Rural round-up

January 31, 2013

Central Hawkes Bay shearing record bid cancelled -

A World sheep shearing record attempt which was to have taken place today in Central Hawke’s Bay has had to be cancelled because the lambs selected for the event would not have met the requirements of the World Sheep Shearing Records Society.

Secretary Hugh McCarroll, of Tauranga, said the judges, including one from Australia, inspected sheep and deliberated for more than six hours in the woolshed at Moa Stone Farm, east of Ormondville, before making the decision after 9pm.

The judges, who had gone to the shed for the traditional day-before wool-weigh, where a sample of lams is shorn to ensure they meet an average minim of 0.9kg of wool per lamb, found many were “bald”about the head.

“There was just not enough top-knot,” he said. “All of the judges commented as they arrived driving past the sheep in the paddocks, there’s not a lot of top-knot on these sheep.”

“It was very disappointing,” he said. “They hadn’t done enough homework. It’ll be a bit of a wake-up call for everybody.” . . .

Fewer horses sold at Karaka but clearance rate up:

New Zealand Bloodstock’s 2013 premier sale wrapped up at Karaka on Tuesday with 323 of the 441 lots sold.

The total raised of $51.05 million was $3.085 million less than in 2012, with 27 fewer horses sold.

The sale average of $158,054 is a 2 percent increase on last year’s figure, while the median was unchanged at $120,000. . .

Meat Sector PGP Could Halt ‘Race To The Bottom’:

Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre is excited by Beef+Lamb New Zealand and its partners winning Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) funding that could supercharge New Zealand’s red meat exports.

“We should not be in any doubt that the international demand for red meat is there but the problem is articulating that into the returns our farmers and our country need,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Chairperson.

“In the year to December 2007, red meat exports represented around 58 percent of dairying’s export value. But in the year to December 2012, that figure has fallen to 45 percent. . .

PGP project suggests meat industry ready to cooperate – Allan Barber:

Yesterday’s announcement of the Red Meat PGP Collaboration Programme for Greater Farmer Profitability at a total investment of $65 million is fantastic news for the whole industry. The key words are ‘collaboration’ and ‘farmer profitability’. The first of these has usually been notable by its absence, while the second combination of words has only been evident at irregular intervals.

 Half the funding will be made available from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Primary Growth partnership fund, while 30% will come from farmers through Beef & Lamb New Zealand and Meat Board reserves and the balance from six meat companies, two banks and Deloitte. . .

Achieving virtual scale for our largest industry – Pasture Harmonies:

Scale matters in exporting according to the World Bank…..so here’s a way to get virtual scale for our biggest industry.

The World Bank’s recent report ‘Export Superstars’, shows that company size matters when it comes to countries’ exporting. Little SME’s don’t cut much mustard.

Business NZ chief executive Phil O’Reilly , in commenting on Rob O’Neil’s Stuff story that the World Bank wants us to think big, says

“New Zealand has some unique challenges to overcome in its incredibly small scale and being the most isolated developed economy in the world.”

O’Reilly goes onto say:

“one effective model is the aggregation of small businesses into groups allowing them to in some ways act like and gain the advantages of large businesses.”

Given that NZ Inc’s biggest business is the conversion of solar-derived pastures into various proteins and fats, through thousands of small on and off farm businesses (and even the large ones are mere tiddlers in the world scene), wouldn’t it make sense to aggregate if we could? . .

Future of postal services: Rural delivery a lifeline says Rural Women NZ:

Rural Women New Zealand says while it understands the need for NZ Post to look at its business model in the face of a dramatic decrease in mail volumes, the special role of the rural delivery service also needs to be acknowledged and preserved as far as possible.

“We appreciate that NZ Post has consulted with us extensively about the future options it’s considering,” says Rural Women New Zealand national president, Liz Evans. “In turn we have emphasised that the rural delivery service is a real lifeline for many people.”

The RWNZ Enterprising Rural Women Awards, now in their fifth year, have revealed the increasing number of small businesses in rural communities and beyond. . .

Bee decline could sting industry:

A scientist at the University of Canterbury warns a declining number of bees could threaten the New Zealand economy and more needs to be done to help farmers protect native species and pollinating flies.

Ecology professor Jason Tylianakis says there are about 430,000 hives throughout the country and the pollination of crops and clover is worth $5 billion to the economy each year.

