Rural round-up

Leading bunch of female students contribute to solving nitrogen leaching problem – Pat Deavoll:

A group of super smart women is helping to find answers to one of the major environmental challenges facing farming – reducing nitrate leaching.

The PhD students  Kirsty Martin, Anna Carlton, Roshean Woods, Lisa Box, Elena Minnee, and Grace Cun have joined a team of scientists from AgResearch, DairyNZ, Foundation for Arable Research, Landcare Research, Lincoln University, and Plant and Food Research to investigate which forages would best reduce nitrate losses.

Based at the Lincoln University research dairy farm, Martin was researching the response of 12 pasture forages to nitrogen.  . .

Allbirds: the Kiwi shoes taking the world by storm – Niki Bezzant:

Food writer Kathy Paterson doesn’t need to think about which shoes to wear when she gets dressed in the morning. For the past year or more she has worn her “uniform” almost every day: casual wool shoes by online company Allbirds.

Paterson is an evangelist for the unusual sneakers, dubbed “the world’s most comfortable shoes” by Time magazine.

She has converted many others to wearing the New Zealand merino wool shoes, she reckons, and at Christmas she bought them as gifts for her parents and sister.

Paterson has two pairs in rotation. “They’re incredibly comfortable,” she says. “I do not take them off, winter and summer. . . 

Bovis cull will be devastating – Sally Rae:

The impact of the impending Mycoplasma bovis cattle cull on milk and beef supply nationally will be much smaller than the “devastating” impact on affected farmers, Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface says.

In the bank’s latest Agri Update, Ms Boniface said New Zealand’s dairy herd was about 4.8 million, so the population to be culled accounted for about 0.5%, well within usual seasonal variation in the dairy herd.

While processing capacity might be stretched temporarily at a regional level, there should be ample capacity nationwide to process the additional cow cull. . . 

Strong gales hit Ag Fest site – Laura Mills:

Contractors were out in howling winds and the dark last night to drop four marquees at the Ag Fest site at Greymouth aerodrome ahead of gale-force winds this morning.

The site was a hive of activity this morning as about 30 people helped stabilise tents damaged in the strong south-easterlies, as preparations resumed for the festival opening on Friday morning.

The wintry storm dumped snow on Arthur’s Pass, where the temperature fell to 0degC overnight, and a chilly 11degC in Greymouth this morning. . .

Rabobank Global Dairy Quarterly Q1 2018: turn the pressure down:

A robust import programme by Chinese buyers, combined with a weather-impacted New Zealand season, were the perfect ingredients for the short-term rally in Q1 2018. In the background, the export engine is firing on most other cylinders, as production growth expanded across all other regions, according to the latest RaboResearch report ‘Dairy Quarterly Q1 2018: ‘Turn the Pressure Down’.

The export engine has been running on most cylinders since mid-2017. However, weather risks have now been extended beyond New Zealand. Europe battled a cold front, Australia had localised bushfires, and there are drought conditions at play in Argentina.. . .

Te Mata Estate’s well-kept secret – vintage pickers – Astrid Austin:

Look in any one of Te Mata Estate’s vineyards and you will see a gang of hard-working pickers, although they may not be your average type – a little more vintage you could say.

More than 70 people, averaging 70 years old, but anywhere from early retirement age to well into their 80s, hand pick the winery’s grapes.

Te Mata Estate founder John Buck said: “They are people who epitomise what the unsung quality of Hawke’s Bay is really all about.

“They are just utterly fabulous, so they are a bit of a contrast to all the articles about picking-crew people. They give a lie to it, frankly. . .

The unloved Cinderella of science – Farah Hancock:

Climate change could make insect swarms an issue for New Zealand farmers and a lack of funding for long-term monitoring may mean we won’t have warning a swarm is likely to form.

Unlike other first world OECD countries, New Zealand doesn’t have long-term ecological research networks.

University of Auckland’s Dr Margaret Stanley said overseas research networks collect data on everything, from water and vegetation to insects. The data can predict potential changes based on a pest being introduced, or climate change which could trigger events such as a locust swarm.

Without data Stanley said: “We’re making decisions, puddling around in the dark a little, but not really understanding what’s going on.” . . .

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