Millions of dollars worth of New Zealand fruit and grapes were at risk of rotting on the branch due to a shortage of local pickers. So a visionary group of Central Otago growers took a chance on guest workers from the Pacific, who also took a chance on them.
In the early 2000s the orchards and vineyards of central Otago were heavy with fruit. Peaches, cherries and grapes were ready to be plucked, boxed and shipped all over the world. But there was a problem. There weren’t enough people to pick them.
Hiring backpackers and students on holiday was the usual practice, but it was risky, James Dicey, the man behind Mt Difficulty wines says. . .
In a world first, New Zealand sheep farmers now have the ability to breed animals that emit less methane.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Genetics has launched a “methane research breeding value”. Breeding value (BV) is used to help select important traits ram breeders want to bolster in their flock, such as low methane-producing animals.
The launching of this significant breeding tool is thanks to a 10-year, multimillion-dollar collaboration between the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium, New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre and AgResearch, supported by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and Ministry for Primary Industries. . .
The government’s launch today of a strategy for the future of farming will encourage farmers to continue with the work they are already doing, constantly focusing on improving their farming operations, Federated Farmers says.
It is particularly pleasing to see the focus in the Primary Sector Council’s vision on the need to develop a mindset that embraces science, technology, research and development, Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says.
“I was also pleased to see the focus on infrastructure in here. . .
Horticulture New Zealand says the Primary Sector Council’s vision to align the food and fibre sector is the right one, because it will enable the sector and the Government to respond collectively to current and future challenges.
‘This is right for our sector as only by working together, will we respond successfully to consumer and government requirements,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil.
‘Consumers across the world are more and more interested in knowing exactly how the food they eat has been grown, harvested and transported. They also want to know that the environment has been well looked after, as have the people that have been involved in producing the food. . .
Some worthwhile recommendations but ultimately underwhelming is Federated Farmers’ summary of the Productivity Commission’s final report on local government funding and financing.
“On the whole, the inquiry and the final report don’t move the dial much on local government funding issues and will provide little comfort for long-suffering ratepayers, especially farmers who pay a disproportionate share of the burden,” Feds President and local government spokesperson Katie Milne says.
“It looks like we’ll be sticking with over-reliance on a property-value based rating system that for farmers in particular can have no correlation to services used or cost-sharing fairness. And of course the Commission was never going to find an answer to councils that don’t exercise financial discipline and hike rates well ahead of inflation.” . .
Down taking photos of the maize today and almost missed this beauty. A Pohutukawa. Our very own NZ Christmas tree. Beautiful aye? pic.twitter.com/Figp7OAOFJ
The response of Government Ministers to rural concerns about forestry policy is polarising the debate. Describing rural perspectives as ‘fiction’, and upset rural protesters as ‘rednecks’, is counter-productive.
The combination of the Zero Carbon Act and forthcoming Emission Trading Scheme legislation will transform the New Zealand landscape. The Government has done a poor job of educating New Zealanders as to what it will mean. The Government is now on the defensive.
In this article, the focus is on multi-rotation production forestry. The associated story of permanent forests must wait for another article.
The starting point is that New Zealand has a policy goal of zero net carbon emissions by 2050. That means, among other things, that either New Zealand has to find new energy sources to replace fossil fuels, or else it has to offset those emission in other ways. The offsetting has to start right now. . .
Whether you prefer burgers or beans, it is clear that international lobbying against red meat continues to gain momentum.
The latest volley comes from a recent joint survey by researchers at Oxford University and University of Minnesota.
Their report, “Multiple health and environmental impacts of food”, went further than just the health benefits or otherwise of different foods, linking ingredients associated with improved adult health to lower environmental impacts. And vice-versa.
The researchers picked 15 foods, measuring their impact if they were added to what an average Western adult would eat on a daily basis. . .
By boosting how much maize cows eat, modestly reducing stock numbers, shrinking fertiliser use and buying carbon offsets, New Zealand milk could be carbon neutral today, according to a new study modelling changes to a typical Waikato dairy farm.
Researchers at AgResearch have calculated that a typical Waikato dairy farm could go carbon neutral now and still make a profit.
As a bonus, a farm that adopted the changes could also reduce nitrogen leaching by up to 42 percent, improving water quality.
Crucially, the farms profit could also increase, by 15 percent, after factoring in a premium paid by climate-conscious consumers. . .
In the last six months farmers’ satisfaction with their banks has continued to erode and the number who feel under pressure from banks has risen from 16% to 23%, the latest Federated Farmers Banking Survey shows.
“While most farmers remain ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with their banks, the number giving those ratings have slipped from 71% in May this year to 68% in our November survey,” Feds economics and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says. That’s the lowest since we began the twice-a-year surveys in August 2015.
“This is disappointing but not at all surprising given what we have been hearing over the past several months of banks getting tougher and changing conditions as they seek to contain or even reduce their exposure to agriculture, and also as they respond – prematurely – to the Reserve Bank’s proposals on bank capital,” Andrew says. . .
