World Water Day

March 22, 2014

Thought for the day from Water.Org:

Lack of community involvement causes 50% of other projects to fail.
Because it’s  World Water Day.

Hat tip: Waiology


Rural round-up

October 17, 2013

Overseas experience to boost FMD preparation:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced that a delegation of 10 veterinarians, farming leaders and MPI staff will take part in foot and mouth disease (FMD) training in Asia next year to experience working with the disease first hand.

“While the major focus is always on preventing FMD, it is also very important that we are prepared to respond to such an outbreak quickly and effectively if it ever did happen.

“The training will develop a larger pool of people in New Zealand with experience in recognising, diagnosing and controlling the disease.

“This is the latest initiative in a major 18-month programme of work, which involves the Ministry for Primary Industries and an industry working group working together on key projects,” says Mr Guy. . .

End of an era for southern cooperatives – Allan Barber:

Alliance Group chairman Owen Poole retired at the end of September after five years on the board and 15 in top management roles, while Eoin Garden, Silver Fern Farms’ chairman since 2007 is retiring at the AGM in December.

Both men in different ways have provided notably determined leadership of their respective companies through particularly difficult times for the meat industry. Although each will retire with some regrets at not being able to lead the way to a permanent recovery, it will be a relief to step back from the limelight and leave the battle to their successors.

Poole has been succeeded by North Canterbury farmer Murray Taggart who ironically was voted off the Alliance board at the same AGM as previous chairman John Turner, resulting in Poole being appointed the company’s first independent chairman. That was a consequence of farmer disaffection with low lamb prices, so in spite of some recovery before the last price drop nothing much has really changed. . .

Rise of corporate dairying in China:

A new report says China’s dairy industry is undergoing a massive restructuring, with traditional small farmers departing to make way for large-scale commerical dairying operations.

Rabobank’s report China’s Raw Milk Supply – Still Dreaming of a White River says the rapid changes taking place in China will have an impact on its demand for imports.

Co-author Hayley Moynihan says the restructuring is limiting China’s domestic milk flow. She says as the supply chain restructures, is it put under pressure in terms of its ability to increase the volume of quality raw milk supplies.

Ms Moynihan says the Chinese Government has taken significant action to improve milk quality since the melamine crisis in 2008. . .

Evolving a truly customer-centric industry:

New Zealand’s primary sector needs to develop a customer-centric approach to its marketing – by creating products with unique attributes that are sought after by global consumers.

That was a key theme of the just-released Volume 3 of the KPMG Agribusiness Agenda, titled “Evolving a truly customer-centric industry”.

KPMG’s Global Head of Agribusiness, Ian Proudfoot, says the sector needs to replace its traditional ‘trading mentality’ with a more targeted approach.

“Those customers who see the most value in what we produce – and are consequently willing to pay a higher price for the attributes they value – must be at the centre of everything we do.” . .

A primer of water quality – Clive Howard-Williams at Waiology:

Society is increasingly concerned over water quality. The means by which this is maintained and enhanced while growing an economy is a major challenge for governments in many places. Here I introduce some underlying concepts around water quality that Waiology followers will need to appreciate when they look at the forthcoming series of blogs.

What is good water quality?

Rather than just being a set of defined scientific numbers, water quality is rather a perception defined by communities and it varies from place to place and between communities. What is seen as poor water quality by some may be adequate for others. Generally however, good quality is usually recognized as water that is safely drinkable, swimmable and from where food may be gathered and that provides for community spiritual and cultural needs and for healthy ecosystems. . .

Happy World Food Day:

We all love to eat, but make sure that as you celebrate World Food Day today you spare a thought today for those who don’t have enough to eat.

‘Across the world 842 million people still suffer from chronic malnutrition, including a growing number in the developed world’, said HRLA chairperson Edward Miller, ‘and the latest New Zealand food security study reported that less than 6 in 10 NZ households are food secure.’ . .


Wet, wet, white

June 21, 2013

We’ve had rain, then more rain and now we’re getting snow.

It’s lying on the paddocks but not very deep and roads around our farm are still open.

