Rural round-up

March 12, 2019

It’s all about the bloodline – Luke Chivers:

Central Hawke’s Bay farmers Harry and Kate de Lautour are dedicated to bloodline but it isn’t just about their ancestry. Luke Chivers reports.

From  the crack of dawn to the close of day sheep and beef farmer Harry de Lautour is set on challenging his animals for the betterment of their health.

The 31-year-old from Flemington has a long-standing connection with the primary sector, sheep genetics and performance recording.  

Growing up in rural New Zealand instilled that passion.

“I grew up on a sheep and beef farm in Hawke’s Bay and absolutely loved it,” he says. . . 

Auckland wants to protect productive soils – Neal Wallace:

In the next 30 years up to a million new houses could be built in Auckland on designated land that excludes elite and prime soils.

Land Squeeze Dinkus 1The city’s rural-urban boundary provides an urban edge with 15,000ha – equivalent to twice the urban area of Hamilton – of rural land identified for future urban expansion, Auckland City Council urban growth and housing director Penny Pirrit said.

In addition, land in Auckland’s existing urban area has space for another 240,000 houses.

Supplying infrastructure for that degree of expansion is estimated to cost $20 billion over 30 years.

When the council was formed in 2010 one of its first roles was to plan for future residential and industrial growth. . . 

Good start to grape harvest – Simon Hartley:

Central Otago’s grape harvest is well under way and recent dry conditions are having barely any effect, Central Otago Winegrowers Association past president James Dicey says.

Harvesting started late last month, mainly of sparkling grape varieties and other varieties are due to start soon, through to mid-to-late March.

While Australia’s wine sector has been devastated by its hottest summer on record and drought, Central Otago has not been similarly hit, despite the past summer in New Zealand having been recorded as one of the hottest on record. . . 

Wilding pines are ‘a blanket of green like a marching army over a landscape’ – Georgie Ormond:

It looks like a harmless Christmas tree but Pinus Contorta is wreaking havoc on the landscape in some parts of New Zealand.

Tragically, Contorta was originally planted in the central North Island for conservation, to help stabilise the alpine scree slopes, and for forestry.

Fifty years later it’s an insidious wilding pine that is taking over the Central Plateau.

Craig Davey from Horizons Regional Council says that’s because Contorta has the lightest seed of all our pinus species. . . 

Finding satisfaction in contrary conditions – Mike Weddell:

The end of the fishing season is not far away but it does not seem long since it started, so we need to make the most of it.

Conditions have been great for fishing recently and it seems like not much will change in the short term.

My last two outings were scorchers, bright sun and little wind which, combined with clear water, were great days.

Reading traditional fly-fishing books, they mostly state that these are the worst conditions for fishing – but in my experience, the contrary is true.

Some of my best days ever have been on hot sunny days. . . 

‘Head in the sand’ approach outdated – Richard Kohne:

There is a fine line between a consumer fad and a long-term structural shift in a way of thinking, but most people in food production would agree that the Australian consumers’ focus on sustainability is here to stay.

This means a “head in the sand” approach is well and truly off the table. In fact, most producers are well aware of the risk they take when delaying their response to such a shift in thinking, and so are now looking for a way to meet this consumer desire. 

Few might appreciate however, that responding to this desire for sustainable produce could in fact make them more profitable. . . 


Rural round-up

March 2, 2019

Proposed water tax a ‘burden’ on low-water  regions – Stuart Smith:

The proposed new water tax that was announced as part of a swathe of other new taxes potentially facing Kiwis will disproportionally impact on low-rainfall regions like Marlborough.

There are eight new taxes in Michael Cullen’s proposal: the Capital Gains Tax (CGT), tax on vacant residential land, agriculture tax, water tax, fertiliser tax, environmental footprint tax, natural capital tax and a waste tax.

Much has been said about the CGT but the suggested water tax, too, would impact all Kiwis negatively and in particular our farmers, horticulturalists and wine growers in low-rainfall areas. . . 

Partnerships between men and women are critical for farming success – Bonnie Flaws:

With many farms run by married couples, the role of women in farming is a critical one, a female dairy farmer says.