He says honey bees are under pressure worldwide from diseases and pests, and managed hives are also at threat due to pests and chemical sprays. . .

Sealord signs WWF Tuna Pledge and commits to bycatch below 1%

Evidence of the lowest bycatch using information from every catch will help ensure New Zealand’s most popular tuna brand offers consumers even more sustainable seafood products.

Sealord has also become the country’s first signatory of the WWF’s Western Central Pacific Tuna Conservation Pledge which brings together brands, harvesters and manufacturers focused on ensuring tuna fishing is well managed.

“WWF welcomes Sealord’s decision to sign the WWF Tuna Conservation Pledge and their support for targeted conservation measures that reduce bycatch in their supply chain,” says Alfred Cook, WWF’s Western Central Pacific Tuna Programme Officer . . . .

NZ Wineries Whet Consumers’ App-Etites:

A new range of smartphone apps are helping wine and food enthusiasts connect with wineries throughout New Zealand. The applications, created by NZ Wineries, are designed to keep consumers up to date with the latest news, wine releases, special offers and events in wine producing regions.

Graeme Bott, an emerging winemaker and founder of NZ Wineries, says the apps are a great way to bring the New Zealand wine industry and consumers closer together.

“We wanted to make the engagement between wineries and shoppers/tourists seamless. Through our apps, we can send instant notifications to our users informing them of wine updates in their specified region.” . .

And (hat tip Frankie) the official ambassadors for The Year of Natural Scotland:

Click to enlarge image ponies-in-sweaters.jpg


Rural round-up

December 5, 2012

TPP: Australia and New Zealand Agricultural Bodies Call For Action On Trade:

The peak agricultural bodies of New Zealand and Australia have united in calling for a truly comprehensive and generally liberalising Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement from day one of implementation.

Federated Farmers of New Zealand and the National Farmers’ Federation of Australia are both participating in the TPP negotiations, currently taking place in Auckland.

“Liberalisation must result in the elimination of all agricultural and food product tariffs and reform non-tariff measures,” says Bruce Wills, President of Federated Farmers of New Zealand. . .

NZ commodity prices post fourth month of gains, rising 1%:

New Zealand commodity prices rose for a fourth straight month in November, led by pelts, beef and wood pulp. Lamb prices fell to a 31-month low.

The ANZ Commodity Price Index rose 1 percent last month with 10 commodity prices gaining, four declining and three unchanged.

A firmer New Zealand dollar meant the gain in the ANZ NZD Commodity price Index was a slightly lower 0.9 percent. . .

Biological agriculture ‘joins the dots’ for farmers wanting more:

Listening to world renowned expert Arden Andersen talk on biological growing practices has helped many New Zealand farmers and growers “join the dots” to discover ways to grow healthier produce as well as improving their bottom lines.

American Dr Andersen will be back in New Zealand early in the New Year on a four-course speaking tour; two focusing on soils being held in Ashburton and Taupo, and two on human health in Havelock North and Auckland.

For John Kamp, a sheep, beef and dairy farmer in Mangleton, Hawke’s Bay, says attending the soils course not once but twice, has helped him totally change his farming approach for the 700 hectares he has direct control over. As a syndicate shareholder he has also influenced three South Island dairy farms to become biologically managed. . .

Delegat’s sees small lift in annual earnings, warns on strong currency:

Delegat’s Group is flagging a small increase in annual earnings for 2013, though it’s warning that the strong kiwi dollar is making life hard for the wine-maker.

The company forecasts operating profit of $27 million in the 12 months ending June 30, 2013, managing director Jim Delegat told shareholders in Auckland. That’s a 6 percent lift in earnings from 2012. The winemaker sees a 6 percent sales growth in 2013 to 1.97 million cases expected to sell at $119.10 a case.

“The group continues to actively manage its currency exposure, however currency movements have the potential to impact on earnings,” Delegat said. “With strong and sustainable competitive advantages in brands, distribution, supply and quality, the group is well-positioned to achieve its sales forecasts in the years ahead.” . . .

Agricultural R&D – a fantastic legacy and a means to move forward – Pasture Harmonies:

New Zealand, and its agriculture (systems) owes a heck of a lot to the billions of dollars poured into its research and development over the past 120 years.

