Rural round-up

October 28, 2017

Pride is about best practice – Alan Williams:

Synlait Milk’s Lead With Pride programme is all about best practice across all farm operations, Michael Woodward, one of the first farmers to sign up to it, says.

The process was very involved and Ecan deciding it did not have to duplicate Synlait’s audit system was not a step back for the environment.

Dunsandel-based Woodward was the fifth farmer to sign on with Lead With Pride, in 2014.

Synlait’s flagship programme now had 50 farmers involved, out of a supply base of 200, with several more in the process of joining. . . 

Lower carbs and calories spuds – Sudesh Kissun:

Three years ago fruit and vegetable trader T&G told Pukekohe growers about a potato with lower carbs and fewer calories, called Lotatoes.

Two family-owned businesses, Balle Brothers and Masters Produce, were chosen to trial the new variety.

This month, Lotatoes fended off four other food innovators to be crowned overall winner of the Ministry for Primary Industries Primary Sector Products Award at the 2017 New Zealand Food Awards. . . 

‘Never again philosophy drives regional programme:

The devastating flooding across much of the Manuwatu in February 2004 was the catalyst for a programme to address the loss of natural capital stocks and in doing so mitigate the source of much of the sediment finding its way into the region’s rivers and streams.

“The visible devastation on the hill country and across the plains, to infrastructure, people and their businesses, schools and homes was a real shock for the community at the time,” says AgResearch scientist Dr Alec Mackay.

Following the February 2004 storm, Horizons Regional Council held a meeting with a wide range of community representatives to discuss what could be done to reduce hill country erosion and flooding of the region’s plains. . . 

Upper North Island dominates race for New Zealand’s top horticulturist 2017:

This year’s search for New Zealand’s best young horticulturalist has a distinctly Upper North Island flavour with four out of the five contestants for New Zealand’s top young horticulturist 2017 coming from Gisborne, Auckland, Te Puke and Waiheke Island (and one from Christchurch).

Elle Anderson Chair of RNZIH Education Trust says that not so long ago few people would have thought of the Auckland region as a centre for primary production.

“That is changing fast, as horticulture gains traction as a major player in New Zealand’s economy. There’s a lot of good wine and vegetables coming out of Auckland and surrounds.” . . 

Wayne Dickey – FARMAX:

Waikato dairy farmer Wayne Dickey came home to manage his family’s 90 hectare Manawaru dairy farm in 2010 after working as a builder for 18 years.

It wasn’t the easiest transition having been ‘out of the game’ for a while, but four years on, Wayne is now the third generation Dickey to farm the land.

Wayne said that while there is a lot to learn from family who have gone before him, it’s definitely not business as usual on the pretty farm nestled in the lush pastures beneath Mount Te Aroha.

The reality is that Wayne is tasked with transforming the business into a ‘farm of the future’ under a contract milking arrangement with semi-retired parents John and Ngaire. Wayne is a 10 per cent shareholder in Crosskeys, the business that owns the farm’s 280 cows. . . 

What is behind the rising price of butter? – The Conversation:

Have you noticed that some of Australia’s favourite baked goods, such as croissants and buttery biscuits, have been creeping up in price? This becomes less surprising when one considers that globally, the price of butter has risen by around 60% over the past year.

In Australia, just as milk producers keep expressing concerns about farm-gate milk prices offered by cooperatives and dairy processors, butter prices have reached record levels on international commodity markets.

While butter prices have more than doubled since July 2016, farm-gate milk prices in most producing areas have remained stable. Is there a paradox? Not really. The key ingredient butter producers require is not just the milk – but rather the milk fat. . .

 

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Rural round-up

October 27, 2017

Farmer restores whitebait for future generations:

Over the past few years Fonterra dairy farmer Stu Muir has been restoring the once stagnant stream on the boundary of his Waikato farm to create 20 whitebait spawning ponds with grasses, flaxes, kahikatia, kowhai, mahoe and other wetland trees.

“When I saw water quality and whitebait catches dropping, I knew I had to do something. My family has owned this farm for five generations, I went whitebaiting with my grandfather here and I wanted to do the same with my own children,” says Stu.

With numbers of whitebait now increasing, Stu is working to restore other local waterways. He and his extended family have been working on five dune lake restoration projects including Parkinsons Lake which is now fenced to exclude stock and 8,500 native trees have been planted. . . 

Boosting brainpower, flavour & texture in food exports of the future:

AgResearch scientists are leading new research that could revolutionise New Zealand foods – with new ways of boosting flavour and texture, and products designed to make our brains perform better.

Supported by industry and research partners, AgResearch is looking to the future for premium food exports with programmes that have recently been awarded more than $21 million by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Endeavour Fund.

