Growing economy supports healthy environment

July 23, 2015

Federated Farmers’ president Dr William Rolleston addressed Local Government New Zealand’s conference on how a growing economy can support a health environment:

Farmers and governments around the world worry about food security and climate change. How could we increase our production while mitigating our environmental footprint? How could we build resilience in a changing climate?

If agriculture is to continue its contribution to New Zealand’s economy we must also address the issues of productivity and environmental impact.  We must continue to enhance our economic benefit by increasing productivity, adding value to our current products and developing new high value products.  We must address the risks which exist in the market, in our social licence to operate, in biosecurity (including pests), and in our climate.

It is not axiomatic that economic progress means environmental deterioration.

Rather economic progress is needed to pay for environmental protection and enhancement.

As a farming leader I have looked for solutions which enable economic progress while supporting a healthy environment.  In this way the incentives line up and the need for punitive resource rentals, taxes and similar instruments is obviated.  Let me give you some examples:

  • Nitrogen, whether in chemical fertiliser, organic fertiliser or fixed by legumes is a significant expense on many farms.  It always shocks me just how little is actually utilised in product which moves off farm and how much is lost to the atmosphere and beyond the root zone. These losses contribute to adverse water quality outcomes as well as greenhouse gases.  Interventions which increase the utilisation of nitrogen will result in better environmental outcomes as well as reduced expense for the farmer.
  • It is a myth that water is free.  Farmers pay big dollars to have water reticulated to their farms through their own or other schemes.  The proposed Ruataniwha Dam is a good example. In Canterbury we have seen significant increases in water efficiency through spray irrigation and now precision irrigation.  Research is continuing to improve drought tolerance and water efficiency in the very plants themselves.
  • Soil erosion is a loss of capital from the farming system.  It is not new and it occupied the minds of my farming grandparents on our property for as long as I could remember.  New techniques such as no till agriculture where paddocks are sprayed with herbicide and direct drilled not only increases productivity but retains soil structure helping to preserve this valuable resource from wind and water erosion that ploughing would leave it vulnerable to.
  • Even without putting biological emissions into the Emissions Trading Scheme farmers have improved their carbon efficiency by 1.2 percent per year, for the past decade, through improved productivity.  Not only that though, New Zealand farmers are amongst the most carbon efficient animal protein producers in the world.  In the absence of mitigation tools and any charges on our competitors, penalising farmers to the extent it would reduce biological emissions would mean a movement of production to less efficient producers offshore and an increase in global biological emissions.

So in many areas economic and environmental goals are already aligned which is good business for councils.  But alignment is not always possible and we can’t pretend that human activity does not have an effect on the environment.  Of course it does. Our response could be to wind agriculture back, to reduce production to mitigate environmental impacts but this also has consequences.

We live in a global world whose population continues to expand.  The FAO predict we will need to increase world food production by 60 percent by 2050 to meet demand.  

New Zealand cannot feed the world, but we must play our part.  It would be irresponsible of us to squander or underutilise our resources.  Even if we are only feeding the rich and privileged – the worried well if you like – wetlands and forests will need to be converted to farmland at the bottom end to compensate for this indulgence.  This is not supporting our environmental credentials.

When it comes to resources our Resource Management Act (RMA) works on a first come first served basis.  This works well at the front end.  Decision makers at that point cannot have the foresight to know what the demand for a resource will be.  However first in first served becomes problematic as a resource reaches its limits when a more strategic approach is needed.  Councils have grappled with this.  Creating property rights through tradable quota however this is not the answer.

There is no doubt scarcity through quota creates value.  However this is a double edged sword.  On the one hand increased value can mean increased attention by the custodian, on the other hand that value can be artificial and limit options for more creative solutions.

In Canada for example, milk is produced under a quota system.  Many Canadian dairy farmers oppose free trade because it will erode their quota value.

Creating ownership in water could have a similar outcome where water storage or increased supply may be resisted by the status quo.

