Rural round-up

02/06/2022

Rethink on GM policy needed – Richard Rennie:

John Caradus, scientist and chief executive of AgResearch’s commercial entity Grasslanz Technology, is pushing industry leaders, politicians and farmers to reconsider genetic modification (GM) as the primary sector grapples with the challenges of climate change, nutrient losses and disease. He spoke to Richard Rennie about his recent work reviewing GM globally.

There is a level of hypocrisy within New Zealand’s stance on genetically modified (GM) foods that does not sit well with John Caradus. 

He points out NZ consumers can shop for over 90 different GM foods produced from 10 plant species here, but NZ farmers are unable to grow any of them.

“We have a regulatory system that makes it extremely difficult for any entity considering doing so,” he says. . . 

Up to 6 week delay in cattle processing as meat works face backlog – Sally Murphy:

Processing capacity at meat works around the country is returning to normal but a backlog remains.

There had been a backlog for months due to staffing shortages as workers isolated with Covid-19.

That made it harder for farmers to offload stock, which caused huge stress, especially in areas where feed levels were tight.

An update provided to farmers by Beef and Lamb and the Meat Industry Association showed staff levels were now returning to normal and capacity from plant to plant was ranging from 80-100 percent. . . 

Keep driving innovation, meat sector leader says – Sally Rae:

Last week, Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva visited North Otago, the birthplace of New Zealand’s frozen meat industry. She talks to business and rural editor Sally Rae  about the state of the red meat sector.

It is time to celebrate.

That is the message from Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva to all levels of the red meat sector, from the farming community through to processors and other industry organisations.

Ms Karapeeva was in Oamaru last week for a function to mark National Lamb Day, the 140th anniversary of the first shipment of frozen New Zealand lamb arriving in the United Kingdom in 1882, and the centenary of the New Zealand Meat Board. . . 

Red meat exports achieve record April but markets prove volatile :

New Zealand red meat exports hit a record in April however ongoing volatility in China indicates head winds in the coming months, says the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

New Zealand exported products worth $999.6 million during the month of April, up 16 per cent on April 2021 with the value of overall exports increasing to most major markets.

Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of MIA, said that while red meat exports continued to achieve good returns, there was some fluctuation in demand, particularly in China and the US.

“The value of overall exports to China was down six per cent year on year. There was also a small drop in the volume of both sheepmeat and beef exported. The reduction in sheepmeat was largely due to China, with beef exports to the US also dipping. . . 

Reaping rewards of maize crop – Shawn McAvinue:

In a bid to protect against the impact of dry conditions, a trial maize crop on a West Otago dairy farm will return next season and be more than twice the size.

Matt Haugh and his partner Kirsten McIntyre own Cottesbrook Dairy, milking 1450 cows across two platforms on about 470ha near Heriot.

Mr Haugh said pasture growth had been good for most of the summer but dry conditions started to bite in late summer and early autumn.

The dry conditions were an “absolute killer”, because the farm traditionally relied on rain at that time of year. . . 

NZ farmer wins world wood-chopping title – Carmelita Mentor-Fredericks:

How much wood could a Kiwi cut if a Kiwi could cut wood?

A lot – if Taumarunui sheep and beef farmer Jack Jordan and Tokoroa’s Cleveland Cherry’s performances at the Timbersports World Trophy event on Saturday in Vienna, Austria, is anything to go by.

However, it was Jordan who came out tops after taking on national champs, many of whom are lumberjacks from around the world, for the coveted title.

The competition, which is organised by Stihl France, sees 16 competitors take metal to wood as they face off using a variety of chopping tools to out chop each other – whoever chops the most wood in the least amount of time wins. . .


Rural round-up

25/03/2022

RUC reduction brings no relief for farm machinery users – Gerald Piddock:

The Government’s decision to cut road user charges (RUC) by 36% for three months is cold comfort for contractors and farmers using off-road vehicles that will not qualify for the exemption, Federated Farmers says.

The cut, which will take place from late April to late July, is in response to the spike in global fuel prices. Transport Minister Michael Wood said the change was to support the road transport industry.

For the arable industry, the reduction in charges is too late for this season, with much of the harvest already completed apart from harvesting maize grain, Federated Farmers transport spokesperson Karen Williams said.

On Williams’ own farm, fuel costs for the three months during peak harvest had almost doubled from $4000-$7000 a month in 2020 to $8000-$9500 a month this year. . . 

Omicron: ‘major impact’ on staff shortages as apple picking peaks  – Tom Kitchin:

Some orchardists say Covid-19 is running rampant through their harvest fields.

It is peak apple harvest time across the country – and Omicron is not showing any signs of slowing down in the two busiest apple harvest regions – Hawke’s Bay and Nelson-Tasman.

Hawke’s Bay grows over 4700 hectares of apples and Nelson-Tasman is second with about 2400.

Hawke’s Bay Fruitgrower’s Association chair Brydon Nisbett also runs his own 16-hectare two-orchard apple operation. . . 

Bacteria corralled for quality food outcomes – Richard Rennie:

AgResearch principal scientist Dr Eric Altermann admits he has a dream to see a charcuterie of uniquely New Zealand meats and salamis, along with fermented dairy and plant products on the market someday soon. Richard Rennie spoke to him on how his and his team’s work on fermented foods will make that a reality.

Over the past four and a half years AgResearch’s Fermented Foods research team has managed to slice through tens of thousands of evolved bacterial strains to find those with traits most suited to enhancing the flavour and texture of meat, dairy, and plant fermented food types.

The tool that has enabled them to accelerate the natural process of genetic change, which would otherwise have been an almost impossibly time-consuming and frustrating process, has been a high-throughput robotics handling and assaying (screening) platform, developed by AgResearch principal scientist Dr Eric Altermann and his team. 

“The platform’s technology allows us to take bacteria, subject them to rapid genetic evolution using sources such as UV light and then identify those evolved variants which exhibit a positive change towards the desired traits,” Altermann said.  . . 

Awakiki Ridges owners clearing out for retirement – Shawn McAvinue:

A couple of teenage sweethearts are looking forward to retirement on their sheep and beef farm in South Otago.

Howie and Marion Gardner (both 66) will hold a clearing sale on their farm Awakiki Ridges in Puerua Valley tomorrow.

Awakiki Ridges has come a long way since his parents, Clyde (now 93) and his late mother, Beth, bought the land and started developing it in the mid-1960s.

The property was once considered “the worst bit of dirt in South Otago,” Mr Gardner said. . . 

Sharing enthusiasm for red meat sector – Shawn McAvinue:

Maniototo man Dean Sinnamon’s new job allows him to pursue his passion for the red meat sector.

Mr Sinnamon, of Oturehua, started in a new role at Beef + Lamb New Zealand in January this year.

His job title is Central South Island South extension manager.

“It’s a bit of a mouthful, isn’t it?” . . 

China tariffs causes Victorian harvest to tank Annabelle Cleeland:

The 2.1-billion litres of unsold Australian wine sitting in storage is wreaking havoc on Victoria’s grape harvest this season, as a storage shortage forces growers to leave grapes on vines.

Last year the nation’s wine exports plummeted $860 million, or 30 per cent, due to China’s crippling tariffs on bottled Australian wine.

China’s anti-dumping duty introduced the last march of up to 218pc for containers of two litres or less, and is set to remain in place for five years.

It has been a blow for the industry with Australia’s wine exports the lowest in nearly two decades, as the volume of wine sent overseas dropped 17pc to 619-million litres in 2021. . . 


Rural round-up

16/03/2022

Concern over freshwater rules implementation – Neal Wallace:

The NZ dairy herd increased 82% between 1990 and 2019, with some of the largest increases in Canterbury and Southland. Neal Wallace investigates the future of dairying in those regions and talks to some innovators who are confident that with the use of technology and management changes, dairying has a future.

The impact of the Government’s new freshwater regulations could invariably end dairying in Southland or result in a 20% decline over 20 years, depending on who you talk to.

Similarly, there are forecasts the number of dairy cows in Canterbury could decline by up to 20% over that period, depending on how regional councils implement National Policy Statement on Freshwater (NPS-FW) limits on the use of synthetic nitrogen and controls on leaching.

New regulations limiting nitrogen use will require changes, worrying farmers, especially in Canterbury and Southland, where dairy expansion has made nutrient loss to waterways an issue. . . .

Telling our carbon footprint story :

AgResearch’s world-class Life Cycle Assessment team provides an evidence base to help maintain NZ’s export market edge.

As New Zealand seeks to maintain its position as a leading food producer to the world, measuring and reporting the environmental impact of its products has never been more critical.

This is where AgResearch’s world-class Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) team plays a pivotal role: by delivering research to prove the efficiency and sustainability of food production in New Zealand, and how it stacks up against the rest of the world.

“I use the analogy of writing a story,” explains AgResearch scientist and LCA team member, Dr Andre Mazzetto. . .

Let the good times roll! – Rural News:

Last week New Zealand dairy farmers woke up to fantastic news on two consecutive days.

The first was the early morning signing of a free trade deal between New Zealand and the United Kingdom in London.

The second was the Global Dairy Trade (GDT) price index rising for the fifth straight time; more importantly whole milk powder and skim milk powder, used by processors to set the milk price, posted solid gains.

The two doses of good news come as farmers grapple with issues including rising costs, a pandemic and a looming levy/tax on greenhouse gas emissions. . . 

Chasing a perfect shearing day – Gerald Piddock:

An award-winning shearing couple, who spent their careers chasing the perfect shearing day, say there’s no greater feeling than finding your rhythm and getting into the ‘zone’, because that’s when the tallies start to happen. They spoke to Gerald Piddock.

Being a top shearer means chasing perfection.

It’s about having a perfect day in the shearing shed where the wool flows off the sheep from the shearer’s blade.

