Word of the day

June 17, 2013

Soggy – heavy, saturated or sodden with moisture or water;  soaked; waterlogged; heavy or doughy because of imperfect cooking; lacking spirit; dull; humid, sultry.

Word of the day

June 17, 2013

Towardly – appearing likely to succeed; promising; advantageous; favourable; compliant;  propitious or suitable; tractable; docile;. friendly; affable; in the direction of something.

Rural round-up

June 17, 2013

40% productivity rise realistic – Sally Rae:

On-farm productivity gains in the New Zealand sheep industry over the past 25 years have been an ”extraordinary story”, AbacusBio consultant Dr Peter Fennessy says.

Productivity, which drove profitability, had been increasing at about 2.5% a year, which he attributed to a combination of genetics and management.

There had been genetic improvement through consolidation of the ram-breeding sector and larger ram-breeding flocks, and uptake of new technology (rams and pasture) and better pasture management. . .

Working within cap on nitrogen – Sally Rae:

“As a nation, we cannot continue to have conversations about protecting water quality without having a parallel set of conversations that redefine the New Zealand farming business model.”

So says Taupo farmer and entrepreneur Mike Barton, who, when faced with what was effectively a cap on stock numbers, sought to increase the value of the product he produced.

A nitrogen cap was imposed on farmers around Lake Taupo to protect its water quality, with 35,000ha of land now covenanted for 999 years to remove 20% of manageable nitrogen. . .

Fonterra invests further $30m into Whareroa:

Fonterra has announced a further $30 million investment to expand its Dry Distribution Centre at its Whareroa site in Taranaki.

This follows a $23 million upgrade of the Whareroa coolstores last year, bringing the total capital investment in the logistics infrastructure on site to more than $50 million since 2011.

Fonterra Director of Logistics, Mark Leslie, says the project is part of Fonterra’s overall drive to simplify their supply chain and reduce the associated costs.

“These investments are part of a strategy to deliver more products, more directly to ports for export. . . “

Fieldays; washer cleans up– Jackie Harrigan:

Taranaki dairy farmer Simon Washer made a clean sweep of the Fieldays Rural Bachelor of the Year Competition for 2013.

After a busy week of an Amazing Race through the North Island followed by a series of eight challenges at Mystery Creek, 25-year-old Simon won the People’s Choice Award – having built his Facebook following to more than 700 likes – before being presented with the Golden Gumboot Award for overall Rural Bachelor of the Year.

Simon is sharemilking in coastal Taranaki and a motor-cross and trail riding fan who is also involved in Young Farmers and chairman of his local club. . .

Green’s Taranaki claims poppycock – Harvey Leach:

What we saw on TV3’s Campbell Live about landfarming in Taranaki and then got from a Green Party media release was straight out of the conspiracy theorists’ playbook.

The Green Party called on Fonterra to stop taking milk from land in Taranaki that it said had been spread with oil and fracking waste, which included toxic chemicals.

This divides things into “everyone even remotely involved-qualified versus me”. In our case, those remotely involved-qualified were landowners, Fonterra, Taranaki Regional Council, petroleum companies and the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association. The “me” in this story was the Green Party of Dr Russel Norman. . .


Going nowhere

June 17, 2013

I’m supposed to be flying to Christchurch tomorrow for a meeting in Wellington on Wednesday.

The heavy rain and state of the roads prompted me to start the journey today but I’m going nowhere.

I’d checked the internet before starting and thought I had a passable route. But 10 minutes into my journey a radio update informed me that road was closed.

North Otago is cut off by road closures to the north, west and south.

Our usual route to town is also closed and while the alternative is okay for now I took the precaution of stocking up on groceries before I came home.

Whatever the weather brings in the next few days we won’t be going hungry.

Loon not loony

June 17, 2013

Google Loon aims to bring balloon-powered internet to everyone.

A loon is a fool but this idea is far from loony.

A trial was launched in Canterbury last week.

The scheme involved using balloons, flying at twice the altitude of commercial aircraft, which beam wireless broadband at 3G-level bandwidth (the sort of internet speed most people get from their cellphone).

Around 30 balloons have been launched as part of the trial. Collectively, they will offer broadband to a 10,000 square kilometre area.

