Rural round-up

June 3, 2016

Dairy price estimates are consistently wrong – Keith Woodford:

As occurs each year, the media have focused on Fonterra’s opening forecast for the coming year, predicted this year to be $4.25, as if it has significant meaning. To put that in perspective, here are Fonterra’s opening forecasts and actual payments for the last five years.
Fonterra price estimates

The overall tendency has been for Fonterra to be over-optimistic by $0.58 c per year. However, the average error in the prediction is $1.27c, ranging from minus $2.60 to plus $1.40. In three of the five years, Fonterra has been out by more than $1.30. . . 

NZ Merino inks 5-year, $45M contract with Italy’s Reda, supplier to Armani, Gucci – Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – The New Zealand Merino Company, which markets the nation’s wool to customers on behalf of suppliers, has signed a five-year, $45 million deal to supply fine wool to Italian luxury fabric manufacturer Successori Reda, its longest-ever contract.

The fixed-price contract for 2,500 tonnes of fine wool in the 15.8 to 19.2-micron range effectively locks up supply for all of the qualifying wool that New Zealand will produce over the five-year period, said NZ Merino chief executive John Brakenridge. Previously, NZ Merino’s longest contract period covered three years. . . 

Changes to firearms’ licensing programme will have a major negative impact on rural communities

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) is very concerned about the changes to firearms’ licensing, training and testing, being proposed by the Mountain Safety Council (MSC). The MSC executive has been announcing these changes in a series of road shows around the country. Volunteer instructors are being told their services are no longer required.

The current MSC Firearms Safety Programme has about 480 volunteers with significant hunting and shooting experience. They are based in 150 locations in New Zealand. MSC propose to significantly reduce the number of trainers and the number of locations. . . 

China ‘a big country with lots of different moving parts’ – Tony Benny:

A group of Silver Fern Farms shareholder suppliers are back on their farms following a week-long tour of China where they discovered just how complex the market there is. Tony Benny joined them on tour.

As a 30-strong group of New Zealand farmers, Silver Fern Farms staff and guides – and including three reporters – streak into central Shanghai from Pudong airport aboard the Maglev train, the display in the carriage reads 315kmh.

They’re on the world’s fastest train service, even if this morning it’s down on its usual top operating speed 431kmh.  It will deliver them into a city of 36 million people, the sophisticated, vibrant and stylish heart of shipping and finance in China. . . 

Separation of South Island eel stock:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced changes to quota management for eels in the South Island which will see the current single stock split into two – longfin and shortfin eels.

“Longfin eels are more vulnerable to environmental and other factors, compared to shortfin eels. Therefore it’s important to manage the two species as separate stocks with their own catch limits and sustainability settings,” says Mr Guy. 

“It means we can take into account the different characteristics and value of each species when setting limits, and take a more precautionary approach to longfin eels which are more vulnerable. It is also consistent with how eels are managed in the North Island and the Chathams.”   . . 

Agreement will build a stronger future for the golden breed:

Two organisations committed to the Jersey breed are joining forces and expertise to breed even better dairy cows into the future.

The breed society, Jersey New Zealand, and herd improvement company, Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC), have signed an agreement to work together to jointly select and prove the genetic merit of additional top young Jersey bulls.

The programme will add eight extra bulls to LIC’s current Jersey breeding programme, and will statistically lift the rate of genetic and productive gain for the breed within the industry. . . 

Farm Environment Trust Head Steps Down After Ten Years:

New Zealand Farm Environment Trust general manager David Natzke is stepping down after a decade at the helm of the organisation that administers the highly successful Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust chairman Simon Saunders said Mr Natzke has made a huge contribution to the Trust since his appointment in March 2006.

“Under David’s management the Trust has developed into a highly professional organisation that has grown the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) into one of our primary sector’s premier events.”

Mr Natzke worked with trustees to manage the Awards programme and expand the list of Trust activities. . . 

