Rural round-up

Farming app in running for award – Phillipa Webb:

A Manawatu-developed smartphone app could see dairy farmers spending more time on smartphones and less time in paddocks.

The Grass2Milk app developed by the OneFarm Centre of Excellence in Farm Business Management – a joint venture by Massey and Lincoln universities – was shortlisted in the environmental category of the 2014 World Summit Award mobile competition.

Massey University agri-business student Hamish Hammond helped to test the app, which allowed farmers to see whether herds were fed enough to reach daily milk and body condition targets to plan feed allocations for the day.

“Most farmers would be really intuitive when it comes to feeding, but they could use [the app] as a gauge.” . . .

China deal factor in Fonterra’s lower credit rating – Sally Rae:

Fonterra’s credit rating has taken a hit following the announcement of its proposed partnership with a Chinese infant food manufacturer.

Credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s has lowered the dairy co-operative’s long-term rating from A+ to A and affirmed its short-term rating of A-1.

Last week, Fonterra said it was forming a global partnership with Beingmate to help meet China’s growing demand for infant formula.

Fonterra’s proposed sizable shareholding in a commercial company operating in China indicated a financial risk appetite that was ”more aggressive” than Standard and Poor’s had factored into the previous rating, credit analyst Brenda Wardlaw said in a statement. . . .

Teasing out the beta-casein evidence – Keith Woodford:

In last week’s column I advocated that the mainstream dairy industry should convert New Zealand herds away from the production of A1 beta-casein. To not do so creates unnecessary long term risk to the industry. However, the mainstream industry remains locked into a defensive position.

In this article I will therefore briefly review some of the major strands of health evidence. I cannot cover it all – it took me a whole book to do so back in 2007. Since then, there has been a lot more evidence forthcoming.

In assessing the evidence, it is helpful to recognise that A1 beta-casein is the consequence of a historical mutation. Goats, sheep camels, buffalo, Asian cattle and humans produce beta-casein that is totally of the A2 type. It is only cows of European ancestry which produce A1 beta-casein. . .

Allied Farmers back in black as livestock unit grows – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Allied Farmers, which is rebuilding from a disastrous takeover of the Hanover and United Finance loan books, returned to profit as its core livestock unit lifted income with gains in Taranaki and Waikato.

The Hawera-based company reported a profit of $1.03 million, or 1.03 cents per share, in the 12 months ended June 30, turning around a loss of $1.12 million, or 2.94 cents, a year earlier, it said in a statement. Revenue in the slimmed down entity shrank 38 percent to $16.9 million.

“The focus for the coming year will be to continue to grow the livestock business and to leverage off the client relationships and trust that exists with those clients to provide value for money services,” chairman Garry Bluett said. “The effect of the reduced dairy payout is likely to have some uncertain impact on dairy livestock sales going forward and the continuing high dollar is already having some impact on meat exports at the early stage of this season.” . . .

 New Zealand firm creates health focused flavoured milk; export potential:

Christchurch-based New Zealand Dairy Brands believes it is a world leader in its sector in the production of health products with the launch of its highly innovative Go Milk flavoured milks.

The range has no added sugar, a low GI (glycaemic loading) and is low fat, making it suitable for diabetics and excellent in the fight against obesity. The product was a recent finalist in the NZIFST awards in the product innovation category.

Just released on New World and Pak n Save supermarket shelves in New Zealand, a trial export shipment of Go Milk has already been sent to China and the product is destined for the Australian market also. . . .

 Compass points new crop direction – Gregor Heard:

RESEARCHERS are excited about the prospects of a new barley variety set to be commercialised next year.

Speaking at a trial walk at last week’s Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) grower update in Horsham, Birchip Cropping Group research agronomist Simon Craig said the Compass variety, developed by the University of Adelaide research team and commercialised by Seednet, showed outstanding promise.

“It looks to have a very good fit right across a range of low to medium rainfall zones.” . . .

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