Rural round-up

Low methane producing sheep could be way forward for NZ – Brittany Pickett:

Sheep giving off lower methane emissions are being bred by scientists now looking to see if they can produce leaner meat and more lambs.

Methane from livestock is responsible for 33 per cent of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions. As part of international agreements, New Zealand is committed to cutting these emissions.

“New Zealand has the issue that they can’t do this by cutting urban emissions or planting trees,” AgResearch senior scientist Suzanne Rowe said.

Scientists at Invermay have been involved in a five year programme to measure whether breeding sheep for low methane is likely to affect reproduction, productivity and health. . .

Dairy farmers discovers the secret of a happy workforce – Esther Taunton:

Faced with a line-up of ‘zombies’ of his own making, dairy farmer Stuart Taylor knew something had to change.

“I looked at these beautiful young people who I’d promised a life and a career and I’d turned them into zombies,” he said.

“I’d made them work from 3am to 6pm and they were broken, the way we were doing things was broken.”

Speaking at DairyNZ’s Taranaki Rural Professional’s Conference in Inglewood, Taylor said the realisation that things weren’t working was the start of a culture change on his Rangitikei farm. . .

Labour manipulating farmers brilliantly over proposed water tax – Gerald Piddock:

Farmers have played right into Labour’s hands with their outcry over their water tax policy.

Last month has seen floods of claims, counter claims, accusations, conflated figures of its impact and downright hysteria in some quarters of the rural sector.

Thankfully, the vast majority of dairy farms in Waikato are dryland apart from a handful that irrigate in South Waikato, so it will have a minor effect on farmers in this region.

A cynical person would see the tax as a simple, clever vote grab of the urban sector by the Labour Party. . .

MPI sniffer dog joins stink bug fight:

A bug-sniffing detector dog introduced by the Ministry for Primary Industries will help stop the potentially devastating brown marmorated stink bug from making a home in New Zealand.

An MPI labrador (named Georgie) demonstrated her sniffing skills on stage today by locating dead stink bugs hidden in a harvesting machine at the New Zealand Winegrowers conference in Blenheim.

MPI will have two trained dogs ready to sniff out stink bugs this summer, including a specialist dog to assist with detecting the pest in the event of an incursion, says MPI Border Clearance Director Steve Gilbert. . .  

Irish Farmers seek government intervention – Allan Barber:

Just in case we thought European agriculture had changed its spots, there is some news out of the Republic of Ireland which has caught my attention. The President of the Irish Farmers Association has beseeched the Irish Minister of Agriculture to prevent cuts to the prices being paid for beef by the processors. To this point I have seen no reaction from the Minister, although it’s difficult to imagine he can do very much without contravening the EU’s common agricultural policy which of course will involve farmer subsidies of some sort.

If, as the IFA suggests, there is not enough competition between processors which are not paying full market returns, presumably there is provision in European competition law to investigate and penalise illegal behaviour. Apparently farm gate beef prices have fallen by more than Euros 100 per head in the last month which means farm incomes will drop sharply just in time for the peak autumn kill. . . 

Farmer cuts pesticide use with GMO brinjal  Md. Arif Hossain:

Bangladeshi farmer Milon Mia is in his second year of cultivating Bt brinjal, an eggplant genetically engineered to resist a devastating insect pest. He harvested about 7,055 pounds of Bt brinjal and made a profit of BDT 45,000 (US$556). When asked to comment about the crop, he said:

“I will not grow conventional variety brinjal even if I get free seed from the local stores, because you have to spray pesticide twice a week for those brinjal varieties. I hire laborers for spraying pesticides as they are harmful for health and affects a grower’s health.  . . 

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