial insemination expert to Tasman, Marlborough area role:

Dairy farmer, breeder and artificial insemination expert Nigel Patterson has been appointed field consultant for the CRV Ambreed team, in which he will be managing the Nelson, Marlborough, Murchison area.

CRV Ambreed’s South Island sales and services manager Mark Duffy said the company was delighted to have someone with such a strong background in dairy join the team.

“Nigel has over 26 years’ experience in the dairy industry, including running his own pedigree Jersey herd, share milking, providing testing services and supporting farmers through artificial insemination (AI),” said Mr Duffy. . . .

New Zealand’s leading analytical testing laboratory celebrates 30 years:

In July 1984 a young Waikato scientist by the name of Roger Hill left a small soil testing laboratory in Cambridge to launch his own in Hamilton.

Roger and his wife Anne’s initial business intention, he says, was simply to “have a go” on their own.

Yet three decades later the company, well-known nationally and internationally as Hill Laboratories, is the largest privately owned testing laboratory in the whole of New Zealand. . .

Ballance signs up record shareholders:

A record number of farmers from around the country have secured shareholdings in Ballance Agri-Nutrients in time to receive a rebate on their fertiliser purchased from the farm nutrient co-operative in September this year.

Ballance’s rebate and dividend in the 2013 financial year averaged a record $65 per tonne.

Nearly 1000 farmers signed up to become shareholders for the 2014 financial year which ended on 31 May. . .

Reduce winter nitrogen loss – Bala Tikkisetty:

Winter is a time when farmers should take special care to protect both profits and the environment from the effects of increased nitrogen leaching at this time of year.

Applications of nitrogen fertilisers in winter are generally least effective for promoting grass growth.

That’s because slow growth of pasture and drainage from increased seasonal rainfall can result in nitrate leaching directly from fertiliser before plants can take it up. The nitrogen can then make its way to waterways where it can stimulate nuisance algal growth. . .


Rural round-up

June 16, 2014

Grassland dairying in Colombia – Keith Woodford:

This week I am writing from Bogota in Colombia, where I am leading a team of five Kiwis on an MFAT-funded dairy design project.  This is part of New Zealand’s ‘Agricultural Diplomacy’ program, which fits within New Zealand’s broader official development program.  It is also linked to developing links between New Zealand and Colombia, and the proposed development of a free trade agreement. New Zealand already sells electric fencing, seeds and other farm inputs here in Colombia. The project we are designing will run for an initial four to five years. . .

 NZ’s farming paradise disappoints import – Tony Benny:

When arable farmer Bill Davey moved to New Zealand from England 13 years ago he was told “the world’s your oyster, you can have what you want here”, but so much has changed in the intervening years that he’s now reliant on the dairy industry and is even considering milking cows himself.

“It’s turned out that we have been channelled into doing something that we’re not really comfortable with,” Davey says.

Disillusioned with subsidised farming in the United Kingdom, Davey, with wife Lynda and son Nick, arrived in Mid-Canterbury in 2001. . .

Big NZ farmer may milk sheep – Pam Graham:

Heads are turning at the prospect of one of New Zealand’s largest farmers milking sheep.

Landcorp chief executive Steven Carden chucked the idea in a speech in Hamilton on Thursday when the huge annual Fieldays agricultural show was being held down the road at Mystery Creek.

“Farming new products such as sheep milk are also being explored,” he said.

The idea is not new but it is being picked up by a very large farmer.

Landcorp is a state-owned enterprise which owns or leases 137 farms.

“We are one of New Zealand’s largest farming organisations,” Landcorp says.

Rick Powdrell, Federated Farmers’ meat and fibre vice-chairman thinks it could be a bold new chapter for New Zealand’s most numerous farmed animal. . .

How “big data” could shape farming  – James McShane:

THE Rabobank Global Young Farmers Master Class has been a phenomenal experience and that certainly came to a head yesterday when we ventured onto the hallowed ground of the Rabobank head office in Utrecht, Holland.

The glass tower extends 26 floors above city with modern curves giving the appearance of binoculars from the sky.

Yesterday we ventured into the conference centre to hear guest speakers talk to us about the future technologies in farming and life in general. . .

Foresters to Meet up in the Hawkes Bay:

Forestry professionals are gathering in ‘sunny Hawkes Bay’ early July to attend the NZ Institute of Forestry’s annual conference. “Tackling Challenges and Delivering Value”.

