365 days of gratitude

December 6, 2018

The sun shone today.

The wind blew too and the temperature wasn’t quite summery.

But it didn’t rain and oh how very grateful I am for that.


Word of the day

December 6, 2018

Goster – to  behave boldly or boisterously; waste time conspicuously especially by talking and gossiping; laugh uncontrollably; gossip.


Sowell says

December 6, 2018


Canterbury audience not worth PM’s time

December 6, 2018

Too many interviews? Once a month too much?

What happened to openness and transparency?

People not worth her time?

What happened to kindness ?


Rural round-up

December 6, 2018

Dairy product prices climb as whole milk powder gains – Margaret Dietz:

(BusinessDesk) – Dairy product prices rose at the Global Dairy Trade auction, stemming a decline that began in May.

The GDT price index gained 2.2 percent from the previous auction two weeks ago. The average price was a US$2,819 a tonne, compared with US$2,727 a tonne two weeks ago. Some 36,450 tonnes of product was sold, down from 42,966 tonnes two weeks ago.

Whole milk powder climbed 2.5 percent to US$2,667 a tonne. . . 

Dairy bosses are best employers:

In the first-ever Primary Industries Good Employer Awards dairy farmers Ben and Nicky Allomes won the top accolade, the Minister of Agriculture’s Award for Best Primary Sector Employers.

Woodville dairy farmers Ben and Nicky Allomes have been named the Best Primary Sector Employers. 

The couple, who own Hopelands Dairies, also won the Innovative Employment Practices award. . . 

Fonterra reaches provisional deal with Beingmate:

Fonterra Cooperative Group has reached a provisional deal with Chinese partner Beingmate Baby & Child Food to unwind their Darnum joint venture in Australia.

The joint venture – 51 percent owned by Beingmate and 49 percent Fonterra – produced infant formula products at the Darnum plant in Australia for Beingmate’s Chinese customers, and was a key component of Fonterra’s plan to expand its reach into China’s second and third-tier cities. . . 

Voting for the 2nd Fonterra Directors’ Election is underway:

Voting is now open for the 2018 Fonterra Board of Directors’ Second Election.

Only two candidates from the first election, Leonie Guiney and Peter McBride, obtained more than 50% support from voting shareholders. The Rules of the first election state that if not enough candidates obtain more than 50% support, there must be a second election. . . 

Dairy loan done on a handshake, details to follow:

It beggars belief that the Government has dispensed a $9.9 million low-interest loan to a dairy company without having finalised the terms, National’s Economic and Regional Development spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“The Minister in charge of the Provincial Growth Fund couldn’t tell the House what terms he had in mind when he undercut commercial lenders to provide debt funding for a new processing plant.

“I wouldn’t blame any business like Westland Milk for accepting a cheap loan from a secure lender. . . 

Apple producer’s underlying profit looks to be at top end:

Apple producer Scales has had a bumper year with a record export crop lifting profits to the top end of guidance.

The company’s underlying profit was likely to be at the top end, or slightly exceed, the current guidance range of $58 million to $65m, in the year ending December.

Managing director Andy Borland said it was an excellent performance for the group, with all business units performing well over the year. . . 

New Landcorp chair appointed:

Dr Warren Parker has been appointed as Director and Chair of Landcorp, the Minister of Finance Grant Robertson and Associate Minister of State-Owned Enterprises Shane Jones announced today.

Dr Parker is a former Chief Executive of Scion (the NZ Forest Research Institute) and Landcare Research, and was previously Chief Operating Officer of AgResearch. He currently holds a number of board roles including on Predator Free 2050 Ltd, Farmlands Cooperative Society, Genomics Aotearoa and is the Chair of the Forestry Ministerial Advisory Group. Until recently he was Chair of the New Zealand Conservation Authority. . . 

Landcorp out of touch with real farmers:

Landcorp’s submission to Sir Michael Cullen’s Tax Working Group (TWG) is a kick in the guts to rural communities, National’s Nathan Guy and David Carter say.

“Landcorp’s sneaky submission to the TWG proposing a water tax, nitrogen fertiliser tax and not opposing a capital gains tax proves how out of touch the state-owned company is with farmers on the ground,” Mr Guy says.

“With 6700 other submissions, why was Landcorp pressured to put in a submission that was more than a month late? The reality seems to be that the TWG are hell-bent on introducing environmental taxes and a capital gains tax, so they leaned on Landcorp to submit supporting more taxes and levies. . . 

New president and vice president elected to HortNZ board:

The Horticulture New Zealand board elected Barry O’Neil as its new President and Chairman at a meeting today. Mr O’Neil replaces Julian Raine, who has been President and Chairman for six years and who has made a significant contribution to horticulture for New Zealand. Mr Raine has stood down to pursue other business interests.

Bernadine Guilleux was elected Vice-President, with both positions effective from 1 January 2019. . . 

Busy orchardist advises small businesses start payday filing:

A Hawke’s Bay orchardist is advising fellow small businesses to be ahead of the game on payday filing.

This is the mandatory requirement from April next year for employers to file their payroll information to Inland Revenue every time they pay their staff.

Te Mata Figs owner Helen Walker has been paying her five staff fortnightly and sending across their details using the online entry method in myIR. . . 


