Word of the day

31/01/2021

Logolepsy – a fascination or obsession with words.


Milne muses

31/01/2021


Rural round-up

31/01/2021

Changes coming for farmers, consumers – Hamish MacLean:

The Climate Change Commission will release on Monday its recommendations on our national response to our obligations under the Paris Agreement, specifically a plan to meet emissions-reduction targets. How we get our food and farming is likely to be in the spotlight. Hamish MacLean reports.

Livestock numbers in the lower South Island could come under the climate change spotlight as New Zealand starts to make the far-reaching changes it needs to to reach its carbon emissions goals.

New Zealand has kept the methane produced on farms, one of its biggest sources of greenhouse gases, out of its net-zero 2050 emissions target.

But when the Climate Change Commission releases its draft advice on Monday, future reductions in emissions from livestock digestion will be part of the discussion. . .

Final call for wool donations – Neal Wallace:

Crossbred wool may be lacking consumer interest and economic relevance for most sheep farmers, but it is underpinning two Southland charitable events.

The Bales4Blair project is using donated wool to insulate the Southland Charity Hospital being built in Invercargill and has one more week before donations close.

The Riverton Lions Club charity lamb shearing fundraiser held this week, with volunteers expected to shear 2300 lambs at the Woodlands AgResearch farm. . . 

Kaikōura wetlands: ‘100 years to destroy, another 100 to restore‘ – Anan Zaki:

Precious wetlands in Kaikōura that have been drained and degraded for generations, are now being lovingly restored and protected – in projects that landowners and farmers hope will inspire others to do the same.

Those behind the restoration work say changing attitudes among farmers are helping create more awareness about protecting natural habitat in farms.

Environment Canterbury (regional council), which is supporting the work, said although it will take decades for the wetlands to fully recover, there are already promising signs.

About five minutes’ drive from the Kaikōura township is the home of Barb Woods. . .

Fonterra joins with Royal DSM to lower carbon footprint:

Fonterra and Royal DSM, a global science-based company active in health, nutrition and sustainable living, are teaming up to work on reducing on-farm greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in New Zealand.

While the organisations have a long-standing working relationship, the new collaboration is based around DSM’s feed additive product Bovaer®, which effectively and consistently reduces methane emissions from cows by over 30 percent in non-pasture-based farming systems.

The question that needs answering now is: Can it do the same in New Zealand’s pasture-based farming systems? . . 

High sugar grass ranks as key profit driver :

Profit for some NZ dairy farmers set to increase through innovative ryegrass.

Dairy farmers in parts of New Zealand could generate hundreds of dollars of additional profit per hectare by sowing an innovative High Sugar Grass.

The 2021 DairyNZ Forage Value Index (FVI), released in January, identifies Germinal New Zealand’s AberGain AR1 High Sugar Grass as a leading five star cultivar for the South Island and lower North Island – making it one of the most profitable ryegrass varieties for dairy farmers in these regions. . .

Novel trait clarification could prove significant – Sean Pratt:

Health Canada plans to publish a new guidance document that could have a profound impact on crop breeding in this country, says an industry official.

The document will clarify what the government deems to be plants with novel traits, which are crops that are subject to regulation.

Seed companies hope the new definition will create a more predictable and transparent system for crop breeders.

“We’re encouraged to see that the government is taking this very seriously,” said Ian Affleck, vice-president of plant biotechnology with CropLife Canada. . . 


Maya muses

31/01/2021


Sunday soapbox

31/01/2021

Sunday’s soapbox is yours to use as you will – within the bounds of decency and absence of defamation. You’re welcome to look back or forward, discuss issues of the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest, to educate, elucidate or entertain, amuse, bemuse or simply muse, but not abuse.

