Rural round-up

January 24, 2020

Failure won’t be farmers’ fault – Arthur Tsitsiras:

Farmers, like any business people, always look to keep costs down and make a profit. 

Farming, however, is an industry with a unique set of variables. Droughts can severely affect crop and livestock growth, floods and storms damage crops and infrastructure, unexpected disease outbreaks and wavering demands in certain products can all have wide-ranging impacts completely out of farmers’ hands. 

In addition, farmers are now expected to be conscious about their environmental impact.  . . 

Primary Sector Council’s starry-eyed vision – Nigel Malthus:

Late last year, the Primary Sector Council (PSC) unveiled its vision for the future of New Zealand’s primary industries.

It centres on the Māori concept of Taiao, which emphasises respect for, and harmony with, the natural world.

The council was established by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor in April 2018 on a two-year mission to provide strategic advice on issues and to develop a sector-wide vision for the future. . . 

Here comes the sun . . . (flowers) – Sally Brooker:

One of North Otago’s favourite crops is making an impact again.

Sunflowers are maturing in paddocks on Thousand Acre Rd, between Oamaru and Kakanui, attracting photographers and adding a feel-good element to the landscape.

They are grown by the Mitchell and Webster families for their animal feeds company Topflite.

“You never get sick of them,” general manager Greg Webster said of the giant yellow flowers. . . 

Robot start-up Radius Robotics seeks to solve world’s soil depletion – Catherine Harris:

Farming by robot is no longer a fantasy, and it also could be a breakthrough for preserving our soil quality, a group of Kiwi entrepreneurs say.

Christchurch’s Radius Robotics is developing a wheel-based robotic system which would direct drill seeds with a minimal footprint, irrigate, weed and collect data.

Reducing the amount of land having to be tilled was one of its key aims, co-founder Henry Bersani said. . . 

Farmers encouraged to seek advice on farm succession planning – Sam Kilmister:

A series of workshops is designed to get farmers thinking about life after the farm.

Farm succession is a pressing topics among sheep and beef farmers, with more than 50 per cent of sheep and beef farms expected to change hands over the next decade.

The Red Meat Profit Partnership will hold a series of workshops educating Rangitīkei farmers on business transition and help them to navigate what can often be a difficult process. . . 

Fonterra leaves impression:

An internship at Fonterra proved to be just as valuable to Massey University science student Victoria-Jayne Reid as it was to the dairy co-operative with the development of a new testing regime.

The third-year science student spent her summer at the Fonterra Research and Development Centre across the road from Massey’s Manawatu campus helping to validate a new test for fat content in milk products that has proved to be robust and simple.

“The old reference method was highly laborious, it involved hazardous chemicals, manhandling and it took a long time,” Reid says. . . 


Rural round-up

January 23, 2020

Farmers, wildlife and residents alike face water shortages as regions dry up fast – Tracy Neal:

Water cuts are looming in pockets of the country drying up fast. 

Councils in affected areas are assembling dry-weather crews, farmers are now giving extra feed to stock, and Northland kiwi birds are now struggling to feed on hard-baked soil, where the dry weather has lingered longer than usual.

Dairy farmer and kiwi conservationist Jane Hutchings said in her 30 years in the area, summer is either saturated by cyclones, or parched dry.

Right now it is the latter, and the kiwi population is struggling. . . 

Farmers’ green tinge growing – Tim Fulton:

Farmers are on a green binge recycling more waste and unwanted products through the Agrecovery scheme than ever before.

Now the Government and agri manufacturers are working on a plan to make industry hitchhikers pay their way.

Agrecovery’s waste collection rates rose 40% in the past couple of years, the animal health and agrichem lobby group Agcarm says.

Agcarm chief executive Mark Ross said the voluntary returns amount to about 437 tonnes of products, including 11 tonnes of chemicals. The total collected was about half the product in the New Zealand market at any time. . . 

Chinese palate has diverse tastes – Richard Rennie:

Shrink wrapped quail eggs, lifestyle choices and social media are all playing their parts in what and how Chinese will eat heading into the new decade.

Chinese media platform company Radii has analysed latest market trends in the country’s enormous food market as the middle class continues to grow and become a more sophisticated, discerning customer for food imports from the likes of New Zealand.

In its report food journalist Mayura Jain identifies takeout food delivery showing no signs of growth experienced in the past five years slowing down.  . . 

Project aims to give vineyard managers more information in a hail storm – Maja Burry:

Researchers are working to fill the information gap for winegrowers hit by extreme weather events.

