Rural round-up

24/09/2021

The ETS is both a gold mine and a minefield – Keith Woodford:

The Government never foresaw the land-use forces they were unleashing with the ETS

In recent weeks I have written multiple articles on the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) with a particular focus on forestry. This week I also had an extended interview with Kathryn Ryan on RNZ ‘Nine to Noon’.  However, there is still lots more that needs to be said.

The bottom line is that carbon forestry is now far more profitable than sheep and beef farming on nearly all classes of land. We are indeed on the cusp of the greatest rural land-use changes that New Zealand has seen in the last 100 years.

For many sheep and beef farmers, carbon farming can now be a gold mine. The key requirement is pastoral land that will grow an exotic forest that will not be destroyed by storm, fire or disease.  . . 

A new visa scheme offering 3 years in Australia to agricultural workers threatens to crush NZ’s primary sector – Aaron Martin:

Australians must be laughing at our immigration woes.

The Australian government has announced a new visa aimed at enticing agricultural workers by offering them three years of residency to live in rural areas. New Zealand, however, has no official pathway or plan for migrant worker residency.

Why is the Ardern government consistently the loser?

We have very proud history of sporting success against Australia. We love nothing better than to beat them at anything. We’ve had success on multiple fronts but, sadly, our government seems to come up the loser against theirs. . . 

The human cost of no response :

The Prime Minister’s ‘Be Kind’ message is obviously struggling to get past Wellington’s 50k boundary and out to Rural New Zealand.

You can tell because, if there was any response from her or her ministers to the concerns Rural NZ has, I’d know. To date, the tally is 0.

As both a farmer and National’s Agriculture spokesperson I find it deplorable.

The heavy-handed approach the Government has adopted in trying to reach unrealistic, impractical targets for water, climate change, zero carbon, emissions and land use, to name but a few, has placed enormous pressure on the farming sector. . .  

Fonterra completes reset, announces annual results and long-term growth plan out to 2030:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced a strong set of results for the 2021 financial year, reflected in a final Farmgate Milk Price of $7.54, normalised earnings per share of 34 cents and a final dividend of 15 cents, taking the total dividend for the year to 20 cents per share. The results come as Fonterra moves through its business reset and into a new phase of growing the value of its business.

CEO Miles Hurrell says the last three years have been about resetting the business. “We’ve stuck to our strategy of maximising the value of our New Zealand milk, moved to a customer-led operating model and strengthened our balance sheet.

“The results and total pay-out we’ve announced today show what we can achieve when we focus on quality execution and an aligned Co-op.

“I want to thank our farmer owners and employees for their hard work and commitment over the last few years that has got us to this position. Together, we’ve shored up foundations and done this despite the challenges of operating in a COVID-19 world.

“Although the higher milk price and tightening margins put pressure on earnings in the final quarter, this is a strong overall business performance, allowing us to deliver $11.6 billion to the New Zealand economy through the total pay-out to farmers. . . 

Hawke’s Bay A&P show cancelled over Delta risk fears – Maja Burry:

The Hawke’s Bay A&P Show, due to be held late next month, has been cancelled due to the uncertainty and risks associated with the Covid-19 Delta outbreak.

Organisers said the executive committee of the Hawke’s Bay A&P Society met last night to review the risks and after significant consideration, made the hard decision to cancel.

The show was scheduled to run from October 20th-22nd. It’s one of the largest in the country and usually attracts 30,000 people to the Tomoana Showgrounds.

Society president Simon Collin said whilst the country was in differing levels of restrictions, and with Covid-19 cases still appearing the country, the event couldn’t go ahead. . . 

Scientists aiming to enhance the `human-ness’ of infant formula

AgResearch scientists think they have identified a unique new way to make infant formula more like breast milk and better for babies, using ingredients that could enhance brain development and overall health.

Research into this next generation infant formula could create new opportunities for New Zealand’s primary industries in a global market worth tens of billions of dollars annually.

With funding over three years recently announced from the government’s 2021 Endeavour Fund, AgResearch scientists Simon Loveday and Caroline Thum, along with collaborators from Massey and Monash Universities, are aiming to enhance the “human-ness” of infant formula produced from New Zealand ingredients.

“We’ve recently discovered a new natural source of nutritional oil that is surprisingly similar to the fat in breast milk,” Dr Thum says. . . 

Demand for NZ apples in India continues to grow – Sally Murphy:

An apple exporter says efforts to grow demand in India are proving fruitful with orders skyrocketing.

Although they only make up a small proportion of total numbers, exports of pip fruit to India have been growing.

Ministry for Primary Industries figures show last year 5.5 percent of apple and pear exports went there, but to July this year exports to India made up 8.2 per cent.

Golden Bay Fruit in Motueka has been exporting apples there for over 20 years. . . 

 


Rural round-up

17/09/2021

Migrant exodus felt in Mid Canterbury – Adam Burns:

The departure of migrant workers thwarted by visa frustrations offshore is adding sting to mid Canterbury’s depleted rural sector.

Growing uncertainty amid stalled immigration settings for migrant workers was forcing New Zealand resident hopefuls to keep their options open with Australia’s agricultural sector dangling the carrot.

Ashburton immigration advisor Maria Jimenez said several Filipino workers had joined the worker exodus to Australia and many more had signalled an interest.

“There’s no pathway to residency,” she said. . .

Pacific corridor brings some relief to Otago orchards – Anuja Nadkarni:

But closed borders to travellers has still cut off supply to a third of the industry’s workforce.

Central Otago cherry farms have been some of the hardest-hit by the labour shortages. 

The region, like many in horticulture and agriculture, has relied on a workforce heavily dominated by foreign workers.

While last week’s announcement that one-way quarantine-free travel corridor for vaccinated workers under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme would commence from October brought some relief, growers in the region were continuing to face challenges with filling up roles. . . 

ORC pleased with grazing compliance – Hamish MacLean:

The bird’s-eye views that winter grazing monitoring flights give Otago Regional Council staff have revealed no major breaches on Otago farms this year.

The farm monitoring flights, over three months this year, resulted in 140 follow-ups scheduled by compliance staff, council compliance manager Tami Sargeant said.

But the majority of the potential breaches identified were not related to current rules, but to new winter grazing standards, which had not yet taken effect, she said.

“In those cases, our aim is to help educate landowners about the upcoming rules and ensure they will be compliant when the rules come into force,” she said.

Ms Sargeant said staff were pleased with the level of compliance. . . 

We managed to toilet train cows (and they learned faster than a toddler). It could help combat climate change -Douglas Elliffe & Lindsay Matthews:

Can we toilet train cattle? Would we want to?

The answer to both of these questions is yes — and doing so could help us address issues of water contamination and climate change. Cattle urine is high in nitrogen, and this contributes to a range of environmental problems.

When cows are kept mainly outdoors, as they are in New Zealand and Australia, the nitrogen from their urine breaks down in the soil. This produces two problematic substances: nitrate and nitrous oxide.

Nitrate from urine patches leaches into lakes, rivers and aquifers (underground pools of water contained by rock) where it pollutes the water and contributes to the excessive growth of weeds and algae. . . 

Wool farmers see potential salvation in new products for builders, architects – Bonnie Flaws:

The strong wool sector is setting its hopes on the development of new products that could be used in building and manufacturing to increase income for farmers.

While the merino wool market continued to perform, the strong wool sector was in crisis due to competition from synthetic fibres, said The Campaign for Wool New Zealand chairman Tom O’Sullivan​.

The price of strong wool was about $2.50 a kilogram. The cost of shearing sheep was now higher than the value of the wool, O’Sullivan​ said.

But his hope was that the price of strong wool could eventually be on par with merino, which sold for between $15 and $20 a kilogram. At the very least farmers needed to break even, he said. . . 

Kiwifruit companies to amalgamate :

Northland kiwifruit growers will be delivered a stronger service following the proposed amalgamation of Kerikeri-based Orangewood Limited with a wholly owned subsidiary of Seeka Limited.

In a conditional agreement announced 14 September 2021, Orangewood shareholders are being offered 0.6630 new Seeka shares and $1.35 in cash for every Orangewood share.

Seeka chief executive Michael Franks says the deal will further expand Seeka’s operations in the key Northland growth region and deliver a great service to growers. . . 


Rural round-up

12/09/2021

DOC shouldn’t get another crack at a failed project :

The Department of Conservation should the pull the pin on a failed Mackenzie Basin project and return the unspent money to Treasury, National’s Conservation spokesperson, and MP for Waitaki, Jacqui Dean says.

“The Tū Te Rakiwhānoa Drylands project was allocated $2.3 million dollars in the 2018 Budget. $1.4 million of that has already been spent and yet the project has now gone back to the ‘design’ phase with a new business case being put together.

“It’s appalling that three years in and more than a million dollars down the drain the project scope and timeframes for completion are not known and are not expected to be known until June 2022. . . .

Rural New Zealand rejecting more regulation from Labour:

More than 13,000 New Zealanders have told the Government to stop raining regulations on our rural communities, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger and Local Government spokesperson Christopher Luxon say.

“National launched a petition to call on Labour to give rural New Zealand a break and to drop their latest regulatory burden in the form of the Water Services Bill, which would expose rural water schemes to unnecessary and onerous compliance,” Ms Kuriger says.

“In just a short space of time more than 13,000 people and counting have signed the petition – sending a clear message to Labour to ease the burden on our rural communities.”

“Our petition calls on Labour, and other parties, to back National’s change to the legislation, which would exempt small water suppliers like farm schemes that supply fewer than 30 endpoint users,” Mr Luxon says. . . 

The right tree in the right place – David Williams:

Pāmu wants to establish 10,000 hectares of new plantation forest by 2030, David Williams writes in this content partnership article

Away from the conflict about forestry – fears of entire farms being planted in trees, and the slow death of rural communities – state-owned farmer Pāmu is quietly making the economics of tree-planting work.

