Rural round-up

March 30, 2017

Taihape farmer opens up about depression – Gerard Hutching:

Taihape farmer Dan Mickleson has spilled his heart out on Facebook after a second bout of depression, and has been overwhelmed by the response. 

“The reaction’s gone way beyond anything I imagined when I asked them to post it. I thought it might get 100 likes and 20-odd comments but when they sent me the tracking stats this morning it’s reached over 130,000 people,” he said.

Entitled “Real Men Don’t Cry”, the 1000-word admission of Mickleson’s struggles was posted on the NZ Farming Facebook page.

I’m a food producer not a farmer: Richard Kidd  – Gerald Piddock:

Richard Kidd is not just a sheep and beef farmer, he is a food producer.

It is a small but subtle twist on words that he believed has helped him better connect with urban consumers.

Just calling himself a farmer was too broad, he said.

“We have a better story to say than we are just farmers. We are producing food that the public has to eat and I think they deserve to know that it’s well farmed, as free as chemicals as possible and a good story behind it.” . . 

Engineering student’s start-up has billion-dollar prospects – Madison Reidy:

Growing up on a 300-cow dairy farm in Matamata exposed Craig Piggott to the problems farmers face.

With a first class honours engineering degree and a year’s experience building rockets for Rocket Lab under his belt, he is now solving them with his own agri-tech invention. 

Piggott, 22, came up with the idea for a GPS tracking, solar powered cow collar while studying at Auckland University. The idea could not wait until he graduated, he said. . . 

Strong environmental gains on farm show opportunities:

Substantial reductions in the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions at a South Canterbury farm show environmental gains can be made hand in hand with a farm’s growth, scientists say.

Record keeping back to 1991, when Bill and Shirley Wright took on the sheep and cattle farm at Cave, has allowed scientists to study the profile of greenhouse gas emissions over time in an evolving farm system.

Analysis of the Wrights’ farm system in the last couple of years has also provided important insights into nitrate leaching (the loss of nitrogen), and what impacts on the amount of leaching and how best it can be managed. . . 

Synlait posts 3.8% gain in 1H profit, expects ‘modest’ full-year earnings growth – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Synlait Milk, the NZX-listed dairy company, posted a 3.8 percent lift in first-half profit as higher sales offset increased investment in people and business development.

Profit increased to $10.6 million, or 6.34 cents per share, in the six months ended Jan. 31, from $10.2 million, or 6.99 cents, a year earlier, the Rakaia-based company said in a statement. Sales jumped 35 percent to $288.7 million. The year-earlier earnings included a $2.9 million unrealised foreign exchange loss. . . 

Fonterra Launches Popular New Maternal Nutrition Programme in Hong Kong:

Fonterra has launched a unique nutrition programme for pregnant women in Hong Kong, developing a website endorsed by professional dieticians to give women access to healthy, nutritious at-home dining recipes and tips for eating well when dining out during pregnancy.

The programme, called ‘Anmum You & B’, also offers access to fine dining seminars where pregnant women can receive personalised food and nutrition advice from certified dieticians.

The programme’s introductory video was viewed more than 1.5 million times in one week – accounting for more than half of the 3.5 million females living in Hong Kong. . .

Te Aroha owners take role in governing their land:

Over 2000 owners of Te Aroha Aggregation farm in Waihi are celebrating a major milestone in its development, with an open day on Saturday. The day signifies the start of responsibility for the farm being passed back to the owners.

For the last three years, owners and trustees of the Māori-owned dairy farm have been supported by Te Tumu Paeroa to develop the skills and experience in governance so they can self-manage the successful enterprise.

Since 1989, Te Tumu Paeroa have been responsible trustee to Te Aroha Aggregation. Saturday’s ceremony signifies an important step for owners in the transition of management responsibility to them. . . 

Breakthrough genetics looking at cutting nitrogen leaching by 20% in NZ – CRV Ambreed:

CRV Ambreed has made a genetic discovery that it anticipates will result in a more sustainable dairy industry and potentially reduce nitrogen leaching on New Zealand farms by 20% within 20 years.

In what’s thought to be an international first, the dairy herd improvement company has announced it will market bulls that are desirable for traditional traits as well as being genetically superior for a new trait that is related to urea nitrogen in milk.

CRV Ambreed is now selling semen from bulls whose daughters will have reduced concentration of Milk Urea Nitrogen (MUN) under a LowN Sires™ brand. MUN is a measure of the amount of nitrogen contained as milk urea, and CRV Ambreed R&D Manager Phil Beatson says there’s overwhelming international evidence of a direct connection between MUN and the amount of nitrogen excreted in urine when fed different diets.  . . 

