Rural round-up

Lack of skill costs contractors – Gerald Piddock:

Inexperienced Kiwi farm machinery operators are costing the industry stress, accidents and insurance claims, a new survey of Rural Contractor NZ (RCNZ) members has revealed.

While the industry will continue to train and recruit more New Zealand staff to meet demand, it was fortunate there had been no serious accidents this season, RCNZ chief executive Roger Parton said.

Many rural contractors were only barely able to meet farmer demand this season by working unacceptably long hours in machinery, as well as trying to supervise inexperienced staff.

“We appear to have been extremely lucky that there have not been any serious accidents, but health and safety cannot rely on luck,” Parton said. . . 

Why we should care more about wool – Nadia Lim:

 I find it intriguing that, in a world where we are so keen on being more environmentally friendly and sustainable, the industry for one of the most sustainable, durable and biodegradable materials is in dire straits, and at an all-time low.

I’m talking about wool. Strong wool – produced by the majority of New Zealand sheep breeds – can be used in clothing, carpets, curtains and insulation, not to mention furniture, bedding, weed mat, fertiliser and more. It has a higher micron count than merino wool, so it is thicker and stronger; merino is finer and softer, which is why it’s ideal for clothes worn close to the skin.

We run about 2000 Perendale ewes on our mixed cropping and sheep farm in Central Otago. We reduced the stock numbers significantly when we came here, to give the land a rest but also because there is so little demand for wool these days.

That’s the sad, and ironic, thing. There’s so little demand for wool that we literally have tonnes of it sitting in our shed in bales. It must be an education and awareness thing, because if everyone was actually serious about wanting to be more sustainable, do you think as many of us would be wearing (synthetic, petroleum-based) acrylic jumpers and polar fleece, or that we’d put synthetic insulation and carpets in our homes? . . 

Forage may unlock low gas options – Richard Rennie:

Leafy turnips and winter forage rape crops may yet provide a means for farmers to ensure their livestock emit less methane, without compromising productivity.

AgResearch forage scientist Arjan Jonker acknowledges finding lower methane-emitting feeds is one of agriculture’s “wicked problems”, but says the AgResearch team is well-advanced in understanding what feeds can produce less ruminant methane.

AgResearch forage scientists are working alongside their livestock research colleagues on potential pasture types that may play a key role in helping the sector lower its methane emissions.

With both crops comprising most of the sheep’s diet, the researchers have achieved methane emission reductions of 20-30%. . .

Geoff Ross on New Zealand’s first certified carbon positive farm :

If farmers want to increase profits they need to “look beyond the gate” at the big picture, Geoff Ross says.

Ross and his wife Justine run Lake Hawea Station, the first farm in New Zealand to have its carbon footprint certified.

The Rosses used certifications provider Toitū Envirocare, which found that the 6500-hectare station was actually carbon positive.

This was a “big deal” for Lake Hawea Station, and for its offshore customers, Ross told The Country’s Jamie Mackay. . . 

What lessons can we learn from European glyphosate review? – Mark Ross:

The prospect of a ban on glyphosate is placing enormous pressure on European farmers and Kiwis should be taking notice, Agcarm chief executive Mark Ross says.

Glyphosate use in Europe has resulted in reassessments, reviews and bans in some countries, causing a backlash by farmers.

The controversial herbicide is touted by New Zealand Professor of Toxicology Ian Shaw as a victim of its own success.

It’s successful because it is the most widely used herbicide in the world, it is versatile, and its use can benefit the environment. . . 

 

Summerfruit industry looking forward to growing strong conference in Hawkes Bay:

Summerfruit NZ has just opened registration for the Growing strong – Success in a changing world conference. The industry event is being held at various venues in Hawke’s Bay, including the War Memorial Centre in Napier, where trade exhibits will be on display and speaker presentations will be made.

The Growing strong theme indicates an industry that has experienced tough times but has come through 2020-21 and is ready to reflect, build resilience and celebrate the end of a season like no other.

‘Unfortunately, last year’s conference had to be cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions,’ says Summerfruit NZ chief executive Kate Hellstrom. ‘Growers and other members of the summerfruit industry are really looking forward to meeting with friends and colleagues they may not have seen for well over a year. . . 

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