Rural round-up

May 24, 2017

One quick click can save a life – Sally Rae:

It’s a message you see regularly on roadside signs and on the television – a simple click saves lives.

Had that split-second decision been made on a Friday night three weeks ago in rural South Canterbury, a wife might still have a husband and two young children a father.

Amid her grief, it is a message  Paul Dee’s widow, Julie, wants to reinforce in a national campaign.

As she sees it, she is in a privileged position to potentially help save other lives by getting people to change their thinking.

Mr Dee (46) was killed on April 28 in an ATV side-by-side buggy roll-over,  a stone’s throw from his Waihao Downs home, near Waimate. . . 

Big things expected of Te Mana lamb – Sally Rae:

Te Mana Lamb, the product of the Omega Lamb Project, has been officially launched by Prime Minister Bill English in Hong Kong.

Promoted as being the world’s tastiest and healthiest lamb, the project is a collaboration between Alliance Group, Headwaters Group and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

It involved bringing healthy fat back on to the menu by producing lambs with naturally higher polyunsaturated fatty acids, intramuscular fat and omega-3.

Guests at a gala dinner at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, attended by Mr English and the Hong Kong business community, were among the first international diners to try Te Mana Lamb. . . 

Sweet finish key to success for winning blue cheese – Pam Tipa:

Much of the success of Whitestone’s Vintage Windsor Blue cheese comes down to North Otago milk, with the cows grazing off grass from limestone soils, says chief executive Simon Berry.

Their unique mould strain they developed themselves is the other flavour aspect.

“It has a sweet finish no one else in the world has. When taken onto the international stage it stands out,” Berry told Dairy News. . .

Money will attract rural volunteers – Neal Wallace:

Rural health leader Martin London hopes a $59 million Government investment to double crew ambulances will also attract more rural volunteers to the service.

London, the chairman of the Rural Health Alliance, said the boost from the funding needed to be supported by adequate training of ambulance crews.

If that happened, he was optimistic the spirit and confidence it created would encourage new volunteers to join rural ambulance services. . . 

Water Accord business as usual – Peter Burke:

The targets in the Sustainable Dairying Water Accord are effectively becoming normal business practice for dairy farmers, says a DairyNZ director, Alister Body.

He made his comments at the release of a three year review of the accord, which covers a range of environmental targets dairy farmers are encouraged to achieve voluntarily. All dairy companies – except Westland which runs its own scheme — support the targets, as do the regional councils, Federated Farmers and some other agri-related organisations.

Body says the accord was agreed to and signed without a specific end date, but the signatories agreed to the three-year report on what has and has not been achieved. . .

Hops production in NZ slumps by 10% – Alexa Cook:

New Zealand hop production is down by about 10 percent, with the yield of some varieties falling by 30 percent.

The New Zealand Hops co-operative says its 18 growers, which are in the Nelson region, produced about 750 tonnes of hops, which was 33 tonnes less than the year before.

Chief executive Doug Donelan said the weather had not been right since spring.

“The growing season wasn’t very good. We had a cold summer and prior to that during the early stages it was a very wet spring. The two things you really don’t want when you’re growing hops.” . .

All New Zealanders to see connectivity benefits:

The Government is committed to making New Zealand’s communications network one of the best in the world, Communications Minister Simon Bridges says.

Minister Bridges spoke at the 2017 Rural Connectivity Symposium in Wellington today.

“In 2009 the internet in New Zealand was slow, and many people didn’t have adequate access at all – particularly in rural areas,” Mr Bridges says.

“We’ve come a long way in a relatively short period of time. Over 1.1 million households and businesses can now connect to Ultra-Fast Broadband, and over one-third of those are already connected. . . 


Rural coverage not sparking

May 23, 2017

Technological progress ought to bring better mobile coverage but we’ve found it’s got  worse when we’re on the road.

We used to get good reception up the Waitaki Valley from Duntroon to the Otematata saddle, now it’s intermittent.

State Highway 1 from Christchurch south has suffered a similar drop in reliable reception and on other roads we use often, coverage is no longer consistent.

My farmer and I were blaming new phones and called into a Spark shop to discuss the issue last week.

The helpful young man who served us fired up his computer which told him that the changeover to 3G means rural coverage isn’t sparking as it used to. It’s led to patchy reception in many of the areas where it used to be better.

Friends who use Vodafone and 2Degrees tell us they are faring no better.

This isn’t just a matter of convenience.

Reliable mobile coverage is necessary for many rural businesses and it can also be a matter of safety when there’s an accident or illness.

We’re in desperate need of a bright spark to come up with a solution to improve reception and ensure mobile coverage is at its sparkling best.