The Blenhiem-based Bragato Research Institute has started a two-year project to work out how vineyard managers can best deal with hail storm damage to their vines.

The research follows severe hail in Hawke’s Bay in October last year, which damaged about 600 hectares of vines.

Hail in Central Otago and North Canterbury damaged vines during November. . . 

New market for sunflowers leads to big burst of colour near Timaru– Esther Ashby-Coventry:

It’s hard to miss the stunning burst of yellow in paddocks full of millions of sunflowers just south of Timaru.

They sunflowers may become a five yearly feature on owner Warren Darling’s 70 hectares of land as he takes advantage of a new market.

Usually he grows rape seed, which also produces a radiant yellow display when in flower, as well as wheat and barley, but is now considering sunflowers as part of his crop rotations. . .

Tickets on Sale for Women in Forestry conference:

Tickets are on sale for the Women in Forestry Conference, being held from 30 April – 2 May 2020 in Whangamata.

The Women in Forestry conference will bring together women in the NZ Forestry industry, to connect, learn and share experiences.

The third event of its kind, the conference is organised by the Women in Forestry Network, a grass-roots movement founded to support women in the industry.

Women in Forestry co-founder and General Manager Sarah Davidson says there is a need for more female support in the industry. . .


Not okay doomers

January 23, 2020

Sean Plunket has coined the term doomers for the people who are prophesying catastrophe as the result of climate change.

They are the ones who label anyone who questions their apocalyptic forecasts as deniers even though most of the changes they’re demanding of us are, as Bjørn Lomborg says, empty gestures which trivialises the challenge:

Switch to energy-efficient light bulbs, wash your clothes in cold water, eat less meat, recycle more, and buy an electric car: we are being bombarded with instructions from climate campaigners, environmentalists, and the media about the everyday steps we all must take to tackle climate change. Unfortunately, these appeals trivialize the challenge of global warming, and divert our attention from the huge technological and policy changes that are needed to combat it. . . 

For example, environmental activists emphasize the need to give up eating meat and driving fossil-fuel-powered cars. But, although I am a vegetarian and do not own a car, I believe we need to be honest about what such choices can achieve.

Going vegetarian actually is quite difficult: one large US survey indicates that 84% of people fail, most of them in less than a year. But a systematic peer-reviewed study has shown that even if they succeed, a vegetarian diet reduces individual CO2 emissions by the equivalent of 540 kilograms – or just 4.3% of the emissions of the average inhabitant of a developed country. Furthermore, there is a “rebound effect,” as money saved on cheaper vegetarian food is spent on goods and services that cause additional greenhouse-gas emissions. Once we account for this, going entirely vegetarian reduces a person’s total emissions by only 2%.

Likewise, electric cars are branded as environmentally friendly, but generating the electricity they require almost always involves burning fossil fuels. Moreover, producing energy-intensive batteries for these cars invariably generates significant CO2 emissions. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), an electric car with a range of 400 kilometers (249 miles) has a huge carbon deficit when it hits the road, and will start saving emissions only after being driven 60,000 kilometers. Yet, almost everywhere, people use an electric car as a second car, and drive it shorter distances than equivalent gasoline vehicles. . . 

Individual actions to tackle climate change, even when added together, achieve so little because cheap and reliable energy underpins human prosperity. Fossil fuels currently meet 81% of our global energy needs. And even if every promised climate policy in the 2015 Paris climate agreement is achieved by 2040, they will still deliver 74% of the total.

We already spend $129 billion per year subsidizing solar and wind energy to try to entice more people to use today’s inefficient technology, yet these sources meet just 1.1% of our global energy needs. The IEA estimates that by 2040 – after we have spent a whopping $3.5 trillion on additional subsidies – solar and wind will still meet less than 5% of our needs.

That’s pitiful. Significantly cutting CO2 emissions without reducing economic growth will require far more than individual actions. It is absurd for middle-class citizens in advanced economies to tell themselves that eating less steak or commuting in a Toyota Prius will rein in rising temperatures. To tackle global warming, we must make collective changes on an unprecedented scale.

By all means, anyone who wants to go vegetarian or buy an electric car should do so, for sound reasons such as killing fewer animals or reducing household energy bills. But such decisions will not solve the problem of global warming.

The one individual action that citizens could take that would make a difference would be to demand a vast increase in spending on green-energy research and development, so that these energy sources eventually become cheap enough to outcompete fossil fuels. That is the real way to help fight climate change.

