Rural round-up

28/01/2021

Farmer-led petition to close this weekend – Sally Rae:

“Farmers need to get off the fence and stand with us against stupidity.”

That is the message from Greenvale sheep and beef farmer Laurie Paterson, whose petition seeking a rewrite of the controversial new freshwater rules closes on Saturday.

The petition was organised by Groundswell NZ, a group which stemmed from a tractor trek in Gore in October expressing farmers’ feelings about the new regulations.

It had been signed by more than 1600 people, and Mr Paterson hoped it would reach at least 2000 signatures. . . 

Fire risk in drought affected Northland and Far North

Fire and Emergency says fire danger in Northland and the Far North is at a high level with many areas continuing to dry out and long range forecasts suggesting only minimal relief on the horizon.

FENZ wildfire specialist Graeme Still says despite what might look like green pastures, the soil underneath is full of dead and dry material which can fuel fires. He’s appealing for people to take extra care with any activity that could spark a blaze in hot spot areas. And Federated Farmers Northland, President John Blackwell and the Chair of Rural Support Trust, Neil Bateup tell Kathryn how arid farming communities have fared so far this summer. . . 

Challenge to accelerate innovation in the food, fibre and agritech sector :

The need for transformative innovation in the food, fibre and agritech sector is at the core of the latest Supernode Challenge which is now open to applications.

The Food, Fibre and Agritech Supernode Challenge, presented by ChristchurchNZ, KiwiNet, AgResearch and the Canterbury Mayoral Forum, seeks to accelerate ideas for disruptive solutions to some of New Zealand’s most pressing challenges.

With a total prize pool of $130,000, the Challenge is looking for ideas that are transformative and have the potential for commercial success on a global scale while also delivering positive environmental outcomes. It will provide both financial resources, in-kind, and expert support for teams with an ambitious vision about the future of food, fibre and agritech in Canterbury. . . 

Champion cow owners used to sleeping rough at Horowhenua AP and I Show stables – Paul Williams:

Sleeping rough with your prize cow the night before a competition is all part and parcel of showing cattle.

There were almost 40 people that slept overnight in the stables at the Levin Showgrounds at the weekend, watching over their animals ahead of the annual Horowhenua AP&I Show.

With months spent grooming their animals for show, all the hard work could be undone if a cow was to roll over and spend the night lying on a poo.

Allowed to settle in, the resulting stain would be near impossible to remove from a cow’s coat the following morning. The quicker it was attended to the better. . .

Pics Peanut Butter to trial gorging peanuts in Northland :

Pic’s Peanut Butter has kicked off a project to look at the feasibility of growing peanuts commercially in Northland, with backing from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

The $91,320 project is led by Picot Productions, and MPI is contributing more than $59,000 through its Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures fund. Research expertise is being provided by Plant & Food Research.

The project will trial growing peanuts in three locations – Ruawai on a kumara farm, Poutu Peninsular near Dargaville, and on Māori land in the Kai Iwi Lakes district. If successful, peanut farming could bring new employment opportunities to the Northland region

“We’ve selected three locations with different soil types and environments to see where the peanuts grow best,” says Declan Graham, Business Manager – Science at Plant & Food Research, which is managing the project trials. . . 

On the whole koalas are smarter than PETA – Vic Jurskis:

Animal activists from PETA staged a rally outside the NSW Premier’s office this morning, unfurling banners featuring a bloody koala on a meat tray and the slogan that “Eating Meat Kills Koalas”. This registered charity targets pastoralists, first because they put meat on our tables and, secondly, because they claim clearing by graziers is destroying koala habitat. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Koalas are an irruptive species —  that is, when applied to animals not quite so cute, a pest. There are many more koalas over a much wider range than there were before pastoralists disrupted Aboriginal burning. They irrupted as a consequence of thickening vegetation. Other more common animals disappeared. Our world-famous mass extinction of small mammals occurred in semi-arid areas where there was no logging or clearing. Thickening vegetation and scrub choked out the delicate and diverse ground flora that had sustained the cute little creatures.

Aborigines ate koalas, but not many because they were actually quite rare. They lived in very low densities in mature forests. Each koala had thousands of trees in its huge home range. They were invisible.  . . 


How green are our cows?

28/01/2021

How green are our cows?

New research shows New Zealand dairy farmers have the world’s lowest carbon footprint – at half the emissions of other international producers.

AgResearch analysis released today confirms New Zealand retains its outstanding position in low-emission dairy milk production, with an on-farm carbon footprint 46 percent less than the average of 18 countries studied.

Commissioned by DairyNZ, the study was independently produced by AgResearch and peer-reviewed by an international specialist in Ireland.

The research analysed 55 percent of global milk production, including major milk producing countries.

New Zealand is the most efficient producer at 0.74 kg CO2e per kg FPCM (fat and protein corrected milk) – which is 46 percent less than the average of the countries studied. The average is 1.37 kg CO2e per kg FPCM.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said the research plays a key part in understanding how New Zealand dairy farms stack up and informs how our farmers can be even more efficient.

“New Zealand’s dairy sector is committed to remaining the most efficient producer of low emissions milk in the world. Our focus as a sector is sustaining our success as consumers and communities increasingly seek sustainably produced food,” said Dr Mackle.

Dr Mackle said there is a huge amount of work underway to support farmers to reduce emissions.

“New Zealand dairy farmers’ hard work and investment over decades has contributed to this world-leading status. Our grass-based, outdoor grazing system is unique globally and is critical to our success.

“Because we are already so efficient, there is no silver bullet to even greater efficiency. Significant investment in research and development is needed to find solutions.

“Our sector is committed and has research underway. We need Government support as we adopt new knowledge, practices and technology.”

At 0.74 kg CO2e per kg FPCM, New Zealand was followed by Uruguay at 0.85, Portugal at 0.86, Denmark at 0.9 and Sweden at 1. Peru clocks in as the highest emissions producer among the countries studied, at 3.29 kg CO2e per kg FPCM. Peru is followed by Costa Rica at 2.96 and Kenya at 2.54.

The carbon footprint is measured in total greenhouse (GHG) emissions per kg of product.

The research compares carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions per kilogram of milk (fat and protein corrected milk – the nutritional content recognised in the study as CO2e per kg FPCM). This is an internationally recognised method.

The countries selected had published research that enabled a like-for-like comparison.

AgResearch scientists Andre Mazzetto and Stewart Ledgard led the research, following methodology in line with International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) standards.

Dr Mazzetto said it is always challenging to compare carbon footprinting studies, due to different methods in each scientific paper.

“Here, we reviewed international studies and recalculated their footprints in a systematic way, using methods accepted internationally to provide a fair and robust comparison between different countries,” said Dr Mazzetto.

“Bearing in mind, countries may have different emission profiles and different ways of calculating their footprints for milk production, we believe we have reached the best possible comparison from the data available.

“New Zealand is known internationally for its low carbon footprint of dairy product, which is supported by this research. There is still potential to improve and achieve lower emissions as other countries also advance their dairy sectors.”

Waikato dairy farmer and Climate Change Ambassador George Moss said pasture-based farming and genetic improvement are important components.

“Grass-based farms and sophisticated animal breeding are key components to our low carbon footprint but there is more we need to do as we play our part in addressing climate change,” said Mr Moss.

“We are world-leading at emissions efficient milk production, but we must continue to adapt and adopt new technology and knowledge. Our global competitors are never far behind, plus we know it is the right thing to do for our environment, our consumers and humanity as a whole.”

Lower emissions aren’t the only measure of how green cows are, but they are an important one when the pressure is on to meet Paris Accord commitments to lower greenhouse gases.

This research, and the Accord’s declaration that lowering emissions shouldn’t come at the cost of food production ought to provide reassurance to New Zealand dairy farmers.

But there is no guarantee that what ought to happen will happen when the Climate Change Commission reports next month.


Rural round-up

27/01/2021

Pledge to end child labour in agriculture:

The director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), Qu Dongyu, has pledged to intensify efforts toward addressing child labour in agriculture through a dedicated work programme.

“This year, we will step up our efforts to strengthen the capacities of a wide range of agricultural actors to include child labour prevention and youth employment in their work,” he said during the virtual event launch of the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour 2021.

“Policies, programmes, and investments related to agri-food systems need to address the root causes of child labour, including household poverty,” he added. . . 

Crunch time for struggling Otago orchards – Tess Brunton:

Some Central Otago orchards say this season’s crop is a write off, while others are struggling to find enough workers.

