Rural round-up

17/11/2022

Farming leader pleads with PM for more time – Peter Burke :

A dairy industry leader is calling on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to take the pressure off farmers and give them more time to properly understand and digest the huge raft of changes that the Government is trying to push through before next year’s election.

Ben Allomes told Dairy News that the Government has a number of things they want to achieve before the next election and he says most of these seem to be aimed at the primary sector.

These include greenhouse gas emissions, water quality, animal welfare and labour.

Allomes says this is on top of farmers trying to deal with the uncertainties around Covid, such as disrupted supply chains and increasing costs, all of which are creating an uncertain business environment. . .

The seven significant setbacks to He Waka Eke Noa recommendations – Jim van der Poel:

 DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel outlines why his organisation is not prepared to accept the He Waka Eke Noa proposal in its current form and why it’s a poor option for the sector and New Zealand as a whole.

When the primary sector took on the challenge of an emissions pricing alternative, there was a clear goal – to secure the best possible system for farmers and the climate.

In 2019 the Government legislated to put agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). We believed that was a poor option for the primary sector and for New Zealand.

We approached the Government to have the option to come up with a better proposal that was fairer, more practicable for farmers and would deliver better outcomes. . . 

Kiwifruit growers fear ‘zero income’ next year after severe frost :

Some Waikato kiwifruit growers will have no income next year and others will have crops that will not cover the cost of production, following a heavy frost in October.

Waikato is a smaller growing region with about 500 hectares of fruit; an additional 100 hectares was planted this winter.

A grower with 22 hectares, Richard Glen, said it had taken until now to get his head around the full impact of the October frost event.

Glen said it was the worst frost he had seen in his 40 years of growing. . . 

Hi-tech traps on trial in fruit fly surveillance programme :

Biosecurity New Zealand’s National Fruit Fly Surveillance programme is trialling 60 state-of-the-art traps, with the aim to bolster the detection of exotic fruit fly.

“We have a world-class biosecurity system, but the growth in global trade and travel increases the opportunity for fruit flies to enter the country,” says Biosecurity New Zealand Director Diagnostic & Surveillance Services Veronica Herrera.

“Exotic fruit fly incursions could significantly impact New Zealand’s horticulture industry, so early detection is critical.”

The fruit fly surveillance programme runs from September to July each year to coincide with the heightened risk of fruit flies entering New Zealand. More than 7,800 traps are currently stationed across the country. . . 

Zespri rolls out SAP technology to support its people, processes and growers :

SAP SE (NYSE: SAP) today announced that Zespri, the world’s biggest marketer of kiwifruit, has gone live with SAP S/4HANA Cloud, private edition. The move will support Zespri’s ability to deliver the highest quality fruit to market and sustain strong returns to growers.

The go-live of this new technology, which took place on 1 November 2022, is the first phase in Zespri’s ambitious, multi-year Horizon transformation programme. The aim of the programme is to standardise and automate Zespri’s processes, increase its operational efficiency, and provide a platform for growth and innovation.

As a result of the implementation, Zespri hopes to deliver kiwifruit to customers more effectively. Ultimately a more robust, transparent and reliable process will support its entire product delivery system, from the receipt of a sales order, to payments for product, through to distribution. Zespri’s quality management solutions will include proof that the product has been grown and handled in accordance with regulatory, customer specifications and consumer expectations.

With a focus on creating global consistency, almost 1,000 full-time employees and contractors across offices in 17 countries will benefit from the implementation, with Zespri also undertaking its biggest-ever training programme. . . 

The fake meat scam -Dr Joseph Mercola:

  • Ultra-processed foods typically have five or more ingredients, many of which are not commonly used in home kitchens. This aptly describes the Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger, including fake blood processed from genetically engineered yeast to mimic the taste and texture of real beef.
  • Although the soy-like hemoglobin used in the Impossible Burger is classified as generally recognized as safe, no tests have been done by independent labs on the product’s safety. However, tests on lab rats altered the animals’ blood chemistry; the company did not follow up on the results.
  • The parent companies for Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger commissioned studies to assess the environmental impact of production against typical concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) beef production. Not surprisingly, they found their product had a lower impact. But it’s not nearly as low as the beef production at White Oaks Pastures, which uses regenerative farming practices to produce natural beef products.
  • If a plant-based, genetically engineered (GE) meat alternative is not enough of a science fiction adventure, consider the “meat” scientists are growing from stem cell cultures in the lab. Some see these alternatives as the lesser of two evils, but when holistic herd management improves the environment, your best choice is to seek food from natural sources.

Rural round-up

06/10/2022

Rural internet snag – Jessica Marshall:

Despite its importance to the sector, many farmers and rural customers are still managing with subpar internet and mobile phone service.

That’s according to the recent 2022 Federated Farmer Rural Connectivity Survey. 

The survey found that more than half of the approximately 1,200 farmers who responded had reported download speeds at or less than 20 megabytes per second.

Federated Farmers national board member and telecommunications spokesman Richard McIntyre says broadband and mobile are vital to farming businesses. . . 

a2 Milk strikes a distribution deal with Chinese partner and sets sights on 2bn annual revenue – Point of Order:

While  the  big  co-op Fonterra  is  the  dominant force  in the  NZ  dairy  industry,  injecting nearly $14bn into regional  economies  through its payout  to  farmers, some  of  the  smaller  companies  have  become  spectacular performers.

Point of  Order  last week   drew  attention  to  how  the  specialist  Waikato processing company Tatua had  outstripped  Fonterra  with  its  2021-22 payout.

This  week a2 Milk  grabbed  a  headline  by  telling the   market it  had renewed exclusive import and distribution arrangements with a Chinese company for five years. This  triggered   fresh interest in  the  company,  which  is  sitting  on  a cash  pile  of $816.5m  It  plans  to  spend $150m of this in a  share buy-back

China State Farm Agribusiness has been a2 Milk’s strategic distribution partner in China since 2013 and is the exclusive import agent for its China label products, including a2’s China label infant milk formula. . . 

Agricultural emissions MOU a positive step :

The new memorandum of understanding between the Government and agribusiness leaders as part of the Centre for Climate Action on Agricultural Emissions is a step in the right direction, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says.

“The $172 million over four years committed to tools and technology, including $7.75 million in this financial year, is a constructive spend of committed Budget funds.

“National supports the Government’s current emissions targets and budgets.

“Our agricultural sector is currently worth $52 billion to New Zealand, and our farmers are already the world’s lowest emitters.  . . .

Rewarding to invest in renewable power – Tim Cronshaw:

Solar power is only part of the environmental equation that adds up for a Canterbury vegetable and crop grower, writes Tim Cronshaw.

Robin Oakley’s call to put in 564 solar panels at his Southbridge vegetable and arable operation was done with his head and heart.

The ground-mounted solar line-up sits next to the packing shed and powers 40% of the site’s energy needs each year.

Within seven years, the payback from electricity generated by the panels will have covered the capital outlay of $400,000. . . 

Milestone for NAIT as CRV becomes first accredited provider under new standards :

Dairy genetics company CRV NZ has become the first service provider to achieve NAIT accreditation under OSPRI’s more rigorous five-step process.

Representatives from OSPRI today officially presented CRV with its accreditation certificate in Hamilton.

National Manager Quality, Compliance and Assurance Melissa Bailey says the intention of the new voluntary accreditation system is to give farmers more confidence that organisations handling and managing their NAIT data, such as saleyards and meat processors, meet the highest industry-agreed standards.

Under the old system, more than 150 providers were accredited. Farmers were getting notices for not complying and there were some instances where the movements were recorded incorrectly. . . 

 

NT government releases plan to address banana freckle disease outbreak in the Top End – Alicia Perera:

Since first being detected in May, banana freckle has spread to more than 40 properties across the Northern Territory’s Top End region.

One of those is Julie-Ann Murphy and Alan Petersen’s farm, Rum Jungle Organics.

The only commercial farm caught up in the outbreak, they’re now facing the prospect of losing their entire banana plantation for the second time in a decade, as the NT government takes steps to tackle the disease. 

“It’s pretty devastating to do it a second time,” Ms Murphy said. . . 


Rural round-up

28/09/2022

Research set to improve safety over calving – Bronwyn Wilson:

Research into sprain and strain injuries over calving has identified some simple ways farmers can reduce injuries on dairy farms.

The three-year DairyNZ project, funded in partnership with ACC’s Workplace Injury Prevention programme, is researching the causes of sprains and strains on dairy farms – and developing practical solutions to reduce injuries.

“Around 40 percent of injuries on dairy farms are sprains and strains, with the highest risk from August to October. As calving progresses, fatigue can set in and increase injuries,” says DairyNZ senior scientist and research lead, Dr Callum Eastwood.

As part of the Reducing Sprains and Strains project, 370 farmers were surveyed on how they managed health and safety, and whether injuries had occurred. . .

Mycoplasma bovis Mid Canterbury update – enhanced biosecurity measures in the Wakanui area :

Beef + Lamb New Zealand, alongside DairyNZ and the Ministry for Primary Industries, is a partner in the Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) eradication programme.

The M. bovis programme is now targeting the remaining known pocket of confirmed infection with depopulation starting on a mid-Canterbury feedlot in Wakanui and strict new biosecurity measures for the surrounding area.

Although further detections across the country are possible in future, the only properties known to have infected cattle are located in this small area, where there are three Confirmed Properties, including the feedlot.

M. bovis is known to be most commonly spread via direct contact between infected and uninfected cattle. However, despite recent thorough investigations, the programme has been unable to confirm the pathway(s) by which disease has been spreading in this area. . .

Gisborne drone spraying trial deemed a success – Hamish Barwick:

Gisborne based vegetable grower LeaderBrand recently trialled the use of drones for spraying at its Makauri Farm with positive results.   

LeaderBrand research agronomist Chris Lambert said the trial took place over three months during winter, an ideal time as the ground was too wet to operate a tractor on.

“We wanted to manage our weeds in winter. Rather than spray over a wide area, which is a big waste of chemicals, the drone was able to target weed clumps.”  

He said the advantage of drones is that they don’t compact soil like tractors do and they’re also more agile than helicopters. . . 