But here decision makers have a problem, which the RMA is yet to solve satisfactorily. How do you allow movement of a resource to the best use in an efficient and equitable way without creating a property right that would flow simply to the entity that can afford to pay the most, or worse still, one which is banked to the detriment of the economy and the environment?  How do you allow for new entrants?

Three potential answers lie in resource expansion, science to increase efficient use, and collaboration.

Water storage is a good example of resource expansion and remains at the top of Federated Farmers’ agenda.  

Water storage builds resilience – the trifecta of economic resilience, community resilience and environmental resilience.  It also creates headroom to dissipate the issue of constraint.  The rationale however is still governed by cost.

The Opuha Dam in South Canterbury remains the leading example of water storage for irrigation.  As well as economic benefit the Opuha Dam has increased river flows, generated electricity, provided Timaru City with water as well as recreation for water craft, fishers and campers.

The courage of a few to build the Dam has, through its living example, made possible the Canterbury Water Management Strategy and in turn the Land and Water Forum. The protagonists knew that economic and environmental gain together was possible.

Solutions for Maori economic aspirations in water could well come through water storage.  By contributing to the development of water storage, government can help create the headroom for negotiation and settlement, if such a settlement is justified.  

And note I used the word “contribute”, not “invest”.  We already have Crown Irrigation Investments to address the hurdle of early capital shortfall and the Irrigation Acceleration Fund and these have been welcomed by Federated Farmers.  But there is a case for government to directly contribute to water storage infrastructure, to create headroom for negotiation as I have just said, but also to reflect the contribution water storage makes to the environment and the community.  Consider that at the time the Opuha water was switched off to farmers, 8 cumecs were still flowing to meet environmental needs – four times the natural inflows.
Farmers are willing to pay for the benefit they receive from water storage.

But as I have mentioned water storage also provides the opportunity to improve habitat, increase environmental flows and provide recreation.  Both local and central government should also consider their financial contribution to reflect the public good.

If we are to truly make economic gain while supporting a healthy environment, decision makers need to ensure they get the science right.  As I mentioned at the beginning of this presentation the systems in which we operate are uncertain by their nature and information is often incomplete.  

The Prime Minister’s Science Advisor, Sir Peter Gluckman, is concerned that decisions made without the proper application of science can entrench policies which are of little value and are not easily reversible, because there may be a popular or political perception that they are effective when in fact they are not.  I share his concern. 

So our challenge is to ensure regulators, politicians and the judiciary make decisions that are in line with the science, and reflect the uncertainty of the time but are not paralysed by it.

The use of caution in the decision making process is essential, but the activist view of the Precautionary Principle, which in essence says do nothing until all risk is eliminated, is an example of the paralysis which we should avoid.
Decision makers need to distinguish between disagreement between parties and scientific uncertainty.  They need to understand what drives the certainty of any one party and put the uncertainty of experts in context. 

We have some evidence that councils and other decision makers are starting to get it right.

In the discourse on fluoridation, immunisation and 1080 we are seeing the public and decision makers starting to back science and reject the worn out and unsupported rhetoric of the anti-campaigners.

Water is more complex but the same principles apply.    

For some council’s the science surrounding genetic modification has not yet penetrated.  Are they playing a political game hoping central government will play the bad cop and get them off the hook?  I don’t know.  What I do know is that that attempts to duplicate control of genetic modification at the local level is based on scientific fantasy as much as anti-fluoridation, anti-immunisation and anti-1080.  What I do know is that significant biosecurity risks lurk in the garden plants of ratepayers but there is no call for strict liability there.

Is there uncertainty?  Of course there is, but conventional breeding is uncertain too. Do we need regulation? Of course we do, but that regulation should be seated in a competent central government authority and based on the risk not the technology.  

 Opportunities to be pest free, to reduce our environmental footprint, to increase productivity and create new products exist with such modern technologies.  These are the things which will prove our environmental credentials, not labels.  If you as councils want to have economic growth supporting a healthy environment then you need to ensure farmers have choice and access to the modern tools of science such as genetic modification and nanotechnology.

