Rural round-up

April 14, 2014

Challenge of creating a strong red meat sector – Allan Barber:

I am obviously not alone in trying to work out ways of creating a strong red meat sector with profits being shared equitably between the participants. But it is an elusive model which nobody has yet succeeded in identifying. It makes me wonder if it is an impossible dream, but there are a number of determined dreamers who are still intent on finding the solution.

Recently I have had an exchange of emails, not always amicable, with John McCarthy, chairman of MIE, who is committed to achieving consensus among farmers about a future industry structure which will get away from the price taker model.

He takes me to task, quite legitimately, for seeing things from the companies’ perspective which, he says, focuses on making a profit for shareholders. But this doesn’t satisfy farmers’ objectives of being sustainably profitable which is the only way a strong red meat sector will emerge. He agrees the top farmers are performing satisfactorily, but in his view these only comprise 20-25% of farmers. . .

Wool industry picks up dropped stitches - Sally Rae:

New Zealand’s wool industry is ”a wee bit broken” , Wools of New Zealand chief executive Ross Townshend says.

At an autumn roadshow in Waikouaiti, Mr Townshend spoke of his observations since starting the job in August last year.

Sixty years ago, 85% of sheep farmers’ revenue was from wool and 15% was from meat, and now it was the complete opposite. . .

Linking youth and the land – Sally Rae:

Annika Korsten is on a mission to expose disengaged Dunedin youth to rural work opportunities.

Ms Korsten, a recipient of a $100,000 World of Difference grant from the Vodafone New Zealand Foundation, is establishing a programme, on behalf of the Malcam Charitable Trust, to develop opportunities for young people aged 18 to 24 to transition to work or further rural training.

Describing herself as passionate about people, place and food and the inter-relationship between the three, she said she enjoyed facilitating networks and connecting people. . .

 

The costs of GMO labelling -Foodie Farmer:

There has been much discussion over whether or not the labeling of “GMO” foods would add to the cost of food production or not. This was one of the supporting arguments for GMO labeling at the legislative hearing at the Maryland House of Delegates Committee on Health and Government Operations during which Doug Gurian-Sherman of the Union of Concerned Scientists and Michael Hansen of the Center for Food Safety, both insisted that labeling costs would be minor at best.

So does Mother Jones

So does The Grist

Wow, do these scientists and journalists have any understanding of the food supply chain from farm gate to grocery shelf?
Apparently not, nor does anyone else who thinks that “GMO” labeling won’t increase the cost of food.
Here is my pictorial analysis of the food supply chain from my farm gate: . . .

 

What is Your Dairy farm Profit?  – Pasture to Profit:

What is dairy farm profit? Is profit a dirty word? Too few New Zealand dairy farmers know their profit? Discussion groups rarely discuss or compare profit. Few farmers financially benchmark. Why do farmers and consultants continue to use profit per hectare to compare farms?

PROFIT = GROSS FARM REVENUE – FARM OPERATING EXPENSES + NON-CASH Adjustments. Non-Cash Adjustments include changes in feed & livestock inventory, inclusion of Family labour & Management and depreciation. See NZDairybase   Why do so few NZ dairy farmers know what their profit is? Profit per hectare is not enough, although every farmer should calculate Profit/hectare.  . . .


Rural round-up

April 10, 2014

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

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

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

Aquaduct NZ wins IrrigationNZ Innovation Award:

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

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

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

Irrigation champions share 2014 Ron Cocks Memorial Award:

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

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

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

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

Minister welcomes first investment by Crown Irrigation company:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Busy winter ahead for contestant - Sally Rae:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final call for applications – leading farm business management program:

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

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

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

Steer and dog BFFs – Thomas Mead:

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

April 8, 2014

A taste of Waitaki -  Pam Jones:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edendale Nursery sold to large forestry biotech – Sally Rae:

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

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

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

Making horseshoe among Young Farmers tasks – Sally Rae:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Beef + Lamb New Zealand appoints top genetics positions:

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

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

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

More success for PGP programmes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Zealand seafood goes online in China promotion:

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

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

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

The ‘B’ word – Mad Bush Farm:

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


Rural round-up

March 24, 2014

New evidence that A1 relative to A2 beta-casein affects digestive function – Keith Woodford:

A new paper has been published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition titled “Dietary A1 beta-casein affects gastrointestinal transit time, dipeptidyl peptidase-4 activity, and inflammatory status relative to A2 b-casein in Wistar rats”

The key findings are:
1. A1 beta casein slows down transit of food through the digestive system relative to A2 beta-casein and this is an opioid effect.
2. A1 beta-casein induces a pro- inflammatory effect in the colon which is also an opioid effect.
3. A1 beta casein relative to A2 beta-casein causes up-regulation of the enzyme DPP4 in the small intestine and this is apparently a non-opioid effect.
4. In contrast to the A1 beta-casein, there is no evidence of opioid effects from the A2 beta-casein in relation to either food transit times or pro-inflammatory effects. . . .

Benefits of collaboration - Sally Rae:

Collaboration and partnerships.

Two words mentioned often during a Federated Farmers high country field day in the upper Waitaki last week.

It was a fitting location for such an event, with what could be dubbed the ”green versus brown” debate a very hot issue in both the upper Waitaki and neighbouring Mackenzie districts.

Starting in Twizel, about 140 people travelled in a convoy of vehicles through Doug McIntyre’s dairy farm operation, on to Ohau Downs, where Kees Zeestraten is battling to bring irrigation to his property, then through Ribbonwood Station and into the Ahuriri Valley before viewing irrigation development at Tara Hills near Omarama. . .

Millions spent but no irrigation yet - Sally Rae:

Kees Zeestraten has spent close to $3 million trying to get water to irrigate Ohau Downs.

He admitted he was ”gutted” it had cost so much to get to that point – and still not have water.

Meanwhile, the flats of the 5200ha Omarama property, where he intended to do his irrigation development, were, as North Otago Federated Farmers high country chairman Simon Williamson said, ”pretty depleted”, with hieracium taking over and tussocks struggling to survive.

”In general, you would not say it’s in great health. It’s certainly not knee-high tussocks waving in the wind,” Mr Williamson said. . .

Green hues advancing in the high country - Sally Rae:

‘You wouldn’t get a better landscape. Green is as much a part of it as the tawny brown landscape in the background. What are they worrying about? It fits in.”

That was the comment of High Country Accord chairman Jonathan Wallis, after viewing the result of irrigation development on Tara Hills at Omarama.

The contrast between the green, irrigated flats of the property and the surrounding brown hills was vivid.

The 3400ha station, best known as a research property, was bought by Dave Ellis two years ago. . .

Sorting out key issues – Bryan Gibson:

Prime Minister John Key will hope his visit to China last week will have done the trick in terms of reassuring the government in that country and the buying public that our milk products are safe and our food-safety regime is robust.

A report, covered in this week’s Farmers Weekly, says New Zealand’s infant formula industry is in pretty good shape, but faces many challenges as China looks to tame the “Wild West” market that has taken shape there.

Audits of this country’s processing plants by Chinese authorities are under way and there will be many eager to know the results. . .

Foundation’s Australian links pay off:

The Foundation for Arable Research says its foray into Australia last year is paying off.

Foundation chief executive Nick Pyke said the link with Australia enables it to leverage off the much larger investment in cropping research being carried out across the Tasman.

“We have had some involvement in programmes which are quite different for them (Australia) because of the way we grow crops here in New Zealand, so they have learnt from that”. . .

Auckland Hauraki Dairy Winners Dominant:

The major winners in the 2014 Auckland Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards, Bryce and Rosemarie Costar, have well achievable goals to keep them focused and heading in the right direction.

The Onewhero couple were named the region’s Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year at an awards dinner in Pukekohe last night . Ngatea contract milker Simon Player was named the 2014 Auckland Hauraki Farm Manager of the Year and Paeroa dairy farm assistant Marion Reynolds won the region’s Dairy Trainee of the Year title.

