Rural-round up

If bees go, so does our agricultural sector – study :

New Zealand’s agricultural sector stands to lose up to $700 million a year if bee numbers continue to fall, according to a new study.

Beehives have been declining in numbers across the world in recent years, including New Zealand, in a process known as colony collapse disorder (CCD). It’s not yet known what’s behind CCD.

Rather than calculate the financial impact using “desktop calculations around the value of crops and the dependency of those crops on pollinators”, researchers at Lincoln University instead went out to commercial fields and covered some of the plants, to see what impact it had in seed yields and fertilisation. . . 

NZ’s tech and agriculture crossover – building the talent pool – Sophie Stanley:

Agriculture used to be New Zealand’s main bread and butter.

Our small Pacific nation at the edge of the earth was bred on a “number eight wire” mentality, where ingenuity and resourcefulness was at the core of what we did, and the number of sheep was 10-fold the number of people.

Turning pieces of scrap metal into revolutionary ideas that caused the world to stand up and take notice is something we have always prided ourselves on. 

William Gallagher, one of the many legendary innovators who invented the trusty electric fence and lead the way in taking NZ agriculture into the future, personifies the very meaning of number 8 wire mentality. . . 

Irish shearer Ivan Scott breaks Kiwi Dion King’s world record

An Irish shearer has stolen the world record away from a Kiwi by just one lamb.

Ivan Scott broke a New Zealander’s world record with a total of 867 strongwool lambs in the UK on Sunday (local time).

The 35-year-old from Donegal, who has made New Zealand home for the shearing season, secured the title with a band of Kiwi helpers. . . 

Farmers quitting in droves and not happy about it – Andrew Marshall:

Agriculture’s fortunes might look pretty good for many at the moment, but more than a quarter of Australia’s farmers are likely to leave their farms by the end of this decade.

Ongoing research by the University of Canberra has also found farmers who are contemplating leaving their farming roles report “poorer wellbeing” compared to those who have no immediate thoughts of retirement or changing careers.

The university’s regional wellbeing study of 3000-plus farmers in 2014 found the 20,000 slump in producer numbers in the five years to 2011 (down to about 157,000) reflected a clear trend set in recent decades which was not slowing as productivity efficiency measures and farm sizes increased or farm income prospects looked up. . . 

Mackenzie Country closer to Heaven – Catherine Pattison:

A weekend away in the Mackenzie Country was just what the doctor ordered for motoring writer Catherine Pattison.

I am not a spiritual person in a religious sense but it was hard not to feel the presence of something divine after a weekend in the Mount Cook Village and the Mackenzie region.

Perhaps it was the peace and quiet, combined with the majesty of the surrounding peaks, including New Zealand’s highest mountain, the village’s namesake.

The tiny settlement has long held an appeal for tourists and mountaineers alike – enticed up the remote access road by the promise of stunning scenery or epic adventure. Nowadays the adventures are to be found within the thriving tourism industry operating from Mount Cook village. In the past, just reaching the destination was a feat of endurance. Displays at the Hermitage Hotel’s Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre describe the tourists who made the journey in 1906 as “arriving jolted almost insensible after a two-day coach trip from Fairlie”. The same journey 110 years later is a comfortable 90-minute car ride. . .

Going with the flow – Derek Grelewski:

I t’s been suggested that it’s the bicycle — not the iPhone, space shuttle or even the silent dishwasher — that is Western civilisation’s highest technological achievement.

The benefits are immeasurable: the fresh-air fitness and the wind in your hair, the scenery and peace, and the sheer pleasure of flowing along the trail at speed, leaning into corners, feeling your lips getting tired from the perpetual grin on your face.

When I moved to New Zealand in the mid-1980s, a mountain bike was one of the first things I got. I fitted it with panniers, a small tent and mobile kitchen, and clocked over 10,000km touring, ostensibly to choose a place to live.

This was how I first saw this land, and how I first came to Aoraki Mt Cook. So there is a memory-lane element to being here, looking at the mountain from a bike again, to sample the pleasures of the 300km Alps to Ocean Trail (the A2O) connecting Aoraki with Oamaru, flowing as the water does, from the mountains to the sea. . . 

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