“The future for New Zealand food exports to the world is premium quality and adding as much value as possible to our products,” says AgResearch Science Group Leader Dr Jolon Dyer. . . 

New actions to increase Hawke’s Bay primary sector workforce:

New opportunities aimed at improving access to employment in the primary sector will be considered for incorporation into Matariki, Hawke’s Bay Regional Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has been leading work in Hawke’s Bay aimed at increasing the uptake of employment in primary industries, one of the region’s largest sectors. The work is part of the Regional Growth Programme. . . 

Dairy industry free-range milk spat – Natalie Kotsios:

FREE-ranging use of the “free-range” label on dairy product will confuse consumers and potentially harm the industry, say farmers.

South Australia Dairyfarmers’ Association said industry should consider developing a free-range standard after Camperdown Dairy recently launched its “free-range milk”.

“I read it and went, ‘What’s that?’ and I’m a dairy farmer,” SADA president John Hunt said.

“We’ve got to be careful not to discredit our industry. We work very hard to keep legitimate  if there isn’t an industry standard they shouldn’t be able to say it. . . 

French winegrowers face poorest harvest since 1945:

France’s winegrowers are preparing for their poorest harvest in decades after frosty weather in April devastated vineyards, with many fearing they will be unable to meet market demand.

Winegrowers in France have finished harvesting their grapes to produce wine for 2017. Yet many fear they will be unable to satisfy market demand after their vineyards perished during the April frosts. Jérôme Despey, head of a governmental wine advisory board at FranceAgriMer, said this year’s harvest will be “the smallest since 1945”.

“At harvests everywhere, in places where we thought there would be a little less, there’s a lot less,” Despey said at a news conference in August. . . 

 


Rural round-up

October 22, 2017

Irrigation a ‘positive’ in arid region – Sally Rae:

When Emma Crutchley first expressed an interest in farming as a career, her father told her she could ‘‘probably make more money doing something else’’.

But there was no changing her mind, even though farming in the Maniototo was not something for the fainthearted.

She grew up on the family sheep and beef farm, with her parents Geoff and Noela, and brother Bruce, and always loved the rural lifestyle. . 

Another feather in cap for shearing champs – Nicole Sharp:

Twelve thousand people, three days of competition and shearers and woolhandlers from 32 different countries transformed the ILT Stadium Southland in February during the World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships.

Eight months on and the event has been recognised as the best international event in New Zealand.

Months after the World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships were held in Invercargill, the event is still causing a stir.

Not only was it a success for the town, and Kiwis Johnny Kirkpatrick and Joel Henare, but the event has also been recognised as the Best International Event in New Zealand at the New Zealand Event Awards (NZEA) last week. . .

Feds ready to engage new coalition government:

Federated Farmers says it is ready to engage and work with the new coalition government.

New Zealand First has chosen to go into partnership with Labour and the Greens for the next three years and the Federation believes there is room of opportunism for its’ members, wider primary sector, and all New Zealanders.

“We congratulate new Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the coalition partners on finding a consensus to lead the country,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers National President.

“Federated Farmers is looking forward to getting around the table and talking about the issues which affect our members and farmers. The primary sector is the backbone of the New Zealand economy so we anticipate the new government will be mindful of that when formulating policy.” . . 

MPI report predicts strong growth in primary exports in 2018:

New Zealand’s primary industry exports are forecast to rise 9.3% over the next year on the back of strong dairy prices and a return to normal productivity levels, according to MPI’s latest quarterly update to its Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries.

“Exports reached $38.1 billion in the year ended June 2017, an increase of 2.4% over the previous year, and $7 million higher than we previously estimated,” says Jarred Mair, Director of Sector Policy for the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

“Dairy prices began recovering in the past year, which boosted exports, despite weather reducing production. The forestry sector also made a strong contribution to export growth for the second consecutive year, driven by record demand for log exports to China. This offset a decline in meat and wool exports. . .

Robust primary sector a solid foundation for the incoming government:

A flourishing primary sector with exponential growth will ensure the new Labour led coalition government starts office on a solid footing, says Federated Farmers.

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ latest Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries report shows exports reached $38.1 billion for the year to June 2017, up 2.4% on the year before.

The country’s largest export, dairy, has rebounded significantly after several years of a downturn with increased exports of over 10%.

“I’m sure the new coalition government will be delighted to know the primary sector, the backbone of the nation’s economy, is in good shape and still a significant contributor to the country’s coffers,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Vice President.

“Dairy is obviously resurgent and it is anticipated the primary sector as whole will continue to perform with export value set to exceed $41 billion by next June. . . 