Farming is the core business for Pāmu (which means “to farm” in Māori), the trading name for Landcorp Farming. Forestry has been seen as a sideline. “But it’s bloody not,” Pāmu’s environment manager Gordon Williams says. “It’s actually a production system for the land that should not be pastorally farmed.”

That system is starting to pay off. . . 

Lockdown sees fewer farm dogs being adopted :

A charity that helps rehome retired working dogs says fewer people have been adopting due to the lockdown.

Natalie Smith set up the Retired Working Dogs charity back in 2012 when working at a vet clinic she saw a need for farm dogs to find new homes.

Some are retired as they are older but some are young dogs who did not quite make the cut to work on the farm.

Smith said it was normal for adoptions to drop off in the winter but lockdown had made things worse. . . 

Government staffer receives NZ apple and pear industry award:

For the first time in the award’s eight year history, a government official has been awarded the Outstanding Contribution to the Industry accolade. At the recent pipfruit industry conference hosted by industry organisation NZ Apples and Pears Inc. (NZAPI), the coveted award was presented to John Randall, a Plant Exports Senior Adviser at Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for his influence and collaboration with industry.

Past recipients have come from diverse areas within or supporting the pipfruit industry including research bodies, industry organisations and member companies. However, this year the honour was given to a person working in government in Wellington.

“Most, if not all previous recipients lived or worked in New Zealand’s growing regions and were familiar to everyone in the apple and pear industry. This year saw someone receive the award who may not be familiar to everyone,” said export industry Market Access Advisory Group (MAAG) member Simon Thursfield. . . 

Max Gogel, Tom Kelly share stories of shearing industry start – Julia Wythes:

SOME people are born to do a certain job, as was the case for shearers Tom Kelly and Max Gogel.

Despite picking up a handpiece for the first time decades apart, their journey to the shearing shed started exactly the same way.

Max Gogel’s time as a professional shearer has only been a few short years but the youngster from Sherlock dreamed of becoming a shearer in childhood.

His father Craig was a shearer, and Max spent his days in the sheds with him. . .


Wouldn’t listen, didn’t learn

23/08/2021

The excuse of no rule book for a pandemic held some water last year. It doesn’t now and we’re paying a very high price because of a government that wouldn’t listen and didn’t learn:

The first Level 4 lockdown hit big manufacturers hard. But when one came up with a plan to allow plants to stay open safely, the Government wouldn’t listen

Last year, after New Zealand came out of our first Covid-19 lockdown, Tony Clifford went to the Government with what he thought was a pretty good idea. An idea which might save manufacturers millions of dollars if we went back into Level 4.

Clifford, managing director of big forestry and wood products company Pan Pac, proposed a Covid certification system. 

Government would draw up a set of standards which a manufacturer had to meet to operate under Level 4 lockdown. Companies would be audited independently and if they passed, they could stay open through lockdown. Think of it like a Covid WoF for factories.

“I advocated for it strongly,” Clifford says. “But there was no appetite at all.”

Once New Zealand went back into Level 4 lockdown this week, Pan Pac had to shut down its whole operation.

Pan PAC isn’t alone. A whole lot of other businesses that could operate safely aren’t permitted to, yet a confectionary factory is regarded as essential.

I’ve got a whole mouth full of sweet teeth but I don’t think lollies are essential.

Clifford says he approached a range of government agencies with his accreditation plan, including the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

He also got in touch with ministers, including Forestry Minister Stuart Nash, who also has the economic and regional development portfolio.

“I said: ‘Why not prepare for the future?’ They basically told me there wouldn’t be another Level 4, so we didn’t need to worry.” . . .

If the government and its Ministries had worried and acted on the worrying some businesses which can operate safely would be able to now and we might not be at level 4 lockdown.

Catherine Beard, executive director of Manufacturing NZ and Export NZ says there are other companies like Pan Pac, which could gear up to operate safely in Level 4, but don’t get the chance because they aren’t deemed essential by Government.

“It costs them many millions per week to shut down, although often they have a highly controlled health and safety regime in place – registered to deal with chemicals, for example – and would even create a special worker bubble if they needed to,” Beard says.

“The cost of a shut-down for those companies is disproportionately high and they are working in environments they can control very precisely.”

The more often New Zealand companies are forced to shut down, the harder it is to remain credible in the international market, Beard says.

“Manufacturers often have export customers waiting, and particularly in this environment with a lot of shipping interruptions, if you miss a shipment it’s a big deal.

“New Zealand doesn’t want to look like a country that’s unreliable and expensive and give[s] our international customers a reason to drop us.” . . .

The lockdown restrictions have a flow on impact on the housing shortage:

Julien Leys, chief executive of the Building Industry Federation, is frustrated at the ramifications for the construction sector from the latest Level 4 plant closures.

Last week, before any thought of a lockdown, Leys went on RNZ’s Nine to Noon show and described the situation for the building industry as “as bad as it gets” in terms of shortages of construction timber and other building supplies.  . . 

That was before the new Covid outbreak. This week, the latest Covid outbreak has shut down logging operations, sawmills, cement factories and manufacturing operations, perhaps for three days, perhaps for a week, potentially for far longer.

‘As bad as it gets’ for home building just got a bit worse.

There are government exemptions which allow New Zealand Steel’s production facilities, Tiwai Point’s aluminium smelter and the Methanex methanol plant to stay open under Level 4 lockdown, Leys says. Why can’t exemptions be given to other production facilities that can operate safely.

“We need to consider what other materials we need to produce, for example structural timber,” he says.  . . 

Meanwhile, Fletcher Building is also left wondering why its Golden Bay Cement works can’t get a Level 4 exemption. The Government says exemptions to steel, aluminium and methanol are because the time and difficulty to turn the plants off and on again makes shutdown uneconomic.

But the same could be said for cement too. It takes three days to wind down production at Golden Bay and the same amount of time to get the lines up and running again.

Fletcher Building chief executive Ross Taylor says the company will need skeleton crews on site this week to turn the plant off, and would be keen to see some sort of exemption applied for his company too.  . . 

The arbitrary criteria of essential causes all sorts of anomalies. The criteria should be whether or not businesses can operate safely.

Meanwhile, Pan Pac will wait out this lockdown, hoping it doesn’t go on too long, Tony Clifford says. Then he will be back on the Government’s case about Covid accreditation. 

Maybe this time someone will listen.

They haven’t listened to horticulturists and greengrocers:

A Pukekohe vegetable grower says with independent fruit and vege stores unable to open his crops will be left in the ground to rot.

Under level 4 green grocers can provide contactless delivery but cannot open for customers.

Harry Das grows 100 hectares of potatoes, pumpkins, cauliflowers and lettuces for independent stores and restaurants.

He said if lockdown continues past this week he will lose around 60 to 70 percent of his lettuce crop.

“With the independent stores closing our orders will just drop off to almost nothing, the products will sit in the paddock and go to waste.

“We also supply processed lettuce to McDonald’s and with all their doors closed all our beautiful lettuce will be wasted.” . . 

Butchers are similarity frustrated:

More than a year on from the first Level 4 lockdown, the rules around essential groceries still seem murky. Butchers and fishmongers can’t open, but dairies can and people can get wine, chocolate and doughnuts delivered to the door.

While at Level 4 supermarkets can operate with shoppers in store buying meat and vegetables, those same customers cannot walk into a green grocer or butcher without breaking the law.

For those small, specialist businesses not set up for “click and collect” or delivery, this means trading ceased at midnight on Tuesday.

Two butchers said they had gone into survival mode. . . 

Greengrocers, butcher and bakeries operating a one-in-one-out system, or with phone orders they could package and leave at the shop door when customers arrived for pick-ups would be at least as safe as supermarkets where far more people shop at a time.

Then there’s the problem of what’s an essential item and what’s not for businesses like dairies:

Dairy and service station workers want to be supported like supermarkets, as other small business owners get to grips with what counts as an essential item for online delivery.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson on Wednesday said the rules for what non-food items counted as an essential item would become clearer as the lockdown went on, and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) last night released a list to help in that process.

There is some ambiguity however – the guidelines note that businesses will be relied on to determine which products are essential. . .

If customers go in to a dairy to buy a bottle of milk, is the shop assistant going to tell them they can’t also buy a magazine? Is it any less safe to sell a magazine than milk?

This is an absolutely unacceptable level of control freakery that wouldn’t be necessary if the government had listened to businesses with plans to operate safely, had learned from mistakes made in earlier lockdowns and used safe rather than essential to determine which businesses can operate and which can’t.


Rural round-up

18/08/2021

Ongoing battle for river draining experience – Sally Rae:

As the microscope continues to focus on the Manuherikia River in Central Otago and its future minimum flows, rural editor Sally Rae talks to award-winning Omakau farmer Anna Gillespie about the stress the rural community is under.

They are two farmers farming – literally.

Central Otago couple Ben and Anna Gillespie trade under Two Farmers Farming, running a 400ha property at Omakau comprising a dairy grazing and beef finishing operation.

It was a challenging environment to farm in, with an average rainfall of about 450mm, temperatures in winter as low as -10degC and summer hitting more than 30degC, Mrs Gillespie said. . . 

Govt reforms ‘absolutely punishing’ – Neal Wallace:

Local authorities and industry groups warn they are being driven to breaking point by the volume and pace of Government legislation reforms.

One described the pace and scale as “absolutely punishing” and warned “it has the potential, unless managed very carefully, to break the system”.

Karen Williams, a former planner and current Federated Farmers vice president, says that pace shows no letting up, with parties given just one month to comment on the exposure draft of the first of three documents to replace the Resource Management Act (RMA).

“The RMA is 30 years old, so you don’t start looking at its replacement with one month of submissions,” Williams said. . . 

Carbon-farming economics are also attractive on easier country – Keith Woodford:

Given current carbon prices, the march of the pine trees across the landscape has only just begun. The implications are massive

My previous article on carbon farming focused on the North Island hard-hill country. If financial returns are to be the key driver of land-use, and based on a carbon price of $48 per tonne, then the numbers suggested that carbon farming on that class of country is a winner.