Our wealth has, literally, been built on sunshine, soil and fresh air – and more importantly applied brains figuring out how to convert pastoral production into protein. (Actually, and to be fair, it is sunshine, soil and water – but that doesn’t work quite as well from a poetic or story POV).

For nearly a century, the ever refined pastoral method (essentially graze pasture, rest it, graze, rest…) has evolved to a quite elegant recipe. . .

Synlait posts $6.3M maiden profit, likely to seek more capital:

Powdered dairy products exporter Synlait Milk has turned in a maiden profit of $6.3 million for the year to July 31 and expects to seek fresh capital from its two shareholders as it pursues “further strongly profitable opportunities.”

The Dunsandel-based processor added a further 20 supplier farms during the year and processed a total of 498 million litres of milk in the year, compared with 343 million litres the year before, after adding a third drying unit, allowing it to manufacture higher-value nutritional products.

After failing to attract New Zealand investors to a $150 million initial public offering in 2009, Synlait Milk is now 51 percent-owned by the Chinese firm Bright Dairy, with the remainder held by Synlait Ltd, a vehicle representing the company’s founders. . .

Nominations close 16 December for top dairying woman award:

Women working in the dairy industry are being urged to get their nominations in for the 2013 Dairy Woman of the Year award, which closes for entry on 16 December 2012.

Sponsored by Fonterra, the prestigious award includes the chance to attend the year-long Women in Leadership course run by Global Women, worth $25,000.

Dairy Women’s Network chief executive Sarah Speight said the Dairy Woman of the Year award celebrates and advances women who are making a real difference in the dairy industry, in their dairying businesses and in their communities. . .

And from the Nutters Club:
Genius


Rural round-up

November 14, 2012

What does our agriculture offer?  romance and reassurance – Pasture Harmonies:

I’ll be the first to admit that the frilly, intangible, non-scientific aspects of what and how we produce our agricultural products can be a tricky little number to get your head around.

Much of what we’re good at doing as a nation is hard-edged, ‘proven’ – be it across on and off farm technical performance, engineering disciplines, the All Blacks even – all those things that you can measure and monitor.

But, for a moment let’s just sit and accept these quantifiable aspects.

What else does our agriculture offer? . . .

Chatham Rock Phosphate water turbidity model shows encouraging results:

Highly sophisticated computer models of the turbidity from material disturbed during extraction of rock phosphate nodules by Chatham Rock Phosphate have shown encouraging results.

The modelling work is being undertaken by Dutch applied research organisation Deltares using complex modelling techniques developed at their Delft headquarters. Deltares was asked to look at the dispersion behaviour of sediments released during the proposed extraction process.

The modelling results will now be independently evaluated. . .

Sheep in south heading for hills – Sally Rae:

More cows, more mixed farming systems involving dairy support and more finishing in the hill country.

That’s what Rabobank senior rural manager Richard Copland expects to see in the Gore area in the future.

Delivering the opening address at the New Zealand Grassland Association conference in Gore last week, Mr Copland outlined the “massive amount” of change in the district in recent years. . .

Queen gene selection top honey maker – Shawn McAvinue:

The process of breeding better queen bees began for the year in Mosgiel early last week.

Better Bees director David McMillan said drone bee semen was collected and mixed in the morning so queen bees could be artificially inseminated in the afternoon.

The same process would continue for three days so queen bees could sent to shareholders of the Dunedin company, he said Betta Bees assistant Diane Allan, from Balfour, said about 100 mature drone bees were needed daily to collect 20 microlitres of semen. . .

Peel Forest moving to ‘grass roots’ venison – Sandra Finnie:

PEEL Forest Estate owner Graham Carr is the first to admit there was room for improvement on his property, before he grasped the concept of environmentally sustainable deer farming.

It took a letter from Environment Canterbury because someone had “potted him” about dirty water coming off the property, to motivate him to “clean up his act”.

At a recent field day, well supported by friends and farmers, Mr Carr reflected on the the work he’d done in recent years towards his goal of fencing off 90 per cent of the farm by 2012 on one side of a road and how he has improved water quality. . .

Prince Charles and Federated Farmers Express Support for Campaign for Wool:

Fill your living environments with wool and do it in style. That was the message from the Campaign for Wool at Shear Brilliance on Monday and one that will continue to be passed on in the future.

