Rural round-up

November 20, 2015

Aquaculture and red meat producers share South Island’s top agricultural prize:

For the first time ever, the prestigious Lincoln University Foundation’s South Island Farmer of the Year competition has been awarded to two entrants, with a North Otago red meat producer and a Marlborough green-lipped mussel grower sharing the top prize.

Announcing the unexpected result at the finals this evening at Lincoln University, the competition’s chief judge Nicky Hyslop told the audience that the judges were unable to separate the two top performers, Richard and Annabelle Subtil of Omarama Station, and Marlborough’s Clearwater Mussels (John Young Managing Director).

Clearwater Mussels is a greenshell mussel producer with 90 mussel farms ranging from 2.5 to 80 hectares supplying a variety of food and pharmaceutical markets.

Primarily a sheep and beef property with some smaller scale hydro and tourism operations, Omarama Station also has scientific reserves and Department of Conservation and QEII Trust covenants on the property. . . 

Fonterra exits Dairy Farmers of America joint venture, retains supply deal – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, plans to sell its stake in the DairiConcepts ingredients joint venture with Dairy Farmers of America for some $196 million, after deciding it didn’t fit the company’s strategy.

The Auckland-based cooperative will sell its 50 percent stake in DairiConcepts to partner DFA on Dec. 31, ending a 15-year venture where Fonterra contributed key ingredients to the US dairy and cheese flavours business, while the American cooperative supplied a number of cheese and cheese-powder assets, it said in a statement. Fonterra signed a long-term supply agreement as part of the sale. . . .

Regions benefiting from rural broadband:

Connectivity is growing rapidly in the regions with more New Zealanders than ever before now able to access faster rural broadband, Communications Minister Amy Adams says.

The latest quarterly report for phase one of the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) build as at 30 September 2015 shows 271,000 rural addresses can connect to the network.

“With 35.6 per cent uptake across the network, RBI is making sure that New Zealanders living in our rural and remote areas can enjoy the benefits of faster, better internet,” Ms Adams says.

“The RBI is making a genuine difference to farmers, schools, hospitals and health centres in rural areas as well as families and households.” . .  .

Pacific urged to invest more in Agriculture:

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community is encouraging governments in the region to put more emphasis on developing their agricultural sectors.

The team leader of SPC’s Pacific agriculture policy project Vili Caniogo says more than 80 percent of the region’s people live in rural areas but this is not reflected in government policies. . . 

Wool lifts:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s C.E.O, Mr John Dawson reports that a slightly easier New Zealand dollar and limited wool volumes combined with steadier enquiry, saw most categories well supported.

Of the 5,700 bales on offer, 92 percent sold.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies compared to last sale weakened 0.94 percent, helping underpin local prices. . . 

Old school ties to historic home on the market for sale:

A historic home converted from a country school that comes complete with rugby posts and a swimming pool, and boasts an Olympian among its former students, has been placed on the market for sale.

The former site of Richmond Downs School is located in Walton, 15km from Matamata. For more than 80 years it served the community, with former students including Olympian hurdler Lynette Massey. Due to dwindling numbers, the school closed in 2004. . . 

Leading South Island cucumber growing operation for sale is pick of the bunch:

A successful Canterbury horticultural operation, which is the leading supplier of telegraph cucumbers in the South Island has been placed on the market for sale.

Located at 38 Madeleys Road in Clarkville, North Canterbury, the property combines an established telegraph cucumber business and four-bedroom dwelling on 4.05 hectares. It has been placed on the market for sale as a going concern with Bayleys Canterbury, via a deadline sale closing on November 26, unless sold prior. . . 

Rural round-up

October 7, 2015

Staff on research farm also face water plan challenges – Sally Rae:

It’s not just farmers who are grappling with the implications of the Otago Regional Council’s water plan change 6A.

When council staff visited the deer research farm at Invermay, looking for some monitor farms to use as part of their rollout of 6A, AgResearch staff realised they had plenty of on-farm challenges to meet some of the limits.

Now they are using their issues to help other farmers improve their farms, by using the Invermay farm as an example, as they work to mitigate the effects.. . 

Family and friends rally round as south suffolks go up for sale – Kate Taylor:

Selling the right rams to the right farms is important to Simon and Fiona Prouting so they host their own on-farm auction.

This year’s High Plains auction at their Weber farm on Friday December 4 will offer 120 south suffolk rams and 35 poll dorset rams.

