Rural round-up

April 8, 2019

View From the Paddock: No tolerating ag bullies – Brigig Price:

It seems 2019 will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. In terms of risk, agriculture has been continually challenged and even the best performers are not exempt.

Fires, floods, targeted legislation, biosecurity threats, trespass, theft and personal attack are at the forefront of many producers’ minds.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion but it should not translate into harm and distress caused to others. . .

Skills needed ambassador says :

Cameron Russell is living proof that the sheep industry has a lot to offer young people with the right attitude and a willingness to succeed.

At 26 years of age, he is married with a child and working as stock manager on Southland’s Diamond Peak Station.

Mr Russell has worked as a shepherd and then block manager on two high-profile properties where he has honed his practical skills and knowledge. . .

 

Gumboots on to monitor farm freshwater health – Yvonne O’Hara:

About a dozen people braved the cold and rain to stand in a creek to look its health, at Waitahuna last Wednesday.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand southern South Island extension manager Olivia Ross hosted three workshops last week, including two at Dipton and Waikaka.

Between 15 and 20 attended the first two.

”There is quite a high level of interest,” she said. . .

Taranaki teen desperate to get a foot in the farming door – Esther Taunton:

Braydon Langton just wants someone to give him a go.

The 16-year-old has been trying to get a sheep and beef farming job since leaving school a year ago but said despite a shortage of workers, farmers were unwilling to take a chance on a young person.

“I’ve probably asked about 20 or 30 people but as soon as they hear that I haven’t got two years experience or my own dogs, they don’t want to hear any more,” he said. . . 

‘Outstanding’ apple season blighted by a lack of workers willing to pick them – Skara Bohny:

The continuing trend of worryingly low numbers of fruit-pickers is marring an otherwise stellar apple season in Nelson Tasman.

The Lynch family orchard behind Fashion Food and the “world’s prettiest apples” had an “unprecedented” season, even with an extended drought and two wild-fire related evacuations.

Orchard manager Dan Lynch said his main concern was having enough workers for the entire harvest.  . . 

New agreement to protect citrus industry:

Biosecurity New Zealand and Citrus New Zealand have reached an agreement on how to prepare for and respond to future biosecurity threats.

Both parties signed a Sector Operational Agreement for Readiness and Response today (3 April) under the Government-Industry Agreement (GIA) partnership. They have committed to undertake a joint three-year programme of work to better protect the citrus industry from biosecurity threats.

“The GIA partnership enables us to work alongside industry to better understand the risks, and how we might deal with them if they reach our shores,” says Roger Smith, Head of Biosecurity NZ. . .

On the farm: What’s happening on farms and orchards around NZ:

In the past week Northland has had a good dollop of rain – between 60 and 80 millimetres in the east and less in the west. There is no length to the pasture but it is green. The kill schedule for prime beef has taken a sharp turn up-wards.

Around Pukekohe the heaviest rainfall for many weeks fell on Monday when 30 to 40 mm was recorded. The rain has given a significant boost to needy crops and the conversion of brown grass paddocks to green has been rapid. Our grower contact says the increase in the minimum wage rate will have a big effect on growers’ costs that will be difficult to recover in the market place and he believes it could be the tipping point for some producers to exit the industry. . . 

 


Rural round-up

April 3, 2019

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

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

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

In response, I say ‘dream on’. . . 

Taratahi owes creditors $31 million – Neal Wallace:

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

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

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

Crop work went like clockwork – Alan Williams:

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

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

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

Forestry sales at record high – reports – Eric Frykberg:

New evidence is emerging of a booming forestry sector.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Record number of beekeepers have their say in latest check:

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

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

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

Miscanthus – a carbon negative crop:

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

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


Rural round-up

March 26, 2019

Last calves go under the hammer – Sally Rae:

It was dubbed The Last Hurrah.

Rural folk from throughout the Catlins and further afield gathered on Thursday for the last-ever Owaka calf sale.

As the stories and nostalgia flowed – many commenting on how long it could take in years gone by to get home from the sale – there was also a touch of sadness.

PGG Wrightson, which owns and operates the saleyards, is moving the sale from next year to a special sale day at the Balclutha saleyards. . .

Pilot ‘trees and carbon’ workshop proves popular – Sally Brooker:

A pilot project helping farmers make the most of the One Billion Trees Fund has generated a lot of interest.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand ran a series of workshops in the central South Island this month called ”Farms, Trees and Carbon”.

Experts from Wairarapa forestry and marginal land use advisory and management company Woodnet presented an overview of global warming and New Zealand’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gases.

Then they discussed possibilities for plantings on attendees’ land. . . 

‘Serious pest’ affecting avocado trees discovered in Auckland

An avocado tree-loving beetle, regarded as a serious pest overseas, has been discovered in Auckland.

