Word of the day

08/03/2021

Forfeebled – exhuasted; over-tired.


Yes Sir Humphrey

08/03/2021


Rural round-up

08/03/2021

Experienced operators scarce as maize harvest ramps up– Gerald Piddock:

Agricultural contractors remain short of experienced operators as a bumper maize harvest gets underway across the North Island.

Contractors have been hard at work in Northland since early February, while further south in Waikato, harvest started a few weeks later.

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) vice-president Helen Slattery says the New Zealanders that had been retrained and were employed by contractors were fitting in well in their new vocation.

“In saying that, we do still need those experienced harvest operators. You don’t learn how to operate a harvester in your first year,” Slattery said. . . .

Red meat sector exports reach $743.3 million in January 2021 :

New Zealand exported red meat and co-products worth $738.3 million in January 2021, according to an analysis by the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Although this represented a 14% drop compared with January 2020, there was exceptionally strong demand for beef in China a year ago ahead of the Covid-19 lockdown and African Swine Fever was decimating Chinese pig herds, resulting in a surge in demand for other protein.

“Red meat exports hit record levels of $9.2 billion during 2020,” says MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva. . . 

 

Genetics gain facilitates lower cow numbers – Hugh Stringleman:

The national dairy herd already contains the calibre of cows that will be required in the future to allow farmers to reduce cow numbers without losing total farm productivity or profitability.

“We already have cows with the desired levels of productivity, we just need more of them,” LIC’s general manager of New Zealand Markets Malcolm Ellis said.

LIC says genetics are a big part of the dairy industry’s response to the Climate Change Commission’s targets for greenhouse gas reduction in agriculture.

NZ is already a low-emissions dairy producer, but the commission is signalling a 15% reduction in stock numbers in nine years. . .

Are the days of industrial fertiliser numbered? – Mark Daniel:

We’ve been encouraged to grow our own for many years, now researchers at two Sydney universities have found a way of making ‘green’ ammonia and say their discovery could provide a major boost to farmers and speed up a global push to renewable hydrogen fuel.

Chemical engineers at the University of New South Wales and University of Sydney say their method of making ammonia (NH3) from air, water and renewable electricity removes the need for high temperatures, high pressure and large infrastructure, currently needed to commercially produce the gas.

The new production system, demonstrated in laboratory trials, could potentially provide a solution to the problem of storing and transporting hydrogen energy.

So, is the day of reckoning coming for the world’s fertiliser manufacturers? . . 

Why we should be using wool carpets – Jacqueline Rowarth:

New Zealand had banned single use plastic bags, so why can’t we get rid of synthetic carpets? Dr Jacqueline Rowarth investigates.

New Zealand banned single use plastic bags in 2019 from July 1.

Over 9000 people had their say in the consultation process, and the Ministry for the Environment took action. The aim was to reduce waste and protect the environment.

New Zealanders adapted so quickly that it is difficult to imagine how we could have been so profligate with plastic in the past. . . 

School leavers swap lazy days for hard yakka fruit picking on farmers’ Chinchilla melon farm – Vicki Thompson:

Brisbane school-leaver Rhys Burke never imagined he would end up picking watermelons under the blazing sun on a Chinchilla farm.

Four months ago, the city-based teenager answered the call from farmer Murray Sturgess, who was desperate for pickers to get his watermelon crop to market.

Rhys and school friend Aidan Stuart packed up and headed west, straight out of school into the hot paddocks of the Western Downs.

It is hard work after 13 years in the classroom, but, as Rees explains, “if you can survive the first three days, you’re sweet”. . . 


Yes Sir Humphrey

08/03/2021


Maya muses

08/03/2021

A thought for International Women’s Day:


If don’t look can’t learn

08/03/2021

National is calling for an investigation into the Valentine’s Day Covid-19 cluster:

The National Party is calling for an inquiry into the Valentine’s Day cluster to see where our response went wrong, and what lessons we can learn.

The scope of the inquiry would include:

  • The performance of contract tracing
  • Communication of public health messaging
  • Whether the testing regime met expectations
  • If saliva or antigen testing should be used more fully
  • The legality of orders issued around testing and self-isolation

The contact tracing was well short of the 80% benchmark recommended by then medical researcher, now MP Dr Ayesha Verrall last year.

Communication was confused.

A lot of tests were done but we don’t know if the regime met expectations.

Other countries and private businesses here are using saliva tests. We need to know if more could and should be used here.

That Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield issued a section 70 health order on isolation and testing for contacts and casual contacts of the February cluster on Friday raises questions about the legality of requirements before that.

“National thought the call to go out of Level 3 in February was bold and ambitious. At the time we didn’t know the source of the original case, there were two new community cases that day and not all of the high school students had been tested,” Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins says.

“It has since resulted in a week long lockdown for Auckland. These lockdowns are costing the economy half a billion dollars each week. It’s the reason this yo-yoing in and out of lockdown must be avoided.

“This week we’ve found out that our contact tracing isn’t the ‘gold standard’ the Government would have us think. We haven’t met critical measures in the latest two outbreaks, and all locations of interest haven’t been disclosed to the public.”

Ms Collins says it is clear public health messaging needs to be improved.

“This week a young woman was vilified by the Prime Minister and her Government for following the advice she received. This has highlighted the lack of urgency shown by the Ministry of Health to follow up on unanswered texts or calls.

There are reports that the young man who went to the gym had been told he didn’t have to self-isolate after his test too.

“How the domestic border is managed needs improvement too. There were long queues of people trying to get back to Auckland last weekend, and late on Friday afternoon students trying to head home from boarding school were blocked from being reunited with their families at the border with no reasonable explanation.

“We should always be aiming to improve our response, so we should have an inquiry into why Auckland had to back into Level 3 less than two weeks after coming out of a lockdown.

“Going into lockdown should be our last resort and that means making sure our response to any community outbreak is comprehensive.

“If anything, this week has shown New Zealand there is a lot we can work on in our response when community cases arise. We should always be aiming to improve, so an inquiry into the Valentine’s Day cluster is appropriate.

Among the improvements needed is a more nuanced response to lockdowns. If Sydney can contain community outbreaks by locking down suburbs but leaving the rest of the city, and the state, free, why can’t a similar approach be taken here? Does the whole of Auckland have to go to Level 3 and the rest of the country  to Level 2 every time there’s community transmission somewhere in the city?

If the government doesn’t take a very serious look at what happened – what went well and what didn’t – it won’t learn and if it doesn’t learn any mistakes made this time could well be made again at huge cost to individuals, families, businesses, events and the country.


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