Rural round-up

May 11, 2013

$3000 colt now worth $1 million – Shawn McAvinue:

A sensitive Middlemarch colt who sold for $3000 is putting silverware on his rider’s mantelpiece and is now worth more than $1 million.

Clifton Promise, the mount of Jock Paget (29), the winner of the prestigious Badminton horse trials in England, was bred in Middlemarch by Kathryn Abernethy (53), of Mosgiel.

The winning 14-year-old gelding was the offspring of her Middlemarch mare Darn Style and Maheno-based American stallion Engagement. . .

Regional finalist brushing up skills – Sally Rae:

Life has been hectic lately for Dean Rabbidge.

Mr Rabbidge (27) will represent Otago-Southland in the grand final of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest in Auckland later this month.

When he was not busy working on the farm, he could be found in the office, ”head down in the books”, he said. While at times the extra work could feel a little overwhelming, at other times it felt like he had it under control. . .

Beyond Reasonable Drought:

First the long drought, then the torrential rain – farming in Northland isn’t for the fainthearted! It takes guts to keep going in spite of the weather, the high dollar, and rising prices.

But it takes more than just guts to make a profit. It takes planning, flexibility, and the ability to assess the profitability of “what if” scenarios accurately and quickly.

In the past a farm’s annual financial accounts, probably at least a year old by they time they were completed, were the only way farmers had of deciding whether what they were doing was profitable. That is totally inadequate for today’s farm businesses. . .

Government and fishing industry trial technology:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the Department of Conservation (DOC), in partnership with the fishing industry, have recently trialled an electronic monitoring programme in the Timaru set net fishery.

The trial used electronic monitoring technology to automatically record information such as vessel location and interactions between set net fishing vessels and protected species, including Hector’s dolphins. Electronic monitoring involves using on board sensors, cameras and GPS receivers. . .

Rare breed proves real hit with judges -

Colin Lyon hopes more beef farmers will consider trying his rare breed of cattle after making it to the Steak of Origin semifinals for the second time in three years.

He was a semifinalist in this year’s competition with his braunvieh/angus cross entry.

The Steak of Origin aims to find the most tender and tasty sirloin steak in New Zealand. The finalists were decided by a panel of judges in Christchurch yesterday.

His entry was a 27-month heifer, which had a carcass weight of 345 kilograms. . .

Astronuats boost Waikato milking:

Gavin and Susan Weal have become the latest dairy farmers to enter the space age by employing Astronaut A4 robots, made by Lely, on their Pokuru farm near Te Awamutu.

The Weals decided to spend nearly $1 million on three robots when they were faced with building a new dairy shed for next season when they sell 44 hectares of their Candy Rd family farm west of Te Awamutu.

From June 1, the Weals will milk 200 cows on 73ha, having previously milked 280 cows on 117ha. . .

Invivo Wines Awarded Gold Medals At World’s Largest On-trade Focused Competition:

New Zealand’s Invivo Wines has been awarded prestigious gold medals for both their Invivo 2012 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and 2011 Invivo Central Otago Pinot Noir at the world’s largest on-trade focused wine competition, The 2013 Sommelier Wine Awards recently held in London.  

The tasting panel for the Sommelier Wine Awards reads like a Who’s Who of the UK hotel, restaurant and sommelier scene, with a total of over 80 judges from some of the UK’s top establishments taking part in judging over 1800 wine entries. . .


Rural round-up

November 14, 2012

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

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

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

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

What else does our agriculture offer? . . .

Chatham Rock Phosphate water turbidity model shows encouraging results:

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

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

The modelling results will now be independently evaluated. . .

Sheep in south heading for hills – Sally Rae:

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

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

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

Queen gene selection top honey maker – Shawn McAvinue:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glacial Wool Fit for a Prince:

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

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

And from  Smile Project:

Photo

Rural round-up

September 15, 2012

NZ being denied role as leader in biotechnology: Rolleston – Gerald Piddock:

Timid political will is stopping New Zealand from becoming a global leader in biotechnology, according to farming leader-scientist Dr Williams Rolleston. 

    As scientists worked to feed billions more humans opportunities existed for the country to show leadership in biotechnology without causing environmental degradation. 

“By any measure New Zealand ought to be a leader. No, it should be the leader. The fact we are not comes back to a timid political will,” he told an international conference on agricultural biotechnology in Rotorua. . .

Savings vet’s carrot for pig vaccination - Shawn McAvinue:

A Southland vet wants to spread the cost of vaccinating pigs to stop the spread of a deadly disease in humans. 

    Vet South Gore veterinarian Anne Gelling said all the pigs in Southland should be vaccinated to protect humans from leptospirosis. 

    Leptospirosis spread when pigs’ urine came in contact with human skin, eyes or mucous membranes, Dr Gelling said. 

    People become ill after about three to 14 days later. . .

Time now right for farmers, processors to talk - Rob Tipa:

Southland farming leader Andrew Morrison believes the time is right for farmers to talk with their meat companies about Red Meat Sector Strategy initiatives and what appetite both parties have to make changes to future-proof their industry. 

Mr Morrison, who is Southland Federated Farmers’ meat and wool section chairman, said southern sheep farmers and meat companies had experienced two very tough seasons in a row. 

In September 2010, spring snowstorms caused heavy lamb losses in Southland, the Catlins and South Otago and last spring was wet and just as challenging with similar lambing percentages to the previous year of the storm. . .

Dairy union talks action over layoffs – Al Williams:

The New Zealand Dairy Workers Union is considering legal action against Fonterra after eight staff members at the Waimate milk processing plant were given marching orders on Monday. 

    It follows Fonterra’s acquisition of the former New Zealand Dairies operation last week. 

    New Zealand Dairies was placed in receivership in May owing a substantial amount to its supplier farmers. 

    New Zealand Dairy Workers Union southern organiser Murray Kerse said the union was looking at a case for discrimination. . .

Disasters on farms ‘different‘ – Jill Galloway:

Farmers have a different view when it comes to natural disasters, said chairwoman of the Rural Family Support Trust Margaret Millard. 

    She said that in times of floods or earthquakes, farmers were concerned about their family and staff, but also about their stock. 

    “If it floods, they want to shift stock to higher ground before they leave. 

    “Farmers often take a broader view, urban dwellers often take a very people perspective,” Millard said. 

    Rural support trusts are giving their backing to the upcoming Civil Defence “Shakeout” earthquake drill at 9.26am on September 26. . .