High-tech strawberry farm aims high in Foxton – Country Life:

Slip behind a bee-proof mesh curtain in an old Foxton factory building and a sweet surprise awaits.

“Welcome to our secret laboratory,” Matthew Keltie says.

Under the bluish glow of the high-tech lights, pops of red catch the eye.

A bee buzzes past and quiet music overlays the faint gurgle of nutrients swishing through tubes. . . 

Meryn Whitehead wins 2022 Young Grower of the Year national final :

Meryn Whitehead, a 28-year-old supervisor at Vailima Orchards, has won the national title of 2022 Young Grower of the Year, held in Nelson.

“It is a real privilege to be named the winner of this year’s competition, especially given the impressive talent on display,” says Meryn.

Meryn was one of six contestants that vied for the grand title in a series of practical and theoretical horticulture modules across two-days. The competition encourages young people to take up a career in horticulture as well as celebrating their success in the industry.

Despite being Meryn’s second year entering the competition, she says the experience has been nonetheless valuable. . . 

Proposed Bill would support wine tourism in New Zealand :

New Zealand Winegrowers is thrilled the Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Cellar Door Tasting) Amendment Bill, proposed by Stuart Smith MP, has been drawn from the Member’s Bill Ballot today.

New Zealand Winegrowers has had longstanding concerns about aspects of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act as they apply to winery cellar doors. This Bill would help to address some of our key concerns for wineries.

We congratulate Stuart Smith MP on having this Bill drawn from the ballot. As the Member of Parliament for New Zealand’s largest wine region, he understands first-hand the importance of this proposal.

Winery cellar doors are an important part of wine tourism, yet the current legislation does not permit wineries holding an off-licence to charge for tastings. “The current legislation is out of date,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. “It either forces wineries to give wine away for free, or forces them to go through significant cost and time to acquire and maintain a separate on-licence.” . . 


Rural round-up

27/09/2022

Too many famers still stuck in connectivity ‘slow lane’ :

Coverage, reliability and speed of mobile and internet services for many farming families and businesses are treading water, if not going backwards, the 2022 Federated Farmers Rural Connectivity Survey shows.

More than half of the nearly 1,200 farmers who responded to the survey report internet download speeds at or less than what could be considered a bare minimum (20 megabytes per second/Mbps) and those who said their mobile phone service had declined in the last 12 months jumped from 20% to 32%.

“For a sector that underpins the lion’s share of New Zealand’s export earnings, and one where productivity gains and reporting requirements are increasingly aligned with used of technology, apps and devices, this is really concerning,” Federated Farmers national board member and telecommunications spokesperson Richard McIntyre says.

“It’s a given that it’s easier and more profitable to deliver high standards of mobile and broadband to urban areas. But rural families and farm businesses – who due to remoteness and road travel times can really benefit from strong on-line connectivity access – must not be left behind.” . . 

Why does everyone want to work on a farm? – Brianna Mcilraith:

Job-hunters might be looking for a lifestyle and career change on the farm, if Trade Me data is anything to go by.

The site said agricultural jobs were the most-viewed listings last month.

The top five job listings were for South Island agriculture, fishing and forestry roles, and of the 100 most-viewed listings in August, more than half (55%) were in those categories.

Trade Me Jobs sales director Matt Tolich said 18 of the most popular listings were for shepherds and a further nine for stock managers. . . 

Biosecurity Bill passes first reading :

An opposition member’s bill boosting penalties for biosecurity breaches has passed its first reading with near unanimous support.

In the name of National MP Jacqui Dean, the bill is aimed at deterring incoming visitors from bringing in illegal biosecurity items such as fruit or other food.

The Increased Penalties for Breach of Biosecurity Bill would double the existing penalty from $1000 to $2000, upon conviction.

It would also increase the on-the-spot fine for a false declaration from $400 to $1000. . . 

Frontline biosecurity ranks bolstered :

Biosecurity New Zealand has welcomed 17 new quarantine officers to help protect Aotearoa’s borders from invasive pests and diseases.

Eleven officers graduated on Friday after completing an intensive 10-week training programme. They will work at frontline border locations in Auckland to ensure international travellers and imported goods comply with New Zealand’s strict biosecurity rules. The other six new officers have joined Biosecurity New Zealand’s border teams in Wellington, Queenstown and Dunedin.

The graduates will bolster Biosecurity New Zealand’s frontline ranks as international passenger traffic begins to gather pace following the reopening of borders, says Mike Inglis, Northern Regional Commissioner, Biosecurity New Zealand.

He says Biosecurity New Zealand will have recruited nearly 60 new quarantine officers by the end of this year. There are plans to recruit a further 20 Auckland officers in early 2023. . . 

Alun Kilby from Marisco wins Marlborough 2022 Young Winemaker of the Year :

Congratulations to Alun Kilby from Marisco, who came became the 2022 Tonnellerie de Mercurey Marlborough Young Winemaker of the Year. The competition was held on 21st September at MRC and the winners were announced at the Awards Dinner the same evening

Alun, 28, was thrilled to take out the title and the judges commented on his broad range of knowledge and skills as he scored consistently well across all sections.

Congratulations also goes to Thomas Jordaan from Vavasour who came second and to Ruby McManaway from Yealands who came third.

For the first time, there were ten contestants competing in the Marlborough regional competition. “It’s exciting to see how many aspiring Young Winemakers want to stretch themselves and start making a name for themselves” says Nicky Grandorge, Leadership & Communities Manager at New Zealand Winegrowers. . . 

Mick Ahern wins HortNZ’s Industry Service Award for 2022 :

Horticulture industry stalwart, Mick (Michael) Ahern, has won the Horticulture New Zealand Industry Service Award for 2022.

‘Mick has contributed to the development of New Zealand’s horticulture industry for more than 40 years,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil.

‘Mick is known for his common sense and ability – after everyone else has exhausted themselves with talking – to sum up the situation and provide wise counsel, while pointing to the best if not only way forward.’

Mick started out in the 70s as a university student writing a case study on the kiwifruit industry’s development. That lead to roles in the then fledgeling, kiwifruit export industry. . . 

Miriana Stephens wins Horticulture New Zealand President’s Trophy for 2022:

Horticulture industry leader, Miriana Stephens has won the Horticulture New Zealand President’s Trophy for 2022.

‘Miriana is shaping the future of the horticulture industry by example,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil.

‘She is a director of Wakatū Incorporation, which grows apples, kiwifruit and pears in its Motueka Orchards under the business, Kono.

‘To Miriana, business is not just commercial – it involves being a kaitiaki of the whenua and moana, as well as being commercially responsible.’ . . 


Rural round-up

29/08/2022

Farmers are receiving mixed messages – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Around the world, restricting food production to reduce environmental impact will have the consequence of decreasing food availability and escalating food prices – so what do governments actually want from farmers?

Farmers are receiving very mixed messages.

Globally, food security concerns have escalated due to war, floods, fire and drought.

In a worst-case scenario, McKinsey is predicting a food deficit representing a year’s worth of nutritional intake for up to 250m people – or 3 per cent of the global population. . .

Starting our pasture to plate journey – Barbara Kuriger:

Like many of you, I’m so over the uninformed knockers of primary industries.

People who are swayed by a headline, a social media post or a slick advertising campaign, without any in-depth knowledge of why sectors within it, operate the way they do.

One area which often gets a bad rap from these faultfinders is fertiliser.

Fertiliser, like many pastoral and arable practices, grew out of necessity. . . 

Fonterra ramps up opportunities in complementary nutrition partnership :

Fonterra and Royal DSM, a global purpose-led company in health, nutrition and bioscience, are establishing a new start-up company to accelerate the development and commercialisation of fermentation-derived proteins with dairy-like properties.

The start-up is a next step in Fonterra and DSM’s long-standing joint development relationship. They have been working together since 2019 to build a comprehensive understanding of how to use precision fermentation science and technology to produce proteins similar to those found in dairy.

To date, this work has created valuable intellectual property for which Fonterra and DSM have filed patents. The new start-up company will enable the acceleration of commercial product solutions utilising this intellectual property, while continuing to focus on further precision fermentation research and development.

Fonterra and DSM are also collaborating to reduce on-farm greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, by exploring applications for DSM’s methane-inhibiting Bovaer® technology in the New Zealand pasture-based farming system. . . 

Rockit Global is Hawkes Bay ASB Exporter of the Year:

Rockit Global has been named ExportNZ Hawke’s Bay ASB Exporter of the Year for 2022 for the second time.

The Hastings apple business was presented with the award last night by ASB Executive General Manager for Corporate Banking, Nigel Annett, at the sold-out awards dinner at the Toitoi Hawke’s Bay Arts and Events Centre.

The judges remarked that Rockit Global’s commitment to excellence across their entire operations – quality, health and safety, gaining skills from outside the sector, growing skills from inside the sector – combined to produce outstanding results, and a solid platform for continued strong future growth.

Earlier in the evening, Rockit Global won the T&G Global Best Established Award, going head-to-head with the other category winners for the top award – Starboard Bio, producer and supplier of pharmaceutical and nutraceutical ingredients (winner of the ContainerCo Best Emerging Exporter Award), and Pultron Composites from Gisborne (winner of the Southeast Asia Centre of Asia-Pacific Excellence in Innovation Award). . .

Proposal to introduce new wasp to Manawatu-Whanganui :

Manawatū and Whanganui could soon be home to a new foreign wasp.

On behalf of the National Biocontrol Collective – a consortium of regional councils, unitary authorities and the Department of Conservation – Horizons Regional Council has applied to import and release the bud-galling wasp to control the spread of an invasive acacia shrub.

Biosecurity and biodiversity manager Craig Davey told Morning Report the insect had been shown to stop most seed production of the plant.

“It is only existing to live on Sydney golden wattle. So when we release it, if the application is successful, it’s only going to live on those acacia that are in our coastline.” . . .

 

Pāmu achieves another good financial result, declares dividend:

Landcorp Farming Limited (trading as Pāmu) has reported an EBITDAR (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and revaluations) of $75 million for the year ended 30 June 2022, a 23% increase on the previous year ($61 million). The company has declared a dividend of $5 million.

Chief Executive Mark Leslie said the result reflected good product prices and steady revenue growth across the business.

