Rural round-up

April 28, 2015

Report card: could do better – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra’s Shareholders Council has told the co-operative’s directors and senior management the recent interim results were below the council’s expectations.

Council chairman Ian Brown said shareholders would rightfully feel disappointed that, in particular, an increase in dividend was not delivered.

He was introducing the FSC April report to all shareholders, one of four written reports a year. . .

Fighting nature with nature:

New research into sustainable pest management controls might soon offer avocado growers an effective non-chemical control against leafrollers.

The research, being conducted by scientists at Plant & Food Research aims to use the pests’ own sex pheromones to disrupt the mating process in an effort to reduce populations.

“Sex pheromones, the natural chemicals released by the females of many insect species to attract mates, can be used to disrupt communication between insects” says Plant & Food Research scientist Dr Max Suckling. . .

Fileding scientist’s seed drill a Rolls Royce system – Gerard Hutching:

Feilding soil scientist and inventor Dr John Baker is on a mission to save the world’s soils and has created a special machine that has been described as the “Rolls Royce” of direct drill seed machines.

With a turnover of between $3-4 million a year, Baker’s cross-slot no-tillage drills are sold in 18 countries and used extensively in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.

As the earth’s soil quality diminishes, Baker’s drill has been touted by its designer and enthusiastic supporters as a potential saviour.

Recently researchers from the University of Sheffield found that soils under Britain’s allotments were significantly healthier than soils that had been intensively farmed. They said the UK had only 100 harvests left in its soil. . .

Boffins dirty on soil profile

New Zealand’s commitment to participating in the United Nation’s International Year of Soils has been challenged by some soil scientists.

With four months of the year already gone, Dr Doug Edmeades has questioned how much effort the NZ scientific community was making during the year for raising the profile of soils’ contribution to the economy and the potential careers on offer.

 “I was recently at a seminar in Wellington that described the gap that exists between scientists and society.  . .

Westpac honours rural women at Rocky:

PHILANTHROPIST Turia Pitt will join Rural Women’s Award state winners at a Beef Australia 2015 high tea in Rockhampton next week.

Westpac Agribusiness will celebrate the Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation (RIRDC) Rural Women’s Award by honouring the winners’ quintet at the Women in Business High Tea, led by guest speakers Ms Pitt and Juliette Wright, founder of Givit. Westpac has been a long-term sponsor of the RIRDC Award.

 Susan Bower, head of Agribusiness at Westpac, said the bank was pleased to host the inspirational group at an event which would bring highly skilled women into agribusiness settings to share their skills.  . .

Automation marks new age for ag – Rebecca Sharpe:

RISING costs and difficulty in sourcing skilled labour have contributed to farmers seeking automated machinery systems for their operations, particularly in broadacre cropping enterprises.

Technology in this area continues to evolve quickly, with an Australian-first Yanmar driver-less tractor prototype revealed earlier this year in the Riverina.

But the days of driver-less machines haven’t yet been reached in Australia, according to Chesterfield Australia Integrated Solutions manager Paul Slatter, Brisbane, Queensland. . .


Bureaucracy trumps science & animal welfare

April 28, 2015

This is the triumph of bureaucracy over science and animal welfare:

British organic farmers are being forced to treat their livestock with homeopathic remedies under new European Commission rules branded ‘scientifically illiterate’ by vets.

Although homeopathy has been branded as ‘rubbish’ by the government’s Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies, organic farmers have been told they must try it first under a new EU directive which came into force in January.

The regulation means that animals could be left diseased or in pain for far longer than necessary and organic meat could end up containing higher levels of bacteria, vets have warned.

John Blackwell, President of the British Veterinary Association, said: “We should always use medicines which have a strong science base and homeopathic remedies are not underpinned by any strong science.

“Disease is painful and farmers have an obligation to reduce that pain and not allow their animals to suffer so this regulation is troubling. It may lead to serious animal health and welfare detriment.

“If animals are not treated promptly it could lead to an underlying level of pathogen which could mean that the animal was no longer fit for human consumption.” . . .

