Saturday’s smiles

September 24, 2016

A surgeon picking up her car after a service and some minor repairs was highly indignant at the size of the bill.

“All this for a couple of hour’s work?” she said. “You charge more for your work than I do.”

“Well, yes,” the mechanic said. “That’s how it should be. You doctors have been working on two models of the same make since time began but we’ve got to learns about new makes and models every year.”


Rural round-up

September 21, 2016

Improved dairy sector expectations see New Zealand farmer confidence surge higher:

Results at a Glance

· Overall confidence in the agricultural economy has improved considerably from the previous quarter

· Farmers’ expectations for their own business performance also improved, driven by sizeable improvement in expectations among dairy farmers

· While overall confidence was up among all sectors, sheep and beef farmers registered small decline in expectations of their own business performance

· Horticulturalists’ business performance expectations also fell, but remain at elevated levels

· Farm business investment intentions remained stable. . . 

Young role model inspires primary sector job seekers – Gerard Hutching:

Ellie Cranswick knew New Zealand was different to the United Kingdom the moment she saw drench being advertised on TV.

She noticed on arrival that there were a number of differences between the two agricultural industries, from the end markets, to the genetics, to systems used.

Originally from Dorset, 27-year-old Cranswick now has her red bands firmly grounded in New Zealand soil after five years in the country. . .

Changing agri-food perspectives – Keith Woodford:

When I was an undergraduate back in the 1960s – in some ways it seems just yesterday – the dominant agricultural paradigms were about farm production and management.  As students, we learned nothing about marketing. And when marketing did come in vogue in the following decades, the dominant perspective was that marketing was what happened at the end rather than the beginning of the agri-food chain.

To a considerable extent, that perspective of a value chain that starts with production still survives within our animal-based agricultural industries. In contrast, the plant-based industries have been more successful in making the transition to a consumer-led position. And that may well be why, in an evolving world, our horticultural industries are currently succeeding where our traditional pastoral industries are currently struggling.

Our three big plant industries that are leading the way are viticulture, kiwifruit and apples. And then there are some other such as cherries which are also making good progress, plus seed crops such as carrots. . . 

Hope wallaby tracks ‘isolated incident’ – Lynda van Kempen:

The spread of wallabies is a serious concern and the last thing Otago needs is another destructive animal pest, a regional council director says.

Otago Regional Council environmental monitoring and operations director Scott MacLean, commenting about wallaby tracks being found at Galloway, near Alexandra, recently, said the council was treating the sighting seriously.

“Given that at this stage, only wallaby sign was sighted, I would like to think, and certainly hope, that this is an isolated incident. . . 

$3.1m funding for climate change projects:

Primary Industries Ministers Nathan Guy and Jo Goodhew have welcomed $3.1 million in new funding for 13 climate change research projects in the agriculture and forestry sectors.

The grants were announced today by the Ministry for Primary Industries through the Sustainable Land Management and Climate Change (SLMACC) research programme.

“This funding plays an important part in helping our primary industries prepare for the future challenges of climate change,” says Mr Guy.

“$935,000 is being invested in three projects to analyse soil carbon on hill country farms and under irrigation systems. . . 

Mighty mite makes easy meal of Marlborough broom – Mike Watson:

A tiny insect with a big appetite is making short work of invasive scotch broom plants in dry areas around Marlborough.

The broom gall mite was released by the Marlborough District Council biosecurity team into an area south of Blenheim in 2011.

In the past five years, the biocontrol agent has been spread by wind to surrounding farmland on the Redwood Pass and Dashwood Pass. . . 

Using wood fuel is heating up:

With the continual growth in the use of wood fuel for heating the Bioenergy Association is increasing its support for wood fuelled heat plant operators and maintenance staff, helping plant owners improve the performance of their plant and encourage others to move from coal to wood fuel.

“The amount of wood fuel replacing coal is growing each year and we want to ensure heat plant operating and maintenance staff are well supported,” says the Association’s Executive Officer Brian Cox.

The Bioenergy Association is holding a forum for heat plant owners, operators and maintenance staff in Christchurch on 27 September. . . 

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Saturday’s smiles

September 17, 2016

He joined the local repertory society, auditioned for an upcoming performance and was chosen for a role which required him to wear lycra.

When he got home and told his wife he said, “I’m a bit worried about what people will say when they see me dressed like that.”

She replied, “They’ll probably say I obviously married you for your mind rather than your body.”