A lot has been said about farming to limits and for councils numbers make decision making much easier.  But I would remind you that the RMA was set up to be effects based and that blunt tools lead to dull outcomes.  We need to remind ourselves that farmers have only been talking nitrogen for about a decade.  The science is progressing quickly.  The challenge for regulators is to ensure that regulations are flexible enough to cope with the evolving evidence and to take account of improvements or reductions in water quality. 

It is my experience that farmers are environmentalists; why else would they dedicate their life to the land and spend over $1billion on the environment in five years? They are also problem solvers.  But they need to understand the problem before buying in.

However to make fast progress it requires strong balance sheets and good cash flows.  While it is unacceptable to go backwards regulators, environmentalists and the public need to understand that the rapid progress made in the last few years cannot be sustained when farmers are making a loss.

A growing economy can support a healthy environment but a shrinking one doesn’t stand much of a chance.  

The best way to achieve both a growing economy while supporting a healthy environment requires sound judgements by councils, with the appropriate use of science, engaging not enraging farmers, providing them with the tools of modern technology and seeking solutions which align economic and environmental outcomes. These are all requirements to grow sustainably.

 The downturn in dairy income isn’t an excuse  to ignore any requirements to be environmentally responsible but it will limit the ability to do more than necessary.

Apropos of the link between the economy and environment, Jim Rose says richer is greener:

The Kuznets environmental curve describes an empirical regularity between environmental quality and economic growth. Outdoor water, air and other pollution first worse and then improves as a country first experiences economic growth and development.

While many pollutants exhibit this pattern in the Kuznets environmental curve, peak pollution levels occur at different income levels for different pollutants, countries and time periods. John Tierney explains:

“In dozens of studies, researchers identified Kuznets curves for a variety of environmental problems.

There are exceptions to the trend, especially in countries with inept governments and poor systems of property rights, but in general, richer is eventually greener.

As incomes go up, people often focus first on cleaning up their drinking water, and then later on air pollutants like sulphur dioxide.

As their wealth grows, people consume more energy, but they move to more efficient and cleaner sources — from wood to coal and oil, and then to natural gas and nuclear power, progressively emitting less carbon per unit of energy. . . “

 Poorer people and countries have other priorities than the environment.

As the economy grows and incomes improve priorities change. The environment becomes more important and they can afford to protect and enhance it.


Rock star economy will play encore

July 21, 2015

Opposition is a dark place where good is bad and bad is good.

While they’ll never admit it, oppositions can’t really enjoy good news for fear it’s good for the government and  threatens their relevance and they  take a perverse pleasure in bad news in the hope that it will be bad for government and good for them.

That’s why  opposition MPs have been doing their best to talk down the economy and doing a Chicken Little the-sky-is-falling as they over-emphasise the negative impact the sharp decline in dairy prices will have.

Only those who hate dairying and financial success will be happy about the price of milk and low payout, but while dairying is important, there is more to the economy than that and talk of recession is, thankfully, misplaced pessimism.

Growth is slowing but an HSBC economist says  New Zealand’s rock star economy will play an encore cheered on by Chinese consumers.

HSBC co-head of Asian economic research Frederic Neumann said while China’s economy was slowing, along with many other Asian nations, the outlook for New Zealand was still strong.

“The rock star economy will still keep on playing because you guys [New Zealand] are in a sweet spot in terms of having the products that China has an insatiable appetite for,” Neumann said.

In 2014 Neumann’s colleague HSBC chief economist for Australia and New Zealand Paul Bloxham referred to New Zealand as a rock star economy.

However the title has been brought into question recently as gross domestic product growth slows, dairy prices slump, business confidence slips, the dollar falls and Auckland’s heated housing market continues to set records.

But Neumann said New Zealand was simply going through a rebalancing phase, moving away from a commodity dependent economy.

“After years of an overvalued exchange rate you need to have a considerable period of an undervalued exchange rate to get that rebalancing process going.”

Neumann said even if New Zealand did remain reliant on soft commodities that was not a major concern because demand for high quality food from Chinese consumers would grow much faster than the Chinese economy.