Chasing that perfection has elevated Emily and Sam Welch to be regarded among the best in the industry. For Emily, it has seen her become a world record holder and industry role model for female shearers. . . .

New Zealand’s borders open for kiwifruit workers :

Ever fancied being paid to work outdoors amongst New Zealand’s beautiful landscape with the nation’s iconic fruit?

New Zealand’s borders have just opened to backpackers again and the country’s kiwifruit industry is crying out for help to pick and pack it’s small, fuzzy fruit.

If you’ve ever wanted to visit New Zealand, Working Holiday Visas are available from today and the kiwifruit industry has lots of jobs up for grabs.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) are leading the call for people to visit their beautiful country. “I strongly encourage everyone to roll up their sleeves and join the team”, says NZKGI CEO Colin Bond. “Picking is a great opportunity for those who like to be in the outdoors, while the packhouse is suited to those who like to have fun in larger teams indoors”. . . 

Farm housing in short supply – Shan Goodwin:

DONGAS and relocatable homes in strong demand on farms are now in very short supply on the back of the same shortages of building materials and labour that has wreaked havoc in the construction business.

Waits on new relocatable homes have pushed out to 18 months, prices of second-hand dongas have tripled and some manufacturers have even shut up shop until supplies come back on line.

Ironically, the supply challenges have coincided with ramped up demand for both farmhouse replacements and additional dwellings on agriculture properties on the back of strong commodity prices.

David Rowe, from Victoria’s Bond Homes, which has been building relocatable homes at Ballarat for more than three decades and has strong custom in replacing old farmhouses and installing new dwellings for farm workers, says pandemic material supply issues are now being amplified by the Ukraine war. . .


Rural round-up

21/01/2022

NIWA predicts drought for top and bottom of the country – Tom Kitchin:

Parts of Aotearoa may have to prepare for a third consecutive year in drought.

Although spring rain may be keeping some hopeful, it is getting dry rapidly, with many farmers seeing their land dry out before their eyes in recent weeks.

The driest parts of the country are at opposite ends – Northland and Southland.

NIWA’s drought index is rating one part of Southland, dry, another very dry and a small part south east of Invercargill extremely dry. . . 

Low methane livestock a reality :

AgResearch scientists’ work to successfully breed low methane emitting sheep has the potential to help all NZ livestock farmers lower their carbon footprint.

The ground-breaking research took out the 2021 Supreme Award at the Science New Zealand Awards.

Backed by the industry through the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGgRc) and the Government – via the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC) – the AgResearch team spent over a decade working on the science.

They were able to identify genetic differences which influences how much methane an individual sheep produces. Methane is a relatively short-lived but potent greenhouse gas. . . 

Annual food price increase the highest in a decade :

Annual food prices were 4.5 percent higher in December 2021 than they were in December 2020, Stats NZ said today.

This is the biggest annual increase since September 2011, when annual food prices increased 4.7 percent.

The main contributor to this increase was higher prices for tomatoes.

Tomatoes nearly doubled in price between December 2020 and December 2021, increasing 99 percent. . . 

Rabobank appoints new head of food and agri research for New Zealand & Australia :

Rabobank has announced the appointment of Stefan Vogel as General Manager of its food and agribusiness research division in New Zealand and Australia.

Mr Vogel takes on the role after more than seven years with Rabobank in London, where he held two concurrent global positions with the bank – Head of Agri Commodity Markets Research and Global Grains and Oilseeds Sector Strategist.

In his new position, based in Sydney, Mr Vogel leads the New Zealand and Australian arm of the agribusiness bank’s highly-regarded global food and agricultural research division, RaboResearch.

In New Zealand and Australia, RaboResearch comprises a team of 10 specialist agri commodities analysts, who are part of a network of 75 research analysts worldwide focussed on providing comprehensive, leading-edge food and agribusiness research for the bank’s clients. . . 

Landmark Agreement Paves Way For NZ Grown Cannabis Medicines :

New Zealand’s two largest medicinal cannabis companies have signed a supply contract that will provide Kiwis further access to locally made medicines and pave the way for international export success. 

The five year multi-million-dollar deal between Marlborough-based cultivator Puro and Auckland-based Helius Therapeutics is New Zealand’s largest to date.

Under the partnership, Puro will supply over 10 tonnes of organic medicinal cannabis to Helius over the next five years, the equivalent of approximately five shipping containers of dried cannabis flower. . .

Comvita and Microsoft collaboration brings magic of the hive to utilising Hololens technology :

Comvita, global leader in Mānuka honey, has today announced a new collaboration with Microsoft, with the creation of an immersive multi-sensory consumer experience powered by Microsoft’s HoloLens technology.

Set to launch to consumers in January 2022 at Expo 2020 Dubai, the experience represents the next step in Comvita’s mission to transform the consumer retail experience, following the opening of its award winning multi-sensory space, The Wellness Lab, in Auckland earlier this year.

With its application of Microsoft’s HoloLens technology, Comvita has transported the Wellness Lab’s 180-degree theatre experience into the fully mobile headset, enabling it to connect consumers anywhere in the world to the unique benefits of Mānuka honey and the magic of bees and nature. . . 


Rural round-up

09/12/2021

More than 300 lambs worth $40k stolen from Ruawai farm – Sally Murphy:

The Kaipara mayor, who is also a sheep and beef farmer, has had $40,000 worth of stock stolen.

Jason Smith had 307 new season lambs disappear from his Ruawai farm between 17 November and 1 December.

Smith said the farm manager noticed they were missing last week when they were being mustered to the yards to be sold.

“This is not just a small number of like 10 sheep or three steer missing, this is 307 lambs it’s a sizeable mob for someone to walk or drive away. . . 

Forestry on farms fires up speakers – Shawn McAvinue:

Is forestry a threat to rural communities or an opportunity too good to refuse?

About 70 people attended the panel debate “Plantation forestry — threat or opportunity?” in Dunedin last week.

Independent debate chairman Stephen Woodhead, of Milton, gave each of the four panel members 10 minutes to speak.

Ministry for Primary Industries Te Uru Rakau forest and land use senior adviser Duncan Harrison, of Christchurch, said a Ministry for the Environment report published in October estimates up to 1.37million ha of new forest — a mix of native and exotic — could be planted in New Zealand between 2020 and 2050. . . 

Forestry operators hope for recovery after ‘perfect storm’ hits log prices :

Forestry contractors are bracing for a tough summer as they wait for log prices to recover and harvesting to regain momentum.

Prices were at near record levels earlier in 2021, but last month sunk to lows not seen since late 2015.

As a result the amount of logs heading to ports had slowed significantly, with many harvesting crews being told to work at a reduced capacity, or down tools.

China is New Zealand’s largest overseas market for logs, accounting for about 70-90 percent of exports. . .

Golden Shears cancelled for second year due to Covid-19 uncertainty :

New Zealand’s major shearing event has been cut for the second year in a row, with organisers sighting uncertainty due to Covid-19.

The Golden Shears had been held at Masterton’s War Memorial Stadium each March for 60 years.

The 2021 competition was called off at just four days’ notice after a Covid-19 alert level change.

Golden Shears International Shearing Championships Society president Sam Saunders said cancelling for the second time was an extremely tough call, as everyone on the committee knew how important the event was to the farming community and Masterton. . . 

Exploring regen-ag with an evidence driven approach :

Ngāi Tahu Farming will transition an iwi-owned dairy block to regenerative agriculture principles and practices, while measuring multiple variables to build a data set that demonstrates the difference between its conventional and regenerative dairy systems. The trial was influenced by an earlier collaboration with the Next Generation Systems programme.

Ngāi Tahu Farming is designing a farm-scale trial that will transition an iwi-owned dairy block to regenerative agriculture principles and practices. This trial will see Ngāi Tahu Farming monitor and measure multiple variables, to build a data set of information that demonstrates the difference between its conventional and regenerative dairy systems. The farm-scale trial will build on a completed trial of regenerative practices on an iwi-owned 114-hectare dairy support block.

The design of the dairy system trial has also spurred discussion about te ao Māori and farming values within Ngāi Tahu. A new iwi consultancy group has been formed for the purpose of helping Ngāi Tahu shape the mātauranga Māori principles in the trial, and to help filter information coming out of the trial back to the iwi.

The decision to undertake these trials, applying a scientifically rigorous approach, was influenced by Ngāi Tahu Farming’s earlier collaboration on Farm Soil Health with the Next Generation Systems research programme, led by Dr Robyn Dynes, strategy lead and senior scientist at AgResearch, and funded by Our Land and Water. . . 

Waitiri Creek not your usual winery – Cy Sinderson:

It’s said that a business is always a reflection of its leadership. So, a CEO who has been given no mandate to grow his or her business from the shareholders will always cultivate a culture of conservatism within the company. On the other hand, a CEO who has been given a free hand is far more likely to create an atmosphere where risk taking is actively encouraged.

With that in mind, it’s easy to see why Waitiri Creek is not your usual winery. Having an owner and general manager with the business reputation and overall clout of Alistair Ward means that his family’s boutique Otago winery is never going to follow the same safe path that so many other wineries tread. In his other life as a director on multiple corporate boards and co-owner of corporate advisors Campbell MacPherson, Alistair is used to dealing with weighty business transactions like mergers, acquisitions, divestments, capital raising and debt finance. And when your clients include a rollcall of national heavyweights like Hynds, Fonterra, Holcim and Ravensdown, you are not used to dodging the hard decisions.  So it is of little surprise that Alistair has dared to continually steer guide the family vineyard into new territories. . .


