Rural round-up

January 17, 2017

Developing wealth from water – Keith Woodford:

Current controversies about exporting water, be that in bottles or in bulk tankers, draw attention to New Zealand’s key resource.  Yes, that resource is indeed water. In a world that is chronically short of water, we in New Zealand are greatly blessed.

It is because we are so blessed that until recently we have taken the presence of water for granted. Essentially it has been a free resource.  As a consequence, water law in New Zealand is real messy. And that leads to major impediments to water being used efficiently, and in ways which the different groups in society can agree on as being ‘fair’. 

Water that falls as rain on private land has de facto use rights. But once that water runs off into a stream, or permeates below the level where plants can extract it, then it belongs to the Crown – in effect the people of New Zealand. . . 

Silver Fern Farms Annual Result:

Silver Fern Farms has reported a net operating loss before tax and impairment of $7.5m million for the 12 months ended September 2016 on income of $2.2 billion. This compares to a net operating profit of $30.8m and income of $2.5 billion the prior year.

Operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were $32.1m, down from $90.5m the prior year. . . 

Loss ‘disappointing’ for Silver Fern Farms – Sally Rae:

Silver Fern Farms chairman Rob Hewett has described the company’s financial results as “particularly disappointing” after it posted a $30.6million after-tax loss.

The loss, for the year ended September, compared with a $24.9million net profit in the previous financial year.

Operating earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) were $32.1million, down from $90.5million.

A $7.5million net operating loss, before tax and impairment and on income of $2.2billion, compared to a net operating profit of $30.8million and income of $2.5billion the previous year. . . 

$34.5M Dividend for Co-Op Shareholders:

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Limited shareholders will receive a $34.5 million special dividend on 14 February.

The dividend of 30 cents per share on all Ordinary Shares and Rebate Shares follows the completion of Shanghai Maling Aquarius’ $267m investment in Silver Fern Farms Limited and the distribution to the Co-operative of $57million from that process which occurred in December 2016.

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Chair Rob Hewett says the special dividend will be welcome news to shareholders. “This is the first dividend shareholders have received since 2008. Their support and patience as we have developed our Plate to Pasture value added strategy over the past 7 years has been critical to Silver Fern Farms.” . . 

Patron announced for QEII National Trust:

The Queen Elizabeth II National Trust is pleased to announce that Her Excellency The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy has accepted its invitation to become Patron.

National Trust CEO Mike Jebson said the National Trust is honoured to have the Governor-General’s patronage.

‘Her Excellency considers conservation and sustainable practices to be of great importance to New Zealand.

‘Her sponsorship is a wonderful endorsement of the efforts the National Trust and its members do in this field of work for the benefit of all New Zealanders,’ Mr Jebson said. . . 

Last bastion of pioneering family’s links to the past goes on the market for sale:

A character-filled homestead linking a pioneering family with colonial roots dating back some 150 years in New Zealand’s past, has been placed on the market for sale.

The museum-like home linked to the Alison family in the Northland township of Waipu is adjacent to farm land first settled by direct descendants of the founding family in 1866.

With the last two grand-children of pioneering settler Duncan Alison passing away without any children of their own, the four-bedroom home and lifestyle block-sized landholding have been placed on the market for sale. . . 

Karaka 2017 to Showcase the Cream of the Australasian Sire Crop:

All of the biggest names in New Zealand and Australia’s sire ranks will be represented in force at the upcoming 2017 National Yearling Sales Series at Karaka.

Waikato Stud stallion Savabeel had a boomer of a Sale in 2016, amassing an aggregate of $11.545 million in the Premier session alone. Last season’s champion sire in terms of domestic, Australasian and worldwide earnings, and the leading sire again so far in 2016-17, Savabeel will again be represented by an impressive crop of 64 yearlings in the Premier catalogue. . . 


Rural round-up

January 16, 2017

In lament of the NZ Farm – Dr Rosie Bosworth:

On the road to becoming the Detroit of agriculture.

Colleague and Christchurch based technology strategist Ben Reid, recently tweeted that New Zealand is in danger of fast becoming the “Detroit of Agriculture” – a rustbelt left behind after production has moved elsewhere.” Unfortunately, I am inclined to agree.  With technologies, science and new business models evolving, accelerating and converging at current breakneck speeds, industries globally – from banking, transport, accommodation and healthcare are having the rug pulled right out from beneath their feet. And sadly (at least for New Zealand farmers), agriculture, our economic mainstay, is next up on the chopping block. Fast en route towards becoming a sunset industry.  Overtaken and displaced by disruptive technologies, science breakthroughs and new business models. And the people at the helm? Not the people on the inside like our dairy farmers, apple breeders and savvy winemakers. But by sneaker wearing tech millennials and wealthy Tesla driving Silicon Valley venture capitalists and well funded research agencies. . . 

