Food from seed to plate

July 18, 2017

Horticulture NZ is doing its bit to show people where food comes from:

A video showing the story of New Zealand’s fresh fruit and vegetables, from the seed through to food on a plate, was launched by Horticulture New Zealand today.

“New Zealand horticulture has a great story to tell,” Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says. “New Zealand’s fresh fruit and vegetables story is one of successful, inter-generational family businesses providing good, healthy food for everybody, every day. They use sustainable, environmentally sound production practices that look after the land for the future.

“Horticulture has been the unsung hero of the primary industries and we thought it was time people knew our story, particularly as we are going through significant growth. There are a number of trends that have prompted us to make this video.

“The population make-up of New Zealand is changing and city dwellers no longer have connections with rural communities that they once might have had. So there is not the understanding of what goes into getting fresh food onto their plate.

“Trends indicate a strong desire by consumers to both buy food grown locally, and to understand what has gone into producing their food. They want to know sustainable and environmentally friendly practices have been used and that the people working for the food producing companies are treated properly and paid appropriately.

“Globally, consumers want fresh fruit and vegetables from New Zealand because we have a well-earned reputation for providing safe, healthy food that meets consumer expectations around sustainability and the environment.

“And increasingly, people are looking to a healthy diet to improve their overall health. While some shoppers will always be driven by price, there are people who want to factor other things into decisions about what they buy.

“So we have given people a chance to see some of the innovative work our growers are doing, particularly on environmental aspects of their business, to bring them the freshest and healthiest food.”


Rural round-up

July 18, 2017

 Southern Dairy Hub celebrated – Sally Rae:

About 200 dairy farmers and supporters gathered to celebrate the opening of the Southern Dairy Hub in Southland on Friday.

Conversion of the 349ha property at Makarewa, near Invercargill, began in November last year and the hub is now operational, with research under way and calving due to begin.

The official opening, by Environment Southland chairman Nicol Horrell, was an ”important milestone” for the region and New Zealand, Southern Dairy Hub chairman Maurice Hardie said. . . 

Future of dairy women bright in Women of Influence nominations:

Two women described as “humble and leading from the heart” are among the nominees for this year’s Women of Influence awards.

Dairy Women’s Network trustees Pamela Storey and Tracy Brown have been nominated for the Women of Influence award in the rural category.

Ms Storey is an electrical engineer ‘by trade’ and has extensive governance experience across a variety of local and international organisations, including the Energy Management Association of New Zealand, the Waikato Environmental Centre, the Council for Women in Energy and Environmental Leadership, and most recently Primary ITO. . . 

NZ fruit & vegetable sector urged to watch consumer trends:

There is significant potential for New Zealand to increase sales of fruit and vegetable produce into both developing and developed markets, but the industry must keep a close eye on evolving consumer consumption patterns if it is to maximise export opportunities, according to a visiting US fruit and vegetable expert.

In New Zealand last week to meet with local growers and to deliver a keynote address at the Horticulture New Zealand conference in Tauranga, Rabobank’s California-based senior fruit and vegetable analyst Dr Roland Fumasi said the growing middle-class population in developing countries had generated considerably greater global demand for fruit and vegetables. . .

Twin beef titles for Gore farmer – Sally Rae:

An ”outstanding” eye muscle area of 191sqcm was among the reasons Gore farmer Mike Thompson claimed this year’s Otago-Southland beef carcass competition title.

Mr Thompson’s Limousin steer won both the on the hoof and on the hook sections of the annual competition, which attracted 30 entries.

Convener Barry Gray said entries were down on recent years, which could possibly be attributed to a good season with cattle being killed earlier. . .

Deer industry mulls GIA – Annette Scott:

Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) has begun exploring the benefits of entering a Government Industry Agreement (GIA) on biosecurity.

The organisation’s science and policy manager Catharine Sayer said maintaining the health of NZ’s deer herd and protecting it from biosecurity risks was critical to the industry, prompting DINZ to explore the benefits of entering a GIA. 

She said livestock industries, including DINZ, had been fleshing out with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) what a GIA would look like for the sector. . . 

Pinus radiata, New Zealand’s adopted icon –  Jean Balchin:

I used to be terrified of pine forests. The tall, dark trees seemed to quiver with menace, fringing the roads as we drove along in our little car. I’d peer out the window and dare myself to look into the forest, half expecting to see a wild thing lurking between the trees.

