Rural round-up

September 27, 2016

Drones to aid farm work :

Rab Heath grew up on a farm so he knows that grass equals money.

However, keeping an eye on your pasture takes time, and a huge amount of physical effort when checking soil conditions in every paddock.

Rab’s worked out a way to do this remotely, using drones. . . 

Canterbury farmers face bleak irrigation season – Thomas Mead:

Canterbury farmers face a tough spring with several key irrigation rivers already on restriction after a third straight year of low groundwater levels, with some wells, streams and springs to dry up.

Poor rainfall has left alpine rivers well below their long-term averages, with the Ahuriri River in South Canterbury already on a full restriction preventing all kinds of irrigation. Other rivers, including the Rakaia, Waimakariri, Hurunui, and Rangitata, are partially restricted.

Environment Canterbury (ECAN) surface water science manager Tim Davie says the restrictions are designed to protect ecosystems and stream-life. . . 

Technology set to play big part in NZ agriculture:

Ultimately, for New Zealand to diversify its export base, technology will play a critical role in improving value-add in agricultural exports, a leading New Zealand agri-tech expert says.

Craige Mackenzie, chair of Precision Agriculture Association of New Zealand (PAANZ), says precision agriculture has a lot to offer the bright future of the second biggest New Zealand industry sector.

“There is growing interest in the benefits of precision agriculture for environmental and financial viability of our New Zealand farms but we have a challenge ahead to get greater engagement with more farmers and companies in this sector. . . 

NZ Farming Systems Uruguay to cut ties with NZ, posts biggest loss since Olam took control – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – NZ Farming Systems Uruguay, set up by New Zealand investors in 2006, is to cut ties with the country after delivering its biggest-ever loss to owner Olam International of Singapore.

Olam has retained a New Zealand registration for the South American subsidiary since buying out minority shareholders and delisting it from the NZX in late 2012, with its registered office care of law firm Buddle Findlay in Auckland. But the latest annual report of Farming Systems says the group “has the intention to deregister the parent company from the NZ Companies Office and migrate to Uruguay.”

Farming Systems appears to have been hard hit by the downturn in global prices of dairy products, with its net loss widening to US$74.5 million in the year ended June 30, from US$69.5 million a year earlier. Sales fell 34 percent to US$48.9 million. . . 

NZ dairy farm prices show sharp rise, REINZ figures show – Edwin Mitson:

(BusinessDesk) – The median price per hectare for a New Zealand dairy farm sales has increased by more than 50 percent on a year ago, Real Estate Institute of New Zealand figures show.

In the three months to the end of August 2016, the median sales price per hectare was $40,469, with 14 properties sold. In the same period a year earlier, the median price was $26,906, with 21 properties sold, a rise of 50.4 percent.

The figures cover the winter period, with REINZ noting that the low level of sales can distort statistics. The median size of a dairy farm sold was 100 hectares. . . 

Venison sales set to soar this spring as Kiwis become more adventurous and health conscious in the kitchen:

Duncan Venison has reported a surge in demand from consumers and professional chefs in the run up to spring and summer, indicating that Kiwis are recognising the health and taste benefits, are starting to see it as a year-round option, and are also becoming more adventurous with how they cook it.

The company is selling considerable quantities of venison to restaurants and home cooks per week, with no sign of sales slowing down as the warmer weather approaches. This includes the “Bistro Fillet from Pāmu Farms,” a tender, pan ready cut that was developed earlier this year, and is now on the menu at restaurants such as The Sugar Club, Sails Restaurant, The French Café, Paris Butter, and Clooney.

Since the 1st July launch, sales of Bistro Fillet have exceeded budgeted volumes by over 50%, with a number of restaurants still to change over to their spring menu. . . 

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Because of their connection to the land, farmers do more to protect and preserve our environment than almost anyone else. They are some of the best environmentalists around  – Ike Skelton.


Rural round-up

September 8, 2016

Isolation major issue for rural women, study finds –  Andrew McRae:

More than half of the 115 rural women questioned in a recent survey said they felt isolated.

Kellogg rural scholar Nadine Porter surveyed 115 women living in rural areas and another 50 were interviewed in-depth for the project.