The doomers are fixated on unrealistic and ineffective actions which would, if taken up as they demand, come at a high economic and social cost for little if any environmental gain.

That’s not okay, doomers.

Investment in research and development that will lead to innovation and technical advances would achieve far more without the economic and social sabotage the doomers’ prescription would inflict on us all.


Rural round-up

January 22, 2020

China deal gives US beef an edge over NZ producers – Pattrick Smellie:

A range of import restrictions affecting New Zealand beef exporters to China will be swept away for their American competitors as part of the new “phase one” US-China trade deal signed in Washington DC on Wednesday.

However, US producers will continue to face tariffs on beef as high as 47 per cent while New Zealand beef exports enter the Chinese market duty-free under the free trade agreement in place since 2008, according to initial analysis of the deal by the Meat Industry Association. Details were still emerging, but newly appointed MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva told BusinessDesk there was no suggestion “that I can see” that New Zealand lost its tariff advantage over US exporters to China. . . 

Application for GMO ‘imitation blood’ raises concerns:

Foods Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has received an application seeking approval for the GE Imitation blood ingredient used in the Impossible Burger to enter the food chain.[1]

The application does not have the proper safety profile for approval of the bacterial ingredient, called leghemoglobin (SLH), derived from genetically engineered soy.

The “imitation Blood” ingredient used in the Impossible Burgers to make them “sizzle like blood” has been trialled in select meals on Air New Zealand flights from the USA. This circumnavigates NZ regulations, because the ingredient cannot be sold in this country. . . 

Drop in China meat prices not expected to last – Alan Barber:

It is difficult to see any real reason for panic over the sudden pre-Christmas reduction in demand for sheepmeat and beef from Chinese importers which has led to prices coming off their peak. Livestock suppliers will already have noticed a drop in schedules from the elevated levels processors had been paying over the first couple of months of the season. It’s tempting to fear the worst given past experience with high prices paid by meat processors which have inevitably been followed by a sudden crash and a long slow recovery. This time the situation really does seem to be different, if you look at the fundamental demand for product in China.

In discussion with AFFCO Group Sales & Marketing Manager, Mark de Lautour, he sees the current situation as more of a hiccup, with traders collectively liquidating inventory in advance of Chinese New Year and the need for cashflow to cover large shipments of South American beef on the water. . .

Hawke’s Bay deer farmers pay record $102,000 for stag – Blair Voorend:

Two Hawke’s Bay men have set a New Zealand record, paying more than $100,000 for a velvet stag at a recent sale in Southland.

At the Brock Deer Sire and Stag sale, Hawke’s Bay deer farmers Jeremy Dearden and Grant Charteris paid $102,000 for the prized velvet stag, $12,000 higher than the previous New Zealand record.

Elliot Brock, of Brock Deer, told Andy Thompson on The Muster radio show that they were over the moon with the haul but that they were expecting to get something in that region. . . 

Robotic technology is revolutionising farming– Mark Ross:

From weeding and spraying crops to taking care of cattle, digital technology is making its mark on agriculture.

Self-driven vehicles are picking and grading fruit as well as detecting and pollinating flowers. Now the latest technology involves detecting and managing disease – helping farmers to become more productive and sustainable. Modern agricultural machines take away some of the more time-consuming tasks and help to protect crops from disease with exact doses and targeted applications of products.

In the last decade, there has been an unprecedented growth in precision farming – with about 80 percent of new farm equipment using it. This advanced digital precision technology can help farmers to use land efficiently and maximise harvests while reducing costs and workloads. . .

Cheesemakers Encouraged to Enter NZ Champions of Cheese Awards

Entries are open for the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2020, which will for the first time have three Supreme Champions.

To ensure the Awards represent the all the country’s cheesemakers from boutique producers through to the very large cheese companies and every producer in between, three Supreme Champion Awards will be made this year. The Countdown Champion of Champions Commercial category for producers making more than 100 tonnes annually and Puhoi Valley Champion of Champions Boutique for companies making less than 10 tonnes per annum will be joined by the New World Champion of Champions Mid-sized category for producers who make between 10 and 99 tonnes annually. . .

 


Rural round-up

January 21, 2020

Meat prices squeeze domestic suppliers – Neal Wallace:

A correction in global meat prices has prompted Alliance to scale back its minimum price contracts while sustained high values have forced the closure of a Dunedin meat small goods manufacturer.

Lamb volumes accepted for Alliance’s minimum price contracts have been scaled back because they were oversubscribed and international meat prices have eased, livestock and shareholder services manager Danny Hailes says.