“Last year we only offered 90 south suffolks,” says Simon. “Our numbers are growing but also our average is getting up too high. We averaged $920 again last year. We’d rather have the average back to $700 and more people get a ram for the price they’re happy with. People were missing out. It’s important to give everyone a fair go.” . . 

Australian shearer makes it six-in-a-row – Lynda van Kempen:

The national merino shearing title was claimed by an Australian for the sixth successive year but the national woolhandling winner was a hometown favourite.

Damien Boyle (38), of Tambellup, Western Australia, entered the record books again after winning his sixth successive open title at the 54th New Zealand Merino Shearing Championships.

Pagan Rimene (27), of Alexandra, earned the loudest cheers at the prizegiving in Alexandra on Saturday night when she was announced as the winner of the open woolhandling title, ahead of national representative and defending champion Joel Henare, of Gisborne. . . 

Ambitious target set for rural broadband:

Recognising the ever-increasing demand for high-speed broadband across New Zealand, and its importance to regional growth, the Government has today announced a bold new connectivity target for areas outside the UFB footprint.

Under this target virtually all New Zealanders, regardless of where they live or work, will be able to access broadband at peak speeds of at least 50 Mbps by 2025, Communications Minister Amy Adams has announced.

“Our use of, and reliance on, technology and broadband connectivity are increasing rapidly. It’s vital that we set aspirational targets to ensure we keep up with this pace of change. This is about setting a vision of where we want New Zealand to be in ten years,” says Ms Adams.

By 2025, the Government’s vision would see: . . .

Faster broadband just the medicine for rural general practice:

The New Zealand Rural General Practice Network welcomes today’s announcement by Government to give almost all New Zealanders, regardless of where they live or work, access to broadband at peak speeds of at least 50 Mbps by 2025.

The Government is saying that by 2025, 99 per cent of New Zealanders should able to access broadband at peak speeds of at least 50 Mbps (up from 5 Mbps under RBI) and the remaining 1 per cent able to access to 10 Mbps (up from dial up or non-existent speeds). . . 

InternetNZ welcomes rural Internet ambition:

InternetNZ is pleased by today’s announcement of new Government targets for rural Internet connectivity. The new targets would see nearly all New Zealanders able to connect and share in the benefits and uses of high speed Internet connectivity. Due to the fast-changing nature of technology, the targets will need to be reviewed on a regular basis.

The Government has today announced new national targets for broadband connectivity of:

• 99% of New Zealanders able to access broadband at peak speeds of at least 50 Mbps (up from 5 Mbps under RBI). . . 

UANZ welcomes Government’s new Rural Connectivity Target:

TUANZ has today welcomed the Government’s announcement from the Minister of Communications, Hon. Amy Adams of a new target for Rural Connectivity of 50Mbps for 99% of the New Zealanders by 2025. Over many years TUANZ has consistently stated that that the availability of good quality high speed connectivity in all parts of New Zealand is a critical economic enabler for the future of the NZ economy.

“One of the 5 key goals in our recently released strategic direction is to continue to advocate for ubiquitous high quality connectivity across the country and this newly announced Government target is a good step forward towards achieving this goal.” said the CEO of TUANZ, Craig Young. . . . 

Celebrations for DWN at annual general meeting:

Celebrating success and reward for hard work will be the upcoming Dairy Women’s Network AGM theme.

The Network’s AGM is due to be held in Hamilton on 15 October at Narrow’s Landing, in the Waikato and chief executive Zelda de Villiers says there is plenty to celebrate with membership numbers up, event numbers up, new commercial partners on board, a stable financial position and innovative ways of working paying dividends.

“Looking back at the last 12 months, we have achieved an awful lot,” she said.

“It has been a year of growth and change and a year of developing pilots and rolling them out, in particular with the modified Dairy Modules, in place of Dairy Days. . . 

The Nutters Club NZ's photo.

Rural round-up

September 7, 2015

Drones monitor Fiordland’s rainbow trout – Hamish Clark:

Fish & Game is using drones to monitor prized rainbow trout spawning at one of the world’s top fishing spots.

The remote location is the Upper Waiau River, which runs from Lake Te Anau and borders Fiordland National Park.

At the moment fishing is off-limits, as the trout are busy spawning and burying their fertilised eggs. . . 