By my calculations, sheep and beef farms on this hard-hill country provide an internal rate of return (IRR) of around 2%, whereas my recent estimate for carbon farming was 9.7%.

Here I extend the analysis, still using a price of $48 per tonne, by looking at the easier hill country that Beef+Lamb (B&L) categorise as ‘Class 4 North Island Hill Country’. This fits between their ‘Class 3 North Island hard-hill country’ and the ‘Class 5 North Island intensive finishing farms’. . . 

Efficiency key to simple, profitable A2:A2 farm– Samatha Tennent:

A Waikato farmer has succeeded in creating a top farming business, as well as a career in the corporate world.

The desire to have a dynamic farming business as well as an exciting career off the farm, a Waikato farmer has come out on top in both.

And he got there by focusing on creating a simple, profitable farming operation with an efficient Jersey herd.

Zach Mounsey who is an equity partner and sharemilks 440 Jersey cows on 161ha at Te Kawa near Otorohanga on the family farm, which was the most profitable Waikato 50:50 sharemilker in Dairybase for 2018. He is also the general manager of milk supply for Happy Valley Nutrition (HVN), a new dairy processor aiming to produce high-quality infant formulas. . . 

NZ grower’s squash milk creates new export patch :

One of New Zealand’s largest buttercup squash growers is diving into Asia’s alternative proteins market with a plant-based milk.

Kabochamilk is a collaboration between Hawke’s Bay grower Shane Newman and Sachie Nomura, a Japanese celebrity chef who also developed a world first avocado milk.

Kabocha, a Japanese variety of squash, is a staple part of the Japanese and East Asian diet and New Zealand is one of the largest exporters of kabocha to Japan and Korea.

The Ministry for Primary Industries contributed more than $95,000 through its Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund to help boost Kabocha Milk Co’s efforts to formulate, manufacture, and market a shelf-stable kabocha milk recipe that would appeal to consumers in Japan, Korea, China, and beyond. . . 

Commission publishes draft conclusion on base milk price:

Commission publishes draft conclusion on base milk price calculation

The Commerce Commission has today released a draft report concluding that Fonterra’s calculation of the base milk price it will pay farmers in the 2020/21 dairy season is consistent with the requirements of the milk price monitoring regime under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA).

Fonterra set a forecast price for the season of $7.45 – $7.65 per kilogram of milk solids according to rules set out in its Farmgate Milk Price Manual. DIRA requires the Commission to review Fonterra’s methodology for calculating the price and to conclude on whether the calculation is consistent with the purpose of DIRA and the rules set in the Manual.

The regime is designed to provide for the setting of a base milk price that is consistent with efficient and contestable market outcomes. . . 


Rural round-up

16/08/2021

Confusion around new docking rules – Coin Williscroft:

New docking rules that came into force in May are causing concern and confusion among some farmers.

MPI announced the new regulations, which aim to improve sheep welfare by clarifying how tail-docking should be done and who can carry it out, at the end of last year.

A sheep’s tail cannot be docked shorter than the distal end of the caudal fold. This means the tail needs to be long enough to cover the vulva in ewes and a similar length in rams.

Docking too short could result in a fine of $500, or $1500 for a business, and if multiple sheep are involved that could lead to court proceedings. . . 

In perspective:

More and more farmers around the country are doing the right things in regard to environmental management. Recent reports by a number of regional councils around NZ show positive results when it comes to managing effluent on farms.

Meanwhile, despite winter grazing practices across the country coming under the microscope, there have been few reports of major breaches of the regulations. This is even more remarkable considering the flooding experienced in some regions.

For years, governments, councils, environmentalists, activists et el have been pushing for the agricultural sector to lift its environmental game. The evidence shows that farmers are responding and responding well!

However, anyone reading, listening or viewing mainstream media in NZ could be forgiven for thinking that the opposite is occurring. Every sector has its slackers, those who are not doing the right things, and farming is no exception. The industry, including farmers themselves, must continue to come down hard on those who let the whole sector down. . . 

Farmers living the dream – Sudesh Kissun:

‘ToViewADream Farming’ was started 16 years ago by farmer Dion Kilmister and it’s been living up to its name ever since.

Today, the business comprises of four farming properties finishing 17,000 lambs and 600 cattle a year. The jewel in the crown – a butcher shop in Masterton – opened last year.

The journey has been one of hard work, calculated risks, tragedy and resilience. Dion’s wife, Ali Kilmister, told their story at the recent South Island Dairy Event (SIDE) in Ashburton.

In January 2005, he arrived in the Wairarapa with first wife Maria and two children – Maria’s daughter Aleshia and their son Jayden. All they had were 70 steers that they had had out grazing in the King Country, and a $30,000 overdraft. . .

Growing the workforce – vegetable producer offers bonus for turning up to work – Country Life:

One of New Zealand’s largest vegetable growers is paying people a bonus for turning up to work.

Gisborne-based LeaderBrand has rolled out a raft of benefits in order to secure a workforce.

“I think our job now is to make it easy for people to come to work,” says LeaderBrand chief executive Richard Burke.

LeaderBrand employs 400 people across New Zealand and another 150 during seasonal peaks. . . 

Potato industry shows resilience – Annette Scott:

The New Zealand potato industry remains a growing sector despite enduring a challenging year.

Ahead of the industry’s annual forums, Potatoes NZ (PNZ) chief executive Chris Claridge reports the total value of the industry sits at $1.16 billion, amidst a year of crises and disappointment.

This represents a 58% growth rate since industry targets were set in 2013.

“This result shows the immense value of our processing sector, with 55% of our locally-grown potatoes producing fries and another 12% producing crisps,” Claridge said. . .

Tasmanian farmer finds a “nutty” way of beating power regulations – Andrew Miller:

A northern Tasmanian prime lamb producer has found a novel way around TasNetworks regulations, which restricts power generated on-farm to use in only one piece of plant, home or shed.

TasNetworks insists on a separate meter, for each point on the property using power.

That means electricity for most of the farm has to be purchased from hundreds of kilometres away, rather than using on-property generated power.

Simon Hackett has circumvented the regulations by linking an aircraft hangar, houses and shearing shed on his 70 hectare farm by cable to his 100kw solar system. . . 


Rural round-up

15/08/2021

Farmer who supplies neighbours’ water says he’ll stop if forced to register  – Bonnie Flaws:

Tararua farmer Roger Barton​ supplies his lifestyle block neighbours with water when their rainwater tanks run low. He says it’s “neighbours being neighbours” and he doesn’t charge them.

“They’ve got two tanks and they manage that carefully and are generally fine. But if things get tight they run a hose pipe from our system overnight and over four or five nights the tank gets filled. They don’t have to get the water truck out.”

The water comes from a creek at the fringe of the Tararua ranges. Barton does not treat his water, but uses a filter. His neighbours had an ultraviolet treatment system because they were reliant on rainwater, and this would also treat Barton’s water.

“I think that is fine, sane and sensible. Why I should have to treat it before they receive it I do not know.” . .

200 exemptions for dairy workers took at best – Jason Herrick:

I have been working behind the scenes and in the media around staff shortages and reuniting families of our migrant staff in my sector.

I do this because I see it as part of my responsibility I choose to take on as sharemilker Chair for Southland Federated Farmers,  trying to get the government to see sense and allow staff to come to NZ to fill much-needed roles.

Alongside heaps of others, the government said yes to was the 200 exemptions for dairy workers and their families, I see this as token at best, a gesture to keep us quiet – because they put conditions on the exemptions that have kept the likes of Federated Farmers, Dairy NZ and MPI busy to negotiate better conditions. . .

Groundswell NZ presents petition on ‘unworkable’ regulations to parliament – Laura Hooper:

A Groundswell NZ co-founder has presented the group’s petition against what it calls “unworkable regulations’’ for farmers to the Government.

Last month, Groundswell NZ took to the streets alongside thousands of supporters in around 50 towns across New Zealand to protest against regulations, including compulsory sowing dates, winter grazing rules and the “ute tax”.

On Thursday, group co-founder Laurence Paterson and Rural Advocacy Network chairman Jamie McFadden presented a petition, calling for a review of some regulations, to the Environment select committee.

The petition originally began to call for a review of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, which the group says applies a “one-size-fits-all” approach on sowing dates, winter grazing and best catchment practises. . .

 

Push for govt  incentives to producebio-fuel from local forestry waste – Jonathan Milne:

Warnings that existing ethanol-blended biofuels can’t be used in most storage tanks and pipelines – so new Sustainable Biofuel Mandate will come at a cost.

The clock is ticking at Marsden Point oil refinery. Chief executive Naomi James says they have mere months to reach agreement on converting the refinery to a biofuels production facility, for local forestry waste, before they are forced to begin laying off staff and decommissioning plant.

Energy Minister Megan Woods has expressed interest in the potential to convert the refinery to biofuel production, and James confirms they are in talks with government. But they need quick decisions because once they lose skilled engineers, they won’t be coming back; once they decommission big plant like the hydro-treater unit, there is no turning back.

James confirmed that in its submission on the planned Sustainable Biofuel Mandate, Refining NZ is arguing for government incentives for domestic biofuel production, like grants or Emissions Trading Scheme exemptions. . .

KiwiSaver provider Booster invests over $10m into avocado grower Darling Group – Tamsyn Parker:

The private equity investment arm of KiwiSaver provider Booster has invested more than $10 million into buying a 42 per cent stake in Katikati-based avocado grower and exporter Darling Group.

Booster, which has around $3 billion invested in its KiwiSaver scheme and is the 10th largest provider, is one of the few KiwiSaver schemes which invests in unlisted private companies through its Tahi LP fund.

Private company investment offers the potential for higher returns but are also a less liquid investment as their shares are not traded on a public market making it harder to sell out quickly.

Tahi already owns a number of wineries, as well as having stakes in Sunchaser Avocados, Dodson Motorsport and financial services company Lifetime. . . 