The Campaign hosted HRH The Prince of Wales Monday, November 12 at Shear Brilliance – a wool showcase at The Cloud, Queens Wharf, Auckland. At the event, Prince Charles proudly wore his New Zealand wool suit and told exhibitors New Zealand is globally recognised for the quality of its wool.

The message that wool can fill more than just a closet was evident by the wide range of exhibitors and guests. The Campaign hosted dignitaries, VIPs from architectural, interior and related industries at this special exhibition. It was an opportunity to show New Zealand’s creativity and innovation with woollen textiles and products. . .

Glacial Wool Fit for a Prince:

To honour the Prince of Wales and recognise his role as champion and patron of the global Campaign for Wool, a unique six square metre rug bearing his coat of arms is being hand- crafted in Christchurch from New Zealand Glacial wool by leading New Zealand wool exporter New Zealand Wool Services International.

“The Prince of Wales is the most significant sheep farmer in the United Kingdom and the world’s foremost advocate for wool. He launched the international Campaign for Wool in 2010 to educate the world about the extraordinary benefits and versatility of wool in furnishings, fashion and everyday life”, said Michael Dwyer, managing director, New Zealand Wool Services International. . .

And from  Smile Project:

Photo

Rural round-up

November 6, 2012

Times they are achanging – Gravedodger:

As a child in the 1950s, the Amuri Basin on the northern border of Canterbury  was often almost a desert due to low rainfall, NW winds and soaring summer temperatures, as was the case for much of the east coast of both islands.

The “Red Post”, just north of Culverden Village (which incidentally often rates a mention as a summer hot spot on evening infotainment shows), was in an area of pastoral grazing country that struggled to sustain one sheep to an acre.
Today it stands in a sea of green grass and productive farming that makes my memory seem improbable. . .

Our agriculture’s much more than the sum of its parts – Pasture Harmonies:

Too much, arguably all the time, we look at all the individual components of our farm production systems……and beat ourselves up about them.

We could use less fertiliser, our use of water isn’t that optimal at times, occasionally there’s animal welfare issues, and as for degradation of waterways……

And that’s just on-farm. . .

 

Optimistic signs for coming season’s red meat trade - Allan Barber:

After some harrowing experiences last season for the meat industry, both processors and farmers, 12 months on things are looking up. This sense of optimism hasn’t yet been reflected in prices from the meat companies, but statements from those in the know strike a perceptibly more positive note.

Last year the lamb kill was down by a million, there was drought in significant livestock areas, the dollar was too high and so was the procurement price for lamb. While beef remained relatively unaffected by the hype, the price really not changing much in a year, sheep meat was a completely different story. Driven by the unholy combination of scarcity and tight shipping deadlines for the Christmas trade, the procurement price hit $8 a kilo and struggled to get down from that level. . .

Trading Among Farmers reality at last – Allan Barber:

The day when outside investors can apply for units in the Fonterra Shareholders Fund to be listed on the NZX and ASX has arrived at last. Getting to this point has been a long and tortuous process during which Fonterra has consulted its members, finally gaining the required majority vote in favour of establishing Trading Among Farmers (TAF).

TAF will enable those Fonterra’s shareholders that wish to free up some capital to deposit shares in the fund, provided they retain enough shares to match their milk supply. These shares can either be bought by other shareholders who would like to increase their shareholding or exchanged for the units with rights to dividends and share price value changes.


Rural round-up

October 16, 2012

Bacteria Are Smart Survivors, Including PSA – Sue Edmonds:

The PSA bacteria (Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae) isn’t just attacking New Zealand kiwifruit vines. Now considered a pandemic, it has spread to twelve countries.

First recorded in China in 1984, attempts to curtail its spread are not working very well here, with affected vines being removed, and copper and streptomycin sprays proving ineffectual.

Fred Harvey of Te Puke, a relatively small grower who has been using biological methods focused on soil and vine health, had heard reports from Italy that things were improving there. Although his orchard has some PSA infection, he wasn’t convinced that the advice being given to New Zealand growers was the total answer. So he took a trip to a major Italian growing area south of Rome, and spent four days interviewing kiwifruit orchardists whose revised systems were showing both lowered rates of infection and increased harvests. . .