Waiology pointed me to Niwa’s Citizen Snow Project:

Snowfall is not routinely measured in New Zealand, but is an important part both of our natural hazards and our water resources.

Snow which falls at high elevations will generally melt slowly in spring; it will be absorbed by soil (for use by vegetation) or become runoff, which adds to stream flow. Snow which falls at low elevations will generally melt quickly after the snowfall, and be absorbed by soil and added to groundwater.

Measurements of snowfall at low elevations around New Zealand are few and far between, and yet the data would be really helpful in understanding how snowfall occurs, and quantifying snow-related risks to infrastructure (e.g. buildings, power lines, etc.) and impact on water resources. After all, the large majority of New Zealand’s population and infrastructure reside closer to the coast than the mountains.

And so we’d like your help to measure snowfall. You can measure the snow depth after it snows and, if you’re extra keen, measure the snow water equivalent (snow density) too.

Your measurements will help us to characterise the complex patterns of snow depth and water content which are important for monitoring New Zealand’s water resources and snow-related risks. . .

Instructions for measurement are at the second link.

Quote Unquote has a photo of 70cm of snow at Lake Heron Station.

And the ODT has a slide show of wintry weather in the south.


Rural round-up

May 4, 2013

How to drought-proof NZ as drought gets worse – Waiology:

For the most part, droughts are natural events. Rainfall and river flows wax and wane, and there will be times when there just isn’t enough water to fully meet our needs, whether to grow crops or to quench a city’s thirst.

And when it comes down to it, that’s really the best definition of a drought: when water supply is insufficient to meet demand. If no rain falls on the land, and there is no-one there to go thirsty, is it a problem? But there is a growing part of drought that isn’t natural. Increases in water use, beyond the capacity of the environment to supply the water, have led to what are called “demand-driven droughts”. . .

Sheep and Beef Sector Increases Eco-efficiency:

New research shows the New Zealand sheep and beef sector has a much lighter environmental footprint than in the past.
 
Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Executive Dr Scott Champion says a recent paper by Dr Alec McKay, published in the Proceedings of the New Zealand Grasslands Association, used the Overseer model to look at the changes in the relationship between inputs (eg, livestock numbers, nutrients) and outputs (eg, meat and fibre, greenhouse gas emissions, nitrate).
 
The research was conducted using the Ministry for Primary Industries sheep and beef farm monitoring models that cover hard hill country (Gisborne and Central North Island) and easy hill finishing (Manawatu) over the last 20 years. . .

Feilding Meat Industry Meeting Generates More Meetings:

So successful was the Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) meeting in Feilding last Friday, 26 April, where 700 farmers met  to establish a mandate for meat industry change, that further meetings are to be held in Gisborne and Te Kuiti..
 
Local organising Chairman and newly elected MIE executive member, John McCarthy, said that there was great support at the Fielding meeting from all over the lower North Island; “we got twice as many farmers to the meeting than we had originally planned for,” he added.
 
As a consequence, further meetings are being planned for Gisborne on 15 May and Te Kuiti on 17 May.  Details of these will be released next week. . .

Career Progression Support For Keen Dairy Farmers:

Registrations of interest have opened for DairyNZ’s popular Progression Groups taking place nationwide in 2013.

Since their launch, specialist discussion groups Biz Start and Biz Grow, have attracted more than 500 dairy farm managers, sharemilkers and owners, who are keen to build their skills and progress their career in the dairy industry.

Attendees at one of the first Biz Grow groups, Russell and Charlotte Heald (lower order sharemilkers from Central Hawke’s Bay) said the group was particularly good for meeting others who also want to get ahead and achieve more. . .

Skellerup cuts annual earnings forecast as drought hits agri business:

Skellerup, the industrial rubber goods maker, has cut its annual earnings guidance for a second time after the drought across the North Island sapped demand at its agri business as farmers put off buying until next season.

The Auckland-based company expects net profit of $17 million in the year ended June 30, down from trimmed down guidance of $20 million it gave in February, from a previous forecast range of between $22 million and $24 million. The manufacturer blamed the drought for weaker local demand, and also signalled its North American and European sales were tracking below forecasts. . .