Dry conditions take toll on Northland farmers:

A drought declaration in Northland is just a few weeks away, but as conditions in the region grow tougher, Federated Farmers says.

Federated Farmers Northland president John Blackwell said spring had been good for the region, but a dry November and December had caused problems across the board.

Halfway through November the rain had disappeared and south-westerly winds had had a very drying effect on the land, Mr Blackwell said. . . 

Dairy NZ to appeal decision on Greenpeace ad – Catherine Hutton:

One of the groups who complained that a Greenpeace advertisement was false and misleading says it plans to appeal the advertising watchdog’s decision.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received 12 complaints about the advert, which blamed the dairy industry for water pollution, but dismissed all of them.

Dairy NZ, which represents dairy farmers, would not comment on the reasons it was appealing, ahead of the hearing.  . .

Hurunui Water Project says Greenpeace claims are exaggerated and out of date:

North Canterbury irrigation Company Hurunui Water Project today rejected claims by Greenpeace that the proposed scheme will lead to large-scale intensive dairying and consequent degradation of the Hurunui River.

“Greenpeace needs to actually read the latest information on the Hurunui Water Project (HWP) proposal that they have,” says HWP Chief Executive Alex Adams. “If they had done so, they would have seen the scheme is very different now to the original proposal they seem to be referring to, and that dairy development as a result of the scheme is planned to be to be a minor component.”

Adams said a 2016 survey of HWP shareholders showed the vast majority of the dryland farmers simply wanted irrigation to provide the assurance they needed to continue with their existing farming practice; only some 10 percent indicated that dairy conversions might be an option. . . 

Korean FTA delivers new round of tariff cuts:

More local businesses looking to expand into Korea will benefit from the latest round of tariff reductions under the New Zealand-Korea Free Trade Agreement, Trade Minister Todd McClay says.

The start of 2017 saw two thirds of New Zealand’s exports to Korea become duty free, up from 46 per cent in 2016.

“Thanks to this continued progress under the FTA, even more New Zealand businesses can compete favourably in the Korean market,” Mr McClay says.

New Zealand and Korea celebrated the first anniversary of the agreement in December 2016. Since the FTA’s entry into force in December 2015, New Zealand has experienced strong results particularly in the food and beverage sector where exports to Korea have increased by over 16%. . . 

Fonterra milk collections remain below previous season, trend shifts in Oz – Edwin Mitson

 (BusinessDesk) – Milk collections by Fonterra Cooperative Group this season are continuing to track below the previous year, mainly due to lower production on the North Island.

Collections in the seven months from June 1, 2016 to Dec. 31, 2016 were 881 million kilogrammes of milk solids, a fall of 5.5 percent on the same period in 2015, when prices were much lower. Some 186 million kgMS were collected in the month of December, down 5 percent on the same month a year ago.

There was a clear gap between the two main islands of New Zealand. Collections on the North Island fell 7 percent from June to December, while on the South Island they dropped just 2 percent in the same period. . . 

Commitment Pays Dividends for Taranaki Egg Farm Worker:

Team spirit, pride in her work and a determination to succeed in her studies have proved a winning combination for Taranaki woman Amy Kimura, who was recently named Poultry Industry Trainee of the Year for 2016. The national award is given each year to the top-performing trainee in all of the training courses run by the poultry industry in cooperation with the Primary Industry Training Organisation (PrimaryITO).

Amy, who is of Ngati Raukawa descent, is currently a Farm Worker at Aviagen New Zealand Ltd’s Taranaki production farms where her duties include general care and responsibility for the welfare of the poultry in her care. . . 

17 myths about agriculture in 2017 – Peterson farm Bros:

1. GMOs are evil

GMOs are a valuable technology used in science, medicine, and agriculture. Farmers use them to increase yields, reduce inputs, improve the soil, and provide resistance to drought, insects and weeds. There are GMOs being used all throughout society, and there is a very good chance you’ve consumed or used a GM product today. We do believe people should be free to avoid GMOs if they want to, but GMOs have been around for 2 decades (over a trillion meals consumed) without a single sickness or health issue resulting from consumption. . .