Incompetence is the true crisis – Albert Einstein


Word of the day

30/01/2021

Cuneiform – denoting or relating to the wedge-shaped characters used in the ancient writing systems of Mesopotamia, Persia, and Ugarit, surviving mainly on clay tablets; logo-syllabic script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East; composed of slim triangular or wedge-shaped elements, as the characters used in writing by the ancient Akkadians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, and others; denoting three bones of the tarsus (ankle) between the navicular bone and the metatarsals


Yes Sir Humphrey

30/01/2021


Rural round-up

30/01/2021

A world first for collagen water – RIchard Rennie:

Collagen, often the main component of gelatin, has surged in profile over recent years. It is also the main structural protein in mammals’ bodies, and is now hailed as a nutritional supplement to help muscle mass, aid arthritis and improve skin quality. Richard Rennie spoke to Luci Firth whose idea for a collagen water has become a world-first reality.

Working as a graphic designer for a Japanese client, Luci Firth soon became aware of the significance Asian consumers place on collagen as a daily part of their diet, and how far behind New Zealanders were in awareness about its claimed health benefits.

“In places like Japan you will find it regularly used as something you sprinkle on your rice, or buy it from a corner store to add to your cooking. We have been a bit slower to pick up on it,” Firth said. . .

Rural literacy trust struggles for support – Jessica Marshall:

Jo Poland started the Rural Youth and Adult Literacy Trust (RYALT), formerly the Adult Literacy Trust, from her kitchen table in 2011.

Poland, who has taught and been involved in teaching adult literacy since 1994, was approached by a local Port Waikato mother who was looking for help for her daughter who struggled with reading and writing.

Thus, Poland was inspired to found RYALT with two other trustee members.

Since then, RYALT has helped close to 1000 people – youths and adults.

Farms ales rise at the end of 2020:

Farm sales ended 2020 on a healthy note with a 15 percent increase compared to the same time the previous year.

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) data shows 32 percent more finishing farms and 26 percent more dairy farms were sold in the three months ended December 2020 compared to the same time in 2019. Sales of grazing farms were down 9 percent and 23 percent fewer arable farms were sold.

The median price per hectare was up $4000 to just over $27,000. . .

LIC half-year report – enomics investment delivering for farmers and co-op:

LIC announces its half-year financial results for the six months to 30 November 2020, which show continued strength in the cooperative’s financial performance with increased revenue and underlying earnings.

Performance Highlights H1 2020-21:

  • $169.7 million total revenue, up 3.8% from $163.4 million in the same period last year.
  • $33.4 million net profit after tax (NPAT), up 10.4% from $30.3 million. . .

Zespri plan to partner with Chinese growers off the table, for now :

Kiwifruit exporter Zespri’s hope to partner with Chinese growers illegally growing gold kiwifruit are on hold.

Last year unauthorised plantings of the high value fruit almost doubled to at least 4000 hectares.

Growers in New Zealand pay hundreds of thousands of dollars a hectare to grow it, so in a bid to control plantings in China, Zespri had hoped to work with Chinese growers and authorities in what it called a “win- win” commercial agreement.

But Kiwifruit New Zealand, which independently regulates Zespri, has thrown out the proposal for now. . .

‘Setting the example’: About 330 Riverside County farmworkers vaccinated at event in Mecca – Rebecca Plevin:

Beatriz Martinez has continued working in the fields of the Coachella and San Joaquin valleys throughout the coronavirus pandemic. She has followed a series of protocols — maintaining a 6-foot distance from other workers, avoiding eating in close proximity to others during her lunch breaks and washing her hands frequently — and she has not contracted COVID-19.

On Thursday morning, the 54-year-old Coachella resident took a break from pruning grapevines at Tudor Ranch in Mecca, where she has worked for 35 years, to get vaccinated. She was among approximately 330 agricultural employees who got the shot at the ranch, in what county officials believe was the state’s first large vaccination event specifically for farmworkers.

Martinez — who wore a surgical mask and a colorful bandana over her mouth, and clutched a wide-brimmed hat in her hand — said in Spanish she was “really happy” to get vaccinated. She was grateful to get inoculated during work hours, she added, calling it a “reward” for all the years she had worked for the company. . . 