Livestock farm working dogs in Australia and New Zealand tested in Cobber Challenge – Chris McLennan and Daina Oliver:

The endurance athletes of Australia’s sprawling livestock farms are battling it out to claim the title of 2021 champion working dog.

Over three weeks, 12 loyal canines will run hundreds of kilometres in the course of their daily jobs herding sheep and cattle.

The Cobber Challenge celebrates and tests the endurance of working dogs and this year, for the first time, the Australians will be pitted against competitors working across the Tasman.

GPS collars will track their distance, working duration and speed over 21 days from Monday, August 16 and points will be awarded based on daily activity. . .


Rural round-up

11/08/2021

Southland farmers raise concerns about Australia luring workers across the Tasman

Australia is providing financial incentives to lure New Zealand immigrant dairy workers across the Tasman.

Southland Federated Farmers sharemilker chairman Jason Herrick said the incentives amounted to thousands of dollars, including relocation costs and bonuses for staying in jobs at least eight weeks.

And they will be re-united with family currently still overseas.

Herrick said immigrant workers on his farm were telling him almost daily of workers leaving New Zealand – although he acknowledged that had slowed a bit with Covid-19 issues. . .

Water reforms could heavily impact rural New Zealand – Annette Scott:

The Government’s intention to reform local government water services into multi-regional entities has the potential to impact heavily on rural communities.

In July 2020, the Government launched the Three Waters Reform programme, a three-year programme to address the challenges facing council-owned and operated three water services.

Government is proposing to establish four publicly-owned entities to take responsibility for drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure across New Zealand. The Government has considered the evidence and proposes that four large water entities will create an affordable system that ensures secure delivery of safe drinking water and resilient wastewater and stormwater systems.

At present, 67 councils provide most of the country’s three waters services. . .

Water reform details scarce – Neal Wallace:

District councils are questioning the lack of detail with the Government’s Three Waters reforms, but are so far reserving judgement.

Its proposal creates four publicly-owned water companies to manage drinking, waste and stormwater assets, along with debt appropriated from 67 councils.

Mayors are frustrated the Government is not listening to their concerns, evident by being given just eight weeks to provide feedback on the proposals.

Other concerns included consultation, the speed of the reforms, local input into the new entity’s decisions, asset valuation, what happens to councils who decline to join the new entities and how communities decide whether or not to be involved. . .

Spring lambing percentages expected to dip – David Hill:

Spring lamb numbers are expected to be down around the region.

North Canterbury scanning contractor Daniel Wheeler said scanning results had been mixed around the region and the season’s drought had taken its toll.

The Amberley-based contractor pregnancy scanned ewes in the North Canterbury and Ellesmere areas.

He estimated scanning percentages were down about 10 to 20%. . .

New T&G company VentureFruit to develop new berry and fruit varieties :

Fruit and vegetable producer and marketer T&G Global is launching a new business to develop and commercialise new fruit varieties.

The new company called VentureFruit will focus on new varieties of boysenberries, blackberries, blueberries, hybrid berries and other fruit trees.

Coinciding with its launch, VentureFruit has signed two key partnerships. It is co-investing alongside science organisation Plant & Food Research in a range of new berries, of which VentureFruit will be the exclusive global commercialisation partner.

In addition, it is also partnering with Plant IP Partners to test and evaluate new varieties of apples which have been bred in New Zealand. . . 

 

 

Farmers urged to push 2021 Love Lamb Week campaign :

Sheep farmers are being encouraged to get behind next month’s Love Lamb Week to help promote the sector to the general public.

The UK sheep sector is preparing to celebrate another Love Lamb Week at the beginning of September following a year of market turbulence.

Farmers are being encouraged to spur on their local community to get involved in promotional activities for the annual campaign.

Now in its seventh year, Love Lamb Week, running from 1 to 7 September, encourages the domestic consumption of UK lamb at its peak season of availability. . . 


Rural round-up

09/08/2021

GDT slump impacts forecasts – Hugh Stringleman:

Eight consecutive falls of the Global Dairy Trade (GDT) price index have all but wiped out the extraordinary 15% rise in the market at the beginning of March.

In the five months since, nine out of 10 fortnightly actions have been downward moves in the market and the GDT price index has dropped 13.2%.

In the first auction for August, whole milk powder (WMP) prices fell by 3.8% and have now fallen 19% since March.

The GDT index lost 1%, as the fall in WMP was balanced somewhat by butter increasing 3.8%, anhydrous milk fat (AMF) by 1.3% and skim milk powder (SMP) by 1.5%. . . 

Soil carbon context important – Jacqueline Rowarth:

It makes up approximately 58% of organic matter, which is the first of seven soil quality indicators in the New Zealand assessment. The prime position of organic matter is because of the attributes associated with it. It holds water and nutrients; soil organisms live in it and decompose it for energy (and nutrients) for their own growth and multiplication; the organisms and the organic matter aid soil structure which in turn assists aeration, infiltration and percolation of water.

A considerable amount of research has been done on building up soil carbon, and on what to avoid in order to prevent a decrease. Some of the results appear to be conflicting. Should we cultivate, strip till or notill to do our best for the environment? Should we flip soils? Can we actually sequester carbon in our soils as other countries are promising to do and so benefit from becoming part of the ETS?

The answer, as so often, is ‘it depends’ – on starting point, soil type, season, crop and all the other usual variables. Context is vital, but sometimes overlooked in enthusiasm for a technology.

The effect on soil carbon of conventional cultivation or conservation (reduced) tillage depends on the measurement depth. . . 

B+LNZ calls for carbon farm limits – Neal Wallace:

Competition from carbon farming is driving up land prices and pushing first-farm buyers out of the market, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

Chief executive Sam McIvor says a commissioned report compiled by BakerAg calculates carbon farmers bought an estimated 31,000ha in the four years since 2017, 34% of the 92,118ha of the sheep and beef farms purchased for conversion to forestry.

“One of the interesting aspects which is parallel with housing, is the fact that carbon farming is driving land prices up, which is putting farms out of reach of young people,” McIvor said.

While timber prices have boosted demand for land, the report attributes a significant reason to climate change policies making revenue from a combination of forestry production and carbon, or carbon-only, more attractive. . . 

Researcher finds chemical-free pest killer to save tomatoes –  Sally Murphy:

A PhD student who has come up with a solution to deal with a tomato plant pest is hoping more large scale greenhouses will try it to prove its success.

Emiliano Veronesi discussed his research at the Horticulture Conference in Hamilton this morning.

He set out trying to find a biological control solution to tomato potato psyllid or TPP which is a bug that can prevent fruit from forming on plants and reduce yields.

And he managed to find a predator for the bug, Engytatus nicotinae, which he has since tested in greenhouses at Lincoln University. . .

Pioneering new food in Southland – Country Life:

Expect to hear a lot more from New Zealand’s latest self-declared food bowl – Southland.

The southernmost province is aiming to put itself on the map nationally and internationally for premium food products.

Southland proudly produces dairy products, lamb, beef, fish, wild meat, oysters, honey, carrots, grain, potatoes, cabbages and swedes. An oat milk factory is in the planning.

The province has the most abundant food bowl in New Zealand, says Mary-Anne Webber, food and beverage manager at Southland’s regional development agency Great South. . . 

Growers may give up double shearing due to shearer drought – Mark Griggs and John Ellicott:

Leading players in the wool and sheep industry have expressed true alarm at the oncoming shearer shortage.

It’s believed no Kiwi shearers will arrive in Australia for the rest of the year due to concerns with local coronavirus outbreaks, a loss of 500 shearers, affecting crutching season.

Growers at a field day near Warren highlighted concerns, some saying it will force woolgrowers to shear only once a year. They’ve called on government and peak wool industry body Australian Wool Innovation to increase training and have trainees working in the wool stands now. . . 


Rural round-up

08/08/2021

Labour shortage causes apple grower profits to go rotten :

Fresh produce grower and marketer T&G Global has reported a sharply reduced half year profit as labour shortages left fruit unpicked causing a fall in sales and rise in costs.

The company’s net profit for the six months ended June fell 64 percent to $3.4 million, as revenue dipped 3 percent to $652.1m.

Chief executive Gareth Edgecombe said Covid-19 remained a problem for the business causing uncertainty and volatility.

“Despite this, continuing international supply chain challenges, including disrupted shipping schedules, had more of an impact than we experienced proportionately last year. This affected our ability to get fresh produce to market on-time.” . . 

Competition concerns spook bread wheat growers:

Uncertainty over restrictive new buying practices and competition from the feed wheat industry has seen the nation’s arable growers cut back on sowing milling wheat – the wheat used for bread.

“It’s worrying that buying practices we believe may be anti-competitive, coming at a time when growers are able to receive better prices for animal feed wheat, may result in New Zealand becoming more reliant on imported milling wheat for a staple food,” Federated Farmers Arable Industry Chairperson Colin Hurst said.

Feds are keen to discuss the situation with the Commerce Commission and have also approached Commerce Minister David Clark. . . 

Farmers, Greenpeace look to different stats to measure emissions – Jordan Bond:

Greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farming have increased to an all time high, according to Stats NZ.

But emissions from the dairy cows themselves have dropped year-on-year, according to Ministry for the Environment, which the industry says is the best measure to look at. It said statistics which show dairy farming emissions have increased capture too many irrelevant categories.

Stats NZ figures show dairy cattle farming emissions rose 3.18 percent (up 546.2 kt CO2-e to 17,719.4 kt CO2-e) between 2018 and 2019, the most recently reported year. This is the highest figure on record, dating back to at least 2007.

The Stats NZ figures count all emissions produced on dairy farms, regardless of what the emissions stem from. . . 

Mike Chapman wins Bledisloe Cup for horticulture:

Mike Chapman, until recently Chief Executive of Horticulture New Zealand, has won the Bledisloe Cup for significant services to horticulture for more than 20 years. 

HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil, says Mike’s advocacy for the horticultural industry has been untiring, forceful, and balanced.

