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. . .


Rural round-up

April 11, 2018

Leading bunch of female students contribute to solving nitrogen leaching problem – Pat Deavoll:

A group of super smart women is helping to find answers to one of the major environmental challenges facing farming – reducing nitrate leaching.

The PhD students  Kirsty Martin, Anna Carlton, Roshean Woods, Lisa Box, Elena Minnee, and Grace Cun have joined a team of scientists from AgResearch, DairyNZ, Foundation for Arable Research, Landcare Research, Lincoln University, and Plant and Food Research to investigate which forages would best reduce nitrate losses.

Based at the Lincoln University research dairy farm, Martin was researching the response of 12 pasture forages to nitrogen.  . .

Allbirds: the Kiwi shoes taking the world by storm – Niki Bezzant:

Food writer Kathy Paterson doesn’t need to think about which shoes to wear when she gets dressed in the morning. For the past year or more she has worn her “uniform” almost every day: casual wool shoes by online company Allbirds.

Paterson is an evangelist for the unusual sneakers, dubbed “the world’s most comfortable shoes” by Time magazine.

She has converted many others to wearing the New Zealand merino wool shoes, she reckons, and at Christmas she bought them as gifts for her parents and sister.

Paterson has two pairs in rotation. “They’re incredibly comfortable,” she says. “I do not take them off, winter and summer. . . 

Bovis cull will be devastating – Sally Rae:

The impact of the impending Mycoplasma bovis cattle cull on milk and beef supply nationally will be much smaller than the “devastating” impact on affected farmers, Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface says.

In the bank’s latest Agri Update, Ms Boniface said New Zealand’s dairy herd was about 4.8 million, so the population to be culled accounted for about 0.5%, well within usual seasonal variation in the dairy herd.

While processing capacity might be stretched temporarily at a regional level, there should be ample capacity nationwide to process the additional cow cull. . . 

Strong gales hit Ag Fest site – Laura Mills:

Contractors were out in howling winds and the dark last night to drop four marquees at the Ag Fest site at Greymouth aerodrome ahead of gale-force winds this morning.

The site was a hive of activity this morning as about 30 people helped stabilise tents damaged in the strong south-easterlies, as preparations resumed for the festival opening on Friday morning.

The wintry storm dumped snow on Arthur’s Pass, where the temperature fell to 0degC overnight, and a chilly 11degC in Greymouth this morning. . .

Rabobank Global Dairy Quarterly Q1 2018: turn the pressure down:

A robust import programme by Chinese buyers, combined with a weather-impacted New Zealand season, were the perfect ingredients for the short-term rally in Q1 2018. In the background, the export engine is firing on most other cylinders, as production growth expanded across all other regions, according to the latest RaboResearch report ‘Dairy Quarterly Q1 2018: ‘Turn the Pressure Down’.

The export engine has been running on most cylinders since mid-2017. However, weather risks have now been extended beyond New Zealand. Europe battled a cold front, Australia had localised bushfires, and there are drought conditions at play in Argentina.. . .

Te Mata Estate’s well-kept secret – vintage pickers – Astrid Austin:

Look in any one of Te Mata Estate’s vineyards and you will see a gang of hard-working pickers, although they may not be your average type – a little more vintage you could say.

More than 70 people, averaging 70 years old, but anywhere from early retirement age to well into their 80s, hand pick the winery’s grapes.

Te Mata Estate founder John Buck said: “They are people who epitomise what the unsung quality of Hawke’s Bay is really all about.

“They are just utterly fabulous, so they are a bit of a contrast to all the articles about picking-crew people. They give a lie to it, frankly. . .

The unloved Cinderella of science – Farah Hancock:

Climate change could make insect swarms an issue for New Zealand farmers and a lack of funding for long-term monitoring may mean we won’t have warning a swarm is likely to form.

Unlike other first world OECD countries, New Zealand doesn’t have long-term ecological research networks.

University of Auckland’s Dr Margaret Stanley said overseas research networks collect data on everything, from water and vegetation to insects. The data can predict potential changes based on a pest being introduced, or climate change which could trigger events such as a locust swarm.

Without data Stanley said: “We’re making decisions, puddling around in the dark a little, but not really understanding what’s going on.” . . .


Rural round-up

February 4, 2018

Govt won’t support irrigaiton while farms dry:

The Government is holding back regional New Zealand through its opposition to water storage projects which help grow jobs in the regions, boost exports and provide environmental sustainability National’s Primary Industries spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor’s description of funding for irrigation projects as ‘unnecessary’ will come as a huge shock to farmers – especially when he supports the construction of the Waimea Dam in his local area. . .

Allbirds shoe business growing as it highlights connection to NZ merino farmers – Gerard Hutching:

Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, but Allbirds wool shoes founder Tim Brown has had enough of the recognition from some rivals.

Late last year Allbirds filed a trade dress infringement lawsuit in the Northern District of California against shoe giant Steve Madden for allegedly copying its signature wool lace-up sneakers.

Steve Madden is not the only established company venturing into the woollen shoes business. Adidas, Nike and Puma are also using wool in sneakers and clothing, as more consumers seek out natural fibres over synthetic.

It is all good news for New Zealand’s 400 merino farmers who are riding the wave of a boom in demand for the fine fibre. . . 

Nixing nitrate with nanoparticles

Smart catalytic conversion technologies are being used to find better ways of improving the quality of water affected by nitrate pollution.

Dr Anna Garden (Chemistry) is leading a research project that seeks a quicker and safer way of removing nitrate from waterways. Garden says that nitrate pollution of New Zealand’s waterways has become a serious problem over recent decades, due to agricultural intensification and associated overuse of nitrogen-based fertilisers such as ammonium nitrate and urea.

“We are putting so much nitrogen-based fertiliser onto our land these days, as well as increasing the density of stock. . .

Riparian fencing poses challenges – HUgh Stringleman:

Northland dairy farmers Richard and Bev Dampney, farming at Otaua, west of Kaikohe, must urgently complete 10 to 11km of riparian fencing to continue supplying milk to Fonterra.

Within only a few farms nationwide still to comply, the Dampneys had argued riparian fencing was impractical on local rivers that flooded an average of six times a year.

Furthermore, cows had reticulated water in troughs and were effectively excluded from the water courses by steep, overgrown banks.

Hot tapes were used to break feed, and where cows might venture down to the waterways. . . 

Late change for honey standard – Richard Rennie:

The manuka honey industry has welcomed the Government’s last-minute revision of honey standards that, left unchanged, would have sliced millions off the value of the country’s premium honey type.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has made a significant change to the level of a chemical marker that defined manuka honey from multi-floral honey only days before the standards are to be formally enforced on honey producers.

February 5 marks the official launch of the new standards.

The MPI standards were released just before Christmas to an industry outcry at their failure to adequately define manuka honey and the impact they were likely to have on multi-floral honey’s ability to be defined as manuka.  . . 

Death threat vegans bombard award-winning dairy farmers:

Vegans have bombarded an award-winning young dairy farmer, his wife and children with hundreds of chilling death threats.

The American activists blasted Jonny and Dulcie Crickmore with a firestorm of vicious non-stop online abuse for five days.

The mob latched on to the couple, who are in their 30s, after they posted on social media about their new triplet calves.

See also: FW Awards 2017 – Diversification Farmer of the Year winners

The Crickmores, who run Fen Farm Dairy in Bungay, north Suffolk, scooped the Farmers WeeklyDiversification Farmer of the Year Award last year. . . 


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