Word of the day


Wirrwarr – clutter, huddle, tangle,  state of confusion or disorder; a confused mass, a jumble.

Map of NZ’s political geography


Political tragics will be interested in Chris McDowall’s hexagonal maps of New Zealand’s political geography at Hindsight which include this one:


Hat tip: Stats Chat.

Rural round-up


 Green light for kiwifruit boosts orchard sales – Carmen Hall:

Record forecast prices for green kiwifruit have driven up horticulture property sales in the Western Bay of Plenty.

Tauranga PGG Wrightson Real Estate salesman Stan Robb says confidence in the industry is rebounding.

Values for well-located green kiwifruit orchards increased 30 per cent in the past six months and by 100 per cent since spring last year, he said.

“Even at the present benchmark price of $230,000 per canopy hectare, a 15 per cent return on investment appears achievable with a high-producing green kiwifruit orchard. . .

 It’s summer: Beware cruel stock disease – Carmen Hall:

Facial eczema is not a problem in the Bay of Plenty at the moment but farmers are advised to check stock for any outbreaks over summer.

Bay of Plenty Federated Farmers’ provisional president, Rick Powdrell, says it is a production killer and one of the nastiest diseases stock can get.

From an animal welfare perspective, it’s one of the cruellest stock can suffer from, he says.

Dairy and beef cattle, sheep, deer and goats are susceptible to facial eczema.

It attacks the liver and is picked up by animals ingesting fungal spores from the pasture. . .

Electronic Tongues Measure Grape Ripeness:

Electronic tongues can become an ally of grape growers as they offer detailed information on the degree of grape maturity and this could improve competitiveness. The study has been carried out by researchers at the Universitat Politècnica de València, in collaboration with Valencia winery Torre Oria.

The conclusions of this work have been published in the journal Food Research International.

In the study, researchers applied electronic tongues developed in his lab to measure the maturity of eight different types of grapes (Macabeo, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shyrah, Merlot and Bobal) in several locations of vineyards of Utiel and Requena (Valencia) and observed a good correlation between the response of the tongue and parameters analysed in traditional tests: the acidity of the fruit and its amount of sugar. . . .

Sheep and wool – year in review – Cara Jeffery & Dannika Bonser:

BACKFLIPS and sidesteps were made by the Sheepmeat Council of Australia (SCA) and Wool Producers Australia (WPA) prior to the introduction of the mandatory Sheep Health Statement (SHS) in July.

It was part of the national plan to tackle Ovine Johnes Disease (OJD), with the new document encouraging farmers to take ownership of their individual management plans and create regional biosecurity areas.

Following backlash from the public consultation period in January, the document was simplified and slim-lined, and now features several ‘yes/no’ questions and a comments section for additional information. . . .

Sheep and wool in review part 2 –  Cara Jeffery & Dannika Bonser:

ONE of the most talked about issues in sheep circles this year was the Uardry stud naming rights.

Dubbo Merino breeders Graham and Susan Coddington, purchased the Uardry stud trademark and intellectual property from Tom Brinkworth, who purchased the Uardry property last year, however, Mr Brinkworth failed to transfer the registration of the stud to his name.

This is where the waters get muddied; the Coddington’s were given approval in June from the NSW Stud Merino Breeders’ Association to use the Uardry stud trademark they had purchased.

However, this decision was controversially overturned by Australia Association of Stud Merino Breeders (AASMB) in July. . . .

Sheep and wool in review part 3 – Cara Jeffery & Dannika Bonser:

ITALIAN luxury apparel giant Ermenegildo Zegna marked its 50th anniversary of the Zegna wool trophies in Australia in April.

The Zegna Group headed up by company chairman Count Paolo Zegna flew in more than 200 fashion and lifestyle journalists from the northern hemisphere for the event in an effort to showcase superfine woolgrowing operations to the world.

The contingent visited superfine properties in the New England and capped off their visit with a gala event in Sydney attended by 1000 people.

Count Paolo’s message: “Don’t treat wool as a commodity. Wool is not a commodity, wool is a very precious fibre”. . . .

A record year for lamb export:

LAMB exports reached a record high last year as combined totals climbed 13 per cent on the previous year, according to Meat and Livestock Australia.

Driven by 12 months of elevated lamb turnoff, combined with strong international demand, total Australian lamb exports surpassed 200,000 tonnes in 2013, reaching a record 213,715 tonnes swt.

This total was up 25,097 tonnes (13pc) on the previous record set in 2012, and was topped off by the second largest monthly export volume on record in December, at 20,250 tonnes swt, up 23pc year-on-year.

In 2013, the Middle East was Australia’s largest lamb export market, totalling 59,752 tonnes swt, up 15pc, or 7940 tonnes year-on-year – accounting for 28pc of total Australian lamb exports. . .

Feeding Cows in the USA


Derek Klingenberg who brought the world What Does the Farmer Say has another video:

Need to grow all specialties


Tweets of the day:

Options for adaptation


Water storage is more than a farming tool it is a legitimate climate adaptation tool too, Federated Farmers Climate Change spokesman Dr William Rolleston says.

