Rural round-up

March 19, 2014

Taumarunui farmer cheats death for a third time -Lachlan Forsyth:

Yesterday, 54-year-old Janet Kelland cheated death for a third time.

She cheated death on Mount Everest in 1996 in a storm that claimed the life of mountaineer Rob Hall.

And five years ago she broke her neck in a horse-riding accident.

Yesterday, the Taumarunui farmer was checking an electric fence when she stumbled across a wasps’ nest. . .

Wasp swarm attacks farmer – Ben Irwin:

A Waikato farmer had to walk 45 minutes for help after she was stung at least 50 times in the head by wasps when she stepped in a nest on a remote block of land northwest of Taumarunui.

A “really, really sore” Janet Kelland last night spoke to the Herald from her bed at Taumarunui Hospital after the ordeal which began about midday yesterday on the farm she part- owns.

The 56-year-old was walking up the fenceline of a paddock, checking that an electric fence was free from weeds and obstructions.

Moments later she stepped in a “big hole of wasps”. . . .

IrrigationNZ welcomes report on water’s value but questions pricing/allocation focus:

IrrigationNZ has welcomed today’s release of a report confirming the value of water for New Zealand, but cautions any moves to reallocate water or overhaul pricing in its wake would be ‘overly-simplistic’.

Andrew Curtis, IrrigationNZ’s CEO, says while the majority of recommendations in the NZIER report ‘Water Management in New Zealand – a road map for understanding water value’ resonate with the organisation, he has concerns about its recommendations around water allocation and pricing.

“IrrigationNZ agrees that transfer of water can be improved in New Zealand and that water permits need to be standardised and irrigation storage and distribution infrastructure enabled to do this. But calling for allocation reform is overly simplistic.” . . .

An overview of topical agricultural issues – Allan Barber:

There are four local issues exciting particular interest in the agricultural landscape at the moment: the ram breeders’ testy meeting with AgResearch in Gore, the case against Fonterra by MPI, the failure to award grants to three major research institutes, and Silver Fern Farms’ Eating Quality beef grading system.

First the meeting in Gore when AgResearch finally fronted up to the ram breeders and sheep farmers from the deep south to hear their complaints about relocating most of the scientists from Invermay to Lincoln. Unfortunately for the disaffected farmers AgResearch seems to have made its mind up a long time ago about its Future Footprint Programme which will see two hubs at Massey and Lincoln. After the meeting on 12th March, the word is that the Board will look at the issue again, but only very limited tweaks are expected.

Meeting convenor, Hugh Gardyne, intended to move a vote of no confidence in AgResearch’s board and management, but didn’t get the chance to table the motion. My impression is that the group has shot its bolt and is unlikely to achieve any significant change to the plans. . . .

Changes to Dairy Cattle Code of Welfare Proposed:

The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) is seeking public consultation on proposed changes to the Animal Welfare (Dairy Cattle) Code of Welfare 2010.

NAWAC is proposing that blunt force trauma may not be used for the routine killing of unwanted dairy calves on the farm.

“We understand that people are concerned about farmers using blunt force trauma to kill young calves on the farm,” says Dr Karen Phillips, Deputy- Chair of NAWAC.

“The risks of incorrect use, coupled with the fact that there are alternatives that can be better for animal welfare, meant that it was time to consider changing the rules on this.

“Industry bodies have been discouraging it over a number of years and it is no longer common practice. However, we agree that there are significant animal welfare concerns when this method is not used correctly,” says Dr Phillips. . .

Ahuwhenua field days farms achieve a level of rural development that has the world watching

Finalists of 2014 Ahuwhenua Trophy BNZ Māori Excellence in Farming Award are achieving a level of rural development that is gaining increasing international interest, as the second of three field days kicks off today.

“The finalists this year are all exemplar models for growing rural economic development,” says Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI’s) Deputy Director-General Ben Dalton speaking from Te Rua o Te Moko Ltd’s field day near Hawera.

“There is increasing international interest in Māori agribusiness as a model for rural development, particularly from countries with rural land holdings capable of agriculture. . .

Regional Finals heat up in Taupo

The ANZ Young Farmer Contest heads to Taupo for the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Regional Final, Saturday 22 March.