Ms Porter said the definition of isolation didn’t necessarily mean being stuck out in the back-blocks, but more a feeling of being isolated from their own community and their peer group.

She said nearly 57 percent of rural women surveyed felt unfulfilled because they were not using the skills they were trained for.

“It is a great wasteland of knowledge really.” . . 

Plan too complex farmers say – Hamish MacLean:

The ”moving feast” of environmental targets is creating unnecessary uncertainty, according to a farmer affected by Environment Canterbury’s Plan Change 5.

Waitaki catchment dairy farmer Joy Burke told the panel of independent commissioners conducting hearings in Oamaru yesterday she wanted to speak ”from the heart” about the frustrations she was dealing with on her two irrigated dairy farms at Tawai and Ikawai, despite having ”made a huge effort to understand and try to comply” with the proposed new rules.

The plan aimed to control the loss of nutrients to groundwater, and therefore deals with water quality issues, but Ms Burke had been dairy farming for a ”large number of years” and due to the plan’s adherence to Overseer, the computer program for producing a nutrient budget that shows where different elements are in farm soil, would probably now require resource consents to farm. . . 

Should U.S. subsidize dairy farmers when we don’t need the milk?  – 

Congress came up with a novel way to reduce the nation’s milk supply in 1985, paying farmers $1.5 billion to slaughter their cows.

Milk production dropped slightly, but the glut remained: Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture moved to help dairy farmers once again by spending $20 million to get 11 million pounds of excess cheese off the market, sending it to food banks.

“Honestly, I think it’s a good gesture – how much effect it’s going to have I don’t know,” said Jon DeJong, 41, who milks 1,300 cows with his father and two brothers on their farm near Lynden, Washington. “It’s not likely to save the milk price or anything.” . . 

Growth continuing for horticulture as the cherry sector booms:

New Zealand’s traditional horticulture industry is set to maintain its success as the buoyant sector continues to grow exports. Alistair King, Crowe Horwath’s horticulture specialist says, ‘The numbers are stacking up to support this and with exports and production increasing significantly every year, the horticulture sector is predicting growth until 2018/19.’

‘According to Summerfruit NZ’s latest reports the 2016 export value was $68 million for cherries, up by 30% on 2015’s $52 million. There were 3,408 tonnes exported in 2016, that’s up by 25% on 2015. The Central Otago region is dominating exports, estimated at being responsible for 95% of 2016’s exports, yet only producing 50% of New Zealand’s cherries,’ King reports. . . 

Forester’s Award their Achievers:

The New Zealand Institute of Forestry’s President James Treadwell announces two awards.

Forester of the Year is one of the highest accolades in the industry, recognizing contribution, leadership, excellence and integrity.

This year Forester of the year was awarded to Sally Strang Environmental Manager, Hancock Forest Management (NZ) Ltd for her tireless work in finding ways to reverse erosion in high priority areas. . .

Robotics and automation changing the wood supply chain:

Logistics within the forest industry is going through a major shakeup. Smart technology – robotics, automation, cloud computing, big data analytics and improved connectivity within the supply chain is reshaping how leading companies are adapting to and operating in the 21st century.

Wood Flow Optimisation 2016, a technology series being run in both New Zealand and Australia in mid-September by the Forest Industry Engineering Association (FIEA), will be providing local forestry and wood transport companies a rare insight into how these new technologies are being integrated – from the forest through to the wood processing operation or port.

In the last couple of weeks’, we’ve heard about the giant steps being taken in New Zealand’s forestry industry with in-forest trials using teleoperation technology. . . 

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Small failures

September 1, 2016

Hawke’s Bay District Health Board expects investigations will show a combination of small failures led to the gastroenteritis outbreak in Havelock North.

. . . The DHB’s chief executive, Kevin Snee, said he expected the government’s inquiry would show that there were small problems in the systems and processes used by the DHB, and by the district and regional councils.

He expected this to show that, when aligned, the problems allowed the water supply to become contaminated and people to get sick. . . 

This is so often the case, lots of small things add up to cause a big problem.

Earlier tests pointed to a ruminant animal as the cause of the outbreak.