 


Yes Sir Humphrey

30/01/2021


The Vision is Clear

30/01/2021

Success stories form years two and three of DairyNZ’s Vision is Clear:


Saturday Soapbox

30/01/2021

Saturday’s soapbox is yours to use as you will – within the bounds of decency and absence of defamation. You’re welcome to look back or forward, discuss issues of the moment, to pontificate, ponder or point us to something of interest, to educate, elucidate or entertain, amuse, bemuse or simply muse, but not abuse.

Useful men, who do useful things, don’t mind being treated as useless. But the useless always judge themselves as being important and hide all their incompetence behind authority – Paulo Coelho


Word of the day

29/01/2021

Raptor – a carnivorous medium- to large-sized bird (such as a hawk, eagle, owl, or vulture) that has a hooked beak and large sharp talons and that feeds wholly or chiefly on meat taken by hunting or on carrion; a bird, such as an eagle or a hawk, that kills and eats small birds and animals; birds of prey; a dromaeosaurid dinosaur, especially a velociraptor or utahraptor.


Sowell says

29/01/2021


Rural round-up

29/01/2021

Covid minces meat prices – Sudesh Kissun:

Farmgate red meat prices are taking a hit as Covid continues to disrupt dining out businesses around the world.

Beef prices are down 16% on a year ago, lamb prices down around 18% in New Zealand dollar terms.

ASB economist Nat Keall says it’s a more muted start to the year for beef and lamb prices when compared to dairy.

Keall notes that lamb prices in particular aren’t too far above the lows seen in the immediate post-pandemic churn.

Dog detective sniffs out pest plants in Wairarapa – Marcus Anselm:

New Zealand’s leading dog detective was unleashed in Wairarapa’s wetlands on Tuesday as part of the fight against invasive toxic weeds.

Bailey is part of the Department of Conservation’s [DOC] Conservation Dogs Programme.

The seven-year-old boxer-short haired pincer cross, and her pal Wink, are trained by Graeme Miller, a 38-year DOC veteran and canine specialist based in Invercargill.

The age-old partnership of man and dog is augmented by high-speed technology. . . 

 

High dairy prices push up Synlait payout forecast by 13% :

Speciality dairy company Synlait Milk is lifting its milk payout forecast by nearly 13 percent following strong world prices.

The company has increased its base milk price by 30 cents to $7.20 a kilo of milk solids from $6.40/kg.

Synlait national milk supply manager David Williams said dairy prices had risen strongly in recent months and were expected to stay around current levels for the rest of the season. . . 

New Years honours recognise QEII covantors:

A new year brings with it the New Year’s Honours list, where New Zealanders who have made significant contributions to their communities are recognised and thanked for their workWe are incredibly honoured to have several QEII covenantors on the New Year’s honours list this year and are proud to celebrate their achievements along with the rest of the amazing individuals on the honours list.  

Gillian Adshead and Kevin Adshead 
Gillian and Kevin Adshead were both awarded The Queen’s Service Medal for their services to conservation.  
 
The Adsheads are conservation champions in their community, connecting with other landowners and farmers to support and encourage conservation practises. They are both QEII covenantors and started the Mataia Restoration Project in 2005, which focuses on pest control on their 1,300-hectare family farm.  
 
Their efforts allowed for kiwi to return to Mataia in 2013 and following this, the pair foundethe Forest Bridge Trust.  . . 

Pernod Ricard winemakers selects Trellis to dynamically predict yield, quality and timing of grape harvest:

 Pernod Ricard Winemakers, the premium wine division of Pernod Ricard, today announced that food system intelligence innovator Trellis will support its business and supply chain operations by providing accurate grape yield, quality, harvest timing and procurement cost prediction across Australia and New Zealand.

“As we continue to lead the wine industry into the digital era, we are committed to working with artificial intelligence (AI) innovators that are reimagining global supply chains. We were impressed by Trellis’s expertise in the industry and proven ability to scale across complex business units and multiple geographies,” noted Alex Kahl, who is leading the project and the optimization of technology across operations for Pernod Ricard Winemakers. “We are excited to give our teams the ability to more accurately predict risks and uncover new opportunities for efficiency.”

A leading advocate for advanced supply and demand prediction, Pernod Ricard Winemakers expanded the deployment of Trellis across its grape supply network throughout New Zealand and Australia.  . . 

