5/10

October 20, 2013

Only 5/10 in NBR’s Biz Quiz.


Word of the day

October 20, 2013

Subdolous – sly; crafty; cunning; artful.


Rural round-up

October 20, 2013

Access big hurdle in China – Tim Fulton:

ANZCO chairman Sir Graeme Harrison took the podium at the China Business Summit to argue the big problem for the meat industry in China was market access.

“New Zealand, like all countries supplying meat to China, is currently caught in the midst of a huge reform process, with food safety and related regulatory changes a very prominent part,” Harrison said.

The process of getting NZ meat plants approved by AQSIQ, China’s inspection agency, had been tortuous.

One ANZCO plant the Ministry for Primary Industries certified for export to China in 2009 was finally officially listed by AQSIQ four years later, he said. . .

Alliance profit but no dividend – Alan Williams:

Alliance Group made a profit in its latest year but not enough to allow pool distribution or dividend payment.

Alliance had achieved good cashflow and improved its equity ratio over the year, chairman Murray Taggart told shareholder farmers in Christchurch last week.

Alliance was cautious about markets for this season but there were several positives, Taggart said.

Detailed results of the latest year would be released soon. . .

Mega-merger of dairy industry was ‘miracle’ – Clive Lind:

It was a miracle the New Zealand dairy industry, with it’s strong-willed people and philosophical conflicts, completed the mega-merger that formed Fonterra, says the author of a new book.

Clive Lind, a Fairfax executive and former daily newspaper editor, spent three years researching and writing Till the Cows Came Home, to be published mid-next month.

Through the eyes of key industry people he interviewed, Lind tells the stories behind the multi-billion dollar industry – from 40 years ago when the single-seller Dairy Board was jolted into an urgent search for new markets when Britain started talks to enter the European Economic Community, to the emergence of added-value products, the economics-driven consolidation of more than 100 dairy companies into less than a handful, to the writing on the Beehive wall for the single-seller producer board and the efforts of the industry to find a structure solution for the future. . . .

Plant & Food Research innovation recognised:

Plant & Food Research had two reasons to celebrate at last nights New Zealand Innovators Awards held at Auckland Museum. The Crown Research Institute won the ‘Innovation in Environment and Agriculture’ category for research into insect sex pheromones, while the Biopolymer Network (BPN), a company jointly owned by Plant & Food Research, Scion and AgResearch, also won the ‘Innovation Excellence in Research’ category.

Sex pheromones, the natural chemicals released by the females of many insect species to attract mates, can be used to disrupt communication between insects, reducing their ability to identify mates and subsequently leading to a reduction in the population and reduced reliance on chemical controls. . .

Raw milk venture renews enthusiasm – Tony Benny:

Selling raw milk direct to the public has allowed a Canterbury farmer to get back to what he loves and that’s milking cows.

Geoff Rountree and his wife, Sandra, gave up dairy farming nine years ago because their hay-making business was growing and the days were not long enough to do everything.

“The contracting was building and it was getting a bit out of hand because the cows weren’t coming first, they were coming second and that shouldn’t have been the case,” he said.

The 105 cow herd went and the seven a side herringbone shed at Oxford was mothballed but Rountree missed being a dairy farmer. “Sandra always said to me, ‘stop pining to milk cows, go and milk someone else’s’.” . . .

Tweeting shows common concerns – Abby Brown:

A world-wide live Twitter discussion, #Agrichatworld, on issues facing farmers was a global first and revealed some recurring concerns, organiser Josien Kapma said.

Those concerns included climate, sustainability, ignorance of consumers, ever fewer farmers and complexity around farms.

The conversation also showed that farmers think the public have the wrong view of farmers’ values which is exacerbated by the rural/urban divide.

One of the questions asked by @AgrichatUK was what farmers wish the non-farming public knew about them.

The respondents’ tweets showed that farmers feel the urban/rural divide is alive and well and growing as the non-farming public tend to think as farmers only being about the bottom line and not also wanting to be environmentally friendly and sustainable. . .


Obvious Mistake

October 20, 2013

obvious mistake

Some of the stuff I learned early on was useful, she told me, but obviously most of it was meant for someone who wasn’t me.

This is from Story People by Brian Andreas.  Clicking the link will take you to where you can sign up for a daily dose of email whimsy like this.


Vertical farming

October 20, 2013

Vertical integration – where producers get involved in manufacturing and marketing of their produce – is not unusual, but vertical farming?

That’s the way of the future if you believe this.

The concept of indoor farming is not new, since hothouse production of tomatoes, a wide variety of herbs, and other produce has been in vogue for some time. What is new is the urgent need to scale up this technology to accommodate another 3 billion people. An entirely new approach to indoor farming must be invented, employing cutting edge technologies. The Vertical Farm must be efficient (cheap to construct and safe to operate). Vertical farms, many stories high, will be situated in the heart of the world’s urban centers. If successfully implemented, they offer the promise of urban renewal, sustainable production of a safe and varied food supply (year-round crop production), and the eventual repair of ecosystems that have been sacrificed for horizontal farming.  . .