Eight finalists are contending for a spot at the Grand Final in Christchurch 3-5 July and their share of an impressive prize pack worth over $14,000 in products, services and scholarships from ANZ, Lincoln University, Silver Fern Farms, AGMARDT, Ravensdown, Honda, Husqvarna and Vodafone.

This Regional Final will see a remarkable group of contenders come together for what will surely be a full on day of practical, physical and theoretical challenges at the Tongariro North Domain followed by the entertaining evening quiz-show held at the Taupo Great Lake Centre. . .

Hogget Mating Becomes Big Focus for Hill Country Farmers:

Hogget mating is becoming a big focus for more and more hill country farmers.

Wanganui Farmer and Focus Genetics ram breeder, Donald Polson held a farm field day recently and told farmers that farm profitability on hill country was driven by the number of lambs weaned.

“Our main goal is to put as many lambs on the ground as we can in a challenging environment. To achieve this we need to grow out good replacements and then we mate our ewe hoggets, which is efficient and more productive. We also run cropping systems which is another simple way to boost productivity.” . . .

New innovation supports confidence in NZ food exports:

In a world facing increasing concerns for food safety and quality, the ability for consumers to get independently verified information about a product, right at the point of sale, is a big step forward in supporting confidence in New Zealand food exports.

Seeing the opportunity to meet this AsureQuality, global experts in food safety and quality, developed the inSight™ brand which is designed to provide consumers with additional information about the products they are buying.

The rigorous process of supply chain assessment to gain an inSight™ licence allows producers to use the inSight™ brand and a unique QR barcode on their products. By scanning the barcode with their mobile devices, shoppers are taken straight to the inSight™ website (www.aqinsight.com). Here they can view independent evidence about the product features prior to purchase. . .

Ballance shareholders get free Ag Hub access:

Thousands of farmers throughout the country are being offered free access to the award-winning Ag Hub farm technology system.

Ballance Agri-Nutrients moved to full ownership of Ag Hub last year and Chief Executive Larry Bilodeau says that with farmers under increasing pressure to track nutrient use and manage nutrient budgets, putting the technology in shareholders’ hands has been a priority.

All of Ballance’s shareholders are being offered free access to the Ag Hub system for their nutrient information.

“Farmers want practical, accurate systems to support on-farm decisions and Ag Hub provides the level of real-time information to help them make the right calls, both for their business and for the environment,” says Mr Bilodeau.


Rural round-up

July 31, 2011

Owen Glenn: use science to be innovative:

In the second of a series leading up to the election, Owen Glenn says exporters’ form matters even more than the All Blacks’.

Every four years, rugby puts New Zealand on the world stage. Our exporters do the same every day.

Unlike the All Blacks, when exporters aren’t playing to their full potential, the whole country loses.

With two out of three jobs dependent on it and $4 of every $10 our economy produces generated by it, exporting matters. . .

Lonely bull still waiting for rescue – Kathy Marks:

When Victoria was hit by catastrophic floods in January, a bull named Bernard sought refuge on an island in the middle of a lake.

Six months later, he’s still stranded and his owner is appealing for help to reunite the increasingly bad-tempered animal with his herd. . .

8% rise in lamb numbers forecast – Sally Rae:

Reasonable conditions this lambing should see a rise in the total number of lambs by 2 million – up 8% – pushing export lamb production back towards 20.5 million head in 2011-12.

Export lamb production in 2010-11 was expected to finish at about 19 million head, down 11% on the previous season, according to the ANZ Agri-Focus report for July . . .

Researcher seeks tonic in pasture – Sally Rae:

It is a long way from managing a farm in the UK to being a research fellow in Dunedin – but Dr Marion Johnson has led an interesting life.

Dr Johnson, who grew up in Zambia, the UK and New Zealand, initially studied agriculture at Massey University.

She worked as a shepherd around the Wairarapa before shepherding on hill farms in Wales and Scotland . . .

Feeding out made easier – Sally Rae:

Dave McCabe, a North Otago contractor and farmer, has devised a method of pulling strings from bales on feed-out wagons that saves time and machinery.

Previously, he used a loader to pull out the strings. . .

Collaboration succeeding – John Aspinall:

Prior to 1987, most Crown-owned land in New Zealand was managed by the Lands and Survey Department (L&S).

