Rural round-up

July 21, 2019

Meeting the gas challenge – Tim Fulton:

New legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will hit farmers in the pocket. Tim Fulton reports.

Waikato farmer George Moss, who operates two dairy farms, believes running a small business can be just as difficult when meeting environmental targets as large scale farming.

Moss and wife Sharon operate two small dairy farms at Tokoroa in south Waikato. One is 72ha milking 180 Friesians and the other is 67ha milking 175 crossbreds. They also own an adjoining 40ha drystock block. . .

Fonterra co-op leader Miles Hurrell – we can turn this around – Jamie Gray:

Nearly a year into his job as chief executive of Fonterra, Miles Hurrell is a man on a very public mission.

Since late last year, the co-op has been pulling out all the stops to streamline itself, improve earnings and trim debt.

There has been no shortage of criticism and there’s a lot at stake. The livelihoods of about 10,000 farmer-shareholders depend on it, and Fonterra is New Zealand’s biggest exporter by far.

Stung by the co-op’s first-ever loss last year, Hurrell’s job is to turn around the supertanker that is Fonterra. . .

Berry farm gets government help to expand hydroponic operation – Esther Taunton:

A $2.37 million loan from the Provincial Growth Fund will allow a Northland company to expand its hydroponic berry-growing operation, creating dozens of new jobs in the process. 

However, not everyone is happy about the arrangement, with the Taxpayers’ Union saying Maungatapere Berries should have got a bank loan.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced the partnership on Friday, saying it would allow the Whangarei-based business to add four hectares of berries to its existing operation. . .

Fingerprinting food :

AgResearch is finding new uses for a machine that uncovers the unique fingerprint of food.

The Crown agency’s lab at Lincoln is using a mass spectrometer to quickly analyse the interaction of genes and the environment.

In a sign of technology advances in the field, work that previously took over an hour can now be done in seconds on samples of meat, milk, plants and wine.

It will open up new opportunities for food science and industry, AgResearch senior research scientist Dr Alastair Ross, who leads the metabolomics platform, says. . .

Handpicked is judges’ top pick

Meat co-op Alliance Group’s Pure South Handpicked 55 Day Aged Beef has won international honours in the World Steak Challenge for the second year running.

Handpicked 55 Day Aged Beef, which combines selection for exceptional quality and marbling with extensive wet ageing, took out a gold medal for ribeye and a bronze medal for fillet at the event in Dublin, Ireland, on July 10.

The latest honours repeat the premium product’s success at last year’s contest, which helps benchmark the quality of beef production against global competitors. There were more than 300 entries from 25 countries in the competition. . . 

A 20% drop in methane emissions would cause global cooling, says expert – Lauren Dean:

A leading environmental professor has said farming can become completely ‘climate neutral’ if agricultural methane emissions are reduced by just 20 per cent over the next 30 years. . . 

Myles Allen, a professor from the University of Oxford, who has served on the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, claimed this kind of gentle reduction in methane emissions would be enough to fully compensate for the warming impact of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide from agriculture.

Farmers have already been cutting methane emissions by 10 per cent every 30 years, through measures such as better slurry storage and application. . .

Ongoing stable methane emissions from cattle doesn’t change the climate – Alan Lauder:

Could it be that a lot of cattle producers world-wide are being unfairly blamed for progressing climate change because of the methane released by their cattle? Going one step further, in this contributed article Alan Lauder, long-time grazier and author of the book Carbon Grazing – The Missing Link,  suggests that the methane emissions of the Australian sheep and cattle industry are not changing the climate, because they have been stable since the 1970’s.

WE have to ask the question, is the current way of comparing methane and carbon dioxide, using the Global Warming Potential (GWP) approach, the best way to assess the outcome of the methane produced by ruminant animals like sheep and cattle?

I raise the point, keeping in mind that the debate is about “climate change”. We keep hearing the comment that we have to limit “change” to two degrees.

I am not suggesting that the science the IPCC and the world is relying on is wrong, but maybe it is worth having another look at how we are interpreting it in the area of ruminant animals. . .

 


Ag part of the tech boom

July 5, 2019

Politik discusses Knowledge Wave Mark Two which seeks to boost the tech sector and quotes Helen Clark from the original Knowledge Wave conference:

Our export profile resembles that of developing countries, not that of a developed one.

Our export profile is unique among developed countries for the volume and value of primary produce and the large part that plays in our economy.

But the quote, and some policies from this government, send the message that there’s something wrong with that.

They ignore the fact that primary production does so well in New Zealand not just because of our natural advantages – the climate and soils – but because of the investment in, and application of, research and technology.

There is some comfort in David Parker’s statement:

“The agritech sector has been chosen as a key focus because it brings together two of New Zealand’s key competitive advantages – our expertise in agriculture and horticulture with our well-educated workforce,” he said.

This focus is already being undermined by government policy which incentivises forestry over food production.