Advantages of Vertical Farming

  • Year-round crop production; 1 indoor acre is equivalent to 4-6 outdoor acres or more, depending upon the crop (e.g., strawberries: 1 indoor acre = 30 outdoor acres)
  • No weather-related crop failures due to droughts, floods, pests
  • All VF food is grown organically: no herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers
  • VF virtually eliminates agricultural runoff by recycling black water
  • VF returns farmland to nature, restoring ecosystem functions and services
  • VF greatly reduces the incidence of many infectious diseases that are acquired at the agricultural interface
  • VF converts black and gray water into potable water by collecting the water of
    evapotranspiration
  • VF adds energy back to the grid via methane generation from composting non-edible
    parts of plants and animals
  • VF dramatically reduces fossil fuel use (no tractors, plows, shipping.)
  • VF converts abandoned urban properties into food production centers
  • VF creates sustainable environments for urban centers
  • VF creates new employment opportunities
  • We cannot go to the moon, Mars, or beyond without first learning to farm indoors on
    earth
  • VF may prove to be useful for integrating into refugee camps
  • VF offers the promise of measurable economic improvement for tropical and subtropical
    LDCs. If this should prove to be the case, then VF may be a catalyst in helping to reduce or even reverse the population growth of LDCs as they adopt urban agriculture as a strategy for sustainable food production.
  • VF could reduce the incidence of armed conflict over natural resources, such as water
    and land for agriculture

It’s being done in Japan:

In the offices of Pasona, the future has already arrived. The Tokyo based recruitment agency has dedicated 20% of their 215,000 square foot office to growing fresh vegetables, making it the largest in .

The gardens utilize a mix of hydroponic and soil-based farming, and require very specific climate control within the building. This often means keeping these spaces warmer than is considered comfortable for office spaces, and is arguably the building’s greatest downfall.

That makes it expensive but it’s not just about growing food or saving money:

The food grown in the office isn’t meant to just feed the employees at Pasona. Kono Designs, the architecture firm behind the project, is hoping that this new type of office will inspire the young urbanites to reconsider agriculture and possibly even to reinvigorate rural areas.

Another version of urban farming is taking place in Singapore where SkyGreens boasts the world’s first low carbon hydraulic water-driven, tropical vegetable urban vertical farm.It uses The A-Go-Gro vertical systems :

. . . which are 9m in height (3 storeys), housed in protected-outdoor green houses, allow tropical leafy vegetables to be grown all year round at significantly higher yields (than traditional growing methods) that are safe, of high quality, fresh and delicious.

It lists the economic benefits:

  • Increases productivity The production yield of Sky Greens Farm is 5 to 10 times more per unit area compared to other traditional farms growing leafy vegetables using conventional methods in Singapore.
  • Vegetables tastes good Tropical leafy vegetables are grown in special soil-based media, which contribute to good tasting vegetables, suitable for stir-fry and soups. The vegetables are harvested everyday and delivered almost immediately to retail outlets to consumers.
  • Year round production As the vertical farm structures are in protected-outdoor green houses, the vegetables are grown in a controlled environment, protected from pests, wind and floods.
  • Consistent and reliable harvest Steady supply of fresh leafy vegetables is assured as growing is done in a controlled environment.
  • Easy to install and easy to maintain The modular A-frame rotary system allows quick installation and easy maintenance.
  • Better ergonomics & automation The rotary system allows the troughs to be immediately adjusted for easy harvesting. Automation at the farm also means more productive workers per ton of vegetables produced.
  • Space saving The footprint of the vertical system is small but yet can produce significantly more per unit area than traditional farms. It can also be customized to suit different crop requirements and varying environments.

It also lists environmental benefits:

  • Environmentally friendly high-tech farm Sky Greens observes, learns and works with nature to achieve sustainability for the good of the environment and to grow safe, high quality and fresh vegetables using green technologies for consumers in Singapore.
  • Low energy usage Outdoor green houses have abundant sunlight in the tropics. The A-Go-Gro system uses patented low carbon hydraulic green technology to power the rotation of the tower at very low energy costs, while still allowing the plants to get more than adequate sunlight.
  • Low water usage As the troughs of plants rotate, it is irrigated using an innovative flooding method, using very little water. Water is also recycled and reused.
  • Waste & water management Sustainable water management practices are utilized on the the farm. All organic wastes are composted at the farm to ensure the use of high quality and safe fertilizers.
  • Green technologies Green technologies are stringently adopted at the farm to achieve the 3R (reduce, reuse and recycle).

People in floraculture and horticulture might face competition from vertical farms but I don’t think agriculture – especially sheep, beef, dairy  and cereal cropping – has anything to worry about.


Loving the stadium

October 20, 2013

Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr stadium wasn’t universally welcomed and mumblings about its cost to ratepayers continues.

But yesterday the city was buzzing and a near-capacity crowd enjoyed a wonderful game of rugby there in comfort.

It was a mild evening but even so it was probably the first time most of the crowd had watched a test in Dunedin in shirt sleeves.

The roof climate-proofs events and that matters this far south.

Rugby was the winner last night but the stadium is used for a variety of other activities which are much more enjoyable for being held under cover.

Among these is the Otago wine and food festival which will take place at the stadium on November 23rd.

Economists say that people putting the case for stadiums overestimate the benefits and underestimate the costs.

But not everything can be measured in money.

Dunedin isn’t feeling very positive at the moment but the stadium is a bright spot which brings locals together and attracts people from other places too.


New media breaks news

October 20, 2013

The main stream media is attempting to turn the exposure of Len Brown’s infidelity into a left-right political conspiracy.

One angle it hasn’t looked at is it was a blog which broke the news.

Stephen Cook, a former Herald journalist broke the story on Whaleoil.

It’s not the first time a blog has been first with a story but it is, at least in New Zealand I think, the first time for such a big story.

Is that significant?

I don’t think it signals less importance for the old media but it does point to more significance for the new.


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