Biofuels NZ not ‘mismanaged’ - Gerald Piddock:

The global economic downturn and poor decisions around land use fuelled by the desire to expand quickly led to the failure of profitability for Biodiesel New Zealand, a former senior employee says.

David Geary, who worked as national field operations manager for Biodiesel New Zealand from 2007-2010, said the economic environment meant it was not the ideal time to be starting a biofuel business.

‘‘I think the economics of the fuel industry and the economic downturn worldwide had quite a major impact for a fledgling start-up business.’’  

However he said he was confident the biofuel industry in New Zealand would survive. . .

In search of Australia’s dairy sweetspot - Dr Jon Hauser & Neil Lane:

In the previous two articles I have written about the value of flat milk supply to processors and “the market”. The articles also showed how milk pricing mechanisms have been used to pull southeast Australian milk towards a flatter milk supply curve. In this third article of the series I’ll take a look at the topic from the farmer’s perspective – what are the cost / benefit implications for a farmer who chooses to flatten their milk supply.

To write this article I have enlisted the support of Neil Lane – a dairy farmer consultant and member of the Intelact farm advisory group (www.intelact.com). Neil’s clients include some of the more profitable and successful farmers in southeast Australia and he is well respected for his theoretical and practical understanding of dairy farm economics and management. . .


Rural round-up

September 4, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the frontline with our pest busters – Dwight Whitney:

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

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

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

Keeper has a honey of a job – Sally Rae:

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

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

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

Training dogs all about the three Ps – Sally Rae:

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

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

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

System prevents consent breach – Shawn McAvinue:

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

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

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

Injection to stop methane emissions – Gerald Piddock:

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

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

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


Rural round-up

August 30, 2012

Greens and Labour waging war on overseas invest – Allan Barber:

The Greens’ private members bill restricting, in other words banning, all sales of farm land of more than 5 hectares to an overseas investor was defeated last week by two votes. Under a Labour/Green coalition, ably assisted by NZ First and the Maori Party, the terrifying thought is this piece of xenophobic ignorance would be passed into law.

There’s a more than remote possibility of a change of Government in 2014, so this, or some variation of it, could become Government policy and would easily gain a majority in the house. Back in March David Shearer put up his first private member’s bill on the same issue which sought to ensure substantial extra jobs and exports from foreign investment. There were some embarrassing omissions, but the intent was clear, if not as draconian as Russel Norman’s bill. . .

Abigail Vickers, the type of person the dairy industry needs -  Milking on the Moove:

The May 2011 issue of the Dairy Exporter has an article on Canterbury/North Otago Dairy Trainee of the year, Abigail Vickers.

At the time of the article, Abigail was 25 years old and in her second year as a dairy assistant. She has a goal of owning her own small scale organic farm, that doesn’t necessarily have to be involved in dairy. She already has 5 cows which she leases out, but would like to grow the herd to around 50 cows.
She entered the dairy industry to learn as much as she could about pasture management.
What a great example of a driven young person who has their act together. How many second year dairy assistants have started building up their herd? I don’t know many herd managers who have started building up their herd? She is an example of the type of people the dairy industry needs . . .

Omakau farmer outguns Aussies – Shawn McAvinue:

A heartfelt speech helped a Central Otago grazier beat her Aussie counterparts for an agricultural business award. 

Omakau dairy farmer Jan Manson said she was “taken aback” when she won the Rabobank business development award.

    The $5000 award is part of the executive development programme, which helps agricultural businesses in New Zealand and Australia develop growth strategies. . .

Dairy farmers see milk money in cow pats – Shawn McAvinue:

What creates the perfect cowpat is a hot topic.  Shawn McAvinue   visits a Central Southland dairy farm where staff  are making and mixing quality feed for more milk.

What goes in must come out. 

And Southern Centre Dairies owner Alfons Zeestraten is spending a bit more time examining the green stuff to ensure he gets quality milk. 

You see, he says the ideal cowpat should have the consistency of a children’s chocolate yoghurt. . .

This is a great time to be a low input pasture based farmer and it’s going to get better – Pasture to Profit:

Chaotic extreme weather conditions have caused the worst drought (for more than 50 years) across most of North America.The feed shortages will impact on every dairy farmer. I feel very sorry for those farmers directly affected. Having worked in Australia during years of extreme droughts I know it’s very tough & stressful for both farmers & rural professionals.
Corn/Soybean & to a lesser extent wheat prices are about to substantially increase. All purchased dairy feed will become very expensive. Low input pasture based farmers who don’t buy feed in will avoid the much higher costs but benefit from the expected higher milk prices. . .

Entering Dairy Awards Motivates And Enthuses:

Unique opportunities, enhanced farm businesses and stronger networks are some of the major benefits gained from entering the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards.

Plans for the 2013 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are underway, with details to be confirmed at a conference in October. The awards run the Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, Farm Manager of the Year and Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions.

In reflecting on their participation and success in the New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, 2011 national winners Jason and Lisa Suisted say the experience delivered a new perspective to their farm business. . .

It’s farming  Jim but not as we know it - Willie Leferink:

Last week, I presented at the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences summit of farming under the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

While many of the presenters focused on what we can do right now, I instead focused on what would happen if farming was included in the ETS.

I was brutally frank with my assessment, but would you expect anything less from a Kiwi-Dutchman?

Right now, there is a lot of work underway to deal with the methane belched from the rumen of cattle.

I take my hat off to the scientists who are trying to find solutions over those who have taken 30-pieces of council silver to ‘police’ farmers. . .

Arable on the Rise:

Arable farming is on the rise again, on the back of good prices and consistently good profitability.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has released an analysis of arable production and profitability as part of its annual Farm Monitoring Report series. The report is based on a model of a Canterbury cropping operation and an overview of typical financial performance, based on information gathered from a sample of growers and industry stakeholders. . .

Honey the hot new taste topic

Forget the vegemite/marmite debate – honey is emerging as the hot topic in taste differentiation.

Where once people believed honey was simply honey, a new national competition has highlighted the distinct taste and flavour differences in New Zealand monofloral honey – honey made predominantly from one single nectar source.

The inaugural Airborne Honey MonoFloral Honey Competition aims to raise awareness of New Zealand’s unique honey types, and show the outstanding flavour and taste that can be achieved with stringent quality control and traceability from hive to jar. . .

Nitrogen best option to boost feed for lambing

With bumper lamb numbers due this spring, having the best feed available will be a priority for farmers wanting to achieve optimum live-weight growth, especially with subdued market prices.