Mission Estate’s revolutionary new technique could minimise major economic threat to New Zealand’s vineyards:

It’s the often-invisible virus that lowers vineyard yields and affects wine quality, making it arguably the most economically damaging threat to the New Zealand wine industry.

Now, a world first indicator grafting technique developed by Mission Estate Viticulturist Caine Thompson and Professor Gerhard Pietersen from the University of Pretoria, South Africa could identify leaf roll virus in white varieties before it takes hold. . .

If we imagine beyond the actuality of how we produce – Pasture Harmonies:

Science has served New Zealand agriculture extremely well. It should and needs to do so in the future.

It is also that pragmatic rationale approach that has delivered and developed a wonderfully integrated on-farm representation of responsible pastoralism.

Put another way, we’ve engineered a farming solution that makes best use of the temperate climate and relatively thin, bony, young soils of New Zealand.

We are one of the few countries in the world where farmers aren’t peasants.

We tend to take it so much for granted, that what we have, what we project from (most of) our farming, is ‘normal’. In doing so we forget what it looks like. . .

Ministry for Primary Industries’ Strategy 2030 – Allan Barber:

The Ministry for Primary Industries has set itself an ambitious strategy to 2030 with the subtitle ‘Growing and protecting New Zealand.’ In its introduction, the Ministry asks ‘Why this strategy?’ which it answers by saying a re-balancing of the economy towards more productive sources of growth is required and New Zealand must trade itself to greater growth and prosperity.

When one considers that 71 cents in every dollar of merchandise export earnings come from the primary sector, there are no prizes for guessing where most of this is expected to come from. The Government’s strategic growth agenda contains the goal of increasing the ratio of exports to GDP from 30% to 40% of GDP by 2025, so clearly agriculture will be expected to generate the majority of this increase. . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand support Café Challenge

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is teaming up with NZX Agri on an initiative to create a greater understanding of the agriculture sector.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Executive Officer, Dr Scott Champion said the two organisations were working together on the Café Challenge, a light hearted initiative to get rural publications onto the magazine racks of city cafes.

“We want to share positive farming stories with city folk and a great way to do that is to ensure rural publications are among the magazines they read in city cafes.” . . .

Hey, Farmer man, What Are You Doing? that’s Not Your Land. NZ’s State-Run Farms - Life Behind the Iron Drape:

I’m in the process of penning a piece regarding Tyler Cowan’s interesting Great Stagnation Thesis, as it may apply to farming in New Zealand, and much sooner than might be thought with a Labour/Green government artificially stopping on-farm innovation and taxing the last life out of the sector from 2014 – for the good of the environment, of course – however, in the interim, there is one frightening connection between farming in New Zealand and China, that has nothing to do with the Labour/Green/NZ First xenophobia regarding Chinese investment, that may also feed into this: it’s the out-of-control, indebted state, again, and it’s destruction of private property rights as a means for its survival. . .

Rural round-up

October 9, 2012

Rabobank Australia and New Zealand Agribusiness review October:

Key highlights:

• A warm end to spring is on the cards for most of Australia according to the Bureau of Meteorology. Climate models surveyed by the Bureau suggest sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean will maintain values around typical El Niño thresholds for the remainder of 2012.

• The US Federal Reserve announced the third stage of its quantitative easing program to help boost investment and spending in the economy. On a negative note, the World Trade Organisation downgraded its forecasts for growth in global trade in 2012 and 2013 by over one percentage point in response to slowing global economic activity.

• The New Zealand dollar has held firm over the course of the past month following the announcement of further liquidity measures in key global economies. The Australian dollar found some relief on the news of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s decision and softer external trade numbers and is currently trading around the USD1.025 level. . .

The full report is here.

A Successful Year for Agresearch:

On-farm pest control, new value-added products and improved environmental performance are three of the significant contributions made by AgResearch scientists to New Zealand’s agricultural economy over the past year, according to its 2012 annual report.

At the same time, the country’s largest scientific organisation has sought to realign itself more closely with its farmer, government, industry sector and other stakeholders, says Chief Executive Dr Tom Richardson.

“There is still much to do and we have valued the willingness of our sector partners to engage with us,” he says. . .

If you stand for nothing; does that mean anything is acceptable….or not?