It has been a tough season for the growers, with Covid-19 border restrictions cutting the crucial supply of overseas workers.

To make matters worse, a deluge hit during the peak cherry harvest.

Ettrick Gardens co-owner John Preedy has been growing fruit, berries and vegetables in the small Central Otago town of Ettrick for decades. . . 

‘Tough situation’: Government aid sought after hail damaged Tasman crop – Susan Murray:

Tasman orchardists are calling on the government to provide financial help following severe hail on Boxing Day.

The devastating Boxing Day hail event which hit most of the Tasman district could cost it more than $100 million and locals say the government’s been silent about coming up with support.

Some apple, kiwifruit, and hop growers lost their entire production and they describe the event as the worst in living memory.

Insurance will not cover all the losses and the impact will be felt well beyond this season. . . 

First time competitor cleans up :

A first time competitor has won the Taranaki Manawatu FMG Young Farmer of the Year Regional Final.

Jake Jarman, 23, not only took out the regional title and became the first competitor of the season named for the grand final, he also won the most points in all four contest strainers. 

Jarman beat two-time regional winner and two-time previous grand final qualifier James Lawn, who came in second place.

Taranaki Manawatu New Zealand Young Farmers chair Kate Stewart, 24, was awarded third place. . . 

Birthplace of the Hamilton Jet, Irishman Creek Station on market – Kylie Klein-Nixon:

A stunning high country farm that once belonged to farming and engineering legend Sir William Hamilton is seeking a new shepherd.

Irishman Creek station, the birthplace of the Hamilton jet engine – which allows boats to skim across shallow water – has come on the market.

Comprised of pristine Mackenzie country tussock and farmland bordering Lake Pukaki, with views of Aoraki-Mt Cook, the 8642ha farm is more than 100 years old. The property even includes the original homestead, a two-storey prairie-style villa. . . 

Mouse plague wreaks havoc across two states, destroying crops in Qld, blanketing parts of NSW – Maddelin McCosker and Vicki Thompson:

A mouse plague is wreaking havoc across multiple Australian states, as people in the town and country pull out all stops to try to control the outbreak.

A “carpet” of mice has blanketed parts of New South Wales, from Merriwa in the Upper Hunter region to Tamworth and Moree in New England.

WARNING: Some people may find images in this article distressing.

In Queensland, a plague that began seven months ago is leaving a trail of destruction that has cost tens of thousands of dollars in lost crops and property damage.

From southern Queensland to the south-west and up into central Queensland, farmers, graziers, business owners and residents are doing all they can to control the mice, but the rodents seem unstoppable. . . 


Rural round-up

26/01/2021

Urban issues starting to affect Wanaka :

Environmental group says urban growth a threat to lake’s natural beauty.

The popularity of Wanaka’s pristine natural beauty could prove to be the lake’s downfall — but not if a group of environmentally-minded citizens has something to do with it.

Environmental consultant Chris Arbuckle, along with agribusiness expert Erica Van Reenen and keen local lake swimmer Eddie Spearing, have initiated the Touchstone project, bringing together local people concerned about the Lake Wanaka catchment, raise awareness of water quality issues, and encourage positive action.

While the vast majority of the lake’s catchment is rural, Arbuckle says urban issues are just as significant, if not more so, as Wanaka grows in size and popularity. The district’s population has doubled in the past 10 years, and is estimated to reach 50,000 by 2040. . . .

FE spore counts hit 1.2m in Matamata – Gerald Piddock:

Farmers are being warned to make sure they have an adequate facial eczema (FE) management plan in place after the first spore counts of the year topped nearly 1.2 million from one grass sample in Matamata.

The maximum spore counts analysed by Hamilton-based Gribbles Veterinary on January 14 also reached 30,000 in Franklin and Tauranga, 120,000 in Waikato, 35,0000 in Waitomo and 150,000 on the East Coast.

In the second week of monitoring, samples collected from farms in Waihi, Franklin, Hauraki, Whitianga, Rotorua, Whakatane, Tauranga, Hamilton, Morrinsville, Waipa, Waitomo, New Plymouth and Gisborne were all higher than the 30,000 spores/gram threshold at which veterinarians recommend farmers take action against facial eczema. . . 

Trees are our great weapons against climate change. But what if they stop soaking? – Mirjam Guesgen :

A new study suggests that trees’ ability to soak up carbon could expire. Mirjam Guesgen explains.

Trees have long been held as the saviour for climate change. Plant enough trees and we might be able to balance out some of that carbon-emmitting flying or driving. But a new scientific study says that trees only buy us a certain amount of time. Push a tree too far and it’ll turn on you.

How do trees fight climate change?

The reason trees make such excellent climate fighting machines has to do with chemistry. They suck up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and use it as one of the ingredients to make sugar, their form of fuel. That’s the basics of photosynthesis. . . 

M. Boris numbers falling – MPI :

The Ministry of Primary Industries says New Zealand is getting closer to the eradication of Mycoplasma Bovis.

Ten properties in Canterbury are currently infected with the cattle disease, including two Lincoln University research farms.

The Ministry is working through depopulation plans with the two research farms, but final cull numbers haven’t been determined. . .

Rain secures feed surplus – Gerald Piddock:

Warm temperatures and frequent summer rain have led to a bumper season for summer feed crops and pasture covers for livestock farmers in most regions up and down the country.

It’s been a remarkable turnaround compared to 12 months ago, where severe drought had written off feed crops and farmers around the North Island were burning through their feed reserves to keep their stock healthy.

DairyNZ general manager of farm performance Sharon Morrell says while it has been a good year for many, regions such as Northland was getting dry and areas of the Hauraki Plains also had declining pasture growth rates. . .

Farmers to showcase farmland bird conservation work :

Farmers are being encouraged to get behind this year’s Big Farmland Bird Count to showcase the conservation work being done on farms across the country.

The Big Farmland Bird Count returns in 2021, and organisers are asking farmers and land managers – who look after 71% of Britain’s countryside – to join in.

The project helps show which farmland birds are benefitting from conservation efforts while identifying the species most in need of help.

The annual count, run by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), is scheduled for the 5 – 14 February 2021. . . 


Rural round-up

25/01/2021

NZ group cautions US to not turn climate change into ‘tit-for-tat tariff war’ – Adam Jacobson:

A proposal by the United States to tariff goods on countries which don’t meet their climate goals would be too complex to implement, a group representing New Zealand exporters says.

New US President Joe Biden is vowing to impose carbon fees on nations failing to cut emissions in accordance with the Paris Climate Agreement.

In December, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) said Aotearoa was not on track to meet its obligations.

Export NZ executive director Catherine Beard said it would be a big issue for New Zealand’s economy if the US did impose import taxes, but the proposal didn’t appear to be realistic.    . . 

Shearing world record holder harnessed competitive edge – Evan Harding:

As a youngster Megan Whitehead was super competitive, perhaps best highlighted when, as an eight year old, she even made a race of drenching lambs when doing the job with her father.

That competitive nature has never waned, and on Thursday she harnessed it to become a world record holder in women’s shearing.

Whitehead, 24, shore 661 strongwool lambs in nine hours, beating the previous nine-hour record of 648 which was set in 2007 by Waikato shearer Emily Welch.

Whitehead, who lives in Glenham, Southland, left no stone unturned in preparing for the record attempt. . . 

Hui planned for marae-based project teaching Kaipara to grow kai:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is funding a new marae-based project to help Kaipara residents grow their own food.

The first of four educational hui will be held this month to teach people how to transform their backyards into food bowls.

MPI is providing $20,000 to Māuri Orā Ngāti Whatua Charitable Trust to develop the community education programme. . .

Beef slaughter prices cap margin potential – Sarah Friel:

Since the start of the 2020-21 season, farm gate prime and bull prices have decreased consistently. Decreasing cattle slaughter prices are not unusual for this time of year when processors have a strong supply of killable cattle. Based on five-year average prices, bull slaughter prices normally reduce by 25c/kg from early November to mid-January, and primes normally reduce by 35c/kg over the same period. However, it’s knowing when the market will recover that’s the issue.

Since early November, prime slaughter values have decreased by an average of 50c/kg. This equates to 300kg carcase weight steer devaluing by $150. In regard to bull prices, it’s a similar situation. These have reduced by around 45c/kg over the same period, translating to a $135 devaluation to a 300kg carcase weight bull.

Evidently, the national bull slaughter price has reduced less severely than prime. This is due to greater fluctuation in the US95CL price. . .