Bryce and Rosemarie Costar are 55% sharemilking 300 cows on a family farm owned by Bill Costar. They won $20,200 in prizes. . .


Rural round-up

March 18, 2014

New staff to boost border security:

26 New Ministry for Primary Industries border staff begin training in Auckland today as part of a programme to beef up frontline resources, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“Close to 125 new quarantine inspectors have joined MPI in the last 18 months and this is another big boost in resources.

“The 26 new staff will graduate around the middle of this year and will be posted around New Zealand.

“While there is increasing use of technology and intelligence to protect our border, we still need people on the frontline.

“Biosecurity is my number one priority as Minister because it is so important in protecting our economy. We know that unwanted pests and diseases can have devastating effects on our farmers and growers. . .

Clover root weevil under attack in Southland - Sally Rae:

An industry-wide effort is under way in Southland to combat the damaging clover root weevil, whose economic damage has been measured in hundreds of millions of dollars nationwide.

Clover root weevil (CRW), identified by distinctive U-shaped notches on clover leaves, was discovered in the Waikato and Auckland in 1996 and has now spread as far as Southland.

A project, involving AgResearch, Beef and Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ and Environment Southland, which has been releasing parasitised clover root weevils on Southland farms, is being accelerated. . .

Fonterra Chairman Visits New $126m UHT Milk Processing Site:

Fonterra Chairman John Wilson visited Fonterra’s new $126 million UHT milk processing site at Waitoa on the weekend.The site is in its final stages of testing before commissioning Anchor UHT milk and cream products at the end of this month.

Mr Wilson said he was impressed with how quickly it had taken the site to get to this stage with construction completed in 12 months.

“It was great to get the chance to visit and meet the team who have brought our Waitoa site to life. There is a real sense of pride from the team on the ground.  . . .

History repeats itself in Northland:

David Kidd is the fourth Grand Finalist to be named in the 2014 ANZ Young Farmer Contest.

The thirty year old sheep and beef farm manager of Shelley Beach took first place at the Northern Regional Final at the Kaikohe Showgrounds over the weekend, Saturday 15 March.

Thirty years after Mr Kidd’s father, Richard Kidd, became a Grand Finalist David is following in his footsteps. Richard placed third (on count back) in the 1984 Timaru Grand Final representing the Northern Region. “I don’t remember it, but I was at that Grand Final and it was my first Young Farmers experience,” said Mr Kidd. . .

Meet Dr Sunday – Alice Roberts:

A doctor living in rural Queensland says it’s the patients who have kept him in town for the past decade.

Dr Sunday Adebiyi has been a general practitioner in Dysart for 10 years.

He says it’s the friendships you strike up in regional areas that make the job worthwhile.

“I have some very, very good patients and I think about them and they think about me, they are concerned about my welfare and how I’m going,” he says.

“So with such people it would be very difficult to let them down. . .

Rabobank business alumni tour successful South Island farms:

More than 80 New Zealand and Australian farmers toured South Island farms last week as part of Rabobank’s Business Management Programme alumni tour.

They visited a deer operation, an intensive indoor robotic dairy operation and a mixed cropping and birdseed business, which was currently undertaking a dairy conversion.

They also visited North Otago dairy farmer Rogan Borrie’s four properties near Oamaru.

Borrie, a fifth-generation farmer, completed Rabobank’s Farm Managers Programme in 2007.

He said it was a rewarding experience to share the developments and technology introduced on-farm.

“We showed the tour our new computerised irrigation scheme with pivot and fixed grid sprinklers that we have recently installed in order to reduce labour time and energy and improve water efficiency,” he said . .


Rural round-up

March 17, 2014

Wild bee loss bad for breed:

Beekeepers are being warned to check the genetic diversity of their stock following the first stage of a nationwide survey that shows significant in-breeding.

The Sustainable Farming Fund project, administered by University of Otago associate professor Peter Dearden, has studied bees from all over New Zealand.

The early results show New Zealand’s bee population was much more diverse than previously thought but that many beekeepers have serious issues with inbreeding. . .

Farm manager shares love of ‘wicked’ industry -

The 2014 Southland Otago Farm Manager of the Year, Jared Crawford, says he was ”shocked” when he heard his name announced during the New Zealand Dairy Industry awards regional final at the MLT Event Centre in Gore on Saturday.

He and wife Sara stood on the podium with the region’s Sharemilker Equity Farmer of the Year winners Steve Henderson and Tracy Heale, of Winton, and Dairy Trainee of the Year winner Josh Lavender, also of Winton. . .

Triallist just wants to get better – Sally Rae:

When Cody Pickles goes to the dog trials, he takes his Gin with him.

The young Otago shepherd also takes Dusty, another member of his eight-strong working dog team. Both dogs are heading dogs.

Mr Pickles (23), who is in his second season of ”having a go” at dog trialling, works at Waipori Station, a 12,000ha Landcorp Farming-owned property on the shores of Lake Mahinerangi. . . .

NZ supports Philippines farmers’ recovery from Typhoon:

Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye today announced that New Zealand will provide $2.5 million to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to help farmers in the Philippines recover from Typhoon Haiyan.

“Typhoon Haiyan was one of the most devastating storms in recent history and it is estimated that almost 6 million workers’ livelihoods were destroyed, lost or disrupted,” Ms Kaye says.

“In the immediate aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan New Zealand made around $5 million available to support the emergency response and relief effort and the New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully indicated that we would consider further support aimed at helping the Philippines recover.

“New Zealand’s contribution will help to restore the livelihoods of 128,000 vulnerable households in rural areas affected by Typhoon Haiyan. . .

Wind-up for the Woolless Wiltshires of Winchmore:

The final act of a 13 year-long AgResearch sheep breeding project designing low-maintenance sheep will take place at the Tinwald General Saleyards on Wednesday 12 March.

​The research project led by AgResearch scientist Dr David Scobie into easy-care and shedding sheep has finished.  As the two flocks, totalling approximately 300 sheep, are now surplus to requirements on the Winchmore Research Farm, AgResearch is holding a dispersal sale.

In 1997, AgResearch predicted that the cost of growing wool would exceed the value of the wool grown in what was then a foreseeable future. 

“We had two challenges,” says Dr Scobie.

“To develop a wool-less sheep and also to develop a low maintenance sheep.”

The Wiltshire flock were selected for decreased fleece weight for a period of 11 years.  . .

Farmer-friendly sheep don’t need sheering –  Annabelle Tukia:

It is the end of an era for AgResearch, who have put their 300 scientifically-bred sheep under the hammer.

For the past 13 years scientists have been experimentally breeding two different types of sheep with some very unique features.

A small but enthusiastic crowd flocked to the Tinwald sale yards. On sale were no stock-standard ewes. For the past 13 years AgResearch has been breeding a line that would appeal to farmers and lifestylers for their low maintenance.

The first is a breed that sheds its own wool and requires no shearing and the second a composite breed that does not need its tail docked and has far less wool in areas that would normally create dags. . . .

Taranaki Dairy Awards Winners Back on National Stage:

Experience counts and for two of the major winners in the 2014 Taranaki Dairy Industry Awards they have that in spades.

Both 2014 Taranaki Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Charlie and Johanna McCaig, and 2014 Taranaki Farm Manager of the Year, Michael Shearer, have won regional dairy industry awards titles previously.

In 2011 the McCaigs placed second in the New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year competition, after winning the Taranaki regional title while in 2012 Mr Shearer placed third in the New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year competition after winning the West Coast Top of the South regional title. . .


Rural round-up

March 10, 2014

This land of milk & honey of ours: – Willy Leferink:

The former U.S president, Ronald Reagan, was well known for his turn of phrase. At one farmer meeting Reagan delivered this advice on politicians peddling a plan: “the 10 most dangerous words in the English language are, “Hi, I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help”.