“That should be a positive for New Zealand so I’m not terribly worried for the dairy sector or the meat sector over time.” . . .

It’s not hard to find examples of people in difficulty in the best of times and some people are struggling but New Zealand as a whole is not.


Social licence to operate

July 14, 2015

Sarah Crofoot Federated Farmers’ Meat & Fibre & Environmental policy advisor on the social licence to operate:

With each generation the urban population becomes further removed from rural New Zealand. Gone are the days when holidays were spent visiting friends and family out on the farm, learning of what we do.

Consumers are hungry for information about where their food comes from. The door is open for us to tell our story, but if we don’t, someone else will.

The ‘conflict industry’ groups like SAFE and Greenpeace are happy to fill the void with half-truths, misinformation, sound bites and powerful imagery of the extreme options.

They profit from people’s fear, their product is cash not stewardship as they would lead you to believe. They are dependent on crisis so are always searching for the next issue – with their websites firmly set on water and animal welfare.

These extreme opinions are being presented to a public with no natural resource linkage and no lens to look through for validity. So, that whole middle ground between the extremes is lost in the discussion.

Whatever the issue – be it animal welfare, health and safety, environment or employment, we need to tell our story.

We can’t afford to have the experts on the important issues facing agriculture be it celebrities with no practical understanding, or have policy made based on a vague idea of what they would like and no understanding of how it would work and the implications.

Our solutions need to be backed by science and we need to stand united with a common cry for common sense.

Sadly the ‘conflict industry’ groups, those with no practical understanding, with vague ideas and/or political agendas get traction without science but farming can’t nor should it.

We need to understand people’s concerns and address them, not just tell them what we want them to hear. We have a great story to tell but we need to learn to be comfortable leading the discussion and telling our story, not being part of a story the conflict industry creates for us. 

We need to help consumers understand what we do and that we strive to be great stewards. That if we take care of our land, plants and animals, they will take care of us and future generations.

As an industry we may not be perfect and we have all made mistakes, but providing for humans is an imperfect science and as imperfect as we maybe, we are the best, safest, most productive, efficient and environmentally sound food producers there has ever been in the history of man. We are the green choice but we need to help consumers understand why. We need to tell the whole truth, warts and all, and do it without tearing other industries down.

When having these discussions it is often forgotten how closely the environment and our economy are tied together. In fact they come from the same Greek root word ‘eco’ meaning house.

Inside is our economy; outside is our ecology, making up our environment. If you hit one the other pays the price. If we don’t have a healthy environment we can’t grow our economy. If we don’t have a healthy economy we don’t have the luxury of protecting the environment.

Why is it so difficult for people to understand that not only are a growing economy and environmental progress not mutually exclusive but interdependent?

We need to be proud of our heritage and share it with others. The calluses on your hands and dirt under your nails should be a source of pride as they helped to lay the foundations for the family business, community, and country, rather than a source of shame or guilt because others don’t understand what you do.

There were two truths learnt in the logging industry which are important for Federated Farmers and agriculture.

Democracy works, but it’s not a spectator sport – we need to stand together as a united front and support those who support us.
When leaders lead, people follow – we need to take a lead on the issues important to us and ensure the leaders understand the challenges;
Bruce Vincent led a call to arms, for every one of us to spend one hour a week advocating for our industry, showing up, being heard, telling our story, whether it is in the local media, social media, a letter to the editor, at a school, in local politics, chamber of commerce, or engaging with Federated Farmers helping to give power to a united voice.

The Federation is committed to this but we can’t do it without you. Your support is valued but we also need you to engage, whatever the issue your voice is crucial. We need a movement lead by rural people built of hope instead of fear; science instead of emotion; education instead of litigation; resolution instead of conflict; employing rather than destroying human resources.

If each of us takes an action we create a ripple. All of our ripples combine to create a current and together we can form a wave and create change and a vision for our future.

These wise words a young, rural woman give strong grounds for optimism for farming and the future.


Rural round-up

July 10, 2015

Former Fonterra boss Craig Norgate dies:

The former Fonterra boss, Craig Norgate has died. He was 50.