Pinus radiata is New Zealand’s great timber tree. It covers 1.3 million hectares of land and forms the basis of a massive export industry. It was first introduced into New Zealand in 1859 and comprises 89% of the country’s plantation forests, including the massive Kaingaroa Forest on the central plateau of the North Island, the largest planted forest in the world. . . 

Rural recycling programme challenges New Zealand to clear more waste:

Rural recycling programme, Agrecovery, challenges other industries to follow its lead in clearing more of New Zealand’s plastic waste.

The programme will this year recover and recycle over 300 tonnes of plastic that might otherwise be burnt, buried or dumped. “That is enough plastic to cover a rugby field six feet high,” says Agrecovery General Manager, Simon Andrew.

“Agrecovery is a great example of how manufacturers, industry, government and consumers can work together to reduce the harmful impacts of plastic waste on our environment,” he says. . . 

Off Road Heaven – The Pinnacle of Adventure Travel in New Zealand:

The words ‘adventure tourism’ and ‘Queenstown’ go hand-in-hand:

And now one of the tourism resort’s longest-standing adventure tourism companies is revving up the adventure experience to a whole new level.

Off Road Queenstown, a pioneer in everything off road since its inception over 27 years ago, is offering those seeking the ultimate Kiwi adventure the opportunity of a lifetime.

Their new tailor-made private expeditions on four wheels or two – off-road (of course) through the central South Island — give groups exclusive access to some of world’s most stunning and remote off-road terrain and landscapes. . . 


Fonterra aims to restore 50 freshwater catchments

July 18, 2017

Fonterra CEO, Theo Spierings, has announced an ambition to restore 50 freshwater catchments, signalling the Co-op’s desire to take a leading role in improving New Zealand’s waterways.

“We acknowledge we have an important role to play in addressing water quality in New Zealand. Kiwis want swimmable waterways and that’s an aspiration we share. We’ll work with local communities to improve the quality of our streams and rivers,” said Spierings.

Fonterra launched its 10 year Living Water partnership with the Department of Conservation in 2013, with the aim of achieving sustainable dairying in healthy freshwater ecosystems. The programme focuses on five catchments and aims to improve natural habitats, and freshwater outcomes.

“Living Water has taught us a huge amount and we are making a significant impact on the initial regions. Now we want to amplify those results with the launch of a new initiative that will target 50 catchments.

“Our immediate focus will be on working with communities, Government and key partners to identify the catchments and develop a strategic framework for the programme. This is a major undertaking and we need to get it right, but we are committed to making substantial progress,” said Spierings.

Spierings made the announcement at the annual meeting of the New Zealand Sustainable Business Council held in Auckland yesterday. The Council’s Executive Director, Abbie Reynolds, said she was delighted Fonterra was making a significant commitment to improve water quality.

“The business case for sustainability is clear and it’s pleasing that a growing number of organisations are making robust commitments to improving New Zealand society and the environment. It is great that Fonterra is making an ambitious commitment, which is both bold and restorative,” Reynolds concluded.

Water degradation has occurred over many years and has multiple causes.

Intensive dairying has been part of the problem but the industry has done a lot to repair the damage and reduce its environmental footprint.

Niwa’s freshwater and estuaries chief scientist Dr John Quinn notes a significant improvement:

There has been a lot of improvement in dairy industry practice in the last 15 years. Dairy shed effluent management has improved and is more professional, and the majority of streams on dairy farms are now fenced to exclude cows. Things like the Farm Enviro Walk Toolkit and Sustainable Dairying Water Accord have increased adoption of a range of good environmental practices. These advances have been industry-led, rather than driven by government rules.” . . 

More than 97% of streams running through dairy farms are now fenced, so cows are out of waterways. Waterways are still receiving E. coli and Campylobacter from other unfenced stock and wild animals. They’re also getting microbial pathogens from land runoff when it rains. A 2005 NIWA study found that rain can wash a million to a billion E. coli bacterium per square metre of hillside into streams.

Riparian strips can help. These are the areas where plants grow alongside streams. They trap and absorb nutrients and microbes, including E. coli, in surface water. In the best conditions, riparian strips can remove at least 60% of nitrogen and 65% of phosphorus from runoff and groundwater.

There’s even more to riparian strips than the benefits to water quality. Trees holds together river banks, which stabilises them as habitats for insects and prevents silting and cloudy water that disturbs fish. The shade of trees creates cooler and more humid conditions, which insects need, and prevents over-growth of plants in the stream. Their branches and leaf litter provides direct habitat and food for many of the insects that like riverside conditions for only parts of their life stages, particularly larval, before moving to other habitats.