Observation trumps the test-tube – Owen Jennings:

Over the month of January I have had occasion to travel the length of New Zealand from the Bay of Islands in the north to Invercargill in the south.  In between lots of criss-crossing and visiting places large and small.  We did narrow gravel roads and main highways.  As a retired farmer I looked with interest to see what is happening in the light of claims of environmental disaster, imminent catastrophe and chaos.

Several issues became apparent.

The obvious is that New Zealand is a beautiful country, diverse, interesting and a great place to live.  It has never been truer.

Rural New Zealand looks amazing.  . .

Cracking a tough nut for macadamia growers

Macadamia researchers are breeding thinner shells for bigger kernels and tougher husks for resisting pests. 

The University of Queensland’s Professor Bruce Topp said these combined attributes would boost Australia’s $270 million industry, which earns $190 million in export income annually.

“Two thirds of every harvested kilogram is in the weight of the macadamias’ extremely tough shells. That’s a lot of wasted productivity,” Professor Topp said.

“The goal for many growers is to produce less shell and more kernel from each nut but with the shell still tough enough to resist pests.” . . 


Rural round-up

24/01/2021

Patented milk-derived ingredient effective against influenza

Research commissioned by New Zealand company Quantec, and completed by an independent US laboratory, has found that its patented milk-derived ingredient IDP (Immune Defense Proteins) is effective against influenza virus species.

At a time when there is an intense global focus on viruses, Quantec commissioned the independent in vitro study to see if IDP had antiviral activity, and if so whether its formulation, which contains more than 50 bioactive proteins, provides greater antiviral activity than a singular protein.

The antiviral activity of IDP was tested against two viral species, influenza A H1N1/Puerto Rico/8/34 and herpes simplex HSV-1 MacIntyre, and compared against purified (95 per cent) lactoferrin. Lactoferrin has been shown in numerous studies to have antiviral activity.

Influenza A is a virus commonly implicated with flu occurrences, and herpes simplex is implicated in the causation of cold sores. .  .

‘Plagued by pests’: Daytime ferret sightings, rabbits galore in Hawke’s Bay – Louise Gould:

Daytime stoat sightings and a “plague” of rabbits have Hawke’s Bay residents concerned for wildlife in the region.

Simone Jones lives on a lifestyle block near Havelock North and said she’s noticed a huge increase in wild cats, stoats, ferrets and rabbits in the past year.

“On the 30-minute drive to town I normally see half a dozen ferrets or stoats a week,” she said, “and, at our property alone, dozens of rabbits each morning.”

Jones said the wild cats roaming her and neighbouring properties have been eating quails – even trapping doesn’t seem to curb the problem. . . 

Manapouri couple prepare to export alpacas to Europe– Jamie Searle:

Ray Haanen is hoping 2021 will be a better year with plans to export alpacas, for the first time, to lucrative European markets.

Haanen was one of many Kiwis laid off during the national lockdown in 2020. He lost his health and safety role with tourism company Real Journeys, after working for them for 16 years.

“I went back to working on the [family] farm,” he said.

Haanen and his wife, Jessie, own 70 alpacas and after he was made redundant, they decided to breed elite alpacas for overseas markets. . .

Cutest sheep breed to star at show – Shawn McAvenue

The world’s cutest sheep or a face only a mother could love?

You can decide at the Otago Taieri A&P Show, in Mosgiel, on Saturday.

Woodland Farm owner Nikita Woodhead, of Mosgiel, said Valais blacknose were widely considered to be the cutest sheep breed in the world.

“When they are lambs and have a full fleece they look like big fluffy teddy bears, with a cute little face and horns poking out the sides.” . . 

Regional council releases Japanese butterfly in Taranaki to control weeds:

A Japanese butterfly species has been released in Taranaki, but don’t be fooled by its good looks – it has a very important job to do.

Taranaki Regional Council environment officers released about 100 honshu white admiral (Limenitis glorifica) pupae at Oākura and another 100 at Kakaramea in late December to control Japanese honeysuckle, an invasive weed that smothers and strangles New Zealand’s native bush.

Most of the pupae had successfully hatched by the time the officers returned a week later.

TRC environment services manager Steve Ellis said the honshu white admiral is one of several biocontrol agents the regional council had released to control weeds. . . 

Brexit: lamb exporter to EU: ‘making virtually nothing’ – Sarah Dickins:

One of Wales’ largest lamb exporters says the extra cost and paperwork of selling meat into the EU means it is making “virtually nothing”.

Meat processing plant Randall Parker Foods in Llanidloes, Powys, warned it may lose a third of its 150 workers unless new border controls change.

The company processes one million lambs a year, half of which are exported to the European Union.

The UK government said they are working to help exporters with the new rules. . .

 


Rural round-up

23/01/2021

Stronger business investment by farmers too – is essential for New Zealand’s post-Covid recovery too – Point of Order:

In  its Thursday editorial  the NZ  Herald  speaks an important truth:  “Investment important to  stay  on  track”.  This  won’t  have  startled  its  more literate  readers but  in  its text  it notes  the  strong result  in the latest  Global Dairy Trade auction, which  prompted Westpac  to raise  its  forecast  for  dairy giant Fonterra’s payout  to its farmers to $7.50kg/MS  this season.

“If  this turns  out to be correct,  it will represent the highest  payout in  seven years for  a  sector of  the economy that is arguably still  NZ’s  most  important, even before international  tourism was effectively suspended by Covid-19”.

The  Herald editorial  goes on to make the case that despite the buoyant mood,  the  only  realistic  way for  NZ to remain   in such  solid shape in the  post-Covid era  is  through stronger  business  investment.

This  is  the theme  which  Point  of  Order  set  out  earlier  this  week when it  contended  Fonterra  should go hard  with this  seasons’s payout  to  encourage  investment  by its farmer-shareholders  in expanding  production. . . 

Drought conditions and fire: which regions have reason for concern? – Katie Doyle:

It was a hard summer for many last year, with widespread drought crippling some regions.

Fire bans and water restrictions were in place throughout the country, and with February coming up, there are worries that could happen again.

Northland principal rural fire officer Myles Taylor is already on high alert amid a region-wide fire ban.

“At the moment things are still quite dry, not as bad as they were last year,” Taylor said. . .

A different way of life – Tony Benny:

A North Canterbury family has embraced permaculture to feed themselves and teach others how to do the same. Angela Clifford and Nick Gill talked to Tony Benny.

New Zealander Angela Clifford and her Aussie partner Nick Gill were highfliers in the Australian wine industry when, 17 years ago, Nick was offered a job in New Zealand. They left corporate life behind in favour of getting their hands dirty and creating a different way of life.

“I thought the customs guy at the airport was going to give me a hug and high five. He literally said to Angela, ‘You’ve brought one back’,” laughs Nick, remembering the day they arrived in NZ. . . 

Growing demand for wool fibre – Annette Scott:

A big year is planned for the Campaign for Wool New Zealand Trust as it shifts its focus to drive the demand for wool fibre.

New chair Tom O’Sullivan says while the mandate of the trust is to promote the education and awareness of wool, the focus must go further to support the strong wool industry.

“I feel it goes further than education and awareness, we must be focused on supporting commercial entities to create and sell wool products to drive the demand for wool fibre in general,” O’Sullivan said. . .

Expat workers ready for New Zealand :

Dairy industry recruitment company Rural People Limited is seeing a huge increase in overseas interest to fill New Zealand farming roles.

Rural People director Paula Hems says these overseas workers will be key to keeping the economy in a healthy position. While there has been an increase in Kiwis applying for farming roles since Covid-19, Hems says they often do not have the experience or the right attitude to fill the many roles available. This has seen a need to expand and consider overseas workers.

Rural People hires, on average, 100 Kiwi and overseas workers annually to work on dairy farms throughout New Zealand, as more farmers face urgent labour needs. . . 

Les Everett’s epic quest to uncover Australia’s ‘lost’ cricket pitches – Toby Hussey:

West Australian amateur historian Les Everett is on a mission to document the relics of Australia’s cricketing past, no matter how many kilometres he has to cover.

So far, he has travelled thousands of kilometres and spent hundreds of hours poring over maps and newspaper archives to locate WA’s “lost” cricket pitches.

Mr Everett, 65, says each one has a unique story to tell.

Many of those he’s found are now overgrown or surrounded by fields of crops that have sprouted in the decades since they last heard the echo of willow striking leather. . .