 


Rural round-up

April 27, 2017

Door-to-door farm visits welcomed as floodwaters recede and costs become clearer:

Teams from the local Rural Support Trust and Red Cross have been documenting destroyed pastures, damaged homes and inundated orchards, as they carry out assessment visits to flood-affected farms and orchards in the Bay of Plenty.

“Our farming and growing families have been very stoic in getting through the flooding, and now our visit is a chance for them to sit down, have a cup of tea, and see what they need to move forwards with recovery,” says Igor Gerritson from the Bay of Plenty Rural Support Trust.

“What’s immediately clear is the extra cost associated with the evacuations of about 5000 cows, and the pressing need to buy feed for stock whose grazing is destroyed by floodwaters. The cost of transporting stock out alone is estimated to be $75,000 in the first week of the event.” . . 

Fifty years of Canterbury farming revolution – Keith Woodford,

The ideas for this article were triggered by a recent reunion of former Ministry of Agriculture Canterbury farm advisers. There were about 45 of us who got together to tell tales of former years. Our collective experiences that day went back to 1946 when Austin Ebert joined what was then the Department of Agriculture, followed by Les Bennetts in 1947, and then Lyndsay Galloway and Dave Reynolds a few years later.

I was one of the later recruits, joining as a fresh-faced and very ‘wet behind the ears’ 22-year old at the end of 1969, having just completed a four-year agricultural science degree at Lincoln University. Compared to many, my farm adviser career was short.  I only lasted two years, one year either side of two years back at Lincoln for a Master of Agricultural Science degree, before heading off to South America for mountain-climbing and other adventures. But those two years as a farm adviser were enough to create many memories, and also to learn many lessons, both from colleagues and some very experienced farmers.  . . 

Wet autumn weather a ‘big shake-up’ for crop farmers:

Cropping farmers throughout New Zealand are feeling the impact of a wet autumn, with two cyclones this month leaving many crops underwater or too wet to get machinery in to harvest it.

New Zealand has been drenched in recent weeks, with the remnants of Cyclones Cook and Debbie causing widespread flooding.

Federated Farmers spokesperson Katie Milne said farmers across the country had been hit in different ways by the storms and while some areas had plenty of feed, others were struggling. . . 

Pumped Dry – Central Otago farmers’ fight for water – Ian Telfer:

Alarm is growing in the farms and orchards in the country’s driest region as irrigation rights granted during the Otago Gold Rush expire, and new environmentally sustainable allocations loom.  

More than 400 so-called deemed permits, which underpin Central Otago’s economy, have to be replaced with modern water permits within five years, and large cracks are appearing in the process.

The Carrick Water Race has run for 140 years, and survived, but its users might now have to dig deep to save it.

The historical hand-dug water channel has snaked its way downhill since the gold rush days, carrying water from Coal Creek high up in the mountains to the water-short land of Bannockburn. . . 

A2 Milk posts third-quarter sales that beat its projection, lifts annual guidance – Paul McBeth

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co’s third-quarter sales beat expectations as Chinese and Australian demand outstripped the milk marketer’s projections and the company sees annual revenue jumping by almost 49 percent.

The Auckland-based, Sydney-headquartered company forecasts revenue of $525 million in the year ending June 30, up from $352.8 million a year earlier, it said in a statement. A2 generated sales of $388.1 million in the nine months ended March 31, with the third quarter infant formula sales exceeding expectations.  . . 

Canadian Milkroad trilogy – Eric Crampton:

Three great reads on the insanity of Canada’s dairy supply management system:

Trevor Tombe explains the consequences of supply management:

According to recent estimates from the OECD, the artificially high agricultural prices in Canada transfer $3.5 billion from consumers to producers annually — nearly $3 billion from milk alone. Spread over the 8 billion litres of annual production, it’s effectively a hidden milk tax of 37 cents per litre.

For producers, this is a big deal. At the end of 2015, there were just under 11,500 dairy farms in Canada. The $3 billion that supply management allows them to extract each year is equivalent to $260,000 per farm. Much of this is capitalized into the value of the quotas they are required to hold. A single one in BC and Alberta, for example, is currently worth roughly $40,000; in Ontario and Quebec, they go for $24,000. With nearly one million dairy cows in Canada, quotas are collectively worth tens of billions of dollars, an important cause of our country’s higher production costs. . . 

Earth Day isn’t relevant here – Uptown Farms:

The last few days social media has been blowing up with Earth Day celebrations. Earth Day was born in 1970 by protestors in response to “the deterioration of the environment,” according to EarthDay.org.

This morning on our farm, we will get up and go to work like we always do.

We will check cows that are grazing our crop fields, currently seeded with turnips, radishes, and cereal rye. We refer to that mixture as cover crops, which we’ve been using on the farm for the last eight years or so, and they provide immeasurable environmental benefit. They reduce our chemical usage, runoff and erosion while increasing our soil organic matter and soil microbes. That means healthier fields and healthier environment surrounding our fields. . . 