I was reminded of what Reagan said when, by chance, I caught Parliament a few weeks ago just as the MP Andrew Little let rip:  “This is a Government obsessed with mucking around in the same puddle of water we have been in, frankly, for far too long – more primary production, more mining, more commodity goods to be sold at commodity prices. The challenge for this country is to make the shift in our economy into totally new productive enterprises and into the new economy…”

It’s some puddle when ‘primary production’ will be worth $36bn this 2013/14 season!  It is even more of a puddle when dairying has helped New Zealand to a record trade surplus in January, or, as Statistics NZ’s Chris Pike put it, “dairy export prices helped lift the terms of trade to their highest level since 1973.” . . .

Sheep do most harm to farmers – Neil Ratley:

Southland and Otago farmers have been flocking to ACC with farm animal-related injury claims.

And sheep top the list of most dangerous animals.

Across the south, there were more than 1000 farm animal- related injury claims made to ACC in 2013. Sheep were responsible for 473 of those, with cattle being blamed for 367 injuries and horses coming in with 131.

However, in Southland where dairy cows command the paddocks, cattle inflicted the most pain on farmers with 123 injury claims last year.

But the district’s sheep also got in on the act, with 116 incidents reported to ACC. . .

Gorse attacked to halt nitrogen runoff:

A plan to eradicate gorse in the Lake Rotorua catchment as a way of stopping nitrogen runoff into the lake has been launched by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

Council general manager of natural resources Warwick Murray says gorse can contribute as much nitrogen as a dairy farm but because it’s so widely spread, the control of it rests with landowners.

He says it’s a very difficult task to accomplish because the gorse is often on steep, difficult country and comes back quickly after being cleared unless some alternative vegetation cover is established. . .

Day a chance to give it a go - Sally Rae:

Sarah O’Connell says she did not choose agriculture as a career – it chose her.

Ms O’Connell, now an extension officer for Beef and Lamb New Zealand, was addressing a Get Ahead career experience day at Totara Estate, just south of Oamaru, last week.

More than 130 pupils from John McGlashan College, Taieri College, East Otago High, Otago Boys’, Timaru Boys’, Craighead Diocesan, Mackenzie College, St Kevin’s College, Waitaki Girls’ and Waitaki Boys’ High School attended the day, while just over 140 attended a similar day in Gore earlier in the week. . . .

Winton newlyweds’ winning form  - Sally Rae:

March will go down as a memorable month for Winton 50% sharemilkers Steve Henderson and Tracy Heale.

Not only did they win the 2014 Southland Otago sharemilker/equity farmer of the year title, but they also got married.

Mr Henderson (27) and Ms Heale (28) met at Lincoln University, where they completed agriculture degrees before starting in the dairy industry in 2007.

Both came from farming backgrounds, with Mr Henderson brought up on a dairy farm and Ms Heale on a sheep and beef farm in the North Island. . . .

Tractor pulling gains popularity - Sonita Chandar:

Wheels will be spinning and the dirt flying when the big rigs roll in to Feilding for the annual Norwood Tractor Pull competition.

All leading tractor manufacturers will be represented at the event which runs as part of the Central Districts Field Days from this Thursday and put through their paces by the Tractor Pull New Zealand tractor pull sledge.

Modified tractors will be running daily – providing all the noise-making, smoke-generating and wheelie- popping action you can handle. . . .


Rural round-up

March 3, 2014

Golden end to a golden event:

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

How precision farming is changing UK agriculture – Caroline Stocks:

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

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

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

Joint venture excites Charolais breeder – Sally Rae:

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

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

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

Invermay’s key role emphasised -  Sally Rae:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

North Island iwi join forces to buy into Kaingaroa Timberlands:

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

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

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

Seafood industry supports permits for shark tourism:

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

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

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


Rural round-up

February 24, 2014

Farm firebugs endanger lives, property - Tim Cronshaw:

Mid-Canterbury farmers have hit out at suspected arson after four fires in crop stubble, hay bales and a shed containing machinery.

They are worried a firebug might be on the loose after fires started at 4.30am on Saturday east and west of Tinwald.

Federated Farmers Mid-Canterbury grain and seed chairman David Clark said there was a strong suspicion from the way the fires were lit, their location and timing, that arson was involved.

He said farmers were appalled by the behaviour. The fires were senseless and had put property at risk and potentially could have put lives at risk. . .

 

Children’s merino range a hit – Sally Rae:

Central Otago fashion designer Christina Perriam’s range of merino clothing for children and babies is proving a hit with New Zealand retailers.

Less than a year after its launch, Suprino Bambino has been picked up by 22 child and baby boutiques following a nationwide selling trip and trade fair.

There were also plans to market it overseas, with Australia potentially being the first international market. . .

68 years of ewe fairs recalled :

With his hand firmly on his mustering stick, J. J. O’Carroll patiently waited for the start of his 68th consecutive Hawarden Ewe Fair last month.

Not only was it Mr O’Carroll’s 68th trip to the saleyards, but it was also the 68th year the O’Carroll family had ewes from their farm, Waitohi Downs, for sale.

As the punters filled the races and the auctioneers got ready for a day’s selling at the January 31 ewe fair, Mr O’Carroll leaned against the rail and cast his eye over the sheep.

Many things have changed since he started selling ewes in 1946.

”The breeds of sheep are so different now. Sometimes when I look in a pen, I have a hard time knowing what they are.

”Still, it has brought about improvement to the industry,” he said. . .

Humble potato one to watch – Ruth Grundy:

The news is all good for potatoes.

The unassuming tuber has been not only named New Zealand’s top vegetable but has also been singled out by ANZ economists as an ”unappreciated” or unacknowledged” sector to watch.

In this month’s ANZ Agri Focus its economists have written about several ”themes” they consider will influence the economy through 2014 and beyond.

Among the several ”unacknowledged legs of the New Zealand Story” which they say have the potential to contribute to and underpin the New Zealand growth story is the potato sector. . .

Fonterra’s New $120M UHT Milk Processing Site Gears Up For First Production:


Fonterra employees Te Ngahau Bates (left) and Eddie West (right) monitor an Anchor UHT processing line at the Co-operative’s new $120 million UHT milk processing site at Waitoa.  The white packs contain water which was run through the site’s processing lines.

The stainless steel is shining and the last bolts are being tightened at Fonterra’s new $120 million UHT milk processing site at Waitoa.

After more than 12 months of construction, the site is on-track to produce its first Anchor UHT product off the line in March. UHT Operations Manager, Donald Lumsden, said the Co-operative couldn’t be more excited.

“This is a very exciting time for Fonterra. The global demand for dairy is growing and we’re now well-positioned to meet this growth with our new state-of-the-art UHT milk processing site at Waitoa. The site will enable us to optimise the milk our farmers produce by turning it into high-value consumer products that will meet market demand in Asia.” . . .

Forecast surge in value of primary sector exports a huge boon for Maori Agri-business – Federation

A forecast 15% increase in earnings from primary sector exports to June 30 this year is a huge boon for the Maori agri-business sector, the Federation of Maori Authorities says.

The Ministry of Primary Industries announced this week that based on trends it believed there would be an additional $4.9 billion in earnings from agriculture, forestry and fishing exports in the year to June 30, based primarily on intensifying demand for dairy products, meat, pelts, wool, wood and seafood from China. The revised annual forecast is now $36.4 billion.

“That’s great news for Maori producers,” Federation of Maori Authorities’ CEO TeHoripo Karaitiana said. “They can now count on banking a lot more this year, and having a lot more financial discretion in their planning for the next few years.” . . .


Rural round-up

February 20, 2014

4.9 billion reasons why our primary industries rock:

An expected $4.9 billion surge in New Zealand’s primary exports confirms why CNBC labelled New Zealand a ‘rock star’ economy. The announcement came at the Riddet Institute’s Agri-Food Summit.

“It is significant that Riddet Institute’s co-director, Professor Paul Moughan, said New Zealand has great farmers, great processor/marketers and great scientists,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers president.

