Rural round-up

April 22, 2019

Farming to create fresh air – Luke Chivers:

When people think of farming, few think of carbon farming. But Canterbury farmers Warrick and CeCe James are using agriculture to feed people and fight climate change. Luke Chivers spoke to them on-farm.

Imagine carbon emissions and what springs to mind? 

Most people tend to think of power stations belching out clouds of carbon dioxide or queues of vehicles burning up fossil fuels as they crawl, bumper-to-bumper along congested urban roads. 

But in Canterbury’s picturesque Selwyn Gorge the owners of a forest of 18-year-old pine and Douglas fir trees are confident that at harvest age the trees will still be worth more alive than dead and will continue to be indefinitely. . .

Lower carbon food chain challenges – Richard Rennie:

A dive into the little-known field of energy return on investment for his Nuffield Scholarship was the extension of a long-held interest for Solis Norton of Otago. It measures energy flows through New Zealand’s primary food chains to see how we might move to zero emissions by 2050 while remaining a viable economy. He spoke to Richard Rennie.

Nuffield scholar Solis Norton acknowledges the area of energy return on investment (EROI) is not top of mind for many but his year’s study found the field holds important tools for one of this country’s most pressing demands – getting to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“Mapping out the transition to carbon zero using economics is a good starting point but mapping our true energy use during the transition is critical too. This is what EROI does. Our path to carbon-zero economic prosperity will collapse if we run short of energy along the way.”  . . 

Mānuka honey regulatory definition throws industry into turmoil :

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) regulatory definition of mānuka honey has thrown the honey industry into turmoil and European authorities are beginning to notice there’s something wrong, a Northland honey expert says.

Dr John Craig, a veteran beekeeper and former professor of environmental studies, said the ministry’s challenged the industry to prove that its definition needs to change.

But he said the ministry’s own research has already done that. . .

High octane’ deer feeds examined at workshop – Yvonne O’Hara:

”High octane” feed was the subject at the Otago Advance Party regional workshop in Poolburn last week.

Deer farmers and industry representatives met at the Poolburn/Moa Creek Hall last Wednesday in a meeting organised by Abacusbio consultant Simon Glennie.

The Advance Party workshop was part of the deer industry’s Passion2Profit programme.

The group visited Poolburn deer farmer Cam Nicolson’s property to look at his deer, then returned to the hall to discuss how he could improve growth rates and profits by using ”high octane” forages. . .

 

Capturing the spirit of New Zealand by turning sheep’s milk into booze – Esther Taunton:

Like many off-the-wall ideas, Sam Brown’s came to him on a night out with friends.

The Kiwi entrepreneur and founder of The White Sheep Co was living in China when he realised New Zealand had no national drink.

“I was out with friends and we decided to have a drink for everybody’s country.

“We had a bit of tequila for a guy from Mexico, some vodka for a guy from Russia and even some brandy for a person from France,” he said. . .

Regional wrap:

Northland still has green grass everywhere, but there’s not much of it .. normally farms would be knee deep in kikuyu and it would be a challenge to manage it, but that’s not the case. It’s not a disaster but lots of dairy herds have been partially dried off.

Outstanding autumn weather has been the main feature this week for Franklin vege growers .. in fact for much of the North Island. . .


Rural round-up

April 13, 2019

Poll says farmers open to change – Neal Wallace:

Increasing numbers of farmers are focused on making their properties more environmentally sustainable but few plan to take steps to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

A Nielsen Research survey commissioned by the Ministry for Primary Industries shows 92% of farmers are addressing environmental sustainability, up from 79% in 2009, but just 23% are focused on reducing greenhouse gases, a drop from 30%.

That is despite 63% of farmers agreeing or strongly agreeing human activity is contributing to climate change, up from 54% in 2009, but lower than the 82% of New Zealanders who believe human activity is contributing to climate change. . . 

A lesson in clean dairying from two Waikato farmers – Gerald Piddock:

Being an effluent compliant dairy farmer is about pride and attitude for Alistair Johnson and Tony and Fran Allcock​.