‘Mike always acts with the aim of achieving the best outcomes for growers and orchardists, and indeed, the New Zealand economy and health of its people through access to nutritious, locally grown food.

‘Mike has firmly stood for growers on key issues such as protecting elite soils, ensuring growers maintain their social license to grow and, hand in hand with that, ensuring growers remain economically viable in a fast-changing environment.’  . .

Several other winners announced at the Horticulture conference:

Several other people important to the New Zealand horticulture industry – in addition to Mike Chapman who was awarded the Bledisloe Cup for horticulture – received awards at the Horticulture Conference gala dinner on 5 August at Mystery Creek.

Environmental Award

Emma and Jay Clarke of Woodhaven Gardens in the Horowhenua won the Environmental Award. 

Woodhaven Gardens are leaders in sustainable growing, investing significantly in reducing environmental impact, adopting a science-led approach that balances conservation with commercial success. . .


Rural round-up

05/08/2021

Policies undermining instead of promoting NZ farmers – Glenn Tyrrell:

A national tragedy is occurring and no-one seems aware it is destroying our farming communities and will ultimately do major damage to our economy.

The media have mostly accepted Government spin that farmers are damaging our environment, our planet and our international brand reputation.

It is no wonder consumers are confused and also believe farmers are responsible for global warming when, in New Zealand, nothing could be further from the truth.

In 2006, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) produced a report that determined livestock and meat production contributed to 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions (GGGE), the same amount as transport. . . 

Paper concludes cutting meat won’t reduce a person’s carbon footprint much – Catherine Harris;

A new paper by New Zealand and English scientists concludes that going meatless will only have a small impact on a person’s overall lifetime carbon footprint.

The paper, published in the Swiss-based Sustainability Journal, was written by researchers at Auckland, Massey, Victoria and Oxford universities, the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

It found that giving up meat would only reduce the average person’s lifetime contribution to global warming by 2 per cent to 4 per cent.

That was because long-term, the benefits in not eating meat were largely offset by the carbon dioxide created to produce alternative foods and the relatively short life of methane, farming’s key greenhouse gas. . . 

New Zealand red meat exports close to $1 billion in June:

The New Zealand red meat sector continues to perform strongly with overall exports reaching $937 million in June, up 16% year-on-year, according to the latest analysis from the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Sheepmeat exports increased by 15% to $345 million compared with June 2020.

Beef exports rose 8% to $411 million and co-products rose by 40% to $181 million.

There was also an increase in the value of all categories of co-products, with the largest two categories – prepared meat products and edible offals – increasing by 88% and 30% respectively. . .

Huge Far North water verdict looms as avocados boom – Nita Blake-Persen:

Plans for a massive water take to grow more avocados in the Far North could get the green light in the coming weeks, but there are major concerns among some locals about what that will mean for the environment.

An application to take billions of litres from Te Aupouri aquifer, which sits right at the top of the country, is currently being considered by independent commissioners.

A decision is expected in August. While there has been opposition from the Department of Conservation and many in the community, those wanting the water say the environment is their primary concern too.

In recent years the view from State Highway 1 north of Kaitaia has changed extensively. Former paddocks are now covered with bright wind breaks, protecting tens of thousands of avocado trees, stretching as far as the eye can see. . . 

Livestock feed support available for flood-affected farmers in the South Island:

Flood-affected farmers in the South Island are being encouraged to make use of livestock feed support services funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

Widespread flooding across the Canterbury, West Coast, Tasman, and Marlborough areas this winter has damaged pasture and caused losses to supplementary feed.

Since June, MPI has boosted feed support services and allocated more than $4.7 million for recovery grants, technical advice, and wellbeing support.

“Several of these regions had been battling long-term drought prior to the floods which have put further pressure on feed supplies heading into calving and lambing,” said MPI’s director of rural communities and farming support Nick Story. . . 

New charitable trust for New Zealand’s horticulture sector:

A new charitable trust has launched to support the horticulture industry.

The work of the MG Marketing Charitable Trust (MG Trust) is funded by New Zealand’s leading produce wholesaler, MG Marketing. The grower-owned cooperative provided a cash donation of $170,000. Ongoing funding will come from annual distributions generated by shares held by the MG Trust.

While the MG Trust will be supported by MG Marketing, it is run independently, with Trustees making key decisions about how funding is allocated.

Horowhenua grower and Chairperson, John Clarke, welcomed the launch of the trust and said that making a positive difference to the New Zealand horticulture sector is at the heart of the MG Charitable Trust (MG Trust). . . 


Rural round-up

04/08/2021

Family ‘farming for the next generation’ – Sally Rae:

In rural North Otago, a hard-working high-country family is working to preserve their slice of paradise for future generations. Rural editor Sally Rae reports.

Back in 2004, Dan Devine’s image went global.

After he hoisted the newly-found Shrek, the hermit merino wether discovered on Bendigo Station in Central Otago, on to his shoulders, the subsequently-snapped Otago Daily Times photograph sparked a world media frenzy.

These days, Mr Devine is managing Awakino Station near Kurow, with his partner Jaz Mathisen and their two young daughters, Ava (4) and baby Ida, who arrived in February. . . 

Plea for more government funds to push health careers to rural teenagers – Susan Murray:

The Rural General Practice Network is calling on the government to continue funding a programme promoting health careers to rural high school pupils.

A pilot project which ran for 10 months has recently ended and so far there is no ongoing commitment for Ministry of Health money.

Rural GP Network chief executive Grant Davidson said without the programme long-term health services in rural communities will continue to be in crisis.

He said short term overseas medical graduates can fill gaps, but research shows medical students from rural areas often return to their communities and stay their long term. . . 

Pacific RSE plan should have come sooner:

The Government’s plan to allow one-way quarantine-free travel for Recognised Seasonal Employer workers from Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu is the right one but should have come much sooner, says Leader of the Opposition and National’s Pacific Peoples spokesperson Judith Collins.

“We called for a move like this back in March to allow workers from Samoa, Tonga and Fiji to New Zealand for work in our staff-stretched agricultural sector. At the time, Fiji, like Tonga and Samoa, had never had a community case of Covid-19. But, given the current outbreak in Fiji, bringing Vanuatu onboard makes sense.

“It’s a good move but it should’ve happened much, much sooner. Our agricultural sector has been crying out for workers for a long time now, and they’ve paid a heavy price for the Government’s inaction. . .

Horticulture New Zealand welcomes labour crisis relief:

Horticulture New Zealand welcomes the Government’s announcement permitting Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers from Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu, to enter New Zealand without the need for managed isolation.

The decision will provide both economic relief to the Pacific Islands and alleviate the pressure felt by New Zealand’s horticulture and wine industries who face extreme seasonal labour crises for harvest and pruning.

HortNZ chief executive, Nadine Tunley, says without the support of this seasonal Pacific workforce, permanent jobs held by Kiwis, and the growth of New Zealand’s horticulture and wine industries, are at risk. . . 

Future-focused training key to filling labour shortages in horticulture:

New Zealand growers are exploring new online training options in an effort to help seasonal workers understand ongoing career pathways in the horticulture industry, which continues to experience a shortage of workers.

Hayden Taylor, manager of Roseburn Orchard in Central Otago, said engaging and effective training is crucial to building a sustainable labour force.

“If we focus on attracting new workers and training them well, we’ll get younger people coming in, buying in, and staying for 30 or 40 years in the industry,” he said.

Taylor began managing the 32-hectare apple orchard, which is part of CAJ Apples NZ, in May, but he has been responsible for inducting and training new staff for several months. He is keen to use all of the tools and technologies he has available to him to help new workers understand the career opportunities that exist in the industry. . . 

Northland avocado opportunity beckons:

The opportunity to invest in one of the country’s most productive avocado orchard operations has arisen, offering investors good immediate returns and positive prospects of longer-term growth in future fruit volumes.

The Broadhurst portfolio in the Far North is located in the heart of the region’s rapidly developing avocado industry and has laid the template for the region’s latest, and future, avocado development.

Bayleys salesperson Alan Kerr says Broadhurst has tipped the conventional avocado growing model on its head, and the result is an orchard capable of producing two and a half times the industry’s per hectare average yield.

“There is a combination of ideal soils, good water supply and of course the Northland climate which makes the region capable of producing some of the highest avocado yields in the world. . . 


Rural round-up

26/07/2021

Wine journey culminates in sale – SallyRae:

Jim Jerram quips he has been out of his comfort zone for the past two decades.

Dr Jerram ditched a successful medical career to establish pioneering wine company Ostler Wines in the Waitaki Valley with his wife Anne.

He was convinced they could do something “quite special” with a style of wine that was different from Central Otago, given the geology and geography of the district.

That had proven to be the case and, while it had been a “wonderful journey”, the couple announced this week they had sold Ostler Wines to ACG Wines Ltd. . .

Passion to serve rural New Zealand – Neal Wallace:

Wilson Mitchell is a young man on a mission. The University of Otago medical student is passionate about rural communities and the health and wellbeing of those who live there. He spoke to Neal Wallace.

Wilson Mitchell attributes the hours spent crutching and drenching sheep over weekends and school holidays for helping fuel his desire to work in rural health.

The satisfaction of an honest day’s physical toil is one reason for his infatuation but more so mixing with rural people and observing the dynamics of their communities.

He may just be 23 years old and five years through his studies, but Wilson’s commitment to rural health has already extended beyond good intentions. . .

Merger would give stronger voice to farmers  – Wools of New Zealand :

Two farmer-owned wool companies are proposing to merge in a bid to create a stronger voice for the struggling wool industry.

Wools of New Zealand and Primary Wool Co-operative announced the move to their 2100 shareholders today – who will vote on the merger in November.

Ahead of the vote Primary Wool Co-operative will become the owner of CP Wool with the purchase of Carrfields Ltd’s 50 per cent shareholding.

Strong wool prices have been depressed in recent years with the price of wool sometimes not meeting the cost of shearing the sheep. . . 

