Word of the day

October 5, 2013

Ambisinister – having two left hands; the inability to perform acts requiring manual skill with either hand; clumsy, awkward or  inept with both hands.

Hat tip; Whaleoil


Rural round-up

October 5, 2013

Mild confidence boost in NZ beef sector – Rabobank:

Much improved climatic conditions throughout the winter and a favourable weather outlook for spring have certainly boosted confidence across the New Zealand beef industry, particularly after the challenging drought conditions of summer and autumn, according to agribusiness specialist, Rabobank.

Rabobank’s Beef Quarterly report says that, in line with the seasonal low point in beef supply – which occurs towards the end of winter and into spring – farmgate prices have improved, while average export returns have also seen some encouraging upwards movement.

Rabobank animal proteins analyst Matthew Costello says the decline in the New Zealand dollar against the US dollar, which has eased around seven per cent between April and the end of August, was also helpful in boosting confidence in the Kiwi beef sector. Unfortunately, the currency has since rebounded to the highest level since May, putting downward pressure on schedules and challenging New Zealand’s price competitiveness in the export markets. . .

Farmers with the real smarts:

The Dalrymple brothers, Hew and Roger, farming just out of Bulls, have a second pair of eyes looking over their property.  Actually the word is ‘i’ – as in smartphone technology. Peter Burke reports on the technology in use and the savings that result.

FOR SIX generations the Dalrymple families have farmed in Manawatu and slowly built their land base. 

The current 2200ha freehold plus 200ha leased property is diverse – forestry, cropping, horticulture, sheep and beef trading and some specialised stock business, mainly managing dairy heifers prior to export to China and elsewhere.

Roger runs the sheep and beef, Hew looks after cropping.  This year they’ll plant at least 450ha in maize, 30ha in potatoes, 10ha in onions, 40ha in squash, 120ha in barley and 14ha in wheat. 

Lamb trading numbers vary each year, usually about 25,000, plus up to 10,500 cattle and about the same in dairy heifers. They also contract-finish, making it a big, complex operation. . .

Fonterra Appoints New Managing Director of Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa (APMEA):

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited announced today the appointment of Pascal De Petrini as Managing Director of its Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa (APMEA) business unit.

The APMEA business unit comprises all of Fonterra’s consumer operations across Australia, New Zealand, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Mr De Petrini will join Fonterra at the beginning of November and takes over from Johan Priem who has been Acting Managing Director APMEA since May.

Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings said, “Pascal is a strong, strategic people leader with a proven track record in delivering significant growth as well as turnarounds in Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) businesses. He has more than 25 years’ experience across the markets of APMEA and in senior leadership roles at Danone which will greatly benefit our consumer, nutritional and foodservice growth in Asia. I am delighted that we have someone of Pascal’s strengths and experience joining Fonterra. . .

Canterbury irrigation firm plans storage ponds:

A Canterbury irrigation scheme that has been taking water from the Waimakariri River for 15 years wants to build a large storage pond so it can continue to operate when water restrictions are in force.

Waimakariri Irrigation Limited is a run-of-river scheme that supplies water to about 200 properties, ranging from dairy farms to lifestyle blocks, covering 18,000 hectares on the northern side of the river.

It is seeking a land use consent to build a double pond combination on a site it owns near Oxford.

Manager Brent Walton says the ponds will allow users to continue irrigating during dry periods when the river level is low and there are restrictions on taking the water. . .

Never too old for new ideas

ADVERSITY MAKES you struggle, so think and look for answers, say horticulture industry pioneers and innovators Fay and Joe Gock.

The pair, both in their 80s, have for 60 years wheeled out good ideas: they were the first in the world to put stickers on fruit, they’ve grown seedless watermelon, and they pioneered using chilled polystyrene boxes to export broccoli.

They were winners this year of the horticulture industry’s highest honour, the Bledisloe Cup. And they won an award from the Dominion Federation of NZ Chinese Commercial Growers “in recognition of your lifetime of innovation and contribution to the horticulture industry”. . .

US Government shutdown warning to our farmers:

The budgetary deadlock, which has sections of the United States Government shutting down, should serve as a warning to New Zealand farmers to run conservative farm budgets.

“Following record milk price forecasts and increases in the ANZ Commodity Index across the primary industries, farmers may be very bullish about the current 2013/14 season,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President.

