Greens are dangerous

January 26, 2014

Quote of the day:

Greens are la-la dreamers. I wasn’t going to make comment but then thought better. Their idealism is naive but it’s not harmless. It’s dangerous. So this year it needs to be exposed as regularly as it appears. Lindsay Mitchell

Labour has been trying to out-red the Greens in order to shore up their left flank.

That will be difficult.

The Green Party trades on its association with the environment.

But that’s just a cover for its foundation of radical socialist economic and social policies which are anything but sustainable – economically, environmentally or socially.


Word of the day

January 26, 2014

Roisterer – one who roisters, acts in a swaggering, boisterous, or uproarious manner; one who revels noisily or without restraint; an especially noisy and unrestrained merrymaker.

Hat tip: Richard


Rural round-up

January 26, 2014

Girls rule on South Otago dairy farm – Sally Rae:

Who needs a man?

For South Otago dairy farm manager Kara-Lee Clark (33) and farm worker Ashleigh McKechnie (19), assisted by two other female relieving staff when needed, being part of an all-women team is just normal.

The diminutive duo milk 340 cows on a 120ha property, owned by the Clark family near Milton. They are particularly proud of the herd of predominantly large Friesians.

”We get a bit of a hard time about that. They are big cows and we’re not the biggest of people,” Miss Clark said.

Being a female farm manager at the local Milton farm discussion group was quite a rarity, although she was not sure how unusual it was further afield.

When she embarked on a career in the dairy industry, after spending nine and a-half years working as a veterinary nurse at Clutha Vets in Balclutha, Miss Clark admitted she had a lot to prove to her family. . .

Initial trapping survey results in:

The first trapping results for Queensland Fruit Fly in Whangarei have shown no suspect flies detected in all 83 traps in Zone A and in all 90 lure traps from outside the controlled zones.

MPI Deputy Director-General Compliance and Response, Andrew Coleman, says “It’s a good early result but it’s important not to get complacent. We have still got a number of days to go before we know for sure whether there is a breeding population or not.”

The Whangarei community has been hugely supportive and to date has placed 180kgs of restricted produce in bins in Zone A and 70kgs in Zone B.

“We are very appreciative of this support,” Mr Coleman says. “It is vital that material that could contain the fly is not taken out of the zone, just in case there is a breeding population present in the area, which takes in Parihaka, Riverside and parts of central Whangarei.”

This insect is an unwanted and notifiable organism that could have serious consequences for New Zealand’s horticultural industry. It can damage a wide range of fruit and vegetables.

Insecticide ruling brings challenge – Richard Rennie:

The clock is ticking for researchers trying to find an alternative for a broad-spectrum insecticide destined to be phased out by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

Following a reassessment of the use of organophosphates and carbamates in New Zealand’s crop and pastoral sector a number are scheduled to be phased out, because the authority considers their impact on human and environmental health to be unacceptable.

A key insecticide set to go by July 2028 is diazinon, which plays a critical role in controlling grass grub in pasture.

The authority issued its ruling on diazinon’s phase-out in the middle of last year but the long lead time to develop alternative chemicals to combat grass grub has researchers scrambling to develop alternatives. . .

Fast soil makes for bigger sink:

Rapidity in the natural world is relative; yet, while the latest findings from a research collaboration between Lincoln University and the University of Washington can hardly speak of comet-like quickness, it does shatter prevailing views, with implications for climate change as well.

Samples collected from western slopes of the Southern Alps have revealed that soil – the chemically and biologically active skin on the Earth’s surface – can be produced from mountainous bedrock almost twice as fast as previously thought. A subsequent proportional increase in chemical weathering of the soil was also observed.

The findings are important, as eroding mountainous regions account for over half of the world’s sediment production. If that sediment is produced by the formation of soil, rather than just slabs of bedrock collapsing off slopes as landslides, there is much greater potential for atmospheric carbon to be stored. This is significant because mountains play the role of carbon sinks – natural reservoirs that can accumulate and store atmospheric carbon. . .

Diesel from dust: using low fertility soils for biodiesel crops:

The escalating issue around peak oil in the context of the far-reaching global demand for fossil fuels is nothing new. Likewise, the increasing pressure this demand places on sourcing alternative fuels is also well established. One option is biofuels.

Producing biofuels comes with its own problems. There can be issues around an inability of supply to meet demand (such as is the case with tallow), but there can also be resistance to using productive land for biofuels instead of using it for growing food.

To meet these challenges, and in the interest of accelerating the young biodiesel industry in New Zealand, Professor of Ecology,  Steve Wratten at the Bio-Protection Research Centre has been heading up a research team to explore ways of growing plants suitable for biodiesel. More specifically, however, the aim is to find ways to grow these plants on low fertility soils and in such a way as to require minimal fertiliser inputs. . .