The directive states that: “it is a general requirement…for production of all organic livestock that (herbal) and homeopathic products… shall be used in preference to chemically-synthesised allopathic veterinary treatment or antibiotics.”  . .

The Department for Food and Rural Affairs admitted that organic farmers were bound by the new regulations but said they could resort to other means, such as antibiotics, without losing their ‘organic’ status if homeopathic remedies proved to be ineffective.  . .

But what about the suffering of the animals while they wait for treatment that will work?

Vets in Norway have also called on their country’s Food Standards Agency to delay fully implementing the directive in protest at the “ridiculous” guidelines.

“We think it’s totally unacceptable from a scientific point of view because there’s no scientific basis for using homeopathy,” Ellef Blakstad, scientific director of the Norwegian Veterinary Association, adding that the move was “scientifically illiterate”.

“If you start using homeopathy, you prolong the time when the animals are not getting adequate treatment and that’s a threat to animal welfare.” . .

Antibiotics should not be used indiscriminately but no good farmer or vet should let animals suffer for bureaucracy when there’s a scientifically proven way to treat the problem.

A friend who was overseeing an organic farm received a call from the manager telling him sheep were dying in large numbers.

The overseer took one look at the stock and told the manager to drench them.

The farm lost its organic status but the stock survived and thrived.

Hat tip: Tim Worstall


Rural round-up

April 27, 2015

Raiders butcher prized beef Andrea Fox:

Cattle butchers have struck a beef breeding farm near Whakatane, slaughtering two valuable in-calf cows and forcing the destruction of two others because of gunshot wounds.

Residents of Herepuru Rd about 5km from Matata and 35km from Whakatane are meeting to discuss installing a security camera in the road after the incident last week, in which the cows, among 113 in a paddock near the roadside, were gunned down with a .22 rifle.

Farmer Chrissy Weeks hoped police were following good leads after a woman neighbour in the road on the way to work early last Wednesday morning confronted three men loading up a dark-coloured, late model sedan.  . .

The tech revolution and the farm ute – Andrew Hoggard:

In the near future when you talk to a farmer about their dashboard and what they  have on it, they won’t respond by telling you “a speedo and a fuel gauge you idiot”.

 Instead they may well talk about their daily production summary, weather forecast, water pressure monitoring, fence power status, vat refrigeration temperature, and many other things.

Now you may be wondering why you would want this sort of information on the dashboard of your tractor or ute.  But it’s not a vehicle dashboard we are talking about,  but a farm dashboard. . .

Dollar, dairy forecast, drought have impact on farm sales – Sally Rae:

Prudent farm purchasers have ”carefully assessed” the reduced milk price forecast and the high New Zealand dollar, Real Estate Institute of New Zealand rural spokesman Brian Peacocke says.

Drought conditions had also had a negative impact on some South Island regions, Mr Peacocke said.

Data released by REINZ showed there were 47 fewer farm sales for the three months ended March than for the corresponding period last year. . .

Commodity index down, but wool does well – Dean Mackenzie:

The ASB New Zealand commodity index fell last week but lamb, beef and wool prices all posted rises close to 2% in United States dollar terms.

The index fell 0.8% in New Zealand dollar terms, dragged down by a 1.9% appreciation in the dollar against the US currency. In contrast, the index rose 1.1% in US dollar terms, ASB rural economist Nathan Penny said. . .

Hobby beekeeping takes off – Narelle Henson:

New Zealand is abuzz with enthusiasm over the humble bee, as hundreds of people a year sign up to hobby beekeeping.

John Hartnell, chairman of the Federated Farmers Bee Industry Group, said the last three years had seen numbers across the country explode. 

“We’ve got over 600 new beekeepers a year coming in. This year will probably be even greater than that. 

“We have an expectation that probably, come Christmas time, we might have 6000 beekeepers in the country and we might be heading towards 600,000 hives.” . . .