The conference focuses on a number of Hawkes Bay’s challenges says Committee Chair, Bob Pocknall however it will have a national perspective and examine ways to deliver value despite changing times. . . .

And thanks to West Coast AgFest  and their Facebook page:

Under 3 weeks till AgFest… Remember to wear your gumboots on Saturday July 5th and help smash the AgFest 2012 record!!!

Under 3 weeks till AgFest...  Remember to wear your gumboots on Saturday July 5th and help smash the AgFest 2012 record!!!


New course but still wrong owner

June 14, 2014

Landcorp CEO Steven Carden is charting a new course for the company:

In his keynote address at the Agricultural Communicator of the Year Awards last night in Hamilton, Mr Carden said that state owned enterprise Landcorp would be focusing on driving a lean commercial operation, benchmarked against the best farmers across the country

“First and foremost, Landcorp must strive to be the best performing large-scale farming business in the country. Second, we are growing our connections with our customers and their customers. That means working with other farmers who are interested in supplying to particular customers in markets around the world,” he said.

The company’s plans include growing its number of farming partnerships through being the preferred partner for iwi farming interests and other investors. Landcorp would be looking to use existing partnerships with iwi in the Far North and the Hauraki as models for the future.

Farming new products such as sheep milk are also being explored, as will greater use of technology to drive precision farming. Landcorp’s recent adoption of Farm IQ’s farm management system throughout its 137 farms will help the company drive a new level of precision around animal performance. It will also be a key tool in minimising its environmental impact.

Mr Carden said that Landcorp would draw from its own proud history of transforming agricultural land to transform New Zealand farming. He said that Landcorp has some incredible staff throughout the country and that his job is to tap into their passion for Landcorp to drive improvement in New Zealand farming.

“The whole company is full of energy to improve our performance by being safer, more efficient and more productive farmers. We want to demonstrate that profitable and environmentally responsible farming go hand in hand.

“We want all New Zealanders to see how good farming is for our country, and especially for young people to see farming as a career where they can be part of something vitally important to the future of New Zealand.

“Our goals are ambitious, and we won’t always get it right, but we’ll always front up and share with the industry and all New Zealanders the places we are finding success, as well as where we still need to do better,” he said. . . .

It’s difficult to argue with most of that.

But there I still ahve a major problem with Landcorp – tying up the billions of dollars the company is worth in farms is not the best use of public money.


Rural round-up

April 28, 2014

Onwards and upwards for millers - Sally Rae:

When Griffins Foods signed a contract to source flour from South Canterbury-based Farmers Mill, it was a leap of faith in a group of arable farmers.

At that stage, Farmers Mill did not have a mill, let alone the ability to supply a sample. Nor was there a track record in flour production.

”It’s a great story in the sense that Griffins bought into the idea without a mill and no product,” Farmers Mill chairman and South Canterbury farmer Murray Turley reflected.

He attributed the biscuit and snack food company’s confidence in the yet-to-be opened mill to the security of the raw material and knowing the source of it. . .

Recovery but still fragile:

RECENT RAIN IN Waikato and South Auckland has set farmers on the road to recovery from the drought but the situation remains fragile for some, a meeting of farming leaders and central and local Government officials has heard.

The teleconference attended by Federated Farmers, DairyNZ and other farming groups, the Rural Support Trust, the Ministry for Primary Industries and Waikato Regional Council was told there had been good rain in the two regions over the past week.

There was general agreement that the drought had been “broken” by the rain but rainfall totals still weren’t that much in some places, some pasture was still brown and that more rain was needed over coming weeks to ensure that recovery continued. . .

Fish & Game calls for public enquiry into the future of farming:

Fish & Game NZ is calling for a public enquiry “to examine the future of agriculture in New Zealand”.

Fish & Game chief executive Bryce Johnson suggested the move in a presentation to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee today where he was invited to discuss the future of farming following the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s recent critical report on land use and nutrient pollution in waterways.

In his submission Mr Johnson explained the impact intensive agriculture is having on waterways.

“Two recent public polls confirm the wider public is clearly engaged in the issue now – and the overwhelming majority want the dairy sector to adopt a different way of operating in the future,” he says. . .

Dark horse takes the win in Aorangi:

James Davidson is the last Grand Finalist to be named in the ANZ Young Farmer Contest after earning top spot at the Aorangi Regional Final Monday 21 April in Fairlie.

