Word of the day

February 7, 2019

Abderian – of or belonging to the ancient city of Abdera or to its inhabitants; absurd; foolish; ridiculous; given or inclined to incessant merriment or laughter.


Sowell says

February 7, 2019


Rural round-up

February 7, 2019

Drought bites crops in Tasman with little respite forecast for growers – Katy Jones:

Growers are battling to keep crops alive on the Waimea Plains as the drought continues to bite in Tasman district, with no sign of a significant break in the prolonged dry spell.

Irrigators this week saw the amount of water they were allowed to take from catchments on the plains cut by 50 per cent, as the Waimea River dropped to its lowest level for this time of year since the “Big Dry” in 2001.

High winds at the end of last month compounded growers’ woes, further drying out land already parched by a lack of rain and high temperatures. . . 

Court to decide official location of a riverbank – Eric Frykberg:

Where does the bed of a river end and adjacent farmland begin? That is not an easy question to answer, when dealing with braided rivers that often change course.

However, the Court of Appeal will now get the chance to decide the official location of a riverbank.

The problem began in 2017 when a farmer was prosecuted for doing earthworks in the bed of the Selwyn River, in mid Canterbury.

Although he pleaded guilty, the case gave rise to debate about how wide a braided river actually was.

The District Court sided with Environment Canterbury and ruled a river was as big as the area covered by the river’s waters at their fullest flow. . .

Ravensdown CEO agrees farmers have sometimes applied too much fertiliser – Gerard Hutching:

Fertiliser company Ravensdown says it is trying to persuade farmers to use less nitrogen and concedes that in the past too much has been applied “in some cases.”

However it has recently developed new products which result in less nitrogen being lost to the atmosphere or leaching into the soil where it ends up in waterways.

Greenpeace has demanded the Government ban chemical nitrogen because it claims it causes river pollution. It has created billboards accusing Ravensdown and its competitor Ballance Agri-Nutrients of polluting rivers. . . 

Group ignores fertiliser facts – Alan Emerson:

Driving out of Auckland I saw a huge billboard with the message: Ravensdown and Ballance pollute rivers.

How can that be, I thought, but then I noted the billboard was put there by Greenpeace and Greenpeace never lets the facts get in the way of its prejudices.

Starting at the top, the two fertiliser companies don’t pollute rivers, they sell fertilisers, so factually it is wrong.

According to my dictionary pollute means contaminate with poisonous or harmful substances or to make morally corrupt or to desecrate.

How, then, can Ravensdown and Ballance pollute? . . 

Change constant in 50-year career – Ken Muir:

When you have worked for more than 50 years in the rural sector, change is a constant and for Andrew Welsh, an agribusiness manager at Rabobank in Southland, this has included everything from the model of car he was supplied with to the way he communicates with co-workers and his clients.

Mr Welsh said farming was in his DNA.

”My great grandparents farmed in South Otago and Opotiki, and going further back than that our relatives had farmed in County Durham before coming out to Hawkes Bay.”

He started in the industry at the bottom, he said.

”When I started at Wright Stephenson’s in Gore in 1968 as an office junior, I was everybody’s general dogsbody.” . . 

 

Halter targets April launch date

Kiwi agritech start-up Halter expects to commercially launch its unique GPS-enabled cow collars in April.

“We have just finished setting up our production line in China and we have had our first collars off the line come back,” chief executive and founder Craig Piggott told the Young Farmers conference.

“We are targeting April as our commercial launch. It’s all happening very quickly.”

Auckland-based Halter has developed the collar, which allows cows to be guided around a farm using a smartphone app. . . 


Welcome lift in GDT

February 7, 2019

This morning’s GlobalDairyTrade auction had a welcome lift of 6.7% in the price index and an increase in prices for all products except butter milk powder.

The trend for the year is positive which gives some confidence that the payout won’t go below $6.


Fears for training of future farmers

February 7, 2019

The government is throwing millions at fee-free tertiary education but there’s no cash to spare for training future farmers:

Federated Farmers board member Chris Lewis said the liquidation of Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre a month ago was the latest sign that the government needed to overhaul certificate-level tertiary education for staff in the primary industries.

“This has been an issue for a long, long time. A lot of providers have come into the industry and set up training but a lot of them have left or have struggled and at the end of the day it comes back down to it’s not financially viable to run training for young farm staff because they don’t get enough funding from the government.”

