365 days of gratitude

June 12, 2018

The sky’s been grey and we’ve had drizzle off and on all day.

Mother Nature has been far more restrained down here than she was further north where friends got 140mms of rain in 24 hours and I’m grateful for that restraint.

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Rural round-up

May 9, 2018

Natural Fibre Exchange aimed at providing greater efficiency :

In a significant step forward for the wool sector, industry participants have come together to develop and launch an independent online trading platform.

Modelled on the Global Dairy Trade Events (GDT) platform, the Natural Fibre Exchange (NFX) is scheduled to go live with its first trading event on 22 May 2018.

NFX Ltd shareholders Wools of New Zealand Ltd (WNZ) and Alliance Group have teamed with CRA International (CRA), an acknowledged leader in online trading platforms. CRA, which also designed and manages the GDT platform, has developed and will manage the NFX platform. . . 

Short and long-lived gases need separate regulatory baskets – Keith Woodford:

A key issue for New Zealand is how to meet the Paris commitments for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Fundamental to any analysis is the different attributes of long-lived and short-lived gases.  In particular, how should methane be accounted for, and how should it be brought into any emission trading scheme?

Back in 2016, current Commissioner of the Environment Simon Upton raised the importance of placing short-lived gases in a different regulatory ‘basket’ from long-lived gases. Remarkably, our rural leaders appear to have failed to pick up on the importance of this issue.  

More than any other country in the world, NZ’s gross emissions are influenced by methane-producing ruminant animals. No other developed country has a comparable emission profile, with the arguable exception of Uruguay. . . 

Cheaper lab meat to put pressure on farmers by vying with mince and other red meat cuts – Jill Galloway:

New Zealand farmers are in danger of becoming redundant as synthetic meat took consumers away from red meat, says a strategic science expert.

Dr Anna Campbell, managing director of agribusiness consulting company AbacusBio, said synthetic meats would get cheaper and global consumers would choose them because of their light environmental impact and zero animal treatment.

Campbell was a key speaker talking to about 180 farmers and agribusiness people at the AgInnovation conference in Palmerston North on Wednesday.

“At the moment, synthetic meat-makers take some cells, some blood and other things, spin it around, and get mince.  It’s mince for hamburger patties that is spat out. It is expensive at the moment, but the companies will scale it up and make it cheap.”  . . 

Age not wearing this farmer – Peter Burke:

Moyra Bramley was born in 1933, the year Sir Apirana Ngata and Lord Bledisloe inaugurated the Ahuwhenua Trophy to recognise excellence in Maori farming — now Ms Bramley has at least a 50/50 chance of winning that trophy.

Bramley is in the running for her role as chairwoman of the Onuku Maori Lands Trust, one of two finalists in the competition. 

Onuku’s entry in the competition is its 72ha Boundary Road dairy unit is near Lake Rotomahana, 30km south of Rotorua. It is one of four farms run by the trust.  . . 

Looking into using drones differently – Mark Price:

Wanaka beekeeper Daniel Schweizer is investigating a use for drones that is yet to catch on in New Zealand.

He can see potential for “spray drones” that target weeds in difficult-to-get-to places in the high country.

The weeds would include gorse, broom and wilding pines.

“The only options at the moment are a helicopter and a man with a knapsack, and one is $20 an hour and one is $2000 an hour,” he said. . . 

Drought will bring more crop disease scientists warn:

New Zealand’s land-based primary industries need to get ready for more, and more serious, crop disease as climate change causes more and longer droughts, according to new research.

In the journal Australasian Plant Pathology, the authors say that climate change is expected to bring more droughts in many parts of New Zealand, and more droughts are “likely to increase the severity of a wide range of diseases affecting the plant-based productive sectors”.

Scientists from the Bio-Protection Research Centre, Scion, Lincoln University, AUT University, Landcare Research, and the University of Auckland analysed the potential impact of climate-change-induced drought on several commercial plants and their diseases. . . 


365 days of gratitude

April 29, 2018

My mother once told me that if she ever got too feathery to explain what she’d want, she would just like to sit with her back to the sun.

I’ve inherited her sun-seeking tendencies, though wisdom born of experience and some minor skin cancers have persuaded me to slip, slop slap and seek shade during the burniest time of day if I’m outside.

The sun-seeker in me also guided the plans when we did house alterations.

Like with many of  our home’s vintage, bedrooms got sun all day and the living area didn’t. Now, thanks to a redesign, if there’s sun, we’ll get it somewhere in the living room.

Even if there’s no sun, thanks to good insulation, double glazing and heating we’re still warm and I”m very grateful for that.


Rural round-up

March 5, 2018

Upset farmers still in the dark – Annette Scott:

Farmers desperately seeking answers feel they have been left in limbo as the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis takes hold and still the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) says it has no clear idea how it got here.

The ministry has confirmed the outbreak could cost $100 million in tracking and tracing the spread of the disease and paying compensation to farmers. It initially budgeted for $35m.