 


Rural round-up

22/01/2021

Dollar causes fall in lamb prices – Peter Burke:

A report by the ANZ bank paints a somewhat sombre picture for sheepmeat in the coming year and mirrors a similar prediction in MPI’s Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries report (SOPI) published in December.

ANZ says, overall, global demand for lamb products is relatively subdued and as a result farmgate prices for lamb and beef are expected to soften further as the country heads into the peak processing months.

It says while international prices for NZ lamb and beef seem to have stabilised after a fall, the strong NZ dollar is taking the edge off farmgate prices. Lambs destined for slaughter in the North Island are fetching $6.50/kg CW and $6.40/kg CW in the South Island, but the report expects these to fall to around $6.00/kg CW by February. . . 

Playing to our strengths in drought: are we missing Lucerne, the low hanging fruit – Harry Mills & Peter Kerr:

Since the dawn of farming, the rain has signalled renewal and hope while drought has signalled disaster and despair.

When Lincoln University-based plant scientist Derrick Moot returned from studying in the UK in 1996, he was convinced climate change was already impacting New Zealand’s drylands. The east coast of New Zealand, the home of many sheep farms was getting noticeably drier. Drought was becoming more prevalent. The number of hot summer days exceeding 30C was increasing. When summer air temperatures reach 30C, the dry soil temperature rises to 50C. Ryegrass pastures shrivel up and die in 50C heat.

Derrick Moot’s advice to drought-stricken sheep farmers was simple and low cost. Replace your ryegrass with lucerne and graze it in spring. . . 

Viruses can support sustainable food production – Richard Rennie:

2020 proved to be the year where most of the world learnt more than ever anticipated about viruses. Plant & Food Research lead scientist Dr Robin MacDiarmid views this increase in understanding as a silver lining in the covid cloud. But her research is also finding another silver lining in viruses, learning where they can serve good for more sustainable food production. She spoke to Richard Rennie.

A single slice from any flora or fauna sample analysed in a lab may contain hundreds if not thousands of viruses and bacteria, but the number actually known, categorised and understood by scientists may well pale against the total there.

For Dr Robin MacDiarmid, identifying and categorising the viruses represents barely half the job at hand. In recent decades genomic sequencing has made that task simpler, quicker and more affordable for researchers. 

“But once you have discovered and categorised a virus, you are really only at the ‘so what?’ stage. The big questions come after that, in terms of what is its cell biology, and what is the ecosystem it functions in?” MacDiarmid said. . . 

The rise and rise of the merino shoe – Michael Andrew:

Varieties of merino wool footwear are emerging faster than Netflix series about British aristocracy. Michael Andrew takes a look at the rise of the shoe that almost everyone – including his 95-year-old grandma – is wearing.

Some might say it all started with Allbirds. After all, to the average consumer, it was the New Zealand-American company founded by former all white Tim Brown in 2014 that successfully popularised the versatile, comfortable and, lets face it, kind of goofy merino wool shoe that is now synonymous with corporate sustainability and Silicon Valley.

But when we cast our minds – and google searches – back to the early 2010s, we see that sustainable shoe initiatives were happening long before Allbirds came along and dominated the market. . . 

Game Animal Council working to improve new rules for flare arms users:

The Game Animal Council (GAC) is applying its expertise in the use of firearms for hunting to work alongside Police, other agencies and stakeholder groups to improve the compliance provisions for hunters and other firearms users.

The GAC has been a part of the Firearms Community Advisory Forum (FCAF) since 2018 and along with other hunting sector stakeholders successfully advocated for a number of practical changes to the Arms Legislation Act.

“While we continue to have concerns over the fairness and practicality of some aspects of the legislation we are working with Police and other groups seeking to develop practical rules and guidance going forward,” says Game Animal Council General Manager Tim Gale. “A major part of this work is making sure Police fully understand the impact of the new rules from a user’s point of view and apply them fairly.”

Lockdown games teach children about farm safety :

Educational games centred on farm safety have been developed for children studying at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The materials, which seek to raise awareness of the key dangers on farms, include interactive videos and colouring sheets.

Children can use the videos to identify animal emotions and understand the dangers relating to livestock and the rules to follow when coming into contact with them.

They have been created by SAC Consulting and 360 Degree Imagery company Exhibit Scotland for the Farm Advisory Service (FAS). . . 


Rural round-up

21/01/2021

Covenanters queue up for Trust action – Hugh Stringleman:

The QE11 National Trust is getting close to 5000 approved and registered covenants over nearly 200,000 hectares at the beginning of its fifth decade in existence.

The trust also has a new chair, former Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills, and three new directors appointed by Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage towards the end of an eventful year.

The 2020 annual report to June 30 disclosed a total of 4761 registered and formalised covenants, up 110 during the financial year, with a further 342 underway. . . 

Jerseys fit the environmental bill :

Jersey cows have featured prominently over the years among the four generations on John Totty’s 465ha property at Staveley.

The Jersey stud on farm was founded by Mr Totty’s grandfather — a passionate Jersey breeder — in the early 1960s. Back then the farm milked 150 cows and ran dairy replacements, sheep, beef and crop.

When Mr Totty’s parents took over the business the farm was expanded. They bought a neighbouring property in 1995 which was converted the following year.

A Friesian herd was bought and for 20 years the property supported a 750-cow herd while continuing to run young stock. . . 

Japan warns it will block NZ honey shipments if glyphosate limits breached – Charlie Dreaver:

Japan is warning it will stop importing New Zealand honey if it continues to find the weed killer glyphosate during border testing.

New Zealand’s global honey exports totalled $490 million last year, with almost $68m of that sent to Japan.

Japan is now testing all honey from New Zealand at the border, after it detected glyphosate for the second time through random testing.

Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has told the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) that if 5 percent of imported honey exceeds its glyphosate limit, it will stop the honey coming into Japan. . . 

Gulls take to new life on the farm – Toni Williams:

Thousands of endangered black-billed gulls that usually nest at Ashburton’s State Highway One bridge have found a new home on a dairy farm at Lauriston — or at least some of them have.

The land-locked site is nowhere near the Ashburton River, their former home, and its risky riverbed, where flooding, human or canine activity disrupts nests.

Rather the birds are happily tucked in between an effluent pond and the dairy shed.

Sharemilkers Ali van Polanen and Andrew Black said the birds were first noticed on November 14. . . 

Fewer possums on Mt Pironga following 1080 drop – Doc :

A successful 1080 operation has led to fewer possums on Mount Pironga near Te Awamutu, the Department of Conservation (DOC) says.

DOC dropped 1080 over 14,000 hectares of land in September.

The work was part of long-term conservation efforts at the site, an important home to forest birds, insects, lizards and plants. . . 

Early positive start to onion season:

The 2021 New Zealand export onion season is off to an early and positive start.

‘Amongst all the turmoil created by Covid and the weather, it’s great to be able to report that exports of New Zealand onions to Indonesia are underway, two months earlier than last year,’ says Onions New Zealand Chief Executive, James Kuperus.

‘This is thanks to New Zealand government trade officials’ efforts to keep trade open and a decision by Indonesian officials to release quota early.

’78 tonnes of onions harvested earlier in January left for Indonesia last week. While this is small, it signals the season is underway early, and prices reflect the additional costs of growing and exporting during a pandemic.’ . . 

Autogrow announces spin-out of AI farming company WayBeyond to accelerate growth:

Autogrow has unveiled a corporate reorganization as part of a long-term business strategy which will see the organization split into two separate entities with the launch of digital farming company WayBeyond.

WayBeyond Limited (WayBeyond) led by CEO and Founder Darryn Keiller, will focus on the global expansion of digital farm solutions for large scale, multi-site farms to optimize farming productivity. Autogrow, now under the management of Acting General Manager Rod Britton, will focus on continuing the global growth of the automation and control business for small to medium growers.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity and one I’m proud to have brought to fruition – the growth of an existing business in Autogrow and the creation of a new and transformational one in WayBeyond. A journey like this is a team sport, with a highly talented team, committed investors, and government and industry collaborators; the dream has become a reality,” explains Mr. Keiller. . . 


Rural round-up

20/01/2021

Why veganism won’t save the planet – Jacqueline Rowarth:

In no case will a vegan diet be better for the planet than a moderate omnivorous diet, writes Dr Jacqueline Rowarth.

Veganism will not save the planet from climate change under current population growth scenarios.

The scientific facts are clear. A diet including a moderate amount of meat and dairy products, sourced from efficient (most product for fewest greenhouse gases (GHG)) farmers, delivers the required nutrients per person for least environmental impact.