The wood-boring granulate ambrosia beetle has been detected in four Auckland areas since late February, according to Biosecurity New Zealand.

The beetle is known to feed on a wide range of broadleaf trees, including horticultural species such as avocado, and can spread fungal diseases. . . 

Primary sector attitudes give lessons for life – Bryan Gibson:

It has been a challenging week or so in New Zealand as we all try to make sense of the events in Christchurch on March 15. We’ve all been doing some soul-searching, wondering about the foundations of our society and how it will recover from this tragedy.

As an island nation at the bottom of the world many of us might have thought we were isolated from the hatred that we see in much of the world at the moment.

But we’d be wrong to think that. Our nation was formed through conflict and to this day we often express our fear of others through anger. It might help for rural communities and primary producers to reflect on our make-up. People of all nationalities work the land, grow the crops, pick the fruit and milk the cows. There’s only four million of us here but we produce enough to feed many more people so we’ve had to form partnerships with other nations to sell our great food internationally. . . 

Dairy dramas – Hugh Stringleman:

Dairy farmers face a strange mix of uncertainties when contemplating with satisfaction the likelihood of a fourth consecutive season of $6-plus milk prices.

While extreme volatility in dairy product prices has calmed down and New Zealand farmers now receive as good as others in Europe and the United States, their institutions have developed cracks.

There might be no better time to rebuild the foundation, beginning with the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act, part 2019.

Last week Fonterra’s leaders promised for the third or fourth time since the embarrassment of their first financial loss in 2018 a fundamental strategy review. . . 

NZ Champion of Cheese Medals Announced:

NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2019 has awarded 223 medals to locally-made cheese, proving the quality of New Zealand speciality cheese continues to improve.

Organised by the New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association, the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards has been run since 2003. The Bronze, Silver and Gold Medal winners have been announced today, with the Gold Medal winners vying for one of 26 cheese trophies, which will be announced in Hamilton in May. All the New Zealand Champion of Cheese medal winners are on the NZSCA website https://nzsca.org.nz/winners/. . .

Hawke’s Bay dairy farm opportunity on market:

A top-end Patoka dairy farm with consents in place to increase its output by 30 percent for at least the next 10-years has been placed on the market for sale. With Hawke’s Bay’s land values around half of some other districts, the returns from this property would likely be stronger than anywhere else.

Raumati Dairy some 41-kilometres north-west of Napier is a 458-hectare property milking a herd of between 730 – 750 cows, but with consent from Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to stock up to 1000 cows through to 2028. It ticks all the environmental boxes too with riparian areas fenced off. A 60 bail rotary, 600 cow feed pad and all the bells and whistles make this a must view. . . 


Rural round-up

March 15, 2019

Farmers feeling nervous in regulatory environment – Sally Rae:

A high level of nervousness is apparent in the rural sector around the regulatory environment farmers are facing, Alliance Group chairman Murray Taggart says.

Both Mr Taggart and chief executive David Surveyor were at the Wanaka A&P Show last week, meeting farmers.

With strong commodity prices – apart from strong wool – and low interest rates, normally farmers would be quite positive, but they were not seeing that, Mr Taggart said. . . 

No land insurance means farmer pays in the aftermath of Nelson bush fire – Carly Gooch:

In the aftermath of the Pigeon Valley fires, one farmer’s land has been left a mess due to fire breaks covering the pasture – so who’s going to pay for the clean up?

Pauline Marshall was one of the first residents evacuated from her Teapot Valley home, along with her son, Simon Marshall. They were unable to return to their properties for 17 days, with the exception of getting access a few hours a day, at best. 

The Marshalls were “extremely grateful” to the fire crews for saving their homes, but after those unsettling times, now the Marshalls are facing the unknown cost of rehabilitating the pasture before winter hits.  . . 

Future Angus leader learns from conference – Ken Muir:

reminder that farming is not just about profit was one of the important takeaways for Rockley Angus stud farmer Katherine McCallum after she attended the GenAngus Future Leaders programme in Sydney in February.

”The programme is designed to support the younger Angus breeders in Australia and New Zealand to grow their business and develop the skills to become future industry leaders”, Mrs McCallum said.

”It was an honour to be chosen from among the New Zealand applicants.” . . 

Fonterra making a move to environmentally friendly fuel option

–  Angie Skerrett:

A new diesel biofuel made from an agricultural by-product is helping power Fonterra’s milk tanker fleet, and it’s hoped more transport operators will follow suit.

Z Energy has built New Zealand’s first commercial scale bio-diesel plant, using a process which turns an unwanted tallow product, usually exported to make soap and candles, to make the high quality diesel. . .

Red-fleshed kiwifruit to be tested in NZ – Maja Burry:

A red fleshed kiwifruit variety is being tested on New Zealanders.

As part of a sales trial, the kiwifruit marketer and exporter Zespri will release 30,000 trays of Zespri Red to both national supermarket chains and selected retailers over the next five weeks.