“The result is particularly pleasing given the significant input cost pressures farmers are facing because of the continuing Covid-19 pandemic, the Russian-Ukraine conflict impacting feed, fuel and fertiliser costs, and general inflationary pressure. As well, farm production and earnings were constrained by extreme weather events, including floods on the West Coast and in the Manawatu, and drought in the Te Anau basin.

“The team managed these external pressures well both on farm and at a corporate level, to produce a very good result.” . .


Rural round-up

10/08/2022

‘Wet Coast’ cow cockies say ‘get off the grass’ to new rules – Lois Williams:

When stock wintering rules designed to protect waterways were imposed on a century-old South Island dairying property, the owners bet their nest egg on building an enormous barn

It wasn’t the mother of all floods in 2013 that convinced West Coast dairy farmers Matt and Carmel O’Regan to move their cows indoors.

Nor was it the latest summer deluge in February, when the old flood gauge at Inangahua Landing vanished from sight under muddy waters, along with thousands of hectares of farmland.

After three generations at Coal Creek, the family is used to floods. . . 

Time for Kiwi arable farmers to shine – Jacqueline Rowarth:

New Zealand arable farmers are using science and technology to produce good food for the least impact, it’s time this was recognised, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth writes.

Three-quarters of the bread sold in New Zealand is made from grain grown overseas.

This might be a surprise to some people, but, like the 60 per cent of pork products (85 per cent of ham and bacon) consumed in New Zealand but not produced here, overseas countries can sometimes operate more cheaply than we can in New Zealand.

Sometimes that is because of environmental conditions enabling greater yields, and sometimes it is standards in regulations around environment, welfare and employment that make the difference. Sometimes it is everything. Labelling doesn’t always make origin clear. . . 

Wetland rules threaten access to Defence Force, electricity infrastructure – Emma Hatton:

The Defence Force and electricity lines companies have become unintended allies as they both grapple with wetland rules that make it harder for them to access their own infrastructure

Rules brought in two years ago via the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and National Environmental Standards for Freshwater focused on protecting and restoring natural wetlands.

But groups including property developers, mining and quarrying companies and those with existing infrastructure in and around wetland areas argued they were too prohibitive.

The Ministry for the Environment consulted late last year and recently proposed changes that make concessions to some of the concerns, including creating consenting pathways for mining, quarrying and landfills. . . 

Leading the charge for wool – Sally Rae:

Last month, Greg Smith marked his first year as chief executive of carpet company Bremworth. He talks to business editor Sally Rae about his desire to help reinvigorate New Zealand’s strong wool industry. 

Growing up, a young Greg Smith never imagined he would end up running a carpet company.

Mind you, he also never contemplated jewellery as a career — “or woolly undies either”.

What he did want to do was the “right thing” and that was reinforced when he neared a key life stage — he turns 50 this year — and he contemplated what his children would say their father did. . .

Awards a morale boost for the arable industry says title winner :

The freshly-crowned Arable Farmer of the Year says winning the award was a surprise, but it is a confidence-booster.

David Birkett, who farms at Leeston, Canterbury, took out the title at last night’s New Zealand Arable Awards in Christchurch.

He said he was not expecting to win.

“The other finalists were exceptional people as well and it was a really tough competition,” he said. “I was surprised.” . . .

Government and Ngāi Tahu work together on regenative farming project – Sally Murphy:

Ngāi Tahu and the government have joined forces on a new project to validate the science of regenerative farming.

The seven year research programme will compare side-by-side dairy farms to assess the environmental impacts of their practices.

One 286-hectare farm will use regenerative farming practices while the adjacent 330-hectare farm will use conventional methods.

Both farms will have a stocking rate of 3.2 cows per hectare. . .

Dying to Feed You: Grace suffered multiple broken bones – Johann Tasker:

Grace Addyman suffered multiple broken bones when she was hit by falling bales at her family farm.

She tells us what happened on that day, the difficult surgery that followed and how she considers herself the “luckiest unlucky person ever”.

It had been a wet summer and it was near the end of July. We’d cut the hay and it had been baled that day.

We were enjoying the weather, watching the baler go around the field and then bringing the hay in. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

01/06/2022

No Free lunch! – Rural News:

The ink was barely dry on the Government’s newly released emissions reductions plan before the whining began.

“Agriculture – New Zealand’s largest emitting sector – has got off scot-free, again!” the whiners cried. “And it is getting $339m for a new Centre for Climate Action on Agricultural Emissions, despite the sector not paying any money into the Emissions Trade Scheme.”

On the surface, that may be true. However, you only need to dig a little deeper to see there are no easy answers to agriculture’s emissions profile.

New Zealand is unique in that almost half of the country’s greenhouse gases come from the agricultural sector. However, as has been shown in the wake of Covid and the demise of NZ’s once bustling tourism sector, it’s our dairy, meat, horticulture and other primary produce that this country now relies on for income. . . 

Landcorp land better off with Kiwi farmers :

“State-owned enterprises shouldn’t be competing with Kiwi businesses, and there’s no greater example of this than Landcorp,” says ACT’s Primary Industries spokesperson Mark Cameron.

“The Government has no business being in farming, it’s interfering in the free market and New Zealand has plenty of ambitious, talented farmers who deserve the opportunity to farm the land currently owned by Landcorp.

“An independent review into Landcorp that was undertaken in 2021 said the organisation failed to meet financial forecasts, had high corporate costs, and invested in unprofitable off-farm ventures.

“No private operation would be able to fail like this, Landcorp is taking taxpayers for a ride. . . 

‘You look at the farm now and you think, what flood?’ – Ashburton one year on – Sally Murphy:

Farmers hit hard by the Ashburton floods say their farms have recovered well and in some cases their pastures are better than before.

It is a year since heavy rainfall caused rivers in mid-Canterbury to burst their banks, spewing shingle across farmland and leaving hectares of land under water.

Bryan Beeston’s dairy farm backs onto the North Branch of the Ashburton River in the worst-hit area of Greenstreet.

On the day of the flood the water breached the two-metre stock bank and tore through the farm, washing away 198 of his dairy cows, ripping out fences and flooding houses and sheds on the property. . . 

New Great Walk over the hump – Vaneesa Bellew :

Tired trampers might sometimes beg to differ with the assertion that the destination counts for less than the journey. But the country’s newest Great Walk, with its benefits for the Waiua community, should avoid any such arguments

The Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track will add to its pioneering narrative when it becomes a Great Walk next year and creates history as the only such walk not managed by the Department of Conservation (DoC).

Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track Inc will continue to operate the 61km three-day loop on behalf of the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track Charitable Trust when it becomes New Zealand’s 11th Great Walk at the start of the 2023-24 season.

Glenn Thomas, chair of the trust, and board director, says the trust and DoC are getting down to the “nuts and bolts” of an agreement on how the partnership will operate. “It’s a process and it’s going very well,” he says. . .

Ensure a smooth moving day :

With ‘Moving Day’ just around the corner (June 1), it’s a good time for farmers to review their biosecurity practices while moving their animals.

“Good planning and communication can help ensure a smooth Moving Day,” says Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) Eradication Programme Director Simon Andrew.

“Thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of farmers and the wider agricultural sector, we have made good progress toward eradicating M. bovis since it was first detected in New Zealand in 2017. We are now aiming to move from delimiting – controlling the last known pockets of M. bovis – to gathering negative test result data to support a statement of provisional absence of M. bovis.

“Good biosecurity practices remain essential to fighting this disease. If left unchecked, the disease could have cost industry an estimated $1.2 billion over the first 10 years, with ongoing productivity losses across the farming sector and animal welfare concerns.” . .

The rise and rise of production is grounded at this enterprise. – Jamie Brown:

When the Bruderhof community came to the Inverell district in 1999 they were seeking a return to agronomic roots and in the years since have lifted their beef production as a direct result of growing soil carbon.

A Christian community originally founded in Germany in 1920, Bruderhof was ousted by the Nazis and fled to the Cotswolds, in England, where they changed-up a local farm from poor to high quality in just four years. When World War Two loomed large they sailed over the Atlantic and crossed the equator to set up camp in the jungles of Paraguay.

“My father was a Gaucho,” says community farm manager Johannes Meier. “They clawed out a life in the remote jungle and savannah and they were on horseback sunrise to sunset, raising tick-resistant Zebu cattle.”

German farmers perfected sustainable agriculture in the millennia before their scientists discovered a way of making nitrogen fertiliser from the air but those old-school methods were maintained by the Bruderhof community – formed three years before the invention of the Haber-Bosch process. . .


Rural round-up

18/03/2022

World dairy prices ease from record peak but the industry is the big driver of export receipts as trade deficit widens – Point of Order:

Dairy prices levelled  off  in  Fonterra’s  latest  Global Dairy Trade auction  but  remain  close  to the  peak reached  at  the  previous  auction  a  fortnight  previously.

The GDT price  index  eased 0.9%  to 1579, the second-highest level on record, down from 1593.

Dairy farmers   who  had  seen prices  surge  in  the  past  five  auctions  may  have  been disappointed.  But  as Westpac senior agri economist Nathan Penny pointed  out, uncertainties around global dairy demand arising from surging Covid-19 case numbers in China, the world’s largest dairy market, is likely to have weighed on prices.

Fonterra  has  steadily  raised  its  forecast payout  to  the  $9.30-$9.90kg/MS range – the  highest it has  ever been – as  the  GDT index  has  climbed  18%  this  season. . .

Kiwifruit harvest needs ‘all the help it can get’ – growers :

With travellers wanting to take a working holiday now able come to Aotearoa for the first time since the start of the pandemic, the kiwifruit industry is highlighting there are plenty of jobs on offer.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers chief executive Colin Bond said pre-Covid New Zealand welcomed about 50,000 working holidaymakers into the country each year.

His industry required 24,000 seasonal workers for picking and packing roles and backpackers had traditionally make up about one quarter of the workforce.

“This year a record crop of over 190 million trays are forecast to be picked. Each tray has about 30 pieces of kiwifruit, meaning the industry needs all the help it can get.” . . 

