Rural round-up

Show Me Sustainable Dairy Farming:

Pakotai dairy farmers, Rachel & Greig Alexander, winners of the 2015 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Supreme Award, are hosting a field day at their Award winning property at 3305 Mangakahia Road on Thursday 7th May 2015.

Their dairy farm will be open to all interested parties, commencing at 10.30am, with the day concluding with a light lunch at approximately 1.30pm.

The field day will provide the opportunity for visitors to learn how Rachel and Greig interpret ‘sustainability’ in their farming business. The Alexanders will explain how they incorporate sustainability into their day to day operation while still achieving bottom line profitability across the farming business, which also includes a beef operation and forestry. . .

Farming finalists a family success:

One of the three finalists for a major Maori farming award has opened its gates to visitors for a field day.

Mangaroa Station, about an hour inland from Wairoa, is a finalist in this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy for Maori excellence in sheep and beef farming.

Owners Bart and Nukuhia Hadfield showed judges the farm and stock yesterday and are running the field day today.

Mr Hadfield said the history of how the couple came to own the station was a major part of their entry into the awards. . .

NZ cow’s milk product wows Mexican dermatologists:

Hamilton-based company, Quantec Ltd, has successfully launched its world-first anti-acne cream to hundreds of Mexican dermatologists in Mexico City this month.

Quantec’s product, a clinically-proven anti-acne cream derived from cow’s milk called Epiology, was first launched into New Zealand pharmacies in May 2014.

Quantec founder and managing director Dr Rod Claycomb said it was the product’s success nationally that spurred Quantec to swiftly take the product global. . .

The New Zealand Seafood Industry has lost a titan with the death of Philip Vela:

The New Zealand seafood industry has lost a titan with the death of Philip Vela.

“Philip Vela was an early pioneer in the development of the hoki, orange roughy, tuna and squid fisheries. He continued to be a major player and innovator in New Zealand fisheries – a business where only the strongest of the strong have survived over these past 40 years,” Deepwater Group chief executive George Clement said.

“As such, the New Zealand seafood industry owes Philip and his brother Peter a huge debt. . .

Battle For Our Birds a great success:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says the success of the Battle For Our Birds programme is a welcome victory for endangered native species.

The Department of Conservation today released preliminary monitoring results for the eight-month long anti-predator campaign.

“There are thousands more native birds alive today than there would have been without the work done by DOC’s Battle For Our Birds last summer,” Ms Barry says.

“If we had done nothing and treated it as business as usual, the rat and stoat plague accompanying last year’s beech mast would have wiped out local populations of some of our rarest birds such as the kakariki, mohua/yellowhead or whio/blue duck.” . .

On the road again – RCNZ workshops being held in May:

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) will be on the road again this May updating its members on the latest changes in health and safety, transport and employment laws – as well as other topics – in a series of roadshows being held around the country during May.

RCNZ chief executive Roger Parton says the roadshow presentation will cover off the proposed new Health & Safety legislation and regulations, the Safer Farms programme and Codes of Practice for using tractors and other self propelled agricultural vehicles and what these changes will mean for rural contractors. . .  

Farmers encouraged to check they are registered with Beef + Lamb New Zealand for referendum vote:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) is encouraging farmers to check they are registered to vote in the sheep and beef levy referendum that will be held later this year.

All sheep, beef and dairy farmers will be able to vote on continuing to invest in programmes run by B+LNZ, which are designed to support a confident sector with improved farm productivity, profitability and performance.

B+LNZ Chief Executive Dr Scott Champion said it’s important that famers ensure they are on the roll and that their details are up to date. . .

OVERSEER 6.2’s new irrigation module now live through the new OVERSEER website:

OVERSEER 6.2 went live last night after a month-long OVERSEER road show that attracted hundreds of farmers and farm advisers willing to learn how to use the new irrigation module.

Full technical notes and the updated Data Input Standards have been released with OVERSEER 6.2 through a brand new website and OVERSEER’s General Manager Dr Caroline Read says users have everything they need to get up to speed.

“We’ve been working with IrrigationNZ since the start of the year to forewarn irrigators that OVERSEER 6.2 would be launched this month. Regional councils in popular irrigation areas have also been getting the message out. Farmers and growers can now work with their advisers to make sure their OVERSEER data is in line with what the new irrigation module requires,” says Dr Read. . .

5 Responses to Rural round-up

  1. Mr E says:

    Great Rural Round up Ele,

    More regional winners of the Ballance Farm Environment awards are dairy farmers. Of course these awards recognise all aspects of sustainability, environment as well as financial and social. And with this well rounded consideration, dairy farmers continue to take out awards.