Kiwi operator Apata on hunt for 200ha for new plantings

Whanganui looks set to become the next developing kiwifruit region.

A kiwifruit post-harvest operator and grower Apata is on the hunt for land to plant green and red kiwifruit.

Its chief executive Stuart Weston said the company had recently bought 60 hectares for new plantings, adding to the 70 hectares that they have had growing there for decades.

He said they are now pushing to get about 200 more hectares over the next season or two. . .

Kiwi made masks keeping our elite athletes at Olympic Games safe:

“Our New Zealand Olympic team will be protected by New Zealand made facemasks that use the same technology chosen to protect Nasa astronauts,” says Lanaco managing director Nick Davenport.

“Our elite athletes and wider team will use our unique New Zealand-made masks that use our specially designed Helix technology filters.

“We’ve provided more than 70,000 disposable facemasks, to the team, which can be re-used. They’ve received a mix of certified top-line respirators for high-risk use and resistance masks for non-competitive times. The masks are made in the national team colour of black.

“We worked with the New Zealand Olympic Committee and medical staff in the development process to produce an ideal mask for these elite athletes. . .

Growers seek to lock-in key crop ingredients – Wes Lefroy:

Unlike the toilet paper hoarders that emerged during COVID-19 lockdowns, Australian croppers have had valid reasons to swap their buying patterns from “just in time” to “just in case” when it comes to farm inputs, such as fertiliser and agri-chemicals.

This is to ensure product availability when it is needed most, and to mitigate against the risks of the exponential growth in prices that was experienced for a range of farm inputs in 2021.

Buyers of fertiliser and agri-chemicals, in particular, have felt the effects.

Year-to-date urea imports to the end of April were up by 59 per cent from the previous year. . . 

 


Rural round-up

22/07/2021

Groundswell staying mum on future – Gerald Piddock:

Groundswell will keep its word and take no further action until August 16 to give the Government time to respond to its concerns that its farming regulations are unworkable.

The protests on July 16 saw thousands of farmers and their vehicles head to 57 towns and cities across the country to protest policies around freshwater, climate change and biodiversity.

“There’s definitely nothing to add to the protest because we have to wait until August 16 and we’ve given the Government until then to make a response,” Groundswell co-founder Bryce McKenzie said.

“But we have got other irons in the fire. There are other subjects we will be commenting on or putting stuff out on for people to look at separate to the protest,” he said. . . 

Backlash over protest advice to staff – Sally Rae:

Farmer-owned co-operatives have come under fire from the farming community for telling staff they were not allowed to represent their company’s brand at last Friday’s Groundswell New Zealand protest.

Some farmers have indicated shifting their support from co-operatives that took such a stance ahead of the Howl of a Protest, which drew thousands of people from throughout the country.

Clarks Junction farmer Jim Macdonald wrote to Farmlands chairman Rob Hewett before the event saying he was concerned and angered by the decision, and urged a change of heart.

Staff were told if they wanted to support Groundswell the company asked that it was done independently of Farmlands “to protect the Farmlands brand”. It is understood some other rural companies made similar requests to staff. . . 

Farmstrong: discovering my own values :

High country sheep and beef farmer Hamish Murray spent a year on a Nuffield scholarship studying businesses with high-performance team cultures. What he discovered was that before you can work on your team, you need to work on yourself.

HAMISH Murray has an impressive CV. He’s played top-level sport, studied overseas and now works with a team of seven full-time staff, running Bluff Station in the Clarence River Valley. The diversified operation includes 5500 Merino ewes, 950 Angus and Hereford breeding cows and 750 beehives.

“I love the variety of farming. The particular valley and property where we are just gets into your blood. It’s isolated and beautiful. I love being outdoors with our animals, I’m happiest when I’m out riding a horse and shifting stock,” Murray said.

“I spent the earlier part of my life getting an education and learning to do things other than farming, but for me coming back to farming was about giving my children the opportunity to grow up the same way I had. . . 

https://twitter.com/AniekaNick/status/141775380919178445

Grain sense: couple develop on-farm distillery – Sally Rae:

Southland sheep and cropping farmers Rob and Toni Auld are in high spirits.

The entrepreneurial couple operate Auld Farm Distillery, believed to be the southernmost on-farm distillery in the world, on their 200ha Scotts Gap property.

Being primary producers, they were previously used to watching the produce they grew heading out the driveway never to be seen again.

Being able to grow the grain to produce their own whisky was “next-level cool”, Mr Auld said. . . 

The big picture with sheep – Keith Woodford:

The sheep-farming retreat will continue despite excellent meat prices, with carbon farming the mega-force.

In recent months, I have written four articles focusing on the sheep and beef industries across New Zealand. My main focus has been to identify the current situation and to document how the situation varies for different classes of land across the country. Here I return to the overall big question: what is the future of the sheep industry?

There are two parts to that question. The first is the market opportunities. The second is about competing land-uses. . . 

Market opportunities

Apart from some dry hill and high-country farms lying east of the South Island Main Divide, wool is largely irrelevant. Fine-wool merinos are big contributors on low rainfall South Island farms and I expect that to continue. But elsewhere, wool no longer makes a worthwhile contribution to farm income. We can always live in hope, but that is not the basis on which to make land-use decisions. . . 

Productive avocado orchard with commercially run tourist operation placed on the market for sale:

A productive avocado orchard in the heart of Northland’s premier avocado growing district has been placed on the market for sale – with capacity to substantially increase its production scale.

The 15-hectare property is located at Waiharara near 90-Mile Beach in the Far North – which is fast becoming a regional production hub for avocados due to its climate, contour, and free-draining soils.

Located some 40 kilometres north of Kaitaia, the generally rectangular-shaped orchard for sale at 101 Turk Valley Road features nine sheltered and contoured blocks – three of which are now in full production.

Production records from the orchard show that the orchard has been relatively consistent with 12,000 trays being averaged over the past four seasons. The mature trees are Hass on Zutano rootstock, while the younger trees are Hass on Dusa and Hass on Bounty clonal rootstocks. . . 


Rural round-up

11/07/2021

Ute tax final straw for farmers as pressures mount– Matthew Littlewood:

On Friday, farmers and tradies will come together to protest a number of new government regulations, with thousands expected to drive their utes and tractors into centres across the country – the Government’s new ‘ute tax’ on high emission vehicles is the final straw for many, Matthew Littlewood reports.

It’s been a year of upheaval for many, and the farming community is no different. But setting the impacts of Covid-19 aside, South Canterbury Rural Support Trust chairman Mark Adams says there have been many challenges mounting for those in the rural sector for some time.

“It was happening even before Covid-19 hit. In this region, you have had Mycoplasma bovis, the Rangitata River flooding, the long dry spell, and then the more recent flooding last month.”

As well as having to contend with raging weather issues, farmers also had a Government pushing on with wide-ranging environmental reforms, Adams said. . . 

Activist photos reignite winter grazing debate in Southland – Rachael Kelly:

A cow stands in a muddy paddock on a winter grazing block, and it’s ignited a fresh firestorm of comments on social media as activists and farmers clash.

Environmental activist Geoff Reid took a photo of the cow and posted it on his own Facebook page, but when asked when he took it, he’ll only say he took it at Waituna last Wednesday, from the side of the road.

When asked if it was taken after heavy rain, he replied “it is Southland and for it to rain in winter is no surprise. I believe we need significant land-use change to avoid the harm intensive winter grazing is causing.’’ . . .

Seeka announces an equity investment in fruitometry:

New Zealand’s largest kiwifruit grower Seeka announces an equity investment in Fruitometry an innovative horticultural agritech.

In its first year Fruitometry successfully delivering a new commercial Digital Crop Estimation (DCE) service to kiwifruit growers, managers and packhouses in the North Island. Fruitometry’s exclusive technology enables the $3billion kiwifruit industry by growers being able to measure fruit set and growth by row throughout the growing season.

Fruitometry CTO and Founder Christopher Miller said “We are delighted with our performance after commercially scanning a thousand hectares. Grower feedback has been fantastic; it affirms our hard work to transform a challenging concept into a horticultural metrics provider in three years. Seeka is an ambitious, growth-oriented leader. Their investment is rocket fuel to rapidly scale our operation, broaden our product line and launch innovative tech towards additional crops and beyond New Zealand.” . . 

Governance plays a vital role in the future of the primary sector:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients is a co-operative owned by over 17,000 farmers and growers, and is a leader in driving sustainable productivity within New Zealand’s primary sector.

“We are pleased to announce that we have appointed our first Associate Director, Will Grayling, into an 18-month role focused on building governance experience,” says Duncan Coull, Ballance Chair.

“To understand how boards set and drive organisational strategy and vision, you need experience and training.

“We’ve created an opportunity for an associate to get involved in primary sector governance and learn through doing by being around the board table.

Jamie McIntyre wins Gisborne Young Grower of the Year regional final:

Jamie McIntyre, 25, an orchard hand at Illawarra Farms, has won the 2021 Gisborne Young Grower of the Year competition.

‘What a day and I’m really stoked,’ said Jamie.

‘This is the best job you can have. I love what I do as growing is such a fantastic lifestyle choice. I am passionate about growing and want to share what happens on our orchards, so more people can have a slice of the lifestyle that we can all lead.’

Jamie will represent the Gisborne growing community in the national Young Grower of the Year competition in Wellington on 22-23 September, where six other regional finalists will compete for their share of $30,000 worth of prizes. . . 

Graziers, peak bodies respond to Landholders for Dingoes – Sally Gall:

An acknowledgement that wild dogs don’t respect boundaries must be respected by the Landholders for Dingoes group, according to Queensland producers and peak body representatives.

The newly launched body, which has members in most states, has initiated ripples of comment with its claim that members are reaping business and environmental benefits in keeping wild dogs on their properties.

Queensland spokesman, Longreach grazier Angus Emmott said it was unfortunate that organisations driving the persecution of wild dogs, citing Meat & Livestock Australia, Australian Wool Innovation, and the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions, focused only on killing them. . . 