Instead of being the best in’ the world be the  best ‘for’ the world – Sarah’s Country:

   In an environment where farmers & growers may be thinking it’s all coming at them, Becks Smith can see the light at the end of the tunnel when we condense the overwhelm and see the challenges through a more holistic approach.  

New Zealand farmers naturally have an inter-generational view of stewardship of their land, but sometimes need support to bring the right expertise together when they are on the next level of their sustainability journey.

Becks Smith discusses with Sarah Perriam, host of Sarah’s Country, how her career journey as a vet in Central Otago, alongside farming with her husband’s family, is evolving into the social enterprise The Whole Story.

She shares her insights into how to take small steps towards change and how important to pull an advisory board around our farmers that are all on the same page. . . 

UK and NZ animal health associations welcome regularity co-operation :

The animal health associations in the UK (NOAH) and New Zealand (Agcarm) have welcomed the publication by the countries’ regulatory agencies of guidance that will enable simultaneous review of animal medicine marketing authorisation applications in the two countries.

Arising from discussions between the UK’s Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) and New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), the guidance document ‘United Kingdom-New Zealand Regulatory Cooperation: Guidance on Veterinary Medicines Simultaneous Reviews’ will serve as the foundation to enable these simultaneous reviews to happen.

This comes as a far-reaching trade deal has also been announced between the two countries, which includes an animal welfare chapter with a clear statement that animals are recognised as sentient beings. Provisions include a commitment to increased bilateral cooperation, as well as working together in international fora to enhance animal welfare standards. . .

Biosecurity New Zealand’s annual report supports Aotearoa’s beekeepers :

Biosecurity New Zealand’s annual Winter Colony Loss survey results are out now and show that the country’s beekeepers are serious about working together to support a strong bee industry.

Biosecurity New Zealand senior scientist Richard Hall says more beekeepers than ever took part in this survey, the seventh so far.

“This level of involvement and our beekeeper’s transparency in self-reporting shows how seriously they take biosecurity, and how valuable Biosecurity New Zealand’s support is in strengthening the bee industry.

“Strong biosecurity systems and management of pests and diseases are essential to production and the data gathered this year will help beekeepers identify where they need to focus their management efforts,” says Dr Hall. . . 

The Nevis – New Zealand’s highest public road – Jane Jeffries:

Having spent a large part of the summer in the Queenstown region we decided to explore The Nevis – New Zealand’s highest public road.

I was a little nervous, as I hate scary roads, but secretly wanted to do it. The thought of driving up the Remarkable ski field road makes me anxious, with sheer drops and no barriers. So a rugged road, with tight corners, possible oncoming traffic reeked of danger to me.

This classic piece of New Zealand road is only open in the summer for 4wd vehicles as it’s snow-bound in winter. The valley can be accessed from Bannockburn, just outside of Cromwell or Garston, near Kingston at the southern end of Lake Wakatipu.

Which ever way you start The Nevis, make sure you allow time for a meal at the legendary Bannockburn pub, the food is fabulous.  . .


Rural round-up

04/10/2021

Shearer aiming to take jeans product to world stage – Sally Rae:

Could Woolies Jeans be the next Allbirds? Jovian Cummins certainly hopes so.

The young New Zealand entrepreneur, at present shearing in Western Australia, is launching an equity crowdfunding campaign on the platform PledgeMe on Monday.

He hopes to raise up to $500,000 to help him patent the designs for the merino-lined jeans for workwear and help build a supply chain.

The genesis for the business came in a woolshed in 2018 when the then 22-year-old decided he was “fed up” with the hot and sweaty jeans he was wearing, he said. . .

The future of farming: What will NZ’s agri sector look like in 20 years? – Catherine Harris:

One thing you can be certain about in the agricultural sector iis that it’s always changing. Adaption is a constant for farmers, as sure as the weather.

But the challenges farming is currently facing are some of the greatest the sector’s ever had: climate change, environmental constraints, labour shortages and shipping issues.

Which raises a question: will these be the same challenges farming is facing in 10 or 20 years?

The Government has already been contemplating this question. Last June, the Ministry for Primary Industries put out “Fit for a better world,” a game plan to accelerate farming’s potential. . . 

Biosecurity finalists protecting every corner of New Zealand:

The 2021 Biosecurity Awards finalists named today show the huge effort under way to protect New Zealand from pests and diseases.

The 24 finalists named out of a record number of 90 entries include an iwi partnering with local and central government to eradicate wilding pines from their local taonga, Ruawāhia/Mount Tarawera, and a school on Stewart Island/Rakiura whose efforts are keeping Ulva Island pest free.

Biosecurity efforts have even expanded into space, with Xerra Earth Observation Institute’s leading-edge software which is helping protect Aotearoa from pests via international shipping.

Judging panel chairman Dr Ed Massey says the finalists represent a diverse range of individuals, teams, businesses, government agencies, research organisations, iwi, schools and community groups. . . 

Migrant groups are urgently call ing on the government to include Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers:

The government announced a one-off pathway to residency for several temporary work visas however are excluding a large group of migrants. Migrant groups are urgently calling on the Government to include Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers in the new immigration policy, before it is released. RSEs contribute significantly to Aotearoa’s economy and wellbeing through the work that they have been employed to do.

Most of the RSE workers have been in Aotearoa for at least five consecutive years since the scheme began in 2007. They have boosted the economic growth and productivity levels in the horticulture and viticulture industries. In 2007, New Zealand’s annual export earnings prior to the scheme were $2.6 billion dollars. In 2020, the earnings from the horticulture and viticulture industry were $9.2 billion dollars. The RSE workers were significant contributors to this growth.

The RSE scheme contributes an estimated $34-40 million NZD into the Pacific through remittances and in the period of the pandemic, this is critical to the livelihoods of households across the Pacific region. Aotearoa’s commitment to the Pacific relationship needs to be shown through its support of the RSE workers. . . 

The history of DWN:

Did you know that Dairy Women’s Network began as an email group?

Our story starts when Hilary Webber became a director of the New Zealand Dairy Group and saw women working at the ‘coalface’ of dairy. They were the ones carrying buckets, rearing calves, doing the accounts, raising their families, and supporting their rural communities. But in the boardrooms of dairy companies, the women were almost invisible.

Hilary wasn’t the only one to feel this way and do something about it. Joined by Christina Baldwin, Robyn Clements and dairy farmer Willy Geck, they got funding from Wrightson’s to send Hillary to Washington, where she attended the 1998 International Women in Agriculture Conference along with Willy and the wife of the NZ diplomat to the US. It was at the conference that they heard women described as the ‘silent heroes of agriculture’, which reinforced the need for DWN.

The conference revealed four key things: . . 

Silver Fern Farms to halve  coal use :

Silver Fern Farms welcomes $1 million co-funding from the Government Investment in Decarbonising Industry (GIDI) Fund for a $2.6 million coal-out project at its Pareora processing site, south of Timaru, as a significant boost to achieve the company’s commitment to end all coal use by 2030.

The Pareora heat-pump conversion project is the company’s third successful project under the GIDI fund and represents another important step in Silver Fern Farms’ commitment to playing a leadership role in driving sustainability in the red meat sector.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive, Simon Limmer, said Silver Fern Farms was committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the company’s value chain.

“The work we are doing to reduce the environmental impact of our processing operations is just one of the ways we’re making sure we do the right thing by our customers, who increasingly want to know that their red meat is sustainably produced. . . 


Rural round-up

28/03/2021

Call for native tree policy rethink – Colin Williscroft:

A farmer involved in a new initiative that’s calling for a radical change in thinking to meet the Climate Change Commission’s target of 300,000ha of new native forests by 2035 says it’s going to be a big ask – but that’s not putting him off.

O Tātou Ngāhere is a programme launched on Thursday night by Pure Advantage and Tāne’s Tree Trust that not only calls for greater ambition in meeting the commission’s target, but also seeks an urgent change to the way native forests are planted, managed and valued.

Tane Tree Trust trustee Ian Brennan, who runs a small drystock farm providing dairy grazing near Cambridge that he aims to half plant in native trees, says while pine trees have been the focus of a lot of plantings for those targeting carbon credits, he cannot imagine anyone regretting planting natives – although they are a much longer-term project. . . 

UK trade talks going nowhere, slowly – Nigel Stirling:

It appears that Britain’s trade negotiators haven’t yet caught up with the news that their farmers want tariffs on imported agricultural products scrapped.

Ditching high tariffs on agricultural products from countries which meet the same environmental and animal welfare standards as British farmers was one of 22 recommendations made by British Trade Minister Liz Truss’ Trade and Agriculture Commission earlier this month.

Britain’s farmers were fully represented on the commission by the representatives of the English, Welsh and Scottish branches of the UK’s peak farming lobby, the National Farmers Union (NFU), along with several other farmer bodies. . . 

 

Smedley runs faster with FarmIQ:

Running a 5660ha dry stock operation is a big ask at the best of times, but add in a teaching role and it can prove a juggling act which Smedley Station manager Rob Evans is more than up for.

Rob admits having a young crew of cadets to oversee helps him stay sharp, and has also encouraged him to look harder at the new technology out there that young cadets will be engaging with in their farming careers.

This includes FarmIQ, and for the past two years Smedley has been gradually adopting many of the features FarmIQ offers into its day to day operations, and for bigger picture planning during the season.

Initially when he started using FarmIQ Rob had been inputting stock numbers and feed budget data to give himself and staff a more up to date picture of feed supply-demand. This enabled him to share potential options with staff via the computer or cell phone. It has also meant he can get a real time picture across the station’s four blocks. . . 

Kiwi hunters likely to miss another roar due to police firearm licensing delays:

The New Zealand Deerstalkers Association says the backlog in Police’s processing of new and renewing firearms licences will mean that many New Zealanders will, again, miss out on hunting during the deer roar this March and April.

NZDA Chief Executive, Gwyn Thurlow, says “after missing out on the 2020 roar due to Covid-19 Lockdown, hunters are looking forward to the 2021 roar this March and April however many hunters will be forced to sit on the side-lines because of Police administrative delays in renewing their firearm licences.”

“Many hunters have been in touch to tell NZDA that they are one of the many people caught up in the huge backlog in firearms licence processing delays by Police.