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Rural round-up

March 1, 2013

Minister welcomes biosecurity report:

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has welcomed a report from the Auditor-General into biosecurity incursions, and says it will be carefully considered by the Government.

“My office has received a copy of the full report today and I’m looking forward to working through it with the Ministry for Primary Industries.

“Biosecurity is my top priority as Minister and we will carefully consider any advice and recommendations that could improve our biosecurity system.

“The report notes improvements MPI already has in progress, including updating plans for dealing with specific pests, better surveillance targeting and more regular exercises and simulations. It also notes that overall New Zealand’s biosecurity system has been improved though sharing knowledge and innovative practices.

“We are always looking to review how we do things, and improve our systems. This report is part of that process, and I would encourage people to read the full document. . .

Auditor-General report sets the right direction:

Federated Farmers welcomes the audit by the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) on the Ministry for Primary Industries biosecurity preparedness and response activities, particularly relating to Food and Mouth (FMD) disease.

“This is an important and timely report given FMD would not only cripple pastoral farming, but it would hit almost every New Zealander in their pocket,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Biosecurity spokesperson.

“We were first contacted by the OAG in 2011 and participated in their initial research.

“The pastoral farming sector itself has been proactive in coming together to deal with weaknesses we identified with FMD response planning. . .

Farmers Need To Know ‘They Are Not Alone’, Says DairyNZ:

Industry body DairyNZ is joining with other agencies and organisations to co-ordinate a range of drought support mechanisms for Northland and other North Island dairy farmers, with a focus on facilitating farmer-to-farmer advice.

A state of drought has been officially declared in Northland today by the Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy, with other regions likely to follow soon.

DairyNZ’s regional team manager, Craig McBeth, says dry conditions are being experienced throughout the North Island and the industry body has already been sending out weekly newsletters with practical advice to farmers. It is also using its local discussion groups to help farmers find out how others are dealing with the dry conditions. . .

Drafting lambs electronically – Gerald Piddock:

Using electronic identification technology in sheep production is paying off for Ken Fraser.

The Fairlie farmer is into his third year using electronic tagging in his sheep flock.

He demonstrated its benefits at a Beef+Lamb field day at Opuha Downs last week.

The information captured by the tags allows him to calculate the growth rates of lambs according to which paddock they grazed on, the crop they ate and what type of ram they were bred from.

It allowed him to measure his lambs by weight gain rather than simply weight. . .

Broom worry backed – Gerald Piddock:

Environment Canterbury is backing the concerns of a Timaru resident over a jump in broom levels throughout the Mackenzie Country this summer.

Broom levels have increased in the Mackenzie Country and other parts of South Canterbury this summer, largely due to the rain the region had in early summer.

The increase prompted Timaru resident Gary Bleeker to write to the Timaru Herald earlier this week out of concern that landowners should take more responsibility to keep on top of the weed. . .

Water governance in NZ – an introduction – Wailolgy:

“Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over.”

So goes the saying, often dubiously attributed to Mark Twain, when talking about water politics in the western US. And while New Zealanders are fortunate to have a much wetter climate (and tend to prefer beer or wine), we are no strangers to fights over water.

We see these tensions time and time again in the news. Fishing vs. irrigation in Canterbury. Greens vs. dams in Hawkes Bay. Residents vs. Auckland Council over rates. The Maori Council vs. the Government over ownership. As a nation, we have diverse and, at times, conflicting values when it comes to water.

To help resolve these tensions we turn to some form of governing body or another. Whether it is the central government, a regional or local government, or even small water user groups, they have been given the authority to make trade-offs on behalf of their constituents – to try to balance rival values. (The word ‘rival’ is in fact derived from the same root as ‘rivulet’ – rivals share the same river.) . . .

 


Rural round-up

November 21, 2012

Fonterra scotches speculation of US$450m Indian acquisition – Paul McBeth:

Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, has dismissed speculation the company is among potential bidders for India’s Tirumala Milk Products.