“Professor Moughan said we stand on the cusp of a revolution and we agree. We now feed an estimated 40 million people around the world and the world is crying out for our primary exports.

“Increasing global prosperity is arguably behind the Ministry for Primary Industries now forecasting an expected $4.9 billion uplift in our primary exports. It is now expected primary exports for 2013/14 will be worth $36.4 billion. . .

Pigging out proves profitable – Jamie Morton:

How do you stop truckloads of unsaleable food from going to the dump – and turn it into something useful? Put a few thousand piggies in the middle.

Each day at the Ratanui Development Company, near Feilding, two trucks deliver around 20,000 litres of whey, to be gobbled up by 8300 pigs.

This by-product of cheese-making – along with other foods such as bread, yoghurt, cheese and dog biscuits – make up about 40 per cent of its hungry hogs’ diet.

“When you drill down on the volume of stuff that these pigs eat, it usually blows people away,” farm director Andrew Managh said.

But more impressive is the idea of what this novel factory-to-farm approach could mean for recycling in New Zealand. The huge piggery is one of 23 farming operations partnered with Auckland-based EcoStock Supplies, which claims its unique business model could dramatically slash the burden on the country’s landfills by millions of tonnes each year. . .

Last stand a fund farewell - Sally Rae:

They’re called simply The Last Stand.

When shearing identity John Hough decided to make his last stand before retiring and contest the national shearing sports circuit, some of his mates decided to accompany him.

Mr Hough, who is soon to turn 70, was joined by Johnny Fraser, of North Otago, Robert McLaren (Hinds), Rocky Bull (Tinwald), Tom Wilson (Cust), Gavin Rowland (Dunsandel), who is also chairman of Shearing Sports New Zealand, and Norm Harraway (Rakaia). . .

Standout season for rodeo rookie - Sally Rae:

Omarama shepherd Katey Hill has had a stellar rodeo season with her young quarter-horse Boots and is leading the national Rookie of the Year title in barrel racing.

But after such a busy season, with a lot of time spent on the road, Miss Hill (22) made the decision, due to Boots’ young age, to ”pull him back a bit” and finish the season on a quiet note.

She said she was heading to the North Island for several rodeos this month, but was borrowing a mount, and Boots was staying at home on the farm. . .

China grapples with food for fifth of world:

Feeding nearly a fifth of the world’s population is no easy feat – and the Chinese government says farming methods will have to be overhauled if it’s going to feed its 1.3 billion people in the future.

A visiting senior Chinese government official and agricultural expert, Chen Xiwen, told a meeting at the Beehive on Tuesday that while agricultural productivity has been increasing, Chinese farming is facing hurdles in producing its own food. . .

A dog’s life focus for photographer – Sally Rae:

Andrew Fladeboe describes working dogs as the ”most noble of creatures”.

That passion for dogs – and photography – has led American-born Mr Fladeboe to travel to New Zealand as a Fulbright fellow.

He was awarded the grant to photograph working dogs and he will work with the University of Canterbury to understand the dogs from social, historical and cultural perspectives.

When it came to selecting a country in which to undertake the fellowship, Australia or New Zealand stood out. . .


Rural round-up

January 27, 2014

Three horses expected to sell for $½m at Karaka:

About 14,00 horses are for sale there this week.

Three horses are tipped to pass the $500,000 mark on Monday at the annual Karaka yearling sales.

About 14,00 horses are for sale there this week.

New Zealand Bloodstock managing director Andrew Seabrook says the price for each animal is expected to average about 70,000 , but three yearlings are likely to sell on Monday afternoon for at least $500,000. . . .

Niche dog food that’s delivered – Sally Rae:

Mighty Mix dog food has come a long way from being whipped up in a high-country kitchen.

A woman’s concern for the health of her working dogs during extreme weather conditions more than 20 years ago led to the development of a business which now sells products throughout New Zealand.

In June last year, Mighty Mix’s head office opened in Oamaru, the home of newly-appointed general manager John Walker, who has spent 35 years in the food manufacturing industry, most recently as site manager for Rainbow Confectionery. . .

It’s late – Milk Maid Marian:

The story of Cliffy Young has just finished on the tele but Wayne is still slogging through his own ultra-marathon at the dairy. It’s 10pm and it’s been a tough day that started at 5am.

As I was rattling the kids around the house in readiness for Nippers this morning, Wayne was having some youngster trouble of his own. A freshly-calved heifer simply sat down on the milking platform behind her neighbour. Now, if you’ve worked in or watched a herringbone dairy in action, you’ll say that doesn’t happen.

It did.

The cows are lined up at right angles to the pit we stand in to position the cups, with their buttocks against a “bum rail” that’s designed to guide them into position for milking and prevent a cow from falling onto a milk maid.

It didn’t. . . .

Bark on vines being trialled:

A DRIVE towards more sustainability has led to a new initiative at Eastland Port’s debarker and Gisborne growers could benefit.

The debarker is a machine which removes the bark from logs at Eastland Port’s log yard on Kaiti Beach Road and has just had a new addition to further break down the bark.

Eastland Debarking operations manager Steve O’Dwyer says there it has been a limited market for the large bark pieces, a by-product of the debarker.

“I thought there would be a market for these fines (smaller pieces of bark that are usually 20mm and under),” says Mr O’Dwyer.

So he set about to do some trials and Gisborne grape grower John Rafferty agreed to test the bark fines on 1.7 hectares of new plants. . .

MicroFarm concept a ‘sandpit’ for cropping:

“WHAT WE have here is like a big sandpit – a place where people can get together to play to try and achieve great outcomes.”

That’s how LandWise’s Dan Bloomer describes the MicroFarm, a 4ha property on the Heretaunga Plains, near Hastings.

“We’ve got paddocks that are big enough to have real toys in so we are doing work on a farm-sized scale. A high percentage of paddocks are headlands but between these we have paddocks just like a real farm,” he told an open day in December. . .

Expression of genetic growth potential underpinned by feed allowance:

Recent research by a group of scientists, Dr Long Cheng , Mr Chris Logan , Professor  Grant Edwards and Dr Huitong Zhou from the Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Lincoln University, is helping to unravel a long-standing puzzle in the farming world.

“Traditional wisdom among farmers is that sheep with the genetic potential to grow faster will be more efficient at converting their feed into weight gain (known as higher feed conversion efficiency) than sheep without this genetic potential,” said Dr Cheng, the lead researcher.

“Work in this field has, however, been restricted by the inability to make accurate measurements of the intake of individual animals.” 

Dr Cheng discovered to his surprise, after analysing the results of measurements taken during the trial, that the expectation that sheep with the potential to grow faster would be more efficient was only true when the sheep were well feed (170 % of maintenance metabolisable energy requirement, in this case). . .


Rural round-up

January 26, 2014

Girls rule on South Otago dairy farm – Sally Rae:

Who needs a man?

For South Otago dairy farm manager Kara-Lee Clark (33) and farm worker Ashleigh McKechnie (19), assisted by two other female relieving staff when needed, being part of an all-women team is just normal.

The diminutive duo milk 340 cows on a 120ha property, owned by the Clark family near Milton. They are particularly proud of the herd of predominantly large Friesians.

”We get a bit of a hard time about that. They are big cows and we’re not the biggest of people,” Miss Clark said.

Being a female farm manager at the local Milton farm discussion group was quite a rarity, although she was not sure how unusual it was further afield.

When she embarked on a career in the dairy industry, after spending nine and a-half years working as a veterinary nurse at Clutha Vets in Balclutha, Miss Clark admitted she had a lot to prove to her family. . .

Initial trapping survey results in:

The first trapping results for Queensland Fruit Fly in Whangarei have shown no suspect flies detected in all 83 traps in Zone A and in all 90 lure traps from outside the controlled zones.