Novel meat-enriched foos for older consumers:

Highlights
• Older consumers sometimes struggle with traditional meat foods.
•We incorporated meat into unexpected food formats under new product categories.
•Bread, spaghetti, yoghurt, ice cream and chocolate were prototyped and tested.
•Samples had greater protein content and most were acceptable to proxy consumers.
•Products could provide the elderly with means to attain their protein requirements. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 6, 2017

Farmers’ social licence fast expiring – warning – Nigel Malthus:

Dairying has a lot at stake as the world enters the fourth industrial revolution, says former DairyNZ chairman John Luxton.

A dairy farmer, businessman and former National minister of agriculture, Luxton gave the opening keynote address at the 2017 South Island Dairy Event (SIDE) conference at Lincoln University.

He says farmers’ social license to operate as in the past was now fast expiring. Rules and regulations requiring farmers to improve farm systems were becoming more and more complex. . . 

Military cameras help red meat – Sudesh Kissun:

Cameras used by the military are helping the New Zealand red meat sector produce premium lamb products.

One camera, installed in a South Island meat plant, scans eight lambs a minute, collecting from 45 data points per lamb in a round-the-clock operation. The technology is not available anywhere else in the world; AgResearch needed special approval to get the military-grade camera into NZ.

Chief executive Tom Richardson says the technology has the potential to help farmers double their income. . .

NZ support for agriculture innovation

Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced an $11 million boost to global agricultural research.

“New Zealand is a world leader in international agriculture research and we want to help meet global food needs in ways that are positive for the environment,” Mr Brownlee says.

“New Zealand is committing $11 million over two years to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), a network of research institutes around the world that focus on agriculture, forestry and fishing. . .

Feds’ commend Government on investment in global agriscience:

Federated Farmers commends the Government on investment of $11 million towards global agricultural research.

The announcement today, made by Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee, is a progressive step that will drive science and innovation in the agriculture sector.

“There is a great deal of work that governments and farmers worldwide should be collaborating on in the pre-competitive space to not only lift livelihoods in rural sectors, but also improve environmental outcomes,” says Federated Farmers’ National Vice President Andrew Hoggard. . .

Horticulture ripe for investment:

World-wide consumer interest in healthy food, growers being early-adopters of innovation, and rapid growth make horticulture in New Zealand ripe for further investment, says Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman.World-wide consumer interest in healthy food, growers being early-adopters of innovation, and rapid growth make horticulture in New Zealand ripe for further investment, says Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman.

“Today, the government has released a business-focused overview in The Investor’s Guide to the New Zealand Produce Industry 2017 which shows potential investors how well fruit and vegetable production in New Zealand is going,” Mr Chapman says.  . .

Healthy humans, lusty lambs:

Managing the diets of sheep to boost human health and keep stock in prime condition will be on the menu when NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) researchers present their latest findings at a Graham Centre sheep forum in Wagga Wagga on Friday July 7.

NSW DPI livestock researcher, Edward Clayton, has investigated ways to lift omega-3 fatty acid levels in lamb to deliver human health benefits, which could decrease risks of cardiovascular disease and treat inflammatory conditions, including eczema and arthritis.

“Omega-3 fatty acid, found in high concentrations in oily fish, is also a component of red meat and levels can be altered considerably through the animal’s diet,” Dr Clayton said. . .


Rural round-up

May 22, 2017

Rain severely cuts crop planting – Annette Scott:

Waterlogged South Canterbury farmland will lie idle over winter as farmers wait for spring opportunities to plant crops.

Twice the normal rainfall in March followed by four times the normal rainfall in April left farmers battling with sodden ground and unable to meet autumn planting commitments.

South Canterbury Federated Farmers arable industry chairman Michael Porter said to date only about 50% of farmers had managed to get the crops they planned into the ground. . . 

Report shows plenty to work on – Hugh Stringleman:

Lack of progress on mitigating nitrogen losses from dairy farms was evident in an otherwise mainly positive scorecard for the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord (SD:WA) in year three.

The national average nitrogen leaching loss in 2015-16 was 39kg/ha a year — the same as the year before.

N-loss calculations in Canterbury and Otago (64 and 39 respectively) revealed higher figures than the rolling average of the two previous years of accord measurements (50 and 33).

This was because irrigation effects were included for the first time after a change in the Overseer computer model used to generate the leaching loss numbers. . . 

Dairy farm water report factual, independently audited:

Kiwis can be confident that dairy farmers are ‘walking their environmental talk’, says the chair of the Dairy Environment Leaders’ Group, Alister Body.

Commenting on the latest Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord report, Mr Body says the work being carried out by farmers to help achieve swimmable rural waterways is each year independently audited by Telarc SAI.