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Vandalism, activism or personal?

January 16, 2017

Is this vandalism environmental activism or someone with a personal grudge?

“Committed” offenders  would have been drenched as they slashed the tyres on three pivot irrigators, causing thousands of dollars worth of damage,  police said.

Senior Constable Craig Bennett, of Kurow,  believes the attack on the irrigators  occurred early on Saturday near State Highway 8 and Broken Hut Rd, just outside Omarama. Snr Const Bennett said it was too early to say if the vandalism was caused by an individual or several people, but the irrigators were not easily spotted from the road and fences would have been navigated by someone with  intent.

Forty-four tyres, valued at up to $800 each, were slashed, he said.

Omarama farmer and pivot irrigator owner Richard Subtil was upset  about the damage and urged people to come forward with information about the attack.

He believed the vandal or vandals  either had a problem with him or an issue with irrigation and decided to attack his equipment.

“I really hope it’s the latter. I’m trying to understand what motivated someone to do it. If it’s a personal vendetta I’m unsure what it’s about.

The Subtils won the 2015 Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA).

At a BFEA ceremony on March 26, the Subtils also collected the Massey University Innovation Award, WaterForce Integrated Management Award, Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award and the Environment Canterbury Water Quality Award.

They are innovative farmers who have been recognised for their careful management of their farm and the environment. Entrants in the BEFA are also judged on their contribution to their community.

That doesn’t rule out a personal vendetta but this couple is very highly regarded which makes it less likely.

The damage could be an act of vandalism.  But irrigation in this area has attracted vehement opposition so it could be the work of one or more environmental activists who object to the greening of what was an arid landscape.

 


Rural round-up

January 12, 2017

This farming mum’s in charge – Kate Taylor:

A Hawke’s Bay woman laughs when people ask to speak to her husband about every-day decisions on the farm. Kate Taylor interrupted her at work in the sheep yards to find out why.

One of the first things Hawke’s Bay farmer Caroline Smith does when she stops for a cup of tea after drafting cull ewes is to breastfeed baby Clara.

She juggles looking after a young family and farming 240 hectares and loves it, although one of her pet hates is having people phoning on farm business asking to speak to her husband.

“They assume it’s not me running the farm. I say they can speak to my husband if they like but he’s an electrician so might not be too helpful for the information they’re after.”

‘Ripper’ season for southern contractors – Rob Tipa:

Many South Island rural contractors have had what they are describing as “a season out of the box” with outstanding silage, hay and balage crops made so far this summer.

It is a different story in the North Island where generally harvests have been later and patchier.

New Zealand president Steve Levet, of Wellsford, told the NZ Farmer weather conditions during spring and early summer in the north had generally been colder, wetter and windier than usual. . . 

Meat co-op offers new app to farmers – Sudesh Kissun:

Meat co-op Alliance Group has launched a new app to support its 5,000 farmer shareholders.

The Farm Alliance app, developed as part of the cooperative’s business strategy, provides a range of resources for farmers to help them manage the processing of their stock. Farmers can now see their own livestock processing results in real time, access their latest kill sheets, make booking requests, check statistics and schedule and receive industry updates.

Mark Blandford, chief information officer at Alliance Group says it is constantly looking for new ways to help farmer shareholders with their businesses. “Farmers can get their kill sheets delivered straight to their mobile phones as soon as their stock is processed and they will be automatically notified when new information is available. “The menu also includes all of a farmer’s kills for the previous six months and annual kill statistics.  . . 

China’s giant cow farms leave neighbours up milk creek – Tom Hancock:

Giant piles of black manure towering over cornfields, while rancid-smelling effluent from thousands of cows spills onto the land—this is the price of a glass of milk in China today.

Large-scale dairy farms have boomed in the Asian giant, as its near 1.4 billion consumers overcame centuries of cultural reluctance to embrace the white fluid.
An economic boom and government backing transformed dairy into a $40-billion-a-year industry, shifting production away from small-scale producers towards massive megafarms with up to 10,000 cattle—and a lot more waste. . .

One of Europe’s largest supermarkets will sell burgers and meatballs made from meal worms – Leanna Garfield:

Beef might taste delicious, but producing it exhausts our planet’s land and water. As a result, more chefs and retailers are searching for alternatives that taste like beef — including insects.

