Rural round-up

Chemical-free farming still regarded with scepticism:

Chemical free farming is a multi-million dollar industry that has copped its  fair share of criticism.

The couple behind New Zealand’s first organic farm say it’s time conventional  farmers embraced the concept. but they’ve had to put their beloved property on  the market after more than 30 years.

They call them their secret weapon.

Millions of black dung beetles roam John and Norrie Pearce’s Kaipara Harbour  property and without them they say they’d be in a stink.

Farming organically means relying on the hand of nature, which is where dung  beetles come in . . .

Castle Hill Station on the market – Liz McDonald:

Castle Hill Station, a high-country farm owned by businesswoman Christine Fernyhough, is for sale.

The author and philanthropist bought the 3000-hectare station for about $2.4 million in 2004, with the Conservation Department taking on the remainder of what had originally been an 11,000ha block.

The land was first settled by the Porter brothers in 1858. Real estate group Bayleys is now seeking offers for the farm, with a late May deadline. . .

Fine deal for merino farmers – Sally Rae:

On a gloriously sunny autumn day in the Maniototo this week, a small Cessna aircraft landed on a farm strip at Gimmerburn. Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae was on hand to discover more about the visit.

It was, as they say, a flying visit.   

Alighting from the plane, in that most rural Central Otago landscape, were three Japanese gentlemen, bedecked in suits.   

They had made a special trip from Japan to meet the Clarke family from Closeburn Station.

The visit by Konaka Co Ltd chief executive Kensuke Konaka,      technical adviser Mitsuo Hori, and Kento Nagao, from wool      trading company Nagao Shoji, was a goodwill gesture.  . .

Woollen coffin a hit at show – Sally Rae:

You wouldn’t normally expect to find a coffin among the fleeces on display at the quintessentially rural Malvern A and P Show in Canterbury.   

When Polly McGuckin was approached by the convener of the wool section at the Sheffield show to see if she would like to have a woollen coffin on display, she was initially not sure it would be appropriate. . .   

China blamed for PSA-V outbreak – Richard Meadows:

Scientists are on the edge of unravelling the origins of the Psa-V disease devastating the country’s kiwifruit vines – and China is the most likely culprit.

A team of Otago University biochemists is confident it will be able to confirm the source of the virulent disease, which was first detected here in November 2010.

The scientists were able to map out the bacterium’s entire genetic code using a multi-million dollar advanced genetic sequencer, provided through the government-funded New Zealand Genomics Limited (NZGL). . .

Putting the fizz into wine ‘visonary’

Staff at Cloudy Bay Winery in Blenheim are enjoying what is likely to be a short-lived leisurely work pace as the last of its sparkling grapes are brought in to press, says winery spokeswoman Stephanie McIntyre. . .

“At the moment, everyone’s just taking it easy. You can see there aren’t too many people around, but that will all change in a few weeks when all the ripening comes on at the same time.”

Cloudy Bay winemaker Sarah Burton anticipated the first lot of grapes for the still variety would be brought in today. There was usually a one week gap before this harvest began, so it was a good way to prepare the crew for what was in store. . .

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