It is good to have this acknowledgement of the work that’s been done and the positive impact it’s having.

There’s still a lot more to do and Fonterra’s initiative will make a major contribution to it.


Rural round-up

July 17, 2017

Susatainability key to role as new AgResearch leader – Sally Rae:

The big thrust for AgResearch in the future has to be around farm and environmental sustainability issues, new chairman Jeff Grant says.

His focus would be continuing to build on AgResearch’s ability to deliver science that was “highly relevant” to the future of farming.

Regional council changes, in a bid to get better outcomes around land and water, would force AgResearch to provide the science to ‘‘get the answers’’ and the tools for farmers.

“I see the organisation as being the lead provider of answers that allow farmers to meet the expectations for producing high quality food in natural and sustainable environments, while also being able to run a viable business. . .

Cattle grazing on river edges keeps weed ‘shambles’ down on extensive farms – Bob Todhunter:

With alI the bad publicity our rivers are receiving I feel the general public is confused between extensive and intensive grazing.

I would like to make some observations about stock grazing alongside waterways. I am no scientist, however I do have 70-plus years of practical observation.

I remember being taught fishing by my grandfather in the 1950s on the rivers of the Canterbury Plains when sheep and cattle were grazed extensively by the riverbeds. . .

Pine tree seedlings in short supply after poor growing season  – Jill Galloway:

A shortage of pine tree seedlings after a poor growing season for tree nurseries has hit some forest owners and farm foresters.

Patrick Murray ,who is owner of Murray’s Nurseries at Woodville in Tararua, said he had turned down orders of 1.2 million pines.

“We grew around five million pinus radiata but could easily have sold more. It has been a wet summer and poor autumn and that affected badly the growth of the trees.” . . 

EU farmer subsidies under threat – Nigel Stirling:

There are signs that the massive subsidisation of European agriculture could be cut back.

New Zealand has long fought the policy, which tops up the incomes of millions of European farmers.

For decades, NZ has argued the policy keeps European production higher than justified by market prices, and supply on global markets out of kilter with demand. . .

Alliance looks to food service growth – Alan Williams:

Alliance Group hopes that its new food service business will be achieving annual sales above $100 million in the next three years or so.

A four-strong development team is working up a pilot programme in the United Kingdom that the meat exporter will use as a springboard for wider Europe, and into Asian markets as well, general manager sales Murray Brown said.

“Who knows how it could go – we’re a $1.5 billion business and if we could get the food service up to 10% of total sales over three years that would be $100m to $150m.” . .

Nitrate data suggests a corner turned – Nicole Sharp:

Environment Southland’s latest water quality report shows a trend of decreasing or indeterminate nitrogen levels and Southland farmers deserve a pat on the back for this, Agribusiness farm consultant Deane Carson says.

Nitrate levels in Southland had always been an area of significant concern for him, and for a while were somewhat out of control, he said.

But the latest report showed the majority of the sites were indeterminate for nitrite­nitrate nitrogen (NNN) levels over the five years covered and nine of the 49 sites had a decreasing trend. . .


Rural round-up

July 13, 2017

Oritain, GE Healthcare form serum testing partnership – Sally Rae:

Oritain has partnered with global medical technology giant GE Healthcare to run a test-based traceability programme to authenticate country of origin of foetal bovine serum (FBS), used in human and animal health vaccines.

Since its establishment in 2008, the Mosgiel-based company has been a global leader in using forensic science to determine product provenance.

Operations director Dr Sam Lind described the partnership as ”very significant”, not only cementing the work the company was doing within that industry, but also the opportunity to work with such a global company. . .

Productivity and quality pay off for Matarae – Sally Rae:

At Matarae Station, Willie and Emily Jones have a strong focus on development and production.

The couple, with young sons Archie and Digby, lease the 5500ha Strath Taieri property from Mr Jones’ parents, Ron and Juliet, but own the stock.

They said they were running both merino and Romney sheep under ‘‘pretty extreme’’ conditions that could range from a metre of snow to very wet, or as dry as the typical Central Otago climate.

The property was running about 5700 merino ewes, 3800 Romney ewes, 3500 merino hoggets and 1800 Romney and halfbred hoggets, plus lambs, mixed-age rams and about 200 breeding cows. . .

Precision farming the new reality

Craige MacKenzie has seen a lot of technological change since 1978, when he started farming the property he grew up on near Methven.