 

Horticultural production tops $7B, led by wine and apples – Fiona Rotherham:

Horticultural production has topped $7 billion for the first time, with good growth in nearly all the main industries, including wine, apples, potatoes, and onions.

The latest edition of the industry publication Fresh Facts shows in the year to June 30 2014 the horticultural industry was calculated to reach $7.16 billion in production, up from $6.7 billion the year before.

Exports rose by $300 million to $3.9 billion, an increase of nearly 7 percent on the previous year. . .

 


Rural round-up

April 26, 2015

China’s illegal meat trade hugs – Alan Williams:

As much as 80% of China’s meat imports could be taken in through the so-called Grey Market, dwarfing the level of New Zealand shipments sent in through highly-regulated official channels.

Most of the grey trade is beef and about half of it is from India, shipped in via Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand or Cambodia, international reports indicate.

The illegal trading has come to light again after about US$1 billion of food, including meat, was seized by Chinese authorities and 100 people were arrested.  . .

Kumera are transgenic – Grant Jacobs:

Kumara have a long history in New Zealand, being brought here by early Polynesian settlers and are well-known to Kiwis.[1]

They’re a crop that has been cultivated in South America for about 8,000 years that have been spread to other parts of the world.[1]

Research just published show that they are transgenic plants, plants with genes from other species in them. . .

Farm Prices Steady but Sales Volumes Falling in March Quarter:

Summary

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were 47 fewer farm sales (-10%) for the three months ended March 2015 than for the three months ended March 2014. Overall, there were 425 farm sales in the three months to end of March 2015, compared to 464 farm sales for the three months ended February 2015 (-8.4%) and 472 farm sales for the three months to the end of March 2014. 1,802 farms were sold in the year to February 2015, 2.2% fewer than were sold in the year to March 2014. . .

Mint bull to go down in history on hall of fame:

An elite artificial breeding bull that has delivered a significant contribution to dairy farms nationwide will forever be recognised as one of the very best after being inducted into LIC’s prestigious Hall of Fame last week.

Fairmont Mint-Edition, a Holstein-Friesian sire bred by Barry and Linda Old of Morrinsville, is the 53rd animal to be recognised on the Hall of Fame in more than 50 years of artificial breeding in New Zealand. . .

 

Dairy Awards Finals Judges Clock up the Km’s:

Final judging in the 2015 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards is underway, with judges set to travel thousands of kilometres and the length and breadth of the country to select the winners.

“There’s a lot at stake for the finalists as success in any one of the competitions can open up considerable opportunities and be career and life-changing,” national convenor Chris Keeping says.

“It’s also a time when both the finalists and judges gain from participating in the awards – through learning about their farm business, defining goals and identifying opportunities to make improvements.” . . .

New general manager appointed at DairyNZ:

DairyNZ has appointed Andrew Reid as its new general manager of extension, the role that leads the industry body’s regional consulting officer teams.

Andrew will start in the position on 4 May.

Andrew was previously general manager of sales with Ballance Agri-Nutrients, leading a field team of 120. . .

 

 

Last Grand Finalist Confirmed in ANZ Young Farmer Contest:

Douglas McGregor is the seventh Grand Finalist to be named in the 2015 ANZ Young Farmer Contest.

The thirty year old dairy farmer took first place at the Northern Regional Final in Dargaville on Saturday 18 April after a very tense and closely scored competition.

Mr McGregor went home with a prize pack worth over $10,000 including cash, scholarships and products and services from ANZ, FMG, Lincoln University, Ravensdown, AGMARDT, Silver Fern Farms, Honda, Husqvarna and Vodafone.
This was Douglas’s second attempt at Regional Final level of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest. Douglas is a very active member of the Bay of Island Young Farmers Club and is the Northern Region Vice-Chairman. Douglas was competing against 26 year old Anna Simpson, who doubles as the winner’s partner. . .

 

Food safety reaches new heights as AsureQuality moves its IT to the cloud

Global food safety and biosecurity services company AsureQuality has completed a successful move to the TechnologyOne Cloud, reducing IT risk and positioning itself for future growth.

