365 days of gratitude


“What’s  for dinner?” My farmer asked.

It had been a big day and my reply was swift – “Anything as long as I don’t have to cook it.”

Tonight I’m grateful for an evening free of cooking duties.

Word of the day


Meltwater – water formed by the melting of snow and ice, especially from a glacier, tabular icebergs and ice shelves over oceans.


Rural round-up


What’s so bad about nitrogen anyway? – Jacqueline Rowarth:

 Nitrogen (N) is the most abundant element in the atmosphere. After carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, it is also the most abundant element in the human body.

It is found in our very DNA – our genetic makeup – and is a major component of the protein that we need to eat to stay healthy. Despite this, nitrogen has been receiving a bad rap with suggestions that we now have a “deadly addiction”‘ to it.

To some people, it appears that nitrogen is in the same class as ecstasy, cocaine and heroin.

People die when they overdose on Class A drugs.

People die when they have insufficient nitrogen. . .

NZ needs to embrace gene editing technology – scientist – Kate Gudsell:

If gene editing technology is not embraced in New Zealand the country is at risk being of being left behind, a scientist warns.

Gene editing is a new technology which enables scientists to genetically modify an organism and would be considered genetic modification under New Zealand law.

The technology allows scientists to be much more precise about changes made in the genome of an organism compared with previous methods.

The Royal Society Te Apārangi’s new discussion paper, The Use of Gene Editing in the Primary Industries, was released today and explores risks and potential benefits for five scenarios of how gene editing could be used for primary production sectors including agriculture, forestry and horticulture. . . 

Rebecca Keoghan named Rural Woman of Influence :

Westport’s Rebecca Keoghan has added another major award to an impressive resume.

The general manager of Landcorp Farming’s Pamu Academy has been named the Rural Woman of Influence at the 2018 awards, presented by Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy in Auckland.

Mrs Keoghan was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit last year for services to business, particularly the dairy industry, and was the 2016 Dairy Woman of the Year. . .

Global milk supply growth slowing despite bumper start to NZ season – Rabobank:

While combined milk supply growth across the world’s ‘Big 7’ dairy exporters slowed during quarter three, a bumper start to the New Zealand milk production season has seen soft demand for Oceania-origin dairy products in recent months, according to Rabobank’s latest Dairy Quarterly report, with the bank now forecasting a lower New Zealand milk price of NZD6.65/kgMS for 2018/19.

The specialist agribusiness bank says the slowdown in combined milk production growth seen in quarter two 2018 from the ‘Big 7’ (the EU, the US, New Zealand, Australia, Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil), at just one per cent year-on-year (YOY), has trickled through to quarter three, driven by a number of factors including drought conditions in parts of northern and western Europe. . . 

Ministry testing targets farms without M bovis connection – Maja Burry:

The Ministry for Primary Industries will be testing 200 calf-rearing properties across the country as it tries to understand the prevalence of Mycoplasma bovis in beef herds.

A MPI spokesperson Catherine Duthie said it would select farms that did not have a connection to other properties considered at risk of having the cattle disease, so the survey could help establish whether M bovis was more widespread than thought.

If properties were connected others with M bovis they were being discounted from the survey as MPI would already be testing them, she said.

“This survey is another way of testing our assumption that this disease Mycoplasma bovis is not widespread in New Zealand.” . . 

Roger’s tasty sheep – Offsetting Behaviour:

A few years ago, Peter Singer said eating New Zealand lamb was defensible – even for an animal-rights utilitarian. The animals live a joyful life, have one bad day at the end, and graze on land that wouldn’t be suitable for grains anyway.

“I think that there is a defensible argument for saying that if the purchase of Canterbury lamb is a necessary condition for lambs to have what is for 99% of their existence a really good life and even the bad days are not like a day of being tortured for 24 hours… I do think that that … would be a defensible diet.”

Roger Beattie’s gotten rid of the ‘one bad day at the end’ part. His lambs aren’t mustered and hauled to the works; they’re shot on-paddock. . .


DW: Too Much Milk


The madness of political interference in milk markets.