Rural round-up

September 16, 2016

Plant & Food $8.5 million research grant includes GM techniques used ‘in lab’ only – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – An $8.5 million research grant awarded to crown research institute Plant & Food this week for new breeding technologies for high value plant industries includes gene editing which is considered in New Zealand to be part of genetic modification.

The grant was part of the total investment announced this week of more than $209 million over the next five years in new scientific research projects through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) 2016 Endeavour Fund.

Plant & Food chief executive Peter Landon-Lane told the NZBio conference today that one of the new breeding technologies is CRISPR gene editing, which gives biologists the ability to target and study particular DNA sequences in the expanse of a genome and then edit them. . . 

First milk flows through Fonterra’s newest milk powder plant at Lichfield:

The first litres of Waikato-farmed milk are flowing through Fonterra’s newest high-efficiency milk powder plant, as the world’s joint-largest dryer comes online in the South Waikato.

The new 30 metric tonne an hour dryer at the Co-operative’s Lichfield site will be capable of processing an additional 4.4 million litres of milk each day – equivalent to almost two Olympic swimming pools – into high quality milk powder for global markets.
 
Large scale dryers such as this play a key role in driving value for the business, says Fonterra’s Chief Operating Officer Robert Spurway. . . 

Ballance Farm Environment Awards Confirm Viticulture Business On Right Track:

Pictured: Allan Johnson, Pip Goodwin and Blair Savage

Entering the Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards was a valuable exercise for South Wairarapa viticulture business, Palliser Estate Wines of Martinborough Ltd.

Chief executive officer Pip Goodwin says the operation aims to be a leader in the production of high quality wine using the most sustainable methods possible.

“The Ballance Farm Environment Awards gave us a chance to be judged by our peers and find out what we could do to improve in future.”

Solving sticky problem earns big bio kudos:

Scientists at Scion have solved a growing environmental problem for wood panel manufacturers.

Warren Grigsby and his team have developed the world’s first wood panel resins (glue) using biobased ingredients.

That solution has earned the team the “Biotechnology of the Year” award at NZBIO’s annual conference in Auckland.

When Scion, the Crown Research Institute that specialises in science around forestry, wood products and bio materials, learned the level of formaldehyde emissions from wood panels were being regulated lower in countries like Japan, the United States and in the European Union, with New Zealand following suit, it looked to biotechnology to find ways of reducing the emissions. . . 

What farmers wish you knew about farmers – PinkTractor.com

From ‘farming is easy’ to ‘farmers are rich,’ there are a million things consumers think they know about farmers. We asked our amazing farm community what the one thing they wish people knew about farmers. These are the responses.

Farmers are smart! They have to be everything – plumbers, carpenters, mechanics, scientists, vets and more. Every day!

Farming is a lifestyle, not a job. It’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Every day of the year. It’s almost impossible to take a vacation, especially if you have animals.

Some farmers have to have jobs off the farm to make ends meet, but they still wouldn’t trade it for anything. . . 

McFall Fuel and VicForests show safety leadership as Conference Partners:

Industry safety champions in both New Zealand and Australia have come forward to show their safety leadership by becoming Principal Partners to the 3rd FIEA Forest Industry Safety Summit conference series – scheduled for March 2017 in Rotorua and Melbourne.

“The leaders of both McFall Fuel in New Zealand and VicForests in Australia see their teams as early adopters of positive safety practices. So they’re keen to show leadership for others in the forest industries by being proactive in safety,” says event director John Stulen from FIEA.

McFall Fuel CEO, Sheryl Dawson actively promotes safety in every aspect of their company’s operations. McFall Fuel’s strong family values of zero harm, respect, trust, integrity, teamwork and a strong work ethic are reflected in every facet of the work carried out. . . 

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Whoever said ‘everything happens for a reason’ has never had a cow step on her foot. – Pink Tractor


Saturday’s smiles

September 10, 2016

Sitting on the edge of the highway waiting to catch speeders, a police officer saw a car creeping along at 22 mph.

He thought to himself, that car is just as dangerous as a speeder, turned his lights on and pulled the car over.

As he approached the car, he saw five elderly people, two in the front and three in the back. The driver looked reasonably calm but the passengers were wide-eyed and looking like ghosts.

The driver said, “Officer, I don’t understand, I wasn’t going over the speed limit. What did you pull me over for?”

“Sir,” the officer said, “You should know that driving slower than the speed limit can also be dangerous.”