Knowing that the potentially harmful cow muck is properly contained gives them peace of mind after the two Waikato dairy farmers spent thousands on upgrades for new systems on their respective farms near Te Awamutu and Te Rore.

Both opened up their farms to show off their systems to farmers at a recent DairyNZ field day. . . 

Gut health at heart of biotech success – Richard Rennie:

Chinese consumers’ understanding of the brain-gut health axis is paying dividends for Hamilton biotech firm Quantec following the launch of an award-winning nutrition drink. Co-founder Dr Rod Claycomb and chief executive Raewyn McPhillips spoke to Richard Rennie about the exciting potential of some of the company’s patented ingredients.

QUANTEC took out this year’s supreme award from the natural health products industry for the second time in as many years, making it the only company to do so. 

It is a reflection of the recent success the company has enjoyed following the launch of its milk protein and flax seed oil drink on the Chinese market. . . 

Dannevirke A&P show going to the dogs – Sue Emeny:

Dogs of all shapes and sizes will take over the Dannevirke A & P Showgrounds at the weekend when the Ruahine Kennel Association hosts its Dog Dayz show.

It’s an annual event that attracts dog owners from throughout New Zealand.

Ruahine Kennel Association president Tim Delaney says it’s a busy time for owners of pedigree dogs as there are shows just about every weekend.

The show is run over the two days with judging commencing at 9am on both days. . . 

I left Auckland to take the $150,000 job that no-one wanted – Fleur Guthrie:

Sitting down for a cuppa after cycling through the central North Island’s picturesque Timber Trail, Tracey Goodall turned to her partner, Michal Mudroncik, and made a throwaway comment: “Imagine if we lived somewhere like this.”

The outdoors-loving couple thought nothing more of it as they headed back to Auckland, but serendipity had already intersected.

Several days later, at work, Tracey’s colleague asked if anyone had seen “that job doing the rounds on social media” for a general manager of Forgotten World Adventures in Taumarunui. . . 

Let’s talk law: Bees over the boundary – Amy Cranston:

Gold fever has taken hold in the beekeeping industry.

The value of mānuka honey has led to unprecedented returns on marginal land, in both revenue and land value. Ironically, land once cleared for grazing is now left to revert to gorse and scrub to feed the bees.

Councils too are contributing to the planting of mānuka. In return, landowners are retiring steep or sensitive areas from grazing. . . 

 


Rural round-up

April 4, 2019

Beef and lamb campaign chases conscious foodies – Alan Williams:

Up to 16 million conscious foodies in California are the target of a major new beef and lamb marketing project.

The aim is to make New Zealand top-of-mind for a group passionate about the idea of grass-fed red meat and wanting to know where it comes from.

After months of research Taste Pure Nature was launched in California on March 20 and straight away there were 151 automatic pick-ups on the multi-media release, providing potentially millions of potential impressions among individual consumers, Beef + Lamb NZ market development general manager Nick Beeby said. . . 

‘Devastated’ Northland mānuka honey producers seek chemical markers definition review from MPI – Lois Williams:

The legal definition of mānuka honey could change, if new evidence shows the chemical makeup of the honey is different in Northland, MPI says.

Far North honey producers say the Ministry of Primary Industries’ regulatory definition, published a year ago, excludes up to 50 percent of their honey, based on just one chemical marker – even in areas where the bees have nothing but mānuka to feed on.

About 80 beekeepers and honey producers from Auckland to Kaitaia turned out to challenge MPI scientists at a hui yesterday at Ōtiria marae, near Kaikohe.

They believe the definition established to protect New Zealand’s mānuka brand overseas fails to take into account regional variations in the chemical makeup of the honey. . . 

Diversified and innovative Whangarei orchard wins Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

A Whangarei family growing raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and green and gold kiwifruit have won the Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The Malley family of Patrick and his wife Rebecca and their children Austin, 4, and Eloise, 1, and Patrick’s parents Dermott and Linzi own and operate their diversified horticulture business, Maungatapere Berries, just outside Whangarei.