Mr Norgate had a spectacular rise in business, becoming head of New Zealand’s biggest company, Fonterra, at the age of 36. . .

$158,000 to protect Taranaki biodiversity:

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith today announced a $158,000 Community Environment Fund grant for a project which aims to protect native birds and forest at Rotokare Scenic Reserve in South Taranaki.

“This funding will help support the work underway to ensure a ‘halo’ more than 2000 hectares in area surrounding the predator-proof fence of Rotokare Scenic Reserve. This funding will extend the successful work of the Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust as well as neighbouring property owners and local councils to create a flourishing ecosystem in an area that was previously threatened by predators and land use change,” Dr Smith says. . .

ComCom to file court proceedings over price fixing – Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – The Commerce Commission intends to file court proceedings against PGG Wrightson, Elders New Zealand and Rural Livestock by the end of the month, claiming the three fixed fees charged during the implementation of a national livestock tagging scheme.

The consumer protection authority is investigating fees charged during the adoption of the National Animal Identification and Trading Act 2012, commonly known as NAIT. A spokesman for the commission confirmed it intends to file proceedings against the three agricultural companies and five undisclosed individuals before the end of this month. . .

Improvements sought for forestry scheme:

A review to increase uptake for the Permanent Forest Sink Initiative is underway and the government is seeking feedback from industry on the proposed changes, says Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew.

Introduced in 2006, the Permanent Forest Sink Initiative was the first national scheme that allowed forest landowners to earn emissions units for the carbon stored within their forests. . .

More than one prize to aim for in South Island farming competition:

In addition to the top prize of a $20,000 travel fund, entrants in the 2015 Lincoln University Foundation’s South Island Farmer of the Year Competition will also be able to pitch for one of four special category prizes, with a cash prize of $5000 each.

Lincoln University Foundation Chairman Ben Todhunter said generous support from sponsors meant that the four prizes could again be offered this year, after their debut in the 2014 season. . .

Two Brands, Three Blokes, One New Wine Company:

Two renowned Marlborough wine brands are joining forces, with the backing of former employees.

Highfield and TerraVin Wines will now be known as Highfield TerraVin Ltd.

Winemakers Alistair Soper and Gordon Ritchie have joined with General Manager Pete Coldwell to run the new company, with all three men having some strong goals in mind. . .

 

Technology takes vineyard to the world:

One of New Zealand’s fastest growing and most innovative wine companies, Yealands Family Wines is taking its sustainability story to global markets via a leading edge, digital platform.

YealandsLive.co.nz features dynamic content captured via a series of live feeds, directly from the Yealands Estate Seaview Vineyard and Winery in Marlborough, New Zealand. The website aims to give consumers and the wine trade a unique, and authentic behind the scenes look at one of the world’s premier sustainable wine producers. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

July 8, 2015

Federated Farmers “Resilient Agri-business” Conference:

Massey Professor Ralph Sims challenged Federated Farmers National Conference today that New Zealand is not doing enough to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

“In spite of what the Government says, there is no policy in place apart from the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), [and] I’ve no idea how we are going to meet our target of a five per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions before 2020.

“We can buy carbon credits from the Ukraine (it’s cheap) or grow more trees and reduce transport emissions, but that’s not going to make much a difference to our carbon dioxide emissions before 2020,” he said. . .

Women of Waikato Announced Best Young Butchers:

In the fourth leg of the 2015 Alto Young Butcher and Competenz Butcher Apprentice of the Year regional finals, the best young butchers of the Waikato have been announced, and the female entrants have come out on top.
Alana Empson from New World Hillcrest was the winner of the Alto Young Butcher category, while Amanda Naughton from PAK’n’SAVE Clarence Street topped the Competenz Butcher Apprentice category.

In a competitive cutting test, entrants were expected to turn a beef rump, pork loin and a size 20 chicken into a display of value-added cuts in a time allowance of just two hours.