With too many gaps and too few answers farmers are understandably anxious about whether the Government is going to eradicate it, Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis said. . . 

Healthy Rivers plan drags out – Richard Rennie:

Waikato farmers have found an upside in the continuing delays plaguing the Healthy Rivers plan and believe critical dates in it might be pushed out beyond the original timeframe.

Despite being notified in October 2016 the plan was derailed late that year when Hauraki iwi objected to part of the catchment being included, subject to that iwi’s claim over its ownership.

That required the plan to be effectively split with the 12% or 120,000ha of the catchment affected by the claim becoming subject to negotiation between iwi and the council on Healthy Rivers conditions, before being re-notified.

But Waikato Federated Farmers president Andrew McGiven said farmers are conscious the plan has some specific dates in it requiring them to submit nitrogen reference points by March next year. . . 

Higher meat yield from Beltex breed – Nicole Sharp:

Former Invermay head Dr Jock Allison, his wife Hilary and Canterbury farmer Blair Gallagher had the Beltex breed on show at this year’s Southern Field Days.

Together with farm adviser John Tavendale, and their families, the group is behind Beltex New Zealand, which has brought the breed to New Zealand.

”They’re a double-muscled Texel, with higher meat yield, bigger eye muscle areas, bigger legs. It’s all a plus in terms of meat production,” Dr Allison said.

The breed was imported from the UK, and was originally from Belgium and Holland. . . 

Mānuka honey definition could change if new science is developed – Gerard Hutching:

The definition for mānuka honey may be revised if fresh science shows the need, Ministry for Primary Industries director-general Martyn Dunne says.

MPI first announced the definition on December 11 last year but beekeepers objected to an aspect of the definition that required a kilogram of monofloral or multifloral honey contain at least five micrograms of  2′-methoxyacetophenone (known as 2 MAP).

They threatened legal action, claiming it would cost the industry $100 million. . . 

Live goat exports to Asia in demand – Yvonne O’Hara:

More pure and composite meat goats are needed to fill four planned shipments of live goats and goat meat to Asian clients in the next few months, says Shingle Creek Chevon partner Dougal Laidlaw, of Clyde.

As the market for live exports was competitive, he did not wish to say which countries or clients the goats were going to.

However, he wanted to hear from farmers who might be interested in supplying or rearing goats, both for live and meat export as well as for the domestic top end restaurant trade.

”It will be a struggle to get enough animals,” Mr Laidlaw said. . . 

What turns some law-abiding Canadians into smugglers? The high price of imported cheese. – Nate Tabak:

Clara is a college student in Toronto, and in a few days, she’s flying home to Paris to visit her family and friends. She also stopping at a fromagerie to buy some cheese to bring back to Canada, specifically Comté, a cousin of Gruyere made under strict rules in the French Alps. 

“It’s not gooey, and you know it’s not going to give a scent to your entire suitcase,” Clara says. Comté is also a lot cheaper in France. It’s easy to find at supermarkets for the equivalent of about $6 or $7 a pound. In Canada, it’s both a lot harder to find, and it’s usually at least $20 a pound.

Clara’s yearly ritual becomes a source of anxiety when she flies back to Canada and prepares to face a border officer — and that dreaded question: “Are you bringing in any food?” . . 

 


Rural round-up

February 23, 2018

Southland eyes oats instead of dairy – Baz Macdonald:

Southland is looking into an alternative to dairy farming that taps into surging Asian demand, but uses less capital and water and produces less nitrates and greenhouse emissions. Baz Macdonald reports.

Agriculture represented 4% of NZ’s real GDP in the 2016 financial year, yet an OECD report released last year showed the sector produced half of our countries greenhouse emissions – making NZ the second highest creator of emissions per unit of GDP in the world. The recommendation from the OECD was that we develop “alternative measures to counter the pressures of farming”. . . 

Gita: Motueka orchards hit hard – Alexa Cook:

Orchards in the Motueka area have been hit hard by flooding from Cyclone Gita, prompting fears fruit will not make it to market.

The Nelson region grows a quarter of the country’s apples, and in the past week has started harvesting this year’s crop.

Apple and Pears Incorporated chief executive Alan Pollard said the flooding came at a bad time and was a big set back. . . 

Cyclone devastates ‘up to 50 percent’ maize crops – Alexa Cook:

The pressure is on for Taranaki farmers to harvest maize crops that have been flattened by Cyclone Gita, before the crop starts to die and rot.

The cyclone hit the region on Tuesday with wind gusts of up to 140km/h.

Southern and coastal Taranaki farmers have struggled with drought this summer, but conditions were just right for growing maize – and a bumper crop was expected.

However, Taranaki Federated Farmers president Donald McIntyre said the cyclone might have put an end to that. . . 

NZ’s largest pine-to-native forest regeneration project reaches major milestone:

The last pine trees have been felled in a major Hawke’s Bay conservation project that aims to convert a 4,000-hectare pine plantation back to regenerating native forest.