“The optimism is most welcome since the ANZ Commodity Index has hit its third highest level. Meat and Fibre farmers will be relieved to see the international price of wool, our green and renewable fibre, increase 13 percent in a month. Yet it is right across the primary board, from red meat to apples and logs, we just seem to be in an export sweet spot.

“Some may be tempted to anticipate outstanding forecasts for this season by taking on debt. . .

Entries open for New Zealand’s Prestigious Royal Show:

The Royal A and P Show New Zealand promises to be an affair for the whole family featuring entertainment, sideshows and livestock exhibits from some of New Zealand’s elite farmers.

The countdown has begun and entries are now open as Feilding and the wider Manawatu gear up to host the most prestigious A and P show on the calendar – the Royal A and P Show New Zealand.

Entries are now being taken for this spectacular event across all livestock sections ranging from Alpacas to equestrian classes to beef and dairy cattle, pigs and everything in between. . .


It’s still World Smile Day . . .

October 5, 2013

It’s still World Smile Day  somewhere in the world:

 


Saturday’s smiles

October 5, 2013

A man walks out to the street and catches a taxi just going by.

He gets into the taxi and the cabbie says, “Perfect timing. You’re just like Frank.”

Passenger: “Who?”

Cabbie: “Frank Feldman. … he’s a guy who did everything right all the time. Like my coming along when you needed a cab, things happened like that to Frank Feldman every single time.”

Passenger: “There are always a few clouds over everybody.”

Cabbie: “Not Frank Feldman. He was a terrific athlete. He could have won the Grand-Slam at tennis. He could golf with the pros. He sang like an opera baritone and danced like a Broadway star. And you should have heard him play the piano! He was an amazing guy.”

Passenger: “Sounds like he was somebody really special.”

Cabbie: “Oh hell there’s more. He had a memory like a computer. He remembered everybody’s birthday. He knew all about wine, which foods to order and which fork to eat it with. And he could fix anything …Not like me – I change a fuse, and the whole street blacks out. But Frank Feldman, he could do everything right.”

Passenger: “Wow, some guy then.”

Cabbie: “He always knew the quickest way to go in traffic and avoid traffic jams. Not like me, I always seem to get stuck in them. But Frank, he never made mistakes and he really knew how to treat a woman and make her feel good. He would never argue back, even if she was in the wrong; and his clothing was always immaculate, shoes highly polished too. He was the perfect man! I never knew him to make a mistake! No one could ever measure up to Frank Feldman.”

Passenger: “An amazing fellow. How did you meet him?”

Cabbie: “Well … I never actually met Frank. He died and I married his wife.”


Owners’ nationality irrelevant

October 5, 2013

The headline says: public land access restricted due to foreign ownership.

The story starts:

One of the country’s largest farms is the latest to be snapped up by foreigners, in this instance a North American investment group.

The massive property near Oxford is the size of Christchurch, the sale figure is undisclosed. 

Outdoors enthusiast Stewart Hydes wanted conditions put on the sale, but says his appeal to the Overseas Investment Office was rejected.

He’s worried about the loss of vehicle access as more and more landowners are closing private roads, locking up the public land beyond. . .

The video follows with a couple of examples that back up the idea that foreign ownership is the problem.

But the third example is a New Zealander and he restricts vehicle access for good reason – he’s had too many people who’ve abused it.

He’s not alone.

the owners’ nationality is irrelevant. Anyone with high country land could write a book about problems with people who disturb stock, leave gates open, damage fences, leave rubbish and human waste . . .

We’ve got a hill block with a paper road though it but it stops short of the boundary with the DOC estate. Hunters with DOC hunting permits ask permission to get from the end of the road to the DOC land and we’re happy to let them walk across the paddocks – it’s only a few hundred metres.

If people ask for permission to tramp on our land we give it but we’re not going to let strangers drive all over the farm, for the sake of our paddocks and stock and their safety.

The last visitors who drove beyond where the paper road ended, in spite of warning not to, had a very long walk back and their vehicle had to be retrieved by a bulldozer.

Life’s changed from a few decades ago when few people could get off-road except on their own feet.

Lots more people own four-wheel drive vehicles. Not all of them have the skill to tackle off-road driving and even if they do few farmers – Kiwi or not – would trust people they don’t know to give open access to their properties.

It’s nothing to do with the nationality of the owners, it’s too many bad experiences with visitors who have no for respect private property and don’t follow the request to leave only footprints and take nothing more than photos.