“Whatever ones’ views may be on the causes of climate change, the fact is it is happening and that means we have two realistic options for adaptation.

“First is researching new crops and pasture varieties in the knowledge that farms will face greater environmental stress.  This demands an on-going and bipartisan ramp up in both our agricultural research and development spend and science capability.

“The second of course is the huge opportunity New Zealand has to store rain water.

“Last year, the IPCC predicted that New Zealand could face a future climate of heavier extreme rainfall, stronger and more extreme winter winds as well as longer periods of drought.

“South Canterbury’s Opuha dam, the most recent dedicated water storage facility which started operating in the late 1990’s, has proven itself by insulating South Canterbury from drought.

“It is schemes like Opuha, such as Ruataniwha now being proposed in the Hawke’s Bay, which New Zealand needs to build resilience into our economy and society. 

“The constant for water remains irrespective of what current land uses are or what they could be in the future. 

“There are three basics to growing pasture and crops and they are soils, sunlight and water.  While many countries have the first two, it is water, or the lack of it, which limits food production in a world where the supply and demand for food is on a knife edge.

“Stored rain water provides the means to maintain minimum river flows.  Water storage is as much environmental infrastructure as it is economic.  Every region should be looking at storing rain water and many currently are. 

“Aside from being a net food exporter in a world of increasing food shortage, New Zealanders can be very proud that our farmers are among the most carbon efficient in the world. 

“Our leadership extends to our country’s role in the Global Research Alliance on agricultural greenhouse gases and the Palmerston North based Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium. . .

New Zealand contributes a tiny percentage of the world’s carbon emissions.

An unusually high percentage of those emission come from producing food for the world. even though we are among the most carbon efficient in the world.

Farmers are investing in research to reduce emissions and become even more efficient.

Many also want to invest in drought-proofing measures like water storage.

Ironically some of the strongest opposition to irrigation and water storage comes from people who are most certain about climate change.

Many of these support measures which owe a lot more to bureaucracy and politics than science in attempting to counter climate change and oppose proven developments which will help food producers adapt to whatever the weather, or the climate, throws at us.

More jobs, new vehicles in 2013


The good news continues:

Almost 252,000 new job opportunities were advertised in 2013, an increase on 2012 and proof the job market continues to improve, shows data released by SEEK.

. . . May was the best month to secure a role in 2013, with a total of 23,888 job opportunities advertised. Predictably, December had the lowest number of job ads as businesses wound down in the lead up to Christmas and hiring was postponed until the New Year.

“We saw growth in numerous industries, particularly Trades & Services which is always a strong performer, and Real Estate as the property market in many cities grew,” says Janet Faulding, General Manager of SEEK New Zealand.

Interestingly, Design and Architecture experienced the biggest increase in jobs available across the nation, with a 59% surge in opportunities.

“With the onset of a growing property market in both the residential and commercial sectors, it came as no surprise that the Design and Architecture industry gained significant ground,” says Ms Faulding.

The top three classifications in terms of greatest number of jobs available in 2013 were Information and Communication Technology, Trades and Services and Administration and Office Support roles, collectively representing over 30% of the job market. The Information and Communication Technology sector alone had almost 40,000 jobs advertised during 2013.

Trades and Services personnel were in demand with over 20,000 jobs advertised in the last 12 months, with significant growth in the Labourers, Maintenance and Handyperson and Building Trades sub classifications. In addition, there were over 18,000 Admin and Office Support roles advertised in 2013. . .

Employment has been lagging behind other indicators of economic resurgence so the increase in jobs advertised is very good news.

Another positive indicator is the highest  increase in new vehicle sales since 1984:

“Final registration data for 2013 is in and it confirms a strong finish to the end of a strong year for new vehicle sales, with 113,117 registrations, a significant increase of 12,322 vehicles (12.2%) over 2012, and the highest annual sales since 1984”, said Mr David Crawford, Chief Executive Officer of the Motor Industry Association.

“2013 will likely be remembered as the year in which the NZ economy finally left the starting line on the path to economic recovery from a number of setbacks including the 2008/09 financial crisis and restrictions on supply of new vehicles following 2011 floods in Thailand and the 2011 tsunami in Japan” say Mr Crawford.

“Commercial registrations of 2,405 were a massive 45.8% (756 units) ahead of December 2012 and were the highest December registrations ever. December passenger car registrations of 6,371 were the highest monthly total since 1976 the year after the MIA began collating industry numbers” he said. . .

A North Otago vehicle dealer told me his 2013 sales were up 40% on 2012 and many of the new vehicles sold were commercial.

He said most were going to farmers and those who service and supply them including the tradespeople who are still busy building new farm houses and dairy sheds.

NZ will be rockstar in 2014


New Zealand’s economic growth has been recognised by HSBC:

New Zealand will be the “rockstar” economy of 2014, with growth set to outpace most of its developed markets peers, according to HSBC, a stark contrast with neighboring Australia, which is struggling to maintain economic momentum.