Sheep scanning results are showing improvement over last season with 2012 lamb numbers expected to be about 4% up on last year which means an extra 1 million mouths to feed this spring.

Ballance Agri-Nutrients Research and Development Manager Warwick Catto says with lambing rates up, the quality and quantity of nutrition will play an important role in determining growth of stock, and nitrogen has a big role to play. . .

Rockburn Pinot Noir 2010 scoops Double Trophies at Bragato Wine Awards in New Zealand

Champion Pinot Noir Trophy & Reserve Champion Wine Trophy

Rockburn Wines’ Pinot Noir 2010 has continued its record of highest success, this time in the prestigious Bragato Wine competition in New Zealand.

Rockburn Pinot Noir 2010 took out the Mike Wolter Trophy for Champion Pinot Noir and also the Richard Smart Trophy for the Reserve Champion Wine. Over 530 wines were entered into the competition that celebrates growers first and foremost. . .


Rural round-up

August 11, 2012

Shanghai Pengxin finally able to get on with its dairy investment – Allan Barber:

After one of the most drawn out sagas of recent times, the Court of Appeal’s ruling at last looks as if Shanghai Pengxin can complete its takeover of the Crafar farms.

The Fay/Maori Purchase Group has announced it will not make any further appeal, but, in Sir Michael Fay’s case, it will go back to business as usual and, in the case of the two Maori trusts, continue to negotiate the acquisition of two farms. However the iwi are still considering an appeal against the latest decision, while negotiations continue.

This sale process has caused much debate and involved very costly court cases which in the end have merely served to review and confirm the original decision and it’s hard to see on what basis a further appeal could expect to succeed. . .

Wintering barns ‘good idea’ not obligatory - Shawn McAvinue:

Wintering barns are a good idea but shouldn’t be made mandatory, says a Western Southland dairy farmer. 

    Dairy farmer Philip van der Bijl said the new winter shed on his Broad Acres farm, near Mossburn, was worth the investment. 

    If Environment Southland forced farmers to build sheds that would take money out of the farming community and only make Australian banks wealthier, he said. . .

Red cattle light up Shannon farm - Jon Morgan:

The late afternoon rain clouds have fled to the Tararua Range and a watery sun casts a soft light across the rolling pastures. In this light, a mob of cattle take on an exotic hue, their velvety, chocolate-red coats radiating a warm, lustrous glow. 

    It would be wrong to say farmer Kelvin Lane is unmoved, but he’s showing off his cows and his eyes are on their straight backs, muscled bodies and calf-bearing hips. 

    It is the dark red colour that first attracted him to the cattle, which are of the uncommon red poll breed. “They’re different, aren’t they?” he says. . .

A Hereford fan for life – Sue O’Dowd:

North Taranaki beef breeder Rodney Jupp is on a mission to introduce “Hereford Prime” beef to the region’s palates. 

    Right now he’s negotiating a deal with a Taranaki butchery, and hopes the meat will be on sale in the province within the next month. 

    “I’m working really hard to get Hereford Prime launched in Taranaki,” he said. . .

Pipfruit Growers Expect Slightly Improved Profitability

Pipfruit growers are expecting a small improvement in profitability this year, due to a lift in prices.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has released an analysis of pipfruit production and profitability as part of its annual Farm Monitoring Report series. The report is based on models of a Hawke’s Bay and a Nelson orchard and an overview of the financial performance of typical orchards, based on information gathered from a sample of growers and industry stakeholders.

A cool spring delayed flowering and harvest by around two weeks this season. Hawke’s Bay also had below-average temperatures and lack of sunny weather over summer. . .

Anti-GM campaigners warn of dangers – Gerald Piddock:

Two Australian farmers are warning New Zealanders to make sure their country remains free of genetically engineered and modified organisms. 

    Allowing GM products to be produced would put at risk New Zealand’s clean green brand, they say. 

    Western Australian farmer Bob Mackley and Victorian farmer and anti-GM advocate Julie Newman are touring New Zealand to deliver their message. With them is Green Party primary industries spokesman Steffan Browning. They were in Ashburton last week. . .

Entries open for 2013 Ballance Farm Awards:

Entries are now open for the 2013 Canterbury Ballance Environment Farm Awards.

The Awards, which have been running in the region for 10 years, celebrate responsible land stewardship and sustainable farm management practices.

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

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


Rural round-up

August 8, 2012

Efficiency with farm inputs – a recipe for productivity

An increasingly complex and volatile global farm input market is making it imperative for New Zealand farmers to have in place good purchasing strategies, while focusing on ways to conserve soil nutrients and input use, according to a new industry report.

The report, Efficiency with farm inputs – a recipe for productivity, by agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank, says more efficient use of farm inputs – including fertilisers, chemicals and fuel –will be essential in ensuring profitability, driving productivity growth and improving environmental sustainability of farm businesses into the future.

Report author, Rabobank senior analyst Michael Harvey says, with farm inputs a vital component of modern production systems, all farmers in New Zealand are exposed to the dynamics of procuring farm inputs. “In more recent times these markets have been evolving and becoming more sophisticated, which is altering the business landscape for farmers as end users,”he says. . .

Country life # 4 –  Quote Unquote:

Very late last night – me dozing off to the Economist, my wife dozing off to her novel – we heard a cow mooing, mooing for ages and we knew from which paddock. . .

Welcome to the Hotel van der Bijl – Shawn McAvinue:

More dairy farmers are building wintering sheds in Southland.  Shawn McAvinue  talks to one, who says those building them need to “do it once and do it right”.

The back rubs end abruptly when the music wanes. Then the stampede begins. 

    Car Wash, the 1970s disco hit by Rose Royce is playing to 750 cows and a party of about 20 curious farmers, who have come to see a new $4 million wintering barn in Dunearn, near Mossburn. 

    The $9000 wireless sound system is struggling to stay tuned to The Breeze radio station and the 24 speakers in the shed begin to crackle. Then the music stops. It’s like a gunshot fired in a packed nightclub. The cows get startled then stampede. Then there’s a crackle, the radio reception kicks in and Rose Royce returns: “Talkin’ about the car wash, yeah”. 

    The fickle cows are instantly content and return to chewing on feed or massaging their rumps.

Grand plans for NZ lamb in China - Shawn McAvinue:

The sleeping giant is wide awake and has a taste for our meat, say Alliance Group marketers from Southland. 

  Alliance Group staff went to China for 10 days to meet executives from Grand Farm, the largest single importer of New Zealand sheepmeat in China. 