Fonterra’s forecast payout down

December 6, 2018

Fonterra has revised its forecast payout for the 2018/19 season from $6.25-$6.50 per kgMS to $6.00-$6.30 per kgMS.

It’s also reported its first quarter performance:

  • Forecast Farmgate Milk Price range: $6.00 – $6.30 per kgMS
  • Forecast earnings per share range: 25-35 cents
  • Forecast New Zealand milk collections: 1,550 million kgMS, up 3%
  • Sales volumes: 3.6 billion LME, down 6%
  • Revenue: $3.8 billion, down 4%
  • Gross margin: $646 million, down $14 million
  • Gross margin percentage: 17%, up from 16.6%
  • Operating expenses: $656 million, up 3%
  • Capital expenditure: $188 million, up $46 million

Fonterra Chairman John Monaghan says the revision in the forecast Farmgate Milk Price range is due to the global milk supply remaining stronger relative to demand, which has driven a downward trend on the GlobalDairyTrade (GDT) index since May.

“Since our October milk price update, production from Europe has flattened off the back of dry weather and rising feed costs. US milk volumes are still forecast to be up one per cent for the year,” says Mr Monaghan.

“Here in New Zealand, we are maintaining our forecast collections at 1,550 million kgMS. NIWA is saying its likely we will see an abnormal El Nino weather pattern over summer and this could impact our farmers’ milk production.

“Demand from China and Asia remains strong. However, we are seeing geopolitical disruption impacting demand from countries that traditionally buy a lot of fat products from us.

“Today’s forecast range assumes dairy prices will firm across the balance of the season. This is consistent with the views of other market commentators.

“There are still a number of unknowns in the global demand and supply picture and we recommend farmers budget with ongoing caution. Fonterra’s Advance Rate has been set off a milk price of $6.15 per kgMS.” . .

The drop in the forecast price isn’t a surprise.

The small lift in the GlobalDairyTrade price index this week, follows months of price falls.

While the drop is neither unexpected nor welcome, most farmers and shareholders would be reasonably relaxed about a payout of $6 or more.

The supply of milk has been up across the country but successive days of heavy rain over the last few weeks will have had an impact. Few herds will have been able to maintain peak supply for long and milk production will be dropping faster than budgeted for.

 

 


Cows greener than greens

December 6, 2018

Is growing greens a greener option than grazing cows? Glen Herud says no:

. . .The way we get excess nitrogen from dairy farming is via the cow’s urine. Urine contains 69 per cent nitrogen. The greater the concentration of cows per hectare the more N leaching you get (more or less).

Averaged out, dairy farms leach about 60kg of nitrogen per hectare per year.

Surprisingly, nitrogen fertiliser does not contribute greatly to N leaching on dairy farms. This is because farmers (generally speaking) only put on what the plants can absorb.

Fertiliser is expensive and it costs time and money to apply it. Farmers have both financial and environmental incentives to apply no more than is absolutely needed.

  Many people will be surprised to know that market gardening leaches three times more nitrogen than dairy farming.

There are plenty of papers out there showing leaching of over 170 kg N/ha/yr for various vegetable crops.

How can it be, that vegetables leach more than dairy cows? Market gardeners apply quite high rates of nitrogen fertiliser to each crop.

Vegetables are generally fast-growing crops. That means they harvest multiple crops and therefore they are cultivating their paddocks multiple times every year.

Cultivation increases N leaching.

The other important thing to note with market gardening is there are a lot of times in the year where there is no plant in the ground. So there is nothing to absorb the N in the soil. So it leaches down.

Contrast this to a sheep/beef/dairy farmer’s paddock. That paddock has grass in it all year, which is absorbing N for about 10 months of the year. That paddock will be cultivated once every five to eight years.

A combination of high N fertiliser inputs, multiple cultivations per year and portions of the year where there are no roots in the ground, mean that vegetable production “leaks” a lot of nitrogen. . .

Herud points out that organic farmers might not use nitrogen fertiliser but their crops get nitrogen in different forms. Organic farmers leave fields fallow for long periods and cultivate several times a year to get rid of weeds without spraying so leak more nitrogen.

He also explains the role of legumes.

Legumes are able to take the N from the air and “fix” it via their roots into the soil. This nitrogen now becomes available to other nearby plants to absorb.

Legumes are fantastic, they create free nitrogen for other plants to absorb.

The basis of New Zealand pasture-based agriculture is clover and ryegrass pastures. The clover fixes the nitrogen into the soil and the ryegrass plants absorb it (more or less).

Organic and biodynamic farmers take this principle one step further, by planting much more diverse pasture/legume swards.

But when you plant a whole paddock in just legumes we potentially have a problem.

These legumes are fixing nitrogen at a great rate and there are no other plants to absorb the nitrogen. Often, the result is the legumes are producing more nitrogen than is being used and it gets leached.

I found a number of studies that showed peas to be leaching between 80-120 kg N/ha.

It would seem logical that replacing cows with plant-based proteins such as legumes that go into the Impossible Burger would be good for our waterways. But there’s enough science to suggest it wouldn’t be a better outcome at all. . . 

Radical environmentalists would have us believe that growing fruit and vegetables would be better for the environment, and particularly water health, than dairying.

The science shows it’s not that simple and that grazing dairy cows could result in cleaner water than growing vegetables.

 

 


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