“The timing is particularly unfair on hunters who rely on securing meat for their families at this time of year”, says Gwyn Thurlow, noting “the roar is upon the Kiwi hunting community but sadly a good number will miss out through no fault of their own, simply because of the administrative backlog at Police.” . . 

Biosecurity Amendment Bill has HortNZ’s backing:

Horticulture New Zealand is thrilled that the Biosecurity (Information for Incoming Passengers) Amendment Bill has been drawn from the Private Member’s Ballot.

‘When the border re-opens, it will be important to remind travellers of the need to be particularly vigilant when entering New Zealand,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman.

‘New Zealand’s top performing horticulture and other primary industries would be easily destroyed if a particularly virulent pest or disease entered the country. This would have catastrophic effects on exports and the New Zealand economy, at a time when things are already fragile. . . 

2021 Manawatū Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

The 2021 Manawatū Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winner says he wants to contribute positively to the reputation of the New Zealand dairy industry.

Sam Howard was named the 2021 Manawatū Share Farmer of the Year at the region’s annual awards announced at Awapuni Function Centre on Wednesday night. The other major winners were Karl Wood, the 2021 Manawatū Dairy Manager of the Year, and Josh Wilkinson, the 2021 Manawatū Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Sam won $10,465 in prizes and a clean sweep of eight merit awards. He is 50/50 sharemilking for John Gardner, on his 80ha, 240-cow Palmerston North property. Sam was also named the 2016 Taranaki Dairy Manager of the Year. . .


Rural round-up

15/03/2021

Office staff asked to help out in apple packhouses due to labour shortages  –

The corporate fruit and vegetable firm T&G Global is asking its office based staff to help out in apple packhouses.

This year all apple growing regions are facing severe labour shortages for both picking and packing the crop.

As a result T&G Global, originally known as Turners and Growers, is asking Hawke’s Bay staff to swap computer terminals for apple trays.

Its operations director Craig Betty said the firm was under real pressure to meet export schedules and needs 70 more people right now, so salaried staff and family members were being asked to help out. . . 

Covid-19 exposes global biosecurity systems as ‘fractured’ – expert – Riley Kennedy:

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed a fractured global biosecurity system and a new approach is needed, a biosecurity expert says.

The paper by distinguished professor Philip Hulme from the government funded Bio-Protection Research Centre has been published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal BioScience.

Hulme said Covid-19 had shown there needed to be an approach to biosecurity that integrated threats to human, animal, plant and environmental health, recognising that disease or invasions in one sector often spilled over into the others.

He said the Covid Tracer app and the National Animal Indenification and Tracing (NAIT) system, were two examples of where lessons can be learnt and shared among different industries. . . 

Duck shooting season in doubt for many this year:

Many hunters and farmers will miss out on this year’s duck shooting season because the Police are failing to address a backlog of firearms licence applications, National’s Police spokesperson Simeon Brown says.

“There are 10,000 applications waiting to be processed with 3000 of those just licence renewals.

“With opening weekend for duck shooting season fast approaching the Police should be adding more resources to help clear the backlog.

“Hunters missed out last year due to the Covid-19 restrictions. They’re understandably itching to get back out on the pond, but they may miss out again this year because of an administrative backlog. . . 

FarmIQ links to Lead with Pride :

For Darfield dairy farmer Dan Schat, the decision to supply Synlait and participate in the company’s Lead with Pride initiative has proven to be a good one three years into farm ownership.

The Schats enjoy the double premium of supplying A2 milk and being on the Lead with Pride initiative, both making the company payments worth the extra effort the initiative involves.

Lead with Pride encompasses the four pillars of supply to Synlait, recognising and rewarding best practice in environment, animal health-welfare, social responsibility and milk quality. . . 

Produce industry launches UN initiative in New Zealand to address hunger and increase wellbeing:

Aotearoa’s $6 billion fresh produce industry today rolls out a localised UN initiative, as it celebrates the launch of the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables (IYFV).

The 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly declared 2021 as the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables to highlight the nutritional benefits of fresh produce.

The official launch this evening at Parliament will be hosted by the Hon Damien O’Connor, Minister of Agriculture, in partnership with United Fresh, New Zealand’s pan produce industry organisation, Horticulture New Zealand and Plant & Food Research.

The International Year of Fruits and Vegetables will showcase the government-funded Fruit & Vegetables in Schools (FIS) initiative which addresses the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It has been recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an exemplary programme with a case study presented by the international group AIAM5 in August last year. . . 

This California start up has a meat test it says can help prevent the next pandemic – Chloe Sorvino:

Food ID, a San Mateo, California-based startup, has raised $12 million in a Series B round that it says will help improve the safety and transparency of the U.S. meat supply.

The funding comes from S2G Ventures and will be used to commercialize the company’s rapid-result tests that can detect antibiotics in animals and a range of other adulterants, like heavy metals in seafood. Food ID says it has been working inside some industrial slaughterhouses for more than a year and that its tests are finding many of the meats being sold as “antibiotic-free” are not.

“There’s a feeling that consumers understand what they are buying and there’s authenticity,” says Food ID cofounder Bill Niman, the legendary grass-fed beef rancher in Northern California. “We know that’s not totally true, and when that becomes clear to the suppliers and to the brands that depend on antibiotics costing a premium to consumers, we’re gonna be very busy.”

Niman says he is offering the meat industry its first comprehensive testing platform and can provide more accuracy and transparency for consumers, who are increasingly looking for antibiotic-free meat, and paying on average $1 more per pound for it. . . 


Rural round-up

03/01/2021

Biosecurity rules add up to $1200 a year to everyone’s shopping bill: Economist – Bonnie Flaws:

Kiwis pay twice as much for fresh chicken as consumers in the United Kingdom or United States would, and around three times as much as someone in Brazil – and it is probably due in part to this country’s biosecurity rules, one economist and supermarket expert says.

New Zealand’s strict biosecurity laws, which are particularly tough for poultry, add an estimated $600 to $1200 a year to the grocery bill of every person, Coriolis director Tim Morris said.

The UK was a good comparison for food prices, given its value added tax (VAT) of 20 per cent on food products, which is similar to GST.

A quick scan of UK supermarket websites show a large (1.9 kilogram) whole fresh chicken costs £3.90 (NZ$7.40) at Sainsbury’s and £3.75 at Aldi. US supermarket H.E.B sells the same for US$5.28 (NZ$7.50). . . 

Freshwater reforms and farmers: two sides of the same coin – Amber Allott:

Canterbury dairy farmer Chris Ford estimates he will have to get rid of around a hundred cows from his 980-strong herd.

But even worse, he fears he will have to make one of his farmworkers unemployed, driving them and their family out of their home.

All to meet the Government’s new freshwater reforms.

The national policy statement for freshwater management – designed to improve freshwater quality by controlling certain farm practices – came into force in September. . .

Lake goers told to keep it clean: ‘One poo can close the lake’ – Riley Kennedy:

Visitors to the Waitaki district are being told they risk losing access to the local lakes if they continue polluting the water.

The regional council Environment Canterbury, along side the Upper Waitaki Water Zone Committee, launched a campaign saying ‘one poo can close the lake’.

Committee chair Simon Cameron said it will be even more important that everyone does their bit to protect water quality this summer, as Covid-19 international travel restrictions are set to boost lake-side camping and tourism.

“We’ve heard that campgrounds are already fully-booked, so we know there will be a large number of people visiting and being active in and around our lakes. . .

NZ Veterans get a taste of farming at Taratahi :

Partnering with the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI), Universal College of Learning (UCOL) staff at Taratahi hosted New Zealand veterans on a week-long taster workshop.

Each day offered the veterans insights into what could be their next career option.

Simon Bailey, UCOL team leader – primary industires, says the group included veterans from the Navy, Army, and Air Force.

The veteran group started off at the training centre, where their first few days were filled with a range of farming activities – from milking cattle to fixing fences.

 

New trial’s charms come with caveat – Mark Price:

It has been years in the planning and millions of dollars in the making, but the cycle trail through the Cromwell Gorge is finally nearing completion.

Otago Daily Times chief photographer. Stephen Jaquiery and Wanaka reporter Mark Price took a look recently at what is shaping up to be New Zealand’s most spectacular cycle trail accessible to all.

Cyclists using the new Cromwell Gorge cycle trail will have to be careful not to get the wobbles.

They will be tempted to look up at the spectacular rock faces towering over the track – and risk a dip in Lake Dunstan. . .

United Nations using Aussie soil science to change the world – Jamieson Murphy:

The United Nations has cited the work of Australian scientists in an extensive report about the importance of healthy soils for agriculture and human civilization as a whole.

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation compiled the findings of more than 300 researchers into a report, titled the State of Knowledge of Soil Biodiversity.

It found soil organisms play a crucial role in boosting food production, enhancing nutritious diets, preserving human health, remediating pollution and combating climate change. . .


Rural round-up

30/12/2020

Why Tame Malcolm is biosecurity champion :

From culling wild goats to decimating invasive river weed, one Kiwi is combining his passion for the land with hard graft and te ao Māori.

Thomas (Tame) Malcolm is dubbed a biosecurity champion, and he has earned that description at just 33 years of age.

Hailing from Rotorua, Malcolm, of Te Arawa, has more than a decade’s experience in environmental management, spanning Bay of Plenty, Waikato, Canterbury and Marlborough.

His first experience with biosecurity was at the tender age of seven. . .

Complaint against TVNZ for using discriminatory term upheld :

A complaint that Television New Zealand used a discriminatory term in a news story about the annual relocation of sharemilkers has been upheld..

The Broadcasting Standards Authority found TVNZ breached the discrimination and denigration standards by referring to the yearly movement of sharemilkers around the country “as gypsy day”.

The complainant said the term “gypsy day” was “offensive to one of our smallest and least visible ethnic and cultural communities”.

He said the use of the phrase “presents us as a nation that is willing to discriminate against minority ethnic and cultural communities”. . . 

 

Lower speed limits round rural schools – RWNZ:

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) say speed limits around rural schools need to be the same as those around urban schools.

“The latest call by Lake Rerewhakaaitu School principal Rick Whalley is the right one to keep our rural children and families safe – speed limits past rural schools should be the same as for their urban counterparts,” says RWNZ education convenor Malvina Dick.