World-first Kiwi technology can be a big boost to lucrative forestry industry:

A Christchurch company believes it can add tens of millions of dollars to the multi-billion forest industry by cutting-edge hi-tech testing to find out which trees are suitable for the booming housing and building construction markets.

Fibre-gen has produced a world-first harvester head mounted sonic tool, the HITMAN PH330, which measures the strength of trees to see if they are suitable or not for high-end building construction. There are no known direct competitors in the global market as yet.

Fibre-gen is the leader in forest wood segregation sonic technology tools and was a finalist at the 2015 New Zealand Hi-Tech Awards. It has entered the New Zealand Innovators Award, with finalists being named next week on September 10. It is also a finalist in the 2015 Champion Canterbury Business Innovation Awards with winners being named in Christchurch on September 16. . . 

New Chairman leads New Zealand Young Farmers into the future

Jason Te Brake has been elected the new Chairman for New Zealand Young Farmers. Mr Te Brake takes the helm after Cole Groves stepped down after two years in the role.

Mr Te Brake has served on the Board as an elected member since May 2013, in this time he has taken on the role of Vice-Chairman and the Chairman of the National Committee of New Zealand Young Farmers. Mr Te Brake joined Young Farmers in 2010, and while he first joined with social intentions, Jason quickly found his way into governance. . . 

Community groups receive $918,000 in War on Weeds funding:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has announced a $918,000 commitment to the War on Weeds through this year’s round of Community Conservation Partnerships Fund grants.

$500,000 will go to a significant joint programme run by Weedbusters NZ and the QEII National Trust, and will be used to fund voluntary weedbusting efforts by community groups, alongside regional and local councils.

An additional $418,000 will go to other projects tackling problem plants such as old man’s beard, banana passionfruit and other members of the Dirty Dozen weeds launched on August 27. . .

‘Young Hort’ winner calls for more primary industry diversification:

The downturn in prices confronting dairy farmers is a timely reminder to those in horticulture to consider crop diversification now, while kiwifruit, pipfruit and wine exports are booming.

Outgoing New Zealand Young Horticulturist of the Year (YHOY) title holder and Whangarei kiwifruit grower, Patrick Malley, believes local farmers can learn from the diversification practices of their Californian counterparts.

Malley was speaking after just having returned from a fact finding travel scholarship to the United States, which was part of his prize for winning the NZ Young Horticulturist of the Year 2014 competition.

While the dairy industry is at the bottom of its commodity cycle, the kiwifruit and pipfruit industries arebooming, making it a good time to think about diversifying crop types to spread risk and create stability through commodity cycles. . . 

Let Ballance get your career started:

Soil scientists, engineers and farmers to vets, bankers and regulators, there are a wide range of careers which Ballance Agri-Nutrients is proud to support with its annual scholarship programme.

Warwick Catto, Science Strategy Manager at Ballance said the co-operative was always excited to see student talent interested in primary industry careers.

“The recent unprecedented interest in our dairy and red meat sectors sets the backdrop for the importance the sector has on New Zealand’s future growth and our place in the world.” . . 

Zespri launches new $15,000 scholarships:

Zespri has announced two new $15,000 scholarships to encourage New Zealand’s top secondary students to pursue a career in New Zealand’s fast-growing kiwifruit industry.

Zespri General Manager Grower & External Relations Dave Courtney explains that Zespri is looking to support and encourage tomorrow’sleaders into the horticulture sector.

“Kiwifruit is a global business; our industry earned $1.6 billion in sales revenue last year and we’re set to grow strongly over coming years. . . 

Canterbury Dairy Farmers Thrive On Environment Competition Experience:

Ashburton sharemilkers Sara and Stuart Russell have always strived to make their dairy operation as sustainable as possible. Entering the Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards helped them confirm they were on the right track.

“We wanted to see how our business compared with others, and we wanted to find out what we could do to improve in future,” says Sara.

She and Stuart, a former builder, 50:50 sharemilk 700 cows on 252ha (effective), south of Ashburton. The farm is owned by Sara’s parents Rick and Diana Bourke via the Bourke Family Trust.

The Russells entered the 2015 Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) and won the LIC Dairy Farm Award in their first time in the competition. . . 

Free service boosts feed efficiency for dairy farmers:

In a bid to help dairy farmers in tight times, GrainCorp Feeds has announced that 150 clients nationwide will receive free access to a feed forecasting, tracking and monitoring service.