Even before that was announced the usual suspects were blaming intensive dairy farming, in spite of there being none near the bore supplying the town.

. . . Federated Farmers president William Rolleston said the area near the aquifer was mostly lifestyle blocks and orchards.

He said people needed to take a step back from the speculation.

“We all contribute to bacteria in the environment, birds do, humans do and so do farm animals.

“Last week we saw a crescendo of finger pointing at agriculture, we heard that this was because of intensive dairy farms and the closest dairy farm we can find is 40 kilometres away.”

Mr Rolleston said while the indications did point to a four-legged animal as the source of contamination, that didn’t mean intensive agriculture was to blame.

He said the aquifer in question was a shallow aquifer, which had a greater risk of having its seals breached.

“We’re not saying that agriculture doesn’t create a risk, but those are the risks that the council needs to actually take cognisance of and mitigate.”

Last week the Green Party said any inquiry into the Havelock North water contamination should look at the role of intensive agriculture.

Mr Rolleston admitted agriculture was a risk for water.

“We’re not denying that and farmers have been up to the task. We’ve spent a billion dollars in the last decade fencing rivers and we’re playing our part.” . . 

Environment Minister Nick Smith also says speculation is unhelpful:

Questions have been asked about the culpability of cattle and chicken farmers, as well as a nearby mushroom farm, but Dr Smith says sometimes even the most basic failures could be to blame.

The campylobacter outbreak in Havelock North struck down 5100 people with gastro, closed schools and businesses and has left residents still boiling their drinking water weeks later.

It is a reminder of the E. coli contamination in Nelson where upstream farmers, birds and waterfowl were blamed before testing confirmed the true cause, Dr Smith says.

“It was embarrassingly found that most of the problem was toilets from the council’s library having been wrongly plumbed into the stormwater rather than the sewerage system,” he told crowds at a Lincoln University environment lecture in Christchurch on Tuesday night.

He said the lesson was to be cautious of jumping to conclusions too soon. . . 

He also addressed concerns about measuring water quality, limits on water takes and proposed strengthening of swimming requirements.

Dr Smith warned a goal of making all waterways swimmable, rather than wadeable, were “unworkable” and “impossible” without a massive bird cull.

But the Green Party has criticised that view as baseless.

“He knows, as we all do, that the real and lasting damage to our rivers is from stock in waterways, farm run-off, sewage and intensified dairy farms among others – he just won’t admit it,” Green Party water spokeswoman Catherine Delahunty said. . . 

Tests above and below a dam on our farm confirmed birds were at the bottom of poor water quality.

The Otago Regional Council also proved seagulls were to blame for high levels of E.coli in the Kakanui River.

Up until recently, ORC staff and local farmers alike had been baffled about the cause of such high concentrations in the upper Kakanui, particularly during summer.

ORC staff have been concerned about the concentration of the bacteria, as high levels indicate a risk of people swimming becoming ill. The council enlisted the help of local farmers, who provided access to their properties and the nearby river for inspection.

ORC scientists went into the gorge to investigate by helicopter when this inspection failed to identify the source of the bacteria. The culprits − a large colony of nesting gulls − were found in rugged terrain, about 5km above the Clifton Falls bridge. Water quality samples were taken immediately above and below the colony, with divergent results.

Upstream of the colony, the bacteria concentrations were 214 E.coli/100ml, whereas immediately downstream, the concentration was far greater at 1300 E.coli/100ml.

The levels peaked on January 3, at 2400 parts per 100ml of water. ORC manager of resource science Matt Hickey said that according to Government water quality guidelines for recreational swimming areas, those with less than 260 E.coli/100ml should be safe, whereas water with more than 550 E.coli/100ml could pose a health-risk.

Mr Hickey said six colonies of gulls were found in total, on steep rocky faces, where they clearly favoured the habitat for nesting. While they had gone undetected up until now due to their inaccessibility, it was likely the gulls returned each year to breed.

“Unfortunately, these nesting gull colonies are likely to continue to cause high E.coli concentrations in the upper Kakanui River, particularly during the breeding season,” Mr Hickey said.

These are only two examples which show Delahunty is wrong to say birds aren’t a problem.

That doesn’t mean farming, especially when it’s intensive, is blameless.