MPI Deputy Director-General Compliance and Response, Andrew Coleman, says “It’s a good early result but it’s important not to get complacent. We have still got a number of days to go before we know for sure whether there is a breeding population or not.”

The Whangarei community has been hugely supportive and to date has placed 180kgs of restricted produce in bins in Zone A and 70kgs in Zone B.

“We are very appreciative of this support,” Mr Coleman says. “It is vital that material that could contain the fly is not taken out of the zone, just in case there is a breeding population present in the area, which takes in Parihaka, Riverside and parts of central Whangarei.”

This insect is an unwanted and notifiable organism that could have serious consequences for New Zealand’s horticultural industry. It can damage a wide range of fruit and vegetables.

Insecticide ruling brings challenge – Richard Rennie:

The clock is ticking for researchers trying to find an alternative for a broad-spectrum insecticide destined to be phased out by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

Following a reassessment of the use of organophosphates and carbamates in New Zealand’s crop and pastoral sector a number are scheduled to be phased out, because the authority considers their impact on human and environmental health to be unacceptable.

A key insecticide set to go by July 2028 is diazinon, which plays a critical role in controlling grass grub in pasture.

The authority issued its ruling on diazinon’s phase-out in the middle of last year but the long lead time to develop alternative chemicals to combat grass grub has researchers scrambling to develop alternatives. . .

Fast soil makes for bigger sink:

Rapidity in the natural world is relative; yet, while the latest findings from a research collaboration between Lincoln University and the University of Washington can hardly speak of comet-like quickness, it does shatter prevailing views, with implications for climate change as well.

Samples collected from western slopes of the Southern Alps have revealed that soil – the chemically and biologically active skin on the Earth’s surface – can be produced from mountainous bedrock almost twice as fast as previously thought. A subsequent proportional increase in chemical weathering of the soil was also observed.

The findings are important, as eroding mountainous regions account for over half of the world’s sediment production. If that sediment is produced by the formation of soil, rather than just slabs of bedrock collapsing off slopes as landslides, there is much greater potential for atmospheric carbon to be stored. This is significant because mountains play the role of carbon sinks – natural reservoirs that can accumulate and store atmospheric carbon. . .

Diesel from dust: using low fertility soils for biodiesel crops:

The escalating issue around peak oil in the context of the far-reaching global demand for fossil fuels is nothing new. Likewise, the increasing pressure this demand places on sourcing alternative fuels is also well established. One option is biofuels.

Producing biofuels comes with its own problems. There can be issues around an inability of supply to meet demand (such as is the case with tallow), but there can also be resistance to using productive land for biofuels instead of using it for growing food.

To meet these challenges, and in the interest of accelerating the young biodiesel industry in New Zealand, Professor of Ecology,  Steve Wratten at the Bio-Protection Research Centre has been heading up a research team to explore ways of growing plants suitable for biodiesel. More specifically, however, the aim is to find ways to grow these plants on low fertility soils and in such a way as to require minimal fertiliser inputs. . .

My old friend is telling me his twilight time is coming near #horses – Mad Bush Farm:

My old friend I’ve had for over eight years has grown very old. Over the last few days his walk has become slower, and the sparkle in his eye is gradually being replaced by that look that says “I’m tired and soon I will go to my forever sleep” I called him this morning from the other side of the farm. Usually, he would be the first one to arrive at a gallop, knowing he would be put onto some lush grass for the day . The ponies do not need it, but old Ed at over 30 years of age needs the best possible pasture each day. Today though, it took him a very long time, longer than usual. He had stiffly made his way back to where I was. I took him nearly 20 minutes to reach me. All four legs have developed arthritis in the last few weeks, and he’s lost some condition. Why? The answer is very simple. He is just very, very, old. It means now for me, I may have to say goodbye to a loyal equine friend I love very deeply. . .

https://twitter.com/AmandaOwen8/status/427148122549018624


Rural round-up

January 14, 2014

 Three vie for award’s top spot:

A Northland woman among three finalists for the 2014 Dairy Woman of the Year Award is helping train other women to take on leadership roles in agricultural organisations.

Whangarei farm accountant and 2013 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards supreme award winner Charmaine O’Shea is vying for the Dairy Woman of the Year Award with Waikato veterinarian Joyce Voogt and Hauraki Plains farmer Julie Pirie. They were individually interviewed by a judging panel consisting of Dairy Women’s Network Trust Board chairwoman Michelle Wilson, Global Women managing director Faye Langdon, Fonterra leadership and talent director Janette Rosanowski, DairyNZ strategy and investment portfolio manager Jenny Jago and 2012 Dairy Woman of the Year award winner Barbara Kuriger. This year’s winner will be announced at the Dairy Women’s Network annual conference in Hamilton on March 19. . . .

Irrigation nominations sought:

Entries close at the end of this month for IrrigationNZ’s ‘Innovation in Irrigation Award’ in association with Aqualinc. The prestigious award, which comes with a $2500 prize, celebrates, encourages and promotes innovation within New Zealand’s irrigation industry.

Previous recipients include the North Otago Irrigation Company in 2012 for its ground-breaking Environmental Farm Plans which guide shareholders in good management practice for irrigation, riparian, soil, fertiliser and effluent use.

Fielding-based Precision Irrigation won the award in 2010 for its variable rate irrigation systems which more effectively target water application through the use of GPS. . .

The impact the dairying ‘revolution’ is having on New Zealand, the consequences, and the prospects - Rodney Dickens:

There is nothing new about the current high dairy export prices in that the current levels are similar to earlier peak levels in 2007/08 and 2010/11.

The left chart below shows the ANZ dairy commodity price indices measured in NZD terms and world price terms.

The much higher world prices than NZD prices in recent years reflect the negative impact of the high NZD.

In world price terms current prices are well above the levels that existed prior to 2007, with this related to a large extent to increased Chinese demand that was revealed in a Raving that looked at the massive impact China is having on a wide range of NZ commodity exports and tourism. Based on the 7 January Fonterra auction results, dairy product prices in USD terms remained high (right chart). . . .

Why should farmers and ranchers invest time in advocacy? - Agriculture Proud:

Last week, I posted an article from Forbes that is very accusatory of modern global agriculture. It’s like a laundry list of activist claims used demonize modern agriculture practices. We could spend time angrily responding to articles like this, but defensively reacting to accusations like this aren’t getting us very far. Hence my emphasis on the importance of being PROactive in reaching out, answering questions, and sharing our story with audiences willing to listen.

Part of that proactive response includes farmers, ranchers and members of the agriculture community investing time in reaching out and engaging. Often when I propose this investment to various ranchers groups across the country, I get either a blank stare or a response similar to this: . . .

Top ram’s DNA revived 30 years on - Sally Rae:

Offspring of a Romney ram, owned by Otago stud breeder David Robertson, will go through the sale ring in Gore tomorrow.

Aurora 105-84 might be long gone, but his genetics live on three decades later, thanks to what was initially a practice exercise in artificial insemination for Mr Robertson’s veterinary surgeon son.

Mr Robertson, who farms at Palmerston and is a third-generation stud-breeder, admitted it was an unusual situation. . . .

International year of family farming kicks off in Australia:

The National Farmers’ Federation and its members have hailed the start of the new year, encouraging all Australians to join with them in celebrating the International Year of Family Farming during 2014.

NFF President Brent Finlay, a family farmer from south east Queensland, said family farms remain the heart and soul of agriculture in Australia.

“Ninety nine percent of Australian farms are family owned and operated – and this year, the United Nations-declared International Year of Family Farming, gives us the opportunity to celebrate the enormous contribution these farmers make,” Mr Finlay said. . .


Rural round-up

January 12, 2014

Getting red meat sector ‘back on its feet’ - Sally Rae:

Over the fence and across the kitchen table, the state of the red meat sector and calls for restructuring dominated farmer discussions last year, as sheep numbers continued to shrink and dairy conversions and moves to dairy grazing continued.