“We think New Zealand will be the rockstar economy of 2014. Growth is going to pick up pretty solidly this year,” Paul Bloxham, chief economist for Australia and New Zealand at HSBC told CNBC Asia’s “Squawk Box” on Monday.

(Read more: Rate hike talk boosts New Zealand dollar)

HSBC forecasts the economy will grow 3.4 percent in 2014 – the fastest pace since 2007 and well above trend growth of 2.5 percent. For 2013, the economy is expected to post growth of 3.0 percent, according to the bank.

There are three key factors supporting faster expansion, said Bloxham.

The first is spending on construction, including the rebuilding of Canterbury region that was ravaged by an earthquake in February 2011. “There’s an enormous amount of construction that’s going into building that region of the economy,” he said.

Reconstruction spending is not expected to peak until 2017, and should continue to boost the economy for some time, Capital Economics wrote in a recent note.

(Read more: We can’t influence ‘currency war’: New Zealand)

The second driver is the country’s housing boom that has been fueled by low interest rates and a wave of net immigration over the past year.

While the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) tightened rules around home loans in October and is likely to begin hiking rates in the coming months, economists expect residential investment will remain robust.

The final factor is rising dairy prices – driven by strong demand out of China – which is supporting rural incomes, noted Bloxham. New Zealand is the top dairy exporter accounting for around a third of the world’s trade in dairy products. . . 

Tempering the good news are concerns about slowing down in the economies of our two biggest trading partners, China and Australia, and the probably increase in the value of our dollar.

. . . Nevertheless, many investment strategists recommend betting on assets that are set to benefit from the country’s economic surge – in particular the New Zealand dollar, informally known as the kiwi.

Kathy Lien managing director of BK Asset Management, for instance, has identified the kiwi, as the “hottest” currency of 2014.

(Read more: This could be the hottest currency trade of 2014)

“Of all the major currencies our favorite is the New Zealand dollar because in addition to talking about raising interest rates this year, the Reserve Bank also laid out a plan to bring rates from the record low of 2.5 percent to 4.75 percent by the first quarter of 2016,” Lien wrote in a note last week.

“No other major central bank is as hawkish as the RBNZ and with a high and growing yield, the New Zealand dollar should attract a significant amount of investment this year. What makes New Zealand dollar even more attractive is that demand will be supported by growth,” she added.

A higher dollar makes exports less competitive and makes travelling here more expensive for tourists.

But it also maintains the value of earnings and savings and keeps the price of imports lower – that’s not just luxuries but necessities like fuel, medical supplies, vehicles, building materials and machinery and it reduces imported inflation.

January 7 in history


1325 – Alfonso IV became King of Portugal.

1558 – France took Calais, the last continental possession of England.

1610 – Galileo Galilei observed the four largest moons of Jupiter for the first time.

1782 The first American commercial bank, the Bank of North America, opened.

1785 Frenchman Jean-Pierre Blanchard and American John Jeffries travelled from Dover, to Calais, in a gas balloon.

1827 Sir Sandford Fleming, Canadian engineer; introduced Universal Standard Time, was born (d. 1915).

1835 HMS Beagle dropped anchor off the Chonos Archipelago.

1894 W.K. Dickson received a patent for motion picture film.

1895 – Sir Hudson Fysh, Australian aviator and co-founder of QANTAS, was born  (d. 1974).

1904 The distress signalCQD” was established but replaced two years later by “SOS“.

1912 – Charles Addams,American cartoonist, was born (d. 1988).

1925 – Gerald Durrell, British naturalist , was born  (d. 1995).

1927 The first transatlantic telephone call was made – from New York to London.

1931 Australian Guy Menzies completed the first Trans-Tasman flight when he flew from Sydneyand crash-landed in a swamp at Harihari on the West Coast.

Completion of first trans-Tasman solo flight

1943 Sir Richard Armstrong, British conductor, was born.

1948  Kenny Loggins, American singer, was born.

1951 Helen Worth, British actress, was born.

1953 President Harry Truman announced that the United States had developed the hydrogen bomb.

1954 Georgetown-IBM experiment: the first public demonstration of a machine translation system, was held in New York at the head office of IBM.

1960 The Polaris missile was test launched.

1968  Surveyor 7, the final spacecraft in the Surveyor series, lifted off from launch complex 36A, Cape Canaveral.

1980 President Jimmy Carter authorised legislation giving $1.5 billion in loans to bail out the Chrysler Corporation.

1984 Brunei became the sixth member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

1993 The Fourth Republic of Ghana was inaugurated with Jerry Rawlings as President.

1999The impeachment of President Bill Clinton started.

2010 – – Muslim gunmen in Egypt opened fire on a crowd of Coptic Christians leaving church after celebrating a midnight Christmas mass, killing eight of them as well as one Muslim bystander.

2012 – A hot air balloon crashed near Carterton, New Zealand, killing all 11 people on board.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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