There are many causes for poor water quality but many have happened over time and it will take time to get the improvements we all seek.

That is much more likely with the collaborative approach the Minister seeks:

New Zealand had a habit of turning environmental issues into a battle ground with winners and losers where farmers are seen as environmental vandals and environmentalists as economic imbeciles, Dr Smith said.

“I have been trying to lead a culture change at both a national and local level where different water users and interest groups work together on finding solutions that will work for the environment and the economy,” he said.

It doesn’t have to be either a healthy environment or a growing economy.

A collaborative approach, based on science, can achieve both.

Science must also be applied to the cause, and response to, Havelock North’s problems to ensure that a series of small failures doesn’t lead to large-scale gastroenteritis again.


Rural round-up

August 31, 2016

Why the green, green grass of home is simply the best – John Roche, Kevin Macdonald:

New Zealand’s grazing system was once considered “the eighth wonder of the world”.

In the 1970s and 80s, a team at Ruakura led by Dr Arnold Bryant undertook grazing experiments that were to revolutionise the way pasture was managed through winter and spring.

The system matched herd demand through assigning the correct calving date and stocking rate with a store of pasture (ie cover at calving) and crop and an assumed winter growth rate. . . 

Westland ups season forecast payout:

New Zealand’s second biggest dairy co-operative Westland Milk Products today announced a 20 cent increase in its forecast 2016-17 season payout.

The company’s forecast average operating surplus has increased to $4.75 – $5.15 per kgMS while the average cash payout range has increased to $4.55 – $4.95 per kgMS.

Chairman Matt O’Regan says this is a result of a recent uplift in international dairy prices for the range of products Westland produces, along with positive August GDT auction results. . . 

Population of honey bees is growing fast:

New Zealand’s honey bee population is growing rapidly, despite recent reports of its decline, according to Apiculture New Zealand.

The industry body was responding to comments from Lincoln University that give the impression that honey bees are under threat in New Zealand.

The university said New Zealand agriculture stands to lose between $295 and $728 million each year if the local honeybee population continues its ‘current decline’.

“I’m pleased to say that hive numbers are growing rapidly,” said ApiNZ chief executive, Daniel Paul. . . 

Wild bees set to save our honey industry from varroa mite – but they need your help  – Jamie Small:

Plant & Food Research is asking for public help to locate colonies of feral bees, as groundbreaking evidence suggests they may save our honey industry from the devastating varroa mite.

Bee numbers in New Zealand are growing – bucking the international trend – thanks to human intervention controlling varroa, says Dr Mark Goodwin, who leads the organisation’s apiculture and pollination team.

The high price and demand for manuka honey is encouraging apiaries to expand in the face of the colony-killing mite and other threats. . . 

Buyers caught napping by potential milk production decine – Gerard Hutching:

A milk futures broker says whole milk powder buyers have been “caught napping” by a potential shortfall in the product, explaining why the price has risen 28.8 per cent at the last two global dairy auctions.

Director of OM Financial Nigel Brunel said the price hike had been “staggering” and taken everyone by surprise.

“Buyers haven’t been able to source WMP at the right price and have been concerned that New Zealand supply could be well down this season. They have been caught napping in a sleepy sideways WMP market for almost a year,” Brunel said.

As a result the buyers had climbed over each other to source WMP and lifted the price. . . 

New appointment to FSANZ Board:

Jane Lancaster has been appointed to the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) Board, Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew announced today. Ms Lancaster’s term began on 1 July 2016.

“Ms Lancaster will make a valuable contribution to the FSANZ Board with her background in food science, biotechnology, and strong governance experience. In particular, she has professional experience in food safety, food regulation, and the food industry,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“Ms Lancaster replaces Neil Walker, whose second term on the FSANZ Board expires on 30 June 2016. Mr Walker’s extensive knowledge has been highly valued by both myself and the FSANZ Board over this time.” . . 

Environmental impacts come first in EPA insecticide decision:

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has declined an application to import an insecticide to control pests on onion and potato crops.

The insecticide Grizly Max contains the active ingredients imidacloprid, novaluron and bifenthrin. These active ingredients are already approved for use in New Zealand, but not in a single formulation. The proposed application rate for the neonicotinoid imidacloprid was much higher than other insecticides already available in New Zealand.