    Alliance marketing development services manager Gary Maclennan said he was surprised how advanced the Grand Farm processing plant in northeast China was, “and how huge their plans are for target growth. They plan to double in two to three years.” . . .

Waikato cattle farmers at higher risk of fatal disease – Natalie Akoorie:

Waikato beef and dry stock farmers have higher rates of leptospirosis, a potentially fatal bacterial disease passed to humans through animals and infected water, according to a study in the New Zealand Medical Journal.

The farmers were probably more at risk because beef and dry stock cattle were less frequently immunised against the deadly disease, according to the report by Waikato District Health Board medical officer of health Dr Anita Bell and health population officer George Cowie.

The study, done over seven years, found the Waikato has one of the country’s highest annual rates of notified cases of the infectious disease, with the majority coming from the Waitomo district. . .

Online tool could enhance farm compliance -  Shawn McAvinue:

The former head of Environment Southland says new technology can ensure good farmers having a bad day are not unfairly prosecuted by compliance officers. 

    Former Environment Southland chief executive Ciaran Keogh said among the well-attended environmental conference in Auckland yesterday were Environment Minister Amy Adams, Primary Industries Minister David Carter and Nelson MP Nick Smith. 

    Mr Keogh was invited by the Environmental Defence Society to talk about new AG-HUB technology at Aotea Centre. . .

Scott seeks higher honours - Gerald Piddock:

Mid Canterbury arable farmer Andrew Scott is now be turning his attention to the Young Horticulturist competition after being crowned the country’s top young grower. 

    The 29-year-old beat three others to win the Young Grower of the Year title at Horticulture New Zealand’s annual conference in Auckland, 

    He earned his place in the competition after winning the Young Vegetable Grower competition earlier this year. . .

Lifestyle blocks a source of tension – Peter Watson:

Rural subdivision is about to come under the spotlight as the Tasman District Council reviews its rules and research shows the region losing some of its  best land at an increasing rate.   Peter Watson reports on what  is set to be a difficult debate. 

    Tasman and Nelson are losing their most productive land to lifestyle blocks and urbanisation at one of the fastest rates in New Zealand, sparking calls for councils to take a much tougher stance on rural subdivision. 

    Recent research by Landcare shows that 24 per cent of 16,000 hectares of high-class land in Tasman is now occupied by lifestyle blocks – the third highest level among regions and well above the national average of 10 per cent. Another 1 per cent of this land has gone on urban development, double the national rate. . . .

New wine frontman takes pride in region:

Richard Flatman describes himself as a “pretty passionate, outspoken bloke who loves Nelson” and good wine. 

    They are qualities that will come in handy in his new role as chairman of the Nelson Winegrowers Association. 

    The 41-year-old viticulturist at Neudorf Vineyards takes over from Mike Brown, who stepped down last month after six impressive years as industry spokesman. . .

Good Things Come in Eights for Misha’s Vineyard

Cromwell, Central Otago, 8 August 2012 – Misha’s Vineyard has announced a distribution expansion into eight markets around the world. The number eight, a lucky number in Chinese culture, has been an auspicious number since Andy and Misha Wilkinson first planted their vineyard on an old Chinese gold mining site on Bendigo Station, Central Otago, just eight years ago.

In the northern hemisphere the new markets are the Scandinavian countries of Denmark and Sweden through Gastro-Wine and across in the important US market, Misha’s Vineyard will be represented by Vindagra USA. . .


Rural round-up

July 23, 2012

Heaps of grass has helped agriculture grow three times as fast as the overall economy. Doug Steel wonders if this may even understate how well the rural sector is doing, given how the numbers were analysed in 2007/08 - Doug Steel:

Like blood to the body, agriculture is critical to the NZ economy.

The sector makes economic contributions in direct and indirect ways, although measurement of such can be a tricky business.

The latest national accounts show agriculture GDP growing 7.5% through the year to March 2012. This supported the 2.4% expansion in the New Zealand economy over the same period. . .

Massive Chinese market for red meat market - Sally Rae:

The importance – and potential – of China as a market for the red meat industry was reiterated during the recent red meat sector conference in Queenstown.   

 Arron Hoyle, McDonald’s senior director and head of strategy in China and Hong Kong, said the dragon was redesigning  global trade and global prices.   

He spoke of the “unprecedented” urbanisation in China, the emergence of mega cities and the significant opportunities      the fast food chain saw. It was bullish and very excited      about those opportunities. . .

Sector strategy shows encouraging signs – Sally Rae:

Meat Industry Association chairman Bill Falconer believes the red meat sector strategy has been “settling down extremely well” since its launch 14 months ago.   

The strategy, initiated by the MIA and Beef and Lamb New  Zealand, was aimed at improving the sector’s viability and      increasing its earnings from $8 billion to $14 billion by  2025. . .

Aim for first place: chairman:

NZPork chairman Ian Carter has challenged those attending the  industry’s annual conference to recognise themselves as “the best little pig industry in the world”.   

    “Pork is the world leader in animal protein, but only number three in New Zealand.   

    “Our target must be first place,” Mr Carter, a North Otago farmer, said. . .

Clutha dairy earnings climb – Shawn McAvinue:

Sheep and beef farmers were the biggest agricultural earner in the Clutha district but dairy farmers were a close second.

The latest statistics from the Clutha Agricultural Development Board (CADB) says sheep and beef farming earned $313 million and dairy farming $276m for the year ending June 2011.

However, a steady five-year growth spurt in dairying had the Clutha herd increasing by 30 per cent to 98,543 cows. In the same period sheep numbers dropped 14 per cent to about 2.17m. . .

2013 Ballance Farm Environment Awards Opening Soon:

Entries for the 2013 Ballance Farm Environment Awards open on August 1, 2012.

Administered by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFE) and operating in nine regions, the annual competition promotes sustainable land management by showcasing the work of people farming in a manner that is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.

Entry forms for the 2013 competition are available from the NZFE website at http://www.nzfeatrust.org.nz

NZFE chairman Jim Cotman says this website has been upgraded to make it easier for farmers to find information on the Ballance Farm Environment Awards and the Trust’s other activities. . .


Rural round-up

May 29, 2012

Judging helps get best stock – Sally Rae:

Olivia Ross reckons the skills she has learned through entering stock-judging competitions will stand her in good stead.

A member of the Nightcaps Young Farmers Club, Miss Ross (24) competed in the New Zealand Young Farmers national stock judging competition at AgResearch Invermay yesterday and hoped to defend the national title she won last year.