“Slower than the speed limit? No sir! I was doing exactly 22 miles an hour,” the old man said confidently.

The officer explained that 22 was the route number, not the speed limit.

A little embarrassed, the man smiled and thanked the officer for pointing out his error.

“Before I go Sir, I have to ask, is everyone ok?”, the officer said.

Your passengers seem badly shaken and haven’t said a word since I pulled you over.”

“Oh! they’ll be all right in a minute, officer,” the driver replied. “We just got off Route 162”.


Rural round-up

September 6, 2016

Pukeuri boners get robotic workmates – Sally Rae:

A $7.5 million upgrade at Alliance Group’s Pukeuri meat works is the biggest investment at the site since redevelopment following a major fire in 2006.

Commissioning is under way of robotic  cutting machinery in the  boning room.

The machinery, developed by Scott Technology, features an X-ray unit that analyses each carcass and instructs two cutting machines where to cut.

The primal cutting machine separates carcasses into hinds, middles and forequarters.

A middles cutting machine then separates  middles into racks, loins, flaps and saddles. . . 

Water quality, farm model links asserted – Sally Rae:

New Zealand cannot continue to have conversations about protecting water quality without having a parallel set of conversations that change the farming business model, Taupo farmer Mike Barton says.

Speaking at the Institute of Forestry’s conference in Dunedin, Mr Barton questioned how to start that conversation if the model was to change.

“Food production is the biggest single component of our impact on the planet … We just don’t talk about that. Nowhere in the world do we internalise the environmental costs of food production,” he said.

About 150 years had been spent convincing consumers that food was cheap.

It would take two or three generations before environmental costs were internalised into the price model. . . 

Rakiura Maori Lands Trust & Real Journeys Announce Wild Kiwi Encounter on Rakiura/Stewart Island:

Rakiura Maori Lands Trust (RMLT) and Real Journeys announced today that their first joint tourism venture will be kiwi spotting on Stewart Island called Wild Kiwi Encounter.

These highly successful nocturnal trips were previously run by Bravo Adventures. Owner Phillip Smith, who began the original trips to see Rakiura/Stewart Island brown kiwi says he is delighted that he has been able to find a company with a solid conservation ethos to operate his Department of Conservation concession (authorisation to operate the trips).

“I’ve been running kiwi spotting trips for over a quarter of century now. I still love seeing the look on people’s faces when they see a kiwi in the wild for the first time, but was ready to put my feet up and let someone else head out into the night!” . . 

Higher lamb meat prices eroded by elevated kiwi dollar – Tina Morrison:

 (BusinessDesk) – Limited supply of lamb meat is pushing up prices in overseas markets, however the gains for local farmers are being eroded by the higher value of the New Zealand dollar.

The benchmark CKT price for a leg of lamb in the UK rose to 4.10 British pounds per kilogram in August, from 4.05 pounds/kg in July and 3.40 pounds/kg in August last year, according to AgriHQ data. In New Zealand dollar terms, returns declined to $7.41/kg in August, from $7.53/kg in July, and $8.35/kg a year earlier.

New Zealand’s lamb numbers fell last season as farmers reduced sheep numbers to cope with drought conditions, and are expected to decline a further 2.9 percent to 23.3 million this spring, according to the Economic Service of farmer-owned industry organisation Beef + Lamb New Zealand. . . 

Tonnellerie de Mercurey NZ Young Winemaker 2016 announced:

Congratulations to Jordan Hogg from Seresin – the Tonnellerie de Mercurey NZ Young Winemaker 2016. The National Final was held on Tuesday 23 August at MRC and the winner was announced at the Bragato Wine Awards dinner on Thursday 25 August.

Congratulations also goes to Alex Roper from Mission Estate, Hawke’s Bay who was the runner up. Tom Hindmarsh and Matt Fox were the other finalists, also performing strongly throughout the competition. . . 

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Female farmer – of course I don’t work as hard as men, I get it right the first time.

Buchan Uncorks New Design at NZ Winery:

Global architectural firm The Buchan Group has uncorked its design of the Mt. Beautiful Tasting Room in Cheviot, New Zealand, aimed at introducing food and wine enthusiasts to this internationally successful, locally grown wine label.

Mt. Beautiful is a premium North Canterbury wine brand grown and produced at Spotswood, 9 kilometres north of Cheviot. The tasting room based in Cheviot showcases its varieties in Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Chardonnay. . . 