Mr Lewis said there was a shortage of trained farm staff and some courses did not provide the skills that farmers needed in their workers.

Craig Musson from the National Trade Academy said few tertiary institutions were still offering certificates in skills for land-based industries and those that were, were struggling.

He said too few students were enrolling and government funding was inadequate for the costs involved.

“In our sector it’s not a classroom, white board and a teacher. You have to have tractors, motorbikes, quads. You’ve got to have fencing, you’ve got to have stock and with all that comes repairs and maintenance and replacement of equipment and a normal business doesn’t have those same costs,” he said.

Mr Musson said the government paid about $10,000 for each full-time agriculture student studying a certificate course and institutions received a further $3000 to $4000 in fees.

That was not enough given the small class sizes and high overheads for courses in farming skills and it was especially hard if students dropped out and could not be replaced, he said.

Mr Musson said more education providers would go out of business unless things improved.

“It’s obviously just getting more and more difficult for the providers that are left and eventually it becomes that it’s not financially viable to do the training any more,” he said.

“You only have to have a bad year as far as feed costs and then you’ve got fuel costs because we have to travel to farms to do the milkings, we have to do field visits and that’s a massive cost that most providers would not have either.”

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said changes would be made as part of wider reform of the vocational education and training system and the government was aware there was urgent need in the agriculture sector.

“We’re looking very closely at the agricultural sector given its importance to the New Zealand economy, the desperate need for more skilled labour in that area, but actually the problems facing agriculture are the same as problems facing many other industries around the country so we’re looking very closely at vocational education generally,” he said. . . 

Neal Wallace says a new training model is needed:

. . .By its very nature educating primary sector students is more expensive and intensive than other vocational courses.

It requires students to live on working farms, to be given a student-centric education – you can’t teach fencing on a blackboard – and it comes with high compliance and pastoral care costs. Taratahi had a ratio of one staff member to 10 students. 

But it appears to have finally succumbed to the millennial factor.

Fewer young people are choosing farming as a career, while numbers of potential students have shrunk because of successive years of low unemployment allowing those who would normally seek training to go directly in to work.

Telford and Taratahi have struggled to grow their rolls in recent years and are required to repay the Tertiary Education Commission $10 million for being funded for more students than were enrolled.

Not dismissing the obvious distress to students and staff, collapsing on the eve of Taratahi’s centenary adds to the misery.

But its centennial legacy, from what can best be described as an educational train wreck, is that Government and education officials can no longer ignore the essential issue of creating a sustainable sub-degree funding and administrative model for primary sector education.

Tina Nixon also notes two fundamental problems with the future success of primary sector vocational training:

The government: The present government [and those of the past] has never really understood the sector, the cost of training or really got to grips with the woeful performance of the Tertiary Education Commission [TEC], the body that decides what will be funded and how.

This became patently evident when I first became involved with Taratahi.

I suggested that it got into training beekeepers, which, as it turns out, has been lucrative.

The process for actually delivering beekeeping courses took months –  TEC should be geared up alongside NZQA to get ahead of industry demand but it doesn’t – they lag  at least a year, sometimes a lot longer.

TEC is without a doubt one of the most bureaucratic organisations I have ever interacted with, and I have worked with a few.

It has not served the country and its governments well. I applaud the current government for looking to overhaul the tertiary sector, but I condemn it for the short-sightedness about how best that overhaul is carried out.

If the TEC and its current administration survive the next year, then this government will have failed the sector.

The government’s decision not to fund Taratahi was based on advice from TEC —  behind closed doors with no chance for Taratahi to talk directly to the ministers involved.

So, Taratahi doesn’t even know what was presented – but the $30m touted by some as what was required for the organisation to continue  is wrong. What they needed was $5 million – pretty much the same amount it had repaid of the previous administration’s legacy debt. . . 

A request for just $5 million was turned down when the Provincial Growth Fund showers much more on far less worthy projects.

So what of the future?

If the community leaders consign all that has been learned and achieved by Taratahi in 2-1/2 years into the dustbin, then they will be condemned to creating yet another failure and snub some of the best educationists in the industry.

What we need  to see is Taratahi rise again in the next few months – underpinned by all the good systems and knowledge built up in the past two years, within a newly-framed tertiary education sector with the required funding levels. With all that in place, it will become an enduring engine room for primary sector talent development.

The primary sector can do some on-the-job training but that is no substitute for what can be done in dedicated training institutes like Taratahi and Telford if they are properly funded.