New Zealand-based AsureQuality is owned by the New Zealand Government and was already using TechnologyOne’s enterprise software in an on-premise environment.

TechnologyOne Executive Chairman Adrian Di Marco said TechnologyOne’s Software as a Service (SaaS) solution had empowered AsureQuality to prepare for a cloud-first, mobile-first world. AsureQuality is also using TechnologyOne’s new Ci Anywhere platform, which allows the firm’s employees to access their information anywhere, anytime using smart mobile devices. . .

 


Rural round-up

April 25, 2015

Industry-Leading Orchardists Win Supreme in 2015 Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards


Matamata horticulturists Frans and Tineke de Jong, their son Talbert de Jong and his partner Emily Meese are Supreme winners of the 2015 Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA).

At a special BFEA ceremony on April 23, the de Jong’s family-run business, Southern Belle Orchard, also collected the Hill Laboratories Harvest Award, the Massey University Innovation Award, the WaterForce Integrated Management Award and the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award. . .

Disappearance of bees a mystery:

Bee scientists have been left baffled by the disappearance of thousands of honey bees from hives last spring, and say unless it happens again, it remains a mystery as to what caused it.

Plant and Food research bee scientist Mark Goodwin said last October a number of bee keepers from around the country began reporting strange symptoms occurring in their hives.

He said bees usually rebuilt their colonies in spring after winter, however, large numbers of bees were disappearing from hives in the Coromandel, Raglan and Wairarapa areas.

“So instead of having a queen and a lot of brood – that’s larvae and pupa – and about 30 or 40,000 bees, when the bee keeper came back a few weeks later … suddenly there were no bees there at all, there was a queen and about a hand full of bees and everybody else had gone. And we saw that in whole apiaries and between apiaries and then we were getting reports from beekeepers elsewhere in the North Island that were noticing very similar things.” . .

What Mondayising means on-farm – John Brosnan:

You’ve probably seen this advertised.

You might remember the law was changed in 2013 to allow Anzac day and Waitangi day to be moved to a Monday if they fall on a weekend.

This year’s Anzac day will be the first affected – but what does Mondayising really mean for you as a rural employer?

In reality for most farm staff – not much.

Why? Well here’s what the law states re this …

DairyNZ sessions help farmers assess cash flow – Sally Rae:

Another round of farmer events is under way nationally to give dairy farmers a ”wake-up call” to assess their cash-flow situation, given the low milk price forecasts.

DairyNZ, which is behind the Tactics for Tight Times campaign, has analysed what it is like for the average farmer in every dairying region and it is ”not looking pretty”, chief executive Tim Mackle says.

While 2015-16 would probably still end up being a break-even year for most farmers, he said cash flow would be a major issue that could result in some increased term debt in the sector and less spending in the regions. . .

New Zealand’s Best Eggs awarded last night:

Three of New Zealand’s most well known companies: Fonterra, Deloitte and The Warehouse were last night crowned “Good Business Eggs” in recognition of their work in the community sector. Whilst these companies might be better known for the scale of their business activities, they also demonstrate significant commitments to their various community initiatives.

The event hosted by CQ Hotels Wellington, one of last years winners was packed with business and community leaders anxious to see who had won the annual award. . .

Fonterra management appointments:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced changes to the roles and responsibilities of two members of the Fonterra Management Team.

Jacqueline Chow, who is currently Managing Director Global Brands and Nutrition, is stepping into the newly created role of Chief Operating Officer Velocity, effective 1 June 2015 – where she will work alongside the management team to accelerate performance across the Co-operative.

Chief Executive Theo Spierings today said: “In her new role, Jacqueline will lead the next stage in Fonterra’s evolution, working across the entire Co-operative to push forward the Velocity part of our V3 strategy and deliver the best possible performance.” . .

Hooroo to Oz Made brand? – Andrew Miller and Laura Griffin:

ADOPTION of the ‘True Aussie’ brand for all agricultural produce would be “a little perplexing”, says Australian Made campaign marketing manager Ben Lazzaro.