“RWNZ has long held the view that speed limits past rural schools are too high because it puts our children and families at risk of serious injury or even worse, death,” she said. . .

 Milking trifecta a juggling act – Sudesh Kissun:

Milking cows, goats and sheep on one farm has been a steep learning curve for Te Aroha farmer Kevin Schuler and his brother Paul.

Overlapping paddocks and goodwill among staff are helping the family-owned Schuler Brothers Limited (SBL) farm to keep the three milking systems ticking.

The farm employs 10 staff and is the only one in New Zealand to milk cows, goats and sheep on one farm. . .

China Airlines using brand new Boeing 777 freighter to ship NZ fruit to Asia– Grant Bradley:

China Airlines is using a brand new Boeing 777 freighter to get New Zealand cherries and other fresh produce to Asian markets over the holidays.

The first flight between Christchurch and Taipei is due to take off tonight with around 85 tonnes of fresh food on board, about half of those cherries.

South Island cherry growers are desperate to get thousands of tonnes of their crop into the high value Asian markets. Air capacity is short as most freight was carried in the bellies of passenger aircraft before Covid-19 rocked air travel.

The Taiwanese airline’s dedicated freighter can carry up to 100 tonnes. . . 

Skippers Canyon Otago: could this be New Zealand’s most ‘terrifying’ road trip?

The road which runs through Skippers Canyon in the South Island is New Zealand’s longest road where rental vehicle insurance is not honoured.

Forty minutes north of Queenstown, this narrow 22km stretch of gravel and dirt track winds through one of the most incredible landscapes I have ever set eyes on in Aotearoa. This was my first time visiting Skippers Canyon, and oh boy, was it memorable.

Both my husband and I have somewhat of a fear of heights, yet neither of us comprehended or even thoroughly researched the rollercoaster of emotion we were about to send ourselves on.

Skippers Road which runs through this South Island canyon is carved into the sides of the cliff faces. Built during the late 1800s, the canyon served as one of the best locations to mine for gold. The Shotover River carves its way through the centre of the canyon and was once known as “one of the richest rivers in the world”. . .

 


Rural round-up

04/12/2020

Petition seeks rewrite of controversial regulations – Sally Rae:

A petition has been launched this week seeking a rewrite of the controversial new freshwater rules.

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

It comprised a mix of dairy and sheep and beef farmers and some involved in farm servicing and contracting. All were passionate about the rules being “unworkable”, Greenvale sheep and beef farmer Laurie Paterson, in whose name the petition is listed, said yesterday.

The petition requested the House of Representatives to urge the Government to review and amend the national policy statement for freshwater management to ensure it was based on science and best practice for each catchment and farm, and did not require farmers to sow on specific dates. Mandatory sowing dates would compromise health and safety and stress mental health, Mr Paterson said. . .

Biosecurity more important than ever – Peter Burke:

Biosecurity is even more important to New Zealand as the country starts to recover from Covid-19.

That’s the message from Penny Nelson, head of biosecurity at the Ministry for Primary Industries. She told Rural News, at the recent biosecurity awards at Parliament, that biosecurity underpins our primary sector exports – as well as many of the special taonga we have.

She says we just can’t afford to have big incursions at the moment. “I was interested to hear that in the KPMG’s agribusiness survey, biosecurity has been the top issue for the past 11 years. I think New Zealanders realise we have a special way of life and we want to keep it.” . . 

Zespri aiming for Crown research partnership to develop new kiwifruit varieties – Maja Burry:

Kiwifruit giant Zespri wants to establish a Kiwifruit Breeding Centre in partnership with Crown research institute Plant & Food Research.

In an update sent to growers today, Zespri chief executive Dan Mathieson said the proposed centre would be dedicated to breeding new kiwifruit cultivars, creating healthier, better tasting and more sustainability-focused varieties to fulfil the growing demand from consumers.

Mathieson said the 50/50 joint venture would strengthen the work already taking place in the breeding programme which it runs in partnership with Plant and Food.

“This is an exciting step forward for our industry and a natural evolution of the hugely successful 30-year relationship between Zespri and PFR which has delivered such strong returns. . . 

Licence to grow gold kiwifruit added to Gisborne rateable land value:

Authorities in Gisborne have decided a $400,000 per hectare licence to grow gold kiwifruit adds value to the land, and will mean a sizeable rates increase.

Gisborne is the first region to adjust land valuation methods for gold kiwifruit properties to now include the value of the growing licence on the rateable value of the property.

This follows a meeting between the Valuer-General and valuers in August, in which they decided the licence should be included in the Value of Improvements, which requires the “assessment of the value of all work done on or for the benefit of the land”.

All councils with gold kiwifruit would have to reassess their methods. . . 

Fresh milk in glass bottles vends itself – Abbey Palmer:

When Melissa Johnson first suggested the idea of selling raw milk in bottles from a vending machine, her husband thought it was a “stupid idea for hippies”.

Just over three years and two vending machines later, the Southland partners in life and business are delivering hundreds of bottles to thousands of customers across the South every week.

Following a decision to downsize and do their own thing, the former large-scale contract milkers started their milk business, Farm Fresh South, in Woodlands, with 35 calves in 2017.

Mrs Johnson spotted a raw milk vending machine when holidaying near Nelson and liked the business concept. . . 

Lifestyle venture, wine not?

A fantastic lifestyle opportunity in the heart of the East Coast wine-producing region is set to attract interest from across the country, says Bayleys Gisborne salesperson Jenny Murray.

“The character property at 16 Riverpoint Road, Matawhero typifies the relaxed atmosphere Gisborne is famous for while providing an exceptional home, lifestyle and business opportunity,” she adds.

Spanning nearly 8,000sqm (more or less) across the Waipaoa Bridge on the site of the Old Bridge Hotel, the property is offered for sale by auction at 1pm on 11 December. . . 

 


Rural round-up

18/11/2020

Farmers care about animals says vet – Peter Burke:

A leading veterinarian says in his opinion farmers are doing a better job now than ever in regards to animal welfare.

Richard Hilson is the managing director of Vet Services Hawke’s Bay, which has a staff of 120 people including about three dozen vets. Hilson says he gets frustrated when he sees a lot of publicity given to people who treat animals badly. He says the reality is that these few individuals unfairly give farming a bad name.

In recent months there have been several high profile cases of animals being mistreated and people being prosecuted for failing to adequately feed cows to killing a lamb. 

Hilson says there is a greater awareness about animal welfare and often people who harm animals find that others who know them report them to the authorities. Hilson says these days, people realise that it’s not okay to mistreat animals. . .

Making wool great again :

A West Otago couple were so sick of seeing so much synthetic clothing around they decided to do something about it.

Murray and Julie Hellewell run sheep and beef on their hilly 610-hectare Waitahuna West property. The focus though is the sheep.

“The sheep are our money and the cattle are here just to look after the pastures and make it better for the sheep,” Murray says.

However, strong wool prices have been trending down for years. . . 

Gisborne couple tout their smooth ‘never dud’ avocados :

Cutting into avocados can be a lottery.

They hold so much promise. A twist of the halves can reveal uniform, creamy, olive-green flesh.

But sometimes they’re destined straight for the compost bin.

They can be stringy, have brown spots or be disappointingly watery.

However Gisborne growers, David and Judi Grey, who have been growing and testing avocados for 50 years, have developed new varieties they say are perfect, every time. . . 

New research project to provide insight into kiwifruit disease PSA:

A new research project that may help future-proof the kiwifruit industry has received a Fast Start Marsden grant.

The project, led by Dr Jay Jayaraman at Plant & Food Research and titled: How do new pathogen incursions evolve during host infection, will investigate the plant pathogen Psa (Pseudomonas syringae pv actinidiae), to understand how it evolves during infection of the kiwifruit plant.

Psa caused severe damage in New Zealand’s kiwifruit crops after its discovery in 2010. While the industry recovered, thanks to a new cultivar with improved disease tolerance, exploring alternative ways to manage the disease in future is still essential, particularly given the possibility that Psa could adapt to the new cultivar. . . 

Hi-tech hand-luggage scanner gives biosecurity a huge boost at Auckland Airport :

A new hi-tech baggage scanner at Auckland Airport will provide another crucial layer of protection against invasive pests and diseases, says Biosecurity New Zealand.

The computer tomography (CT) scanner made its first detection earlier this month – two bananas in a small carry-on bag arriving with a New Zealand family from Dubai.

Biosecurity New Zealand has been trialling the technology with selected flights since late October. Arriving passengers have their hand baggage scanned before they collect checked-in items from the airport carousels.

“We’re deliberately targeting baggage that travellers carry off the plane. It’s where we’re most likely to find food that could host fruit fly and other pests,” says Brett Hickman, Border Technology Manager, Biosecurity New Zealand. . . 

Ben Tombs from Peregrine Wines announced NZ Young Winemaker of the Year 2020:

Congratulations to Ben Tombs from Central Otago for becoming the 2020 Tonnellerie de Mercurey NZ Young Winemaker of the Year. Ben is Assistant Winemaker at Peregrine Wines in the Gibbston Valley and the first Young Winemaker from Central Otago to win the competition.

The other national finalists were Ben McNab from Matahiwi in Wairarapa and Peter Russell from Matua in Marlborough, who both took out sections of the competition, showing the very high calibre of contestants taking part. The judges were hugely impressed with their knowledge, passion and professionalism throughout the day.

The competition is tough and really stretches the finalists. Firstly, they had to prepare a presentation in advance about what the future wine consumer looks like and how New Zealand can maintain its competitive edge around the world. . . 

 


Rural round-up

22/10/2020

Drought fears for South Canterbury, North Otago farmers – Maja Burry, Eleisha Foon:

South Canterbury and North Otago farmers are concerned they are on the precipice of a drought.

NIWA’s latest hotspot report showed the driest soils in the South Island and both winter and spring had so far failed to deliver meaningful rain.

The Ministry for Primary Industries said the Waimate and Waitaki districts had received little rain since autumn and pasture covers are low for this time of year.

MPI’s rural communities and farming support director, Nick Story, said farmers were feeding out grain, destocking and looking for alternative grazing. . . 