 


Rural round-up

March 29, 2017

Health risk concerns for orchard workers – Pam Jones:

Cromwell orchardists are concerned about the public health risks of continued freedom camping by fruitpickers.

While no cases of illness have been reported, the summerfruit industry body says it has serious concerns about the conditions in which some orchard workers are living and the possibility of a breakout of transferrable disease.

Summerfruit New Zealand chairman and Cromwell orchardist Tim Jones said the possible impact on export crops was discussed at Summerfruit’s board meeting last month and about five Cromwell orchardists were concerned. . . 

New leader steps up in agri-tech – Sally Rae:

Tracmap’s new chairman says it is an exciting time for the Mosgiel-based agri-tech company.

Chris Dennison, who farms at Hilderthorpe, in North Otago, replaces Pat Garden, from Millers Flat, who has stepped down after just over a decade.

TracMap was established by Colin Brown in 2006 after he identified a gap in the market for a rugged and easy-to-use GPS guidance and mapping system, specifically designed for New Zealand conditions.

He initially saw the opportunity in ground spreading and the application was pushed wider as it had been developed. . . 

Competition provided impetus – Sally Rae:

Winning the Southland Otago Sharemilker Equity Farmer of the Year title gave Jono and Kelly Bavin so much more than a trophy.

Mr and Mrs Bavin, now regional managers for Southland Otago in the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, won the regional title in 2015, which coincided with the dairy downturn starting ”to bite”.

But because they had entered the competition, and really evaluated their business and where it was going, that helped them get through the next two years.

”There’s not many times in your life you pick up your business, throw it on the ground and rearrange it again. That’s what we did,” Mr Bavin said.

Had they not made the decision to enter the competition, then ”things could have been totally different” for the Southland couple. . . 

Calamity on the Coast – Peter Burke:

A ghastly period: that’s how DairyNZ West Coast consulting officer Ross Bishop describes the situation facing the region’s dairy farmers.

They are deeply frustrated and struggling to maintain faith in their dairy company Westland Milk Products, he says.

The company is in a financial mess and chief executive Toni Brendish has the unenviable task of trying to return it to a reasonable financial footing. Already she has made clear there will be a lower payout for farmers and job losses at its factories. . .

Digging into low productive results:

Failure to meet its own goals for reproductive performance (industry targets) has been much talked about at Lincoln University Dairy Farm (LUDF).

Farmers at a February 23 focus day debated the analysis presented and anecdotal comparisons with other farms in the region.

Taking a long term view, particularly if the current season is excluded, reproductive performance has improved on the farm over the past 13 years. But drilling into the detail reveals the farm only once met the industry target of 78% six-week in-calf rate (2013 mating period). Since then the trend in six-week in-calf rates has declined, raising many questions about what is limiting performance. . . 

Our Pinot is pushing the boundaries:

Allen Meadows is a self-confessed, “obsessive” Burgundy lover. So much so that his life is spent compiling advice and information on the world’s foremost Pinot Noir region.

His quarterly reviewBurghound.com was the first of its kind to dedicate itself to the wines of a particular region – and has become the go-to for lovers of the variety.  

While his reviews offer regular updates on Oregon and Californian Pinot, it is not often that other New World countries are included in his extremely popular review. Hence a tasting of 221 wines from New Zealand was an amazing achievement, organised by NZW’s Marketing Manager USA, David Strada. Just getting Meadows to a tasting was an accomplishment – but the end results which featured in Issue 64 of Burghound.com (October 2016) were even more so. . .

More timber trees for planting 2017:

A rise in the number of timber tree seedlings being produced indicates a recent decline in plantation forest replanting may be reversing.

An MPI survey of all 28 commercial forest nurseries in New Zealand shows stock sales in 2016 for planting this year were 52.2 million seedlings, compared with 49.5 million the year before.

Forest Owners Association Chief Executive David Rhodes says the increase in seedling sales is a positive sign the industry is gearing up for increased production, even if the trees planted now will not be harvested for about another 30 years. . . 


Rural round-up

March 28, 2017

NZ primary sector commentators argue for genetic modification –  Gerard Hutching:

New Zealand could not pretend to be an agricultural Silicon Valley if it did not embrace genetic modification, farming leader Malcolm Bailey has said.

“It would be Silicon Valley without the silicon,” he told the Future Farms conference being held in Palmerston North.