    More native birds are alive today as a result of the hard work of NZers. Good good.

    But what I want to talk about is Overseer.

    Canterbury farmers have a Land and Regional plan that requires them to use Overseer 6.0 to determine nutrient losses and react accordingly. In that plan the Council has divided up the region into purple, red, orange, green and blue. Each of these allocation areas has to react differently according to their nutrient outputs.

    Overseer has just changed to version 6.2, incorporating irrigation. According to the article, ‘OVERSEER 6.2 may result in increased nitrate loss estimates for some irrigated properties’

    What does that mean for irrigated farmers? The standards just got harder to meet. Some might think that is fine, but the truth is the rules were based on the old model – now the new model has been released ECAN should go through the process of establishing a new goal posts for the industry. They should not expect farmers to measure themselves tougher when the goal posts were based on the old model outcomes. If they expect 6.2 to be used the RMA needs to be tested again.

    Herein lies one of the issues of using Overseer to regulate. The model keeps changing. And history would show the outcomes dont change by small amounts. They can change by 10% or more.

    I’ve heard industry leaders say – “it is the best tool we have”. That may well be the case. But having an unsatisfactory tool does not mean you should use it. Would you cut down a tree with a pocket knife simply because it was the best tool you have? No. You would wait until you had a better tool. A satisfactory tool. Overseer is not satisfactory for regulation. Nearly everyone knows it, but hardly anyone is talking about it.

    “If Overseer is to be used within a regulatory framework, regulators must acknowledge that outputs of nutrient use and movement are indeed estimates which have an inherent margin of error and that as Overseer evolves different estimates from Overseer may be produced which don’t reflect an actual change in farm nutrient losses but rather a change in the way those estimates are made and therefore quantified.”
    Dr Tessa Mills.

    This is not how ECAN are using the model.
    This is not how ORC are using the model.

    The sheer nature of setting allocation zones ignores “estimates which have an inherent margin of error”. Farmers may well be punished- regulated – devalued because of the margin of error which has been estimated at up to 30%.

    Let me ask – would the public except a speeding ticket for 130km/hr, as a result of a visual estimate from a Police officer when they were indeed travelling at 100km/hr? There would be an uproar.


  2. Mr E says:

    Expanding on the above analogy.
    Imagine if that person -fined for doing 130km/hr is now convicted of a crime. It effects his or her ability to get employment.

    That is what we have with Overseer – an inaccurate tool that is being used to regulate that will hurt some peoples livelihoods. Good people, people doing nothing wrong will be hurt by errors in this tool.

    Is that acceptable? Is that morally the right thing to do? No I think not.


  3. farmerbraun says:

    Mr E. , if it was my operation that was negatively affected by the use of Overseer in an inappropriate way , then I would be taking the matter through the courts , all the way if necessary.

    Property and property rights must be constantly defended.
    I have taken four such cases through the courts , and won all of them.
    The first was my right to use biological control for ragwort , instead of 2,4-D and pichloram.

    i won that case with some legal trickery , so the substantial issue was never canvassed.

    The second was a very large construction company claiming access to the river for metal taking. They lost.

    The riparian boundary ad medium filum was upheld , and subsequently the Supreme Court has ruled that the land under the water , ad medium filum , also belongs to the title holder.

    The third was an easement issue, where the servient tenement attempted to restrict my usage, and lost.

    Then there was the golf course which could not contain the effects of its operation within its boundary. A simple case of the tort of nuisance.

    Sooner or later someone must challenge Overseer.


  4. Mr E says:

    “Sooner or later someone must challenge Overseer.”

    I think it comes down to a ground swell of opponents against – if we all want to make a difference in this. That is why I am raising the issue.

    The Overseer model is owned in part by the Government (MPI), and state owned AgResearch. I believe that the use of government resources to unfairly harm tax payers should not happen. Not when obvious alternatives that can be taken.

    If the people that own Overseer – understand how unfair its use is, we can change it. The ability of Councils to use this tool could be changed with the flick of a switch.

    As a tax payer, as a land owner, as a stakeholder in the environment, as a voter, I am telling people, don’t support the way in which Overseer is being used. It is unfair on many and the Government should not tolerate it – Take note Ministers, MPI and AgResearch.

    Regarding whether it would survive a test in the Environment court, I don’t know. Testing it there could hurt the Councils rather than the owners of the model.

    But I think the owners of the model should know the issues before it gets to this stage. If need be – shut it down.


  5. TraceyS says:

    Perhaps another option might be for the Government to allow competition in the regulatory space. Then operators could select a service provider who has devised different methods to meet the same standard.

    Methods differ between regions so why not within them?


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