The company said it wanted to know what consumers and retailers thought about the shelf-life, taste and colouring of the kiwifruit before it decided whether to move to full commercialisation. . . 

130,000 bees go under the microscope :

Sampling has been completed for the largest and most detailed study of honey bee health ever undertaken in New Zealand.

More than 60 beekeepers have participated in Biosecurity New Zealand’s Bee Pathogen Programme.

Biosecurity New Zealand senior scientist, Dr Richard Hall, says the research will provide a wealth of valuable information to the beekeeping industry. . .

Air New Zealand, Contact Energy, Genesis Energy and Z Energy join forces in carbon afforestation partnership:

Air New Zealand, Contact Energy, Genesis Energy and Z Energy have today announced the formation of Dryland Carbon LLP (Drylandcarbon), a limited liability partnership that will see the four companies invest in the establishment of a geographically diversified forest portfolio to sequester carbon.

Drylandcarbon will target the purchase and licensing of marginal land suited to afforestation to establish a forest portfolio predominantly comprising permanent forests, with some production forests. The primary objective is to produce a stable supply of forestry-generated NZU carbon credits, but the initiative will also expand New Zealand’s national forest estate. These credits will support the partners to meet their annual requirements under the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme. . . 


Biosecurity upgrade needed

March 4, 2019

A fourth Queensland fruit fly has been found in Auckland but Biosecurity NZ says it is not established here.

Biosecurity New Zealand spokesperson Catherine Duthie said there was no evidence to suggest an established Queensland fruit fly population had been found.

“The proximity of these three detections in Northcote as well as the timing would indicate they are possibly from the same source,” Dr Duthie said.

“We have investigated several hundred kilos of fruit collected in the area. “We dissected this looking for eggs and larvae, and we have found no evidence of a population to date.” . . .

Fruit flies might be small but the impact on our horticulture should they infest orchards would be huge.

So what’s to be done? Federated Farmers’ president Katie Milne has a good suggestion – copying the Australian example of a compulsory video on incoming flights:

The safety video depicts people trying to use everyday excuses to get past Australian border officials with fish, wooden objects, plants and other material hidden in their luggage.

“This video is an example of what is needed at every New Zealand point of entry,” Federated Farmers national president Katie Milne says.

Their new mandatory passenger announcement is engaging, vibrant and available in written and audio formats in 14 languages.

It is a legal requirement under Australian law for the video to be shown. . .  

If you look around when the announcement on biosecurity is made before planes from overseas start their descent, you’ll see few people are concentrating. It’s not always easy to hear what’s being said, even for native speakers of English let alone those for whom it’s a second language or don’t understand it at all.

A video clearly giving the message about what can and can’t be brought in, and why, would be much better than the current spoken announcement.

Our borders are vulnerable which puts agriculture and horticulture at risk.

An engaging video would be a useful tool for the biosecurity tool box.


Rural round-up

February 18, 2019

New foot and mouth threat to New Zealand – Annette Scott:

An emergency all-agriculture meeting to discuss tighter border controls is being considered after Australian authorities seized imported meat containing foot and mouth disease and African swine fever.

“There’s some pretty sinister things coming in (to Australia) and with New Zealand tourism following similar patterns this is a real wake up call for the industry and needs to be treated with the utmost seriousness by our own border agencies,” NZ Pork chairman Eric Roy said.

“The discovery of FMD in the latest samples of products found in Australia should be of particular concern for anyone in the livestock sector. . .

Houses, trees swallow up land – Neal Wallace:

The area of land devoted to agricultural production fell by almost a million hectares or 7% in the decade to 2012 and will fall further as new Government policies encourage forest planting.

According to the Ministry for the Environment report, Our Land – Land Use Statistics 2018, most of that decline was caused by tenure review of South Island pastoral leases, subdivision and lifestyle blocks.

But between 1996 and 2012 the main shift in land cover was from exotic grassland and shrubland to exotic forest followed by a 10% increase in New Zealand’s urban area, which reached 230,000ha.

Driven by the population growing from 3.7 million to 4.4m, urban areas in Auckland grew by 4200ha, Waikato 4000ha and Canterbury 3800ha. . .

Life story: Veteran Canterbury stockman John O’Carroll a community hero– Tom Kitchin:

 John O’Carroll​ worked on his farm until his early 90s, and even then he’d never say he had retired.

O’Carroll​ was not only one of the best known stockmen in North Canterbury, he was one of the last surviving World War II veterans in the district and put in years of community volunteer work.

He died on January 15, aged 98. . . 

Molesworth Station: What’s next for our biggest farm? – Pat Deavoll:

The view from the top of Ward Pass is sublime. To the north lie the rolling downs surrounding the Molesworth Station homestead, backed by the drama of the Inland Kaikoura Range. This culminates in the summit of 2885-metre Mount Tapuaenuku.