Rural round-up

07/12/2021

Wool growers too have something to cheer about as dairy leads the charge in brightening farmers’ prospects – Point of Order:

City dwellers,  preoccupied by  Covid,  may not  have  observed  that the  country’s export  economy is  being  sustained  by   its  primary  industries.  Last  week  came  the  news that  Fonterra had  signalled a  record payout to its suppliers, pumping  $13.2bn into the  regions.

Some analysts think that may be on the conservative side and  the final payout will surpass  $9kg/MS.

In  any  case,  the  ANZ commodity  price index lifted  2.8%  in November,  pushing  it into new  territory.  The  bank’s economists, noting that dairy prices  led the   charge, reported they  were  supported  by strong  gains  in  meat.

Again,  because  of the  preoccupation with the pandemic,  it may have  gone  unnoticed that meat  exporters achieved record returns  in the season ended in September. Total export receipts for beef and sheepmeat  equalled the record returns of 2019–20 and were 17% up on the five-year average. . . 

Chisholm getting a real buzz out of breeding Southdown sheep – Sally Rae:

Matt Chisholm is the new ram on the block in the world of stud sheep breeding – and he could not be happier.

On Monday, Chisholm – a familiar face on television and an advocate for mental health, having publicly opened up about his struggles with depression – will head to North Otago to sell a ram from his newly established Southdown stud The Land.

The Cordyline Southdowns ram fair will be like no other, held in the grounds of Brookfield Park, a Heritage New Zealand category 2 listed property which featured in the New Zealand House and Garden tour in 2019.

Built on the outskirts of Oamaru by renowned local architect Thomas Forrester for original owner John Gilchrist, the first mayor of Oamaru, it is now owned by Jennifer (JJ) Rendell, who since buying the property in 2003 has created an imaginative garden retreat surrounding a restored Victorian homestead. . .

New funding to assess impact of on-farm planting on beneficial insects :

Plant & Food Research and co-investment partners welcome the $2.2 million of Government funding for a new project ‘Beneficial Biodiversity for the Greater Good’, just announced by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

The $3.2 million, five-year research programme aims to understand the impact of native plantings on beneficial insect diversity and abundance on a range of farm types. It seeks to design plantings that optimise pollination and decrease pests on farms, without creating pest reservoirs.

“We’re grateful for the Government support through the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund, which will fast-track our research efforts significantly,” says Plant & Food Research lead researcher Dr Melanie Davidson. . . 

Unique partnership to enhance soil health and test regen-ag :

New research on farms across New Zealand will measure and provide farmers tools to enhance soil health, including identifying where regenerative agriculture practices can make a difference.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor today announced a unique partnership between food producers Synlait Milk and Danone, science provider AgResearch, and the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund. The project will study soil health on 10 farms in Waikato, Canterbury and Otago over five years, to determine the impacts of changes in soil health on production, farm resilience and the environment, including climate change.

Soils underpin New Zealand’s food and fibre sector and managing for healthy soils improves the natural capacity of soil to sustain plants, animals, and humans. However, assessment of soil health on farms is not routinely measured in New Zealand, and so practical tools are needed to help farmers understand the detailed state of the soils and how best to manage them. . .

New Zealand National Fieldays Society’s annual report to reflect a changing world :

New Zealand National Fieldays Society (NZNFS) released its Annual Report following a virtual Annual General Meeting of Society Members held on Saturday. The new format report uses an all-inclusive approach to reflect the evolution of the organisation and reframe its wider impact.

Historically, the Society has provided an Economic Impact Report on its flagship event Fieldays® followed by a constitutional Annual Report – separate documents telling the Society’s story from different perspectives.

However, as the Society and the global landscape have evolved, a new approach to tell a more holistic story has been identified. The new-look report is also a step forward in aligning the economic analysis with Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) guidelines. . .

Leading Australian producer picks New Zealand’s Redford software to transform operations:

Australia’s largest processor and packer of potatoes and onions, Mitolo Family Farms, has engaged New Zealand fresh produce software provider Radford Software to streamline operations across the entire value chain, from soil to supermarket.

Radford Software chief executive officer Adam Cuming said he was delighted that South Australian-based Mitolo Family Farms had chosen Radfords to support its next phase of growth.

“Onboarding a customer of Mitolo’s calibre reinforces our international growth strategy as we continue to focus on building client relationships across Australia and into the North American market,” Mr Cuming said. . .


Rural round-up

05/10/2021

Farmer who contracted Covid-19 urges public to get vaccinated – Maja Burry:

Some farmers impacted by one of last year’s high-profile Covid-19 clusters are encouraging people to get vaccinated, no matter where they live in the country.

As the global pandemic was being declared in March last year, around 400 delegates from around the world were attending the World Hereford conference in Queenstown.

There were 39 people identified in the cluster, including Roxburgh farmer Robyn Pannett. She became very sick and is still feeling the impact of the virus – even today.

“I still have a really distorted sense of taste and smell. At the same time, my immunity is not where it was. And I am a bit more fatigued. So it has had an ongoing effect.” . . 

Hopes of relocation to NZ dashed– Neal Wallace:

Raynardt van der Merwe and his family will board a plane in November and head back to South Africa, their dream of relocating to NZ eroded by the Government’s uncertain immigration policy.

A taxidermist and hunting guide based in Hawea, Central Otago, van der Merwe has been working in partnership with Glen Dene Hunting and Fishing since December 2019.

“I was reasonably confident I had a good opportunity by relocating to NZ and in fact getting a work visa and working towards residency.”

Even though he has an essential skills visa, the lack of certainty about the path to residency, meant they could not plan for a future. . . 

Discovery brings replaceable closer to irreplaceable – Richard Rennie:

Making formula milk more like Mum’s could provide a means to not only improve its nutritional profile, but also prove to be a valuable formula additive in an industry with a global value of US$60 billion a year. Richard Rennie spoke to AgResearch scientists developing a component that makes infant powder almost as good as the real thing.

Working in the area of infant nutrition and formulation, AgResearch scientist Dr Caroline Thum points out much of infant formula production requires processors to take out some of milk’s best components, and then try to add them back in for the final product.

Typically, infant milk processing has bovine fatty acids replaced with non-bovine fatty acids to try and replicate the fat’s ratio, and resemblance to human fatty acids as close as possible. 

That usually involves adding vegetable oils as the fat source. . . 

New tech helping meat industry mitigate skills shortage :

New retail automation technology introduced by one of the country’s largest beef and lamb suppliers is helping to increase efficiency within its growing domestic business.

PrimeXConnect, an automated transaction platform designed for the meat supply chain, was first piloted by ANZCO Foods in the New Zealand market in 2019 as they sought new ways to help manage the unique nature of the domestic business model.

The system is designed to replace the traditional email and phone call based offer-and-order model that has been favoured by generations of Kiwi butchers.

The platform allows ANZCO Foods customers to place orders from the shop floor at any time from their computer, laptop or phone. The automated process then ensures that the confirmed orders are routed to the company’s distribution centres for delivery. . .

Tatua annual results for the year ended 31 July 2021:

The Tatua Board of Directors and Executive met on 30 September 2021 to consider the financial results for the 2020/21 financial year and decide on the final pay-out to our supplying shareholders.

The lingering uncertainty related to Covid-19 and the ongoing global shipping disruption continued to create challenges through the year. However, we acknowledge that many businesses and individuals have faced greater hardships, and that we are fortunate to have been able to continue to operate as we have.

We are pleased to report that the business has had a good year, achieving Group income of $395 million and earnings available for pay-out of $162 million.

Our earnings equate to $10.43 per kilogram of qualifying milksolids, before retentions for reinvestment and taxation. This is an improvement on the previous year earnings of $9.96 per kilogram of milksolids, and is a record for Tatua. . . 

Farm boost with new agricultural visa signed off – Andrew Brown:

Farmers could soon have access to more workers from overseas, following the creation of a new agriculture visa.

The new visa type, which came into effect from Thursday, will allow for the entry and temporary stay in Australia of workers across primary industries.

While the final numbers of how many workers would be able to enter the country on the visa are yet to be confirmed, the first workers are expected to arrive from late 2021.

Entry to the country will be subject to quarantine arrangements and agreements with partner nations. . . 


Rural round-up

24/09/2021

The ETS is both a gold mine and a minefield – Keith Woodford:

The Government never foresaw the land-use forces they were unleashing with the ETS

In recent weeks I have written multiple articles on the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) with a particular focus on forestry. This week I also had an extended interview with Kathryn Ryan on RNZ ‘Nine to Noon’.  However, there is still lots more that needs to be said.

The bottom line is that carbon forestry is now far more profitable than sheep and beef farming on nearly all classes of land. We are indeed on the cusp of the greatest rural land-use changes that New Zealand has seen in the last 100 years.

For many sheep and beef farmers, carbon farming can now be a gold mine. The key requirement is pastoral land that will grow an exotic forest that will not be destroyed by storm, fire or disease.  . . 

A new visa scheme offering 3 years in Australia to agricultural workers threatens to crush NZ’s primary sector – Aaron Martin:

Australians must be laughing at our immigration woes.

The Australian government has announced a new visa aimed at enticing agricultural workers by offering them three years of residency to live in rural areas. New Zealand, however, has no official pathway or plan for migrant worker residency.

Why is the Ardern government consistently the loser?

We have very proud history of sporting success against Australia. We love nothing better than to beat them at anything. We’ve had success on multiple fronts but, sadly, our government seems to come up the loser against theirs. . . 

The human cost of no response :

The Prime Minister’s ‘Be Kind’ message is obviously struggling to get past Wellington’s 50k boundary and out to Rural New Zealand.

You can tell because, if there was any response from her or her ministers to the concerns Rural NZ has, I’d know. To date, the tally is 0.

As both a farmer and National’s Agriculture spokesperson I find it deplorable.

The heavy-handed approach the Government has adopted in trying to reach unrealistic, impractical targets for water, climate change, zero carbon, emissions and land use, to name but a few, has placed enormous pressure on the farming sector. . .  