Canterbury’s leading agritech companies showcase their solutions to increase productivity and profitability in agriculture:

Canterbury’s leading agritech companies, who contribute to the country’s $3 billion agtech sector, will be showcasing their solutions to increase productivity and profitability in agriculture, at a TechWeek event on 10 May 2017.

Robotics, software, pasture mapping and management are some of the solutions being integrated into on-farm practices across New Zealand, and will be exhibited at Lincoln Hub’s ‘Showcasing Agtech’ event in Lincoln.

For the first time in Tech Week’s history, events are being held outside Auckland, including the showcase, which has been developed to raise the profile of Canterbury Agtech companies, as well as create a conversation around sustainability and growth in the agriculture industry. . . 

NZ’s largest logging industry event planned for June:

The New Zealand forestry industry set a new record last year for the annual forest harvest. There is no denying the fact that the sector is on a high right now. On the back of booming log exports to China, low shipping rates and strong domestic demand, wood harvesting has reached record levels.

This year forestry export revenues are forecast to rise even further. For the year ending June of this year, they’re forecast to increase by 5.8% to NZ$5.4 billion, and climb a further 8.8% to NZ$5.9 billion in the year to June 2018. With the supply of harvestable wood also forecast to rise even higher over the next five years, logging contractors and transport operators from around the country will continue to be extremely busy. . . 


Rural round-up

April 21, 2017

Feeding the demand – Alan Williams:

Hawke’s Bay farmers who quit many of their lambs as stores in the severe drought of January and February have been buying back in to keep on top of the remarkable turnaround in feed conditions.

They have to restock because of the strong pasture growth that started with warm rains in March, but their buying is also a sign of confidence in lamb values over the finishing period ahead, through winter and early spring, NZX Agri analyst Rachel Agnew said. . . . 

Landcorp’s future in value-add – Alan Williams:

Some complex plans are involved in Landcorp’s move to a value-add strategy and all the shifts required will take some time, chief executive Steven Carden says.

Farms will be sold to free-up cash for the new investment, which includes plans for alternative land uses and growing more crops across all its properties. The state-owned farmer is doing due diligence on a couple of areas, but Carden couldn’t give further details yet. . .

Dairy farmer shares her knowledge in Sri Lanka – Yvonne O’Hara:

Kelso dairy farmer and dairy adviser Marloes Levelink’s background in tropical agriculture proved useful when she was chosen to be part of Fonterra’s farmer volunteer scheme.

Earlier this year she flew to Sri Lanka to provide training and advice to Fonterra’s supplier relationship officers for three weeks as part of its Dairy Development programme.

The programme supports the growth of sustainable dairy industries in key markets where Fonterra operates, including Sri Lanka, by sharing its expertise and working together with local farmers, governments and industry players. . .

Submitters fear for area’s rural character – Tim Miller:

What is rural and what is not was one of the questions posed at a resource consent hearing in Wanaka this week.

Ballantyne Barker Holdings Ltd, owned by Michael and Caroline Garnham, has applied for resource consent to turn 48ha of land near the Cardrona River in Ballantyne Rd into nine residential lots.

Wendy Baker and David Whitney were the independent commissioners appointed to the hearing. . .

Texel conference to mix it up in style – Yvonne O’Hara:

What do goat and sheep cheeses, the Clyde dam, wine, whisky and wild food have in common?

They are all part of Texel New Zealand’s conference from May 1 to 4.

Organising committee spokesman Alistair McLeod said about 50 delegates were expected for the conference, which would be based in Cromwell. . .

Free range cows and robots in future:

Greg Gemmell is a rare man – a dairy farmer who doesn’t get out of bed at 4.30am to milk the cows. His robots do it for him.

What’s more, he believes he is one of the pioneers in new technology that will change the face of New Zealand dairying.

“This isn’t common now,” says the Bunnythorpe farmer who, with wife Amy and farm owners Margaret and Brian Schnell (Amy’s parents), have invested just under $1 million into three Lely Astronaut robot milking machines and a cowshed renovation and retrofit. “But I’ll bet it is in about 10 years – it’s a life-changer.” . . .


Progress

February 6, 2017

20-years-later


Rural round-up

January 16, 2017

In lament of the NZ Farm – Dr Rosie Bosworth:

On the road to becoming the Detroit of agriculture.