“The changes haven’t just been in the tools we can use, but also in the industry-wide focus on precision farming, which is all about using IT to ensure crops and soil receive exactly what they need for optimum health and productivity. We’ve tried to take it to a new level.”

Craige and his wife Roz turned a traditional mixed cropping farm into a dairy farm and a specialised seed production operation in 1987.

He has won numerous awards for outstanding farming practice, including: . .

The 25 most innovative at-tech startups – Maggie McGrath and Chloe Sorvino:

When our nation was founded 241 years ago, farming was the economy’s primary driver. By 1870, nearly half of the employed population held jobs in agriculture. Today, it’s a $3 trillion industry – but only 2% of Americans hold a farm-oriented job.

This is, in many ways, thanks to technology. Tractors and other automation advances in the 20th century let large farms shift management to only a handful of people. But this, paradoxically, has also slowed things down in the 21st. With only a few people working every farm, there’s not a lot of time – or incentive – to innovate.

“You only get 40 attempts at farming. From your 20’s to your 60’s, you get 40 seasons,” says Duncan Logan, the founder and CEO of RocketSpace, a tech accelerator company. “In tech, you get 40 attempts in a week.” . . 

Fonterra Announces General Manager, Māori Strategy – Tiaki Hunia:

Fonterra today announced the appointment of Tiaki Hunia to the role of General Manager, Māori Strategy/Pouhere Māori.

As Pouhere Māori, Tiaki will play a vital role in continuing to progress our strategic Māori commitments and strengthen Fonterra’s bicultural capability. He will work across the business, to lead, build and implement our vision of a strong partnership with Māori, growing prosperous, healthy and sustainable communities together. . .

Tractor and machinery industry calls for larger fines for intentional biosecurity breaches:

The Tractor and Machinery Association (TAMA) is praising the Ministry of Primary Industry for finding a contaminated combine harvester imported from the UK but says fines must be a deterrent for intentional biosecurity breaches.

Last week Christchurch company Gateway Cargo Systems Ltd was fined $3,000 by the Ministry of Primary Industries after it declared a contaminated combine harvester imported from the United Kingdom was brand new. An inspection by MPI at the border found it had been used and was heavily contaminated with more than 700 litres of soil and farm waste in the header unit. MPI said it could have caused “incalculable damage” to New Zealand’s environment. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 7, 2017

Govt renews call for Landcorp dividends – Alexa Cook:

The government wants better returns and a dividend to the Crown from Landcorp but isn’t looking at selling it, the Minister for State-Owned Enterprises says.

A strategic review advised the government to sell Landcorp because the asset-rich, cash-poor nature of farm ownership was not well matched to the government’s fiscal objectives.

Independent financial consulting firm Deloitte carried out the review in 2014, which was released under the Official Information Act to agricultural markets publication AgriHQ Pulse. . . .

Speech to RSE Conference – Michael Woodhouse:

. . . It’s a big year for the RSE scheme – 10 years since it was first introduced and what a difference it has made. To the horticulture and viticulture industries, to business growth, to Kiwis looking for work, and of course, to the Pacific communities.

As I stand here today, I can’t help but think back to 2007 when the RSE scheme began, with around 65 RSE employers and a national cap of just 5,000. Today, there’s more than 130 RSE employers and the national cap has more than doubled to 10,500.

That growth is a vote of confidence in the scheme. But it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this ground-breaking policy has been such a success.

The RSE scheme has been regarded as one of the best circular migration schemes in the world, and without the dedication and willingness from employers to try something new back in 2007, we wouldn’t be here today celebrating its 10th anniversary. . .

Pukeko Pastures: Bridging the urban-rural divide – Siobhan O’Malley:

Christopher and Siobhan O’Malley are the current NZ Share Farmers of the Year. Here Siobhan writes about why they decided to put their farming practices out into the digital world.

Lately, we can’t go to an event, meeting or even open a rural newspaper without someone asking the question: “What are you doing about the public image of dairy farming? The media hate us. We feel picked on. It is an unfair and inaccurate portrayal. What are you doing about it?”

We sympathise. We feel like the media have created a narrative that vilifies the “dairy industry” while forgetting that behind our corporate co-operative stand literally thousands of families. .  .

Sheep industry leaders recognised: 

The skills and depth of talent within this country’s sheep industry was recognised at Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Sheep Industry Awards in Invercargill last night.

Now in their sixth year, the Award’s celebrate the top performers in the field of science, innovation, industry training and genetics and acknowledge emerging talent and outstanding contributions.