Fonterra completes reset, announces annual results and long-term growth plan out to 2030:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced a strong set of results for the 2021 financial year, reflected in a final Farmgate Milk Price of $7.54, normalised earnings per share of 34 cents and a final dividend of 15 cents, taking the total dividend for the year to 20 cents per share. The results come as Fonterra moves through its business reset and into a new phase of growing the value of its business.

CEO Miles Hurrell says the last three years have been about resetting the business. “We’ve stuck to our strategy of maximising the value of our New Zealand milk, moved to a customer-led operating model and strengthened our balance sheet.

“The results and total pay-out we’ve announced today show what we can achieve when we focus on quality execution and an aligned Co-op.

“I want to thank our farmer owners and employees for their hard work and commitment over the last few years that has got us to this position. Together, we’ve shored up foundations and done this despite the challenges of operating in a COVID-19 world.

“Although the higher milk price and tightening margins put pressure on earnings in the final quarter, this is a strong overall business performance, allowing us to deliver $11.6 billion to the New Zealand economy through the total pay-out to farmers. . . 

Hawke’s Bay A&P show cancelled over Delta risk fears – Maja Burry:

The Hawke’s Bay A&P Show, due to be held late next month, has been cancelled due to the uncertainty and risks associated with the Covid-19 Delta outbreak.

Organisers said the executive committee of the Hawke’s Bay A&P Society met last night to review the risks and after significant consideration, made the hard decision to cancel.

The show was scheduled to run from October 20th-22nd. It’s one of the largest in the country and usually attracts 30,000 people to the Tomoana Showgrounds.

Society president Simon Collin said whilst the country was in differing levels of restrictions, and with Covid-19 cases still appearing the country, the event couldn’t go ahead. . . 

Scientists aiming to enhance the `human-ness’ of infant formula

AgResearch scientists think they have identified a unique new way to make infant formula more like breast milk and better for babies, using ingredients that could enhance brain development and overall health.

Research into this next generation infant formula could create new opportunities for New Zealand’s primary industries in a global market worth tens of billions of dollars annually.

With funding over three years recently announced from the government’s 2021 Endeavour Fund, AgResearch scientists Simon Loveday and Caroline Thum, along with collaborators from Massey and Monash Universities, are aiming to enhance the “human-ness” of infant formula produced from New Zealand ingredients.

“We’ve recently discovered a new natural source of nutritional oil that is surprisingly similar to the fat in breast milk,” Dr Thum says. . . 

Demand for NZ apples in India continues to grow – Sally Murphy:

An apple exporter says efforts to grow demand in India are proving fruitful with orders skyrocketing.

Although they only make up a small proportion of total numbers, exports of pip fruit to India have been growing.

Ministry for Primary Industries figures show last year 5.5 percent of apple and pear exports went there, but to July this year exports to India made up 8.2 per cent.

Golden Bay Fruit in Motueka has been exporting apples there for over 20 years. . . 

 


Rural round-up

13/09/2021

Carbon farming will determine the future of sheep, beef and production forestry – Keith Woodford :

The carbon price is now high enough to change land-use sufficiently to blow away sheep and beef, but too low to significantly influence emission behaviours elsewhere

The concept of ‘carbon farming’ has been around for a long time. I recall carbon farming discussions with my colleagues at University of Queensland back in the early 1990s, but the industry has taken a long time to finally arrive.  Well, it is now here. And it has the potential to overwhelm not only the sheep and beef industries, but also have big impacts on the timber industry.

It is only six weeks since I wrote an article setting out that carbon farming is now considerably more attractive than sheep and beef on the hard North Island hill country. Then two weeks later I extended that analysis to the easier hill country. In a more recent article focusing on the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS), I mentioned that the same conclusion could be drawn for considerable parts of the South Island. All of those can be found archived at my own site https://keithwoodford.wordpress.com in the forestry category. . . 

South American curbs on beef exports bode well for NZ’s prospects – Point of Order:

New Zealand’s beef exports may suddenly be  in high demand from  overseas  markets, in   the  wake  of  the world’s largest beef exporter, Brazil, suspending its beef exports to its No. 1 customer, China, after confirming two cases of “atypical” mad cow disease in two separate domestic meat plants.

China and Hong Kong buy more than half of Brazil’s beef exports.   NZ’s  sales are relatively  modest, by comparison, but  reached  36%   of  our total  beef  exports   last  season.

The  other  big exporter  to  China,  Argentina,  in  June  decided  to   restrict  exports, with the  aim of  boosting domestic  supply.  Argentinian beef exports are to be  limited to 50% of the average monthly volume exported from July to December 2020. . .

Picking the better way to a better asparagus future:

Picking the way to a better asparagus future with robotic harvesting

A robotic asparagus harvester project led by growers and supported by the Government is set to reinvigorate the New Zealand asparagus industry, by alleviating ongoing labour challenges.

The New Zealand Asparagus Council (NZAC) and Tauranga-based Robotics Plus will work alongside New Zealand asparagus growers to develop a world-first commercial-scale autonomous robotic asparagus harvester to help address ongoing labour shortages in the industry and support growers to tap into high-value export markets.

The Government’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) fund is contributing $2.6 million to the $5.83 million project. . . 

September is bee awareness month:

This month is Bee Awareness Month and over the past 12 years Kiwis have celebrated our hard-working bees.

Not only do our bees produce a vital food source, as commercial pollinators they also play critical roles in our food chain, biodiversity and $5 billion Apiculture economy.

New Zealand has a healthy bee population with over 900,000 registered hives, however, we can’t get complacent about bee health. Bees all over the world face a range of threats including: biosecurity, climate change, disease, bugs and pesticides. If you want to play your part in supporting healthy bee populations, here are some simple and easy things you can do to help our bees. . . 

Scholarship gives young people boost into beekeeping career :

Young people interested in a beekeeping career are being encouraged to apply for the annual Ron Mossop Youth Scholarship, sponsored by Mossop’s Honey and Apiculture New Zealand.

The scholarship was set up three years ago as a way of giving young people the best possible start in the apiculture industry. The scholarship includes $2000 to be put towards best practice training and/or set up costs. It also includes membership of industry body Apiculture New Zealand for a year and attendance at the industry’s national conference in the year of the award.

Last year’s recipient, Bay of Plenty 18-year-old Angus Brenton-Rule, says the scholarship provided valuable support in his first year of beekeeping. As well as allowing him to buy resources to kick-start his career, Angus welcomed the opportunity to make connections with the wider industry through his membership of Apiculture New Zealand and his attendance at their June conference. “Conference was a really great opportunity to meet other beekeepers and hear about what’s happening in other parts of the country. I learnt lots.” . . 

Building community trust in agriculture – Jeannette Severs:

Call it social license, social trust or community trust – the bottom line is that consumers need a sense of connection with farmers in order to trust and rely upon their services and produce.

Personal relationships make the difference. That is the finding from a research project asking Australians how they feel about primary industries. It is also the experience of farmers engaged in paddock to plateagribusinesses. So why is there a critical belief that Australians don’t trust farmers?

Is it a beat-up of opinion circulated by commentators and mainstream media? Is it fed by the reactive responses of agri-industry organisations to criticism of Australian primary production?

The Community Trust in Rural Industries Program, funded by a number of industry research and development corporations in partnership with the National Farmers’ Federation and New South Wales Department of Primary Industries is a four-year project that analyses community perceptions of primary production – agriculture, fishery and forestry.  . .


Rural round-up

13/08/2021

Nats’ proposal on migrants welcomed – Richard Rennie:

National’s proposal for a clean out of New Zealand’s daunting migrant visa application backlog has been given a thumbs up from dairy farmers still grappling with labour shortages.

National party leader Judith Collins has proposed Immigration NZ be required to clear the backlog of skilled migrant workers already here and seeking residency status. 

These are estimated to be over 30,000 and include vets and dairy farm herd managers. 

National has also proposed a “de-coupling” of skilled migrant staff from specific employers, instead making them tied to a sector or a region. . .  

Concern over ‘rushed reforms’, lack of detail – Neal Wallace:

The hectic pace of Government-initiated reform will result in poorly drafted legislation that will create a windfall for lawyers, warns National Party Environment spokesperson Scott Simpson.

Replacement draft legislation, such as for the Resource Management Act (RMA), lacks detail or an understanding of unintended consequences, he says, which will be determined by litigation.

“Either way the legislative changes coming at us like a steam train do not have that detail,” Simpson said.

The Ministry for the Environment (MfE) acknowledges it has a heavy workload developing policy to reform the RMA, climate change, indigenous biodiversity and water. . .

Water sampling technology on trial – Shawn McAvinue:

It is a data stream with a difference.

AgResearch Invermay senior scientist Richard Muirhead is developing new technology to help farmers wanting to improve water quality to make better decisions.

For the past two years, Dr Muirhead has been working on a project to get sensors to measure the levels of nitrogen, sediment, E.coli and phosphorus in waterways.

Sensor technology had been imported to measure the first three contaminants but the search continues for technology to measure phosphorus. . .

Tekapo -the Dark Sky Project is the place to stargaze – Jane Jeffries:

In the heart of the Mackenzie country is the small, quaint town of Tekapo, famous for the Good Shepherd church and the stunning vista through its window behind the altar. However, when the lake and mountain views disappear after dusk and the skies darken our twinkly solar system is exposed. It’s paradise for star gazers and a wonderful sight for young and old.

Whether you are a star gazer or just want to find out more about our solar system the Dark Sky Project in Takapo (Tekapo), is the place to start.

But before I talk about Tekapo’s terrific night sky, the town’s name needs an explanation. Tekapo was originally called Takapo. Takapō is the name the Ngāi Tahu tribe ancestors recorded. At Dark Sky Project they are extremely proud of their region and use the name Takapō, so that’s what we will call it.