Wildlife rules for private land queried by owners and businesses – Farah Hancock:

A policy aimed at protecting indigenous wildlife, which has struggled to gain consensus, is on its final dash to the finish line. Public support is strong, but landowners and industry still have concerns

The National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity, which will force councils to identify significant natural areas, including on private land, is hoped to improve the outlook for New Zealand’s 4000 threatened species

Not all are happy with the proposed policy, with submissions expressing concern about how areas on private land will be identified, and the impact on private landowners’ ability to use their land. . . .

 

Watermelon shortage predicted as biosecurity concerns hold up Tongan supply – Maja

Supermarket shelves could soon run dry of watermelons with all import channels for the fruit currently closed due to biosecurity concerns.

Imports of the fruit from Tonga were halted last week after live fruit fly larvae were detected at the New Zealand border on a consignment of watermelons from the country.

The Ministry for Primary Industries said there would now be an investigation into the non-compliance by the Ministry of Agriculture Food, Forestry and Fisheries in Tonga.

“Until the suspension is lifted, all consignments of watermelons from Tonga arriving at New Zealand’s border will be held with the option of destruction or re-shipment in accordance with the Import Health Standard,” MPI said in a statement. . . 

Green lipped mussels are becoming heavy lifters – Keith Woodford:

Hatchery technologies and open-sea farms provide the platform for new endeavours with green-lipped mussels

A little over five years ago, I asked the question as to whether green-lipped mussels could be the next heavy lifter for the New Zealand export economy. At the time, the Government had a goal of doubling exports by 2025, which seemed exceedingly optimistic.

Both then and since then I have been frustrated by what I see as naivety within the broader community as to how New Zealand is going to pay its way in a complex and competitive world. There often seems to be unwillingness to grapple with the hard realities of a small isolated country in the South Pacific with a rapidly growing population and increasing inequalities.

I have listened many times to speakers who say that services rather than goods are going to be our salvation. When I ask where within that framework might we find a competitive advantage, I typically hear only generic terms such as ‘technology’   Our two big service industries are tourism and the education of foreign students. . . 

Election 2020, the red tsunami – Elbow Deep:

I had intended to use this month’s column to look back at the three years which have passed since the farmer protests in Morrinsville and determine if a Labour/New Zealand First/Greens Government was as scary as predicted.

Events overtook me and clearly, since Labour won the party vote in all but four electorates, it wasn’t that scary at all.

At the last election farming issues were front and centre in a highly divisive campaign that left farmers feeling kicked around like the proverbial political football. At the heart of this division was the proposed water levy, a proposal that didn’t even make it past coalition negotiations, which generated a lot of heat while distracting from the real message David Parker was trying to push; freshwater reform.

This election, in the wake of plummeting tax receipts and a higher than normal reliance on income from agricultural exports, every single political party was courting the farming vote. . . 

Agricultural equipment sector remains positive :

The agricultural equipment sector remains in a positive mood throughout the country says the Tractor and Machinery Association (TAMA), which represents the sector in manufacturing, retailing and distribution.

TAMA sales statistics for the year to date (September 30) are down around 18 percent compared with 2019‘s record-breaking year, however indicators remain positive as New Zealand enters the peak of another growing season.

TAMA president Kyle Baxter said despite sales volumes being down in some equipment ranges, members were confident regarding business trading across dealerships and local equipment manufacturing. . . 


Rural round-up

18/10/2020

Farmers have form filling issues with sustainability :

Controversial new rules to clean up streams and rivers have fired up election debates and brought an angry backlash from farmers, who say it will cost them tens of thousands of dollars – and won’t make the waterways cleaner. 

Today The Detail visits Chris Lewis at his 500-hectare dairy and dry stock farm in Pukeatua, on the border of Waikato and King Country, to find out what the freshwater regulations mean to him and to look at the work he’s done to tackle environmental damage.

The National Environmental Standards for Freshwater largely came into force last month. Rules on intensive winter grazing have been put back to May next year, and regulations on stockholding areas other than feedlots and application of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser to pastoral land will be in force next July. . . 

Zespri on alert over mystery disease killing Italian kiwifruit – Esther Taunton:

Zespri is on alert over a mystery disease sweeping through Italian kiwifruit crops and leaving scientists baffled.

The disease, which growers call “moria” or “die-off”, begins in the roots of kiwifruit vines, which blacken and rot.

The leaves then wither and drop, leaving fruit exposed to the sun, and the vines dry up and die within two years.

According to The Guardian, the disease broke out near the Italian city of Verona in 2012 and hasaffected up to 84 per cent of vines in some places. . . 

New genetics company created by farmers – Gerald Piddock:

A group of farmers have created a new company to challenge the status quo of how genetics are delivered to the New Zealand dairy industry.

Called Matriarch Genetics Ltd, after the maternal bloodlines that bull breeders contribute to the national herd, its objective is to accelerate the genetic gain and genetic diversity of dairy animals.

Spokesperson Kevin Clark says it was born out of a combination of frustration and opportunity.

Dairy bull breeders were frustrated at the decline in the number of bull genetics companies were accepting into their programmes over recent years. . . 

Dunedin firm to build $12.5m boning system – Jacob McSweeny:

Scott Technology has won a multimillion-dollar contract to build an X-ray lamb boning system for Alliance Group’s plant near Invercargill.

The deal was announced yesterday morning to the NZX and is being lauded as a boost for the local economy in a difficult time.

The technology — worth $12.5million — will be developed at Scott’s Dunedin offices over the next 10 months.

It uses X-ray and vision technology to get more accurate cuts while also removing workers at Alliance’s Lorneville plant from being at the forefront of “heavy primal cutting activities,” thus making it safer for them. . . 

Southern scholarship recipients address red-meat opportunities – Yvonne O’Hara:
Silver Fern Farms has announced its  Pasture to Plate youth scholarship recipients for 2020, adding two additional scholarships on top of the six usually offered. That move was to strengthen its support for the industry through the challenges presented by Covid-19, chief executive Simon Limmer said. Southern Rural Life reporter Yvonne O’Hara speaks to the three southern recipients — Imogen Brankin, Leora Werner and Dan Ryan. The other successful applicants were Jack Monckton, Harry Hawkins, Joe Ward, Jazmine Burgess and Sam Phipps.

Scholarship and lamb for the flat

Now that Dan Ryan has been named as a Silver Fern Farms’ Pasture to Plate scholarship recipient, he is going to have to make good on what he promised to spend the money on.

Mr Ryan is in his final year of a commerce degree at Lincoln University, majoring in supply chain management, global business and marketing. . . 

IWSC awards New Zealand’s only gold medal wine to te Pa Family Vineyards 2020 rosé:

International Wine & Spirits Competition judges call te Pa 2020 Rosé ‘A perfect benchmark for the style’

te Pa Family Vineyards, the independently owned, Maori winery in Marlborough, is celebrating after winning the country’s only gold medal for wine, across all New Zealand wine categories, at the International Wine & Spirits Competition, based in the UK.

The winery’s te Pa 2020 Pinot Noir Rosé was awarded the only gold medal and the highest score (95 points) for a New Zealand wine in the fiercely competitive category.

Founder and owner of te Pa, Haysley MacDonald, who’s family lineage and history goes back to some of the earliest Maori arrivals to New Zealand, around 800 years ago, says he is delighted with the result and is proud to represent the New Zealand wine community on the world stage. . . 


Rural round-up

05/08/2020

All well and good – Sam Owen:

Waikato dairy farmer Sam Owen has learned from experience about the importance of looking after his mental health. Sam shares his story and his tips for maintaining wellbeing.

An overwhelming sense of joy or happiness doesn’t sound like depression or anxiety, but to me this is one of my triggers. That’s because I know it will usually be followed by an impending sense of ‘the only way is down from here’.

My wife Jacqui and I are 50:50 sharemilkers. We live on-farm with our kids Abbie (13) and Rhys (11). We’re milking 260 cows on 70ha (effective), on the W and T van de Pas farm at Eureka, just east of Hamilton.

I’m a DairyNZ Dairy Environment Leader (DEL), and a board member for the Port Waikato School Camp. I’m very focused on getting young people into the sector. Jacqui is also a qualified lawyer who contributes time to the Rural Support Trust. Both of us are passionate ambassadors for mental health and wellbeing. . .

‘Blown away’ by response to wool petition – Sally Rae:

South Otago sheep and beef farmer Amy Blaikie has been “absolutely blown away” by the response to her wool petition.

In June, Mrs Blaikie launched a petition calling on the House of Representatives to ensure all publicly funded buildings and KiwiBuild homes were built or refurbished with New Zealand wool carpet and insulation.

Tomorrow, Mrs Blaikie, her husband Victor and their children are due to head to Wellington, where she has asked New Zealand First list MP and Lawrence farmer Mark Patterson to present the petition, which has been signed by more than 14,000 people.

She said she was not only overwhelmed by the number of signatures but also by the phone calls and communication she had received. . . 

Is regenerative agriculture the real deal – Keith Woodford:

Regenerative agriculture is in vogue as a concept but what does it really mean?

I often get asked my opinion about regenerative agriculture.  My standard rejoinder is to ask what does the questioner mean by ‘regenerative agriculture’? That typically gets a response that it is somewhat of a mystery to them, but it is a term they keep hearing, and supposedly it is the way we need to act to save the planet.  My next rejoinder is that I too am struggling to know what it means.

Then some two weeks ago I was asked to join a focus group for a research project looking into what regenerative agriculture means specifically in the New Zealand context. The project has considerable backing, including from the Government-funded ‘Our Land & Water National Science Challenge’.

I was unable to participate in the focus group on account of another commitment. But it did make me think it was time for me to do my own research and find out what the term actually stood for. . . 

Application for prestigious agricultural award open:

Being mentored by some of the greatest leaders in the Australasian agriculture industry might sound appealing, but how about travelling by private jet as part of the experience? This very opportunity will be available to one young Kiwi or Aussie again next year, when they take out the 2021 Zanda McDonald Award.

The search is once again on for talented young individuals across Australia and New Zealand, with registrations opening for the annual award today.