Economic growth,  a broader based export economy and technological innovation are all worthy goals but none should be achieved by dragging down or devaluing primary production.

Our export profile does resemble that of a third world country, but primary production in New Zealand is very much a first-world business and already part of the tech boom.

When climate change could threaten food security, our ability to produce highly nutritious food in a very efficient manner is of even more importance.

 

 


It’s Fieldays’ week

June 12, 2019

The National Fieldays (and it is Fieldays not Field Days) officially open today.

We were there last year – met a lot of people we knew, got lots of invitations to eat and drink, only a few of which we accepted and got lots of invitations to buy, none of which we accepted.

We won’t be there this year but lots of other people are including:

and if you’re in need of some entertainment, there’s always the Rural Catch competition.


How much does Minister know?

February 19, 2019

Conservation Minister Eugene Sage has ruled out genetic modification in the fight against pests:

 Predator Free 2050 aims to rid New Zealand of the most damaging introduced predators by 2050, and has a number of government agencies involved in the plan including the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

But Predator Free 2050 is forbidden from carrying out any research which could lead to the use of genetic modification or gene editing, a letter written by Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage shows.

The letter of direction to Predator Free 2050 obtained by lobby group Life Sciences Network said its primary tasks were to invest in breakthrough scientific research, but not to research into genetically modified organisms and technologies or gene editing, and to raise funds for co-investment by other (non-government) parties, in landscape scale projects and breakthrough science, excluding any science involving genetic modification.

“Gene technologies are problematic and untested and have significant risks.” . . 

This directive counters officials’ views that GE could be an alternative to 1080:

“It could be efficient and much more cost-effective method of pest control than conventional approaches.

“For potential application to replace knockdown tools such as aerial 1080, they would be most effective for short generation pests such as rodents, and less effective for longer generation pests such as stoats and possums, due to their requirement to spread over generations.” . . 

The minister’s refusal to permit sciencetific exploration is rank stupidity.

It’s also hypocritical coming from a member of the party that exhorts everyone to accept the science on climate change.

But how much does the minister know about the science when the strongest opponents of GM food know the least and think they know the most?

The most extreme opponents of genetically modified foods know the least about science but believe they know the most, researchers have found.

The findings from public surveys in the US, France and Germany suggest that rather than being a barrier to the possession of strongly held views, ignorance of the matter at hand might better be described as a fuel.

“This is part and parcel of the psychology of extremism,” said Philip Fernbach, a researcher at the University of Colorado and co-author of the 2017 book The Knowledge Illusion. “To maintain these strong counter-scientific consensus views, you kind of have to have a lack of knowledge.” . . 

Is the minister’s decision based on a lack of knowledge or just politics and emotion trumping science?

Whichever it is, a minister should not be shutting the door on scientific exploration.


Better meat better

January 16, 2019

New Zealand researchers are hoping to prove that the best red meat is good for heart health:

The University of Auckland’s Liggins Institute has recruited a group of men between 35 and 55 to eat free meat three times a week for two months.

Prof David Cameron-Smith says the men have been allocated either grass-fed Wagyu beef, grain-finished beef or a vegetarian alternative.

“We’re making a direct comparison against soy, so it’s a vegetable alternative,” he told Newshub.

The study is looking at how complex fats in high-quality unprocessed meat affect heart health. Prof Cameron-Smith says Wagyu beef is rich in healthy fats.

“They have very high concentrations of omega-3 fats, and other anti-inflammatory fats that may protect you against heart disease – so that’s where our research comes in.”

Prior research hasn’t brought good news for meat-lovers. While some studies have been inconclusive, many end up concluding the more red meat you eat, the higher risk you’re at of developing heart disease and other conditions, including cancer. Prof Cameron-Smith suggests that may be a reflection of the kinds of red meat people are eating.

All meat isn’t equal.

Better cuts are unprocessed with no additives.

“A healthy diet needs to have a range of protein sources – including vegetable protein sources – but if you are going to eat meat, make it the best meat.” . . 

If the study proves that better meat is good for heart health it will provide ammunition against the people who are trying to convince governments to tax meat.

Better meat is already more expensive than lower quality alternatives.

Adding a tax to it would make it even more expensive and lead more people to buy cheaper, and less healthy, alternatives.

 


To the point

August 25, 2018

A useful guide and not just for researchers ;

Utopia, you are standing in it!

View original post


Rural round-up

August 9, 2018

Long-serving dairy scientist Harjinder Singh gains international recognition – George Heagney:

After 30 years of research in the dairy industry, a distinguished service award was well deserved for Harjinder​ Singh.

The Massey University distinguished professor has won a lot of awards for his work, but last month became the first New Zealander to win the American Dairy Science Association distinguished service award at Knoxville in the United States.

The gong, which Singh joked was a lifetime achievement award, was for outstanding contribution to dairy science and work improving the industry. 

Singh, 60, is a food scientist and major figure in the development of dairy science research, having started working at Massey in 1989. . .