Firstly, Takapo is one of the best places in the world to observe the night sky and it’s easily accessible. Minimal light pollution means the night sky views stretch as far as the eye can see. . . 

Farmland director elections nominations open :

Nominations are being sought for this year’s Farmlands Director Elections.

Two seats – one North Island and one South Island – are being contested. Farmlands Directors Dawn Sangster and Gray Baldwin are retiring by rotation in 2021 and both have indicated they are standing for re-election.

Farmlands Chairman Rob Hewett says having a say in governance is crucial to the ongoing success of the co-operative.

“Having high calibre shareholder representatives is critical not only to Farmlands but all rural co-operatives,” Mr Hewett says. “We have made tremendous strides in growing the talent pool of rural governance, alongside Silver Fern Farms, through the To the Core programme. . . 

Grazing cattle can improve agriculture’s carbon footprint – Adam Russell:

Ruminant animals like cattle contribute to the maintenance of healthy soils and grasslands, and proper grazing management can reduce the industry’s carbon emissions and overall footprint, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist.

Richard Teague, Ph.D., professor emeritus in the Department Rangeland, Wildlife and Fisheries Management and senior scientist of the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture and the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Vernon, said his research, “The role of ruminants in reducing agriculture’s carbon footprint in North America,” published in the Soil and Water Conservation Society’s Journal of Soil and Water Conservation presents sustainable solutions for grazing agriculture.

The published article, authored by Teague with co-authors who include Urs Kreuter, Ph.D., AgriLife Research socio-economist in the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life SciencesDepartment of Ecology and Conservation Biology, Bryan-College Station, was recognized at the society’s recent conference as a Soil and Water Conservation Society Research Paper for Impact and Quality.

Teague’s research showed appropriate grazing management practices in cattle production are among the solutions for concerns related to agriculture’s impact on the environment. His article serves as a call to action for the implementation of agricultural practices that can improve the resource base, environment, productivity and economic returns. . .


Rural round-up

25/07/2021

Why farmers protested in NZ towns and cities – Shelley Krieger:

 Last week’s Howl of a Protest inspired Balclutha dairy stock agent Shelley Krieger to write the following post on Facebook, explaining why rural people took to the streets.

In case anyone was confused as to why the farmers were protesting on Friday, I thought I would just put something here so people have an idea of why.

Firstly SNAs (Significant Natural Areas).

These are areas of people’s farm land or lifestyle blocks that the Government is getting the councils to survey. . . 

Labour cannot afford to ignore rural concerns – Mike Houlahan:

For something set up as an apolitical organisation, farmer advocacy group Groundswell is having a heck of a political impact.

Yesterday the group, set up by Greenvale farmer Laurie Paterson and his Pomahaka colleague Bryce McKenzie in October last year, held its first national event, Howl of a Protest.

Farmers and sympathetic townies both were encouraged to fetch up to a town centre near them to show how fed up they were with increasing Government interference in their lives and businesses.

There is a long shopping list of government policies Messrs Paterson and McKenzie and co are riled about, which includes fresh water management, stock grazing regulations, promotion of electric vehicles, Resource Management Act reform, emission standards, and significant natural areas regulations. . . 

‘Farmers need to stick together’– Toni Williams:

“Farmers need to stick together, work together and help each other along,” dairy farmer Willy Leferink says.

Mr Leferink, speaking at the Howl of a Protest in Ashburton on Friday, said farmers were sick and tired of all the regulations and needed a change where farmers would make a difference.

“The ink is not even dry on the Canterbury Water Management Strategy,” he said, and changes were already afoot.

“We as rural communities don’t get listened to,” he said. . . 

M. Bovis eradication efforts on track :

A just released report shows efforts to rid the cattle disease M-Bovis from the country are on track and eradication is likely to be achieved.

The disease which can cause lameness and mastitis was first detected on a South Canterbury farm in July 2017.

In 2018 the government committed to eliminating the disease over 10 years.

The latest report from the independent Technical Advisory Group (TAG) shows only three active infected properties remain, down from 34 two years ago, and once cleared the programme will move onto surveillance. . . 

Science helps cook ‘perfect steak’; artificial intelligence creates recipes

AgResearch scientists have taken their skills into the kitchen to identify the ideal cooking conditions for the “perfect steak”; while also harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to create new food combinations and recipes.

The scientists used a unique approach of analysing biochemical changes in beef steak during the cooking process.

They worked with world-class development chef Dale Bowie, whose career included working at Heston Blumenthal’s Michelin three-star restaurant The Fat Duck in the UK.

When being cooked, steak releases compounds emitted as gases called volatiles, which can be captured and analysed. . .

Angus Youth inspires industry’s next generation – Edwina Watson:

ANGUS Youth protege Damien Thomson reckons there’s never been a better time to be in beef.

At home at Shaccorahdalu Angus, Berremangra, NSW, the Thomsons received the equivalent to their 2019 total rainfall in the first three months of 2021.

Mr Thomson said the good season was now showing in the stud’s pastures and weaners.

“It’s great to see the optimism and confidence in beef cattle after such an extreme drought. The quality of our herd improves year-on-year and we can’t supply enough to our existing clients.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

23/06/2021

Big break for Hawke’s Bay as Big Save buys farms, ups the ante in wool industry – Doug Laing:

Hawke’s Bay is set to play a major role in the revival of the New Zealand wool industry kick-started by wool-buying moves taken by Napier-based furnishing manufacturer and retailer Big Save Furniture.

Moving away from synthetics as much as possible, the company is paying farmers $4.50kg for strong wool in which Hawke’s Bay is the biggest regional producer in the World – more than double recent market lows which have seen farmers paying more for the shearing than they’re getting for the wool.

The property arm of the McMinn family operation has also bought four farms in Southern Hawke’s Bay in the last 12 months, about 3000 hectares of sheep and beef farming, under the Big Rural brand.

The crisis is highlighted by Campaign for Wool NZ Trust chairman Tom O’Sullivan, from Havelock North, the fourth generation of a Central Hawke’s Bay sheep-farming family, one of several people from Hawke’s Bay at the centre of moves to get the industry, and who says that at the height of the industry in the 1950s the farm could have been bought from “the one wool-cheque”. . . 

Stretching, balance helps improve health, wellbeing – Shawn McAvinue:

Physical therapist Hennie Pienaar opens his injury prevention workshops by asking meat industry staff if they want to live longer or die earlier.

Mr Pienaar began working for Alliance Group as its musculoskeletal injury prevention manager based in Invercargill about 15 months ago.

Alliance wanted to improve the ‘‘complete wellness’’ of its staff, improving their physical, mental and nutritional health, so they enjoyed their work, went home happy and maintained a healthy lifestyle, he said.

The meat processing industry had a ‘‘big struggle’’ to find staff so it was working to retain them. . . 

Southlanders pioneer real paneer making in New Zealand – Uma Ahmed:

Southlanders who found a niche in producing authentic paneer from raw milk are starting to expand their business.

Paneer is a type of acid-set cheese originating from the Indian subcontinent.

Southland couple Julie and Roger Guise, after chatting with Thiagarajan Rajoo at church, found out authentic paneer was not being made in New Zealand.

The bulk of paneer in New Zealand is made from powder or standardised milk, as opposed to being made with raw milk. . . 

Bremworth signs up to NZFAP:

Bremworth has signed up to the New Zealand Farm Assurance Programme (NZFAP), signalling its support for and adoption of a national wool standard.

The NZFAP provides assurance to consumers about the integrity, traceability, biosecurity, environmental sustainability and animal health and welfare of NZ’s primary sector products.

Bremworth joins 20 other wool industry members to transition towards sourcing their wool from 6800 accredited sheep farms across NZ that meet the standards set by the NZFAP.

By signing up to NZFAP, Bremworth can prove its wool has met traceability, authentic origin and animal welfare standards. . . 

Farmer uses regenerative techniques to combat high nitrate levels – Conan Young:

A farmer in an area known as ground zero for high nitrate levels, is making fundamental changes to the way he farms in order to lessen his impact on water quality.

Levels in private drinking water bores in Mid-Canterbury were on average five to seven times higher than most towns and cities, and in some places exceeded the amount deemed safe by the World Health Organisation.

But a number of farmers were determined to do something about it.

David Birkett grows crops including wheat and vege seeds on 200 hectares near Leeston. . . 

Promising early results for Facial Eczema lab test:

Initial results from a pilot study investigating the potential for a laboratory test to determine Facial Eczema tolerance are positive, paving the way for more detailed investigation.

Dan Brier, B+LNZ’s General Manager Farming Excellence, says the ultimate aim of the study, which is being funded by Beef + Lamb New Zealand and conducted by AgResearch, is to produce a fully validated high through-put commercial test, which is readily available for breeders and commercial farmers.

“Initial results look promising with the establishment of a cell culture method, using sheep and cattle blood, to demonstrate sporidesmin (the toxin that causes Facial Eczema [FE]) toxicity. This indicates that animals could be tested for tolerance without needing to be exposed to the toxin.” . .


Rural round-up

21/06/2021

Changing look for NZ lamb? – Nigel Malthus:

New Zealand meat producers will have to change their breeding priorities to take a full advantage of a new optical meat quality monitoring system being developed by AgResearch.

Clarospec system is designed to analyse meat cuts in real time as they go through a meat processing plant, using hyperspectral imaging to provide objective measures of meat quality.

AgResearch says the technology can provide information on key aspects such as structure and composition that influence flavour and texture.

“This technology will support a shift from volume to value and allow lamb producers to tailor production to meet the needs of global consumers,” project leader, Dr Cameron Craigie told Rural News. . .