Back in March, Beef and Lamb New Zealand chairman Mike Petersen told farmers attending the organisation’s annual meeting in Wanaka that the sector was at a ”critical junction”.

While he spoke of how volatile returns were a threat to the industry’s future and farmers were questioning whether the industry had a future, the organisation’s economic service estimated farm profit before tax for the 2012-13 season would fall 54% on the previous season because of sharply lower lamb prices and widespread drought. . . .

World food prices dropped last year – Neena Rai:

World food prices fell by 1.6% in 2013, down 8.8% from their all-time peak in 2011, driven by falling international prices for grains, sugar and palm oil, according to the United Nations’s Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization Thursday.

The Food and Agriculture Organization’s monthly index measures the monthly change in international prices of a basket of food commodities and is the global leading economic indicator for food prices.

While the most recent food price spike in 2011 was triggered by a lack of cereal supply, the recent fall in food prices is mainly due to higher expected supplies of corn and wheat this year. . .

Shelter from the storm – Sally Rae:

Mustering huts still play an important role on some high country properties, like the Hore family’s Stonehenge, in Maniototo, but hut life is a little more comfortable these days, as Sally Rae reports.

It was April, 1959 when Dave McAtamney first slept in Deep Creek Hut.

At only 15, it was his first mustering trip in the area and he was ”dead keen” to take part.

Riding an old part-draught mare called Ginger, he was part of a much more experienced mustering crew that included his father and two uncles, and it was the start of a long association with the hut.

”I had quite a bad cold, if I remember rightly. I was coughing a bit in the night and Dad got out of bed, went over to the whisky bottle and poured a big whisky into me. It was the first time I’d ever drunk a whisky.” . . .

Good times ahead - Stephen Bell:

Sentiment in the primary industries is at an all-time high and commentators say the optimism is backed up by reality.

Business confidence across the economy is booming, say bank analysts, who add the caveat a surge in activity means a tight lid will have to be kept on inflation.

However, companies are upbeat and their profit expectations and employment intentions are the highest in two decades, confidence surveys show.

Agrifax senior analyst Nick Handley said there was good cause for optimism in agriculture.

“The outlook is good across all the major sectors, with none of them really staring down the barrel of a below-par year,” he said. . .

Beaumont rising: developments look set to turn fortunes - John Gibb:

Once a fading rural backwater, the township of Beaumont now seems destined for a much brighter future.

People who have lived near the inland Otago township, on the Clutha River/Mata-au, for 20 years or more will remember earlier sometimes divisive and frustrating conflicts over proposed big hydro-electric dams, which would have flooded the area.

One proposal, by the Electricity Corporation of New Zealand (ECNZ) in 1992, was to build a dam at Tuapeka Mouth that would have flooded 3000ha, including all of Beaumont. But among a series of more promising developments the long-delayed replacement work involving the nearby 19th century Beaumont Bridge is at last due to start next year. . .

Positive results at Point Pearce – Gregor Heard:

A JOINT venture between the Point Pearce indigenous community on the Yorke Peninsula in SA and a local farming family continues to go from strength to strength and provide strong training and employment opportunities for the community.The project, in which the Wundersitz family leases the Point Pearce farm, has been running since 2010.The Wundersitzes, based at nearby Maitland, were looking to expand their farming business, Anna Binna, when the Aboriginal Lands Trust advertised for a new tenant for the Point Pearce farm. . . .

Farmers need more for flat milk supply:

The Western Australian dairy industry is calling for reform to the state’s milk pricing structure in 2014.

Representative body WA Farmers argues that if the state’s dairy processors require a year-round flat supply of milk from producers, they should be expected to pay accordingly.

“Ideally, the processors would like about the same amount of milk rolling in each day. Because we are basically a drinking milk state, the daily requirement for WA is pretty even,” says WA Farmers dairy section president, Phil Depiazzi.

“If they do want flat supply, that means they’re going to have to pay a higher price to achieve that.” . . .

Where will you build your next dairy? – Catherine Merlo:

Milk prices aren’t the prime attraction for moving to a new area

The heartland between the Rockies and the Mississippi River appears to offer the most dairy-friendly resources and long-term future for those looking to build new or satellite dairies.

That was not only the professional assessment of a dairy relocation consultant but the personal experience of three dairy producers who spoke at the Dairy Today Elite Producer Business Conference in Las Vegas this past November.

Dairy relocation consultant Tom Haren and dairy producers Linda Hodorff, Rein Landman and Mike McCarty comprised a panel that discussed, “Where Will You Build Your Next Dairy?” . . .


Rural round-up

January 5, 2014

Dairy farm consent decision delayed – Bridget Railton:

A final decision on whether all new dairy farms will continue to require resource consent has been delayed another month.

Environment Southland’s plan change 13, which required all new dairy farms to obtain a resource consent before becoming operational, will now not be decided until next month.

Environment Southland chairwoman Ali Timms said the decision had been delayed because a key staff member involved in the plan change had become ill.

“It’s better to have some sort of continuity in the process.” . . .

Red meat sector ‘absolute challenge’ – Sally Rae:

Amid challenging times for New Zealand’s red meat industry, there have been changes in the guard at governance level recently at the country’s two largest co-operatives. Silver Fern Farms’ new chairman Rob Hewett speaks to agribusiness reporter Sally Rae about the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Rob Hewett is well aware his new role is going to be an ”absolute challenge”.

Amid decreasing sheep numbers, calls for industry restructuring and his own co-operative’s unprofitability, the new chairman of Silver Fern Farms knows the road ahead is not going to be easy.

But the South Otago farmer is also optimistic about the future and excited to take on such a pivotal role in the industry. . .

Prince William to study agriculture at Cambridge University -

Clearly worried that a 2:1 master’s degree in geography, a three-year career as a helicopter pilot and a great deal of gap year foreign travel might not quite equip him for running the 130,000 acres of land spread across 23 counties that make up the Duchy of Cornwall, Prince William is going back to college.

Almost three centuries after his ancestor George III was nicknamed Farmer George and mocked for his interest in agricultural improvement and his herd of pedigree sheep, William, second in line to the throne and heir to the Duchy, will be heading for Cambridge University next week to become a full-time student of agricultural management. . .

Celebrating wool and the success of a local lad in the industry -

Creating demand for New Zealand wool is his passion. The enormous efforts of a local lad gone global needs to be celebrated, says Philippa Wright, CEO, Wright Wool and active supporter of the Campaign for Wool NZ.

Sitting on a wool chair at Wool House as a part of the recent Campaign for Wool event in London is Central Hawke’s Bay lad, Craig Smith, Business Development Director for International Wool Trader, HDawson. Smithy is son of Mark and Sue Smith, retired 3rd generation Hawke’s Bay farmers now living in Waipawa. . .

Wool outlook upbeat – Cara Jeffery:

CAUTIOUSLY positive seems to be the catchcry among wool industry commentators when it comes to forecasting what 2014 holds for the market.

In 2013, the Australian Wool Exchange Eastern Market Indicator (EMI) started the year at 1111c/kg and spent most the year above the 1000c/kg mark.

It sank to its lowest point in May at 966c/kg, just after it hit its highest point in April at 1145c/kg. . .


Rural round-up

December 27, 2013

Sustainably supplying native beech - Simon Hartley:

New Zealand’s largest supplier of Southland beech for the residential and commercial construction market is seeing increasing acceptance of the use of the native timber by architects.

While architects and homeowners may have been showing reluctance in using some native species, Southland beech is harvested by Lindsay and Dixon under a Ministry of Primary Industries sustainable management plan and carries independent certification from the Forestry Stewardship Council.

The fine-grained medium-density hardwood has featured recently in finishings in the Supreme Court building in Wellington, Air New Zealand’s Koru lounge in Christchurch and Auckland’s Novotel Hotel.

Tuatapere-based sawmiller Lindsay and Dixon, in western Southland, is a Southland beech supplier certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. . .