Starting May 2017, Coop, one of Switzerland’s largest wholesale retailers, will start selling “burgers” and “meatballs” — both primarily made from mealworm larvae — at select grocery locations. It will partner with Essento, a Swiss startup that makes food from insects, Switzerland’s the Local reports. . . 

New Zealand Chinese Jockey Club to Launch at Karaka Million:

In exciting news announced today, a group of private investors have established the New Zealand Chinese Jockey Club to cater for the high level of interest in racehorse ownership by the Chinese community, both here in New Zealand and internationally.

Headed by Mr Joshua Zong, a prominent Chinese business owner and property developer based in Auckland, the New Zealand Chinese Jockey Club will be officially launched on the eve of New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Yearling Sales Series at a function to be held at the Karaka Million Twilight Meeting on Sunday 29 January at Ellerslie. . . 

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Happiness does have a smell.1


Rural round-up

January 10, 2017

Eradication helicopter pilot Peter Garden recognised for international work – Debbie Jamieson:

Wanaka man Peter Garden started his flying career as an agricultural pilot in Southland and went on to become one of the world’s pre-eminent eradication helicopter pilots.

The 70-year-old has been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to aviation and conservation and said it was circumstances that led him to the work he is being recognised for. . . 

Let the fleeces fall fast – Sally Rae:

Nathan Stratford had been looking forward to sitting down and enjoying a beer over Christmas.

But a successful campaign on the shearing board at the Canterbury A and P Show in November ended that plan.

The Invercargill father-of-two edged out hot favourite Rowland Smith to nail the second spot in the New Zealand team for the world shearing and woolhandling championships.

Come next month, Stratford (42) will be pulling on his moccasins in front of a hometown crowd, albeit peppered with an international flavour, in the ILT Stadium Southland. . . 

The light between ordeals: From drought to storms – and an earthquake – Virginia Larson:

“I should hate this place by now, shouldn’t I? But I don’t. If anything, I’m even more excited about living here.” Doug Avery is on the phone from the family farm at Grassmere, 40km south of Blenheim. The line’s a bit crackly, but not Doug. “It’s the volcanoes and earthquakes and faultlines that have created this country. It’s what we love about it. And now, well, we’re making New Zealand great again!”

I’ve tracked down Doug because I figure if he’s given up after the November 14 Kaikoura quake, there’s no hope for any of us. We might as well hole up in our panic rooms and wait for the apocalypse. . . 

Kiwi are thriving – and so are kereru – Kate Guthrie:

The magnolias aren’t looking too good at Arthur Hinds’ place. His wife Diane used to complain about the damage possums were doing. But that’s not the problem nowadays.

The Department of Conservation dealt to the possums in 2000, just before the Whenuakite Kiwi Care Group started their predator control programme. Arthur joined the Kiwi Care Group early on and today Diane’s magnolias are the victims of the group’s success. Their buds are devastated by an exploding population of kereru. . . 

Actually, raising beef is good for the planet – Nicolette Hahn Niman:“The damage from the kereru is much worse,” says Arthur. “The possums ate the buds, but the kereru are killing the trees.”

People who advocate eating less beef often argue that producing it hurts the environment. Cattle, we are told, have an outsize ecological footprint: They guzzle water, trample plants and soils, and consume precious grains that should be nourishing hungry humans. Lately, critics have blamed bovine burps, flatulence and even breath for climate change.

As a longtime vegetarian and environmental lawyer, I once bought into these claims. But now, after more than a decade of living and working in the business—my husband, Bill, founded Niman Ranch but left the company in 2007, and we now have a grass-fed beef company—I’ve come to the opposite view. It isn’t just that the alarm over the environmental effects of beef are overstated. It’s that raising beef cattle, especially on grass, is an environmental gain for the planet. . .

An NFL player who has made $37 million spends 12 hours a day working on his family farm in the off-season – Cork Gaines:

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson is in the second year of a four-year, $39 million contract and has already made $37 million in his career. But when the playoffs are over, he will return to his family farm in tiny Riley, Kansas, where every off-season he goes to put in a full day’s work.

In an interview for a recent issue of ESPN the Magazine, Nelson said he works up to 12 hours a day on the farm, driving a combine to cut wheat or rounding up the 1,000-cow herd in the town whose population is 992.

“Working cattle is my favourite farm duty,” Nelson told ESPN. He said he identifies “more as a farmer” than as a football player. . . 