This includes water use and nitrogen loss as well as the GHG. It also includes the impact of agricultural land use expansion and consequent impacts on biodiversity. . .

More seeking country life – Gerald Piddock:

The dynamics of country living are changing as more urban dwellers ditch the city for the provinces.

The shift to smaller towns and centres came as covid-19 changed people’s work habits, as well as soaring house prices and living costs in major cities.

This was highlighted in an Infometrics analysis released late last year, which showed 11 out of 67 districts including Horowhenua, Thames-Coromandel and Selwyn all had increases in population growth from internal migration.

Selwyn had the largest inflow of internal migration, with a net contribution of 2100 people. Tauranga City came in second with an inflow of 1900, followed by Waikato District (1200), Waimakariri (1100) and Whāngārei (920). . . 

Here’s the chance for Fonterra to show a leadership role and spur the others with its milk price – Point of Order:

Dairy prices increased by 3.9% across the board at the latest Fonterra global auction. The lift followed rises of 1.3% and 4.3% in the December auctions which took dairy prices to their highest level in 11 months, defying those analysts who believed Covid-19 had disrupted dairy markets.

In the latest auction WMP rose 3.1% to $US3,300 a tonne, its highest level in 12 months. Other significant movements included a 7.2% lift in the price for butter to $US4,452 a tonne.

ANZ agricultural economist Susan Kilsby said the auction results came as a great surprise and as a very positive start to the new year. She contends it strengthens the likelihood Fonterra’s milk price payout this season will be closer to the higher end of the range Fonterra is currently forecasting. . .

NZ in one picture: Rush hour in rural Hawke’s Bay as 3000 sheep moved over one-way bridge – Christian Fuller:

A one-lane bridge packed with 3000 sheep created a quintessentially Kiwi traffic jam in Central Hawke’s Bay on Monday afternoon.

In Patangata there’s few motorists in a hurry anyway, but speedy work meant there was no need for ewe-turns as the flock was shifted across Tukituki River bridge on Elsthorpe Rd.

Waipawa Butchery and Patangata Station owner Duncan Smith said the sheep were part of his flock and were being transported to the shearing part of the farm.

“We try to keep the movement of that many sheep to an absolute minimum,” he said. “But in total, it only took seven minutes to get the 3000 across.” . . .

$14m investment in PharmaZen nutraceuticals nets two new factories – Amanda Cropp:

A $14m injection from an international investor will help biotech company PharmaZen build two new factories at Rolleston south of Christchurch.

The Cibus Fund, a major agri technology investor, is taking a 13.8 per cent stake in PharmaZen, which will issue Cibus with 35 million new shares at 40 cents a share.

PharmaZen​ trades under the name Waitaki Biosciences, making nutraceuticals from black currants, kiwifruit, green shell mussels and animal by-products.

General manager Craig McIntosh​ said the expansion would create about 25 new jobs, with a doubling of output over the next 18 months. . .

NSW Local Land Services urges North West and Northern Tablelands farmers to be on high alert for locusts – Billy Jupp:

FARMERS in the state’s northern regions are being urged to be on high alert for Australian Plague Locusts after recent outbreaks.

North West and Northern Tablelands Local Land Services (LLS) issued the warning after reports of banding locust nymphs in the Moree, Goondiwindi, North Star, Yetman and Warialda areas.

Recent weather conditions have proved to be the perfect breeding ground for the pests, allowing their nymphs to hatch and progress through their lifecycle. . .


Rural round-up

19/01/2021

Why we can’t plant our way out of climate change – Marc Daalder:

As New Zealand gears up to fight climate change, experts warn that we need to actually reduce emissions, not just plant trees to offset our greenhouse gases, Marc Daalder reports

This year is shaping up to be a major one for climate policy. Between the Climate Change Commission releasing its recommendations around our Paris target and emissions budgets and a major climate summit in Glasgow in November, 2021 is the year the New Zealand Government will finally lay out in detail its plans to fight climate change.

Ahead of February 1, when the Commission will release drafts of its advice for consultation, experts warn that we shouldn’t be taken in by the allure of trees as a silver bullet. It’s true that major reforestation will be crucial to slowing global warming (and has added biodiversity benefits as well), because all plants sequester carbon breathed in from the atmosphere. . . 

Daigou disaster – Elbow Deep:

It is surprising how quickly a company’s fortunes can change; the A2 Milk Company (A2MC) played a dangerous high-stakes game, relying heavily on an informal network of Chinese students and personal shoppers to distribute much of its product into China. It’s a game that has cost other companies dearly in the past.

Daigou, buying on behalf, is a network of Chinese nationals living in or visiting Australia who buy local products and ship them back home to groups of friends, customers cultivated via the social media app WeChat. It is not uncommon for Chinese tour groups to visit stores like the Chemist Warehouse and buy products in bulk, much to the ire of locals.

Such is the demand from China for Australian packaged products that in 2019 a Sydney store owner was found to have stockpiled 4,000 1kg tins of baby formula ready for export. . . .

Concerns over shearer ‘bidding wars’ – Gerald Piddock:

Reports of unofficial bidding wars among Australian farmers to secure shearers has a New Zealand shearing boss worried it could lure Kiwi shearers across the Tasman to chase the money, leaving the industry short-staffed.

The shortage of shearers in Australia due to covid-19 restrictions meant some farmers were paying shearers 20-50% premiums per sheep above the usual rate, the ABC reported.

Shearing Contractors Association of Australia secretary Jason Letchford told ABC farmers were offering shearers A$4-$5/head to shear sheep. The minimum pay rate to shear a sheep in Australia is A$3.24.

Prior to the covid-19 border restrictions, these jobs would have been taken up by NZ shearers. . . 

Exchange rate a pain point for meat export – Neal Wallace:

A wildly fluctuating exchange rate is causing headaches for meat exporters. Silver Fern Farms (SFF) says between October and November the NZ-US exchange rate rose from $US0.65 to $US0.71, wiping $140 a head off beef and up to $11 off a lamb.

As of late this week the exchange rate was $US0.72.

In a Christmas update podcast, SFF’s supply chain manager Dan Boulton says in addition to exchange rate fluctuation, the other headwind facing exporters as they enter peak production, is the congested global supply chain.

This is causing issues with container availability, shipping schedules and port access. . . 

Tractor industry remains optimistic for 2021:

The tractor sales industry finished 2020 on a strong note with December sales up 18.4 % on 2019.

Tractor and Machinery Association (TAMA) president Kyle Baxter says that while 2020 definitely posed challenges for the industry, the current mood of members is positive.

Overall tractor sales for 2020 were down 15.3% compared with 2019, with sales for the bigger machines (375+ HP) particularly affected with a drop of 25%. . . 

Dairy markets stable despite Covid challenges – Carlene Dowie:

Global dairy markets appear to be weathering the COVID-19 storm with prices stable despite pandemic-induced changes in demand in key markets.

The Australian Milk Value Portal’s latest Global Dairy Update says resilience in demand for dairy products is underpinning the market.

International analysts are also pointing to stability – with ANZ in New Zealand last week lifting its forecast farmgate price there by 7.5 per cent while the Food and Agricultural Organisation’s dairy price index jumped for the seventh month in a row in December.

The Milk Value Portal’s Nanna Moller said the market outlook was mostly bullish, despite differences in global markets, with slowing growth in milk supply in Europe and Oceania and sustained demand for consumer staples. . . 


Rural round-up

18/01/2021

Mobile black spots: Meet the Kiwis with worse mobile coverage than the developing world – Tom Dillane:

Teresa Wyndham-Smith remembers with a laugh when it first dawned on her that mobile coverage was better in West Africa than the West Coast of New Zealand.

That was five years of signal silence ago.

The 57-year-old writer and journalist returned to her home country after a decade in Ghana, and plonked herself down in Te Miko, a settlement on the 1000-plus kms of mobile black spots along New Zealand highways.

“I’m originally from Wellington but I was living in Ghana in West Africa for 10 years before I moved to the Coast,” Wyndham-Smith said. . . 

SWAG ready to tackle 2021 – Annette Scott:

The Strong Wool Action Group (SWAG) tasked with lifting New Zealand’s strong wool industry out of the doldrums, has kick started the new year on a positive footing.

Since putting the call out in November for financial support, industry contributions have now reached more than $500,000.

SWAG, established and incorporated late last year, is targeting a $3 million working budget to fund identified opportunities that will increase the demand and value of NZ produced strong wool.