Rod McDonald wines scoop international design award for ‘One Off’ Pinot Noir:

Hawkes Bay wine company Rod McDonald Wines is the only New Zealand winery and business to win a prestigious prize in the 2016 Harpers Design Awards.

The internationally recognised design awards, made up of a high calibre judging panel, received entries from ten countries around the world, with only five picking up an award.

“The standard was high, with some stunning examples of enticing and engaging design, really lifting those products above the ordinary,” said Harpers editor Andrew Catchpole. “But our brief as judges went beyond purely aesthetical considerations, looking at how well the design of each product had been tailored to the client’s brief and its target market.” . . 


Rural round-up

September 5, 2016

Research breakthrough to boost native forestry – James Morton:

A scientific breakthrough could replenish vast expanses of our countryside with lush native forest – and offer a lucrative new forestry industry for New Zealand.

Scion researchers have discovered how to grow native trees, including rimu and totara, from cuttings taken from parent trees instead of seeds, enabling them to grow much faster and in larger amounts.

The new technology will be used a multi-million dollar nursery site opening near the Bay of Plenty village of Minginui this weekend, in a partnership with local iwi Ngati Whare. . . 

Sports awards to be ‘rural Halbergs’:

 Brand new awards celebrating sporting excellence among New Zealand’s rural athletes were launched today with organisers positioning the event as the “Halbergs for the rural sector”.

Rural sports associations are invited to nominate athletes for the Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards presented by the New Zealand Rural Games Trust together with strategic partner, Federated Farmers of New Zealand.
 
An awards ceremony and gala dinner will be held at Awapuni Racecourse, Palmerston North on March 10, 2017, the night before the Hilux New Zealand Rural Games at The Square in the city centre, where many nominees will be competing. . . 

More farmers under bank ‘pressure‘ – Sally Rae:

More farmers are experiencing “undue pressure” from their banks and sharemilkers remain the most vulnerable in the sector, the latest Federated Farmers banking survey shows.

Overall satisfaction remained strong, with 80% of all farmers and 78.4% of dairy farmers either very satisfied or satisfied with their banks.

The survey showed sharemilkers were least satisfied. Given the current economic climate, it was no surprise they were the most exposed, Federated Farmers president William Rolleston said.

In relation to overdrafts, 15.8% said they experienced “undue pressure” and 22.2% experienced “undue pressure” concerning mortgages. . . 

The art of the covenant – Guy Williams:

Two years have passed since we learned four high country stations between Arrowtown and Lake Wanaka would be placed under protective covenants, effectively creating New Zealand’s first national park in private hands. Queenstown reporter Guy Williams finds out what is happening on the stations and asks whether the land will be protected and cared for forever.

They are called Mahu Whenua, meaning “healing the land” — four protective covenants covering 53,000ha across four high country stations: Motatapu, Mount Soho, Glencoe and Coronet Peak.

Their leases were bought between 2003 and 2011 by British record producer and songwriter Robert “Mutt” Lange — in the earlier years with then-wife, Canadian country-pop singer Shania Twain.

Two years ago, the QEII National Trust announced Lange would place 95% of the stations’ area under open space covenants, a decision then-Minister of Conservation Nick Smith hailed as an “extraordinary act of generosity”. . . 

North Canterbury farmer frustrated by mobile technology – Heather Chalmers

Do you have access to high-speed broadband?

If you live in the country then you probably don’t. Cellphone coverage is also probably patchy. And that is significantly holding back farmers, says North Canterbury sheep and beef farmer Dan Shand.

As a former Sydney IT worker and a Nuffield scholar he knows more than most in the agricultural sector about what is possible with mobile technology. He believes it holds the key to a whole wave of advances, both in on-farm decision-making and productivity and in adding market premiums. However, for a number of reasons this potential is being missed. . . 

Happy Valley to set up new A2 milk plant:

South Waikato dairy farmers wanting to join the A2 milk bonanza might have their chance as a new dairy company seeks consent to build a plant near Otorohanga.  

The Happy Valley Milk company was seeking resource consent for the project that would ultimately include two milk driers.  The first would be an eight tonnes an hour drier capable of producing multiple types of milk powders including A2 infant formula.

Project manager Grant Horan said the company was optimistic it could get the consent process through by the end of the year, with an estimated completion date of mid-2018. . . 

 

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Farming noun [fam -ing] the art of losing money while working 400 hours a month to feed people who think yare are trying to kill them.


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