Over 3,500 hectares of the Maungataniwha Pine Forest have now been logged since 2006 and are now in the process of being re-converted back to native forest by land owner Simon Hall, Chairman of the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust.

The land lies adjacent to the Maungataniwha Native Forest, a 6,120-hectare swathe of New Zealand bush straddling the ridge system between the Te Hoe and Waiau Rivers in northern Hawkes Bay, bordered to the north by Te Urewera National Park and to the west by the Whirinaki Conservation Forest. . . 

Rural women need access to midwifery care:

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) is very concerned that Wanaka is soon to lose one of the community’s two midwives.

“Midwives practicing in rural communities have long battled the problems of geographical isolation in areas where the population continues to grow,” says Board Member and Health Portfolio Convenor, Margaret Pittaway.

“Resourcing has been lacking for so long that rural families are suffering – it is absolutely unacceptable that expectant mothers and their families have been placed in the firing line. . . 

New Zealanders warned of stink bug risk to their own households:

Warnings are going out about the devastating impact the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug would have on New Zealand households and urban communities as the potential risk of an incursion escalates.

New Zealand Apples & Pears chief executive Alan Pollard is encouraging all New Zealanders to be on high alert because the Stink Bug was not just a risk for orchardists.

The Stink Bug would also be devastating to urban communities where home gardens would be destroyed and houses would become safe havens for the invasive pest, he said.

Mr Pollard praised the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for the work that they are doing to protect New Zealand’s borders against the Stink Bug, including four shipments of cars from Japan recently turned away from entering the country. He has also commended Minister of Agriculture, Hon Damien O’Connor, for making biosecurity his number one priority. . . 

Dairy farming – the ancient history of producing milk – K. Kris Hirst:

Milk-producing mammals were an important part of early agriculture in the world. Goats were among our earliest domesticated animals, first adapted in western Asia from wild forms about 10,000 to 11,000 years ago. Cattle were domesticated in the eastern Sahara by no later than 9,000 years ago. We surmise that at least one primary reason for this process was to make a source of meat easier to get than by hunting.

But domestic animals also are good for milk and milk products like cheese and yogurt (part of what V.G. Childe and Andrew Sherratt once called the Secondary Products Revolution). So–when did dairying first start and how do we know that?

The earliest evidence to date for the processing of milk fats comes from the Early Neolithic of the seventh millennium BC in northwestern Anatolia; the sixth millennium BC in eastern Europe; the fifth millennium BC in Africa; and the fourth millennium BC in Britain and Northern Europe (Funnel Beaker culture). . . 

Forget sauvignon blanc, New Zealand’s new big thing is pinot noir Elin McCoy:

Actor Sam Neill just finished a six-part television documentary on the voyages of Captain Cook, but right now he’s focused on the role of proud farmer. I’m walking with him on a tour of his organic vineyard in Central Otago on the South Island of New Zealand as he shows off his prize pigs and pulls out bottles of his much-talked-about Two Paddocks pinot noirs.

“What do you think?” he asks.

Thumbs up, for sure. 

When it comes to wine, New Zealand is on a roll. According to a just-released Vinexpo study, it’s now the fastest-growing wine-exporting country to the U.S. By 2021, it’s predicted to become the No. 4 exporter to the U.S., right behind Italy, Australia, and France—which is pretty remarkable, considering that the country makes barely 1 percent of the world’s wines. . . 

Young leaders to drive conversations at agritech event:

New Zealand’s agritech community will be joined by some of the country’s best young leaders at MobileTECH 2018. One of the key highlights at the upcoming agritech event is the ‘Meet the future leaders’ panel.

“In addition to unveiling the very latest agritech innovations, we have lined up three emerging leaders to share their visions on just where the technology is heading, what areas they see as the most beneficial to their businesses and how it will impact on the sector’s future,” says Ken Wilson, programme manager for the MobileTECH 2018 event. . . 


365 days of gratitude

February 22, 2018

After three days of steady rain we measured 130mms.

That’s set us up for autumn growth and today the sun came back, for both of which I’m grateful.


And still it rains

February 21, 2018

Our rain gauge holds only 25mms.

My farmer had emptied it before we left home on Monday and it was overflowing when he checked it this morning.

One of our staff has recorded nearly 100mms since it started raining on Monday.

It’s still raining steadily but, thankfully, we have escaped the serious damage that Cyclone Gita brought to other areas.

Christchurch, Buller, Grey District, Selwyn, Westland, Tasman and Taranaki have each declared a state of emergency as ex-tropical Cyclone Gita shows her heavy hand.

Authorities and people in the affected districts are all on high alert as a state of emergency has been declared in those provinces.

The downpour has also led to record rainfalls particularly in Kaikoura, where 194.4mm had fallen by about 7.40pm – four times more than the monthly normal, according to Niwa.

A total of 53.6mm of rain fell in the area between 4 and 5pm – the wettest hour on record and over a month’s worth of rain in only an hour. . . 

 


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