The company aims to raise $700,000, matched with the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) funding, will secure a total operational budget of about $3m. . . 

From liquid gold to price crash : NZ’s honey hangover – Jane Phare:

Mānuka honey producers have been reaping the profits from selling pots of gold in recent years but now there’s a glut of non-manuka varieties as beekeepers stockpile, hoping prices will recover. New Zealand has more than 918,000 beehives, and Jane Phare looks at why the country is oozing with honey and why Kiwis looked for something less expensive to spread on their bread.

It was always a Kiwi staple, honey on toast in the morning, a spoonful to help the medicine go down. It was sweet, yummy and affordable.

Then, the so-called magical health benefits of mānuka honey became known worldwide causing export sales to take off. As the mānuka honey story reached fever pitch, so did the prices. Honey producers were earning upwards of $100 a kilo, selling little pots of dark golden nectar. . . 

Alliance partners with children’s charity :

Alliance Group will become an official partner of Ronald McDonald House South Island, the independent charitable trust providing free accommodation and support to families who need to travel to Christchurch and Invercargill for their children’s medical treatment.

The partnership will see the co-operative provide support for the Ronald McDonald House major 2021 fundraiser – the annual Supper Club events in Christchurch, Queenstown and Invercargill – and donate meat for a range of events throughout the year.

Alliance will also play a key role in the charity’s Host a Roast month in July – when people are encouraged to host a roast, brunch or lunch and invite friends and colleagues to attend for a $20 donation to support the Ronald McDonald House programmes.

“Ronald McDonald House is very close to the hearts of many of our people, our farmer shareholders and the wider community,” Alliance chief executive David Surveyor said. . . 

 

New Alps2Ocean leg opens to rave reviews – Doug Sail:

A new $1.2 million section of the Alps2Ocean cycle trail has proved a hit with holidaymakers as they discover rarely seen South Island scenery.

The 16-kilometre section from Sailors Cutting to the top of the Benmore Dam in the Waitaki Lakes region follows the Ahuriri arm of Lake Benmore serving up sights that users have raved about since it opened on December 18.

Among the more than 7000 cyclists and pedestrians to have tried the track so far was Stuffphotographer John Bisset who has previously completed the four sections from the start in Aoraki/Mt Cook through to Omarama.

“It was an awesome ride with great vistas. . .

America’s biggest owner of farmland is now Bill Gates – Ariel Shapiro:

Bill Gates, the fourth richest person in the world and a self-described nerd who is known for his early programming skills rather than his love of the outdoors, has been quietly snatching up 242,000 acres of farmland across the U.S. — enough to make him the top private farmland owner in America.

After years of reports that he was purchasing agricultural land in places like Florida and Washington, The Land Report revealed that Gates, who has a net worth of nearly $121 billion according to Forbes, has built up a massive farmland portfolio spanning 18 states. His largest holdings are in Louisiana (69,071 acres), Arkansas (47,927 acres) and Nebraska (20,588 acres). Additionally, he has a stake in 25,750 acres of transitional land on the west side of Phoenix, Arizona, which is being developed as a new suburb.

According to The Land Report’s research, the land is held directly and through third-party entities by Cascade Investments, Gates’ personal investment vehicle. Cascade’s other investments include food-safety company Ecolab, used-car retailer Vroom and Canadian National Railway.  . . 


Rural round-up

17/01/2021

A year of opportunity and challenges – Jacqueline Rowarth:

The year ahead for New Zealand’s primary sector is full of promise and opportunity.

Of course, there are challenges and there will be more that haven’t yet been realised. But the very fact that the country is relying on the sector to underpin, enable and drive economic growth means that there will be support. And the goodwill towards the work that the primary sector did during the Covid lockdown is still with us.

Internationally we are highly-respected for what we achieved collectively through Covid. New Zealanders listened to the science, obeyed the instructions and achieved a positive result.

What applied during Covid reflects our general attitude – when the facts are clear, we comply. This is part of why we are trusted as a food supplier. Our food is safe to eat as well as delicious. It is also what people want for health. . . 

Gym for farmers – Nigel Beckford:

A home-built gym was the start of Kane Brisco’s journey from milking shed to social media influencer.  

Kane’s into his seventh year 50/50 share milking at Ohangai near Hawera, in South Taranaki. His progress in the industry’s been rapid and life’s busy on all fronts.

“We have 215 cows which I pretty much milk myself. My wife helps as much as she can with the calves, but she’s working part time as a nurse too. We’ve also got a 6-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy. The last 2 years have been hectic with my daughter starting school and the younger one becoming more mobile and racing around.”

Juggling these responsibilities would be a challenge for anyone. How does Kane cope? The answer might surprise some people – as busy as he is, Kane dedicates part of each day solely to meeting his own needs. . .

Passion for or shearing started early for young shepherd – Sandy Eggleston:

A fascination watching shearers as a child has drawn one young woman into having a go herself.

Shepherd Melissa Hamilton took part in the 39th Northern Southland Community Shears held at the Selbie family woolshed, Lowther Downs, near Lumsden yesterday.

Miss Hamilton grew up on a sheep and beef farm near Browns.

“When we were shearing it was the most exciting time of the year — always fascinated watching the shearers.” . .

Heavy rain no dampener for wine makers – Jared Morgan:

The New Year’s deluge of torrential rain has been welcomed by winemakers.

Their gain is in stark contrast to the pain caused by the rain to the region’s orchardists, whose cherry crops were all but wiped out by the heaviest rainfall in 40 years.

The epicentre for flooding of orchards and vineyards was the Earnscleugh area between Alexandra and Clyde.

The flooding was caused by the Fraser River breaching its banks and runoff from the Rocky Range; it was the latter that led to the cellar door and the winery at Black Ridge Vineyard being inundated with about 6cm of water and mud. . .

Why is it so hard to find lemons right now? – Alex Braae:

Supermarket shoppers looking for citrus are seeing a sour trend at the moment – some stores are entirely tapped out of lemons. But why? 

Batches of homemade lemonade will be taking a hit this summer, with life not giving New Zealand shoppers lemons. Prices are high at supermarkets and grocers that have the citrus fruit, and some stores have completely sold out.

The problem isn’t so much domestic problem – the citrus industry in New Zealand is small, but is largely operating as normal. Rather, import difficulties are making it much harder to stack the shelves. . .

Omarama Clay Cliffs – the little slice of Mars hidden in South Canterbury* – Brook Sabin:

New Zealand has no shortage of stunningly beautiful drives, and one of the best is between Queenstown and Aoraki Mt/Cook. This route weaves through some of our most spectacular mountain scenery, with a few hidden gems in between.

From Queenstown, ascend the Crown Range, as you wind your way into a majestic mountainscape that passes through Cardrona village. After an hour you’ll be in Wānaka, where you can stop for ice cream at Patagonia Chocolates, and a leisurely walk along the waterfront to see That Wānaka Tree.

Next, traverse the stunningly sparse Lindis Pass, before reaching the heartland of hidden gems: Omarama, which has two unmissable stops.

This unworldly landscape has to be one of the most underrated attractions in New Zealand. If it were overseas, there’d be ticket queues, cafes and novelty shops scattered around the place. Here, there’s a hand-painted sign pointing towards the entrance and an honesty box which asks for $5 per car to visit . .

* The cliffs are amazing & they’re on the right side of the Waitaki River so in North Otago not South Canterbury.

 


Rural round-up

16/01/2021

Shearer toughs it out to set world record – Sandy Eggleston:

It was tough at the end” but Gore shearer Megan Whitehead battled the afternoon blues to set a world shearing record.

She bettered Emily Welch’s 13-year solo women’s nine-hour record of 648 lambs after shearing 661 near Gore yesterday.

Whitehead (24) said the last session was the hardest.

“[The lambs] were quite kicky and I was struggling mentally, trying to stay positive and get over it. . .

Waiting for a ray of sunshine – Annette Scott:

Summer is a long time coming for Canterbury arable farmers waiting to get their crops off the paddocks.

While little bits of harvest have been done here and there, there are a few farmers getting itchy feet as they wait for the sun to shine, arable industry grains vice-chair Brian Leadley says.

“It’s a case of grey overcast days, the ground is full of moisture from the rain over Christmas and New Year, and that’s holding humidity levels up,” he said. . .

Generations bring home the bacon – Kayla Hodge:

It is a meaty piece of family history.