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) and Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) plan to build standards for MLA’s True Aussie brand – developed last year for red meat – which can then be applied to all Australian agricultural products in domestic and global markets.

While the existing government-backed Australian Made label covers a broad range of products including electronics, furniture and clothing as well as food, True Aussie would be “all about agriculture”, an NFF spokeswoman said. . .

 

 

 


Rural round-up

April 24, 2015

100 years 100 horses unites community:

The tale behind this Saturday’s 20km trek by 100 horses and riders to honour their Anzac war dead has galvanised rural communities around Waikari, north Canterbury, even after the worst drought for 60 years.

On Anzac Day, a spectacular remembrance called ‘100 Years, 100 Horses’, assisted by a Fonterra Grass Roots Fund donation, will see 100 riders in formation – many of them dressed in replica gear from World War I. They will pay tribute, not just to the fallen, but to the community spirit behind the Canterbury Mounted Rifles.

Fonterra’s Grass Roots Fund was touched by the story of the Rifles, part of the New Zealand Mounted Rifle Brigade which left Lyttelton in 1914 for the conflict in Turkey with just under 2000 men and over 2000 horses. The north Canterbury townships of the Hurunui district – Waikari, Hurunui, Mason Flats, Peaks and Hawarden – provided 187 of the riders, 42 of whom did not return. . .

Landowners ease path to Tinui Cross, NZ’s first Anzac memorial  – Gerard Hutching:

Farmers and landowners in the Tinui district of the Wairarapa have been “superb” over the creation of a walkway across their land to the historic Tinui Anzac Cross.

The first Anzac memorial built in New Zealand, the cross was built in 1916 on top of Mount Maunsell, or Tinui Taipo as it is known locally.

It has long been a tradition for locals to walk the three kilometres from the Tinui cemetery to the cross on Anzac Day, but in recent years numbers have grown.

Chairman of the Tinui Parish Anzac Trust, Alan Emerson, said the Trust had wanted to establish informal access to the cross for a number of years, and a route through Tinui Forest Park and a neighbouring farm belonging to Mike and Lesley Hodgins proved most suitable. . . .

Dealing weeds a crushing blow – Time Cronshaw:

Frustrated by weeds infiltrating his crops Aussie farmer Ray Harrington borrowed coal mining technology to come up with an invention turning heads internationally, writes Tim Cronshaw.

Crushing was the final C option that farmer-inventor Ray Harrington turned to for eliminating persistent weeds on his Western Australia farm.

“I knew we would have to do something different to stave off the impending (herbicide) resistance and knew what was coming. That is why I decided to build in my mind what I dubbed as as the Big C project. We knew the chaff (coming from the header) when we harvested crops contained 98 per cent of the weed seeds and I had to catch the chaff, cart it, cook it, crush it or cremate it and that was the project in my head.” . . .

Bees show taste for toxic pesticides – study:

A New Zealand bee scientist says new international research that shows bees may be getting hooked on some types of pesticides, only paints part of a wider picture.

A study published in the science journal Nature this week shows bees prefer food laced with neonicotinoids in lab tests undertaken at Newcastle University.

Neonicotinoids are long-lasting insecticides which are primarily used to coat the seeds of plants, making them toxic to all insects when they grow.

There is international debate on whether bees are affected by them. . .

Horticulture production exceeds $7 billion:

Plant & Food Research is a New Zealand-based science company providing research and development that adds value to fruit, vegetable, crop and food products.

New Zealand’s horticultural production has exceeded $7 billion for the first time, according to the latest edition of the industry statistics publication Fresh Facts. . .

 


Rural round-up

April 23, 2015

Show Me Sustainable Dairy Farming:

Pakotai dairy farmers, Rachel & Greig Alexander, winners of the 2015 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Supreme Award, are hosting a field day at their Award winning property at 3305 Mangakahia Road on Thursday 7th May 2015.

Their dairy farm will be open to all interested parties, commencing at 10.30am, with the day concluding with a light lunch at approximately 1.30pm.