At a 19 July hearing, the applicant, Agronica New Zealand Ltd, noted that Grizly Max had proved to be effective against target pests. . . 

New Appointment to Synlait’s Senior Leadership Team:

Quentin Lowcay, General Counsel and Commercial Manager, has joined Synlait’s Senior Leadership Team.

Since joining Synlait in 2013, Quentin’s role has grown to advise the SLT and Board on legal affairs, risk, corporate governance, insurance and commercial matters (particularly customer and supplier relationships). . .

New Zealand King Salmon confirms intention to undertake an IPO:

There may soon be an opportunity for Kiwi investors to own a stake in New Zealand’s estimated $180 million salmon industry.

The world’s largest aquaculture producer of King salmon, New Zealand King Salmon Investments Limited, has today (29 August) confirmed its intention to undertake an initial public offering of shares in New Zealand and a listing on the NZX Main Board and ASX. The proceeds of the offer will be used to repay debt, fund future investment and working capital, and to enable investor Direct Capital and some other shareholders to realise some or all of their investment. . . 

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Rockburn releases limited edition Stolen Kiss Pinot Noir & Rosé:

Rockburn’s Stolen Kiss Rosé enjoys a cult following around country for a couple of years now and the boutique producer from Cromwell now added another way to enjoy the “fruity and saucy side” of Central Otago Pinot Noir with the launch of their limited edition Stolen Kiss Pinot Noir.

Stolen Kiss wines are made from grapes ‘stolen’ from Rockburn’s best Central Otago Pinot Noir. The name alone evokes images of summertime rolling-in-the-clover frivolity and romance. . . 

Substantial Hawke’s Bay winery operation goes on the market for sale:

One of Hawke’s Bay’s best known vertically-integrated wine operations – featuring multiple vineyards, the winery plant and cellar door retail sales outlet – has been placed on the market for sale.

The assets are run under the Crossroads brand – owned by Yealands Estate Wines. The Crossroad’s vineyard and operations being sold encompass three separate vineyards in the bay, along with a plant capable of pressing more than 700 tonnes of grapes and storing the resulting juice in 59 tanks, and a cellar door retail premises which attracts more than 5000 visitors annually.

The Crossroads brand, business and existing stock in bottles, barrels, and tanks, are not part of the sale. . . 


Rural round-up

August 25, 2016

Is it normal to tie a cow to a tractor?:

When a concerned citizen saw a cow chained to a tractor in Southland, they thought it was odd enough to ring police about.

But instead of being an animal welfare issue, the case turned out to be a common(ish) farming practice.

It was Sunday afternoon when the police station phone rang – the caller having just seen the bovine suspended in its field along Gore’s Waikaka Rd. Officers were told the animal couldn’t get food or water, and the owner was nowhere to be seen.

The matter was referred to animal control.

Though what looked like cruelty was in fact the opposite, the farmer says – insisting it’s a life-saving measure. . . 

Forestry industry must remain vigilant about health and safety:

WorkSafe New Zealand says the latest forestry death in Hawkes Bay is a sad reminder to the industry of the need to remain vigilant about health and safety.

Monday’s death follows three earlier confirmed forestry fatalities so far this year, and is the second death in the Pohakura Forest.

“It is obviously concerning to see two deaths in the one forest within a matter of months. Any deaths are a tragedy for family, friends and co-workers and the wider community,” says WorkSafe’s chief executive Gordon MacDonald. . . 

Picton predator-free group targets less than 5 per cent pests by 2020 – Mike Watson:

A Picton group that pre-empted the Government’s predator-free push by 12 months plans to create a line of defence surrounding the entire town.

Volunteer group Picton Dawn Chorus has already started setting 150 traps, or a trap every 100 metres, on public walkways in the town’s Victoria Domain to kill rats, stoats and possums.

The next step is to set more than 700 traps in private gardens and outlying coastal and bush areas, eventually covering an expected 2000 hectares. . . 