To the south, the Acheron River stretches into the distance hemmed by arid scree-capped peaks and golden tussock flats. The Acheron Road winds its way across the flats, and far away, the slow crawling dot of a 4WD moves up the gravel road, dwarfed by the landscape that surrounds it.

This landscape belongs to 180,000 hectare Molesworth Station, New Zealand’s largest farm, leased and farmed by Landcorp and managed by the Department of Conservation on behalf of the Crown. It belongs to all New Zealanders and its fate is up for grabs.  . .

Possum cull planned after cattle catch TB near Dunedin :

Possum control will be carried out near Dunedin next month, after two cattle herds in the Flagstaff area tested positive for Bovine tuberculosis.

Bovine TB can cause weight loss and death in cattle and deer herds.

Possums are the main way the disease is spread, and humans can be at risk if they drink raw milk from an infected cow. . .

No need to panic over Brexit – Alan Barber:

In spite of the fast approaching deadline of 29th March, when the UK is due to leave the EU, not to mention the latest shipment date able to meet that deadline, there may be no need to get too concerned. There is a huge amount of media-inspired speculation about the potentially dire consequences of Prime Minister May’s inability to achieve an improvement of the exit terms leading to a No Deal Brexit, but word from Britain suggests this is highly unlikely. After all, both the EU and the British Parliament have specifically ruled out leaving without a deal.

The most likely short term outcome will be an extension of current membership terms under Article 50 which would give time for legislation to be passed either in the improbable event May succeeds in obtaining a new deal acceptable to her own parliament or further negotiation is required to reach a final agreement. . . 


Rural round-up

February 1, 2019

Flavours of childhood – Rebecca Fox:

Growing up in Argentina with Italian family heritage, it is not surprising Pablo Tacchini became a chef. Having just become a Beef + Lamb ambassador chef, he tells Rebecca Fox it has taken a lot of hard work to get to this point.

Weekends were feast times in Pablo Tacchini’s childhood home in Argentina.

He would spend his mornings either in the kitchen making pasta with his grandmother or outside helping his father and grandfather barbecue.

”I grew up with that. Food is very important for me. It was an easy choice to see what I wanted to do.”

While he now lives and works thousands of kilometres from home, it is those flavours and experiences he seeks to replicate. . .

Federated Farmers on clean waterways survey: ‘Throwing rocks at farming all the time is just not helping’ – Eric Frykberg:

Federated Farmers has accused Fish & Game of using leading questions in a survey on clean waterways.

The agency commissioned a survey on public attitudes on protecting rivers and lakes from pollution.

The survey, by the research group Colmar Brunton, said 82 percent of respondents would support mandatory environmental standards for New Zealand’s waterways, enforced by local councils.

But Federated Farmers water spokesperson Chris Allen said the group asked leading questions. . .

$15m cherry project announced

Development of Central Otago’s cherry industry is set to continue with another multimillion-dollar venture announced this week.

Cherry investment firm Hortinvest is seeking expressions of interest from investors for a $15.5million orchard project on an 80ha site at Mt Pisa, near Cromwell.

It was the third cherry investment to be led by Hortinvest within the last two years in Central Otago and was to meet “an unprecedented global demand for premium cherries”, a Hortinvest statement said . . 

Recognising a dairy sector champion: Adrian van Bysterveldt:

The dairy sector is recognising the loss of one of its greatest champions, South Island-based Adrian van Bysterveldt.

Adrian was a passionate advocate and leader for pasture-based farm systems and his work helped shape and influence the direction of dairy farming, particularly in the South Island where he was a dedicated leader.

“Adrian was so passionate about all things dairy and really believed in pasture-based farm systems, he had an incredible enthusiasm for the sector and the people in it,” said Tim Mackle, DairyNZ chief executive. . . 

New way of applying fertiliser has potential to benefit the environment:

A new guide has been released which will assist farmers and the irrigation industry to adopt the use of fertigation – a new way of applying fertiliser which is likely to reduce nitrogen leaching and save labour on farms.

Fertigation allows irrigators to be used to apply liquid fertiliser or liquid soluble fertiliser in small quantities at the same time as water. In New Zealand, most fertiliser currently used is solid and applied through ground spreading or aerial top dressing.

Internationally, fertigation is increasingly being adopted as good environmental practice. . . 

Unmodified quad bikes unsuitable for mustering cattle – Kate Dowler:

UNMODIFIED quad bikes have been ruled unsuitable for mustering cattle, in a landmark recent Queensland court decision.

And farmers are being warned the ruling means they could be held liable over quad bike accidents.

The decision has prompted calls from the National Farmers’ Federation for the safety of the bikes to be improved by manufacturers and for riders to also be held more accountable for their own safety. . . 

 


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