Oamaru’s Campbells Butchery has always been in a safe pair of hands, with six generations of the Campbell family involved in the business over the past 109 years.

The business was started in 1912 by Robert Campbell and was taken over by Robert’s sons Laurie and Bruce, before Laurie’s son Roy took over in 1975.

Roy’s wife Heather also joined the business, and his son Tony started working there in 1980 before taking over in the 1990s. . . 

No end in sight for shipping disruptions – Neal Wallace:

Exporters scrambling to find containers and shipping space are being warned the issue is unlikely to be resolved for this year’s peak export season.

Shipping rates to New Zealand have increased fourfold since April, access to shipping containers is being hampered by port congestion caused by resurgent global demand some vessels are not backloading empty containers.

The problem has been accentuated by industrial action at Australian ports and capacity issues and a skilled worker shortage at the Port of Auckland. . .

Blueberry season delayed but going well – Luisa Girao:

A Southland blueberry orchard manager is grateful the operation has not been hit as hard as those of Central Otago’s fruitgrowers despite a late start to the season.

Blueberry Country general manager Simon Bardon said the Otautau orchard would usually start its season around new year but the wet ground meant a delay of about two weeks.

However, the hiccup did not dampen his enthusiasm for growing blueberries.

Mr Bardon said he was really excited about this season and hoped the orchard reached its target. . .

No bull: Hereford stud relies only on AI – Brian Eishold:

Relying purely on artificial insemination allows Bill Kee to focus his attention more closely on breeding objectives in his Hereford stud herd in Victoria’s east.

The former lawyer turned stud principal and dairy farmer’s son knows a thing or two about cattle but says his out-of-the-box thinking was perhaps due to his experience in law and his belief that change is not necessarily all that bad.

Mr Kee along with his wife, Minnie, run Warringa Herefords at Sarsfield. . .


Rural round-up

15/01/2021

Winter grazing costs climb – Neal Wallace:

Winter grazing prices for dairy cows are rising in Southland and Otago as farmers make changes to meet new freshwater regulations.

Adapting to those new regulations does not appear to have caused a reduction in graziers for the coming winter, but an Invercargill farm consultant warns that may not be the case in future, as they will require resource consent and face more stringent conditions.

“In the medium to long-term there is going to be pressure on dairy winter grazing,” AgriBusiness Ltd farm management consultant Deane Carson said.

The regulations were announced in September and some of the winter grazing policies have already been reviewed by a government-appointed working group which made recommendations prior to Christmas. . . 

GHG pricing will see farmers exit – Fitch :

Fitch Group expects marginal livestock producers to exit the New Zealand market in the coming years as government greenhouse gas (GHG) emission pricing starts to bite behind the farm gate.

In its outlook for the NZ agriculture sector, Fitch Solutions says that while it expects the livestock and milk production sectors to adapt to planned GHG pricing from 2025, methane reduction targets will be a greater challenge to farms, with rising on-farm costs hitting less profitable farmers harder.

But some farms may benefit from selling carbon credits through emissions trading, as well as the ability to sell meat at a premium to environmentally-conscious consumers.

Fitch notes while NZ will be the first country to introduce compulsory emissions pricing for the agriculture sector, it expects most farms to adapt to emission regulations – outside of methane – without having to reduce livestock numbers. . . 

Drought hits season’s lamb numbers – Peter Burke:

Drought in the North Island had a significant impact on the number of lambs tailed in the first half of this season.

According to Beef+Lamb NZ’s latest economic report, the total number of lambs tailed in the North Island was down 4.8% meaning a decline of 546,000 head to 10.8 million. This is in contrast to the South Island where the total number of lambs increased by 189,000 head, an increase of 1.6%, for a total lamb crop of 12.1 million

Overall, the report says total number of lambs produced this season is 357,000 head less than spring 2019. However, despite the problems with the drought, the overall picture is far from gloomy. . . 

Dry weather warning for lifestyle block farmers – Dr Clive Dalton:

This is the month to start and take seriously the warnings of another dry summer.

The rain most parts had in November (always a critical month) and December will have been enough. The trouble is that January is still “holiday month” and you don’t want to become miserable to friends and family about a drought coming, and precautions against fires on the block.

But it is a good time to check up with neighbours as it’s surprising how few folk on small blocks know their neighbours, especially after new subdivisions and new massive houses suddenly appear over the fence. . . 

The power of good facilitation :

“Without a facilitator, we would just have done that farmer thing and sat round, shuffled our feet and waited for someone else to say something,” says Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) Action Group member Reece Cleland.

Cleland, who farms sheep and beef cattle at Springfield in Central Canterbury, is part of an RMPP Action Group focused on members better understanding their farm finances and lifting productivity.

The RMPP Action Network model supports small groups of seven to nine farm businesses to work together to explore ideas and share expert resources to help them to make positive changes on-farm. . . 

Veganuary? You’d be better going back to basics…. – Hannah Jackson:

The message is let’s stop eating meat for a month and together we’ll save the planet.

What makes this ironic is that whoever came up with the concept has chosen the month when the UK has the most limited range of homegrown seasonal fruit and vegetables available to encourage everyone to swap diets!

So, to cater for this trend, we find ourselves flying ‘trendy vegan friendly’ foods like avocados and almond milk, thousands of miles just to fulfil the Veganuary-based demand.

Let’s take the avocado, as it is so popular within the vegan diet. . . 


Megan Whitehead new world champ

14/01/2021

New Zealand has a new world champion:

 

 


Rural round-up

14/01/2021

Work on freshwater in Southland is a nationwide first – Rachael Kelly:

Stewart Bull says he loses his mana when he has to tell visitors to his Takutai o Te Tītī Marae not to eat the kai moana.

“I don’t collect kai moana off the beach any more, at this stage. I know what’s going on, and I advise my children not to go and collect it either.

“It’s not good to stand on your marae and go ‘don’t touch the kai moana’…where is your mana if you have to stand on your own marae and express that to your visitors who are coming in?’’

For Bull, it’s about ki uta ki tai, from the mountains to the sea. . . 

Cherry pickers lose $350 a day jobs – Jared Morgan:

The $50 million loss incurred by Central Otago’s cherry growers this season impacts growers, jobs and the New Zealand economy.

Summerfruit NZ chief executive Richard Palmer said the full extent of the damage after four days of persistent and heavy rain was yet to be quantified but it was expected up to 50% of the season’s cherries had been lost due to splitting, resulting in the loss of $50million in export revenue to the country.

In addition to damaged fruit, flooding caused damage to buildings on orchards located around Earnscleugh when the Fraser River broke its banks.

Orchardists in the area said the losses were tempered by the fact flood waters receded, quickly allying fears other crops had been affected. . . 

Bid to stop 1080 drop in Hawke’s Bay fails in court – Tom Kitchin:

A legal challenge to stop a 1080 drop on Māori land in Hawke’s Bay has failed.

The Māori Land Court has released its ruling on the legal fight  following a hearing in Hastings.

Tataraakina is a 14,000 hectare block in inland Hawke’s Bay, near the highway between Napier and Taupō.

Tataraakina is managed by an ahu whenua trust, led by trustee Clinton Hemana, and has 1143 owners. . .

 The strange reason New Zealand is in the midst of a national oat milk shortage – Glenn McConnell:

Rumblings of an oat milk shortage first reached Stuff early in the New Year. Trendy café goers reported their local vegan-friendly baristas had run dry on their favourite plant-based milk.

It was a coffee crisis, and the outlook was gloomy. Would they revert to cow’s milk? Drink an overly sweet flat white with coconut milk? Or indulge in the increasingly uncool almond milk latte?

Oat milk is the up and coming among the milk alternatives. Almond remains popular, but has lost fans due to environmental concerns. The demand for almonds has caused honeybee catastrophe in the US, as California summons more than half of the country’s bees to pollinate its almond trees. The journey reportedly costs the lives of a quarter of the bees, due to pesticides and disease.

Oat is The Goat. But due to an unusually elongated supply chain for New Zealand, and unexpected rise in the popularity of oat milk, it has recently proved hard to find. . . 

Heiko Wittmer: NZ lessons to be learnt from pumas and wolves – Emile Donovan:

Lessons from how pumas and wolves interact in North America can be applied here in New Zealand, as we strive towards a predator-free 2050. 

Dr Heiko Wittmer has looked at what happened when wolves were reintroduced to Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. The wolves had a negative effect on the pumas in the park and that led to a much more balanced ecosystem. 

Heiko tells Summer Times that despite being a large and wild park, it had lost its wolf population due to culling in the early 20th century.