GrainCorp Feeds is working with technical specialists DairyClub to provide additional on-farm assessment, monitoring and technical support alongside Tracker™, an online tool which measures current milk production and shows how the farmer can use supplementary feed to achieve maximum return.

GrainCorp Feeds general manager Daniel Calcinai says to increase income from milk production, farmers have to feed strategically, which means the right feed at the right time. . . 

Rural round-up

September 3, 2015

The great job-creating machine – Not PC:

. . .  In 1980, almost a quarter of the world’s employment was still in agriculture. Now, only around 15% of the world’s workers are engaged in agricultural labour. Yet we are feeding more people, undernourishment is at an all-time low, and food is becoming less expensive.

Technological advances liberated humanity from toiling in fields by mechanizing many processes and boosting productivity, allowing more food to be produced per hectare of land, and freeing hundreds of millions of people to pursue less gruelling work. 

The elimination of so many unsafe jobs in manufacturing and agriculture means fewer worker deaths. According to data from the International Labour Organization, from 2003 to 2013, the number of work fatalities in the world decreased by 61% (i.e., over 20,500 fewer deaths). This occurred even as the world population grew by over 700 million over the same time period. . . 

Update on recovery in storm-affected regions:

Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye says recovery from the severe storm in June is going well, but latest estimates show its economic impact could be around $270 million. Areas hardest hit by the storm included parts of Taranaki, Whanganui and Manawatu. “Much of the cost of the storm will be met by private insurance, but the Government will also contribute significant support. “We do this in several ways. We make support available to individuals through things like contributions to local relief funds.  . . 

Extra $2.6m support for storm-affected regions:

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy and Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye have announced an extra $2.6 million of Government support for communities worst affected by the severe storm in June.

“Today’s announcement extends the support we can usually draw on to help communities recover from an emergency such as this,” says Ms Kaye.

“This was an unusual event because certain areas were hit a lot harder than others.

“The new support package includes one-off initiatives that take into account the severity of localised damage that occurred in parts of Taranaki, Whanganui and Manawatu.”

Today’s announcement adds to previous Government funding and welfare support, and includes: . . .

What’s happening in China – and what does it mean for New Zealand’s agri-food? – Keith Woodford:

In recent weeks I have been traveling in Western China. It is just over a year since I was last there, and as with every visit the changes are visible: more fast railways, more four lane highways, and lots more apartment buildings.

This visual perspective contrasts with what we are reading in the media about China’s declining economic growth. Which is correct? Well, both perspectives are valid.

There are many ‘Chinas’ but for simplicity I will divide China into two. There is the eastern seaboard comprising Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Zhejiang, Shenzhen and other big seaboard cities. And there is another China west of the seaboard, including Chengdu, Chongqing, Xian, Wuhan, Kunming, and Xining. . . 

New judging coordinator appointed for Canterbury sustainable farming awards:

Farming journalist Sandra Taylor has recently been appointed Judging Coordinator for the Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The award application period is open and Sandra is encouraging farmers to show how important environmental management and enhancement is to the industry.

“Farmers take great pride in their farm environments and the Ballance Farm Environment Awards provides a fantastic opportunity to both benchmark and showcase all the great work that is being done on farms throughout the Canterbury region.” . . .

Ballance holds pricing to help farmers through spring:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients has today announced it is holding nitrogen prices to help shelter customers from the significant drop in the dollar and support production on farm this spring.

“We know this is a crucial period for pastoral farmers, and with nitrogen a key feed source in farm budgets we are doing our best to help out where we can and support our customers to plan their feed requirements for spring,” said Ballance CEO Mark Wynne.

Ballance Science Manager Aaron Stafford advised farmers to focus on the nutrient inputs that drive production in the current season or year when planning budgets. . . .

Job Done Wins Idea Pitch at Fonterra Activate to Bring Tech Innovation to Dairy Farms:

Fonterra is pushing on with a business relationship with digital innovation start-up company Job Done after they won an idea pitch yesterday at GridAKL, in Auckland’s innovation precinct.

Seven teams representing Icehouse, Spark Ventures and BBDO spent a month developing prototypes at their own cost with a view to securing future services with the Co-operative to help farmers save time and money.

The seven ideas were pitched to a judging panel made up of Fonterra farmers and staff.