Crowds packed the Mackenzie Showgrounds as the eight Young Farmers demonstrated their skills, strength and stamina in the practical challenges including constructing drafting gates, digger operation and carving a wood sculpture using a chainsaw. Later in the evening the Mackenzie Community Centre was abuzz for the evening show and quiz round.

It was Mr Davidson’s first attempt at the regional level and admitted he was quite shocked after winning what he says was a rather difficult competition. . .

Rural broadband initiative milestone –  Leeana Tamati :

The sight of Netta Wilton sitting in the middle of a paddock with a laptop would probably seem odd to passersby, but it was a common scene last year.

Mrs Wilton, who lives in Scotts Gap with her husband Karl and three children, had such slow broadband

she would need to sit in a paddock to get any kind of reliable speed to do her online banking.

Mrs Wilton and her household can now successfully watch videos, play games and do the banking online, thanks to the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI).

The RBI is a partnership between Vodafone and the government aiming to upgrade 387 existing cell towers and build 154 new towers around the country in a bid to give rural residents access to fast broadband. . .

Faster scanner at Invermay :

A new CT scanner at Invermay will provide South Island sheep and deer farmers with faster and more accurate carcass measurements.

The scanner, which uses X-ray technology to create cross-sectional pictures of the body, has been provided by Innervision, a joint venture between Landcorp Farming Ltd and AgResearch.

It replaces an older scanner that has been in operation for 18 years. . . .

 

Get a taste for training:

Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre is holding a four day Taster course on the Wairarapa campus 28 April – 1 May.

The Taster programme is an opportunity for anyone thinking about getting involved in agricultural training to have a ‘taste’ of what Taratahi training and campus life is all about.   

Taster students will stay at the Wairarapa campus for four nights in student accommodation and enjoy three hearty meals a day.  The days are jam-packed with modules on quad bikes, chainsaws, fencing, stock movement and lots more.

During the four days Taster students will also discover all the study options available at Taratahi and most taster students get an idea early on if they are interested in specialising in sheep or dairy. . . .


Rural round-up

April 23, 2014

Happy Earth Day! If you see a farmer, say thanks for being an environmental steward not just today, but every day!

LIC sets course to $1b horizon:

FARMER CO-OP Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) is revamping its executive team and aiming to raise revenue 500% by 2025.

Directors and farmer shareholders have given chief executive Wayne McNee the go-ahead to trim executive numbers from 11 to 8. The post of chief operating officer is abolished and four new management positions are advertised. Several current executives may settle for non-executive roles or quit.

Staff learned this month of a strategy to earn $1 billion in revenues by 2025; the animal breeding and farm technology service provider earned $200m last year. . . .

Focus shift for Landcorp:

STATE-OWNED FARMER Landcorp is seeking to make subtle but significant changes to its strategic direction.

Outlining the changes to Rural News, chief executive Steven Carden said the SOE wants people to realise there is a direct correlation between a strong Landcorp and a strong New Zealand farming sector.

Directors and staff know about the proposed changes, due for further discussion during another strategy session at a board meeting in a few weeks.

Historically the organisation has been relatively inward looking, he says. Now he’d like to see Landcorp working more collaboratively with other partners and looking well beyond the farmgate and engaging with others. . . .

Why scientific method sorts weak from chaff - Doug Edmeades:

According to my dictionary an anecdote is “a short narrative of an incident of private life”. Anecdotes are frequently used to sell dubious products to unsuspecting farmers. Their use is rife among fertiliser products.

You will all have heard them. “The chap at the end of the road put on some of that stuff – my word his lambs looked good this year”. Or, “This guy sold me some humate, I chucked it on a bad paddock down the back – now there are earthworms everywhere”. And one that has always intrigued me comes from the south, “Joe put some of that seaweed liquid fertiliser on and now hundreds of seagulls follow his plough”.

The seductiveness of anecdotes is that they are derived from observation and only a fool would dare tell a farmer that his observations are BS .. .

Farm Manager Finalists Milking 5000 Cows:

The eleven 2014 New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year finalists are together managing 5200 cows producing more than two million kilograms of milksolids.

“These finalists represent a group of dairy farm employees that work extremely hard and put in long hours to harvest the country’s sought after fresh milk in the most cost effective, sustainable and efficient manner,” National Convenor Chris Keeping says.

“The finalists are also passionate about what they do and are keen to progress their dairy industry career.” . . .