Bailey, who is chairman of the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand and former Federated Farmers president, said there were a number of different types of GM. He was not advocating the use of transgenics, where genes from a plant are mixed with those from an animal. . .

Elite soils sprouting houses – Bernard Orsman:

Pukekohe market gardeners, the Bhana family, live in a rural zone but across the road houses are sprouting up on a paddock they were cropping potatoes two years ago.

In the past 10 years, about 16 per cent of Pukekohe’s dark brown, volcanic soil has been taken over for houses, and more is under threat from the city’s new planning rulebook.

More than 5000 new houses are in the pipeline in Pukekohe and neighbouring Paerata – and another 9000 are planned in the two areas over the next decade.

“We are genuinely worried the elite soils are getting eaten up for housing,” says Bharat Bhana, whose family have been growing vegetables in Pukekohe since 1957. . . 

Dam water would be useful in an emergency – Steve Wyn-Harris:

I am a sheep and beef farmer and was on the farm on Monday the 13th just gone.

When Jamie Mackay of The Country radio show rang me at midday for our regular chat on farming in Hawke’s Bay and wanted to talk about the drought I told him and his listeners that we had a far more pressing situation to discuss.

I spoke that in 33 years of farming I had never been more alarmed at the risk of fire. Conditions out on my farm and elsewhere were terrifying.

The wind was blowing around 100km. It was hot. Very hot, over 30 degrees. Humidity was very low with the air flow coming across from a scorching and dry Australia. And there was plenty of fuel on ground and dry scrub and trees. I said folk needed to take great care not to use machinery or anything that could cause sparks. . . 

Special gene makes heat-resistant cows – Alexa Cook:

A New Zealand company has produced a new breed of dairy cow which can keep producing decent amounts of milk in hot and humid conditions.

Most cows struggle to maintain milk production if they are under stress from heat. The “Slick” gene bulls are believed to be the first type of dairy bull in New Zealand to pass on heat tolerance to their daughters.

The bulls are named Slick Pathos, Slick Eros and his brother, Slick Himeros, after the Greek gods of love and sexual desire. Their genetics have been 10 years in the making.

New Zealand company Dairy Solutionz and STGenetics launched their Kiwipole breed in the US at the Tulare World Ag Expo. . . 

Living Water and Fonterra Farmers help give more Kiwi a safe haven:

Two more kiwi have found a safe haven in Northland thanks,in part, to a group of Fonterra farmers and Fonterra’s Living Water partnership with the Department of Conservation. 

The two birds, Geoff and Charlie, were transferred from Limestone Island near Whangarei to the Tanekaha Community Pest Control Area last weekend to join 12 others released there about a year ago.

Fonterra farmers have worked for years to rid stoats and other predators from the area, work that has been part-funded in over the past two years by the Living Water partnership. . . 

Fonterra’s Australian Business is on Track And Investing for the Future:

Fonterra’s Australian business is in good shape and performing well, says Fonterra Australia managing director René Dedoncker.

The Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd announced its half-year results for its global operations, posting a NZD$418 million net profit after tax, up two per cent.

Fonterra Australia has contributed to this overall result which René says comes on the back of “all the hard work with our turnaround, making sure we’re focussing on areas where we have a clear advantage.

“We had to make tough decisions with our transformation. Our three businesses are now delivering good results for us, although there are headwinds ahead,” René says. . . 

 


Rural round-up

March 27, 2017

24-hour shearing marathon for suicide prevention raises thousands – Leighton Keith:

The buzz of clippers went silent and was replaced by cheers and applause in a Taranaki woolshed as a 24-hour shearing marathon came to an end.

The event, held just out of Whangamomona on Sunday, had been organised by John Herlihy to raise awareness for suicide prevention following the death of his son Michael in January 2016.

Michael’s death, a suspected suicide, shocked New Zealand’s close knit shearing community and came just 10 days before he and his five brothers, Paul, Mark, Craig, Tim and Dean were planning to set a new world record by shearing 3000 lambs in just eight hours. . . 

The Green Issue: Linkwater dairy farmers see benefits in more sustainable farming practices – Mike Watson:

Linkwater dairy farmers Jason and Amber Templeman​ entered the region’s leading environment awards to show the positive aspects of the dairy industry, they say.

“The dairy industry has been getting a lot of bad publicity over environment standards,” Jason says.

“Entering the awards was an opportunity for us to show what the dairy industry was doing positively.” . . 