Raspberries are the biggest berry crop, processed through a packhouse on the orchard, and sold domestically under their own Maungatapere Berries brand along with blackberries, and blueberries under the Eureka brand. Kiwifruit canopy extends over 16.25ha, including 3.36ha of Gold 3 under cover, to target high-taste, high-production, early season fruit. . . 

Diversity and tolerance – now is the time –  Karen Williams:

Federated Farmers arable sector chairwoman Karen Williams says it is time for bold leadership.

With the traumatic events in Christchurch front of mind it has been hard to focus on topics worthy of commentary when so many of our daily tribulations seem comparatively insignificant.

This atrocity is beyond belief.

It has severely affected the Christchurch community, stunned and saddened New Zealand and sent shock waves around the globe. 

Is there something we can take out of this that will at least in some small way add value to a grieving country?

I believe there is. . . 

Australian snail farmer struggling to keep up with demand

Snails, ants and even fried cockroaches are increasingly popping up on Australian menus, as people seek more environmentally friendly meat.

However, with extreme weather and increased popularity, Australian snail farmers are struggling to meet demand.

Claudia Ait-Touati is a not-for-profit snail farmer in Coonalpyn, about 150 km south-east of Adelaide. . . 

Another pea weevil free year needed in the Wairarapa:

The current Biosecurity New Zealand ban on pea growing in the Wairarapa is knocking down the pea weevil population, but another pea weevil free year is needed to be confident of eradication.

The pest was first discovered in the Wairarapa in 2016 and has been subject to an eradication programme since then.

“Our trapping programme did not find any pea weevils in the 2018 surveillance, which is a promising result after the discovery of just 15 the previous season, says Biosecurity New Zealand spokesperson Dr Cath Duthie. . . 

Kiwifruit orchard with growth potential for sale:

One of closest commercial kiwifruit orchards to Auckland’s urban boundary – with potential to treble its production capacity – been placed on the market for sale.

Known as MacLachlan Orchard, the 12.2-hectare property at 90 Mullins Road in Ardmore is planted on flat land, and is forecast to produce some 42,000 trays of fruit in the current season.

The orchard’s 3.3 canopy hectares of productive land comprises some 2.29-canopy hectares of the Hayward green kiwifruit variety and 1.07 canopy hectares of the G3 gold kiwifruit strain picked off vines which were grafted some six years ago. . . 


Rural round-up

April 3, 2019

Westland Co-operative Dairy demise is self-inflicted – Keith Woodford:

The approaching demise of Westland Co-operative Dairy (trading as Westland Milk Products) has come as a surprise to many people.  It should not have done so.  At the very least, either a partial sale or major joint venture has been inevitable for some years. Survival as a co-operative is now impossible.

Most of the people I talk to think the sale to Chinese company Yili is a very bad idea. West Coasters do not like it. Even Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor is of that opinion. And if a sale really is necessary, then the common perspective seems to be that it should be a local company.

In response, I say ‘dream on’. . . 

Taratahi owes creditors $31 million – Neal Wallace:

Employees will get what they are owed but nearly 1200 unsecured creditors will have to wait to see if they will be paid any of the $15.8 million they are owed following December’s collapse of the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre.

An interim report by liquidators Grant Thornton says the sale of livestock will cover preferential creditors, employees, who are owed $2m, and Inland Revenue, owed $655,000, but there is no indication on the fate of other creditors.

Taratahi’s 518ha Mangarata farm is being readied for sale, over which Westpac has a secured mortgage, along stock, plant and shares. . . 

Crop work went like clockwork – Alan Williams:

Cropping demonstrations across cultivation, drilling, harvesting, balage and silage proceeded without a hitch at the South Island Agricultural Field Days at Kirwee in Canterbury.

Twelve or so hectares can sound like a lot of land area but with several different crops being grown on adjacent strips and some machinery being 10 metres wide there’s not a lot of margin for error.

It helps that each crop and activity is worked at separate times but there’s still a lot of planning and a lot of people to organise. . . 

Forestry sales at record high – reports – Eric Frykberg:

New evidence is emerging of a booming forestry sector.

It follows last month’s report from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) showing 2018 forestry sales at a record high.