Falling harvests nip NZ wine’s worldwide growth in the bud – Bevan Hurley:

New Zealand’s winemakers have enjoyed a $1.9 billion bumper year on the export markets, but now it’s the end of the golden weather.

At Trader Joe’s flagship wine store in New York’s Union Square, queues of shoppers stretched along East 14th St during the early months of 2021.

With restaurants closed to indoor dining, Manhattanites would often wait 30 minutes in the sub-zero temperatures during the depth of the Covid winter, eager to restock their depleted wine racks.

Once inside, the popular US supermarket chain’s chatty, knowledgeable staff were happy to share their thoughts on the Oyster Bay and Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blancs displayed prominently on their shelves. . . 

Rising Star: Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Quinn Morgan

Quinn Morgan laughs when you ask if he always wanted to be a dairy farmer as a kid.

“Growing up I was more in love with my Playstation. My stepdad was a dairy farmer for a few seasons but I was more a city-slicker type kid, rather than going out there and doing everything,” he told Country Life.

But after just one season as a dairy farmer, Quinn has won the prestigious Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Award. Just as impressive; he’s only 26. . . 

Luxury eco-holiday in a dome at Lake Hawea, Wanaka – Isabel Ewing:

Jet boating, heli-skiing, skydiving, bungee – much of the tourism in the Southern Lakes region revolves around speed and adrenaline, but a family-owned business on the shores of Lake Hawea is all about allowing their visitors to slow down.

“People who come here live such busy lives, and it’s about getting them to unwind and just relax,” says Richard Burdon, owner of The Camp and Cross Hill Lodge & Domes.

“A lot of the American clients have pot plants on top of their ovens, and they don’t find that family time to slow down.”

Burdon and wife Sarah have owned the lakeside campground for 10 years, and they’re also third-generation owners of Glen Dene and Mt Isthmus Station, a working farm set in the jagged country framed by lakes Hawea and Wanaka. . . 

Time and place:

Working in a rural but desk-based role has really made Waikato/Bay of Plenty FMG Young Farmer of the Year Kieran McCahon reflect on the very different health and safety challenges of being “hands-on on farm”. 

McCahon grew up on his family’s 1000-cow dairy farm on Northland’s Pouto Peninsula, near Dargaville.

He gained a Bachelor of Agricultural Science and a Master of Management, majoring in Agribusiness, as a DairyNZ scholar, and joined DairyNZ full-time 18 months ago as a solutions and development specialist.

“I recently moved back to Northland to continue my role with DairyNZ, which also means getting more time on the farm,” McCahon said. . . 

Can dairy be sustainable? Yes and here’s why :

Frank Konyn figures there are about 150 breweries within a reasonable drive from his dairy farm in the County of San Diego, Calif.

He frequents 19 of them but it has nothing to do with grabbing a cold one after a long day of milking cows. Instead, he makes weekly stops to pick up something the brewers no longer want: spent grains that remain from creating some of the area’s trendiest microbrews.

On an average week, Konyn collects about 225 tons of the grain that serves as protein-rich feed for his nearly 900 milking cows. He has plenty left over for a nearby dairy farmer’s herd.

Konyn began hauling the unwanted byproduct in 2009 with a pickup truck. Today, he owns five semi-trucks and 40 “roll-off” containers that are 18 feet long and are left at each brewery to be filled. . . .


Rural round-up

31/05/2021

Stringing bells in glasshouses – Hugh Stringleman:

A business that began in a field in Matakana has grown into a global operation with a sophisticated glasshouse enterprise producing seven million capsicums a year. Hugh Stringleman found out how they do it.

Southern Paprika (SPL) of Warkworth is the largest single-site glasshouse grower of capsicums in New Zealand, with nearly one million plants at any one time under 26ha of cover.

Each bell pepper plant produces 40 fruit per season, as the plants grow up strings to 4m in height.

It’s called Southern Paprika because it is in the Southern Hemisphere and paprika is the Northern Hemisphere word for capsicum. . .

Bootcamps and mental health events target Young Farmers:

A new initiative is being funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to help improve the wellbeing of young people in rural communities.

NZ Young Farmers has been allocated $40,000 to organise events in seven regional areas featuring guest speakers, activities, and skill-building sessions.

“It’s important we continue our efforts to give people the skills to look after their wellbeing, manage stress and to recognise and openly talk about mental health,” says MPI’s director of Rural Communities and Farming Support Nick Story.

NZ Young Farmers has a network of 70 clubs, which provide an opportunity for young people to make friends, network, upskill and socialise. . . 

Farming flavour: chocolate and chilies – Country Life:

Feeding the farm crew at docking time, even as a child, was no problem for Johnty Tatham.

Things culinary have been the 24-year-old’s passion for a while.

Now he’s handcrafting chocolate from a cottage on the family farm and his sleekly packaged Lucid Chocolatier products can be found at top-notch Wellington restaurants and artisan chocolate shops.

Johnty and his brother Paddy are back on the Tatham’s sheep and beef farm in coastal Wairarapa forging new paths in the food industry. . .

Study suggests sheep milk farms produce 50pc less nitrogen water pollution :

Sheep milk farms could produce up to 50 percent less nitrogen loss to water compared to regular dairy farms new research shows.

Carried out by AgResearch, the study was done to better understand the environmental impacts of sheep dairy farms.

Although still comparably small to the regular dairy industry, the dairy sheep industry is quickly growing.

There are 17,000 dairy sheep in New Zealand with another 8000 being introduced next season. . .

 

New technology shown to improve pasture growth without harming the environment:

Many of us are just beginning to understand how soils [and soil fertility] truly work. The dominant model, developed 150 years ago by chemists in Germany has been popularised, used very widely and successfully. This model says: “You have a soil that is deficient in nutrients. You are growing a plant that needs the nutrients to achieve full production. Nutrients or fertilisers are applied to correct the imbalance. If you have multiple deficiencies, then you may apply a cocktail of nutrients and fertilisers to address the balance”. Note that in this model the microbiological elements are ignored. More nutrients and chemicals are applied. The soil biology gets hammered. More maintenance nutrients are required – and so the costly circle continues.

The problem with this model is that it is deficient. It misses the critical component of soil microbiology. This has been substantially invisible until recently, when we have had a new tool, DNA to aid study. When you start to look at the interaction of soil microbiology, it has been a largely invisible third party in agriculture. In forestry it has long been known that nutrient deficiencies in plants can be solved by micro biology. Pine trees need mycorrhizal fungi. Without the fungi, the Pine tree doesn’t grow. . .

Packaging-free milk flowing at shared workspace:

An innovative milk processing system developed by Christchurch startup, Happy Cow Milk, is delivering packaging-free Saltworks co-working space.

Happy Cow Milk raised $400k in an equity crowdfund in 2019 to develop its revolutionary “milk factory in a box”. This system allows any farmer to be a fully compliant milk producer and any cafe, workplace or even school to be a retailer.

Founder Glen Herud says the dairy industry needs disruption. “The current system rewards large-scale farming over small, family farms. Happy Cow wants to replace the complicated milk supply chain system to allow farmers to connect and sell milk to their local communities – because we know that sustainable milk is local milk.” . . 

Wairarapa’s Olive Black wins gold at prestigious New York competition:

Award-winning olive oil producer Olive Black is elated New Zealand olive oils are being noticed globally, as the company wins gold at the New York International Olive Competition.

Hot on the heels of winning Best in Show at the New Zealand Olive Oil Awards 2020, for its extra virgin olive oil, Wairarapa olive grower, Olive Black, now also has a gold medal from one of the most prestigious competitions in the world.

This year, there was a record 1100 entries from 28 countries in the New York competition and Olive Black manager Mark Bunny says he is absolutely fizzing. . . 


Rural round-up

19/05/2021

ORC to seek controls over carbon forestry – Rebecca Ryan:

Otago regional councillors have voted to lobby central government for national changes to standards for carbon forestry.

Following concerns raised by the public and a visit to the site of October’s Livingstone fire, councillors and iwi representatives on the council’s strategy and planning committee discussed tree planting for carbon sequestration (carbon forests) during a meeting last week.

“Unlike plantation forestry, carbon forests are planted and left in perpetuity,” Cr Kevin Malcolm said.

“As forestry for carbon sequestration is currently a permitted activity in the Otago region, there’s not the same level of maintenance and hazard management expected for forests planted for harvest. This can lead to pest problems, depleted river flow in water-short catchments, and increased fuel loads for bush fires.” . . 

Farmers let down by government MIQ restrictions – Sudesh Kissun:

Farmers will continue to apply pressure on the Government and hope for a change of heart on the need for skilled overseas workers.

Earlier this month, the Government declined an application by the dairy sector for 500 skilled workers from overseas.

Federated Farmers immigration spokesman Chris Lewis says the Government is set to deliver its budget this week, aiming to grow the pie and reduce debt. “For that they would need the economy to grow, but how can you with your biggest export sector facing a worker shortage,” Lewis told Rural News. . .

We’re not a push over – Peter Burke:

Beef+Lamb NZ chair Andrew Morrison has fended off criticism that his organisation is too cosy with government and won’t speak out against it.

In recent weeks, there have been growing calls for the industry good organisations – Beef+Lamb NZ and DairyNZ – to be more vocal against some of the government reforms that are affecting farmers. But Morrison says people should judge them on the outcomes, not the outbursts.

He says right now an entity of 15 farming groups are working together to have a mature conversation with government around what is the best way to achieve some of these reforms so that they don’t impact negatively on the primary sector.

“None of the sectors are selling each other out to get a result. This is about an aligned agreement about what is the best way to construct policy, and throwing rocks doesn’t work – it just gets people offside,” Morrison told Rural News. “You can have heated, mature debates, but you still have to be respectful.” . . 