Education is the key

October 5, 2013

Quote of the day:

“We were given opportunities in Mangere. Education unlocks opportunities you would not otherwise have.” Sam Lotu-Iiga MP

He was commenting in an inspiring story about his brother, Ken, the new Fletcher Residential general manager.


Taranaki landfarms fit for purpose

October 5, 2013

An investigation  commissioned by the Taranaki regional Council has found that landfarms are fit for purpose.

Doctor Doug Edmeades of AgKnowledge  who undertook the investigation found:

1. Waste products (rock cuttings and drilling muds) from the oil exploration industry in Taranaki are being incorporated into  re-contoured formed sand dunes and re-sown back to pasture (a process referred to as Landfarming). This process is controlled by resource consents issued by the Taranaki Regional Council. Three Landfarms have been completed to date and are now being farmed commercially (2 under irrigation).
 
2. The drilling muds contain potential contaminants: petrochemical residues, barium, heavy metals and salts. The question arises: are these reformed soils ‘fit-for-purpose’ – in this case pastoral farming and especially dairy farming.
 
3. As required by the consents regular soil samples were collected and analysed during the disposal process. These results were summarised and examined relative to the permitted limits for the various potential contaminants.
 
4. The completed sites were visited and the pasture and soils inspected. Soil and pasture samples were collected and analysed for all potential contaminants. These results were compared to the properties of normal New Zealand pastorals soils.
 
5. It is concluded from this body of evidence that these modified soils are ‘fit–for-purpose”. The concentrations of: nutrients (macro and micro), heavy metals and soluble salts in these soils and pasture are similar to normal New Zealand soils. The form of barium present is as environmentally benign barite, and there is no evidence of accumulation of petrochemical residues.
 
6. The process of Landfarming these otherwise very poor soils, together with appropriate management (irrigation, fertiliser and improved pastures) has increased the agronomic value of the land from about $3-5000/ha to $30-40,000/ha.
 
Federated Farmers had earlier called Green Party concerns about these properties as scaremongering and is buoyed that an independent scientific investigation has confirmed these farms are not only safe, but may be better for the environment.
 

“Federated Farmers congratulates Taranaki Regional Council for commissioning Dr Doug Edmeades of AgKnowledge to test landfarming,” says Harvey Leach, Federated Farmers Taranaki provincial president.

“If you happen to be a farmer with less than even pasture or soil quality, then the cliché, ‘One man’s trash is another’s treasure,’ very much applies. Landfarms recycle the mud, rocks and clay that comes from mining so is smart recycling.

“The blending of this material into the sand makes it worthwhile to add fertiliser and to put in place irrigation infrastructure. Simply put there is soil.

“These landfarms are also monitored and tested by Taranaki Regional Council and Dr Edmeades study vindicates both the concept and the council’s monitoring approach.

“That’s why the negative claims made about landfarms in Taranaki were so thin they could model in Paris.

“Dr Edmeades is a scientist who has completed an ANZAC Fellowship and was National Science Program Leader (Soils and Fertiliser) for AgResearch. In 1997, he established his own science consulting business, which became AgKnowledge.

“Dr Edmeades is an expert in his field. His report concluded that landfarming made sandy and highly erosion prone coastal farmland, ten times better for dairy farming. That is both an economic and environmental win since these farms previously had poor soils.

“Because of the value and productive uplift from landfarming, it has allowed better management practices to be adopted.

“His report found that the concentrations of heavy metals in the landfarms were at the low end of the range, when compared to soils from various regions in farmed and non-farmed areas. That is a positive.

“While hydrocarbons were found on the most recently completed landfarm, Dr Edmeades said these levels would decline as soil microbes broke them down.

“Being a farmer, I know that earthworms are a strong indicator of soil health and Dr Edmeades found them in large numbers. That’s a key thing for me because he described earthworms as a soil scientist’s ‘canary in the mine’.

“At least we now have a robust independent scientific report saying that landfarming is not only safe but can be environmentally positive. That’s why we need to base discussion on hard facts and evidence and not for short-term political gain,” Mr Leach concluded.

Fonterra had stopped taking milk from new properties on land farms because of the cost of tests.

The perception of a safe clean dairy industry was also a factor.

Perception beats reality – it will probably beat the science because those dark green anti-dairy campaigners only back the science which suits their case.


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