This is the dilemma for NZ Inc agriculture as AgResearch announces the recent success of ‘Daisy’ a cow genetically modified to produce milk with much less beta-lactoglobulin (BLG). This is a milk whey protein known to be allergenic to some people. See the NZ Herald version of the story here.

I’m not commenting on the clever science behind GM Daisy – essentially using two microRNAs and RNA interference to knock down the expression of BLG. AgResearch next want to normally breed from Daisy and see if the same non-BLG milk is produced by her daughters – a several year exercise. . .

Free database will open access to best tree information

Farmers looking for information about any aspect of planting and managing trees in the working landscape will soon be able to access a new online – and free – database listing the most useful and credible information resources available. This database will range from practical aspects of growing and harvesting trees for timber through to establishing riparian plantings and management information such as budgeting and forest ownership options.

As a vital first step the project organisers are looking for input from farmers, via a short online survey as to how they prefer to receive this type of information. This survey can be found at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Trees_on_Farms. . .

Below-ground protection from new grass endophyte

A Canterbury pasture plant breeding company is set to release a major advance in the fight against a multi-million dollar farming problem, insect pests.

Cropmark Seeds Ltd has managed to endow its pasture varieties with an endophyte “GrubOUT® U2” that gives grass grasses greater persistence under insect attack, above and below ground.

“It’s perhaps the greatest advance in plant breeding in 20 years, and it will have a dramatic effect on our farming systems and production” said Cropmark Seeds Marketing Manager Garry Begley.

The key to this breakthrough is the phrase “below ground”.

Livestock Farm Winners Inspire Other Farmers to Enter 2013 Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Winning the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Farm Award in the 2012 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards was welcome recognition for Okahu farmers John and Lurline Blackwell and their son Peter.

But it wasn’t the main reason they entered.

“We weren’t looking for glory,” John says.

“We just wanted to support the competition and learn more about sustainability.”

The Blackwells farm a 345ha sheep and beef property, southeast of Dargaville. ‘Summer Hill Farm’ runs a small but highly productive sheep flock and finishes around 400 bulls a year. The farm also runs Wagyu-cross steers and heifers on contract. . .

Mind-bending video of a sheep with an upside down HEAD… and man who filmed it insists it was no fake – Alex Ward:

Look a bit closer and you will notice something very odd about this sheep.

Seemingly defying nature quite happily as it nibbles grass, it is indeed a sheep with an upside down head – but is it real?

The owner of the YouTube video of the weird animal insists it was no fake as the clip sparked the curiosity among thousands, becoming an internet hit with almost 50,000 views in five days. . .

(Hat tip CoNZervative)


Rural round-up

October 6, 2012

No chance government will legislate to restrict meat capacity – Allan Barber

After the announcement last week of Alliance Group’s intention to close sheepmeat processing at its Mataura plant, union representative Gary Davis called for the government to intervene. This was no doubt caused more by frustration over the loss of jobs than any realistic expectation that the government would interfere in a commercial situation.

Alliance has made a business decision based on declining sheep numbers, brought about largely by land use change to dairy. The South Island’s share of national dairy production continues to increase every year with the result that more beef processing is needed at the expense of sheep chains. Hence Alliance took the logical decision to retain beef processing at Mataura and to transfer sheepmeat to Lorneville. . .

Oilseed rape industry a goer!

Federated Farmers Grain & Seed Industry Group welcomes the news that Solid Energy has received a bid to buy its Agribusiness division as a going concern.

“After hearing a few weeks ago there was a possibility that Solid Energy could simply shut the doors at Biodiesel New Zealand, this is the news that oilseed rape growers have been waiting for,” says Federated Farmers South Canterbury Grain & Seed Chairman and oilseed rape grower, Colin Hurst.

“Growing oilseed rape requires a significant commitment because the seeds can stay in the ground and stop you growing any other brassica for as long as ten years. . .

Swiss cows send texts to announce they’re in heat – John Tagliabue:

When Christian Oesch was a boy on his family’s hog farm, cellphones were a thing of the future. Now, Mr. Oesch tends a herd of dairy cattle and carries a smartphone wherever he goes. Occasionally he gets an SMS from one of his cows.

That is because Mr. Oesch, 60, who cares for a herd of 44 Red Holstein and Jersey dairy cows, is helping to test a device that implants sensors in cows to let farmers know when they are in heat. When that is the case, the device sends an SMS to the farmer’s phone. The Swiss do not settle for half measures: the SMS can be in any one of Switzerland’s three main languages — German, French and Italian — plus English or Spanish. . .