Awards finalist living her best life – Sally Rae:

Maniototo vet and farmer Becks Smith was a finalist for the recent Zanda McDonald Award for young professionals in the agricultural sector. She talks to rural editor Sally Rae about her passion for the industry.

Becks Smith genuinely has the best of both worlds.

A finalist for the recent Zanda McDonald Award, Mrs Smith works part-time as a vet at VetEnt in Ranfurly, while farming at Gimmerburn with her husband, Jason, and their young family.

As she looked out the window on a blue-sky Maniototo day, which started with a minus-seven degree frost, she reflected on how lucky she was to have that as her office. . . 

AgResearch collects top award for meat imaging technology – RIchard Rennie:

Sheep facial recognition, portable dairy processing, “green” batteries and meat quality tech were all winners at this year’s Food, Fibre and Agritech – Supernode Challenge. Richard Rennie reports.

The Food, Fibre and Agritech challenge, sponsored by ChristchurchNZ, KiwiNet and the Canterbury Mayor’s Welfare Fund aims to capture a range of disruptive technologies that can be commercialised to help address some of agriculture’s major challenges.

This year’s supreme overall winner was the AgResearch team headed up by Cameron Craigie for Clarospec. The team developed a machine to help deliver more consistent and objective lamb meat grading quality using hyperspectral imaging technology. 

The unit that is now operating in a commercial plant providing objective, precise information on lamb meat quality. . .

Red meat under attack – Shan Goodwin:

AMID the plethora of technical seminars and market analysis at Beef Australia this year, it seems a presentation from a Tasmanian orthopedic surgeon with no commercial ties to the red meat game has become the most talked about event.

Dr Gary Fettke’s address at a forum hosted by Agforce touched on everything from religion to diabetes and the breakfast cereal business to the origins of veganism but the overarching message was clear.

The beef industry needs to know where the anti-meat rhetoric started and plan a defence because it is under attack.

The demonisation of red meat has nothing to do with science, Dr Fettke said. . .


Rural round-up

02/05/2021

Lack of skill costs contractors – Gerald Piddock:

Inexperienced Kiwi farm machinery operators are costing the industry stress, accidents and insurance claims, a new survey of Rural Contractor NZ (RCNZ) members has revealed.

While the industry will continue to train and recruit more New Zealand staff to meet demand, it was fortunate there had been no serious accidents this season, RCNZ chief executive Roger Parton said.

Many rural contractors were only barely able to meet farmer demand this season by working unacceptably long hours in machinery, as well as trying to supervise inexperienced staff.

“We appear to have been extremely lucky that there have not been any serious accidents, but health and safety cannot rely on luck,” Parton said. . . 

Why we should care more about wool – Nadia Lim:

 I find it intriguing that, in a world where we are so keen on being more environmentally friendly and sustainable, the industry for one of the most sustainable, durable and biodegradable materials is in dire straits, and at an all-time low.

I’m talking about wool. Strong wool – produced by the majority of New Zealand sheep breeds – can be used in clothing, carpets, curtains and insulation, not to mention furniture, bedding, weed mat, fertiliser and more. It has a higher micron count than merino wool, so it is thicker and stronger; merino is finer and softer, which is why it’s ideal for clothes worn close to the skin.

We run about 2000 Perendale ewes on our mixed cropping and sheep farm in Central Otago. We reduced the stock numbers significantly when we came here, to give the land a rest but also because there is so little demand for wool these days.

That’s the sad, and ironic, thing. There’s so little demand for wool that we literally have tonnes of it sitting in our shed in bales. It must be an education and awareness thing, because if everyone was actually serious about wanting to be more sustainable, do you think as many of us would be wearing (synthetic, petroleum-based) acrylic jumpers and polar fleece, or that we’d put synthetic insulation and carpets in our homes? . . 

Forage may unlock low gas options – Richard Rennie:

Leafy turnips and winter forage rape crops may yet provide a means for farmers to ensure their livestock emit less methane, without compromising productivity.

AgResearch forage scientist Arjan Jonker acknowledges finding lower methane-emitting feeds is one of agriculture’s “wicked problems”, but says the AgResearch team is well-advanced in understanding what feeds can produce less ruminant methane.

AgResearch forage scientists are working alongside their livestock research colleagues on potential pasture types that may play a key role in helping the sector lower its methane emissions.

With both crops comprising most of the sheep’s diet, the researchers have achieved methane emission reductions of 20-30%. . .

Geoff Ross on New Zealand’s first certified carbon positive farm :

If farmers want to increase profits they need to “look beyond the gate” at the big picture, Geoff Ross says.

Ross and his wife Justine run Lake Hawea Station, the first farm in New Zealand to have its carbon footprint certified.

The Rosses used certifications provider Toitū Envirocare, which found that the 6500-hectare station was actually carbon positive.

This was a “big deal” for Lake Hawea Station, and for its offshore customers, Ross told The Country’s Jamie Mackay. . . 

What lessons can we learn from European glyphosate review? – Mark Ross:

The prospect of a ban on glyphosate is placing enormous pressure on European farmers and Kiwis should be taking notice, Agcarm chief executive Mark Ross says.

Glyphosate use in Europe has resulted in reassessments, reviews and bans in some countries, causing a backlash by farmers.

The controversial herbicide is touted by New Zealand Professor of Toxicology Ian Shaw as a victim of its own success.

It’s successful because it is the most widely used herbicide in the world, it is versatile, and its use can benefit the environment. . . 

 

Summerfruit industry looking forward to growing strong conference in Hawkes Bay:

Summerfruit NZ has just opened registration for the Growing strong – Success in a changing world conference. The industry event is being held at various venues in Hawke’s Bay, including the War Memorial Centre in Napier, where trade exhibits will be on display and speaker presentations will be made.

The Growing strong theme indicates an industry that has experienced tough times but has come through 2020-21 and is ready to reflect, build resilience and celebrate the end of a season like no other.

‘Unfortunately, last year’s conference had to be cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions,’ says Summerfruit NZ chief executive Kate Hellstrom. ‘Growers and other members of the summerfruit industry are really looking forward to meeting with friends and colleagues they may not have seen for well over a year. . . 


Rural round-up

01/05/2021

Canterbury irrigation scheme will hold farmers to account – Adam Burns:

Replacement consent for the Mayfield Hinds Valetta (MHV) irrigation scheme was granted after an independent commissioner released a decision last week.

The 10-year consent is subject to a series of conditions, including a 15 percent reduction in nitrogen losses by 2025 and 25 percent by 2030, auditing of farm environment plans, monitoring ground and surface water quality and remediation and response plans.

Environment Canterbury (ECan) can review the consent if improvements are unable to be achieved.

“This consent is granted on the basis that the significant adverse cumulative effects on the receiving environment will be reduced and there will be measurable environmental improvements within the consent term,” the hearing commissioner’s report states. . . 

Research into sheep farmers’ experiences – Annette Scott:

The call is out for New Zealand sheep farmers to help with a research project on the industry’s bioeconomic transition to sustainability.

Lincoln University Masters student Jemma Penelope is preparing to survey sheep farmers across all regions of NZ about their on-farm experiences and challenges as they strive for sustainability.

Penelope, currently undertaking her second Masters, is leading research projects that develop innovative solutions for the agri-food industry.

Having grown up and studied in Canterbury, Penelope then worked abroad in business management and conservation and environmental markets in several countries, including Australia, America and Canada, before realising a place for her back home. . . 

Sheep lead methane research – Richard Rennie:

A mob of low methane sheep are proving it is possible to produce less methane and grow a healthy, productive animal that farmers will want to put into their flock bloodlines in coming years.

For the past decade New Zealand scientists have largely flown below the radar with the work, but are enjoying world leading success in identifying high and low methane emitting sheep. 

The work means today researchers including AgResearch scientists, with the support of farmers through the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium  have two flocks of sheep, one high and one low methane emitting, and have established a genomic profile over three breeding generations. 

These provide sheep breeders with useful and accurate data on what their animal’s “methane value” is, relative to its breeding value. . . 

Directors returned to Silver Fern Farms co-operative board:

Rob Hewett, Co-Chair of Silver Fern Farms Limited has been re-elected to the Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Limited’s Board of Directors. Gabrielle Thompson, who was a Board Appointed Director, has also been elected to the Co-operative Board by farmer shareholders.

The Board was delighted with the calibre and number of candidates that put themselves for election. Those that were unsuccessful were William Oliver, Simon Davies, Rob Kempthorne and Charles Douglas-Clifford. We thank them for their ongoing commitment to Silver Fern Farms.

The total weighted vote represents 50.59% of total shares, compared to the 62.68% turnout in the previous election in February 2018. . . 

 

Lawson’s Dry Hills wins at the 2021 Cawthorn- Marlborough Environment Awards:

Lawson’s Dry Hills was awarded winner of the wine industry category at the 2021 Cawthron Marlborough Environment Awards, announced in Blenheim on Friday night.

In February, Lawson’s Dry Hills became a Toitu carbon zero certified organisation making the company the only New Zealand wine producer to be certified with both ISO14001 (Environmental Management) and ISO14064 (carbon zero).

The Awards judges praised Lawson’s Dry Hills for their commitment to reducing their environmental impact. Awards Coordinator and Judge, Bev Doole said, “These internationally recognised certifications reflect the culture at Lawson’s to improve and innovate across a wide range of areas, including recyclable and biodegradable packaging, generating solar power and storing water off the winery roof.” . . 

Central Otago’s oldest remaining stone packhouse on the market for sale:

The oldest standing stone packhouse in Central Otago, forming part of a sprawling lifestyle property, is on the market for sale.

Set in the heart of New Zealand’s original stone-fruit growing region, the 8.4-hectare property at 3196 Fruitlands-Roxburgh Road is offered for sale by Bayleys Cromwell for $1,560,000 plus GST (if any).