 


Quote of the day

February 7, 2019

No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to anyone else. –  Charles Dickens who was born on this day in 1812.


February 7 in history

February 7, 2019

457  Leo I became emperor of the Byzantine Empire.

1074 Pandulf IV of Benevento was killed battling the invading Normans at the Battle of Montesarchio.

1238 The Mongols burned the Russian city of Vladimir.

1301 Edward of Caernarvon (later King Edward II of England) became the first English Prince of Wales.

1478 Sir Thomas More, English statesman, humanist, and author, was born (d 1535).

1497 – The bonfire of the vanities occurred in which supporters of Girolamo Savonarola burned thousands of objects including cosmetics, art, and books in Florence.

1795  The 11th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified.

1804 –  John Deere, American manufacturer (Deere & Company), was born (d. 1886).

1807  Battle of Eylau – Napoléon’s French Empire began fighting against Russian and Prussian forces of the Fourth Coalition at Eylau, Poland.

1812 –  Charles Dickens, English novelist, was born (d. 1870).

1819 Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles left  Singapore after just taking it over, leaving it in the hands of William Farquhar.

1842  Battle of Debre Tabor: Ras Ali Alula, Regent of the Emperor of Ethiopia defeated warlord Wube Haile Maryam of Semien.

1856 The Kingdom of Awadh was annexed by the British East India Company after a peaceful abdication of Wajid Ali Shah, the king of Awadh.

1856 – The colonial Tasmanian Parliament passed the first piece of legislation (the Electoral Act of 1856) anywhere in the world providing for elections by way of a secret ballot.

1863  The Royal Navy’s steam corvette HMS Orpheus, bringing supplies and reinforcements for the land wars, hit the Manukau Harbour bar and sank.  Of the 259 aboard, 189 died, making it New Zealand’s worst maritime disaster.

HMS Orpheus.jpg

1867 Laura Ingalls Wilder, American author, was born  (d. 1957).

1870 Alfred Adler, Austrian psychologist was born  (d. 1937).

1898  Émile Zola was brought to trial for libel for publishing J’Accuse.

1901  Arnold Nordmeyer, New Zealand politician, was born  (d. 1989).

1904 A fire  in Baltimore destroyed more than 1,500 buildings in 30 hours.

1907 The Mud March, the first large procession organised by the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS).

1922 Hattie Jacques, English actress, was born (d. 1980).

1943  Imperial Japanese naval forces completed the evacuation of Imperial Japanese Army troops from Guadalcanal during Operation Ke, ending Japanese attempts to retake the island from Allied forces in the Guadalcanal Campaign.

1956 Mark St. John, American musician (Kiss), was born  (d. 2007).

1962 Garth Brooks, American singer, was born.

1962 Eddie Izzard, British actor and comedian, was born.

1962 – David Bryan, American musician (Bon Jovi), was born.

1962 The United States banned all Cuban imports and exports.

1967 –  Bushfires in southern Tasmania claimed 62 lives and destroy 2,642.7 square kilometres (653,025.4 acres) of land.

1974  Grenada gained independence from the United Kingdom.

1979  Pluto moved inside Neptune‘s orbit for the first time since either was discovered.

1984  STS-41-B Mission – Astronauts Bruce McCandless II and Robert L. Stewart made the first untethered space walk using the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU).

1986  Twenty-eight years of one-family rule ended in Haiti, when President Jean-Claude Duvalier fled.

1990  The Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party agreed to give up its monopoly on power.

1991  Haiti‘s first democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was sworn in.

1991 –  The IRA launched a mortar attack on 10 Downing Street during a cabinet meeting.

1992 –  The Maastricht Treaty was signed, leading to the creation of the European Union.

1995  Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, was arrested in Islamabad, Pakistan.

1999 – Crown Prince Abdullah became the King of Jordan on the death of his father, King Hussein.

2009  Bushfires in Victoria left 173 dead in the worst natural disaster in Australia’s history.

2012 – President Mohamed Nasheed of the Republic of Maldives resigned, after 23 days of anti-governmental protests calling for the release of Chief Judge unlawfully arrested by the military.

2013 – At least 53 people were killed when a bus and truck collided near Chibombo, Zambia.

2014 – The opening ceremony for the 2014 Winter Olympics is held in the Russian city of Sochi.

2014  – Over 350 people were injured in the anti-government unrest in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

2016 – North Korea launched Kwangmyŏngsŏng-4 into outer space.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


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