View From the Paddock: Ag – lead the exodus we need – Bess O’Connor :

I can hardly bring myself to talk about 2020 or the stupidity that continues to go on with borders.

They somewhat resemble the dozen, hair-trigger mouse traps around my house, snapping closed in the dead of night for absolutely no reason, as a hollow and unproductive threat to the mice going about their business around them.

Last year demonstrated clearly how overlooked and disregarded our ‘small community’ of 2 million rural Australians is.

Yet, in the rubble of a country that no longer knows who it is, where it’s going, or how the hell to get there; we might be the only unified, borderless team left. . . 


Yes Sir Humphrey

29/01/2021


Before the luck runs out

29/01/2021

Each time there’s news about shortcomings with our Covid-19 response it looks more and more as if the success is due more to good luck than good management.

The latest shemozzle adds to that suspicion and the need for improvements which several health professionals have suggested.

Writing kast year after the release of the Simpson-Roche report which showed just how bad management had been, Eric Crampton wrote that we had to block the border holes :

The University of Otago’s epidemiologists listed a series of measures that would obviously help to reduce the risk of future outbreaks. Many are simple; some would take more work. But when outbreaks cost billions of dollars, in addition to obvious health costs and distress, even a percentage point reduction in the risk of an outbreak can be worth millions.

The epidemiologists’ suggested measures work to reduce the risk of transmission, to reduce the risk of missed cases, and to reduce the costs of any missed case that does make it through.

They suggest adjusting the intensity of border control measures to the risk involved in travel from different places. It makes little sense, for example, that travellers from places where Covid is widespread and transmission is uncontrolled are treated the same way as travellers from places without Covid, like the Covid-free islands, Taiwan, and parts of Australia.

A traffic-light system, designating more stringent controls for travellers from risky places, could help.

On the simple and obvious range of the spectrum, the epidemiologists recommend reviewing testing regimes for incoming travellers.

Currently, travellers are subject to two PCR tests while in MIQ. The tests are costly and invasive, and accurate. Rapid antigen-based saliva tests have been available for months but are not as accurate as PCR tests. Good testing protocols can consider trade-offs between frequent tests that are cheaper and less accurate, and less frequent tests that are more accurate.

But, since August, accurate PCR saliva-based testing following the University of Illinois’ SHIELD system protocols have been possible. The tests provide faster results, are accurate, provide less risk of transmission during testing, and are much less expensive to process. Where a regular nasal swab test can induce sneezing, the Illinois test only requires saliva collection.

Shifting from one test per week to near-daily testing would have obvious advantages.

Faster identification of positive cases would mean that those who were infected would be more quickly shuttled to dedicated facilities where they would be less likely to pass the virus to others.

And extending near-daily testing to border staff would make it far more likely any infections would be caught more quickly, reducing transmission risk.

Border staff are now offered daily tests but they aren’t required to have them.

Other obvious and relatively inexpensive measures recommended by the Otago epidemiologists included enhanced monitoring of close contacts of border workers, wastewater testing at border facilities and in areas near border facilities, and pre-departure testing for travellers coming from risky places.

In the heat of an election campaign, National’s proposals for mandatory testing before travelling were portrayed as impracticable, ineffective, or both. But saliva-based antigen tests, like the Abbott BinaxNOW test which recently received FDA Emergency Use Authorisation, could be used right at the airport departure gate. Testing at the gate would reduce the risk that infectious people board the plane and infect their fellow passengers. It certainly would not substitute for a stay in MIQ, but it would reduce the number of arriving cases.

A negative result form a test within 72 hours of departure is now required but a test at the airport immediately before departure would be even better.

Reducing the number of arriving Covid cases, or at least preventing that number from increasing, matters. New Zealand’s health system can only handle so many positive cases, and that constraint seems to guide much of how MIQ operates.

There are many opportunities for the MIQ system to expand to handle more arrivals, safely. People arriving from low-risk places could stay in facilities that had been ruled out because they were too far from hospitals, for example, leaving more room in other facilities for travellers from riskier places.