Ten Farming Ambassadors Hailed In 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

The Ballance Farm Environment Awards have finished another successful year, with Supreme winners from 10 regions recognised for their outstanding contribution to agricultural sustainability.

David Natzke, General Manager of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, says the 2014 competition drew a “wonderful group of entrants” and the high standard made it a real challenge for judges to pick out the final Supreme winners.

“Attendance at all the regional award ceremonies was well up on previous years. This reflects a great recognition of the awards and how well they are managed and promoted in the regions.”

Taranaki was welcomed into the competition for 2014 and the announcement of the first Taranaki Supreme winner was another highlight, says Mr Natzke. . .

 

Rural Contractors NZ hits the road during May:

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) will be updating its members on the latest changes in health and safety, transport and employment laws – as well as other topics – in a series of road shows being held around the country during May.

RCNZ chief executive Roger Parton says rural contractors need to get to grips with proposed changes to health and safety regulations following the recent introduction of the Health & Safety in Employment Reform Bill into Parliament.

“There are some really major changes planned which will most definitely affect rural contractors,” he explains.

“The penalties for getting it wrong, should someone suffer a bad accident at their workplace, are very severe.” . . .

Great turnout for last Regional Final:

Crowds gathered at the Mackenzie Showgrounds in Fairlie Monday 21 April for the final stop of the AgriKidsNZ and TeenAg competition series.

The Aorangi Regional Final saw Hinds Agris, Ella Yeatman, William Ward and Hayden Jefferson from Hinds School take home the top honour for the AgriKidsNZ competition and High Country Hillbillies, Holly Malcolm and Ella Sanderson from St Kevin’s School were first in the TeenAg event.

The competitions test skills, strength and stamina while introducing youth to the fun side of agriculture. Primary and high school students from all walks of life are welcome to join in. . .

Get Your Entries In For NZ’s First Gaia Awards:

Over recent months, the debate on water quality has reached boiling point with reports and commentary from prominent figures such as Dr Jan Wright Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Sir David Skegg President of the Royal Society of New Zealand and Dame Anne Salmond calling for a shift in farming practices.

Fortunately, there are a growing number of producers bucking a trend of declining water quality and profitability through a focus on soil health. The Association of Biological Farmers (ABF) are hosting NZ’s first Green Agriculture Innovation Awards (GAIA) this August in recognition of these timely innovations. Entries for the Awards are closing soon! ABF wants to congratulate and celebrate not only the farmers and growers but also consultants and bio-fertiliser companies that, at a mushrooming pace, are changing the face of food production in New Zealand. . . .


Rural round-up

April 16, 2014

“Awareness needed around psychology of hunting accidents”:

Wellington start-up, Hunter Safety Lab says there needs to be greater awareness around the subconscious psychological factors that can cause safety conscious, experienced hunters to mistakenly shoot another hunter.

The comment came in light of the death of a Southland hunter shot by another hunter over the weekend.

It is the hunting season’s second shooting accident to take place in the space of two weeks since it officially kicked off at the beginning of April. . .

No rain reprieve yet for drought-hit farms:

While farming areas in the South Island and the main centres receive rain, very little has fallen in areas affected by the upper North Island’s second consecutive autumnal drought.

“It is clearly a localised drought adverse event covering Waikato and parts of Auckland and Northland,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers adverse events spokesperson.

“I must add that we are also concerned about conditions in Manawatu-Rangitikei too.

“Having been through drought myself last year, I fully understand why farmers up north would dearly like to trade weather with us in the South Island. . . .

Kiwi environmental innovation receives international honours:

Contact Energy’s Wairākei bioreactor – a Kiwi innovation – has been awarded honours at the internationally recognised 2014 IWA Asia Pacific Regional Project Innovation Awards in Singapore. Jointly developed by Contact and Beca, the bioreactor is a unique, world-first solution to improve the quality of water that is discharged from the iconic Wairākei geothermal power station into the Waikato River.

“I’m immensely proud of our bioreactor,” says Contact Energy CEO, Dennis Barnes. “As a world-first it’s great to see this example of Kiwi ingenuity recognised at an international level.”

“To work with Contact Energy from the beginning, developing and testing innovative concepts through to the design and construction of the Wairākei bioreactor has been immensely rewarding for the Beca team”, says Beca CEO, Greg Lowe. “This is another great example of New Zealand talent delivering world class project outcomes.” . . .