2018 pushed the mother of all droughts – 1982 – to the limit for low rainfall. 2019 has been slightly wetter. To be harvesting crop the quality and quantity of this season is testament to modern farming practices in the Mallee. Bring on average rainfall in 2020 #harvest2019pic.twitter.com/a3UngyLwLS
Fonterra wants the Government to remove suggested maximum required levels of nitrogen and phosphorous in streams.
In its submission on the Government’s Action of Healthy Waterways proposal, Fonterra says it “strongly opposes” some of the maximum required levels for dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) and dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP).
Farm Source Group director Richard Allen says the discussion document does not contain sufficient economic analysis to justify the proposed bottom line values.
Fonterra believes that in-stream bottom lines should only be used where there is a direct link to the outcomes sought. . .
Breeders are responding to customers’ desires and positioning the sheep farmers for the day when processors start grading meat for its eating qualities. Neal Wallace reports.
Meat processors don’t recognise eating quality yet but a group of ram breeders is preparing for when they do.
Andrew Tripp from Nithdale Station in Southland is involved in the South Island genomic calibration project, which uses DNA testing to let breeders predict terminal sire rams likely to produce offspring with meat that has superior qualities of tenderness and juiciness.
Other partners in the project include Beef + Lamb Genetics, Pamu, AgResearch, Focus Genetics, Kelso, the Premier Suftex group, the Southern Suffolk group and Beltex NZ. . .
Several thousand hectares of South Island farmland is a blaze of yellow as the annual rapeseed crop welcomes the spring.
Cropping farmer Warren Darling is one whose display regularly wows the public, since his farm straddles State Highway One just south of Timaru. His 120ha of rape is at “peak flower” and he expects to harvest at the end of January.
Darling has been growing the crop for about 12 years, along with wheat and barley.
He is now also trying sunflowers, beans and industrial hemp, in an effort to find compatible crops to move to a four-year rotation. . .
Farmer’s wife, teacher, mother of twin boys, fledgling musician and all while recovering from brain surgery … it’s fair to say Casey Evans hasn’t been taking things easy over the last few years.
Casey moved to husband Rhys’ family farm near Owaka just under three years ago and things have been moving rapidly since, as her country music career begins to gain momentum and she is about to set off on a Somewhere Back Road music tour, raising funds to produce her first solo album.
It is just over a year since Casey underwent surgery to extend the size of her skull and release the pressure on her cerebellum and brain stem tissue which was pushing against the hole at base of her skull. For years Casey said she has experienced chronic fatigue and headaches which she attributed to “a few too many” horse falls. Being pregnant with twins, the symptoms compounded and Casey blacked out.
“It was then they did a scan and diagnosed the problem.” . .
I’ve come up with a great concept: the mental massage.
Let me explain. It’s a crazy time to be a human: we’re bombarded with so much information, we’re expected to do more than ever, and we’re all feeling, well, a little bit tired.
So, you’ll like this next bit: it’s time for a mental massage. I’m talking about a little holiday that slows the heartbeat. That relaxes the muscles. That gives your brain a break.
And, boy, I think I’ve found it.
It’s a luxury pod in the mountains, where you can sit back in bed and stare at the Southern Alps. And with the flick of a button, the room transforms into the country’s coolest cinema – all to enjoy with just one other person. . .
Like my family before me, and following after me, I’ve always taken great pride in being a dairy farmer, and in the reputation of the New Zealand dairy industry internationally.
My husband and I grew up in a generation where we had the opportunity to buy a farm and build our livelihoods on the land as our family had before us. It has been a privilege to forge an incredible career as a dairy farmer. My husband, Louis, and I are both award-winning dairy farmers and we’re proud of the mark we’ve made on the industry.
Sadly, the outlook for New Zealand’s primary sector is the worst that I’ve seen in my lifetime. I don’t make this strong statement lightly, nor to scaremonger – but rather to reflect the policy settings under a virtue-signalling government which is setting the dairy industry up for failure. As a rural MP, but more importantly as a farmer, I won’t sit back and allow the ladder to be pulled up behind future generations of New Zealanders wanting to pave their way in the farming sector. . .
Tributes are flowing in from around the world in memory of Dannevirke shearing identity Koropiko Tumatahi (Koro) Mullins, who died suddenly on Monday at the age of 65.
Mr Mullins was known across all aspects for the shearing industry and sports, from shearer and shearing contractor to a frontman commentating role shearing great Sir David Fagan says set the standard on a global scale.
Born and raised in the Rotorua area, and of Te Arawa stock, he met the-then Mavis Paewai when he was a woolpressing teenager working for her brothers and father in Southern Hawke’s Bay.
It sparked what Fagan says was a unique family involvement and commitment to the shearing and wool industry, becoming the basis of Maori Television series Shear Bro which first aired in July last year. . .
Farming families and communities keen to do the right thing on water should not lose hope and confidence in the consultation process, says a Canterbury dairy farmer and industry leader.
The Government’s proposed nitrogen target for mid Canterbury isn’t attainable, says Colin Glass.