The MIQ system has been exceptionally reluctant to consider those kinds of options. It makes little sense, unless measures that would allow more people into MIQ from risky places would mean more positive cases than officials believe the health system can safely handle.

Preventing those who are infected from boarding the plane reduces the number of positive cases arriving here, which means that more travellers overall could be accommodated. More Kiwis could safely return home, and more people could safely join us, if those with Covid were less likely to board flights here in the first place.

And that brings us to the Otago epidemiologists’ more difficult option – but one that is well worth considering. They suggest running MIQ facilities in high-risk jurisdictions; they had made similar suggestion in October. The government could set a pilot programme providing MIQ facilities in a country that is the source of many positive cases found in our MIQ system. Travellers could isolate before travel to New Zealand, reducing the risk of transmission.

MIQ in New Zealand would still be required if there were risk that passengers could contract the virus at the airport. But it would reduce the number of positive cases arriving here, enabling more Kiwis to come home safely. And an MIQ facility in the UK would also reduce the risk presented by the more contagious form of Covid now prevalent there.

It would be impossible to bolt every possible door against future outbreaks. But Otago’s epidemiologists point out several opportunities for making our borders safer. Far better to bolt those particular doors now, rather than read about them again in a future Simpson-Roche report.

Mike Hosking has a few more suggestions:

A few ideas on how MIQ should be working. Currently, not only is it run badly, it’s not run to its full potential.

It’s run with fear as a driving force and fear limits your ability to think, excel and expand.

Firstly, the experts the Bakers and the Gormans are right. The fact they are virtually all in major centres is insanity, especially with the new strains.

More of New Zealand needs to be used. More military facilities need to be used

Flights from certain countries for now need to be stopped. Tests on day 0, 3 and 12 work well, but isolation post-MIQ is now necessary.

Everyone is in the room and stays in the room for 14 days, full stop – Australia has it right.

I would carve out sections for business. I would allow a small number or perhaps a group of businesses to provide private facilities overseen by the government. This would allow workers and students to re-enter the country into isolation without the numbers jam we currently have

I would allow an exemption system for private isolation. It would cost and the fines would be gargantuan, Australia has it and it works. It allows people with job opportunities and money to come and go.

Yes, there is an egalitarian backlash, but this is about moving forward, not being bogged down with whinging.

At the best of times life isn’t fair. If allowing some who can afford it to pay more for private isolation, with very strict guidelines and very, very expensive consequences for not adhering to them, allows more people to come in safely, let the whingers whinge while the rest of us get on with our lives.

The bubble with Australia would be up and running and running. The key here is MIQ: if MIQ worked and was run properly, we wouldn’t have the leaks.

If we didn’t have the leaks we wouldn’t be constantly chasing our tail running nine hour queues for testing and generally having fear run rampant in various communities.

And when MIQ works, you can travel with confidence. You’ve been able to travel with confidence to Australia for months now, it’s just our fear that’s held us back.

And in traveling freely to Australia, you’ve just freed up a significant portion of MIQ spaces, thus allowing yet more New Zealanders to return home.

None of this is rocket science. None of its new, it’s all been suggested, a lot of its been done elsewhere. . . 

We can be grateful that we can enjoy the freedom to move and congregate around New Zealand that people in very few other countries have. But if, as it increasingly appears, it’s due more to good luck than good management the management must improve and improve quickly before the luck runs out.

And not only must the systems and processes for existing MIQ improve, they need to do so in a way that enables more people to come in safely for the sake of people needing to return and for the boost it could provide to the businesses which are short of workers.


Word of the day

28/01/2021

Abliguration – extravagance in cooking and serving; spending lavish amounts of money on fine foods; prodigal expense on food and drink.


Sowell says

28/01/2021


Travelling Under the Social Influence

28/01/2021

Friends waited for more than half an hour for that classic photo overlooking Lake Wanaka from Roys Peak which features near the start of this video.


Rural round-up

28/01/2021

Farmer-led petition to close this weekend – Sally Rae:

“Farmers need to get off the fence and stand with us against stupidity.”