Rural round-up

09/07/2021

Towns rally for a howl of a protest – Neal Wallace:

More than 40 towns and cities from Kaitaia to Invercargill will reverberate to the sounds of tractors and utilities on July 16, as farmers and tradies protest multiple government policies.

Howl of a Protest is organised by pressure group Groundswell NZ, which says it is standing up for farmers, food producers, contractors, tradies and councils against what they claim to be a host of unworkable rules imposed by central government.

Organiser Laurie Paterson cannot say how many people will participate but says interest in the movement and the protest is growing with people frustrated by the deluge of government policy.

“They are sick of the avalanche of unworkable rules being dumped on them and the idea is to make a statement,” Paterson said. . . 

Rural group’s ‘wild conspiracy theories’ criticised

A Southern mayor and Federated Farmers president are alarmed a rural action group is taking advantage of valid concerns to push “wild conspiracy theories”.

Otago Federated Farmers president Mark Patterson and Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan attended an Agricultural Action Group (AAG) meeting in Balclutha last Wednesday, which Mr Patterson described as “unsettling and unhelpful”.

About 200 attended.

The former New Zealand First list MP said the content of the meeting conflated “valid concerns” of rural communities about current government policy with “wild conspiracy theories“. . .

Good work ethic goes a long way – Rebecca Greaves:

Hard work and personal drive led Joe McCash to take out the Hawke’s Bay Shepherd of the Year competition recently. Rebecca Greaves reports.

Demonstrating a high level of personal drive helped Joe McCash over the line in a Hawke’s Bay shepherd competition.

Combined with his experience across multiple farming systems, it set him apart from other competitors to win the Rural Directions Hawke’s Bay Shepherd of the Year competition.

Joe, 25, has been shepherding at Te Aratipi Station, a sheep and beef farm in the Maraetotara Valley, near Waimarama Beach, in Hawke’s Bay for 18 months.

Employed by Ed and Ro Palmer, Joe is focused on the stock side of the business. “I’d say it’s 90% stock work, all the handling, rotations, general yard work.” . . 

This Raglan couple rolled up their sleeves to transform their 14ha block into a tiny-home retreat – Nadene Hall:

There’s no power, no phone lines, and no cellphone coverage. It’s hilly to steep, mostly covered in trees, and ends at a cliff-face. The grass quality isn’t great, so there’s no point grazing stock, even if its vegetarian owners wanted to.

But this block just southwest of Raglan is a profit-making venture for Tara Wrigley and Guillaume Gignoux, thanks to hard work and a little serendipity.

They run Tiny House Escapes, with three unique accommodation options. There’s the LoveNest, a little cabin at the top of the property surrounded by a pine forest; the LoveBus, a converted bus that sits in a paddock with expansive ocean views; and the Treehouse, one of the most wish-listed places on Airbnb NZ. . .

New scientific officer passionate about solutions to N loss :

Ravensdown has appointed Dr Will Talbot to the newly created position of Scientific Officer, supporting the Chief Scientific Officer Ants Roberts in an ongoing programme of innovative science and technology projects.

Will brings strong soil knowledge to the innovation challenge from his undergraduate agricultural science and post graduate soil science studies as well as lecturing at Lincoln University in soil erosion, cultivation and physical properties.

It was through Ravensdown’s many projects with Lincoln that Will saw first-hand the co-operative’s innovative approach to solving production and environmental challenges simultaneously. . . 

New Zealand horticulture exports resilient in the year of the Covid-19 pandemic:

New Zealand horticulture exports weathered the effects of COVID-19 to reach new heights, climbing to a record-breaking $6.6 billion in the year ending 30 June 2020. This is an increase of $450 million from the previous year, and more than 11% of New Zealand’s merchandise exports.

Plant & Food Research and Horticulture New Zealand publish ‘Fresh Facts’ annually to provide key statistics that cover the whole of New Zealand’s horticulture industries. According to latest edition, the value of the total New Zealand horticulture industry exceeded $10 billion for the first time in 2020.

New Zealand horticultural produce was exported to 128 countries in 2020. The top five markets were Continental Europe, Japan, the USA, Australia and China. Exports to Asia were $2.76 billion, 42% of total NZ horticulture exports. . . 

Celebrating primary sector people and innovation :

The Primary Industry New Zealand (PINZ) Awards are all about acknowledging and celebrating teams, individuals and organisations that are leading the way towards a better future through investing in science, innovation and communities.

“We were proud to be a finalist in three out of the seven categories – it’s real recognition of the leadership and innovation across our Ballance team,” says Mark Wynne, Ballance Agri-Nutrients CEO.

“The competition was tough in each category, highlighting the depth of talent and drive within the sector, and making the fact we and Hiringa Energy won the award for Innovation & Collaboration and Surfing for Farmers won the Team award even more fulfilling, knowing we were up against the best of the best.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

03/07/2021

Call for pork imports to meet NZ standards – Shawn McAvinue:

New Zealand Pork has launched a petition asking the Government to force producers of imported pork to meet the same animal welfare standards as pig farmers in this country. Reporter Shawn McAvinue asks North Otago pig farmer Ian Carter why he wants people to sign the petition. 

North Otago pig farmer Ian Carter has joined a call for new legislation to force producers of imported pork to meet New Zealand’s animal welfare standards.

Mr Carter, who runs about 2000 pigs, including 200 sows, near Hampden, said he wanted New Zealanders to show their support for farmers by signing a petition.

Earlier this month, NZ Pork policy and issues manager Frances Clement launched a petition seeking Parliament to urge the Government to apply the same animal welfare standards to imported pork as is required by New Zealand pork producers. . .

Stern response to winter grazing post – Laura Smith:

Winter grazing in Southland is once again in the spotlight, following social media posts from an environmental activist.

The posts, though, have brought a stern reply from some Environment Southland councillors.

Activist Geoff Reid took some photos of weather-worn Southland farms, some of which look to have been taken by drone.

“This farm is currently spilling runoff into a freshly dug trench that is draining a large peat wetland.

“Pollution is flowing into the Eglinton River and causing havoc in Lake Te Anau,” he posted on Monday. . .

Orchards seek Labour bubble with Covid-free islands – Anuja Nadkarni:

Fruit growers stretched for labour are desperately seeking a Pacific bubble for workers as demand for MIQ allocations outstrip supply. More than 3 million cartons of fruit will to go waste, they warn.

Apple and pear orchards have large blocks of fruit still sitting on trees in the Hawkes Bay, weeks before pruning season starts.

“It looks a bit depressing, really,” NZ Apples and Pears chief executive Allan Pollard says.

The labour shortage will have a “huge” financial cost with the industry expecting more than 3 million cartons of unpicked fruit going to waste. . .

Focusing on the future of farming – Ben Speedy:

It’s been a remarkable 18 months for New Zealand, and for the world. For a country like ours that is reliant on exports, many predicted the pandemic would result in a broad slowdown in international trade, due to border closures, logistics challenges and reduced demand dampening the economic outlook.

But given our country’s status as a quality food producing nation, we finished 2020 in a stronger financial position than expected, and that’s thanks, in large part to New Zealand’s rural sector.

Despite predictions of a sharp fall, New Zealand goods exports finished the year in a resilient position. Data from our ASB economists shows that over the past 12 months regions that are more reliant on agriculture and exports have been benefiting from this. . .

Season a success but not without issues:

The kiwifruit industry has successfully reached the end of its harvest with a record crop now headed for overseas markets – if not already there.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. CEO Colin Bond says the sector weathered the labour crisis that affected the country’s horticulture sector well – “but that was down to a combination of good practice and good fortune.”

Bond says the 2021 season’s domestic operational practices weren’t disrupted by COVID-19 to the same extent as last year’s, but continued border closures meant Working Holiday Visa (WHV) holder numbers were down significantly and RSE worker numbers were limited – meaning an even heavier reliance on Kiwis filling the roles. . .

Country blokes are better than their city counterparts – Samantha Townsend:

Country music legends Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings might have sang the line “mammas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys”. But thank goodness those mammas didn’t listen.

Some women like surfers, some like sportsmen, but for me there is nothing better than a man in wranglers, dusty boots and working hands to sooth the soul.

With the ever-popular television series Farmer Wants a Wife set to hit our screens again this week, it begs the question: Are country men better than their city counterparts?

Let’s look at the facts (my facts). Firstly country blokes are jacks-of-all-trades. They can fix a fence, fridge, car, nail together a high heel shoe and if country songs are anything to go by, they can mend a broken heart. . .

 


Rural round-up

01/07/2021

New Aussie farm visas could spell more trouble – Sudesh Kissun:

A new farm work visa proposed by Australia could cause more misery for labour-strapped New Zealand farmers.

By the end of this year, the new visa will be in place, ending a requirement for British backpackers to work on Australian farms for 88 days.

The visa will be extended to 10 ASEAN nations: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

New Zealand’s dairy industry is a popular destinations for Philippine workers but they could soon be heading to Australia. . .

Caring for the rural community – Neal Wallace:

An endless appetite for work is a feature of many young farming couples, but as Neal Wallace discovers, by any measure Southlanders Jono and Kayla Gardyne have shown an exceptional commitment to their futures – albeit in different areas.

The tribe of magpies chose the wrong time to invade the Gardyne property.

A shotgun resting against a wall was evidence Kayla could no longer handle the disruptive noise and activity outside her home office window, as she studied for her medical degree.

The pests progressively came off second best with six magpies dispatched, reinforcing that not only were they unwelcome, but that Kayla needed to focus on her studies. . . 

Grazing support needed for flood-affected Canterbury livestock – Laura Hooper:

Federated Farmers Southland has supported the Ministry for Primary Industries call to Southland for grazing support for more than 5000 livestock as a result of the Canterbury floods.

MPI spokesoman Nick Story said: “Our feed coordinators are currently seeking grazing for more than 5000 sheep from the Canterbury region. The sheep are owned by seven different farmers.”

“There are also six listings of grazing being sought for almost 300 beef cattle.”