Now in its seventh year, the award recognises those who are passionate about agriculture, wanting to make a difference in their sector, and looking to take their career to the next level. There’s an impressive prize package up for grabs, that will put the winner in the passenger seat with some of the biggest and best agriculture operators across both countries, through the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) network. . .

A love letter to the mighty Mataura River :

Dougal Rillstone’s new book, Upstream in the Mataura details his 70-year fascination for the Mataura River from his childhood in Gore through until the present day. 

Rillstone said he became fascinated by the river when he was still a child and at that time it was a place of recreation for swimming and picnicking.

He said one particular incident is imprinted in his memory.

“A memory of swimming in the river, a place we called the bend just on the north side of Gore, on a flat calm pool into the evening, sun dropping and my father was swimming near me because I couldn’t really swim properly, but I was in the river up to my shoulders and trout started to rise all around us and I was totally mesmerised by it – it’s what I later came to realise is called the ‘mad Mataura rise’.” . . 

 

Farm biosecurity a good BVD insurance:

Biosecurity is high on most New Zealanders’ minds this year, thanks largely to Covid-19 and the need to keep it firmly on the country’s border edges to avoid it spreading throughout the community. For New Zealand farmers there is another disease that does not affect humans which can, also with good biosecurity, be avoided.

Estimates are about 80% of this country’s dairy and beef herds have been exposed to Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD). Over the past decade as more herds have cleared it, they have again become susceptible, or “naïve”. This leaves them with no resistance to a disease that can account for a variety of undiagnosed ailments.

Greg Chambers, Zoetis veterinary operations manager says comprehensive control of BVD relies upon three key planks in any farm campaign – testing/culling, vaccination, and biosecurity. . . 

Ballance’s financial results are a positive sign for New Zealand primary sector:

New Zealand is looking to, and counting on, the primary sector to underpin our economy. The sector provides opportunities for thousands of kiwis every day.

Owned by 19,000 farming families, Ballance Agri-Nutrients is well positioned to support the sector to drive the prosperity of NZ with a strong balance sheet and another year of consistent farmer and grower rebates. Leading into 2021, the Ballance team continues their unrelenting focus on nutrient leadership and leading by science.

“I want to acknowledge all the individuals that come together to form the Ballance team, we are fortunate to have an extremely talented and passionate group focused on delivering value for our shareholders, customers and all kiwis,” says Ballance Chairman, David Peacocke. . . 


Rural round-up

01/07/2020

Regenerative ag’s mythology questioned – David Anderson:

The “mythology” of regenerative agriculture and lack of scientific evidence has prompted two renowned plant scientists to write to Ag Minister Damien O’Connor.

In the letter, Lincoln University’s Professor Derek Moot and retired plant scientist Professor Warwick Scott, express their concerns about the increased profile of regenerative agriculture in New Zealand media and farming sectors.

They have called on the minister to convene an expert panel of scientists to review all the claims made about practice.

“It is important that sound science drives our agricultural systems,” they say. “We believe such a panel should provide a robust critique of the claims made about ‘regenerative agriculture’ to ensure the public, industry and policy makers have a balanced and scientifically informed view of the ideas promulgated.” . .

Rachel Stewart on the Green Party and farmers:

To say Rachel Stewart isn’t backward in coming forward is somewhat of an understatement.

The self-described “ex-media, ex-farmer, ex-train driver” falconer has often ruffled feathers with her forthright opinions – especially when it comes agriculture.

So Stewart’s’ recent Twitter activity, criticising the Green Party and coming out in support of farmers, caught the attention of The Country’s Jamie Mackay, who invited her to talk on today’s show.

The Greens are moving away from their environmental roots and becoming too urban, Stewart told Mackay. . . 

Seeking new markets in the West – Keith Woodford:

Neither Europe nor the USA are going to do us any trading favours. It is all about self-interest

In recent weeks I have been exploring and writing about some of the challenges in finding new markets that would allow New Zealand to stem its increasing reliance on China. My focus in the last three trade articles has been first on North East Asia, then the ASEAN countries of South East Asia, then South Asia and Iran. This week I look further west to Europe and the Americas before completing the circle.

First to recap a little.

The emergence of China as the most important trading partner of New Zealand has been a function of natural alignment between what New Zealand produces and what China wanted, complemented by New Zealand also wanting what China has been producing at lower cost than anyone else. . .

Tomato red spider mite pest discovered in New Zealand for first time – Maja Burry:

A pest known for damaging tomato plants and other crops has been detected in New Zealand for the first time

Biosecurity New Zealand said two populations of the tomato red spider mite (Tetranychus evansi) were found near Auckland Airport and in Pakuranga as part of routine surveillance several weeks ago.

Tomato red spider mites are the size of a full stop and are very difficult to identify. The mite’s main hosts are plants in the Solanaceae family, including tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants. They also attack beans, kumara and some ornamentals – roses and orchids. . .

Juniper hunt seedlings could grow New Zealand’s first gin berry plantation – Robin Martin:

New Zealand is one step closer to establishing the country’s first plantation of Juniperus communis – whose berries are the key ingredient of gin – following a nationwide search for the elusive conifer.

About 40 trees were discovered as part of the Great New Zealand Juniper Hunt, and seedlings are now being nurtured at Massey University and at two locations in Taranaki.

Egmont Village lifestyle block owner Marlene Busby had aspirations of making gin herself when she snipped a bit of juniper bush at a garden centre some 30 years ago.

“At the time I sort of took a little bit. They were going to pull them out anyway so it didn’t really [matter] any way. . . 

Waitaki’s geological wonderland – Mike Yardley:

Crossing the border dividing Canterbury from Otago, the Waitaki River, is like a pathway into another world. A region built on the remains of prehistoric creatures from a vanished world. The wondrous Waitaki District has always been proud of its rocks, lustily exemplified by the creamy pure texture of Oamaru Stone that underpins the classic good looks of the historic town’s Victorian Precinct. But before hitting town, I ventured west into the heart of the Waitaki Valley, to delightful Duntroon, with its pending designation as a Global Geopark by UNESCO. As Australasia’s first Geopark, it threads together the spell-binding natural landforms, abundant fossil finds and rich cultural history of the Waitaki Valley, which was under sea when Zealandia drifted away from Gondwana. Seismic forces later thrust the ancient seabed upwards, at the same time that the Southern Alps were formed.

Robert Campbell, the wealthy land-owner and runholder established Duntroon in 1864, naming it in honour of his Scottish birthplace. This cute-as-a-button village is home to the Vanished World Fossil Centre, but before heading there, don’t miss Duntroon’s assorted trove of evocative landmarks. . .


Rural round-up

19/12/2019

The good, the bad, and the ugly – 2019 in review:

As we approach another year’s end we again highlight our annual review of 2019 in the primary sector as seen by Rural News’ editorial team.

THE GOOD

Good messaging award: Dairy Women’s Network’s new chief executive Jules Benton for her clear, confident and articulate communication of the network’s aims and aspirations, but in a real and down-to-earth manner.

Celebrating success: A lot of excellent events and conferences this year with a focus on celebrating the success of old and young people. The Massey Ag students’ dinner is a great example of this where some very smart future leaders come to the fore. The same for the Ahuwhenua Awards where Maori agri success is also celebrated in style. Feds, HortNZ and the dairy industry and others all did their bit to show NZ that the ag sector is well placed for the future.  . .

Phosphate vital, industry says – Brent Melville:

With the recent spotlight on importation of phosphate sourced in the Western Sahara into New Zealand, Brent Melville takes a closer look at the phosphate issue and why we rely on it for our food production.

Blocking  the importation of phosphate into New Zealand could have a $10 billion knock-on effect into the country’s food production and export sector, the fertiliser industry says.

The industry, dominated by the farmer co-operative duopoly of Ravensdown and Ballance Agri-Nutrients, said without access to phosphate rock, rural production would fall by “at least” 50%.

Phosphate rock is the key ingredient in the country’s production of superphosphate, used primarily as a nutrient by sheep and beef and dairy farmers to boost phosphorus and sulphur levels in the soil. . . 

Land champion: it’s hard to find time to retire – Annette Scott:

Federated Farmers high country champion Bob Douglas has contributed to the smooth running of South Island high country farming businesses for 25 years but next year his visits to the back of beyond will be as a tourist. He talked to Annette Scott about his high country office.

Endless dedication to Federated Farmers high country business will come to an end for Bob Douglas in the next few weeks.

By the end of January the South Canterbury Feds stalwart will be waking each morning to a new life.

“And it will be one that will now mean when I go to the high country it will be as a tourist,” Bob said. . . 

Migrant workers worth the effort :

Waikato farmer and Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis says employing migrant workers isn’t always easy but is worth the investment.

Experience has shown me what works best. I could talk about this for hours but I will summarise some of the lessons here.

Employing migrants is not the cheap option for New Zealand dairy farmers. In fact, generally, it will cost you more but it is worth it in the long run.

Firstly, you might need some professional help dealing with Immigration NZ once you’ve found a migrant worker to employ. That will generally cost you $1600-$2000. Visa fees cost about $500 . . 

Routine border checks detect unwanted fruit disease:

Biosecurity New Zealand has suspended fresh melon imports from Queensland following a border detection of an unwanted fruit disease.

Biosecurity New Zealand detected cucumber green mottle mosaic virus (CGMMV) following routine border testing on Friday of a consignment of watermelons from Queensland Australia, says Peter Thomson, Biosecurity New Zealand’s plants and pathways director.

CGMMV does not pose a risk to human health. It affects cucurbit fruit, including watermelon, cucumber, honeydew melon, rock melon, scallopini, zucchini, and pumpkin. . . 

EPA’s Annual Report on aerial use of 1080 released:

The 2018 report on the aerial use of 1080 for pest control provides greater detail than previous years, giving more information on operations and research.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) Annual Report on the aerial use of 1080 during 2018 shows a near halving of activity compared with the previous year, in terms of both the number of operations and total area treated.

There were 29 operations covering 441,000 hectares of land, compared with 50 operations across 877,000 hectares in 2017. This was due to the Department of Conservation (DOC) using less 1080, as there were no mast events in New Zealand’s forests. Heavy seed fall seasons (known as masts) drive rat populations up, threatening native species. . . 


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