Rural round-up

US trials bring GM ryegrass a step closer – Esther Taunton:

Kiwi researchers running overseas trials of genetically modified ryegrass say their field work has taken an important step forward.

In initial trials in New Zealand, the GM grass grew up to 50 per cent faster than conventional ryegrass, stored more energy for better animal growth, was more resistant to drought, and produced up to 23 per cent less methane from livestock.

Modelling also predicted lower urinary nitrate leaching and lower emissions of another greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide. . .

Tararua exotic sheep flock at Wimbledon grows to 300 – Christine Mckay:

It’s a secret farmer Brian Hales doesn’t hide. He loves a taste of the exotic.

Now his Wimbledon flock of exotic, rare and historic sheep has grown to 300, with 18 breeds represented.

“Wherever possible, I try to replicate their natural environment,” he said.

The latest addition to the Hales flock are Stewart Island sheep. . .

Dairy’s plan to succeed :

 Choosing 15 dairy farmers as NZ’s climate change ambassadors is the next step in the dairy sector’s plan for a culture of climate-conscious agribusiness, says DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle.

Waikato Federated Farmers Vice President Jacqui Hahn is one of 15 dairy farmers chosen as New Zealand’s climate change ambassadors.

“These 15 men and women represent best environmental farming practice for their farm system,” says Mackle.  . .

Finding right formula for farm fertiliser – Joyce Wyllie:

An early morning phone call. Jock answers wandering out into pre-dawn darkness to give a report on weather conditions. Looking for shifting leaves, sensing air movement and  trusting gut feeling he gives his opinion to the caller.

Weather in Nelson is quite different from West Coast Golden Bay so Richard, the topdressing pilot , rings for an on-the-spot update. No amount of cyber forecasts and analysing isobar lines on maps compare with advice from an experienced observer standing out on the dewy lawn.  

If the decision is that it will be a fine calm day the plane buzzes in about 40 minutes later and lands on the all weather runway in our aptly named Airstrip Paddock. . . 

Science says yes to eating fruit and vegetables – Amber Pankonin:

As a registered dietitian and nutrition educator, I spend a lot of time addressing myths about food and nutrition. Today we have more consumers asking specific questions about where food comes from and how it is produced. Even though I often encourage these types of questions, activist organizations and documentaries that spread false messages about agricultural practices make my job much more complicated when I talk with consumers about getting enough fruits and vegetables in their diet.

Since the mid-90s, the U.S.-based Environmental Working Group has published a list known as the “Dirty Dozen.” This list contains 12 fruits and vegetables believed to contain the highest amount of pesticide residues (trace amounts). Strawberries, spinach and nectarines top the list followed by other popular favorites such as apples, tomatoes and potatoes. The “Dirty Dozen” encourages consumers to purchase organic varieties of these particular fruits and vegetables instead of those grown conventionally. Every year this list receives attention from the media and every year I find myself addressing consumer concerns because of it. The headlines about the “Dirty Dozen” and pesticide risk are often misleading and can easily plant seeds of doubt when it comes to consuming healthy fruits and vegetables . .

 

Threats to supply management concern dairy farmers– Steve Arnold:

To Dave Loewith and his relatives, it’s a threat to the business model that has given them a level of financial security that many farmers can only imagine.

His parents, Joe and Minna, took up dairy farming just outside Hamilton, Ont., in 1938. They escaped Europe just ahead of the Nazi hordes by promising to farm in Canada for five years. They moved to their current location in Lynden – between Hamilton and Brantford – in 1947. Today, Dave Loewith and his brother Carl are partners in the venture. . .

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