The field day will provide the opportunity for visitors to learn how Rachel and Greig interpret ‘sustainability’ in their farming business. The Alexanders will explain how they incorporate sustainability into their day to day operation while still achieving bottom line profitability across the farming business, which also includes a beef operation and forestry. . .

Farming finalists a family success:

One of the three finalists for a major Maori farming award has opened its gates to visitors for a field day.

Mangaroa Station, about an hour inland from Wairoa, is a finalist in this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy for Maori excellence in sheep and beef farming.

Owners Bart and Nukuhia Hadfield showed judges the farm and stock yesterday and are running the field day today.

Mr Hadfield said the history of how the couple came to own the station was a major part of their entry into the awards. . .

NZ cow’s milk product wows Mexican dermatologists:

Hamilton-based company, Quantec Ltd, has successfully launched its world-first anti-acne cream to hundreds of Mexican dermatologists in Mexico City this month.

Quantec’s product, a clinically-proven anti-acne cream derived from cow’s milk called Epiology, was first launched into New Zealand pharmacies in May 2014.

Quantec founder and managing director Dr Rod Claycomb said it was the product’s success nationally that spurred Quantec to swiftly take the product global. . .

The New Zealand Seafood Industry has lost a titan with the death of Philip Vela:

The New Zealand seafood industry has lost a titan with the death of Philip Vela.

“Philip Vela was an early pioneer in the development of the hoki, orange roughy, tuna and squid fisheries. He continued to be a major player and innovator in New Zealand fisheries – a business where only the strongest of the strong have survived over these past 40 years,” Deepwater Group chief executive George Clement said.

“As such, the New Zealand seafood industry owes Philip and his brother Peter a huge debt. . .

Battle For Our Birds a great success:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says the success of the Battle For Our Birds programme is a welcome victory for endangered native species.

The Department of Conservation today released preliminary monitoring results for the eight-month long anti-predator campaign.

“There are thousands more native birds alive today than there would have been without the work done by DOC’s Battle For Our Birds last summer,” Ms Barry says.

“If we had done nothing and treated it as business as usual, the rat and stoat plague accompanying last year’s beech mast would have wiped out local populations of some of our rarest birds such as the kakariki, mohua/yellowhead or whio/blue duck.” . .

On the road again – RCNZ workshops being held in May:

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) will be on the road again this May updating its members on the latest changes in health and safety, transport and employment laws – as well as other topics – in a series of roadshows being held around the country during May.

RCNZ chief executive Roger Parton says the roadshow presentation will cover off the proposed new Health & Safety legislation and regulations, the Safer Farms programme and Codes of Practice for using tractors and other self propelled agricultural vehicles and what these changes will mean for rural contractors. . .  

Farmers encouraged to check they are registered with Beef + Lamb New Zealand for referendum vote:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) is encouraging farmers to check they are registered to vote in the sheep and beef levy referendum that will be held later this year.

All sheep, beef and dairy farmers will be able to vote on continuing to invest in programmes run by B+LNZ, which are designed to support a confident sector with improved farm productivity, profitability and performance.

B+LNZ Chief Executive Dr Scott Champion said it’s important that famers ensure they are on the roll and that their details are up to date. . .

OVERSEER 6.2’s new irrigation module now live through the new OVERSEER website:

OVERSEER 6.2 went live last night after a month-long OVERSEER road show that attracted hundreds of farmers and farm advisers willing to learn how to use the new irrigation module.

Full technical notes and the updated Data Input Standards have been released with OVERSEER 6.2 through a brand new website and OVERSEER’s General Manager Dr Caroline Read says users have everything they need to get up to speed.

“We’ve been working with IrrigationNZ since the start of the year to forewarn irrigators that OVERSEER 6.2 would be launched this month. Regional councils in popular irrigation areas have also been getting the message out. Farmers and growers can now work with their advisers to make sure their OVERSEER data is in line with what the new irrigation module requires,” says Dr Read. . .


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