Since then, the Seattle based think tank Wood Resource Quarterly has highlighted New Zealand’s role in growing imports of logs by China.

Wood Resource Quarterly said the Chinese took a total of 40 million cubic metres of lumber through their ports last year.

That was over a third more than just three years earlier. . .

Cushing family’s H&G to buy 2.2% Wrightson stake from Agria – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – The Cushing family’s H&G vehicle has agreed to buy a 2.2 percent stake in rural services firm PGG Wrightson from Agria Corp. for $8.3 million.

H&G has agreed to pay 49 cents a share for 17 million Wrightson shares, matching Friday’s closing price. Agria owns 351.6 million shares, or 46.6 percent of the rural services firm, having divested a 7.2 percent holding in December when Ngāi Tahu Capital withdrew from a seven-year pooling arrangement with Agria and Chinese agribusiness New Hope International. . . 

Record number of beekeepers have their say in latest check:

Almost a half of the country’s registered beekeepers have taken part in an annual survey to understand bee health, losses and beekeeping practice.

More than 3,600 beekeepers completed the 2018 Colony Loss Survey, which was carried out on behalf of Biosecurity New Zealand by Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research.

“The numbers of beekeepers participating in the self-reporting survey represents 47 per cent of New Zealand’s registered beekeepers and 42 per cent of registered colonies,” says Biosecurity New Zealand’s biosecurity surveillance and incursion (aquatic and environment health) manager, Dr Michael Taylor. . . 

Miscanthus – a carbon negative crop:

Most annually harvested crops require a lot of activity to get them established, grown and harvested. They need cultivation of the soil, weed control, planting, fertiliser, harvesting, sometimes waste disposal, packing and loading on a truck. Most of them need all that every year. In many cases, there is further cultivation, planting and cutting of a cover crop during the off season as well. Again, every year!

Miscanthus on the other hand needs cultivation, planting and weed control – once in at least 15 years – perhaps 25 years – plus harvesting and loading on a truck every year from year 2 onwards. There is also no waste to be disposed of with Miscanthus. There is no need to cultivate the soil again, no need for ongoing weed control, no need to replant, no need for fertiliser in most cases.  . . 


Rural round-up

March 29, 2019

Agricultural sector productivity growth – Michael Reddell:

In the last few weeks, presumably simply by coincidence, I’ve had various comments and emails about productivity growth in the agricultural sector.    The most recent one finally prompted me to dig out the official data and check that my impressions were still supported by the data.  They were.    Agricultural sector productivity growth was very strong, but has been much more subdued for some time now.

There are two main measures of agricultural sector productivity: labour productivity (in effect, output per hour of labour input) and multi-factor productivity (in effect, the residual after what can be attributed to growth in labour and capital inputs has been deducted). In principle, MFP is superior.  In practice, estimates rely more heavily on the assumptions used in the calculation (although –  diverting briefly –  to the various readers who have sent me a recent piece by GMO on TFP/MFP, I reckon there is less to that critique than the authors claim). . . 

No trade wobbles in China for Fonterra – Paul McBeth:

 (BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group hasn’t faced any issues getting its products into China, where its business hit some speed wobbles when the butter market slowed.

The world’s biggest dairy exporter counts China as one of its most important markets and has been a beneficiary of a burgeoning middle class in the world’s most populous nation. . . 

Lamb exports climb to record levels:

Lamb exports reached record levels in February 2019, bumping up overall meat exports to a new monthly high, Stats NZ said today.

Lamb exports were $391 million in February 2019, a new record for any month. The previous high was in May 2018 ($367 million).

This month’s rise was driven by higher prices, as quantity was little changed from May last year. . . 

Apiculture New Zealand supports Minister’s call for unity:

Apiculture New Zealand supports the Minister for Agriculture’s plea for greater unity to address existing challenges around bee welfare and biosecurity, food safety and export regulations, and welcomes the Minister’s commitment to supporting the industry.

This follows a meeting by Apiculture New Zealand with the Minister late last week on the commodity levy results.

“As we advised the Minister a ‘no vote’ for the commodity levy means we do not have the investment fund needed, nor the collective focus that is characteristic of other primary industries in identifying, deciding and actioning priorities,” says Bruce Wills Chair of Apiculture New Zealand. . . 