RBI cell tower completion boosts rural coverage:

Communications Minister Amy Adams today announced the completion of the Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) Phase 1 new tower programme with 154 new cell towers now built ahead of schedule.

Ms Adams was on site to celebrate the completion of the programme in Waipu, and said that under the RBI, nearly 300,000 rural families and businesses are now able to access high speed 3G and 4G broadband services.

Under original specifications, the fixed wireless broadband service was to provide at least 5Mbps peak download speeds. Recent testing shows the 4G service is delivering speeds nine times faster than originally promised.. . .

Kiwi Farmers plough through the most 4G data:

Spark has found that farmers and the rural sector are consistently the highest users of 4G data across all of New Zealand.

When analysing data traffic over the last month, Spark’s cell towers in both Waiuku and Te Puke show the highest use in all of New Zealand. Farmers and rural residents in these two locations are consistently using over 1 terrabyte of data every week – which is the equivalent of watching 1000 hours (or nearly 42 days!) of non-stop online TV content like Lightbox each week.

Other rural sites including Pukekura, Te Awamutu, Pukekohe and Te Kawa also rank extremely high in 4G data usage, demonstrating that Kiwi farmers are now using mobile technology to enhance their businesses – whether that’s at the farm-gate, on the road or in the paddock. . . 


Staying connected in crowds

June 12, 2014

Whenever lots of people converge on places not usually very crowded, mobile connections falter.

It happened in Wanaka at Christmas and Easter and at the Southern Field Days at Waimumu in March.

People going to the Fieldays at Mystery Creek could be expecting similar problems but Telecom has boosted its network to cope with the extra traffic.

Telecom is supporting National Fieldays with its biggest ever mobile communications network build for a one off event – providing a combined network capability four and a half times that which was deployed for the Rugby World Cup 2011 final at Eden Park.

Telecom has deployed a complex mix of both 3G and 4G technology suitable to support more than 125,000 attendees over the four day event period at Mystery Creek Show Grounds.

Alex Lee, Mobile Network Capability Manager – Events says “This kind of capacity is required due to increased customer demand for data (especially in upload capability as people share their experiences on social media) and continuing new customer demand on the Telecom Mobile Network.”

The technology deployed at the event is equivalent to that of over 20 standard mobile sites, transmitting across multiple carriers of 3G on 850MHz, 2100MHz, and 4G LTE on 1800MHz, 2600MHz spectrum. Importantly the use of 700MHz at the event continues Telecom’s trial of 4G technology to the rural sector.

Grant McBeath, Telecom Retail GM Sales says “We’re excited to see how our agribusiness customers can benefit from the faster speeds, better coverage and increased network capacity that 700MHz 4G will deliver for New Zealand’s regions.”

Data traffic across the Telecom network increased by around 60% from March 2014 compared to March 2013. During recent major events, like the Bruce Springsteen concert in Auckland, Telecom have seen mobile uploads actually exceed download.

“As more people begin to use smart devices for things like watching video, using business apps, uploading photos and getting the most out of their music on Spotify, data speeds are going to become more and more important. 4G allows you to do all these things in seconds, and these faster speeds will quickly become the “new normal” for New Zealanders, just as 3G speeds did when they were introduced a few years ago.” McBeath says.

Telecom will be holding two ‘kitchen-chat’ style information sessions each day led by experts from the Telecom network team. The first session will lead a discussion around our networks, and what we’re doing to improve connectivity beyond the major centres. The second session will provide an overview of the Telecom 700MHz spectrum trial in the Waikato and how this will allow Telecom to hit the ground running to deliver 4G beyond the major metropolitan centres once the auction process has concluded.

Rural dwellers are used to less than ideal connections and speeds at home and being connected when you’re away has both pluses and minuses.

But if those at the Fieldays need to be in touch, they’ll be very happy if they can do it without the dropped calls and delays which have happened at other events when the technology can’t cope with the traffic.

They’ll also be keen to learn what improvements they might expect at home – and when they might expect them.


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