Rabbits, water quality and the RMA – Sally Rae:

If there was a more virulent variety of rabbit haemorrhagic disease in Australia that could be useful in New Zealand, then the Government would not say it could not be introduced.

However, Primary Industries Minister David Carter told farmers at the deer industry conference they would have to “engage with the process” to introduce it. . .

Emerging demand for venison product – Sally Rae:

Markets are diversifying and there are untapped markets for venison and co-products – what is needed now is the product.

That is the message from James Palmer, the director of strategy, systems and science policy at the Ministry of Primary Industries.

Wool growers face ultimate contest – Che Baker:

New Zealand’s top wool growers will go head-to-head this week as they compete for the national Golden Fleece title.

The National Golden Fleece Awards, in its 42nd year, will be held in Ranfurly tomorrow. . .

Confident and among the best -

It’s not about winning when you love what you’re doing. Shawn McAvinue talks to a Southland dairy trainee about being judged one of New Zealand’s best.

Winton dairy farmer Robert Ankerson, 23, was judged the second-best trainee in New Zealand at the Dairy Industry Awards in Auckland this month and took home $3000 in prizes.

Not that money had ever been the driving force for working in the dairy industry, Mr Ankerson said.

“You do it because you love it.” . . .

Young Farmers a cool group to belong to especially if you’re at Massey University - Pasture to Profit:

This week has been a huge week for Young Farmers & Young Farmer Clubs in New Zealand. The National Bank Young Farmer Contest has been completed & Michael Lilley from Tasman has won this prestigious competition & been crowned Young Farmer of 2012.

Michael is a Veterinarian working at Murchison on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand. He is a recent graduate from the Massey University Vet School.  . .

 

 

Rural round-up

May 13, 2012

Cartels versus babies - Offsetting Behaviour:

Canada’s dairy cartel keeps milk product prices up. Baby formula is one pretty obvious example.
Here in New Zealand, a 900 gram can of baby formula (starter, for newborns) ranges in price from $15 for one that’s on special, to $20-$21 for the most popular brands, to $34 for the ones that give babies superpowers. We supplemented with the brand that’s now $21 per can. The NZ price range then, per kilo and in Canadian dollars at $1 NZ = $0.79 Cdn, is $13-$30; the one we typically bought was $18 Cdn. Unfortunately, the link might redirect to Countdown’s main site. A screenshot is below. . .

Omarama family wins clip of the year – Sally Rae:

The Sutherland family, from Benmore Station, has been awarded the Otago Merino Association’s clip-of-the-year title.   

Bill and Kate Sutherland, and Andrew and Deidre Sutherland,      from Omarama, received the award during The New Zealand Merino Company’s conference in Christchurch . . .   

Change a vital part of fine-wool revolution – Sally Rae:

Changes are inevitable. Not only is that now the motto of  luxury Italian woollen fabric manufacturer Reda, but it was    also a statement that was repeated during the New Zealand    Merino Company’s recent conference in Christchurch.   

The conference brought together about 600 growers and industry partners from around the globe. . .  

Farm holds long family history – Sally Rae:

 The Maclean family, of Omakau, will next year mark 60 years of breeding Southdown sheep.   

Don Maclean started the Bellfield Southdown stud in 1953 and the stud now encompasses 120 ewes.   

 Bellfield was one of 11 properties visited during the New  Zealand Southdown southern tour which was hosted in Otago and  Southland last week.   

 The property is farmed by Donny and Cathy Maclean, their  daughter Kate, and Mr Maclean’s parents, Don and Win . . .

Rates rises close to $5,000 – Gerald Piddock:

Waimate farmers are crying foul after being faced with a dramatic increase in rates for the 2012-2013 year.

The proposed increases will see some farmers pay out nearly $5000 more in rates than they did last year, Federated Farmers South Canterbury Waimate branch chairman Colin Hurst said.

“One farmer’s rates are increasing 37 per cent from just over $13,000 to around $18,000. . .

Barns to keep cows cosy in winter weather – Shawn McAvinue:

What prompts a 94-year-old dairy farm owner to build structures of biblical proportions to keep animals from the driving rain? Shawn McAvinue reports.

Eastern Southland dairy farm owner Dugald McKenzie, 94, looks up at the frame of one of the two wintering barns he is having built on his dairy farm near Edendale and estimates the size of the structure.

“It’s not quite as long as Noah’s Ark, but it’s slightly wider.”. .

Talleys immovable in dispute – Jon Morgan:

After 10 weeks of worker protests, punctuated by fruitless talks and exchanges of lock-out and strike threats, the Affco-meatworkers dispute is no closer to resolution.

The bitterness of the dispute – over pay and conditions for 1000 union workers at eight plants – comes as no surprise to anyone in the meat industry.

The protagonists, the Talley family on one side and the Meatworkers Union on the other, are an irresistible force coming up against an immovable object – or, as one industry source puts it, “a rock hitting a rock”. . .

“Manawhenua” the value placed upon land within the Maori culture – Pasture to Profit:

“Manawhenua” is one of the operating values of the Kapenga M Farming Trust. The exact English translation of “Manawhenua” is difficult to explain. However it relates to the pride and soul of Maori people & their attachment to traditional lands. Manawhenua is about creating links between the people & the land. The concept of ‘mana whenua’ has many layers of meaning. It tells of important relationships that Māori have with whenua (land) and of the value placed upon the land within the culture . . .

Sealord’s mussel farms up for sale:

Sealord Group is selling its last few South Island mussel farms and closing its Tahunanui factory, bringing down the curtain on what was once the biggest mussel operation in the South Island.

All 50 workers – 10 operating the farms and 40 at the Beatty St factory – are being offered new roles within Sealord.

The company announced yesterday that it wanted to focus more on its core fishing business. . .

Synlait Milk to supply colostrum to ASX-listed Immuron:

Synlait Milk, the Canterbury milk processor controlled by China’s Bright Dairy, has signed a deal to supply colostrum to ASX-listed biopharmaceutical company Immuron.

No value was put on the agreement.

Synlait spokesman Michael Wan said the company planned a production run of the “hyperimmune colostrum” in October.

While volumes would be small compared to Synlait’s total production, it was high-end in terms of value. . .

Primary industry working together to grow its people:

The Primary Industry Capability Alliance (PICA) was officially launched in Wellington last night.

The initiative was warmly received by an audience of influential leaders in the primary industry. The Minister for Primary Industries, Hon. David Carter presented at the launch along with several other speakers.