In the field – Guy Williams:

For the past two summers, teams of academics and students from the University of Otago have made field trips into a stretch of spectacular high country between Arrowtown and Lake Wanaka. Queenstown reporter Guy Williams finds out what they are up to.

It is a glorious morning after a night of wind, rain and broken sleep at the Skippers camping ground.

On the final day of a three-day field trip to Coronet Peak Station, two University of Otago summer bursary students are helping Dr Christoph Matthaei, a freshwater ecologist from the university’s zoology department, take water samples from a tributary of the Shotover River.

The hustle and bustle of Queenstown is only 20km to the south, but in this gully on the flanks of the Harris Mountains, it feels like the middle of nowhere.

The trio are on the western edge of Mahu Whenua (Healing the Land), the name given to a vast tract of country encompassing four high country stations stretching from Arrowtown most of the way to Wanaka’s Glendhu Bay. . . 

Commodity prices hide ‘solid’ Fonterra performance – Dene Mackenzie:

Volatile commodity prices hid a solid performance from dairy company Fonterra when it reported its first-half profit last week, Forsyth Barr broker Lyn Howe said.

In a detailed analysis of the result, Ms Howe said Fonterra had continued to shift volume from commodity areas towards its higher value consumer and foodservice business.

Fonterra posted normalised earnings of $607million for the six months ended January, down 9% on the previous corresponding period. The result was ahead of Forsyth Barr expectations. . . 

Yili expects more jobs as plant grows – Shannon Gillies:

A promise of more jobs came from dairy giant Yili as it celebrated the opening of its stage two development at its Glenavy production plant on Saturday.

Official celebrations were in Auckland, but Glenavy and surrounding areas should be gearing up for employment opportunities at the Oceania Dairy production plant, a company spokeswoman said.

She said while stage two was not operational, it was due to be ready for production in August. . . 

Ashburton wool growers top sale:

The feature of the South Island wool sale on Thursday was the sale of a small amount of merino wool offered by Rata Peaks Station, Ashburton, CP Wool spokesman Roger Fuller said.

The wool created heated demand from exporters. A line of merino hogget 17.7 micron reached 3104c clean and 1900c greasy.

”This was on the back of the Australian market reaching highs not seen for many years.” . . 

2018 Dairy Industry Awards to be held in South Island:

The 2018 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are heading south!

At the Southland-Otago Dairy Industry Awards dinner on Saturday in Invercargill, it was announced that the 2018 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards will hold their national awards dinner at ILT Stadium in Invercargill on 12 May 2018.

The last time the Nationals were held in the South Island was 2011, when they were held in Queenstown.

The awards oversee the Share Farmer of the Year, Dairy Manager of the Year and Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions. . . 


Rural round-up

March 24, 2017

Rabbit virus setback ‘bureaucratic nonsense’ – Alexa Cook:

Canterbury’s regional council knew three weeks ago it could not release a much-anticipated rabbit virus this autumn.

It was not until yesterday Environment Canterbury (ECan) set a new release date of March 2018, saying “more work was needed to get the necessary approvals”.

Federated Farmers said it was disappointed by the setback. Farmers would have to rely on poisons yet again.

Its Otago president, Phill Hunt, said he spent about $15,000 a year controlling rabbits on his sheep and byeef farm near Queenstown. . .

British farmers want lamb deal with kiwis  – Colin Ley:

The idea of Britain and New Zealand working together to promote a complementary fresh lamb offer, with seasonality being used to stimulate demand, was discussed during a recent meeting between English and Welsh farming leaders and delegates from the kiwi meat industry.

A similar plea for closer co-operation between NZ and United Kingdom lamb producers, including on pricing levels, was also voiced to Farmers Weekly by north of England sheep sector leader, Richard Findlay. . . 

Quake hit farmers face winter in damaged homes – Maja Burry:

Quake-hit farmers with damaged homes urgently need suitable accommodation before winter, a group supporting them says.

North Canterbury Rural Support Trust spokesperson Sarah Barr said about 20 farming families were applying to buy temporary housing units from the government.

The units, which were no longer needed in Christchurch, could be bought for $25,000 excluding relocation costs of about $30,000. . .

Ag trainers to get more help – Neal Wallace:

The beleaguered training and education sector has received some welcomed news with PrimaryITO adopting a greater and more diverse training role.

The changes followed a difficult two years for primary sector training providers in which a number closed but that came with the realisation training was essential to meet the Government’s goal of doubling the value of primary sectors exports by 2025, chief executive Dr Linda Sissons said. . .