Should we bother trying to get consumers closer to farmers? – Pasture Harmonies:

It is often said that farmers need to get closer to consumers.

And while it is possible, and some marketers have set up the facility to, for a bar code (or QR code) to show exactly where a piece of meat came from, even though that’s good it’s not really the point.

Sure, often the marketer will be telling a story associated with the meat’s provenance.

However, my argument is that within the huge quantity of meat sold around the world, the brave battle of such tiny efforts is worthy but not enough. . .

God’s country -Charmian Smith:

Central Otago is “God’s country when it comes to pinot    noir”, Australian wine writer James Halliday wrote in Panorama    in 2000. At the region’s 25th anniversary celebration at the    weekend, Charmian Smith asked him if he thinks it still    applies.

In 1990, James Halliday, elder statesman of Australian wine,  opened Gibbston Valley Wines, the region’s first  purpose-built winery and restaurant. He was privately      thinking that there was no way good wine was going to be made there, he says, and he warned Alan Brady and his investors that wineries had an inexhaustible appetite for funds – something many have found since.

Halliday has been to Central many times since, obviously revising his opinion about the quality of the wine. Last weekend he was back for the 25th anniversary celebrations of  the region’s first wine produced for sale, a 1987 Rhine Riesling made from the few grapes the half-dozen pioneers could get together from their little plots of vines. . .


Rural round-up

September 12, 2012

 

We’re the only protein production system that can say VISIT – Pasture Harmonies:

Forget the science, briefly, about our agriculture, even though that’s the wonderful legacy that has got us to where we are today.

Forget the rational.

Forget the food safety, the genetics of plants and animals, the fertiliser….all those things that are objective or measureable in their input and output.

For many of us, myself included, that’s a difficult thing. We’re programmed, almost obliged to look at the facts, to deal with what’s real.

Instead think emotions, hearts and minds, soul even when it comes to our farming.

Because that’s the trigger, hook, main consideration (even if they don’t realise it) for consumers. . .

Loder Cup awarded to Dunedin ecologist:

Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson has announced Dunedin Ecologist Dr Ralph Allen the 2012 winner of the prestigious Loder Cup for his outstanding achievements in plant conservation work.

A professional plant ecologist for 30 years with the former DSIR and then Landcare Research, Dr Allen has been pivotal in protecting thousands of hectares of native forest, shrublands, and coastal vegetation throughout Otago, Southland, and the Kapiti Coast.

“Dr Allen’s efforts have inspired others to cherish the native plants and ecosystems around them,” Ms Wilkinson says. . .

Very unlikely NZ bees have CCD

The National Beekeepers’ Association of New Zealand’s co-chief executive, Daniel Paul, doubts New Zealand is seeing the first signs of CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder).

Mr Paul was commenting on a NZ Herald article that indicated CCD may be occurring in NZ.

“It’s very unlikely,” he said.

“We’re probably seeing the effects of the increasing resistance to the treatments that are used to control the varroa mite and while that’s not unexpected, it is still a concern.” . . .

Last farmer out turn out the lights – Willy Leferink:

Here is a typical media scenario: anything to do with farming and water,they pull stock video of cattle shitting in water.

Instead of rational discussion on complex water policy, it is boiled down to images that yell stock exclusion. This misses the real story by the proverbial country mile.

Case in point was the 3News story about the Environment Court kicking the guts of independent hearings commissioners over Horizons One Plan. Now, these commissioners reached a quite different view in 2010 and after months of sitting through detailed evidence. On the evidence, they tended towards the arguments of Federated Farmers and those in the primary industries over that of the council

So did 3News show images of stream plantings, lysimeters and the marked improvement in dairy compliance? No, instead they showed beef cattle shitting into a river. . .

Ballance Supports Rural Leadership:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients is backing a rural leadership programme to foster governance and business capabilities for women in the sector.

The Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) Escalator programme is designed to build the skills already accumulated by rural women within their businesses and communities.

Ballance supports the Escalator programme through sponsorship of one of 14 places on the 10-month programme.

The recipient of the Ballance-supported spot is Ekatahuna sheep and beef farmer Lisa Sims. . .