Jessie Chan-Dorman, a former dairy woman of the year, said male farmers could see everyday how women contribute to the business, and they respect that.

“I would say the percentage of women in farming is at least 50 per cent. Nearly every farming business has a partnership that has historically not been seen. But they’ve always been there.” . . 

Studies smoke out fire behaviour – Richard Rennie:

The risk of summer fires is a constant farmers and foresters learn to live with. But the Port Hills fire in 2017 and the Nelson fire last month have brought a human threat to wildfires many Kiwis thought was confined to Australia and North America. With wildfires now affecting rural and urban people Richard Rennie spoke to Scion rural fire researcher Dr Tara Strand about how we are getting smarter at understanding rural fires.

A TEAM of Scion researchers is part of a 27-year history of research into New Zealand’s rural fires, a quiet brigade of climate experts and fire analysts whose job is to help make rural firefighters’ jobs more effective and safer. . .

Grape yield under threat – Joanna Grigg:

Marlborough is experiencing a hydrological drought.

Lack of rain in the mountain catchment has left the Wairau River low, Marlborough District Council hydrologist Val Wadsdworth said.

And summer storage capacity on the plains has been found wanting as a result. January rain of 18mm was soon sucked up by 30C plus temperatures in February.  . .

Matamata to host FMG Young Farmer of the Year regional final :

A Waharoa dairy farmer is facing fierce competition in her quest to be named the FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

Sophia Clark will take on seven other contestants in the Waikato/Bay of Plenty regional final in Matamata next month.

It will be the 30-year-old’s fourth attempt at clinching a coveted spot in the national final. . .

Scott St John leaves Fonterra Fund manager’s board as units hit record  low – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra director and veteran capital markets executive Scott St John has left the board of the shareholder fund’s manager, the same day the units plunged to a new low.

A notice to the Companies Office last night noted St John ceased being a director of FSF Management Co, the manager of the dual-listed Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund, which gives investors exposure to the cooperative’s earnings stream. He is still a director of Fonterra. . .


Rural round-up

February 22, 2019

Guy Trafford assesses how the Tax Working Group report would change signals to farmers, and how they are likely to respond – Guy Trafford:

Given the signals that have been coming out from the Tax Working Group over the last few months there haven’t been too many surprises as to what was revealed today. That may, probably will, come after the politicians have had their play with it.

From a farming perspective there are some pluses and minuses.

Succession planning
The roll over clause is attractive, but liable to alter land/business selling behaviour. It is only available as a succession tool in the event of the assets being passed on after the death. It is then made a liability in the event of the next generation deciding to sell at which point the value goes back to 2021 or whenever the older generation first took over the land. . . 

Grass on the A2 side of the dairy fence is looking greener – and the profits plusher – Point of Order:

The  contrasting   fortunes of  Fonterra  and  A2 Milk came into the  spotlight   this  week,  after the  latter  reported a  startling 55%  rise in  half-year net profit  to  $152m.  Fonterra  shareholders will be ruefelly recalling  their  company’s  performance last year  when  it  reported its  first-ever  net  loss  of  $196m.

A2 Milk  shareholders  are  marching to a  very  different  tune.  Despite  one market  analyst  reckoning its share price had  become over-priced, buyers  pushed  it up  by  more than  a dollar to  $13.95  as they absorbed  news  of   strong sales growth in all key product segments – infant formula, liquid milk and milk powders. . . 

Fatty milk Jersey cows in demand – Yvonne O’Hara:

”Fat is back” and no longer the ”ogre” it used to be, and that is good news for Jerseys as they have a higher fat content relative to protein than many other breeds.

DairyNZ’s New Zealand Animal Evaluation Unit (NZAEL) released its annual Economic Values (EV) index last week to reflect the increased global demand for high fat dairy products, compared to protein.

Economic Values is an estimate of a trait’s value to a dairy farmer’s production and profitability and contributes to cattle breeding worth (BW). . . 