Videos Highlight Sustainable Deer Farming:

NZ Landcare Trust has been working with deer farmers to capture examples of excellent sustainable land and water management from around the country. This information has been distilled into fifteen short videos that are now available to view online. The final five videos from Waikato and Southland join the ten previously released (Hawke’s Bay and Canterbury) to create an informative video based resource.

NZ Landcare Trust’s Regional Coordinator Janet Gregory said, “I’d like to thank the deer farmers who welcomed us onto their properties. They have taken the time to share some of the good management practices that they have put in place on their respective properties, demonstrating a proactive approach to addressing issues around the environment and water quality.” . . 

Interest in dairy sheep builds :

The dairy sheep industry is gaining traction as a viable alternative to traditional land uses, say rural property experts.

As the ability to convert to dairying faces greater challenges on environmental and economic fronts, the option of leaving the land as a milking sheep unit is coming into focus for farmers in regions like Southland and central North Island.

Invercargill-based Bayleys rural consultant Hayden McCallum says his patch of New Zealand’s rural landscape offers some significant opportunities for milking sheep, given its well established sheep sector and strong pastoral property base. . . 

Farm life in Taradise – Brad Markham:

Have you ever slipped your hand inside a cow having difficulty calving, felt two large front feet, and thought ‘I’m going to need a lot of lube to get this one out’? I’ve had to deliver a few monster calves this winter. Several were almost half my body weight. I often joke that semen from a certain bull with a reputation for producing huge calves, should come with a complementary container of lube. . . 

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Rural round-up

August 24, 2016

Thousands needed to fill primary industry jobs – Alexa Cook:

The primary sector is turning to cities to promote jobs in the industry in an effort to create a more qualified workforce.

Research commissioned by the Ministry for Primary Industries, Dairy NZ and Beef and Lamb New Zealand has found the industry will need another 2300 people by 2025, on top of the 23,400 needed to replace natural attrition.

There is a growing divide between rural and urban New Zealand, with 36 percent of all secondary students based in Auckland, and just 30 percent spread through rural areas.

New Zealand Young Farmers president Terry Copeland said by 2025 a third of jobs in the dairy industry would not be tied to the land. . . 

Busy ‘making difference’ – Sally Rae:

Fiona Hancox just wants to “make a difference”.

The West Otago sheep and beef farmer recently joined the board of Co-operative Business New Zealand.The organisation represents more than 50 co-operative and mutual businesses operating across a  range of industries, including agriculture, manufacturing, insurance, banking and financial services, utilities, pharmaceuticals, education, health, wholesale and retail.

In February last year, Mrs Hancox became the first female farmer representative director on the board of Silver Fern Farms. . . 

Time to hand over the reins – Sally Rae:

For many years, Chris Bayne has been something of an institution at PGG Wrightson’s Mosgiel store.

So, come September 2,  it will be the end of an era as Mrs Bayne (65) works her last day as store manager.

However, she remained philosophical about leaving a role that has been a big part of her life, saying simply it was “time to go”.

“I just think sometimes you work too long and you retire and, all of a sudden, your health goes to the pack. It’s nice to hand the reins over to someone else …  you can’t work forever,” she said. . . 

Retiring rural postie parks his truck – Lynda Van Kempen:

After travelling more than a million kilometres, Kevin “Rock” McCrorie has finally parked  for good.

His 17-year career as a Maniototo rural postman ended on Friday and he shared some of the finer details with  the Otago Daily Times.

Number of vehicles used: Five Toyota Hiluxes

Kilometres driven: 250 a day, five days a week.

Total: 1,105,000km.

Rural boxholders: 125.

Mail, newspapers and parcels delivered: Hundreds of thousands.

Goldfish received: One

Axolotyls delivered: One. . . 

More business understanding gives Southland sheep farmer positive outlook – Brittany Pickett:

Jo Horrell is feeling positive about the future of the sheep industry.

The Southland farmer believes the tide is turning for sheep farming and she is determined to be part of it. Part of her enthusiasm can be attributed to her recently completing  an Agri-Women’s Development Trust Understanding Your Farm Business course

While she found the Red Meat Profit Partnership-funded course invaluable in gaining a greater understanding of the farm business she runs alongside her husband Bryce, it was having the opportunity to meet like-minded, positive people that for Horrell was a real bonus. . . 