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Farmer Nutrition Facts  % Daily value *:

Patience 200%  Common sense 200% Dedication 200%

Love of the land 300% Passion 200% Grit 200%

Sleep 50%

*Percentage daily values may vary depneding on the day.


Rural round-up

December 7, 2016

Thousands of salmon killed in farm break-in:

Thousands of salmon have been killed during a burglary at a salmon farm on the West Coast.

Police are investigating the burglary at the South Westland Salmon Farm and Cafe in Paringa on Saturday.

Offenders entered the farm grounds that night and tampered with machinery on site.

The police said the intruders shut off the water supply to the salmon-rearing tanks, causing at least 13,000 fish to suffocate from a lack of oxygen. . . 

Gap between town and country growing – James Stewart:

As the world’s population grows, so too does urbanisation.  Towns turn into cities, houses into apartment blocks and the gap between urban and rural broadens.  However the divide left is not just physical.  It also creates a void of knowledge about what goes on in our rural communities.

Today’s urbanised generations are arguably more informed than ever. Thanks to technology, information is at our finger tips, and there are plenty of other opportunities to learn. Advertising is a multimillion dollar business for a reason. A few seconds air time is all it needs to cast a net on an audience, influencing their thoughts with the end goal of enticing them to buy a product, or view the world through a different lens. . . 

Results Announced for the 2016 Fonterra Elections:

Returning Officer Warwick Lampp, of electionz.com Ltd, has declared the final results of the 2016 elections for the Fonterra Board of Directors, Directors’ Remuneration Committee, Fonterra Farmer Custodian Trustee and Shareholders’ Council.

Shareholders voted to elect incumbent Director Michael Spaans and new Director Donna Smit. Stuart Nattrass was unsuccessful.

Donna Smit lives and farms at Edgecumbe, and has built and owned seven dairy farms in Eastern Bay of Plenty and Oamaru. Donna is a Director of Ballance Agri Nutrients and Primary ITO, and a Trustee of Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre and Eastern Bay Energy Trust. Donna is a Chartered Accountant and was Company Administrator at Kiwifruit Co-operative EastPack for 24 years. . . 

Quake creates massive lake on family farm – Emma Cropper,

A giant lake and three-metre-high wall have been created on a family farm near Waiau, revealing the massive power of November’s earthquake.

Geotech scientists from around the world are scrambling to see the newly formed ‘Lake Rebekah’ and the ‘Waiau wall’ on the Kelly family’s farm.

The family is dwarfed by the sheer size of the rupture that’s torn straight through their property, forming a giant wall hidden in the hills of the farm. . . 

Northland irrigation study welcomed :

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed an investment of $165,000 from Crown Irrigation Investments to scope irrigation scheme options in Northland.

“This is great news for a region that has suffered numerous droughts over the years,” says Mr Guy.

“Storing water means we can use it in dry spells, giving farmers and growers certainty and a real boost to the local economy.” 

Northland Regional Council are also investing in the study which will focus on potential irrigation options in the mid North and Kaipara areas. . . 

Rural quake damage tipped at $40m – Alexa Cook:

Rural insurance company FMG estimates that at least $40m of claims will be made from the 7.8 earthquake and aftershocks.

FMG’s Chief Operations Officer Conrad Wilkshire said the firm insured about half of the farms and rural businesses in the Kaikōura, North Canterbury and Marlborough districts.

Mr Wilkshire said so far they had received about 700 insurance claims from 500 businesses. . . 

Kotahi partners with Cape Sanctuary:

Kotahi, the country’s largest export supply chain collaboration, has signed a long-term partnership with Cape Sanctuary, a significant wildlife restoration programme at Cape Kidnappers, in a bid to protect native New Zealand birds.

Cape Sanctuary Co-founder Andy Lowe said Kotahi’s partnership will allow two additional New Zealand native species, the near extinct Shore Plover and endangered Blue Duck, to be included in the Cape Sanctuary programme.

“Our philosophy is to develop long-standing partnerships with businesses, iwi and Department of Conservation to restore native bird life to our region. Cape Sanctuary began as a project by people passionate about bringing back and sustaining native species that once would have existed on the Cape Kidnappers peninsula and nearby coastal communities. . . 

Snapper 1 plan accepted:

A long-term plan for the future management of New Zealand’s most valuable snapper fishery has been accepted by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy today.

“The Snapper 1 Management Plan is the result of more than two years hard work by the SNA1 Strategy Group, which is made up of members from the customary, recreational and commercial fishing sectors,” says Mr Guy.