PICA is a collaboration between DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, New Zealand Young Farmers, AgITO, Lincoln and Massey Universities, Federated Farmers and the Ministry for Primary Industries. . .

High expectations met by North Island Farming to Succeed programme:

Daniel Baker says this year’s North Island Farming to Succeed programme has shown him that farm ownership is possible for his generation. Daniel is currently a sole charge farm manager milking 280 cows near Te Awamutu for the Ferris family.

“I’ve been dairy farming since I left school at 16,” says the 28-year-old. “I grew up with an agricultural background in sheep and beef, rearing calves, dairy farming and my father’s agricultural contracting business. I chose to go into dairy because of lifestyle reasons.”

He was motivated to apply for Farming to Succeed after hearing good things about the programme from previous attendees . . .


Rural round-up

April 15, 2012

Grape expectations 2012 – Sarah Marquet:

Wine is one of Central Otago’s key industries,      pumping millions of dollars into the local economy, and after      fears a significant amount of fruit would be lost to disease,      a great vintage is predicted from this season. Reporter Sarah      Marquet finds out why.

A warm spring, leading to good flowering and fruit followed by a hot summer allowing growers to apply water stress to  their grapes set up a good season for Central Otago wine      makers, and the “spectacular Indian summer” has dried up any botrytis that was threatening crops. . .   

Season in Waitaki Valley ‘shaping up quite well’ – David Bruce:

It has been a challenging season for Waitaki Valley    winegrowers, but the talk is about quality, not quantity, David    Bruce reports.   

Cool and wet weather from late January will have an effect on      the quantity of grapes picked in the Waitaki Valley this      season, but quality of the wine is expected to be high,      Waitaki Valley Wine Growers’ Association chairman Jim Jerram predicts . . .   

Couple win farm awards – Sally Rae:

North Otago couple Blair and Jane Smith have been named    supreme winners of the 2012 Otago Ballance farm environment awards.   

 Mr and Mrs Smith run Newhaven Farms Ltd, a sheep, beef, forestry and dairy support operation that spans three family-owned properties.  . .  

Diversity within Sharemilker finalists:

The finalists in the 2012 New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year contest are a mix of experienced and new dairy farmers, and small, medium and large-scale operators. There are some migrants to New Zealand, is one man competing against 11 couples, and one equity farm manager competing against 11 sharemilkers.

National convenor Chris Keeping says the 12 regional New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards competitions always discover some talented and interesting finalists to contest for the national titles.

“This year’s finalists are a high calibre group focused and confident in achieving their goal of owning a stake in the dairy industry. They are young, ambitious and growing their businesses at great rates,” Mrs Keeping says. . .

Great muster for merino stud tour - Sally Rae:

When it comes to the history of sheep studs, it is hard to go      past the Taylor family from Tasmania.   

The Winton merino stud, established in 1835, is the oldest continually running stud still in the same family, in Australia.   

The stud was founded by David Taylor, whose great-great-grandson, John Taylor, was on the Central Otago Stud Merino Breeders tour last week with his wife Vera. It was the first time Mr Taylor had been on the tour and he was impressed. . .

Rangiora unscahed by quakes no more:

The closure of PGG Wrightson’s rural supply store and eviction for Farm to Farm Tours is another knock for Rangiora, a town that once looked to have escaped the worst of the Canterbury earthquakes.

Building inspectors have been at work in a big way here since the twin rattles of December 23 and the delicate frontages of High Street are now shielded by shipping containers and a lattice-work of protective fencing. You can still shop in main-street Rangiora but you have to pick your way through a maze of obstacles to do it.

Retailers have watched anxiously as one building after another is either temporarily or permanently put out of bounds because of earthquake damage. Among them is a rural mainstay, Farm to Farm Tours run by long-time farm management consultant Ross Macmillan. . .

Farmer in swimsuit for competition – Shawn McAvinue:

Southland dairy farmer wearing a slinky swimsuit has fleshed out entries in a competition to encourage low effluent ponds.

No Southland dairy farmers had entered the competition a week before it closed on March 30 but shortly after an article in The Southland Times about the poor turnout farmers with low ponds came forward . . .

Remembering Five Forks school days - Ruth Grundy:

For an Oamaru couple who attended schools in the Five Forks district early last century, life on the farm and growing up in their small close-knit community left a lasting impression.

The Five Forks community will celebrate 100 years of schooling at three schools – Maruakoa, Fuchsia Creek and Five Forks, at Queen’s Birthday weekend.

There are no surviving pupils of Maruakoa School, which opened in 1912 and closed in 1918, but there is a good contingent of seniors who remember their school days at Five Forks and Fuchsia Creek primary schools.

Former Fuchsia Creek School pupil Jim Kingan, 82, said generations of the Kingan family had never moved far from the district and most had continued to farm. . .

Health capsules hve cherry on top claims - Andrea Fox:

Business is a bowl of cherries for two Waikato companies – or potentially, many tonnes of cherries, with their launch of a new natural health treatment for stress and sleep difficulty with globally superior claims.

The companies are a Waikato Innovation Park start-up joint venture called Fruision and established health and natural beauty products retailer Moanui Laboratories.

The story behind the commercialisation of their product is complicated and stretches back a few years, but starts simply enough with central Otago’s Summerfruit Orchards, a grower of fine sweet cherries, which wanted to add value to its fruit destined for the pigs because it was not perfectly shaped, or rain-split, or otherwise flawed. . .

All set for success - Ruth Grundy:

As the countdown begins to the opening tomorrow of New Zealand’s most prestigious pony club event, there are four North Otago women who are hoping they have thought of everything.

Tomorrow marks the start of the four-day 2012 New Zealand Community Trust New Zealand Pony Club Association (NZPCA) Horse Trials Championships. . .

The championships are being hosted by the Ashburton-South Canterbury-North Otago Area Pony Club, at the Oamaru Racecourse.


Rural round-up

April 4, 2012

All hands on deck to restore the waterway -

The Waihopai River is suffering from severe sedimentation. What is being done to bring the Southland waterway back to better health? Shawn McAvinue reports.

Eels and freshwater crayfish from the Waihopai River in Woodlands were fair game for Mike Knight when he was 12.

Now 33, he wants the river to remain a happy hunting ground for his three children.

So 11 days ago, the former Woodlands School pupil rallied the whole school to plant 230 trees across half a hectare of the 256ha of dairy farm where he and his wife Vicki contract milk 700 cows. . .

Scary’ One Plan faces appeal - Jill Galloway:

Federated Farmers national dairy vice-chairman and Manawatu dairy farmer Andrew Hoggard says the One Plan has been “scary” for dairy farmers.

