Word of the day

23/06/2020

Coomb – a short valley or deep hollow on a hillside or coastline, especially in southern England; a dry valley in a limestone or chalk escarpment; ravine.


Sowell says

23/06/2020


Rural round-up

23/06/2020

Sorting the manure from the facts on nitrogen – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Nitrogen is a basic requirement for the creation of soil organic matter.

It doesn’t matter whether the source of the nitrogen is synthetic fertiliser (such as urea or DAP), urine, legume fixation or animal manure – but it is required. Every tonne of carbon sequestered in the soil is associated with 80 to 100kg of nitrogen, as well as approximately 20kg phosphorus, 14kg of sulphur and smaller amounts of various other nutrients.

In many soils it is the addition of nitrogen fertiliser that has allowed more plants to grow and die, contributing more organic matter to the soil than was possible before the fertiliser was added.

This is assuming that moisture and other nutrients are not limiting for plant growth. . .

Naki sets native planting record :

Almost 600,000 native plants were distributed to farmers, last week, as part of Taranaki’s Riparian Management Programme.

This was a record number for the scheme that’s having a huge impact on the region’s water quality and landscape.

For 27 years, the Taranaki Regional Council has worked with farmers, developing individual riparian management plans to improve freshwater quality. Plans recommend fencing off waterways and native planting on riverbanks to keep stock out of streams and reduce overland run-off.

As part of the programme, landowners can buy native plants at cost through the council, ordering one to two years in advance so plants can be grown for them.  . .

NZ Apiculture Industry sees continued growth in production:

The Ministry for Primary Industries released its annual Apiculture Monitoring Programme Report for the 2018/19 season today, which confirms the New Zealand apiculture industry is still growing.

The number of registered hives increased 4% on the previous season to 918,026 in June last year while the number of registered beekeeping businesses also increased, up 8% to 9,282.

The report estimates the 2018-19 season produced an estimated 23,000 tonnes of honey, up by 3,000 tonnes (15%) on the previous year, driven by the increase in hive numbers. . . 

Constrained conditions for the rural sector:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were 122 less farm sales (-32.1%) for the three months ended May 2020 than for the three months ended May 2019. Overall, there were 258 farm sales in the three months ended May 2020, compared to 251 farm sales for the three months ended April 2020 (+2.8%), and 380 farm sales for the three months ended May 2019. 1,132 farms were sold in the year to May 2020, 19.5% fewer than were sold in the year to May 2019, with 26.6% less Dairy farms, 27.8% less Grazing farms, 26.0% less Finishing farms and 1.2% less Arable farms sold over the same period.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to May 2020 was $23,221 compared to $22,244 recorded for three months ended May 2019 (+4.4%). The median price per hectare increased 2.5% compared to April 2020.

The REINZ All Farm Price Index fell 0.1% in the three months to May 2020 compared to the three months to April 2020.  . . 

Milk dispensers and glass bottles a hit with shoppers:

A nationwide plan to put fresh milk dispensers and reusable glass bottles into grocery stores kicks off today, following calls from shoppers for milk brands to ditch plastic bottles.

Lewis Road Creamery launched the initiative after receiving multiple requests from shoppers asking for a return to glass.

“The plastic problem really worries our customers,” says Lewis Road Creamery founder and CEO Peter Cullinane. “Two years ago we switched to 100% recycled plastic bottles but we’ve always wanted to do more, so this is another step in the right direction.” . . 

The name behind some of New Zealand’s best known pastures and forage crops is changing this spring:

Thirty-three years after it first teamed up with a family-owned seed business in the Netherlands, Barenbrug Agriseeds will be known as Barenbrug, effective 1 July.

Managing director Michael Hales says the Royal Barenbrug Group has been part of the NZ company since it was founded, providing unique access to plant genetics, science and knowledge.

“This collaboration has been a key part of our success in the NZ pastoral industry – we would not be where we are today without it.”