Tough Ask to Separate Bright 2014 Sharemilker Finalists:

Choosing a winner in the 2014 New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year competition is a tough task for the judges, due to the varying backgrounds and positions of the finalists.

“It is a really interesting competition this year. A number of the finalists are relatively new to the dairy industry, having changed careers, and they also hold a variety of positions which highlights the many ways people can now progress in the industry,” national convenor Chris Keeping says.

“The greatest factor they have in common – apart from being ambitious dairy farmers – is the majority of this year’s finalists have Bachelor degrees. This demonstrates the industry is attracting talented people who are applying skills learned on the job or in other vocations to excel.” . . .

Rollout of faster broadband to remote East Cape schools complete:

All twelve rural schools in remote locations around Gisborne and Wairoa now have faster broadband, as a result of the Government’s broadband initiatives, Communications and Information Technology Minister Amy Adams announced today.

Local communications company Gisborne Net has successfully completed the installation of point-to-point wireless broadband for the 12 schools, under a contract signed with the Government last year.

The 12 Gisborne and Wairoa schools are among 57 across New Zealand which will get faster broadband under the Remote Schools Broadband Initiative, because they are beyond the reach of cost-effective fibre deployment.

The schools will have access to broadband capable of peak speeds of at least 10 megabits per second (about four times faster than previous services). . . .

Sales Volumes Strong, With Prices Holding Steady in March Market:

Summary

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were 94 more farm sales (+25.5%) for the three months ended March 2014 than for the three months ended March 2013. Overall, there were 472 farm sales in the three months to end of March 2014, compared to 534 farm sales for the three months ended February 2014 (-11.6%). 1,842 farms were sold in the year to March 2014, 28.5% more than were sold in the year to March 2013.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to March 2014 was $22,342 compared to $22,317 recorded for three months ended March 2013 (+0.1%). The median price per hectare fell 1.3% compared to February.  . . .

State of the art CT scanner to make quick work of animal yield measurements:

Sheep and Deer farmers in the South Island can now benefit from faster and more accurate carcass measurements, thanks to a new CT scanner in Mosgiel. The scanner, which uses X-Ray technology to create cross-sectional pictures of the body, is a valuable tool for determining meat yield in livestock.

The new CT scanner is being provided by INNERVISION, a joint venture between Landcorp Farming Ltd and AgResearch. It replaces an older scanner that had been in operation for eighteen years.

CT scanner scientist Neville Jopson said the new scanner was considerably faster than the old machine, scanning a whole carcass in around two minutes compared to as much as two hours previously. The ‘spiral scanning’ feature takes measurements over the entire carcass rather than single slice views at set points, providing a much better understanding of composition. . . .

Rabobank opens afresh in central Christchurch:

Continued strong growth in New Zealand has seen specialist agribusiness lender Rabobank relocate to state-of-the-art premises in the new ‘Rabobank Building’ in central Christchurch.

The Christchurch branch of the world’s leading specialist agribusiness bank and the third largest lender to rural New Zealand reopened on Monday 14 April at Level 2, 12 Papanui Rabobank northern south island regional manager David Clarke said the new premises catered for expanding staff numbers and would enable the branch to better service rural farmers and agribusinesses in the Canterbury region.

“We’ve almost doubled in staff numbers in the last decade so we’re excited to move to modern, newer premises with improved technology and more space, which will allow us to grow into the future,” he said. . . .

New Zealand’s First Masterclass for Home Winemakers?

Wine enthusiasts, as well as new and seasoned home winemakers, can learn the secrets of the profession from veteran vintner Justin Oliver.

Oliver is from Matakana’s famous Mt Tamahunga Vineyard and has over 20 years industry winemaking experience at wineries throughout New Zealand and in California. He is also Senior Cidermaker at Zeffer Cider and has distilled professionally. Oliver is in the throes of launching his own wine brand, Free Range Wine Co, specialising in premium wine on tap. 

The Syrah grapes that Mt Tamahunga make into $50 a bottle wine can also be pre-purchased from makewine.co.nz to be collected at the masterclass. The supply is very limited this year – and will be sold on a first in first served. Mt Tamahunga vineyard is one of oldest in the area. It was first planted by the Vuletic brothers for the famous Antipodean Farm wine label of the 1980’s. People may remember a 5-litre bottle of this Bordeaux-styled red selling for $5000 at auction. Those were the days! The Syrah vines were planted in 2004 by new owners, for the premium Mt Tamahunga wine label.  . .


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