Among the award recipients was retired Hawke’s Bay Romney breeder Tony Parker, whose stud, in 1961, was the first to produce a Selection Index for sheep. This was selecting sheep on recorded performance data rather than physical attributes alone. Although controversial at the time, this represented a step-change in this country’s sheep industry. . .

Westland appoints new Chief Operations Officer:

Westland Milk Products Chief Executive Toni Brendish has continued her drive to add depth and strength to the dairy co-operative’s management team with the appointment of a new Chief Operations Officer, Craig Betty.

It is the second new appointment to Westland’s Senior Management Team (SMT) following the announcement of Gary Yu taking up the role of General Manager, China.

Brendish says Betty’s appointment will bring considerable operations experience to the Hokitika based company. . .

National apiculture conference set to break record numbers this weekend:

Myrtle rust, manuka honey and the impact of neonicotinoids on bees are just some of the current topics that have been making global headlines. These and more will steer the conversations at the Apiculture New Zealand national conference this weekend.

A record 1200 plus people from around the country and abroad will be in Rotorua for the conference, which will be held at the Rotorua Energy Events Centre from Sunday 9 July to Tuesday 11 July 2017. . .

International staff seeking short term agriculture employment :

New Zealand as a location to work and travel is becoming more popular amongst students and graduates from abroad.

While it has always been a popular choice, many travellers are now looking to seek work in advance and secure longer term positions, from 6-12 months, as opposed to trying their luck when they arrive. This is largely due to many travellers wanting to experience New Zealand’s working lifestyle, particularly in agriculture, and to be able to learn on the job and pick up some knowledge they can take away with them. . .


Rural round-up

July 6, 2017

Farmers’ social licence fast expiring – warning – Nigel Malthus:

Dairying has a lot at stake as the world enters the fourth industrial revolution, says former DairyNZ chairman John Luxton.

A dairy farmer, businessman and former National minister of agriculture, Luxton gave the opening keynote address at the 2017 South Island Dairy Event (SIDE) conference at Lincoln University.

He says farmers’ social license to operate as in the past was now fast expiring. Rules and regulations requiring farmers to improve farm systems were becoming more and more complex. . . 

Military cameras help red meat – Sudesh Kissun:

Cameras used by the military are helping the New Zealand red meat sector produce premium lamb products.

One camera, installed in a South Island meat plant, scans eight lambs a minute, collecting from 45 data points per lamb in a round-the-clock operation. The technology is not available anywhere else in the world; AgResearch needed special approval to get the military-grade camera into NZ.

Chief executive Tom Richardson says the technology has the potential to help farmers double their income. . .

NZ support for agriculture innovation

Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced an $11 million boost to global agricultural research.

“New Zealand is a world leader in international agriculture research and we want to help meet global food needs in ways that are positive for the environment,” Mr Brownlee says.

“New Zealand is committing $11 million over two years to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), a network of research institutes around the world that focus on agriculture, forestry and fishing. . .

Feds’ commend Government on investment in global agriscience:

Federated Farmers commends the Government on investment of $11 million towards global agricultural research.

The announcement today, made by Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee, is a progressive step that will drive science and innovation in the agriculture sector.

“There is a great deal of work that governments and farmers worldwide should be collaborating on in the pre-competitive space to not only lift livelihoods in rural sectors, but also improve environmental outcomes,” says Federated Farmers’ National Vice President Andrew Hoggard. . .

Horticulture ripe for investment:

World-wide consumer interest in healthy food, growers being early-adopters of innovation, and rapid growth make horticulture in New Zealand ripe for further investment, says Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman.World-wide consumer interest in healthy food, growers being early-adopters of innovation, and rapid growth make horticulture in New Zealand ripe for further investment, says Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman.

“Today, the government has released a business-focused overview in The Investor’s Guide to the New Zealand Produce Industry 2017 which shows potential investors how well fruit and vegetable production in New Zealand is going,” Mr Chapman says.  . .

Healthy humans, lusty lambs:

Managing the diets of sheep to boost human health and keep stock in prime condition will be on the menu when NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) researchers present their latest findings at a Graham Centre sheep forum in Wagga Wagga on Friday July 7.

NSW DPI livestock researcher, Edward Clayton, has investigated ways to lift omega-3 fatty acid levels in lamb to deliver human health benefits, which could decrease risks of cardiovascular disease and treat inflammatory conditions, including eczema and arthritis.

“Omega-3 fatty acid, found in high concentrations in oily fish, is also a component of red meat and levels can be altered considerably through the animal’s diet,” Dr Clayton said. . .


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