Please ask dairy farmers to contribute to your research by using social media – Pasture to Profit:

Low input pasture based dairy farmers are generous with their practical information. In my experience they want to contribute to research that they help fund. However agricultural researchers rarely include farmers to the detriment of the research results & the practical usefulness of the project.

Farmers can easily respond through Facebook & Twitter networks greatly enriching research outcomes. Farmers are often the leading researchers in their field of expertise. Come on we all want good quality research outcomes so include farmers in your research team. . .


Rural round-up

September 4, 2012

So, tell me why we shouldn’t be global custodians of responsible pastoralism? – Pasture Harmonies:

The purpose of this blog discussion is to debate whether New Zealand Inc should become global custodians of responsible pastoralism.

It is test the hypothesis that we have a golden opportunity to profitably unite around a common story and the reality embodied in our pastoral method.

To own the story I contend, first we must name it.

Instead however of debating what the name should be, a brand/name is proffered, and as shorthand for our entire story, an argument will be presented as to why we should go down this path. Hence, pasture Harmonies – a descriptor, a promise. . .

Ways with water: agriculture vs the environment – Damian Christie:

As Leonardo da Vinci once said, “water is the driving force of all nature”. And it’s coming in for plenty of discussion in New Zealand at present. So are agricultural growth and environmental protection mutually exclusive? Or can a balance be struck? Damian Christie takes a dip.

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of New Zealand’s waterways, not just in material terms, but for their place in our national identity. As a young fella I grew up hunting for tadpoles in the streams out back of our place in Waiouru. On holidays at grandma’s bach in Central Otago my dad taught me to fish for trout in the nearby lakes. And as a teenager in Upper Hutt the river was a constant backdrop to long days spent swimming, rafting, and in later years, summer evenings spent partying around bonfires with friends. . .

On the frontline with our pest busters – Dwight Whitney:

Just as agricultural products evolve, so too do the gremlins, varmints, pest and diseases that are destined to take a bite out of production and wallets. But standing between them and your livelihood are some pretty savvy souls, writes Dwight Whitney.

Any budding Hollywood director wanting inspiration for the ultimate horror movie need go no further than New Zealand’s Biosecurity website for subject matter and inspiration. 

Like The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, plants, animals, insects, birds, fish, parasites and diseases are coming to a farm near you.  Consider just a few of some recent ‘visitors’—the likes of Devil’s fig, painted apple moth, eastern banjo frog, fire ant, lesser banded hornet, southern salt marsh mosquito, gum leaf skeletoniser, marron and gudgeon—that have decided there’s no place like New Zealand to call home. . .

Keeper has a honey of a job – Sally Rae:

Central Otago beekeeper Colin Wood reckons he has the best job in the world.   

 A qualified builder, Mr Wood has no regrets about entering  the honey industry when he gave a beekeeping friend a hand.   

 It was during the recession in the 1980s, the building   industry was “not good” and switching to beekeeping was not a      hard decision to make. . .

Training dogs all about the three Ps – Sally Rae:

When it comes to training sheep dogs, Lloyd Smith reckons    it’s all about the three Ps – purpose, precision and positive.   

The Palmerston dog triallist and trainer has been passing on his knowledge and training methods at training days      throughout the country.   

In 2005, Mr Smith published a book, Pup Pen to Paddock, described as a no-nonsense guide to rearing and training      better sheep dogs. . .

System prevents consent breach – Shawn McAvinue:

Some farmers are already using fail-safe equipment on their farms in the south. 

    Bayswater Dairy lower order sharemilker Edwin Mabonga said a spring-fed creek ran through the 260-hectare milking platform where he milked 800 cows in Western Southland. 

    Environment Southland consent for the farm allowed him to irrigate 10mm of effluent a day to a depth of 25mm, 50 metres away from waterways. . .

Injection to stop methane emissions – Gerald Piddock:

Livestock farmers may one day be able to stop biological emissions by injecting their animals with a methane inhibitor. 

    The injection is one of several areas of research scientists at the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre in Palmerston North are investigating as they look at ways for farmers to halt their animals livestock emissions. 

    The research is aimed at developing mitigation technologies for methane emissions that were applicable for farmers without losing profitability or productivity, AgResearch scientist Dr Peter Janssen said. . .


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