First charter ship carrying Zespri Kiwifruit sets sail for China and Japan:

The first charter vessel carrying Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit is heading to China and Japan following this season’s early start to harvest.

The Southampton Star departed from Tauranga Harbour yesterday evening carrying approximately 3,000 pallets of Bay of Plenty-grown SunGold Kiwifruit bound for Shanghai and Kobe. The vessel had earlier berthed in Gisborne where it picked up 1,600 pallets of SunGold Kiwifruit, marking the start of what promises to be another bumper crop. . . 

Dates set for the 2019 NZ Young Viticulturist of the Year:

The Bayer NZ Young Viticulturist of the Year Competition is now in its fourteenth year and to take out the coveted title has become a key goal for many young viticulturists in New Zealand.

The programme aims to grow the wine industry’s future leaders, by stretching them, putting them out of their comfort zone and creating new relationships. It is a fantastic opportunity for Young Vits (30 yrs or under) to upskill, grow in confidence, widen their network and start making a name for themselves within the industry. . . 


Rural round-up

March 8, 2019

Test will come when new cattle rustling laws applied

Livestock rustlers could spend up to seven years in prison when new penalties are imposed but a Northland farming official says police need more resources to investigate and take rural crimes more seriously.

The Crimes Amendment Bill, which was passed unanimously by Parliament on Tuesday, makes theft of livestock or any other animal, including beehives and farm dogs, an offence liable for up to seven years in prison.

Also passed was the offence of unlawful entry on agricultural land with the intent to steal livestock or to act unlawfully against specified things such as buildings or machinery on that land — a crime which could see the offender put behind bars for up to a decade.

It makes it the same penalty as for burglary. . . 

Water levels drop and fire dangers rise as drought continues in Nelson – Tim Newman:

Water restrictions in Nelson continue to tighten as the region continues its long dry period into the beginning of Autumn. 

Nelson’s Maitai Dam, which supplies the city with drinking water, has seen its water levels drop significantly during that time. 

Nelson City Council infrastructure group manager Alec Louverdis said the dam was currently 71 per cent full.  . . 

The future of food production from a female perspective:

Nine influential Kiwi women from across the primary industries sector are gathering in Manawatu next week to discuss where-to-next for our food producing nation. They’re coming together as part of the ASB Perspective 2025 round-table discussion, which is a headline event at this year’s New Zealand AgriFood Week in Palmerston North.

It’s the fourth year ASB has been the main sponsor of New Zealand AgriFood Week, which is delivered by the Central Economic Development Agency, and its unique perspective panel is considered a must attend event at the Globe Theatre in Palmerston North. . . 

Majority of beekeepers vote against commodity levy on honey:

Commercial beekeepers have voted not to support the introduction of a honey levy with only 23.56% voting for the introduction of a commodity levy.

Commenting on the result Bruce Wills, Chair of Apiculture NZ, the industry organisation which led the commodity levy proposal says: “It’s no secret that this is not the outcome I, or the Board, wanted to see. I believe it will set back the development of the honey industry, but I understand that at present commercial beekeepers are hurting with the erosion in honey prices as a result of over-supply, for all floral types other than mānuka honey.” . . 

Bids for Fonterra’s Tip Top due in by Monday – Jenny Ruth:

(BusinessDesk) – Indicative bids to buy Tip Top ice-cream from Fonterra Cooperative Group are due in by Monday, according to the Australian Financial Review which says it has seen a copy of the confidential information memorandum.

Its Street Talk column says the business is being pitched by First NZ Capital as a “unique opportunity to invest in an iconic New Zealand company with 80 years of heritage.”

While the memorandum talks about Tip Top’s “unrivalled market position,” it also notes that Unilever, which has the rights to Magnum ice-cream and a host of dairy free products, dominates the premium end of the market where the fat margins are. . . 

Fonterra appoints Judith Swales COO Global Foodservice:

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell has confirmed Judith Swales to the role of Chief Operating Officer, Global Consumer and Foodservice. This follows her appointment to the role in an acting capacity earlier this year.