My old friend is telling me his twilight time is coming near #horses – Mad Bush Farm:

My old friend I’ve had for over eight years has grown very old. Over the last few days his walk has become slower, and the sparkle in his eye is gradually being replaced by that look that says “I’m tired and soon I will go to my forever sleep” I called him this morning from the other side of the farm. Usually, he would be the first one to arrive at a gallop, knowing he would be put onto some lush grass for the day . The ponies do not need it, but old Ed at over 30 years of age needs the best possible pasture each day. Today though, it took him a very long time, longer than usual. He had stiffly made his way back to where I was. I took him nearly 20 minutes to reach me. All four legs have developed arthritis in the last few weeks, and he’s lost some condition. Why? The answer is very simple. He is just very, very, old. It means now for me, I may have to say goodbye to a loyal equine friend I love very deeply. . .


Invitation

January 26, 2014

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Invitation
©2014 Brian Andreas at Story People.
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Generation Lamb

January 26, 2014

Australian Lambassador Sam Kekovich does it again for Australia Day:

SAM Kekovich is about to hit our TV screens again with his annual Australia Day Address to the Nation, his 10th year in a row as “Lambassador”.

In the past he has launched a music video, set out on “dip-lamb-attic” missions to encourage the rest of the world “to be more Australian” and sparked a trans-Tasman furore over his remarks about New Zealand’s former prime minister.

This year he breaks with entertainment convention and is working with both animals and children when he is seen thrusting a lamb chop into the hands of a child or “Generation Lamb” in an irreverent ad which also features a swipe at the remaining original Wiggle and a giant baby crushing a vegan barbecue. . .

A decade down the track Kekovich still takes the campaign with a grain of salt – and maybe a touch of pepper and some tomato sauce.

“I’ve always been fighting the good fight for lamb, there is no doubt about that,” said the former Australian Rules footballer on Thursday. . .


Cotton-woolling children more dangerous in long-run

January 26, 2014

A small country school was told by a visiting inspector to replace it’s barbed-wire fence in case one of the children hurt themselves on it.

The principal said that was the point.

These were country kids, they knew about barbed-wire and the fence was to keep them off the road.

The inspector was also concerned about pine trees in the playground in case the children climbed them.

The principal said they did climb them – just as they climbed trees at home.

The principal had the backing of her board and other parents – and now they have the backing of research:

Chaos may reign at Swanson Primary School with children climbing trees, riding skateboards and playing bullrush during playtime, but surprisingly the students don’t cause bedlam, the principal says.

The school is actually seeing a drop in bullying, serious injuries and vandalism, while concentration levels in class are increasing.

Principal Bruce McLachlan rid the school of playtime rules as part of a successful university experiment.

“We want kids to be safe and to look after them, but we end up wrapping them in cotton wool when in fact they should be able to fall over.”

Letting children test themselves on a scooter during playtime could make them more aware of the dangers when getting behind the wheel of a car in high school, he said.

“When you look at our playground it looks chaotic. From an adult’s perspective, it looks like kids might get hurt, but they don’t.”

Life is chaotic and play is a very good way for children to learn how to deal with it.

Swanson School signed up to the study by AUT and Otago University just over two years ago, with the aim of encouraging active play.

However, the school took the experiment a step further by abandoning the rules completely, much to the horror of some teachers at the time, he said.

When the university study wrapped up at the end of last year the school and researchers were amazed by the results.

Mudslides, skateboarding, bullrush and tree climbing kept the children so occupied the school no longer needed a timeout area or as many teachers on patrol.

Instead of a playground, children used their imagination to play in a “loose parts pit” which contained junk such as wood, tyres and an old fire hose.

“The kids were motivated, busy and engaged. In my experience, the time children get into trouble is when they are not busy, motivated and engaged. It’s during that time they bully other kids, graffiti or wreck things around the school.”

Parents were happy too because their children were happy, he said.

Children need freedom to play and experiment and let off steam.

But this wasn’t a playtime revolution, it was just a return to the days before health and safety policies came to rule.

AUT professor of public health Grant Schofield, who worked on the research project, said there are too many rules in modern playgrounds.

“The great paradox of cotton-woolling children is it’s more dangerous in the long-run.”

Society’s obsession with protecting children ignores the benefits of risk-taking, he said.

It’s far better for children to learn from small risks with relatively harmless consequences when they’re younger than big risks with serious, possibly fatal consequences when they’re older.

Children develop the frontal lobe of their brain when taking risks, meaning they work out consequences. “You can’t teach them that. They have to learn risk on their own terms. It doesn’t develop by watching TV, they have to get out there.”