That is the message from Greenvale sheep and beef farmer Laurie Paterson, whose petition seeking a rewrite of the controversial new freshwater rules closes on Saturday.

The petition was organised by Groundswell NZ, a group which stemmed from a tractor trek in Gore in October expressing farmers’ feelings about the new regulations.

It had been signed by more than 1600 people, and Mr Paterson hoped it would reach at least 2000 signatures. . . 

Fire risk in drought affected Northland and Far North

Fire and Emergency says fire danger in Northland and the Far North is at a high level with many areas continuing to dry out and long range forecasts suggesting only minimal relief on the horizon.

FENZ wildfire specialist Graeme Still says despite what might look like green pastures, the soil underneath is full of dead and dry material which can fuel fires. He’s appealing for people to take extra care with any activity that could spark a blaze in hot spot areas. And Federated Farmers Northland, President John Blackwell and the Chair of Rural Support Trust, Neil Bateup tell Kathryn how arid farming communities have fared so far this summer. . . 

Challenge to accelerate innovation in the food, fibre and agritech sector :

The need for transformative innovation in the food, fibre and agritech sector is at the core of the latest Supernode Challenge which is now open to applications.

The Food, Fibre and Agritech Supernode Challenge, presented by ChristchurchNZ, KiwiNet, AgResearch and the Canterbury Mayoral Forum, seeks to accelerate ideas for disruptive solutions to some of New Zealand’s most pressing challenges.

With a total prize pool of $130,000, the Challenge is looking for ideas that are transformative and have the potential for commercial success on a global scale while also delivering positive environmental outcomes. It will provide both financial resources, in-kind, and expert support for teams with an ambitious vision about the future of food, fibre and agritech in Canterbury. . . 

Champion cow owners used to sleeping rough at Horowhenua AP and I Show stables – Paul Williams:

Sleeping rough with your prize cow the night before a competition is all part and parcel of showing cattle.

There were almost 40 people that slept overnight in the stables at the Levin Showgrounds at the weekend, watching over their animals ahead of the annual Horowhenua AP&I Show.

With months spent grooming their animals for show, all the hard work could be undone if a cow was to roll over and spend the night lying on a poo.

Allowed to settle in, the resulting stain would be near impossible to remove from a cow’s coat the following morning. The quicker it was attended to the better. . .

Pics Peanut Butter to trial gorging peanuts in Northland :

Pic’s Peanut Butter has kicked off a project to look at the feasibility of growing peanuts commercially in Northland, with backing from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

The $91,320 project is led by Picot Productions, and MPI is contributing more than $59,000 through its Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures fund. Research expertise is being provided by Plant & Food Research.

The project will trial growing peanuts in three locations – Ruawai on a kumara farm, Poutu Peninsular near Dargaville, and on Māori land in the Kai Iwi Lakes district. If successful, peanut farming could bring new employment opportunities to the Northland region

“We’ve selected three locations with different soil types and environments to see where the peanuts grow best,” says Declan Graham, Business Manager – Science at Plant & Food Research, which is managing the project trials. . . 

On the whole koalas are smarter than PETA – Vic Jurskis:

Animal activists from PETA staged a rally outside the NSW Premier’s office this morning, unfurling banners featuring a bloody koala on a meat tray and the slogan that “Eating Meat Kills Koalas”. This registered charity targets pastoralists, first because they put meat on our tables and, secondly, because they claim clearing by graziers is destroying koala habitat. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Koalas are an irruptive species —  that is, when applied to animals not quite so cute, a pest. There are many more koalas over a much wider range than there were before pastoralists disrupted Aboriginal burning. They irrupted as a consequence of thickening vegetation. Other more common animals disappeared. Our world-famous mass extinction of small mammals occurred in semi-arid areas where there was no logging or clearing. Thickening vegetation and scrub choked out the delicate and diverse ground flora that had sustained the cute little creatures.

Aborigines ate koalas, but not many because they were actually quite rare. They lived in very low densities in mature forests. Each koala had thousands of trees in its huge home range. They were invisible.  . . 


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