“The property, affectionately dubbed ‘Stonehouse Gardens’, offers a wonderful blend of home, income, lifestyle and priceless local history,” says Bayleys Cromwell salesperson Renee Anderson, who is marketing the property for sale with colleague Gary Kirk.

“Roxburgh and the Coal Creek area saw the start of stone-fruit cultivation during the 1860s gold rush, when the Tamblyn family first imported stone fruit trees from Australia,” Mr Kirk says. . . 

 


Pasture raised advantage research trial

30/04/2021

Free range and pasture-fed are good for marketing, researchers are looking at the science behind the claims:

New Zealand scientists are conducting a ground-breaking research programme to explore the differences between pasture-raised beef with grain-fed beef and alternative proteins.

Most of the global research around the nutritional, environmental and health impacts of producing and consuming red meat have been based on grain-finished cattle.

However, New Zealand specialises in free-range, grass-fed farming without antibiotics and hormones aka pasture-raised meat. Not only are the farming styles different, but so too is the meat.

Researchers, scientists, dietitians and nutritionists from AgResearch, the Riddet Institute and the University of Auckland recognised that difference and are kicking off a ground-breaking new research programme that will compare pasture-raised beef and lamb against grain-finished and protein alternatives – products like plant-based alternatives.

Learn more at Beef + Lamb NZ


Rural round-up

22/04/2021

Risks to our industry – Elbow Deep:

On the 14th of August 2020, Gulf Livestock 1 left the Port of Napier bound for China carrying 43 crew and 5,867 cattle. Seventeen days into its journey, after sailing into the path of a typhoon and losing power to its engine, Gulf Livestock 1 capsized with only one crew member surviving and all the animals on board perishing.

This tragedy spurred the Government to suspend live export shipments while a review was undertaken. Two months later shipments resumed but the writing was on the wall, public sentiment had been heavily against the practice for years, and last week the Government announced shipments of live animals would be phased out over two years’ time.

It doesn’t matter that the sinking of Gulf Livestock 1 was a maritime disaster unrelated to its cargo, the vessel had been flagged in both Indonesia and Australia for poor engine maintenance and improperly filed voyage plans, or that it was the only vessel to head directly into the typhoon while all the other ships in the vicinity sought shelter. . . 

Nor does it matter what the conditions were like on-board more modern livestock carriers; how much feed is available; how many vets are on call or even if that the animals gain weight on their journey. . .

Farmers struggling to access water for stock – Sally Murphy:

Dry conditions around the country are causing issues with stock drinking water supplies and crop production a new survey has found.

Nearly 550 farmers responded to Federated Farmers 2021 Drought Survey over the last couple of weeks, painting a picture of conditions.

The survey found with little to no rain farmers are struggling to access water for their stock as dams waterways and aquifers are either substantially lower than normal or completely dry.

Respondents also highlighted issues with authority operated schemes not able to monitor those who are taking too much water from urban development, causing those down the scheme to have too little. . . 

‘Designer’ deer herds touted to help farmers – Hugo Cameron:

A researcher looking at the different foraging behaviours of deer says it could help farmers create the perfect “designer herd” for their land.

AgResearch associate Bryan Thompson said individual deer had preferences for where they wanted to feed – ranging from intensive lowland farms to rugged high-country hills.

He said there was a range of factors that influenced where a deer wanted to forage, including its personality, health, social interactions, past experience, food availability and diet.

Thompson said if those foraging behaviours were better understood, it might be possible to create herds with deer that were suited to specific farms. . . 

‘Game-changer’ tool for agricultural aircraft safety – Riley Kennedy:

A new tool has been launched to make sure agricultural spreader pilots are safer in the air.

Mosgiel technology company TracMap released its new TML-A GPS aviation guidance unit yesterday at a special event at the Otago aerodrome.

The digital, touch screen system, which sits in the cockpit with the pilots, aims to make the pilots’ time in the air more effective, enjoyable, and eliminates one of their greatest risks.

The new system can detect wires, such as powerlines, and lets the pilots know when the hazards are near. . . 

Smaller vintage of exceptional quality:

The New Zealand wine harvest is nearing completion, and a superb summer throughout most of the country means the industry is looking forward to a vintage of excellent quality, according to New Zealand Winegrowers.

“All reports indicate the quality of the harvest so far is exceptional, and we are looking forward to some fantastic wines coming out of this year’s vintage,” says Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers.

While it is still too early to confirm final numbers, it is clear the overall crop size is down on previous years. “There will be some variability across different parts of the country, but the industry is anticipating a significantly smaller vintage across several New Zealand wine regions this year.” . . 

Substantial Northland kiwifruit landholding placed on the market for sale:

A substantial kiwifruit landholding owned and managed by New Zealand’s biggest kiwifruit producer – and with potential to convert vines to higher-value kiwifruit varieties – has been placed on the market for sale.

The portfolio consists of three blocks in Kerikeri, Northland. Combined, the three separate lots comprise some 12 hectares of kiwifruit growing operations in various stages of production – complete with irrigation and established shelters – and a further near 15 hectares of land.

The property is owned and fully managed by leading New Zealand kiwifruit growing and harvesting specialist firm Seeka. In their current format and configuration, the orchards within the Kerikeri block consist of: . . 


Rural round-up

05/02/2021

Dairy prices and Fonterra’s re-establishment as a global leader should be celebrated far beyond the cowsheds – Point of Order:

The New Zealand economy, although battered  by the  Covid-19 pandemic, has  moved   into 2021  in  better  shape  than  anyone  might have predicted  just six months ago.

To  a degree  this has been due  to  the  continuing vibrant performance  in the export  sector  particularly  by the  primary industries. This  week  there  was a  fresh surge  of  confidence   within that sector  because of the signal from the big dairy co-op, Fonterra, in lifting its  milk payout  forecast.

Fonterra  now expects to pay farmers between $6.90-$7.50kg/MS. That is up 20c a kg from its previous forecast range of $6.70 -$7.30. . . 

Dairy markets have hit a sweet spot but big challenges remain – Keith Woodford:

Global dairy markets continue to grow despite negative sentiment in some quarters. The Climate Change Commission expects less cows to be balanced by more milk per cow. Man-made ‘udder factories’ are yet to emerge.

The combined effect of the three latest global dairy auctions has been that US-dollar prices for dairy have risen eleven percent since Christmas. A farmgate payment above $NZ7 for each kg of milksolids (MS) of fat plus protein for the dairy year ending in May 2021 now looks close to ‘baked in’.

This means that for a second year, farmgate prices will exceed $7. This will be the first time that prices have stayed above $7 per kgMS for two consecutive years.

It will also mean that five years have passed since the two bad years of 2015 and 2016. The bad years were largely driven by EU internal quota removals and a consequent surge in EU production. . . 

Feds survey shows farmer confidence has bounced back:

Farmer confidence has bounced back to where it was pre-Covid19 but attracting and retaining staff remains a headache, the latest Federated Farmers Farm Confidence Survey shows.

Of the nearly 1,100 farmers who completed the Research First survey in the second week of January, a net 5.5% considered current economic conditions to be good. That’s a 34-point jump from the July 2020 survey when a net 28.6% considered them bad, marking the lowest level of farmer confidence in the 12 years the six-monthly survey had been conducted.

“Looking ahead, a net 43.8% expect general economic conditions to worsen over the next 12 months. That sound a bit grim, but just six months ago 58.7% of survey respondents expected a deteriorating economy,” Federated Farmers President and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard said.

“I think farmers, like other New Zealanders, are feeling buoyed by the way we’ve handled the pandemic despite the torpedo to international tourism. The agricultural sector is willing and able to maintain production so long as regulatory and other stumbling blocks don’t trip us up.” . . 

Positive attitude asset during lockdown:

A new study* has found a strong ‘can do’ attitude and cooperative spirit in the agricultural industries were significant factors in minimising losses and uncertainties during the COVID restrictions last year in New Zealand and Australia.

Co-authored by Lincoln University’s Dr Lei Cong, with contributors from a number of institutions including AgResearch, The University of Queensland, NZ Institute of Economic Research, and Plant and Food Research, it measures the immediate impacts of COVID-19 control measures to June 2020 on the agri-food systems of Australia and New Zealand and how resilient those systems were.

It found the effects on both countries were broadly similar, and there were relatively minor economic impacts across the surveyed industries.

It stated the high level of ingenuity in the rural communities, both in Australia and New Zealand, was likely a key element of their resilience and capacity to overcome movement restrictions and the disruption of value chains. . . 

Kiwi conservationists count wins in war on wallabies – Nita Blake-Persen:

Pest control experts say they are finally starting to make a dent in New Zealand’s exploding wallaby population, as a battle to stop them destroying native forests rages on.

Checkpoint cameraman Nick Monro and reporter Nita Blake-Persen headed out on a hunt to see how it’s all going.

The government last year allocated $27 million towards culling wallabies as part of its Job for Nature programme.

Among those to receive funding is Dr Tim Day, a pest control expert working in the Bay of Plenty.

Wallaby numbers have been growing in the area in recent times, and Day described them as a “little known villain”. . . 

Scientists have taught spinach to send emails and it could warn us about climate change – Marthe de Ferrer:

It may sound like something out of a futuristic science fiction film, but scientists have managed to engineer spinach plants which are capable of sending emails.

Through nanotechnology, engineers at MIT in the US have transformed spinach into sensors capable of detecting explosive materials. These plants are then able to wirelessly relay this information back to the scientists.

When the spinach roots detect the presence of nitroaromatics in groundwater, a compound often found in explosives like landmines, the carbon nanotubes within the plant leaves emit a signal. This signal is then read by an infrared camera, sending an email alert to the scientists. . . 

 


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