Global demand for protein, primarily driven by China, which has lost half its pig population to African swine fever, is pushing up prices but there was a significant correction over Christmas.

Alliance’s minimum price lamb contract is set at $8.10/kg. Last week the South Island schedule was about $7.70/kg, AgriHQ analysts said. . . 

Happy to be involved with marketing bid – Sally Rae:

When it comes to the future of farming, Omarama farmer Trent Spittle believes it will be the end users of products who will decide what happens on farm.

So when approached by outdoor equipment and clothing retailer Kathmandu to be involved with a marketing campaign for its new merino range, showing the entire process from on the farm through to garment manufacturing, he was happy to oblige.

Mr Spittle manages Quailburn Downs, a 2600ha sheep and beef property near Omarama’s Clay Cliffs landmark. . .

Group aims to boost sheep milk – Annette Scott:

Most people in the South Island associate the iconic high country sheep with meat and wool but that is changing as enterprising pioneers establish sheep-milking operations. Founding member of the Canterbury Dairy Sheep Association David Waghorn talked to Annette Scott.     

Sheep milker David Waghorn is confident the Canterbury Dairy Sheep Association will drive opportunities for local sheep milking farmers.

Canterbury has fallen behind the North Island in developing a sheep dairy industry, missing out on investment in infrastructure and research funding, he says.

The association, set up in September, is charged with changing that. .. 

The case for protective planting :

 Catastrophic Australian bushfires are hardly the result of a single cause.

Those who argue this shouldn’t be seen as an up-close-and-personal face of climate change are delusional. Scientific predictions that the climatic fixings for more extreme bushfires – more intense drought, higher temperatures, stronger winds – have shown up as predicted and on cue.

That said, those who point instead to political issues bedevilling the management of the risk are hardly raising a red herring.

The incoherence of the decision making between federal, state and shire authorities has been horridly exposed in terms of the allocation, and marshalling, of resources. . . 

Family and successful farming career built in Gore – Sally Rae:

“Like all good stories, it began with a boy.”

When Jess Moore moved from Melbourne to Gore, she had no knowledge of farming, nor did she even know where the town was. Fast forward a decade or so and she is proud to be a Southland dairy farmer.

After almost nine years of marriage and three children, Mrs Moore and her husband Don have now bought their own farm northeast of Gore, having made progress through the industry.

Mrs Moore particularly loved how willing people in the industry were to share their knowledge and experiences.

They were a young couple, not from a farming background, and had taken all opportunities available and immersed themselves “in as much dairy as we could”. . . 

Freshwater management unit for Hokitika – Lois Williams:

People who care about their local rivers and the way the water is used might want to show up for meetings in Hokitika and Harihari this week.

The West Coast Regional Council is about to launch the Hokitika Freshwater Management Unit (FMU) and it needs volunteers from all sectors of the community to be on it.

The Hokitika FMU is the third to be set up on the coast, after the establishment of Grey/Mawhera and Karamea groups, and it takes in the area from the Taramakau River to the Waiau (Franz Josef).

FMU’s are part of the government’s strategy to stop the degradation of rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands around the country. . . 


Tractor safety

January 21, 2020

National Fieldays has released a tractor safety instructional video inspired by Air New Zealand’s safety videos.


Rural round-up

January 20, 2020

Trade deal worries exporters – Gerald Piddock:

The devil is very much in the detail of the new multi-billion-dollar United States-China trade deal in terms of its impact on New Zealand agricultural exports.

Both the Dairy Companies Association and the Meat Industry Association are examining the 94-page agreement to see what impact it will have.

The phase-one deal between US President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He means an extra US$32 billion of US agricultural products will be bought by China by December 31 next year.

Dairy Companies Association executive director Kimberly Crewther said its implications for New Zealand’s $5b dairy export market are unclear because not all . . 

Breeding is in the family blood – Kate Taylor:

A six-generation family history in stud breeding and a love of cows bodes well for the farming future of Tararua’s Niamh Barnett. Kate Taylor reports.

Right down to the Hereford salt and pepper shakers on the kitchen table Herefords have always featured in Niamh Barnett’s life.

Niamh, 18, is the youngest member of the New Zealand Hereford Youth Breeders team competing at the World Hereford Conference in Central Otago in March and won the Young Fleece Judge of the Year title at the 2019 Royal Show.

“I’ve always been involved on the farm, right from when I was little.  . .

 

 


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