LIC welcomes Fonterra’s a2 announcement:

The farmer-owned co-operative, which breeds up to 80% of the national dairy herd, says this increase in supply matches the demand it has experienced for its A2 genetics and testing services.

Last year, the co-operative introduced dedicated A2 bull teams and extended its test offering in anticipation of Fonterra’s next move with The a2 Milk Company.

LIC’s General Manager NZ Markets, Malcolm Ellis, who is also a Fonterra shareholder and farm owner, comments:

Fonterra scours world for $800m cash injection – Hugh Stringleman:

Where in the world will Fonterra get $800 million to reduce its debt while returning to profitability and making enough money to pay a good dividend on the $6 billion dairy farmers have invested in the co-operative? Hugh Stringleman looks for answers.

March 20 looms as the next milestone in Fonterra’s return to financial health and wellbeing when it declares first-half results for the 2019 year.

It will also say where asset sales, joint ventures and partnerships will be made or amended to improve the balance sheet. . .

Kiwifruit sector front-foots campaign to find pickers:

The kiwifruit industry is pulling out all the stops to make sure the 2019 harvest, which starts mid-March, isn’t short of workers – ensuring that quality Zespri kiwifruit is sent to overseas customers in premium condition.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) Chief Executive Officer Nikki Johnson says the amount of green and gold kiwifruit on the vines is forecast to be even higher than last year’s harvest, meaning around 18,000 workers will be needed. “Last year, the harvest was at least 1,200 workers short at the peak – we don’t want a repeat of that.” . . 

Central Districts Field Days has something for everyone:

More than 26,000 people are expected to flock to Manfeild in Feilding this month for New Zealand’s largest regional agricultural event, Central Districts Field Days.

Now in its 26th year, the 2019 event has plenty to offer all – from farmers and foodies to tech heads and townies.

“We’re really excited about this year’s event,” says Stuff Events & Sponsorship Director David Blackwell. “There are a record number of exhibitors and we have some great new areas and activities that are sure to make this year’s Central Districts Field Days a community event to remember.” . . 

Give it a go” – Bay or Plenty Young Grower of the Year  :

Alex Ashe, a technical advisor at Farmlands Te Puna, was named Bay of Plenty’s Young Fruit Grower for 2019 at an awards dinner in Tauranga last night.

The practical competition took place last Saturday, 9 February, at Te Puke Showgrounds, where the eight competitors tested their skills and ability to run a successful orchard in a series of challenges. These were followed by a speech competition discussing future disruptors to horticulture at the gala dinner last night. . .

Wine survey reveals profit, innovation and price on the up :

For only the third time in the history of the annual survey, all five winery tiers featured profitable results in 2018

Survey results indicate a positive correlation between innovation and financial performance.

2018 saw a 1.8 percent lift in average prices received by Kiwi wineries. . .

Veganism is on the rise, but experts say the cons of the diet outweigh the pros – Martin Cohen and Frederic Leroy:

After decades in which the number of people choosing to cut out meat from their diet has steadily increased, 2019 is set to be the year the world changes the way that it eats. Or at least, that’s the ambitious aim of a major campaign under the umbrella of an organisation simply called EAT. The core message is to discourage meat and dairy, seen as part of an “over-consumption of protein” – and specifically to target consumption of beef.

The push comes at a time when consumer behaviour already seems to be shifting. In the three years following 2014, according to research firm GlobalData, there was a six-fold increase in people identifying as vegans in the US, a huge rise – albeit from a very low base. It’s a similar story in the UK, where the number of vegans has increased by 350 per cent, compared to a decade ago, at least according to research commissioned by the Vegan Society. . . 

 


Rural round-up

February 14, 2019

Irrigation goes high-tech to preserve Christchurch aquifer – Heather Chalmers:

Farmers irrigating just north of Christchurch are using the latest technology to ensure not a drop is wasted.

Preserving water quality is also front of mind as the land they irrigate is geographically linked to an ancient, slow moving aquifer which also supplies domestic drinking water to the city’s residents. 