Google spokeswoman Annie Baxter says 50 Christchurch homes have been given antennas that let them pick up a wireless broadband signal when one of the balloons is within 20kim.

Entrepreneur Charles Nimmo became the first to connect.

Ms Baxter says Google is working with the Crown-owned Research and Education Advanced Network New Zealand (or Reannz) on broadband connectivity for the project. Reannz operates the high-speed $100 million Karen network used by universities and research institutes.

“Though we use similar frequencies as normal wi-fi, we have designed Loon to work using a specialized, non-standard radio protocol — that means our radios and antennas can only receive Loon signals and they filter out ground-based wi-fi. We have to do this to achieve high bandwidth over the long distances (20+ km) involved,” Ms Baxter tells NBR. . . .

This could well be a more effective and less expensive way for rural people to get reasonable internet connections.

Apropos of rural broadband, Telecommunications Users’ Association chief executive Paul Brislen says farmers should lay fibre cable themselves.

Mr Brislen told the Otago Daily Times this week there was no reason to wait for the big telecommunications companies to do the work.

”In some respects the telcos are the very last people you want to hire to deploy a network because they pack in so much cost.

”What you want to do is hire the guys with diggers and say: ‘If you dig me a trench I’ll just lay the fibre down’.”

Fibre-optic cable is needed to handle the high data rates of fast broadband and 4G (fourth generation) cellphone services.

Mr Brislen said a group of vineyard owners in the Nelson region had laid their own fibre optic 10 years ago and in Britain a low-cost scheme called B4RN taking fibre-optic to individual farms was ”going great guns”.

”These farmers are doing it for themselves. They got sick and tired of waiting for British Telecom to do it.” . . . 

Mr Brislen said the fibre-optic cable itself was ”really cheap”.

”It’s literally worthless because it’s just plastic.”

Mr Brislen said a cable run to farms or a community needed a ”tail-back” to one of dozens of ”points of presence” on the fibre network.

”So if you can reach one of those with your fibre, then build your own.

”As long as you have got consent to lay the thing, you are off and running.

”Farmers are much better at digging trenches than phone companies.”

Unless you’re on a main road or one that goes to a school it could be years before fibre gets to many rural properties, if it comes at all.

Laying the cable yourself or using the Loon could bring better broadband much sooner.

It’s raining, it’s pouring

June 17, 2013

Rivers in North Otago are at record levels.

We haven’t had any problems with stock but have had water woes at home.

As I walked over to the office last night I heard a gurgling from the heat pump. I found a torch and found the cause – water about a third of the way up the pump.

I summoned my farmer who started investigating the nearby drain while I dug a trench.

There are things I’d rather do in the dark on a wet Sunday night but if there’s one good thing about too much rain it’s that the digging is easy.

Even so, it still took an hour to dig a trench deep enough and long enough to get the pump safely above water level.

But it worked and the heat pump still does too which, given it’s still wet and somewhat less than tropical, is a blessing.



Complusion wrong solution

June 17, 2013

Maori Party MP, Te Ururoa Flavell, has entered a private member’s bill into the ballot to automatically register Maori on the Maori roll.

Mr Flavell says more needs to be done to increase tangata whenua participation in politics.

He could be right about the need for greater political  participation by Maori but making it compulsory to be on the Maori roll then opt out should they prefer to be on the general roll is not the answer.

Unless enrolment papers have changed recently, everyone gets the option of being on either roll. I don’t think there’s any check on whether or not those choosing the Maori roll are Maori and many would find the idea of trying to define who is and who isn’t offensive.

Automatically enrolling those who identify as Maori on the Maori roll and then allowing them to opt out would merely add unnecessary complexity to the enrolment process.

It might put people off enrolling at all and even if the Bill succeeded it wouldn’t necessarily improve participation.

The MP for Waiariki admits it would still be a challenge to get people out to the polling stations.

Quite – getting people on the roll doesn’t guarantee they’ll vote.

Something Flavell probably hasn’t considered is that the Maori roll might even be part of the problem. Maori seats are bigger than most general electorates which makes it much more difficult to service them.

As a result of that people might think they’re not well served by their MPs and therefore not see any point in voting.

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