The Inquiring Mind

A DW documentary looking at the impact of EU dairy policy, there’s relevance to NZ here as well

View original post

Bias trumps science


There’s mixed news in Land, Air Water, Aotearoa (LAWA)’s 10-year trends report which was released yesterday:

. . .LAWA River Water Quality Lead Dr Tim Davie said the 10-year trends released today show the complexity of freshwater ecosystems.

“Looking at the trends, we see a mixed bag of improving and degrading sites across all water quality parameters. At the national level, for every parameter there are more sites showing signs of getting better than getting worse, except for the MCI trend which shows 2 out of 5 monitored sites are likely or very likely degrading,” said Dr Davie.

The MCI is used by scientists to monitor changes in macroinvertebrate populations because macroinvertebrates are responsive to multiple environmental changes such as flow, habitat, temperature, water quality and sediment. Macroinvertebrates are small animals (e.g. insects, worms, and snails) that live on or just below the stream-bed and are an important food source for fish.

“Macroinvertebrates are a good indicator of the wider health of waterways and have a high ecological value, so it’s disappointing to see they’re under pressure. 

“On the other hand, it’s positive to see improving trends for the eight chemical-physical water quality indicators as we know these are quicker to respond to change. It is particularly encouraging to see ammoniacal nitrogen improving at many sites given the work of councils in reducing point source discharge and farmers keeping stock out of waterways,” said Dr Davie. . . 

Dr Davie said that populations of freshwater insects, worms and snails were “likely or very likely degrading” at two out of five sites being monitored which was disappointing he  doesn’t think the overall picture is bleak:

“They respond to different things like climate, the amount of sediment and a lot of different things,” Dr Davie said.

“So they’re a better overall indicator [of the state of the ecosystem] but they do take longer to respond.

“We know that our river systems can take a long time for the macroinvertebrates to improve when you start doing things to improve them.”

It was positive to see improving trends for the eight other water quality indicators, including clarity, turbidity, E. coli, nitrogen and phosphorus, Dr Davie said.

It is positive to see improvements in these indicators but of course not everyone thinks that:

However, Victoria University water scientist Mike Joy said snapshot samples of chemicals from sites selected by councils were giving skewed results.

“You can have what look like improvements because the amount of nitrate is going down in the water,” Dr Joy said.

“But what you haven’t accounted for is the amount of algae going up in the water.

“And that’s why the invertebrates are showing virtually the opposite [to the other results] because they have been wiped out – they can’t survive because of oxygen depletion and their habitat being smothered by algae. That’s the invertebrates showing the true story that the nitrates aren’t showing.” . . 

Meanwhile, farming and irrigation and population pressure continued to degrade waterways, he said.

“I’d love to know how anyone would expect it could be getting better when we haven’t done anything to make it better.” . . 

His bias is trumping the science here.

Rivers in areas with irrigation are generally cleaner than those in areas without irrigation.

It is also wrong to say farming continues to degrade waterways and “we haven’t done anything to make it better.”

Dr Davie said there was a lot of work going on trying to keep stock out of rivers and planting alongside rivers – but the flow-on effects for macroinvertebrates took longer. . .

Farmers have spent, and are continuing to spend, considerable money and time creating and protecting wetlands, fencing off waterways and doing riparian planting.

Water quality didn’t degrade suddenly and it won’t magically improve overnight.

But the report shows more sites are improving than degrading which indicates changing practices and protective measures are having a positive impact.




Quote of the day


Access to books and the encouragement of the habit of reading: these two things are the first and most necessary steps in education and librarians, teachers and parents all over the country know it. It is our children’s right and it is also our best hope and their best hope for the future. Michael Morpurgo who celebrates his 75th birthday today.

October 5 in history


869  The Fourth Council of Constantinople was convened to decide about what to do about Patriarch Photius of Constantinople.

1143  King Alfonso VII of Leon recognised Portugal as a Kingdom.

1665 The University of Kiel was founded.

1789 French Revolution: Women of Paris marched to Versailles to confront Louis XVI about his refusal to promulgate the decrees on the abolition of feudalism, demand bread, and have the King and his court moved to Paris.

1793 French Revolution: Christianity was disestablished in France.

1816 – Ursula Frayne, Irish-Australian nun and missionary, was born (d. 1885).

1829 – Chester A. Arthur, American general, lawyer, and politician, 21st President of the United States, was born (d. 1886).