Hooked on meat: there’s no easy way to end the global habit - Michael Parker,

Raising livestock accounts for the largest single land-use on Earth. Cattle, sheep and goats, pigs and poultry occupy around 30% of the planet’s land area not covered in ice, generate 40% of the world’s agricultural GDP, provide livelihoods for 1.3 billion people, and nourishment for 800m people who would otherwise go without.

Despite this massive environmental, economic and social impact on the world, it is not a thoroughly studied industry. The results of a four-year livestock study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences compiles worldwide data that reveal the important role of livestock. While the study lays out the industry’s considerable greenhouse gas emissions, it also shows that demands to reduce numbers and meat consumption will come with unwanted consequences. . .

Venture Southland considers oat push – Allison Rudd:

Economic development organisation Venture Southland hopes to know soon whether it has been able to attract external funding for an ambitious project to develop a high-value oat production and food processing industry in the province.

The project could eventually include establishment of an oat milk plant. . .

Rural Australians are missing out on affordable fresh food -

Would you pay A$9 for six mushrooms in inner-city Melbourne? Or A$4.50 for one small piece of broccoli or cauliflower in Sydney?

Probably not – but this is what rural Australians are being asked to fork out for their fresh produce.

Several studies in Australia have highlighted the disparity in the cost of healthy food between urban and rural areas in South Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory. . .

Farmer confidence up; still gulf: survey – Sally Rae:

New Zealand farmer confidence has continued to edge higher, but the gulf between dairy farmers and sheep and beef farmers in terms of self-assessed viability continues, the latest Rabobank rural confidence survey shows.

The final survey for the year showed confidence slightly up on the already high levels of last quarter.

The most significant gain was among horticultural producers, encouraged by an increase in prices, underpinned by strong global demand in key export markets.

Only 5% of farmers had a negative outlook for the year ahead, down 1% on the last quarter. . . .

Year in review – February – Rebecca Harper:

The dung beetle debate started with scientists and health experts raising concerns about health risks if the beetles were released in the country. Cue spirited debate about the merits of dung beetles, whether they posed a risk to human health and whether they had already been released years ago anyway.

The headline “Parched paddocks and pitiful prices” pretty well summed up the sentiment among sheep farmers with little rain, a depressed store lamb market, devalued breeding ewes and the prime lamb schedule plummeting. . .


Rural round-up

December 16, 2013

Knowledge key to future of station in high country – Ruth Grundy:

For Balmoral Station owner Andrew Simpson knowledge is key to making the best decisions for the future.

”If you don’t have answers you can’t plan your future”You have to know as much as you can, to understand things, to be able to make clever decisions.”

Over the years the Simpsons have welcomed scientists and researchers of all persuasions on to the unique property.

Balmoral was home to the oldest agricultural trial site in the country, forestry crown research institute Scion had been conducting trials on the property for the past 20 years and this included New Zealand’s biggest dryland forestry trial, he said. . .

NZ velvet highly rated by Chinese - Allison Rudd,:

Deer velvet – still fuzzy and fresh from being cut – is spread on the table for judging at the New Zealand Velvet and Trophy Antler Competition at Invercargill’s Ascot Park Hotel.

Chinese scholar Quankai Wang, who is attending his third competition, likes what he sees. He pulls banknotes from his pocket and offers to buy a specimen, much to the amusement of competition officials.

”New Zealand deer velvet is number one. It is the best quality,” Prof Wang says. . .

Country inspires musical output – Sally Rae;

Craig Adams has always loved music.

Years ago, while working in a wool store, the guitar used to come out and there would be a sing-along. But while people told him he had a good voice, Mr Adams (41) never had any training.

Fast forward to now and music has gone from being ”a bit of a lark” to being semi-professional, including the recent release of his debut album Country High. . .

Swarms keep beekeepers on their toes:

Beekeepers in the North Island are scratching their heads – and ducking for cover – due to the exceptionally high rate of swarming going on.

Swarming is one of the ways bees reproduce – with the queen bee leaving the hive – along with about half of the bees to establish a new colony, before a new queen bee emerges in the hive.

Plant & Food Research bee scientist Mark Goodwin said swarms were annoying for beekeepers as they lost half their bees and honey production dropped but the environmental conditions this year had been perfect for it. . .

All Health Care Is Local, Part 1: Uganda -  Eric Silfen,MD:

The late Tip O’Neill, former speaker of the U.S. House, coined the phrase “all politics is local,” by which he meant that politicians become successful by addressing the everyday concerns of the voters who elected them to office. In the same way, I believe that many of the “global” healthcare challenges we face can best be addressed by developing affordable, accessible and cost-effective solutions that satisfy patients’ needs. Simple solutions can offer dramatic results, and local implementation means solutions are in tune with cultural preferences and economic realities. In other words, when it comes to improving people’s lives, all healthcare is local.

Nowhere are opportunities to deliver simple, and locally relevant, solutions more evident than in sub-Saharan Africa, in a country like Uganda. Here, the non-governmental organization Imaging the World (ITW) is working to offer affordable, accessible and quality maternal medical services through a revolutionary concept that integrates technology, training and the community. ITW is making a significant impact on the lives of women and their families in rural villages where women have limited access to healthcare throughout their entire lives. . . .

Homebound: Despite their absence, rural women impress through work:

ISLAMABAD: Nothing can curtain natural talent and skill, and the work of homebound women of Pakistan is a testament to that.

The work of indigenous women artisans went on display at an exhibition titled, ‘Stitching and Chai’ here on Saturday promoting the richness and splendour embedded in the heritage of the four provinces of Pakistan.

The exhibition was organised by USAID’s Entrepreneurs Project at the Centre for Arts, Culture and Dialogue, Kuch Khaas as a part of its project to implement cluster-based Value Chain approach through local organisations, private sector, government agencies and other relevant actors for capacity building. . .

Boosting beef without borrowing:

STEPHEN AND Jane Hayes run 348 sheep and 734 cattle on their 583ha property near Kaeo, just north of the Bay of Islands. For the past three years they’ve been Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Far North monitor farm during which time they’ve lifted gross farm revenue $43,850, not to mention having better pasture covers and stock condition across the farm.

Stocking rate’s been lifted from 8.5SU/ha in 2011 to 9.7SU/ha. That’s despite initial concerns that stock weren’t getting enough to grow properly as it was in 2011.

“I didn’t feel we were doing a good enough job of feeding the animals we had without adding on more,” Jane commented to the field day. . .


Rural round-up

December 9, 2013

Alliance targets increased lamb exports to Iraq – Hannah McLeod:

Alliance Group plans to increase exports to the Middle East.

The company has just completed its first year exporting directly to Iraq, supplying Pure South lamb to hotels, restaurants and catering companies.

Group general marketing manager Murray Brown said yesterday Alliance provided more than 1000 tonnes of red meat to the Middle Eastern country this year.

They hoped to increase their presence in the Iraq market by introducing a wider product range, and doing more promotional work. . .

Meat exporter turns loss into profit -

Meat exporter ANZCO Foods has turned around its last-season loss to record a post-tax profit of $12.2 million for the year to September

The result comes from total revenue of nearly $1.3 billion.

It is an improvement on the $19.1m deficit during a difficult 2011-12 season for red-meat trading and the company says its books are in a healthy position.

ANZCO was begun by Sir Graeme Harrison, who is company chairman, and is owned by three shareholder groups led by Japanese company Itoham Foods . . .

Progeny test helps Perendale breeding – Sally Rae:

Warren Ayers believes Perendale New Zealand’s progeny test will lead to the betterment of the breed.

Now in its fourth year, the test has been extended, with facial eczema and maternal traits, including body condition scoring and ewe longevity, added to the measurements.

Guided by a Perendale genetics group, the society is working with AgResearch and Ovita, with Beef and Lamb New Zealand investment.

Mr Ayers has taken over as host farm for the South Island portion of the progeny test, while a property at Tutira in Hawkes Bay is also involved. . .