In the first project of its type in New Zealand, the latest in digital technology has been rolled out to Waimakariri Irrigation’s farmer-shareholders, taking the guesswork out of irrigating.   . . 

Challenge ahead for smaller wineries – Simon Hartley:

A caution has been thrown out to New Zealand’s smaller, domestic market wineries which might be finding it more difficult gaining access to distribution channels.

Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface said the industry in New Zealand had grown substantially in recent decades.

“The industry is heavily concentrated in Marlborough, which specialises in sauvignon blanc production”, about three-quarters of the country’s wine production, by value, she said.

The New Zealand winemaking industry has an annual turnover of $2.5 billion and wine exports have doubled in the past decade to $1.7 billion per year, becoming the country’s sixth largest export by commodity. . . 

New opportunities for agri-food:

Changes being driven by computer scientists in the agri-food sector are providing new opportunities for Kiwi farmers.

The disruption, which is changing what we eat, was the focus of the KPMG farm enterprise specialist Julia Jones’ keynote speech at the Young Farmers Conference.

“There’s a restaurant in Boston with a robotic kitchen,” she said.

Spyce is a world-first and was created by four robotics-obsessed engineers who wanted healthy food at a reasonable price. . . 

Students experience agriculture – Richard Smith:

Kotara Kikuchi, a second-year student at Tono Ryokuho High School, an agricultural school, is on a home stay with three other boys from his school to do farming.

Kikuchi wants to experience agriculture, however, “I want to be a fisherman after graduating from high school”.

Fellow schoolmate Tokiya Ogasawara, 16, hasn’t decided what he wants to be. 

“But there’s nothing outside agriculture that I want to do,” he said. . . 

Agtech is not going to be a road to riches – here’s why – Glen Herud:

Agtech is quite trendy in New Zealand at the moment. But it’s unlikely to be a road to riches for those involved.

I would caution any entrepreneur from developing a tech solution for farmers.

No doubt, technology will change how agriculture is conducted. Just as it is changing all aspects of our lives.

But that doesn’t mean you can actually make any money out of developing some fancy technology solution for farmers. . . 

Joint call made to end non-stun slaughter in UK

The RSPCA and the British Veterinary Association have joined forces to call on the government to repeal a legal exemption that permits animals to be slaughtered without pre-stunning.

Both groups say slaughtering without pre-stunning causes ‘unnecessary pain and suffering’.

The latest figures from 2017/18 reveal that over 120 million animals were slaughtered without being stunned first – more than three animals slaughtered every second on average. . . 


Rural round-up

February 9, 2019

He’s turning a pest into profit – Luke Chivers:

A young New Zealander has created technology that can turn the invasive algae didymo into paper, fabric and bioplastic and it is helping to clean up our waterways. Luke Chivers explains.

He could be a psychologist, businessman or environmentalist but wherever Logan Williams, 23, ends up he will make his mark on the innovation scene.

The young entrepreneur from Timaru founded Biome Innovation, which creates biodegradable material from didymo, the invasive river weed also known as rock snot.

Williams saw first-hand the impact didymo had on waterways in South Canterbury while he was growing up. . . 

Rural Women NZ: privacy concerns in violence Act – Yvonne O’Hara:

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) is concerned that there is a lack of access to services and support for rural people and their families who are in abusive situations.

National president Fiona Gower said although RWNZ supported the Government’s efforts to create an effective preventive response to family violence through information sharing, it did not support a system that put people at risk and left victims feeling vulnerable and unable to seek help because they are afraid of confidentiality breaches.

The Government recently passed The Family Violence Act 2018, which comes into effect on July 1, and promotes clients’ information sharing and disclosures between Government sectors, such as health and education.

However, RWNZ was concerned the privacy of family violence victims may be at risk. . . 

Scientific approach to soil and water – Ken Muir:

”From data to dags” is Waituna farmer Ray McCrostie’s motto.

Despite all his old-school approaches, gleaned from 50 years’ farming in the district, he has taken a very scientific approach to managing the health of his soil and looking after the quality of water on his property.