The Crown Entity subsidiary is the leading certifier of quality, environmental, food, and occupational health and safety management systems. . . 

Fairton closure unfortunate but inevitable – Allan Barber:

Silver Fern Farms decision to close its Fairton plant did not have much to do with Shanghai Maling’s investment, but was only a matter of time. Even the workforce had apparently come to accept the inevitable after seeing lamb numbers through the plant decline sharply from more than 1 million in 2010 to less than 500,000 last season and 325,000 in the latest six months.

This demonstrated graphically the unsustainability of keeping the facility open when the company’s modernised multi species operation at Pareora is only an hour down the road. In its notice of proposal to close, subject to a two week consultation period, SFF cited declining sheep numbers in the surrounding catchment area as a result of land use change to more profitable forms of agriculture. However not surprisingly the company didn’t mention its substantial loss of market share at the same time, 14% share loss over a six year spell since 2010. . . 

North Canterbury cattle stud makes it through drought and out the other side – Pat Deavoll:

Three years of drought and an earthquake that destroyed three farm buildings and badly damaged another has failed to deter Kaiwara Angus Stud of Culverden, in north Canterbury, from preparing for its annual bull sale in a month’s time.

Stud owner George Johns is in the process of producing the catalogue. “You think you have taken great photos through the year, but where are they when you need them,” he says with a laugh.

The stud was formed in 1971 by George’s father Bruce Johns. At the time the family farmed a property in Waiau but moved to Culverden and Kaiwara Farm 25 years ago. . . 

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement Ministerial Statement:

Ministers and Vice Ministers from Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore and Viet Nam met today to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the margins of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministers Responsible for Trade.

The Ministers reaffirmed the balanced outcome and the strategic and economic significance of the TPP highlighting its principles and high standards as a way to promote regional economic integration, contribute positively to the economic growth prospects of its member countries, and create new opportunities for workers, families, farmers, businesses and consumers. . . 

Get to the heart of decision making:

Heartland Bank and NZX subsidiary AgriHQ have launched a free online livestock finisher tool, AgriHQ Finisher, to assist sheep and beef farmers to calculate the potential trading margin after finishing any livestock they are considering buying.

Heartland Bank’s head of rural, Ben Russell, said the old adage “information is power” is particularly true in this instance.

“With store livestock prices at historically high levels, the arrival of AgriHQ Finisher couldn’t be better timed. . . 

The strange sheep that baffled scientists – Eloise Gibson:

When a farmer in Otago, New Zealand, saw a bizarre-looking lamb in his flock, he first assumed a wild goat had snuck in and impregnated one of his ewes. The newborn had a lamb-shaped body yet was coated with straight, lustrous wool, more like the hair of an angora goat than a typical sheep.

News of the “geep” (or sheep-goat hybrid) soon reached the local papers but, when scientists saw photos, they immediately suspected the baby animal was something else. For decades they had been hoping to study a rare woolly mutant called a “Felting Lustre” mutant: a sheep which has straight, fine wool instead of the usual crimped stuff.

“You can see it when the lambs are born, they have a different sheen,” says Jeff Plowman, a wool researcher at New Zealand’s AgResearch science company. “It doesn’t have a dull look, it’s shiny and bright.”. . 

 


Puckering up is life preserving

May 15, 2017

From Barking Up the Wrong Tree:

. . . A ten-year psychology study undertaken in Germany during the 1980s found that men who kissed their wives before leaving for work lived, on average, five years longer, earning 20 to 30 percent more than peers who left without a peck good-bye. The researchers also reported that not kissing one’s wife before leaving in the morning increased the possibility of a car accident by 50 percent. Psychologists do not believe it’s the kiss itself that accounts for the difference but rather that kissers were likely to begin the day with a positive attitude, leading to a healthier lifestyle. . . 

There you have it: permission granted to pucker up each morning, it might extend or even save your life.


Book readers better people

May 12, 2017

Reading could make people kinder and more empathetic.

Readers were more likely to act in a socially acceptable manner while those who preferred watching television came across as less friendly and less understanding of others’ views, British researchers said. . .

Researchers told the British Psychological Society conference in Brighton that fiction fans showed more positive social behaviour.

Readers of drama and romance novels were also empathic, while lovers of experimental books showed the ability to see things from different perspectives.

Comedy fans scored the highest for relating to others.

The study suggested reading allows people to see different points of view, enabling them to understand others better. . .

But there’s a but:

However, the authors warned the study did not prove cause-and-effect.

So it could be that reading causes positive behaviour, or it could be that thoughtful, well-mannered people are more likely to prefer reading.

Is it that better people read books or readers are better people?

Either way, book readers are better people.


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