Outlook fine for merinos – Sally Rae:

Mark Ferguson may be trying to help provide the perfect sheep – but he also reckons he has the perfect job.

Dr Ferguson is an Australian-born geneticist specialising in fine wool sheep who moved from Western Australia to Christchurch last year to join the New Zealand Merino Company.

He is leading NZM’s production science project, an initiative that aims to unlock the potential of ”the perfect sheep” – one that was healthy, fertile and high-producing, with high-quality meat and wool fit for high-value markets. . .

Survey looks at whitebaiting culture- Yvonne OHara:

Whitebaiting is quintessential Southland and part of the culture, like deer hunting, Environment Southland’s science technical adviser Dr Andy Hicks says.

He sent out a questionnaire in August to about 600 registered holders of whitebait stands in the lower Mataura and upper Aparima areas, to find out their opinions on their whitebaiting experiences.

About half of the respondents (54.5%) of the survey wanted to see more whitebait and better water quality, while about 23% thought there was no need for any change. About three-quarters (73%) of the 100 respondents said they were happy with their experience. However, 20% said they were not. . .

Fonterra finds cause of milk contamination:

Fonterra has completed its inquiry into an October incident in which 150,000 litres of milk in 14 tankers was contaminated with suspected mining waste at its Eltham Plant in Taranaki.

The milk was contaminated with mud and gravel and was disposed of at an Eltham waste plant.

Fonterra’s lower North Island regional manager Scott Walls says the company now knows what happened and has made changes so it can’t happen again.

He says a contractor had accidentally connected a trailer that was not intended to transport food products to a truck unit. . .


Rural round-up

December 3, 2013

Environmental analysis role exciting  – Sally Rae:

Mark Crawford is excited about his new role as a Ravensdown environmental consultant.

The fertiliser company has launched an environmental analysis and planning service, in the wake of increasing demands on farmers to meet environmental standards and regional regulatory requirements.

The adoption of stricter nutrient management regulations was being led by the Horizons Regional Council in the lower North Island, with Otago and Canterbury also nearing completion of recent plan changes. . .

Top of the south for Farmax consultancy - Sally Rae:

Simon Glennie reckons he does his farming vicariously through his clients.

Mr Glennie, a consultant at Dunedin-based AbacusBio, has been named South Island Farmax consultant of the year.

The inaugural awards honoured the top North and South Island consultants who used the farm support software. . .

Dairying women learn to ‘dig deep’ through good and bad at annual conference:

Hundreds of women who work in the dairy industry will be tackling some of the big issues that affect today’s farmers including how to reach and sustain a level of performance that matches medal winning athletics and world champion sports teams when they get together at the Dairy Women’s Network annual conference in March 2014.

The line-up of high calibre keynote speakers includes Hamilton sports psychologist David Galbraith who has worked with the Chiefs rugby team, Magic netball team and Olympic silver medal winner Sarah Walker.

The two-day conference at Hamilton’s Claudelands Event Centre, starting on 19 March 2014, is themed ‘Keeping your finger on the pulse’. . .

Otago link highlighted in Fonterra book - Sally Rae:

Think Park Beede and basketball immediately springs to mind.

Dr Beede was heavily involved with the sport in Otago and coached the Otago Nuggets.

What is not so well known is that he was tasked with coming up with a name for the new dairy company that was to become Fonterra.

The story of the creation of the name – and the Otago connection – is highlighted in the new book Till the Cows Came Home by Wellington journalist and former Southland Times editor Clive Lind. . .

Farmers urged to plan ahead to prevent game bird crop damage

With the start of summer, farmers are starting to see large groups of paradise shelducks moving into their newly-planted crops or onto their irrigation lakes.

Fish & Game Northland says if farmers plan ahead, they can reduce the damage done by these flocks of ‘parries.’

“We encourage farmers to place bird-scaring equipment out before their grasses or crops emerge,” Fish & Game officer Nathan Burkepile says.

“And farmers with paradise shelduck problems on irrigation lakes should start scaring the birds off these lakes before the birds start moulting in January.” . . .

At least one dairy farmer won’t mind the summer heat – Milk Maid Marian:

Wayne has a reputation for getting stuck and he’s outdone himself this year by bogging a quad bike on the first day of summer. Worse, he left his helmet at the scene of the crime and by the time the kids and I came to the rescue, his gear had been given a beating by the local hoons.

Cows may be vegetarians but don’t for a minute think that this in itself bestows innocence. They are merciless with unattended vehicles. This time the helmet, fuel breather line and rubber boot for the brake assembly were squelched deep into the quagmire but I’ve seen much worse. . . .


Rural round-up

November 25, 2013

Lenders suggest farmers get better governance in place:

Farmers are being asked by rural lenders to take a board approach to their operations and stop making important decisions around the kitchen table.

Fraser Farm rural financial advisor Don Fraser says banks are asking farmers to get better governance and structures in place.

He says the banks are wanting a board approach and it’s best practice for everybody including the lender.

Mr Fraser says while he can’t provide specific details of the banks asking farmers to take this approach he knows it is happening under the radar.

He says in the past farmers have often made decisions and then gone to the banks asking them to fund it. . .

Export tax proposal won’t fix forestry – Alan Emmerson:

The loss of jobs at Rotorua as the result of yet another sawmill closure is a tragedy.

The problem is the Chinese are prepared to pay a high price for logs and, speaking as a forester, I’ll take the best price I can get.

Ultimately I’m not concerned where my logs are processed, just that I can make the most money from my long-term investment.

The issue for sawmills is they have to pay a high price for logs and the New Zealand dollar is high. The combination of the two factors makes many export sawmills uneconomic.

Like it or not, that is the way of the market. . .

NZ faces massive pest explosion:

New Zealand faces one of its biggest pest population explosions in decades.

This year is a mast year for the South Island’s beech forests, which means the trees are going through their heaviest seeding in nearly a decade. That means a feeding frenzy for mice and rats which leads to an explosion in stoats and weasels.

And to make matters worse, DOC Director General Lou Sanson says possum control hasn’t been operating at full capacity over the last year. . .

Rabbit control at Earnscleugh’s heart – Sally Rae:

If it were not for rabbiters, the Campbell family would not still be on Earnscleugh Station.

From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, the future of the vast Central Otago high country property hung in the balance.

Plagued by rabbits, they were in ”serious strife” and it was an ”absolute nightmare”, Alistair Campbell told about 300 people attending a field day at the property on Friday.

Today, 21,000ha Earnscleugh Station is a far cry from the barren landscape of those rabbit-plagued years when some areas resembled a desert, without a blade of grass. . .

Visiting Canada to study water issues - Sally Rae:

Waitaki Irrigators Collective policy manager Elizabeth Soal will travel to Canada next year to study water management and beneficial farming practices.

Ms Soal, who is also a director of Irrigation New Zealand, has been named a 2014 Churchill Fellow, receiving a travel grant from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.

The Oamaru woman will head overseas in July next year and spend four weeks travelling in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Manitoba and New Brunswick, meeting government representatives, academics, water managers, farmers and members of the irrigation community. . .

Wine wins proof of Central’s strength – Timothy Brown:

The performance of Central Otago wines at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards has shown the area has matured as a wine growing region.

Central Otago wines won 18 gold medals in the initial judging process and dominated the pinot noir category.

The elite gold medal and trophy winners will be announced at the awards dinner on November 23 in Queenstown.

Akarua Winery won three golds. Winemaker Matt Connell said he was ”thrilled” with the results. . .

 Quad safety heading in the right direction – Jeannete Maxwell:

Quad bikes have been in the news again following coroner Brandt Shortland’s well-constructed findings into five deaths in 2010-11.

Given the families involved will be grieving anew it is something we need to be sensitive about.

Yet any mention of a quad bike these days seems to attract almost irrational media attention.

Quad bikes are bikes and are not all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), though Federated Farmers is seeking to get them reclassified as an agricultural vehicle. . .


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