Federated Farmers is appealing parts of the One Plan to the Environment Court.

The plan is an environmental blueprint for water, land, biodiversity and air, with all consents for farmers rolled into one.

Horizons Regional Council said most of the outstanding issues were resolved at mediation. But in regards to water, there were still outstanding nutrient management problems and land management issues, such as the regulation of dairy farming and intensive farming activities, which were going to the Environment Court.

Mr Hoggard said when the One Plan was first discussed in 2005, dairy farmers thought it would be a non-regulatory approach, so they were “OK” about it. . . .

Migrants guides soften shock – Sally Rae:

Two new guides to help migrant dairy workers and their employers work together more successfully have been launched.   

 There are now about 1500 migrant dairy workers in the country, making up 6% of the workforce, with the majority from the Philippines.   

Demand had increased in recent years, as it had proved difficult to attract and retain local workers in some parts      of rural New Zealand, Immigration and Associate Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said .   . .

1986 winner says contest fantastic – Sally Rae:

Russell Whyte knows exactly the pressure the seven grand    finalists in the National Bank Young Farmer Contest will be    feeling when they arrive in Dunedin this month.   

Mr Whyte, now living in Christchurch, won the Young Farmer of      the Year title back in 1986 – the last time Dunedin hosted      the grand final.   

He described it as a “fantastic” experience, which was  followed by an “amazing opportunity” to travel to the UK, as      part of the prize package, which also included a tractor and  motorbike.   . .

Mill links paddock, plate – Gerald Piddock:

Plans for a new flour mill in Washdyke will give Canterbury grain growers control and opportunities to add value to their product.

The mill is being built by Farmers Mill, a new company set up by South Canterbury grain storage company Grainstor.

General manager Dave Howell said it was thought to be the first new mill built in New Zealand in 25 years.

It will be a showcase with state-of-the-art equipment not seen before in New Zealand, designed to mill soft wheat to a higher standard than some older equipment.

It will produce premium biscuit, baking and bread flours to the specifications of high-end customers.

“There are no New Zealand-owned mills and we wanted to have some control and add value over our own product that we grow,” Mr Howell said. . .

Shrek: the next generation – Matthew Littlewood:

WOOLLY WANDERERS: This merino pair, dubbed “Shrek’s cousins”, were discovered near the bottom of Ferintosh Station about a fortnight ago. While one has since been shorn, the other will be losing his fleece at the Mackenzie Highland Show on Easter Monday.

Ferintosh Station are making sure that two of their residents do not have the wool pulled over their eyes.

Pastoral lease-holders Marion and Gilbert Seymour spotted two wandering merinos near the bottom of the station about a fortnight ago.

It appeared that neither of them had been shorn in nearly seven years.

“We knew they were around somewhere, but we managed to capture them only recently,” Mrs Seymour said.

“They were quite docile, and couldn’t move very fast, because they were carrying a lot of wool.”

Mr Seymour, who is in his 80s, has already given one of the pair a decent haircut, but its mate will go under the clippers at the Mackenzie Highland Show in Fairlie on Easter Monday. . .

Argentines embrace change – Shawn McAvinue:

Are success and happiness possible in the Southland dairy industry? Shawn McAvinue talks to a 2012 Dairy New Zealand Dairy Awards finalist who’s working hard to achieve both.

When Argentine Leo Pekar and his partner Maricel Prado arrived in Southland 10 years ago to work on a dairy farm, they were welcomed with two months of solid rain. But the New Zealand Dairy Awards regional finalist wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

When they arrived in March 2002, they had little money and only thin PVC jackets to protect them from the heavy rain.

“I would get up at 4.30[am] and think, `what am I doing here’?”

The 35-year-old admitted he was not a morning person but his goals got him out of bed. . .

Grape crop down but hopes high – Gerald Piddock:

Waitaki winemakers will have a later than usual harvest this year after enduring a cold wet summer.

From late January in the Waitaki, it turned into a cold summer, making it a very difficult season for wine growers within the region, Waitaki Valley Wine Growers Association chairman Jim Jerram said.

It was a late harvest in wine producing regions across the country and the Waitaki was no exception.

“It was one of the coldest February’s on record and there was not a lot of sun.

“That has been the case for the whole eastern side of the country.”

Grape harvesting usually takes place in late April-mid May in the Waitaki. . .

Leadership lessons - Shawn McAvinue:

A free rural leadership course is set to give priceless results to the future leaders of the Southland rural sector.

Farmers Mutual Group Gore rural manager Sharon Paterson said she enrolled in the 2011 Generate rural leadership course to gain confidence.

She sells insurance for FMG in Gore and lacked confidence when cold-calling potential customers.

“Although I looked confident, I lacked a lot underneath. Now I just waltz up anyone’s drive to talk about insurance.” . . .

Onion harvest hit hard - Gerald Piddock:

Central Canterbury onion growers will have one of the worst harvests in 10 years.

The cold wet summer has slashed yields and delayed getting the crop off the ground.

Levels potato and onion grower Tony Howey said the poor crop along with the falling international markets made it a season for him to forget.

“About three years out of five you have a bad year, about two years out of five you might have a good year and probably once every 10 years you have a disaster, and this is that year.”

Trees on farms – exploring hill country options:

Following successful workshops in Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay, the next Trees on Farms workshop will be held on the King Country property of Barrie and Jude Tatham, and will explore the role of trees in hill country farm management, particularly in marginal or less productive areas.

Barrie and Jude own a 500 ha drystock farm near Piopio, which they operate in a share-farming arrangement with Kieran and Shona Bradley, running cattle, dairy grazers and sheep. The Tathams are previous Waikato Farm Environment Award winners, and their farm is notable for the diversity of species they have planted for nutrient buffering, stock shade and beautification. . .

Farmers getting better at growing meatier lambs:

Initial results from a large-scale meat testing programme show New Zealand farmers are getting better at producing the sorts of lambs that overseas customers are looking for.

The testing programme is part of the Farm IQ project, a joint venture involving Silver Fern Farms, Landcorp and PGG Wrightson.

The seven year sheep, cattle and deer research programme aims to turn the red meat industry’s traditional production-led approach into one that is market-led and focused on consumer needs.

DairyNZ urges farmers to prepare for animal tracing scheme:

Dairy farmers are being urged to prepare early for the introduction of a new animal identification and tracing scheme, especially if they’re planning stock movements over the winter period.