1858 – Helen Churchill Candee, American journalist and author, was born (d. 1949).

1864 Louis Lumière, French film pioneer, was born (d. 1948).

1864 Calcutta was almost totally destroyed by a cyclone which killed  60,000 people.

1866 The Maungatapu murderers were hanged in Nelson.

Maungatapu murderers hanged in Nelson

1869  The Saxby Gale devastated the Bay of Fundy region of Maritime Canada.

1877 Chief Joseph surrendered his Nez Perce band to General Nelson A. Miles.

1885  – Ida Rubinstein, Russian ballerina and actress, was born (d. 1960).

1895 The first individual time trial for racing cyclists was held on a 50-mile course north of London.

1903  Sir Samuel Griffith was appointed the first Chief Justice of Australia and Sir Edmund Barton and Richard O’Connor were appointed foundation justices.

1905 Wilbur Wright piloted Wright Flyer III in a flight of 24 miles in 39 minutes, a world record that stood until 1908.

1910  Revolution in Portugal, monarchy overthrown, a republic declared .

1914   World War I’s first aerial combat resulting in a kill.

1919 – Donald Pleasence, English actor, was born (d. 1995).

1930  British Airship R101 crashed in France en-route to India on its maiden voyage.

1932 – Neal Ascherson, Scottish journalist and author, was born.

1936  The Jarrow March set off for London.

1941 – Eduardo Duhalde, Argentinian lawyer and politician, 50th President of Argentina, was born.

1942 Richard Street, American singer (The Temptations), was born.

1943 – Michael Morpurgo, English author, poet, and playwright, was born.

1943  Steve Miller, American musician (Steve Miller Band), was born.

1944 – Suffrage  was extended to women in France.

1945  Hollywood Black Friday: A six month strike by Hollywood set decorators turned into a bloody riot at the gates of Warner Brothers’ studios.

1947  The first televised White House address was given by President Harry S. Truman.

1948  The 1948 Ashgabat earthquake killed 110,000.

1951 Irish singer Bob Geldof was born.

1953 The first documented recovery meeting of Narcotics Anonymous was held.

1960 – David Kirk, All Black and businessman was born.

1962 – Dr. No, the first in the James Bond film series, was released.

1966  A partial core meltdown at the Enrico Fermi demonstration nuclear breeder reactor.

1968  Police baton civil rights demonstrators in Derry – considered to mark the beginning of The Troubles.

1969 The first episode of  Monty Python’s Flying Circus aired on BBC.

1970  The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) was founded.

1970 British Trade Commissioner James Cross was kidnapped by members of the FLQ terrorist group.

1973  Signature of the European Patent Convention.

1974  Guildford pub bombings: bombs planted by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) killed four British soldiers and one civilian.

1975  – Kate Winslet, English actress was born.

1984  Marc Garneau became the first Canadian in space, aboard theSpace Shuttle Challenger.

1986  Israeli secret nuclear weapons were revealed. The British newspaperThe Sunday Times ran Mordechai Vanunu’s story on its front page under the headline: “Revealed — the secrets of Israel’s nuclear arsenal.”

1988  The Chilean opposition coalition Concertación (center-left) defeatedAugusto Pinochet in his re-election intentions.

1990 After one hundred and fifty years The Herald broadsheet newspaper in Melbourne, Australia, was published for the last time as a separate newspaper.

1991 An Indonesian military transport crashed after takeoff from Jakarta killing 137.

1991 – The first official version of the Linux kernel, version 0.02, was released.

1999  The Ladbroke Grove rail crash in west London killed 31 people.

2000  Mass demonstrations in Belgrade led to resignation of Serbian strongman Slobodan Milošević.

2001  Robert Stevens became the first victim in the 2001 anthrax attacks.

2011 – The MV Rena  ran aground on the Astrolabe reef near Tauranga,  resulting in an oil spill.

NZ Defence Force assistance to OP Rena.jpg

2011 – In the Mekong River massacre, two Chinese cargo boats were hijacked and 13 crew members murdered in the lawless Golden Triangle region of Southeast Asia.

2014 – Jules Bianchi crashed into a crane at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, leading to his subsequent death on 17 July 2015.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia

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