Startup to tackle Predator Free New Zealand challenge:

New Zealand based App and Website Pestur will launch in 2017. Pestur is a social network allowing users to compete with each other in challenges as they work to eradicate different pest species through trapping and hunting.

Co- founder Greta Donoghue says the inspiration came in seeing the millions of people around the world willing to try and catch something that doesn’t exist (Pokemon), “the idea being that if even a fraction of these participants put some real world effort into the issue of invasive pest species we could see tangible improvements ranging from the protection of endangered species to the economics of better crop yields” . . 


Rural round-up

August 22, 2016

 

Employment breaches ‘wake-up call’ for Marlborough wine industry – Oliver Lewis:

Widespread employment breaches have been unearthed by an investigation into labour contractors servicing the Marlborough wine industry.

Several labour contractors, who supply wine companies with workers, were found to have breached employment standards by failing to pay their workers minimum wage, holiday pay, or keep proper employment records.

The joint investigation, carried out by the Labour Inspectorate, Immigration New Zealand and Inland Revenue, involved random visits to 10 independent labour contractors around the region. . . 

Old school thinking stunts export gains – Andrea Fox:

New Zealand is stuck in the past figuring how to produce even more low-cost export commodities while the marketing of fine products it already has is “woeful”, says New Zealand Merino boss John Brakenridge.

“We sell commodities at an export value of around $37 billion that reach consumers globally at a value of over $200 billion,” says the chief executive credited with driving merino’s monumental shift from a nearly 100 per cent commodity sold at auction to 70 per cent grown under lucrative contracts to elite wool product makers.

Brakenridge’s call for New Zealand to dramatically lift its marketing and branding game follows another gathering at Stanford University, in the heart of Silicon Valley, of New Zealand’s primary sector “bootcamp”, the Te Hono Movement.  Te Hono, founded in 2012 by Brakenridge, says it has so far united 178 chief executives and leaders representing 80 per cent of the primary sector, in a goal to collaborate to transform New Zealand’s approach to doing business globally. It was Te Hono’s fifth workshop at Stanford, where participants work with professors at the world-leading research and new technology university and Silicon Valley business innovators.  . . 

Cashflow boost for Fonterra farmers – Dene Mackenzie:

Fonterra farmers have received a cashflow boost with confirmation of a further 10c per share payment of the co-operative’s 2015-16 40c forecast dividend.

The co-operative had already brought forward an earlier dividend payment during the last financial year.

Its intention was always to declare a further dividend in August, subject to financial performance supporting the forecast earnings per share range of 45c to 55c, chairman John Wilson said in a statement. . . 

North Otago surprised by early, strong arrivals :

Calves have arrived “early and strong” on North Otago dairy farms, Lyndon Strang says.

The Federated Farmers North Otago dairy section chairman said most farmers had started calving about five days ahead of schedule.

“That’s pretty much across the board.”

He could not determine the cause, but said it was going well and there was “plenty of feed available”. . . 

Proud Marlborough beekeeping firm faces challenges as century celebrated – Mike Watson:

Beekeepers are like any other farmers except they don’t have fences for keeping the stock in, says a Marlborough beekeeper celebrating 100 years of commercial honey making.

“At the end of the day, like any farmer, we need healthy stock to control pests and diseases,” said J Bush and Sons managing director Murray Bush.

“We do selective breeding programmes like the sheep and beef guys and we have similar concerns as they do. . .

Ethanol: bad for cars, bad for consumers, bad for the economy and really, really bad for the environment – Mark J, Perry:

An excerpt appears below from my op-ed in yesterday’s US News and World Report “Unwind the Ethanol Mandate” about one of the biggest political boondoggles in history – ethanol and the ethanol mandate. Back in 2007 when political cheerleaders like Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa (the “king of ethanol hype”) were promoting ethanol with fantastic claims like “Everything about ethanol is good, good, good,” Rolling Stone magazine responded with the best sentence on ethanol I’ve ever read: “This is not just hype — it’s dangerous, delusional bullshit.” And what’s notgood at all about demon ethanol (Paul Krugman’s phrase) are the serious negative effects it’s having on the environment: . . 


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