Rural round-up

Otago close to eradicating crop destroying rook:

The Otago Regional Council says it is close to eradicating a pest bird from the region.

Rooks can destroy crops and new grass paddocks in a couple of days and are a problem throughout New Zealand, but are more prevalent in grain-producing regions in the south.

The Otago Regional Council says its eradication programme has reduced numbers from 5000 to less than 100 over the past six years. . .

China to help protect manuka honey exports – Victoria Young:

After more than two years of negotiations a deal has been struck with Chinese officials to protect New Zealand exports of manuka honey . . .

Separating the chaff from the grain in the debate on GM wheat – Prof. Jack Heinemann:

My report on assessing the risks of a form of GM wheat has sparked heated comment here and on other blog sites. The Sciblog-associated Australian Science Media Centre published excerpts from Peter Dearden’s “Genetics Otago” along with comments made by Australian scientists.

For me, these events have raised some fundamental issues – not new ones but recurring ones – that have been confronting the scientific and regulatory communities at the forefront of developing, and critically evaluating, new technologies. I don’t pretend to have all the answers in this difficult area, and my views do and will continue to evolve. In the meantime, let’s pause to reflect on some issues. . .

Change in deer tagging requirements

Deer farmers will soon be able to use a NAIT-approved ear tag instead of an Animal Health Board (AHB) barcoded primary tag.

From 1 October 2012, deer farmers have the option of tagging their animals with a National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) scheme RFID tag, or an AHB barcoded primary tag, until deer join the NAIT scheme in March 2013.

“Deer farmers who have already put NAIT tags into their animals, or plan to do so soon, won’t have to keep using AHB barcoded primary tags,” said AHB Operational Policy Manager Nick Hancox. . .

Farmers help design new online tools to take pain from paperwork:

Ravensdown has worked with farmers to develop new online tools to help take the pain out of farm paperwork.

Farmers helped design the new features of the MyRavensdown secure website, so that documents like statements and invoices are shown the way farmers need them. The 100% farmer-owned co-operative is also the first to launch “live help” for farmers which allows users to get instant help from one of the trained NZ-based Customer Centre team.

“Farming has always been data-rich, but farmers are time-poor, so a great secure online service has to be simple to use,” said Mark McAtamney, Chief Information Officer at Ravensdown.“There’s a real danger of too much information, so the visitor can tailor how much detail they want to drill down and see. Farmers helped us design the straightforward layout and they appreciate the live help feature, so they can ask questions about the page they are on and get an answer about their account there and then.” . . .

Ballance Research Targeting Nutrient Loss Solutions:

As more pressure goes on farmers to manage within nutrient limits, Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ $32 million research programme is working on new and targeted approaches for nitrogen and phosphate applications.

The work is being done through its Clearview Innovation programme which includes projects that will help farmers decide where on-farm to apply nutrients for maximum benefit and minimal loss.

“There is a definite shift towards regional councils requiring farmers to work within nutrient loss limits,” says Ballance Research and Development Manager, Warwick Catto. . .

Lincoln University memes:

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