 

 


More ambitious climate change targets

July 8, 2015

New Zealand will commit to a new, more ambitious climate change target, Climate Change Issues Minister Tim Groser announced:

“This target is to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030,” Mr Groser said. “This is a significant increase on our current target of five per cent below 1990 emission levels by 2020.”

New Zealand will submit the target to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. All countries are expected to table targets as part of work towards a new climate change agreement, due to be concluded in Paris in December.

“While New Zealand’s emissions are small on a global scale, we are keen to make a fair and ambitious contribution to the international effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid the most harmful effects of climate change,” Mr Groser said.

“Almost 80% of our electricity is renewable already, and around half our emissions come from producing food for which there aren’t yet cost-effective technologies to reduce emissions. So there are fewer opportunities for New Zealand to reduce its emissions right now.

Those who think New Zealand isn’t doing enough forget that we’re already doing quite a bit.

Some of that is because there aren’t many of us and we don’t have a lot of heavy industry but do have a natural advantage in generating renewable energy

It’s also important t take a global perspective and acknowledge that although farming contributes a high percentage of our emissions, most of what we produce goes to other countries few if any convert grass to protein as efficiently as we do.

“However, I’m optimistic about the future – our investment in agricultural research is beginning to bear fruit and the cost of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles continues to fall. I think in 5-10 years we’ll be in a good position to reduce our emissions in both agriculture and transport.

“In setting the new target, the Government needed to ensure it was achievable and to avoid imposing unfair costs on any particular sector or group of people. . .

“New Zealand’s target is equivalent to a reduction of 11 per cent below our 1990 emission levels by 2030. Our target is expressed against 2005 emission levels similar to the approach of other significant players including the United States and Canada,” Mr Groser said.

“The target will remain provisional until we ratify the new international agreement. The detailed rules and guidelines for national reduction targets are likely to be set after the Paris meeting. These will cover matters such as the rules on accounting for the land sector, and ensuring international carbon markets meet high standards of environmental integrity.”

“The Government will adopt an appropriate mix of policies to ensure the target is met. In particular, we will begin a review of the Emissions Trading Scheme this year, which will include scope for further public discussion on what New Zealand will do domestically.” Mr Groser said.

Federated Farmers says the new target is an ambitious one:

Federated Farmers Climate Change Spokesperson Anders Crofoot says in line with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report which says reducing fossil fuel use will need to be the major focus to achieve this target. However agriculture will also play its part in development of technologies which will increase productivity whilst reducing carbon intensity of primary sector products.

“Agriculture takes its responsibilities as New Zealand and global citizens seriously and the primary sector already has an impressive track record in achieving carbon efficiency.”

“We continue to play an on-going role in meeting the world’s demand for nutrient-dense protein and finding solutions which addresses both climate change concerns and the food security dynamic.”

“To date, the amount of carbon released in producing a block of butter here in New Zealand is the lowest in the world. It is important to make sure our approach to reducing New Zealand’s emissions does not undermine our critical export industries.”

“In a resource-constrained world, it is vital to use resources efficiently and wisely. Climate change does not begin or end at New Zealand’s borders and New Zealand plays a vital world leading role as one of the most emission efficient food producers and exporters in the world.”

Beggering agriculture here would cause great harm to our economy and it would also increase emissions as less efficient producers in other countries increased production to fill the gap left by us producing less.

Anders Crofoot says New Zealand’s primary sector has made huge gains in carbon efficiency in the past three decades, through enhanced animal and plant genetics, as well as through a much greater understanding of livestock digestion and metabolism. He says our agricultural emissions intensity has declined more than 20 percent since 1990.

“Reducing emissions from biological systems such as dairy cows is not easy. That’s why since 2003, New Zealand’s agricultural sector has invested $30 million to help find solutions. AgResearch scientists have already identified five different animal-safe compounds that can reduce methane emissions from sheep and cattle by 30 to 90 percent. Further trials are needed to confirm that these compounds can reduce emissions in the long term, have no adverse effects on productivity and leave no residues in meat or milk. But all going well, we could possibly see a commercial product for use on-farm within five to ten years.”