A few might learn from other people’s mistakes but most of us have to be the other people.

The research project morphed into something bigger when plans to upgrade playgrounds were stopped due to over-zealous safety regulations and costly play equipment.

“There was so many ridiculous health and safety regulations and the kids thought the static structures of playgrounds were boring.”

When researchers – inspired by their own risk-taking childhoods – decided to give children the freedom to create their own play, principals shook their heads but eventually four Dunedin schools and four West Auckland schools agreed to take on the challenge, including Swanson Primary School.

It was expected the children would be more active, but researchers were amazed by all the behavioural pay-offs. The final results of the study will be collated this year.

Schofield urged other schools to embrace risk-taking. “It’s a no brainer. As far as implementation, it’s a zero-cost game in most cases. All you are doing is abandoning rules,” he said.

There’s a lesson here and not just for children and schools.

Some rules and laws imposed for safety’s sake are necessary but too many are counter-productive.

Trying to cotton wool society is just as dangerous in the long-run  as cotton-woolling children.

It might reduce risk but it also reduces people’s willingness and ability to think and take responsibility for themselves and the consequences of their actions.

Exactly where the line between too little and too much lies is a moot point.

This research shows it had been crossed and it’s good that the school had the courage to act on that.


Collaborative clean-ups

January 26, 2014

A collaborative effort has cleaned up a water way:

A South Canterbury stream once written off as a trout fishery because of dairy farming is again attracting anglers, thanks to the efforts of farmers and the community to keep stock out and replant the stream banks.

Before intensive irrigated dairy farming arrived, the Waikakahi Stream was something of a local anglers’ secret, far less known than the nearby Waitaki, but renowned for the quality of its trout.

“They were reported to be ‘the best fish in the country’ and they had a particularly dark orange flesh supposedly because of the freshwater crayfish (koura) that they preyed upon,” said Fish and Game officer Graeme Hughes.

But that changed, Hughes said, about a decade ago when suddenly the koura disappeared and trout numbers plummeted.

“What brought it to our attention was a farmer wintered his cows in there without fences and they just crossed backwards and forwards and it was unrecognisable as a stream.

“We took it to ECan (Environment Canterbury) and said, ‘look what’s going on here’.

“The farmer was soundly reprimanded and we began a rehabilitation planting scheme for that particular area that was completely devastated with cows and runoff and there wasn’t a plant round it – it was like a stream running through a muddy football field.”

With stock now excluded and the riparian strip planted in native trees and shrubs, the Waikakahi has been transformed from a muddy, weed infested creek into a far healthier waterway.

“Within a short time he had up to about 90 per cent of the farmers co- operating which was pretty exceptional really and probably eight to nine years after this work started, the results were quite astounding,” said Hughes. . . .

A recent study by Cawthron Institute scientist Robin Holmes confirmed the Waikakahi is returning to health. The project concentrated on structural habitat of the stream rather than water quality.

“Basically it shows that habitat in the creek has gone from what was described as a ground zero farm ditch to now it’s actually supporting a good fishery through the efforts of farmers,” Holmes said.

“It definitely goes against the current tide ongoing in the media about dairy farmers and it’s a nice example of Fish and Game and dairy farmers working together and coming up with a solution that everyone’s happy with. The creek’s gone from an A class fishery, down to a D class fishery and now it gets a C+.” . . .

But that’s just the start:

. . . Morven Glenavy Ikawai Irrigation company (MGI) chairman Robin Murphy said farmer shareholders now wanted to take the restoration to the next level and that it was important to keep monitoring the Waikakahi Stream.

“People are getting very efficient with the irrigation and also the nutrient loadings and how they put their fertiliser on. There’s a whole big effort going in there and it’s crucial to monitor that change to see what actually does happen.

“If we can save ourselves costs of putting nitrogen on or minimising nitrate loss and utilising it, that’s got to be a very good option for the farming community.” . . .

Poor farming practices degraded the waterway. A collaborative effort with farmers has improved it and will continue to do so.

There’s another good news story on cleaner water from further north.

Lake Rotoiti has reached its water quality target.

The Rotorua Lakes clean-up has made further progress with the announcement that the water quality of Lake Rotoiti is the best it’s been in decades.

The long-term programme is aimed at restoring the lakes that have suffered years of pollution from sewage discharges and nutrient run-off from farms.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council lake operations manager Andy Bruere says Lake Rotoiti has now joined the biggest of the lakes, Rotorua, in reaching the water quality target. . . .

The regional council and community groups are continuing their investigation of long-term measures to reduce nutrient flows into the Rotorua lakes.

Water wasn’t degraded overnight and there’s no quick-fix but these two examples show that a collaborative clean-up efforts are working and provide a model for areas which need to do better.


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