“This fishery includes Bay of Plenty, the Hauraki Gulf and the eastern coast of Northland and is one of our most iconic inshore fisheries. It’s pleasing to have a range of perspectives sitting around the table and coming up with a long term plan for maximising the benefits for everyone.” . . 

Top winery proposes vineyard village in Central Otago:

Leading Central Otago winery Wooing Tree Vineyard has today released plans that will enable the development of a boutique residential and commercial space designed to complement its wine business in Cromwell.

A zone change will need to be granted by the Central Otago District Council (CODC) to facilitate the development of the proposed Wooing Tree Estate, which is pegged for the vineyard’s 26-hectare site between SH6, SH8B and Shortcut Road. While Wooing Tree Vineyard will remain at the site, the new development could include various community amenities, tourist attractions, retail, accommodation and prime housing lots. . . 

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Rural round-up

December 5, 2016

First transport of milk in and out of Kaikoura today :

Milk tankers will be able to start using Kaikōura’s only access road from today.

Essential freight is also being given priority on the inland road, which is considered fragile and hazardous.

Transport Agency regional performance manager Pete Connors said about 240 vehicles would be driving north on the road this morning. . . 

Scholarship awarded – Sally Rae:

Olivia Ross lives by the mantra: “make the most of every day”.

Miss Ross (28), of Longridge North, near Balfour, is one of five young primary industry leaders to receive the inaugural ANZ Future Leaders scholarship.

Open to New Zealand Young Farmer members, the scholarship, worth up to $10,000, was designed to give future leaders in the primary sector a “step up” by providing them with financial support for their planned path of study or professional development. . . 

Tertiary training demand falls – Neal Wallace:

Primary sector productivity rates will remain stalled unless more people are trained and issues with training providers are addressed, DairyNZ strategy leader Mark Paine says.

Industry studies and the Productivity Commission had found primary sector productivity had plateaued and part of the answer to improve that was a strong, flexible training structure, Paine, who is responsible for strategy and investment for people and business, said.

Last week the Farmers Weekly revealed providers responsible for training about 1000 sub-degree trainees were closing or considering doing so. . .

The sale of all sales – Annette Scott:

A national shortage of store cattle and grass-derived demand pushed weaner calf prices to record levels at the last ever cattle sale at Tinwald.

As the hammer went down on the annual consignment of calves, the Ashburton IHC calf and rural scheme fundraiser hit the record books in more ways than one.

The organisation’s calf prices not only hit record highs but the cattle sale was also the last for Tinwald sale yards, destined for closure this month.

The wet weather failed to dampen bidders’ spirits. . . 

NZ taking world leadership role against invasive species:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry today announced that New Zealand will take on a leadership role internationally, working with others to control and eradicate invasive alien species and protect native habitats.

The Minister has made the announcement at the International Convention on Biological Diversity which is currently meeting in Cancun, Mexico to consider the best way to meets targets to reduce the impact of invasive species on global biodiversity.

“New Zealand’s commitment to Predator Free 2050 is the largest and most ambitious invasive species eradication project ever attempted.  We are already seen as world leaders in pest control,” says Ms Barry. . . 

Going, going, gone :

PGG Wrightson senior auctioneer John McKone  sells a ram at the Merrydowns Romney and Southdown ram fair at Waikoikoi last week.

Blair and Sally Robertson sold 194 rams as far afield as Warkworth for an average price of $1130.

Romney rams ranged from $600 to $3800,  the top priced ram purchased by Peter and Diane Lowe from Ashburton, and Southdown rams sold from $450 to $3000. . . 

Gorse set to fire Chinese barbecues in win-win for for farmers and the environment – Carol Rääbus:

Take a drive along the Midland Highway through Tasmania and you will see hillsides covered in thousands of gorse plants.

The spikey evergreen has become a major problem for farmers and the state’s environment since it was introduced with the arrival of Europeans.

It tends to like the conditions down here,” John Boland from Gorse Power told Leon Compton on 936 ABC Hobart. . . .

IR8 – the miracle rice which saved millions of lives – Justin Rowlatt:

Last week I received a very unusual invitation indeed. It was to a 50th birthday party in a swanky Delhi hotel, but the party was for a plant: a strain of rice known only by its initials, IR8.

A celebration for an angry rice variety; who could refuse?

The Indian Agriculture Minister, Shri Sudarshan Bhagat, opened the event, describing the introduction of IR8 as “a great moment in India’s history”. . . 

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