“Continued investment will be required to develop science to reduce and treat biological agricultural emissions. This is how we can make a considerable contribution to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by getting larger developing country emitters to adopt our technologies.”

“New Zealand is already sharing its developments and gains through the Ministry for Primary Industries and Federated Farmers Global Research Alliance World Farmers Organisation Farmer Study Tours. The aim is to increase global understanding on agricultural greenhouse gas research and engage farmers on environmental management practices that support sustainable productivity.”

Mr Crofoot concluded “The task before us now is to work on solutions built off an understanding of the strengths we have as an agricultural producer, and how best we can grow those strengths in a manner that improves emissions efficiency and farm productivity.”

Business New Zealand says the target is challenging but achievable :

. . .”Our unique profile, with unusual predominance of agricultural and transport emissions, means we must be deliberate about how we achieve reductions without harming the economy.

“Key to this will be a balanced outcome for all countries taking part in forthcoming negotiations in Paris, facilitating investment, technology development and access to markets in a way that provides New Zealand businesses with the confidence to invest in low-carbon solutions for emission reductions over the long term.”

Balance is indeed the key – balance between all countries and between environmental and economic concerns keeping in mind it is the most vulnerable people who would  pay most dearly if that balance isn’t achieved.


Rural round-up

July 3, 2015

More work urged on water quality – Neal Wallace:

A good start but still more to be done.

That is the conclusion of a stocktake by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment on managing the quality of fresh water.

Dr Jan Wright praised the Government for implementing the National Policy Statement to improve fresh water management and regional councils for taking steps to improve water quality, but warned there was still much to be done. . . .

AGMARDT goes Green:

Rural businessman Richard Green of Canterbury has been appointed to the AGMARDT board.

AGMARDT is an independent not-for-profit trust that aims to foster and enable innovation and leadership within the agricultural, horticultural and forestry sectors of New Zealand.

 “We are very fortunate to have Richard join the AGMARDT board of trustees,” says chair Barry Brook. . .

Precision aerial spreading a reality:

Precision fixed wing aerial fertiliser application on hill country is now a reality, says nutrient cooperative Ballance Agri-Nutrients.

New technology in top dressing planes is set to resolve some of the challenges for farmers relying on aerial application, offering the ability to take precision up a gear.

SpreadSmart is a variable rate application system. This allows different amounts of fertiliser to be applied to different areas of the farm to boost productivity and protect waterways and sensitive areas. . .

Donkeys keep dogs on the hoof – Cara Jeffrey:

LIVESTOCK producers in southern NSW are ramping up their fight against wild dogs with baiting, trapping and donkeys all part of the arsenal.

Rob and Sally Bulle introduced donkeys to their Holbrook property “Ardrossan” two years ago to help combat wild dog attacks against their first-cross ewe flock – particularly at lambing time.

The donkeys – a mixture of jacks and jennys – have proven their worth and have remained a fixture on the property. . .

Feeding beats slow- release worm control:

A large anthelmintic trial investigating the efficacy of controlled-release capsules (CRC) and long-acting (LA) anthelmintics in pregnant ewes should ring alarm bells for sheep farmers. The study was initiated by the Whangaehu and Alfredton Farm Business Groups because of the widespread perception among farmers that use of these products will reliably return significant production benefits to both the ewe and her lambs. 

The perception held by farmers, and promoted by commercial interests, appeared to the group to be largely unsupported hence the reason for a widespread, repeated study to provide independent data on both the size and variability in the production response from treating ewes with a CRC pre-lambing. . .

Your first dog – Lloyd Smith:

When buying your first dog, first make sure the animal is going to be an asset not a liability. Sometimes young folk can be a dumping ground for old dogs past their use-by date. But a genuine dog with a few useful years left is a good option to get you started. These dogs are not always easy to source.

A dog’s useful working life is usually pretty much over by 10 years old. I would be hesitant about buying a dog of more than seven years old. Old dogs are pretty set in their ways and are limited in what you can change about them so expectations should not be high. . .


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