The Green Issue: Awatere Valley high country station farmers among environment award finalists – Mike Watson:

High country farmers Steve and Mary Satterthwaite have shown how to farm sustainably on difficult land through dedication, innovation and efficiency.

Steve has farmed Muller Station, in the upper Awatere Valley, for the past 37 years.

The 38,000-hectare high country station carries about 14,500 merino sheep, and 2000 angus cattle, and is self-sufficient with well-stocked gardens and freezers.

When he first arrived on the farm it was overrun by rabbits and scabweed, he said.

Fonterra Announces 2017 Interim Results

Results Highlights

• Forecast Farmgate Milk Price $6.00 per kgMS

• Forecast cash payout $6.40 after retentions*

• Interim dividend of 20 cents per share – to be paid in April

• Revenue $9.2 billion, up 5%

• Normalised EBIT $607 million, down 9% . . .

Why American Farmers Are Hacking Their Tractors With Ukrainian Firmware –  Jason Koebler:

A dive into the thriving black market of John Deere tractor hacking.

To avoid the draconian locks that John Deere puts on the tractors they buy, farmers throughout America’s heartland have started hacking their equipment with firmware that’s cracked in Eastern Europe and traded on invite-only, paid online forums.

Tractor hacking is growing increasingly popular because John Deere and other manufacturers have made it impossible to perform “unauthorized” repair on farm equipment, which farmers see as an attack on their sovereignty and quite possibly an existential threat to their livelihood if their tractor breaks at an inopportune time.

“When crunch time comes and we break down, chances are we don’t have time to wait for a dealership employee to show up and fix it,” Danny Kluthe, a hog farmer in Nebraska, told his state legislature earlier this month. “Most all the new equipment [requires] a download [to fix].” . . .


GDT up 1.7%

March 22, 2017

The GlobalDairyTrade price index edged up 1.7% in this morning’s auction.

This was a small but welcome increase after drops in the price index in the two previous auctions.

 

 


Rural round-up

March 21, 2017

Stock should be allowed on rural roads, say farmers – Mike Watson:

Rural roads are designed to move stock, say farmers in Marlborough threatening to ignore a proposed traffic bylaw.

The proposal would require farmers to get permission, and pay a fee, to move stock along any district road.

Any farmer refusing to get permission could be fined up to $20,000. . .

New Zealand calf feeder innovation sold in 18 countries within year of winning Fieldays competition :

A calf feeder now selling in 18 countries is yet another farming invention spawned from a NZ Agricultural Fieldays competition that has become a commercial success.

Less than a year after winning a major category in the Fieldays Innovation Awards, Cambridge couple Ursula and Mark Haywood have commercialised their TrustiTuber and FlexiTuber feeders in countries including the United Kingdom, Europe, the United States, Canada and Japan.

Ursula Haywood said their company, Antahi Innovations Ltd, had gone from strength to strength after the launch of its “kinder” calf feeders at last year’s awards at Mystery Creek near Hamilton. . .

NZ log prices hit new record highs on buoyant demand – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Buoyant New Zealand activity has pushed up local log prices to new record highs.

The average price for roundwood logs used in the horticulture sector rose to $92 a tonne in March, up $2 from February’s average price and at the highest level since AgriHQ began collecting the data in early 2002, according to AgriHQ’s monthly survey of exporters, forest owners and saw millers. Structural log prices also increased, with S3 logs hitting $114 a tonne, the highest since AgriHQ began collecting the data in early 1995, while S1 logs rose to $122 a tonne, the highest since mid-1994. . . .

Brazilian beef and poultry industry plunged into major scandal – Jim Breen:

Authorities in Brazil have suspended over 30 government officials in response to allegations that some of the country’s biggest meat processors have been “selling rotten beef and poultry for years”, according to the reports from the BBC this morning.

The BBC has said that “three meat processing plants have been closed and another 21 are under scrutiny”. While some of the meat produced by the factories is consumed domestically, much of it is exported here to Europe. Brazil is currently the world’s largest exporter of red meat. . . 

Forest Owners urge farmers to plant more trees:

Forest Owners say the new Federated Farmers’ policy on climate change is a major step to help farmers understand trees are not an alternative to farming, but rather trees are tools to assist farming’s survivability.

Federated Farmers has announced a new policy accepting the reality of human-induced climate change, after years of policy uncertainty from the farmer organisation on the issue.

New Zealand Forest Owners Association Chairman Peter Clark describes Federated Farmers’ policy stance on the use of trees as ‘absolutely correct and potentially far reaching’.


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