The New Zealand cooperative scotched a Times of India report naming it with French food conglomerate Danone as vying for a controlling stake in Hyderabad-based Tirumala, with a spokesman for the dairy exporter calling it “rubbish”. The US$450 million enterprise value figure reported would be material for Fonterra and would need to be disclosed, he said. . .

Water allocation and limit setting in a changing climate – Waiology:

Last week, the Land and Water Forum released its third and final report on water management in New Zealand. It is a substantial piece of collaborative work with 67 recommendations. Number 29 is that allocation limits be set by taking into account “any flow and water level fluctuations caused by seasonal or other climate variations”. While this primarily refers to natural variability, such as the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation, it’s also important to consider climate change. And along the same lines, last year’s National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management stated the need to account for the “foreseeable impacts” of climate change.

This is an important issue, as climate change is expected to bring about a raft of changes to New Zealand’s freshwaters (more details on that soon). Among these changes are reductions or increases in the amount of water available for use. Also importantly, climate change makes assessments of future water resources less certain. . .

Fonterra shareholder fund pricing uncertainty leaves Morningstar cold – Paul McBeth:

Investors should steer of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund, which seeks to raise up to $525 million to reduce the dairy cooperative’s redemption risk, until the units start trading, according to Morningstar Research.

However, the units have too many pricing uncertainties in the bookbuild phase.

The research firm gives a ‘do not subscribe’ recommendation for the fund’s initial public offering, saying Fonterra Cooperative Group lacks pricing power over its dairy commodities, generates low returns compared to its multinational peers, and investors won’t know the price they are paying until after the bookbuild process is completed on Nov. 27. . .

A2 in talks with NZX about shifting to main board – Paul McBeth:

A2 Corp, which markets milk products with a protein variant claimed to have health benefits, is in talks with the New Zealand Stock Exchange about shifting its listing on the main board.

The company, currently listed on the alternative market, qualifies for listing on the NZX main board, and managing director Geoffrey Babidge says that is a more recognised market and can provide better transparency and investor protection, according to a presentation at today’s annual meeting.

“A move to the NZX main board may provide greater liquidity and increase access to capital,” Babidge said. “To this end, the company has commenced discussions with NZX regarding a move to the NZX main board.” . . .

Kiwifruit vines credited as carbon sinks:

Three years of research by a Bay of Plenty company has found that kiwifruit orchards store a significant quantity of organic carbon in the soil.

PlusGroup Research received funding from the former Ministry of Agriculture’s sustainability farming fund to do the research, which investigated soil samples from more than 120 kiwifruit orchards across different growing regions. . .

Beef + Lamb NZ director elections:

Nominations are being called for two farmer-elected positions on the Board of Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

The positions are for the Western North Island and Central South Island electorates.

Nominations must be submitted on the official form obtained from the Returning Officer, Warwick Lampp, free phone 0508 666 003. The nominations need to be received by 5 pm on 20 December 2012. . .

Better Look Over Your Shoulder – Fish & Game Warning To Poachers:

The latest camouflaged ‘poacher cams’ are proving their worth in the Rotorua lakes district – giving trout poachers even more reason to look over their shoulder.

That’s according to Eastern Region Fish & Game, which has released information on the number of offenders caught over the last three months.

Fish & Game Officer Anthony van Dorp says that over the past three months (ending November) they’ve dealt with 30 people for a variety of offences ranging from fishing without a licence and fishing closed waters – to serious poaching offences. . .

Celebrating 150 Years in the Valley of Gold & Cardrona Vintage Fair

The historical and picturesque township of Cardrona in the breathtaking Cardrona Valley turns 150 years Gold this year. To celebrate, the iconic Cardrona Hotel and the greater community are opening their doors, hearts and rabbit cookbook’s for a birthday bash guaranteed to delight all ages.

Saturday 8th December – 150 Years of Gold celebration

From the excitement of highly trained heading dogs competing in the Dog Trials to trying your hand at gold panning, the 150 Years of Gold celebrations are local-jam-packed with fun and fascinating events for everyone. . .


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