TDC hopes Provincial Growth Fund will plug $18m hole in Waimea dam plan – Cherie Sivignon:

Tasman District Council has applied to the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund to plug an $18 million hole in funding for the proposed Waimea dam, undaunted by an apparent exclusion for water and irrigation projects.

A guide to the fund called Powering Up Aotearoa-New Zealand’s Regions is available on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website.

On page 5 of that guide under the headline “Fund exclusions”, it says: The following are not eligible for PGF [the Provincial Growth Fund] as they are funded by other means:
* Housing (unless it is a core part of a broader project and would not otherwise be required)
* Water and large-scale irrigation
* Social infrastructure (such as hospitals and schools) . .

Four does go into one – Sonita Chandar:

Teamwork is the secret to success for the Southland farm judged the best dairy business in the land. Sonita Chandar reports.

Despite three of the four partners living in the North Island the success of a Southland farming business can be attributed to exceptional teamwork and good clear lines of communication.

Each partner brings strengths to the table but no one is above the others. They are all equals, make decisions as a group and share in the spoils of their collective success. . .

Tradition lives on – Sonita Chandar:

The threat of Mycoplasma bovis might ruin an annual tradition that is a firm favourite on the agricultural calendar.

Calf club days around the country are being put on hold or cancelled because of fears of spreading the disease, which has seen cattle banned from some A&P Shows.

However, a group of Waikato farmers has come up with a failsafe idea that carries zero risks and allows children to enter calf clubs and compete against others without having to leave the farm.

On a Facebook page farmers suggested running an online club. . .

Sniffing out a new industry – Nigel Malthus:

At up to $250 retail for a well-shaped 80-90g black perigord truffle, growing the gourmet delicacy has its obvious rewards.

But it is also a high-risk business, says Amuri Truffiere’s Gavin Hulley. The truffiere is based on a 2ha hillside plot overlooking the North Canterbury township of Waikari.

Run as a joint venture with the landowner and another investor, it was planted out in 1997 as one of the first truffle farms in New Zealand. . .

A2 Milk shares rated both ‘outperform’ and ‘sell’ as views on outlook diverge – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Views on the outlook for The a2 Milk Company, the best performing stock on the S&P/NZX 50 Index last year, are widely divergent with one broking house this week reinstating an ‘outperform’ rating based on its potential for future global growth, while another downgraded it to ‘sell’ saying excess product is starting to build in Australia.

A2 Milk, which markets milk with a protein variant said to have health benefits, has had a meteoric rise in recent times, cracking a major milestone in February when it became the largest listed company in New Zealand by value, as its infant formula in China and liquid milk in Australia surged in popularity. At today’s price it is valued as the fourth-largest New Zealand listed company although opinions on its future are mixed. . . 

Fonterra and Future Consumer Limited JV to provide high value dairy nutrition in India:

Fonterra has announced a joint venture partnership with one of India’s largest consumer companies, Future Consumer Ltd, to produce a range of consumer and foodservice dairy products that will help meet the growing demand for high-quality dairy nutrition in India.

Lukas Paravicini, Fonterra’s Chief Operating Officer Global Consumer and Foodservice, said the partnership, under the name Fonterra Future Dairy Partners, will enable Fonterra to establish a presence in India. . . 

New Zealand’s newest farmer-owned foor company challenges  Virgin Australia to bet on an underdog:

Farmer-owned food company, Hinterland Foods, has launched an online appeal for support to have its meat products served on Virgin Australia flights.

It follows an invitation by the airline to the country’s meat companies, in response to rival Air New Zealand’s plant-based Impossible Burger, which has caused a stir in local rural communities.

To help rally support, Hinterland’s Taihape-based team produced a short video to better acquaint ‘the Aussies’ with rural New Zealand life and make a case for why the company’s products should be chosen.  . .

DryNZ, a boutique freshly dried food ingredients business clinches major international export order:

DryNZ, a start-up wholesale freshly dried fruit and vegetable business has won a major international export order, supplying dried fruit for an international company based in Europe.

DryNZ Managing Director Anne Gibson says the deal is a major coup for the Waiuku based business, situated adjacent to the Pukekohe food-bowl supplying apple, peach, blackcurrant, kiwifruit and lemon dried food pieces. . . 

Farmer Tim says ENOUGH IS ENOUGH to farmer suicides #ILiveBecauseYouFarm – The Bullvine:

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! I need your help. Five times in the last week I’ve received messages about farmers taking their lives. It is getting way too close to home for me now. Last week agriculture lost an amazing soldier. Her passion and compassion for all things farming was contagious. Anyone who had the privilege to meet her instantly became inspired to be a better person. I do not want to needlessly lose another friend, farmer, neighbour or agvocate. We need to do something.

So many people suffer silently and I know that we can’t help them all but sometime even a small gesture can have a huge impact on someone’s life. . .


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