The recently adopted NAIT legislation (National Animal Identification and Tracing) introduces new obligations for farmers under the scheme from July 1 this year.

After this date, all cattle being moved will need to be wearing a NAIT approved electronic tag. Anyone in charge of animals and animal movements will need to be registered with NAIT.  . .

Primary industry training organisations to merge:

The Seafood ITO and the NZITO (meat and dairy sector) have today signed a Memorandum of Intent to investigate a full merger of the two organizations.

The merged entity will service a workforce of over 60,000 people nationally, covering three key export industries – meat, dairy and seafood.

These are all strategically important export industries.  The idea of an integrated primary sector ITO has been in the minds of both organisations for some time, and this is a significant step on the way. . .

T&G appoints new senior management team, directors:

Turners & Growers, the local fruit marketer, has announced new senior management and directors from new majority parent BayWa Aktiengesellschaft, and tapped local boardroom heavyweight John Anderson as an independent director.

The company confirmed the intended appointments of BayWa representatives Klaus Josef Lutz and Andreas Helber as directors, with Lutz taking up the role of chairman. Former National Bank head Anderson and Fonterra Cooperative Group director John Wilson have also been appointed independent directors. Jeff Wesley, Brian D’Ath and Christina Symmans resigned from the board on March 7.

T&G also announced plans to review the fruit marketer’s operation, which will be conducted by senior management. . .

The people’s champion retired:

The curtains have come down on the career of one of the most admired horses seen in New Zealand in recent years, the people’s champion Sir Slick (NZ), who had his final race in Awapuni at the weekend.

Now ten years old, Sir Slick (Volksraad x Miss Opera) showed that he was ready to settle into the green pastures of retirement when he ran home at the tail of the field in the Group 3 Awapuni Gold Cup.

Few would disagree there was a more fitting race for Sir Slick to finish his career on, having contested the Awapuni Gold Cup six times and winning it on three occasions: in 2007 (by 4.5 lengths), 2008 and 2010, and running second in 2009. . .


Rural round-up

March 3, 2012

Mount Linton improves ewes’ genetics - Shawn McAvinue:

Dag-laden sheep should be nervous when sheep genetics manager Hamish Bielski enters their paddock on Mt Linton station.

“I want marbles and handgrenades, instead of slops and plops,” he said.

He looks at the lambs’ faecal consistency twice a year, once in autumn and when they are one year old. . .

Kaiwhakahaere used a “Garry Owen” - Gravedodger:

This week I attended the biennial get together  of the High-Country section of Federated Farmers, this year hosted by the Marlborough area centered on the Middle Clarence Valley.
The commencement was at the Kahautara River on Highway 70 and kicked off by current chair, Graeme ‘Stumpy’ Reid. . .

Investment firms eyes southern dairy farms – Shawn McAvinue and Alan Wood:

 A new investment company is looking to buy “attractive” dairy farms in the south.

The dairy farms would be part of an investment fund that opened to investors yesterday.

Investors can buy into the Pastoral Dairy Investments fund with a minimum commitment of $20,000, plus fees. . .

Pig power proves promising:

There’s a new, unlikely energy source that can power farms while reducing greenhouse gas emissions – pig poo.   

A team of scientists at NIWA in Hamilton has developed a system that stores greenhouse gases from pig manure in a deep pond, from where it can be used as an energy source.   

NIWA research engineer Stephan Heubeck said the system reduces greenhouse gases in the atmosphere while providing an alternative source of energy . . .   

Protocol frustrates export of apples – Che Baker:

Apple exports from Central Otago to Australia will not go ahead this year after “excessive” biosecurity protocols have made exporting to the country uneconomic.

Pipfruit New Zealand director and Ettrick apple grower Stephen Darling said despite a 90-year ban on apple exports from Australia being lifted in 2010, the fruit would not be exported from the region this year.

Trial supports DCD’s environmental value – Gerald Piddock:

New research has confirmed the effectiveness of the nitrification inhibitor dicyandiamide (DCD) as a tool to reduce environmental impacts of pastoral farming.

The three-year nitrous oxide mitigation research (NOMR) trials commenced in autumn 2009.

They were conducted in the Waikato, Manawatu, Canterbury and South Otago dairy regions. . .

Boysenberry growers call it quits after continuing losses - Peter Watson:

The country’s two biggest boysenberry growers have quit the Nelson-based industry after another season blighted by bad weather and a high New Zealand dollar.

Their withdrawal means not only the loss of export income, but the end to hundreds of seasonal jobs which local people, particularly students, relied on to supplement their income.

Both Ranzau Horticulture and Berry Fields have started pulling out about 80 hectares of vines, although an existing grower is to take over 23ha of the Berry Fields’ fruit on McShane Rd and another is interested in running its pick-your-own operation.

Ngai Tahu wants to farm more fish species – Penny Wardle:

Ngai Tahu Seafoods Resources plans to add new species to its 14 hectare Marlborough Sounds mussel farm.

The Christchurch-based iwi-owned firm has applied to the Marlborough District Council for resource consents covering its plans to farm king salmon and hapuku, trial 13 New Zealand fish species and to grow algae and seaweeds at its Beatrix Bay marine farm in Pelorus Sound.

The company intends to grow fish, shellfish and seaweed together to improve production while reducing environmental impacts. Scallops and dredge and pacific oysters as well as mussels are covered in its existing consent. . .

Oysters on lunch menu – Shawn McAvinue:

Skippers say they look great and the first few hundred dozen oysters in from Bluff will be flown up to the Dockside restaurant in Wellington for lunch. And, so the oyster season has begun in what has been tipped to be a bumper year.

The first oyster boat got in to Bluff at 5.05am before heading back out . . .

Dairy Farms could save energy: study:

New Zealand dairy farms could achieve cost-effective annual      energy savings of at least 68.4 million kilowatt hours (kWh) in the dairy shed, the results of a pilot programme show.   

That was a 10% reduction and equivalent to the annual electricity use of about 7100 households. Individual farms could cut milking-shed electricity consumption by 16%, and a      post-pilot survey showed 46% of farmers would adopt savings technologies if their costs could be recouped within three years.  

Rabbits still a problem - Gerald Piddock:

Rabbit numbers in the eastern Mackenzie Basin have increased post-Christmas, the Canterbury Regional Council says.

The concerning area is 12,000ha and encompasses seven adjoining high country properties, Environment Canterbury (ECan) biodiversity team leader Brent Glentworth said.

The increase could have resulted from the high levels of vegetation this season caused by the wet spring and summer. . .


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