”The soil is the engine room that drives all our production and water is the blood that flows through that soil, so it makes sense to manage both of them the best we can,” Mr McCrostie said.

The scientific approach to soil and water began some years ago when he began testing the water flowing from a single pipe on his sheep and beef farm into the Waituna Stream. . . 

Viticulture requires strong note of financial nouse :

Viticulture is a practical industry suited to practical people — so discussing budgets and financial spreadsheets with an accountant isn’t usually an enjoyable conversation.

But as viticulture expert James Crockett has discovered, gaining financial knowledge is the key to running a successful and sustainable horticultural business.

“I’ve always struggled with finance and trying to get my head around creating a budget and understanding financial dashboards. When you’re in high level meetings and people are talking about assets and things it’s hard not to drift off and think about what’s for lunch.” . . 

The year of the rise of fresh produce: – United Fresh:

Whether you’re growing it, selling it or just eating it, fresh produce in New Zealand is a core staple in every household. With great growing conditions and an innovative, versatile industry, we’re lucky to have access to some of the tastiest fruit and vegetables on the planet.

In 2019, global indications are that fresh produce is at the top of every trend list. Healthy, nutritious food, prepared with love is the key to happiness in homes across the nation, but the days of meat and two vege gracing our plates every night may be a distant memory. So what exactly will our kitchens be producing this year? What will our grocery lists look like? And what on earth is a Jafflechute? United Fresh, New Zealand’s only pan-produce industry organisation, has broken down the top fresh produce trends from around the world and around the country so pour yourself a guava and hemp seed smoothie and take note. . . 

Former forestry block converted to cattle farm up for sale:

A substantial dairy grazing property owned by Wairakei Pastoral Limited, a large corporate farming enterprise, has been placed on the market for sale.

The Taupo property consists of four individually-titled landholdings, ranging in size from 93 hectares to 275 hectares – which are being marketed for sale individually, in any combination, or as an entire 675 hectare farm.

It sits within the Wairakei Estate (25,723 hectare) precinct which contains some 18 dairy units that Pamu, formerly Landcorp, have been operating. . . 


Rural round-up

January 29, 2019

Book charts history of Young Farmer contest – Sally Rae:

For 50 years, the Young Farmer of the Year contest has been part of the fabric of New Zealand’s rural sector.

Dubbed “the challenge second only to the land”, it tests the knowledge and skills of the country’s young farmers.

To mark the milestone, Hawke’s Bay writer Kate Taylor has recorded the contest’s history in 50 Years Young — A History of the Young Farmer of the Year.

But it is more than just a comprehensive history; it contains interviews with various winners, finalists and organisers, and is peppered with interesting and amusing anecdotes. . . 

Farmer shocked heifers missing – Hamish MacLean:

A North Otago dairy farmer says he is in a state of disbelief after realising 60 rising 2-year Friesian heifers had been taken from his farm.

Russell Hurst, of Awamoko, said the animals, taken between the week before Christmas and New Year’s Day, could be worth $100,000.

He and his staff went ”around and round the farm in circles” double-checking the mobs on the 2500ha farm to make sure the animals had been stolen.

”It’s just disbelief, really,” Mr Hurst said. . . 

Restrictions loom for river irrigators in Marlborough – Matt Brown:

New Zealand’s largest wine region could soon be facing water restrictions as record-high temperatures affect rivers.

The Rai, Waihopai and Wairau Rivers’ minimum flow rates were rapidly being approached and surface water “takes” were expected to be halted by the end of next week.

Marlborough District Council hydrologist Val Wadsworth said it was trying to “forward forecast” on the current rate of flow decline, but it was difficult to be concise. . . 

Pioneer works with maize insurer – Richard Rennie:

The country’s largest maize seed supplier is working with an insurance company to settle losses incurred after seed treatment failure in some hybrid varieties this season.

Early in the maize planting season late last year a number of growers in Waikato and Northland reported stunted crops post-germination, prompting some to replant crops before mid December.

Pioneer’s investigation team head Raewyn Densley said a number of growers have . . 