While the name on the distinctive yellow seed bags will be different as of this season, Michael says farmers can be reassured everything else remains unchanged: “Our people, products and strategy remain the same.” . . 


Can’t even build a slide to budget

23/06/2020

Day by day it’s looking more like New Zealand’s low incidence of Covid-19 owes a lot more to good luck than good management and when you look at the government’s record, that’s no surprise.

It’s been very good at making announcements but woefully inadequate in making a positive difference.

One of their flagship policies was Kiwibuild.

David Farrar has a graph updating progress on that – at the end of April they’d built 395 of the 5,167 they’d promised by then – that’s just  0.4%.

Another goal was reducing child poverty. It hasn’t declined – even before the economy got flattened by the harsher than necessary  lockdown, there was no measurable improvement in most indicators and some had got worse.

In spite, or is it because?, of Labour holding all the Maori seats, tangata whenua are still over represented in negative statistics and under represented in the positive ones.

To give just one example, not only is there little if any progress in most areas, Maori mental health and addiction services are going backwards.

Mental health and addiction services have got worse for Māori since work began to overhaul the system nearly two years ago and serious gaps remain for young mums and those in forensic units, according to a new report from the mental health commissioner, Kevin Allan. . . 

The Government has failed to keep the promise in its coalition agreement with NZ First to progressively increase the age for free breast screening to 74 years of age. 

This is just one of myriad failings in the health system including delays in elective surgery.

The government has also had some strange priorities, such as budgeting more for racing than Pharmac :

It is a damning indictment of the Government’s priorities that the racing industry is getting more additional funding in Budget 2020 than Pharmac, National’s Health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says

“On Sunday the Government gave Pharmac an extra $10 million for the next financial year, today we learnt that Winston Peters is giving racing multiple times that. . . 

This follows the earlier money given to good looking horses.

That was just one of the large lollies New Zealand First managed the grab from the tax treat jar. Even bigger is the Provincial Growth Fund, the latest news of which is the $6.2 million spent on the railway line used by only three trains.

Apropos of wasting money, there’s the scandalous overspending on parliament’s playground:

Parliament’s new playground is a monument to extravagance and waste with revelations it cost $572,000 and went 43 per cent over budget, National’s State Services spokesperson Nick Smith says.

“Spending $242,000 on a slide is scandalous. The $180,000 on consultants is equally outrageous. The civil works involved minimal earth moving, yet came to an excessive $171,000.

We build three-bedroom houses clad in Oamaru stone with a garage, floor coverings including wool carpet, curtains, oven and heat pump for dairy staff for not much more than the slide.

“I built my own children’s playground in Nelson with a playhouse, slide, two swings and a climbing frame for $5000, or one hundredth of the cost. There are good quality playgrounds built all around New Zealand for $50,000 or a tenth of the cost.

“This half a million dollar extravagance on Parliament grounds is an insult to the thousands of playcentres, kindergartens, schools and other children’s organisations that scrimp and save for playgrounds across the country.

“The playground was opened by the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the House on International Children’s Day last year. At the time the Prime Minister said having a playground sent a message about the Government’s focus on children’s wellbeing.

“But this was just another hollow statement. By the most important measures, poverty in our communities has got worse since the change of Government three years ago. According to the Government’s own data around 20,000 more children are living in poverty.

“Parliament’s playground was all about politics and a photo opportunity to show a child friendly Government, but it has backfired, exposing a culture of extravagance and waste. It contradicts the Government’s pledge to reduce waste on consultants when consultants have milked $180,000 from the small playground.

“Spending $500,000 on a small playground on Parliament grounds is not going to lift children out of poverty. It exposes the shallowness of expensive photo opportunities over the real work required to lift children’s wellbeing in New Zealand.”

This is a very serious symptom of a government that values the quantity of spend rather than the quality; that talks big and acts small and day by day is looking less and less competent.

If it can’t even manage to build a slide to budget, it’s no wonder it’s making so many mistakes in managing incoming passengers to keep us all safe from Covid-19.


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