Colleague and Christchurch based technology strategist Ben Reid, recently tweeted that New Zealand is in danger of fast becoming the “Detroit of Agriculture” – a rustbelt left behind after production has moved elsewhere.” Unfortunately, I am inclined to agree.  With technologies, science and new business models evolving, accelerating and converging at current breakneck speeds, industries globally – from banking, transport, accommodation and healthcare are having the rug pulled right out from beneath their feet. And sadly (at least for New Zealand farmers), agriculture, our economic mainstay, is next up on the chopping block. Fast en route towards becoming a sunset industry.  Overtaken and displaced by disruptive technologies, science breakthroughs and new business models. And the people at the helm? Not the people on the inside like our dairy farmers, apple breeders and savvy winemakers. But by sneaker wearing tech millennials and wealthy Tesla driving Silicon Valley venture capitalists and well funded research agencies. . . 

Dry conditions take toll on Northland farmers:

A drought declaration in Northland is just a few weeks away, but as conditions in the region grow tougher, Federated Farmers says.

Federated Farmers Northland president John Blackwell said spring had been good for the region, but a dry November and December had caused problems across the board.

Halfway through November the rain had disappeared and south-westerly winds had had a very drying effect on the land, Mr Blackwell said. . . 

Dairy NZ to appeal decision on Greenpeace ad – Catherine Hutton:

One of the groups who complained that a Greenpeace advertisement was false and misleading says it plans to appeal the advertising watchdog’s decision.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received 12 complaints about the advert, which blamed the dairy industry for water pollution, but dismissed all of them.

Dairy NZ, which represents dairy farmers, would not comment on the reasons it was appealing, ahead of the hearing.  . .

Hurunui Water Project says Greenpeace claims are exaggerated and out of date:

North Canterbury irrigation Company Hurunui Water Project today rejected claims by Greenpeace that the proposed scheme will lead to large-scale intensive dairying and consequent degradation of the Hurunui River.

“Greenpeace needs to actually read the latest information on the Hurunui Water Project (HWP) proposal that they have,” says HWP Chief Executive Alex Adams. “If they had done so, they would have seen the scheme is very different now to the original proposal they seem to be referring to, and that dairy development as a result of the scheme is planned to be to be a minor component.”

Adams said a 2016 survey of HWP shareholders showed the vast majority of the dryland farmers simply wanted irrigation to provide the assurance they needed to continue with their existing farming practice; only some 10 percent indicated that dairy conversions might be an option. . . 

Korean FTA delivers new round of tariff cuts:

More local businesses looking to expand into Korea will benefit from the latest round of tariff reductions under the New Zealand-Korea Free Trade Agreement, Trade Minister Todd McClay says.

The start of 2017 saw two thirds of New Zealand’s exports to Korea become duty free, up from 46 per cent in 2016.

“Thanks to this continued progress under the FTA, even more New Zealand businesses can compete favourably in the Korean market,” Mr McClay says.

New Zealand and Korea celebrated the first anniversary of the agreement in December 2016. Since the FTA’s entry into force in December 2015, New Zealand has experienced strong results particularly in the food and beverage sector where exports to Korea have increased by over 16%. . . 

Fonterra milk collections remain below previous season, trend shifts in Oz – Edwin Mitson

 (BusinessDesk) – Milk collections by Fonterra Cooperative Group this season are continuing to track below the previous year, mainly due to lower production on the North Island.

Collections in the seven months from June 1, 2016 to Dec. 31, 2016 were 881 million kilogrammes of milk solids, a fall of 5.5 percent on the same period in 2015, when prices were much lower. Some 186 million kgMS were collected in the month of December, down 5 percent on the same month a year ago.

There was a clear gap between the two main islands of New Zealand. Collections on the North Island fell 7 percent from June to December, while on the South Island they dropped just 2 percent in the same period. . . 

Commitment Pays Dividends for Taranaki Egg Farm Worker:

Team spirit, pride in her work and a determination to succeed in her studies have proved a winning combination for Taranaki woman Amy Kimura, who was recently named Poultry Industry Trainee of the Year for 2016. The national award is given each year to the top-performing trainee in all of the training courses run by the poultry industry in cooperation with the Primary Industry Training Organisation (PrimaryITO).

Amy, who is of Ngati Raukawa descent, is currently a Farm Worker at Aviagen New Zealand Ltd’s Taranaki production farms where her duties include general care and responsibility for the welfare of the poultry in her care. . . 

17 myths about agriculture in 2017 – Peterson farm Bros:

1. GMOs are evil

GMOs are a valuable technology used in science, medicine, and agriculture. Farmers use them to increase yields, reduce inputs, improve the soil, and provide resistance to drought, insects and weeds. There are GMOs being used all throughout society, and there is a very good chance you’ve consumed or used a GM product today. We do believe people should be free to avoid GMOs if they want to, but GMOs have been around for 2 decades (over a trillion meals consumed) without a single sickness or health issue resulting from consumption. . .

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August 15, 2016

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