Miles Hurrell says “Judith has been providing strong leadership into our Consumer and Foodservice business unit, and the momentum she has gathered deserves to be continued.” . . 

Scales Corporation enters into petfood joint Venture with Alliance Group:

Diversified agribusiness Scales Corporation Limited today announced an agreement to enter into a petfood Joint Venture (JV) with Alliance Group Limited (Alliance). Under the terms of the JV, Alliance will pay $15 million to acquire a 50% interest in Meateor’s New Zealand business and operations.

Managing Director Andy Borland says: “We are pleased to enter into a partnership with one of New Zealand’s leading farmer co-operatives. This venture is about developing New Zealand as the premier supplier of petfood proteins. We think the venture provides a number of benefits to the entire New Zealand petfood-supply industry including as an avenue for the industry to improve scale; improved relationships with customers including the ability to commit to longer-term relationships; an ability to move into higher value and added value ingredients; and ability to leverage extended customer and supplier networks.” . . 


Rural round-up

January 27, 2019

Temporary work visas need over-haul – farmers  – Gill Bonnet:

Farmers say they face having to send skilled workers home in 18 months time because of how their jobs are measured by immigration officials.

Immigrants classed as low-skilled since 2017 have been allowed maximum visas of three years and not been able to sponsor spouses and children.

The changes to temporary work visas were introduced weeks before the last election. . .

Guy Trafford takes another look at a growing problem that never seems to get resolved, notes a full effort to protect ‘old world’ markets and assesses changes to farm gate prices  – Guy Traffod:

New Zealand horticulture has made the news recently with the demand for fruit harvesters that is not being meet. With the unemployment rate hovering around 4% (3.9% is latest data) the likelihood of finding enough staff from that sector is reasonably remote.

The same issue has been an ongoing one for agriculture. Dairying has had an ongoing issue with finding and maintaining staff and while sheep and beef and cropping have lower rates of turn over, finding new staff has still been a problem and getting more difficult by the year.

When the age profile of those working in agriculture is examined then more concern should be raised. . . 

Sheep farming, it’s in our nature – Luke Chivers:

Northwest Waikato sheep and beef  farmers Tom and Nicole Whitford never planned on working in the primary sector but today the couple are dedicated to the intergenerational transfer of a farming business.Luke Chivers explains.

It was Gypsy Day 2016. Waikaretu Valley farmers Tom and Nicole Whitford’s succession agreement with Tom’s parents for a well-nurtured and developed, panoramic coastal slice of rural New Zealand kicked in – coincidentally the same day their son Mac was born.

But that wasn’t their initial plan. . .

Small environmental footprint takes district mayor’s Eketahuna farm to finals – Christine McKay:

Mike and Tracey Collis may run a dairy farm with big ambitions, but they have managed to achieve a small environmental footprint.

To boot, they farm in Eketahuna – a renowned challenging farming area. Their tenacity and their talents caught the eyes of this year’s Horizons Ballance Farm Environment award judges who credited the couple’s willingness to adapt their farming system to outside influences.

“We are really pleased about being a finalist,” the Collis’ say of their achievement. . .

Beekeepers urged to vote for a commodity levy

Apiculture New Zealand (ApiNZ) is calling on commercial beekeepers to vote for a commodity levy with voting papers going out this month.

“We are at a crucial juncture in the history of this industry,” says Bruce Wills, chair of Apiculture New Zealand, the body leading the vote. “We need beekeepers to vote and we need a clear statement from the beekeepers through this vote. . . 

Poposed honey levy divides beekeeprers –  Maja Burry:

A vote by beekeepers on a proposed honey levy next month has seen one industry group rallying its members to reject the proposal.

Apiculture New Zealand, a voluntary body of about 900 members, wants to introduce a commodity levy on honey to help manage industry growth.

The proposed levy would see all 1800 beekeepers in New Zealand with 26 hives or more to pay a levy of 10 cents on each kilogram of honey – collecting about two million dollars a year.

But New Zealand Beekeeping president Jane Lorimer said the the levy was unreasonably high.


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