In 1987, L&S was restructured into the Department of Conservation (Doc), Landcorp and Forestcorp. Most of the commercial-minded senior management people went to Landcorp and Forestcorp.

Doc gained practical hands-on field staff, but many of their management people took a very idealistic view that they would save the environment and could do it alone . . .

Farmers’ web portal winner:

AG-HUB, an agriculture web portal for farmers, has been awarded the Telecommunications Users’ Association of New Zealand (Tuanz) “best of the best” prize at its 2011 innovations awards.

Ag-Hub captured information from on-farm recording devices such as feed readers, effluent irrigators, moisture tapes and weather stations. . .

Fascinating new pastures for dairy cows thanks to innovative farmers – Pasture to Profit:

Many pasture based dairy farmers in both France & the UK are experimenting with mixed pasture swards. These “New Pastures” always include an abundance of clovers & increasingly include herbs such as Chicory & Plantain. The inclusion of the deep rooting herbs adds a completely new dimension to pastures for grazing dairy cows.

These pastures are very different from conventional pastures in many ways. Nitrogen fed pastures tend to be monocultures of ryegrasses. Well managed ryegrass clover pastures are highly productive. The clover content is related to the grazing intensity & the amount of nitrogen used. The mixed pastures offer considerable biodiversity, interesting possible changes to the cows diet, generally higher protein levels but more complex grazing properties. In mixed species pastures some plants are grazed out & its difficult to graze according to every plant’s requirements. However these new pastures might well enhance the health benefits of grass fed milk . . .

Alpaca breeders get serious about business – Jon Morgan:

Peter McKay gives a demonstration of the mating ritual of the alpaca. It’s not what you think. The Hawke’s Bay farmer tilts back his head, opens his throat and goes “orgleorgleorgleorgle”.

This rumbling gargle is the male alpaca’s foreplay. It starts the female ovulating. Mr McKay and wife Tessa have 160 alpacas on their 235-hectare sheep and beef farm at Maraekakaho.

Mrs McKay tells what happens next. “They mate sitting down. It’s called a cush,” she says. “Then we wait two weeks to see if she is pregnant. If she goes into the cush for him, it didn’t work the first time. If she spits at him, it did.” . . .

Wine moguls thrive in hard year – Michael Berry:

Most Marlborough-linked wine magnates listed in this year’s National Business Review Rich List managed to increase their wealth in a tough year for the wine industry.

Siblings Jim and Rosmari Delegat, owners of Oyster Bay Vineyards Marlborough and who own much of the NZX-listed Delegat’s Wine Estate dropped to 39th this year, while increasing their net worth by $35 million to $150m . . .

Record rebate for Ballance Farmers:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients will pay shareholders a record rebate and dividend of $50.29 per tonne after achieving an $85.9 million operating profit for the 2010/11 financial year, more than four times the $20.7 million achieved in the prior year.

The total average payment to shareholders of $50.29 per tonne includes a rebate of $46 per tonne on fertiliser purchased and an imputed dividend of $0.10 per share, resulting in a total distribution to shareholders of $49 million. Ballance’s rebate payment is calculated based on both the quantity and the value of the product purchased. This means that farmers who have purchased higher-value products such as DAP, triple superphosphate or potash will receive a rebate and dividend in excess of $62 per tonne, with urea returning a rebate of over $54 per tonne. . .

Sheep: barnyard brainiacs

It turns out that sheep are far more intelligent than their reputation for barnyard slowness would lead one to believe. In recent research published in PLoS ONE1, Professor Jenny Morton of the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Cambridge and her colleague Laura Avanzo reported that domestic sheep can perform extremely well on tests of designed to measure cognitive abilities, possibly as well as any animal other than primates.

Professor Morton, who had been studying Huntington’s disease, wanted to find out whether transgenic sheep with a specific genetic defect might be useful in preclinical research regarding potential treatments for this neurodegenerative disease. Because Huntington’s is characterized by cognitive deterioration, Morton was particularly interested in seeing how well sheep would perform cognitively, since suitable research subjects for neurologic disorders like Huntington’s inevitably must undergo systematic cognitive testing relevant to the disease. . .

Hat Tip: Tim Worstall


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