Pitch winner Job Done was mentored by Icehouse and founded by Manawatu farmer Nigel Taylor. . . 

Simcro Limited acquires ISL Animal Health and NJ Phillips PTY

Simcro Limited, a leader in the global animal pharmaceutical delivery device industry, has acquired ISL Animal Health (Hamilton, NZ) and NJ Phillips PTY (Gosford, NSW, Australia) from Forlong & Maisey and the Maisey family of Hamilton, New Zealand.

The agreement is effective from 1 September 2015.

Simcro Executive Chairman, Will Rouse, said, “After the Riverside Company became our majority shareholder in 2013, we began looking for opportunities to exponentially grow Simcro’s international market strength. We’ve been in discussions with ISL Animal Health and NJ Phillips for quite some time.

“Internationally, animal health companies are amalgamating at a rapid pace. These industry changes are creating opportunities for companies like ours. These opportunities, however, create the requirement to meet ever-increasing quality and compliance thresholds for our global customers. . . 

Just wondering . . .

July 24, 2015

. . . why the technological wizards who make phones which can do so much can’t make batteries which allow you to do it for more than a very few hours.

Tech request – how do you compress photos?

June 29, 2015

Compressing photos is advised for posting on blogs or Facebook.

For years I’ve done this with Microsoft Office Picture Manager but my old computer was dying and its replacement has a new operating system which omits this feature.

I googled and followed the suggestion I found to download Microsoft Picture gallery but that doesn’t enable compression.

If there’s any technically minded person out there who knows how to compress photos I’d welcome your advice.

While I’m seeking advice, I haven’t found a way to compress photos on an iPad either and would appreciate advice on that too.

Rural round-up

June 18, 2015

Winning vet ever on the go – Sally Rae:

Oamaru-based veterinarian Dave Robertson has been described as ”someone who lives and breathes sheep and beef”.

Mr Robertson, a partner at the Veterinary Centre, has received the inaugural sheep and beef cattle vet of the year award from the sheep and beef cattle branch of the New Zealand Veterinary Association. . .

Never too busy for trialling – Sally Rae:

Newly elected New Zealand Sheep Dog Trial Association president Graham White may have a big year ahead of him – but he will still fit in some dog trialling.

”Too right”, Mr White (64), who already has several judging appointments for the next season, said. His involvement with dog trials spans more than 40 years and he has been vice president of the association for the past four years. . .

Tech expos for everybody – Sally Rae:

From the technophobes to the techno savvy, all farmers will be catered for at technology expos in Otago this month.

The Beef and Lamb New Zealand farming for profit technology expo is being held in Tapanui on June 25 and Alexandra on June 26.

The focus was on profiling innovative technologies designed to make farming more efficient, profitable and easier, AgFirst Otago agricultural business consultant Nicola Chisholm said. . .

Scientists reveal underpinning of drought tolerance in plants – American Society of Plant Biologists

Regions all over the globe are suffering from severe drought, which threatens crop production worldwide. This is especially worrisome given the need to increase, not just maintain, crop yields to feed the increasing global population. Over the course of evolution, plants have developed mechanisms to adapt to periods of inadequate water, and as any gardener can tell you, some species are better able to handle drought than others. Accordingly, scientists have invested much effort to understand how plants respond to drought stress and what can be done to increase the drought tolerance of economically important plants. . .


Africa must modernise its farms in order to fight hunger and poverty – Mark Lynas:

Africa desperately needs agricultural modernisation. With the most rapidly growing population in the world and hundreds of millions still suffering malnutrition, African leaders cannot afford to close the door to innovation.

Poverty is endemic and “yield gaps” mean that African farmers commonly harvest less than a tenth of the global average in maize and other crops.

Part of the problem has been political resistance to adopting new and improved technologies, particularly in seed breeding. Some of this unwillingness has been home-grown, but much has been imported to Africa by rich-country NGOs with a colonialist ideological agenda that see poverty as dignified and want to keep farmers permanently trapped in subsistence lifestyles. . .

Farmside to offer rural 4G:

Faster 4G internet is coming to parts of New Zealand previously denied access to the latest technology, and Farmside is happy to help roll it out.

“We are the leading rural supplier of 3G through the Government’s Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) that gets in to some of the country’s most hard-to-reach places. Now Farmside, through Vodafone, can offer this next generation technology in selected areas,” says General Manager of Sales and Marketing, Stuart Cooper. . .




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