The “one in 200-year” weather event has damaged thousands of hectares of Canterbury farmland. . . 

Covid boost kiwifruit demand – Peter Burke:

In a somewhat ironic twist, the global Covid pandemic is helping to drive demand for New Zealand kiwifruit.

This season, Zespri estimates that it will sell a total of 175 million trays to export markets – well up on last season’s 155 million trays.

Zespri chief executive Dan Mathieson told Rural News the very strong demand for kiwifruit last season has continued this season.

“More consumers have been looking for healthy and nutritious foods and kiwifruit obviously fits in perfectly to that growing trend, which we also saw last year,” he says. . .

Wool campaign pays off :

An additional $78,500 has been raised for the Southland Charity Hospital after 64,000kg of donated wool was processed free of charge for sale by wool scour WoolWorks.

The cash is in addition to the hundreds of bales of wool donated by farmers to insulate the hospital in memory of Southland man and cancer sufferer Blair Vining, who died in 2019 but used his illness to raise awareness about the inequality of treatment.

He also successfully initiated a petition to the Government to create a national cancer agency.

The Bales4Blair appeal was spearheaded by South Otago farmer Amy Blaikie, with the goal of collecting bales to be turned into insulation for the Invercargill hospital; 181 farmers and businesses made donations through 21 wool stores. . . 

2021 and Beyond – the future of agriculture – Stephen Burns:

Where is agriculture at the moment and where is it going?

That is the background to a forum to be held in Temora on July 27, 2021.

With high prices for their commodities and record values being paid for farming land, it would be understandable to assume primary producers are enjoying a ‘purple patch’ of returns which might induce a sense of complacency.

That is the last emotion Craig Pellow, director of agency QPL Rural, Temora, wants to see happen to famers who have survived many years of drought, so he is hosting this forum. . . 


Rural round-up

15/06/2021

Rural roads may suffer as transport funding hole opens – Chloe Ranford:

Councils are scrambling to deal with holes in their roading budgets, which they fear could lead to deteriorating roads, particularly in rural areas.

Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency has told councils not to expect as much road funding as they had sought, although most would still receive more than they had in the last funding round.

The news from the government’s transport agency has left Marlborough District Council “scrambling” to deal with a $10 million hole in its road funding, which could cause “failures across the network”.

The lower funding indication came as the council was hearing feedback on its long-term plan, used to benchmark what the council would do and spend in the coming decade, including $53.6m on its roads. . . 

SNAs – the green movement that cuts farmers deep:

Katie Milne looks over eight hectares of precious native forest from her lounge room on the West Coast dairy farm she runs with her husband Ian Whitmore.

Just metres from her doorstep are kahikatea, mountain cedar and manuka and species of drachafilums which are normally only found higher up.

When it was designated a Significant Natural Area 20 years ago it was contentious but the debate is even more controversial now.

Today The Detail visits Milne at her farm and finds out why West Coast landowners are so angry at latest moves to identify and protect SNAs. . . 

Safety profile – the job’s always going to be there, getting home safely is the main thing :

This profile is part of a seven-part series from WorkSafe New Zealand sharing the health and safety approaches taken by the grand finalists of the 2021 FMG Young Farmer of the Year competition. For the next seven weeks, we will be sharing a profile and short video about each of the finalists and how they incorporate health and safety into their work, from a dairy farm manager to an agribusiness banker.

Working with ANZ’s rural lending team, Taranaki/Manawatu 2021 Young Farmer of the Year Jake Jarman sees real value in good health and safety practices.

“In my experience, a farm that makes health and safety a priority is a productive and profitable farm,” he says.

Jake’s own health and safety focus began with a solid grounding on his family’s dairy farm and continued through his studies at Lincoln and Massey universities and practical farm placements. . . 

NZ on track for predator-free targets – Ben Leonard:

A new report is giving hope to conservationists hoping to stem New Zealand’s biodiversity crisis

It’s been five years since the Government launched its ambitious goal of ridding the country of rats, possums, and mustelids by 2050. 

The programme aimed to move from piecemeal local projects to a strategic nationwide approach for eradicating the three worst offenders to our biodiversity.

Five years on, the programme is taking stock and reflecting in its first progress report, released at a summit in Wellington last week. . . 

Avocado industry smashes records with 40% sales value rise – Maja Burry:

The season just ended was a record breaker for the avocado industry, with the value of sales lifting more than percent 40 on the year prior.

New figures from New Zealand Avocado show the industry’s revenue from the 2020-21 season totalled $227 million compared to $155 million the season prior.

Overseas markets accounted for $167 million dollars worth of sales, with export volumes up 10 percent.

Industry group chief executive Jen Scoular said the result had been achieved against the odds, with Covid-19 lockdowns and significant freight disruption presenting major hurdles. . . 

Buyers aim high as treetop walkway business goes up for sale:

A leading adventure tourism business which operates a world-class treetop walk has been put up for sale.

Located just south of Hokitika, West Coast Treetop Walk & Café is one of the West Coast’s top visitor attractions.

It attracted more than 45,000 visitors last year with the chance to roam its 450-metre aerial walkway and 45-metre-high viewing tower overlooking stunning native rainforest, or to enjoy a unique food-and-beverage experience in a wild setting.

The business also has approval to install New Zealand’s longest and highest rainforest canopy zipline at the site, which is forecast to boost annual visitor numbers by a further 5,000 to 10,000. . . 


Rural round-up

14/06/2021

Dairy herd monitoring tech set to launch – Sally Rae:

Dunedin-created technology, designed to provide farmers with an “intelligent eye” over the health of their herds, will be launched at Fieldays at Mystery Creek next week.

Iris Data Science, which also created the world’s first sheep facial recognition system, is piloting the technology on five dairy farms in the lower South Island and hopes to extend to about 50, allowing it to develop it further.

The automated on-farm monitoring system, powered by artificial intelligence software, allows for early detection of conditions such as lameness, an issue which costs the dairy industry millions of dollars.

It uses a non-intrusive on-farm camera and monitoring system that collects tens of thousands of data points from every cow, every day, to provide an “intelligent eye” over livestock. . . 

Knees sore, head hurts – Pita Alexander:

The knees are sore, the back hurts and the tractor is noisy. Worse, the cash has gone and the only thing working well is the national superannuation.

Maybe it’s time to look at hanging up the farm boots.

If this is you, then don’t make any rash decisions. Firstly, you need to lead from the front and not get pushed too much from behind or from the side. Leading involves good thinking, planning, decision making, timing and cash. Being pushed from behind involves resistance, frustration and confrontation. Make sure you are on the right end of all of this as nothing well planned tends to happen overnight.

Your son – let’s call him Johnny – has been with you for 10 years and has been very supportive. Johnny’s wife likes shopping but this is his problem, not yours. Johnny has a 20 per cent share of the farm assets – that means land, stock, plant and debt – and is capable of managing the property’s sheep, cattle, vehicles and plant. Johnny works a lot harder than you, but plays a lot harder as well. You do though notice some of your own bad traits showing up in Johnny such as swearing at the wrong dog, being influenced by the tractor colour and feeling that the high overdraft is the bank’s problem. . . 

Good Bosses in action: Peter & Vicki Risi:

Waikato dairy farm owners Peter & Vicki Risi are nailing it at being good bosses, and their team approach has continued paying off despite the Covid-19 restrictions.
“Being a good boss makes perfect sense for our business and our team’s wellbeing. We milk 720 cows, employ four permanent staff, and are proud that our farm supports a good lifestyle for five families, including our own. Being a good boss means communicating well and holding on to valued staff.

The Risis say that in any business, the people you employ and work with are one of your biggest assets, so it’s important to value them because they can make or break your business. “We are very lucky to have this group of guys working for us.” Says Vicki.

Every morning the Risi farm team sits down to breakfast to plan the day. During the COVID-19 lockdown, breakfasts were on hold, and with them the accompanying banter – something everyone missed. . .

New ‘robust’ blueberry varieties available to New Zealand growers:

Eleven new blueberry varieties are being made available to New Zealand growers, with the aim of increasing export opportunities.

The crown research institute, Plant and Food Research, has licensed the new offerings, which it said produced larger fruit with good flavour and had been adapted to grow in a wider range of climates.

Plant varieties manager Emma Brown said the new varieties were more robust, which made them better suited for international freight.

“There’s a range of new genetics, with improved characteristics and a range of adaptability for growing regions across New Zealand,” Brown said. . . 

Vintage 2021: smaller harvest of superb quality:

Although the harvest was smaller than hoped for, the quality of the 2021 vintage is being described as exceptional throughout New Zealand’s wine regions.

There were 370,000 tonnes of grapes harvested during the 2021 vintage, down 19% on last year’s crop. Regions throughout the middle of the country – including Wairarapa, Marlborough, Nelson, and North Canterbury – were impacted the most, down over 20% on 2020. However, there was some variability across different parts of the country, with Central Otago the one region to increase its crop, up 21% on last year’s harvest.

“While the quality is exceptional, the overall smaller harvest means many of our wineries will face tough decisions over who they can supply in their key markets. There is going to be some supply and demand tension because of this, with the shortfall in the crop equivalent to roughly 7 million 9 litre cases of New Zealand wine,” said Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers. . . 

Dairy producer shares passion for industry with consumers – Amie Simpson :

Indiana dairy producer Jill Houin has a passion for teaching consumers about the dairy industry and the farmers caring for the animals.

“I absolutely am humbled to be able to share that story from our farm to teach people about the dairy farm families that are out there,” she says. “It’s amazing what they do, how they recycle, how they reuse, and I think it’s very important.”

A New Jersey native, Houin was new to the industry when she married an Indiana dairy farmer in 2004. She retired from teaching in 2016 and became calf manager of the family’s operation, Homestead Dairy.

“I had no idea before I married into it that dairy farming is not a job, it’s a passion, it’s a lifestyle, and they live every moment for the cows, the land, and to produce nutritious milk,” she says. . . 

 


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