“Since then they have been missing and that has led to some drastic changes in the ecosystem.” . . 

It’s urgent we act on declining water storage, scientists warn – Shan Goodwin:

INTERNATIONAL scientists have highlighted the urgent need for mitigation to avoid water storage declines and increased droughts and the big role farmers in Australia, particular in the south, stand to play in that.

By the end of this century, the global land area and population living in extreme-to-exceptional drought could more than double, research directed from Michigan State University in the United States has found.

The stark warning emerged from the extensive study, which also points to the largest water declines being in Australia and South America.

The key implication is that climate change mitigation is now critical to avoid adverse water storage impacts and increased droughts, and the need for improved water resource management and adaptation is pressing. . . 

 


Rural round-up

13/01/2021

Rural lobby group wants cheques until broadband rollout completed – Tom Kitchin:

Some rural communities fear the phasing out of cheques this year is coming too fast, too soon.

They say reliable internet must come first before they rip up their chequebooks.

Sharron-Davie Martin, who lives on a farm in Loburn near Rangiora in Canterbury, sometimes has to pay $500 a month for her internet, even though she has serious problems with using it.

She said she received a tax fine because her unreliable internet hampered her ability to do a GST return. . .

Sheep and beef farmers ‘dodged a nuclear warhead’ in 2020 – Piers Fuller:

Prospects at the start of last year were looking bleak for farmers with one of the worst droughts of a generation and sudden, massive disruption brought on by Covid-19.

Now fresh into 2021 with lots of grass and high market demand for meat products, the sheep and beef sector has experienced a remarkable turnaround.

Wairarapa farmer William Beetham said they feel incredibly fortunate to have weathered the 2020 storm.

“We probably didn’t dodge a bullet, we dodged a nuclear warhead. What could have been a terrible season last year, has actually turned out really, really well.” . . 

Farming company adapts technology for Covid-19 sanitation :

A farming company is ready to roll out new sanitising technology if Covid-19 returns to the community.

Palmerston North’s Saflex Pumps primarily uses a spray technology to keep the teats of dairy cows clean before milking to reduce mastitis.

But co-founder Mark Bell Booth said the same technology – along with an automated fly spray – inspired the design of a new system which can sanitise indoor areas to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

A dry fog machine pumped sanitiser in microns smaller than the size of a human hair into a closed room, he said. . . 

Gore shearer Megan Whitehead to take on world record :

A Gore shearer will this week tackle a world shearing record that has stood for more than 13 years.

Megan Whitehead, 24, will attempt the solo women’s nine-hours strongwool lamb shearing record of 648 (72 an hour), set on November 27, 2007, by Waikato shearer Emily Welch. The previous record of 541 had been set in 1989.

Whitehead has been shearing in recent months in Hawke’s Bay and King Country.

The attempt will take place at the Grant Brothers woolshed at Gore on Thursday, starting at 5am and finishing at 5pm. . . 

When a farm becomes a school :

Prize-winning dairy farm doubles as environmental “classroom”.

Schoolkids in New Zealand’s deep south may soon be attending lessons in a different kind of classroom – on a dairy farm.

Farmer Chris Giles and his wife Desiree are looking at establishing a “learning hub” on their 206ha property near Gore in Southland as a place to teach young Kiwis about sustainable farming.

The couple, who milk 550 cows at Waimumu Downs, are part of the Southland Enviroschools programme. Every term they host hundreds of students from schools in the district who spend a day at the farm involved in a myriad of activities such as testing water quality, native seed sourcing and learning about what to plant and where. . . 

 

Share the lamb campaign 2021 MLA ad begins – Mark Griggs:

Evocative as usual and expected, the 2021 summer season Australian lamb promotion began today.

Each year leading up to Australia Day, Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), release its masterpiece promotion of lamb, especially cooked on a barbecue. This year’s promo is no exception after a year that has seen Aussies more divided than ever.

Building on the ‘Share the Lamb’ brand platform, MLA’s integrated campaign reflects upon 2020 as a pivotal time in our history where, for the first time, Australia was physically distanced due to the pandemic.

The new TV advert takes us to the year 2031 – where division between states has escalated to new heights and a once united nation is separated by a great wall, towering over every state border – offering a tongue-in-cheek look at what could be if state borders are shut for good. . . 

(If you haven’t seen the ad, scroll back and you’ll find I posted it yesterday).

 


Rural round-up

12/01/2021

Water supply reform coming – Annette Scott:

Major reforms proposed for the water supply sector will pose significant implications for irrigation schemes that provide domestic water supply.

The new Water Services Bill currently before the Government’s Health Select Committee sets out new regulations that will need to be followed by rural agricultural drinking water supplies.

The reforms are designed to provide clear leadership for drinking water regulation through a new dedicated regulator.

They will also strengthen compliance, monitoring and enforcement related to drinking water regulations and equip the new regulator with the powers and resources needed to build capability, support suppliers of all kinds to meet their obligations and take a tougher, more consistent approach to enforcement where needed. . . 

Carbon market to surge in 2021 – Richard Rennie:

The new year promises to bring intense activity to New Zealand’s carbon trading market with new auction activity and investor interest picking up fast.

2020 closed off with NZ carbon units surging to a new high at $38.10 a unit, well ahead of the year’s starting point of $28.60 and significantly above the pre-lockdown low of $22.10.

With the price cap of $25/unit lifted to $35 mid-year, analysts are anticipating the values will continue to surge further still.

The CommTrade carbon trading platform has best offers for April next year at $38.90, rising to $41.05 by April 2024. . . 

Giving 2021 some certainty – Mike Chapman:

As 2020 drew to an end and we mistakenly thought that we were coming out of the Covid chaos, Covid and mother nature doubled down on us. The new more highly contagious Covid variants, hail storms, floods and seasonal labour supply have collectively made growing, selling and exporting fruit, berries and vegetables that much harder.  It is not a great start to 2021.

Looking back on 2020, some interesting trends have emerged, on which United Fresh has reported.  As a result of Covid, these trends include:

  • Eating healthy food is top of the list for consumers
  • Food hygiene is also very important
  • There are fewer visits to supermarkets with shoppers doing bigger shopping trips.  Pre-Covid, the trend had been towards more and smaller shopping trips. . .

2021 Primary Industries Good Employer Awards opens for entries:

Entries are open for the 2021 Primary Industries Good Employer Awards, says Ministry for Primary Industries’ Director of Investment, Skills and Performance, Cheyne Gillooly.

The Awards, run by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust (AGMARDT), celebrate primary sector employers who demonstrate exceptional employment practices.

“The Primary Industries Good Employer Awards provide the opportunity to recognise and celebrate outstanding employers who put their staff at the heart of their operations,” says Mr Gillooly. . . 

Agcarm appoints new animal health expert :

The industry association for crop protection and animal health manufacturers and distributors has appointed Jeff Howe as its technical manager.

Jeff Howe replaces Jan Quay, after a seventeen-year tenure, as Agcarm’s animal health expert. As well as taking the lead on animal health issues, Jeff provides technical support on the company’s crop protection and rural supplier portfolios.

“Getting better outcomes for farmers, animals, and consumers of food and fibre is a key driver for me. I am excited about the possibilities for new technologies to increase productivity, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, minimise residues, and help in the fight against antimicrobial resistance.

“I look forward to working closely with government and industry stakeholders to facilitate access to cutting edge products that will support a more sustainable and innovative sector, and Agcarm’s vision of healthy crops – healthy animals – healthy business,” says Howe. . . 

Chemical identification of lemon myrtle to future proof essential oil – Jamie Brown:

An Australian native whose leaves deliver a lemon scent fit for royalty is now attracting record prices for its essential oil, up from $100 a kilogram a few years ago to more than $350/kg with the price expected to rise as demand increases.

The industry’s next challenge is to fingerprint the plant’s chemistry and identify key components with the aim of branding it as 100pc natural in a way that sets itself apart from synthetic copies.

In a project managed by the Essential Oil Producers Association of Australia, plant cuttings from a range of lemon myrtle varieties originally found growing in the wild, from the Kimberley and North Queensland to the Sunshine Coast hinterland and Currumbin Valley in south east Queensland, will be distilled in a laboratory at Lismore’s Southern Cross University and the natural range of chemical variations within their oils will be analysed. . .

 


Make Lamb, Not Walls

12/01/2021

Hard to beat the Aussies and Meat & Livestock Australia when it comes to lamb ads:


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