Taranaki honeymoon: whacking possums – Jamie Morton:

Forget Paris: for one newlywed couple, there’s no better honeymoon than killing possums in Taranaki.

Fresh from their wedding, Andrea and Max Hoegh are working at the frontline of New Zealand’s first large-scale possum eradication operation.

The biggest pest-busting project of its kind in the country, Towards Predator-Free Taranaki divided the region into pizza-slice sections around the mountain, with work kicking off in the New Plymouth area. . . 

Your dinner’s in the lab – the future of ‘cell-based’ meat – Gwynne Dyer:

“Right now, growing cells as meat instead of animals is a very expensive process,” says Yaakov Nahmias, founder and chief scientist of Israel-based startup Future Meat Technologies. But it will get cheaper, and it probably will be needed.

The global population is heading for 10 billion by 2050, from the current 7.7b. Average global incomes will triple in the same period, enabling more people to eat meat-rich diets. . .

 


Rural round-up

January 21, 2019

Hardy Perendales sheep of choice for breeder – Sally Rae:

Pip Wilson describes Perendales as “resilient little critters”.

And it was that resilience that made the breed the ideal choice for the Wendon Valley property that she is busy developing.

They got into farming “from scratch” and Perendales were the obvious choice, as their toughness made them ideal for developing country.

“They withstand a lot more pressure. I thrash them,” she said.

Last week, Ms Wilson topped the two-day Gore ram fair, selling a ram for $8200 to Andrew Laing, from Leeston and Adam Thacker, of Okains Bay. It was a successful sale as she also sold two other rams for $4000 and $3000. . . 

First NZ company gets licensed for high THC cannabis:

An East Coast cannabis company says it’s the first in the country to get the green light to grow strains of the plant with high levels of cannabinoids.

Hikurangi Cannabis was one of the first in the country to get a license for medicinal cannabis cultivation in August last year.

Now, its managing director Manu Caddie said Ministry of Health officials had extended its license and biosecurity rules to allow for it to import stronger varieties.

Man vs beast in the Whangamomona presidential race:

Thousands of New Zealanders crossed the border into the self-declared Republic of Whangamomona at the weekend for the tiny nation’s 30th independence day celebrations.

Once there, they were treated to possum skinning and whip cracking demonstrations, a three-legged shearing competition involving a pie and pint, and a presidential election like no other.

In 1989, angered at being shunted out of Taranaki and into the Manawatu, Whangamomona revolted and declared itself a republic.

Every second year since, the permanent population of about 12 has put up customs borders and thrown a street party to celebrate. . . 

A battle of champions at Wairoa Shears:

Hawke’s Bay shearer Rowland Smith got the year of his hoped-for second World title under way in good fashion when he won the Wairoa A and P Show’s Open shearing title on Saturday.

Making the now regular trip to the home show of wife, former shearer and fellow-record-breaker Ingrid, 2014 World champion Smith beat almost as tough a field as could be gathered, including reigning World champion John Kirkpatrick and 2010 World champion Cam Ferguson, both also now shearing contractors in Hawke’s Bay.

But pushing Smith hardest in a pulsating four-man final was former Golden Shears runner-up Aaron Haynes, who chased all the way to succumb by just six seconds in the race for fastest time, Smith’s 17min 40sec for the 20 sheep. . . 

Bringing a working Great Pyrenees puppy home – Uptown Farms:

You’ve made the decision, you’ve found your pup, and you’re bringing a Great Pyrenees livestock guardian home! Now what…

The following are steps we recommend to our clients that are bringing a pup to their farm to serve as a livestock guardian.

These steps assume that your Great Pyrenees was bred as a working dog, comes from working parents and was imprinted and lived with livestock for his first 8 weeks of life.  . . 

Potential great for Hawke’s Bay 2011 grape harvest:

With the 2011 wine vintage kicking off this week, it appears Hawke’s Bay’s fruit quality will again shine through, with local wine growers delighted at the clean quality fruit on the vines.

Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers Inc., the regional wine organisation, conducts an informal survey every year to gauge how the region’s wineries and growers feel about the upcoming vintage. . . 


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