But that is no reason to give up on the consultation process, he says. “It looks as though there is nothing we could do today that would even come close to achieving that target. It simply means that if that target is not amended, farming as we know it today is not possible. Any form of farming.
“The key thing is that farmers are doing the right thing. Everyone is moving in the right direction. Now is not the time for people to lose faith or confidence in the process. . .
Climate change policies, the Billion Tree initiative and recent news promote the establishment of extensive pine plantations to benefit Aotearoa New Zealand’s climate change response by sinking carbon. Others have questioned the benefit of short-rotation plantation pines compared to natural regeneration of native forests. Whilst afforestation has an important role in New Zealand’s climate change response, we need to be clear about future implications.
There are both native and introduced tree species that grow fast and others that grow more slowly. Consider along with the speed of sequestration, the total carbon stocks that can be accumulated, and how long sequestration rates can be sustained. These rates depend on whether the forest is permanent and allowed to grow to maturity (i.e. not harvested) or harvested.
Fast-growing trees such as pines or eucalypts in harvested plantations reach their maximum carbon storage capacity in about 20 years. Landowners then lose most of those carbon stocks when the forest is harvested; NZ loses most of the embedded carbon when logs are exported; furthermore, the globe loses most of those stocks back into the atmosphere as the products decay, as well as through associated emissions from forest management, transport and processing. Thus to store more carbon actually requires another forest to be planted on new land that is not already forested, while also continuing to replant and maintain the previous area in forest to recover the lost carbon stocks. That is, plantation areas will need to be doubled in size with every crop. . .
Waikato dairy farmer Christopher Falconer is parked up on his farm looking out over the wetlands as he talks about mitigating the effects of climate change.
“I don’t make climate change-based decisions for what we do on-farm. I don’t. But as it happens, there’s a great deal of overlap between what is good for the climate, and what is good for all sorts of other things.”
Take riparian planting, the practice of growing plants alongside waterways. The goal is to mitigate nutrient loss and subsidence and stream bank erosion, but it’s also an effective carbon capture.
Fonterra’s delay in announcing its results, driven by Fonterra’s need for discussions with its auditors about appropriate asset values, provides an opportunity to reflect on Fonterra’s capital structure and whether it is still fit for purpose. The simple answer is that it is not.
The value destruction that has occurred and which is now coming to light means that inherent conflicts between the interests of farmer shareholders and investor unitholders have become too great to be papered over. Co-operatives do not survive long-term unless everyone’s interests align.
Two former directors of Fonterra, Colin Armer and Nicola Shadbolt, have both come out recently and said that reworking Fonterra’s capital structure is not the immediate priority. I agree with them. The immediate and urgent priority is to sell assets and create a new slimmed-down and financially-efficient organisational structure, with many fewer high-paid executives. . .
Attracting the best and brightest minds is and remains one of the international meat industry’s top priorities and for Sam Hitchman – a physicist in an industry dominated by biological researchers – the quest to attract new talent has paid off.
The AgResearch scientist recently won the International Meat Secretariat (IMS) Prize for Young Talent in Meat Science and Technology at the International Congress of Meat Science and Technology (ICoMST) near Berlin, Germany.
Sam Hitchman, who is a postdoctoral research fellow in AgResearch’s Meat Quality team, says he was thrilled with the recognition, while adding he didn’t feel “young” – as his award would suggest – upon his return to New Zealand. . .
It was just a few months ago that experts were declaring the end of meat. Earlier this year, consultancy firm AT Kearney predicted that by 2040, animal products will have become so socially and environmentally unacceptable that most “meat” eaten across the globe will come in the form of plant-based or lab-grown substitutes.
But a major study released this week just might put the brakes on the rapidly accelerating plant-based trend. According to Oxford University research, published in the British Medical Journal, vegetarians and vegans have a 20 per cent higher risk of stroke than those who regularly tuck into a plate of bacon and sausages.
The authors of the study, which tracked almost 50,000 Britons for 18 years, said this might be because veggies did not have enough cholesterol in their blood. The finding flies in the face of much conventional wisdom, which says that vegetarianism is a healthy alternative to a carnivorous lifestyle.
But nutritionists say the increased risk of stroke is just one of the many health risks that any would-be vegetarian should be made aware of before they take the plunge. . .
I was saddened to read the article Hospitals should lead the way by cutting out meat (August 20) by Professor John Potter. He has a huge amount of experience and, unfortunately, he used every ounce of it to produce a thoroughly disingenuous and misleading piece of writing.
Firstly, I would like to address his criticisms of Dietitians NZ (DNZ). DNZ provided a statement in response to the Ministry of Health (MoH) releasing a report which suggested less meat and dairy in the health sector to reduce the impact on the environment, in what seems to be a move by the MoH that is severely deficient in local context.
DNZ is entirely independent and performs a vital role in representing the nutrition scientists who have made it their life’s work to understand and advise on diet and health matters. For Prof Potter to discredit its response on the basis of Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s “support” of DNZ is ludicrous. . . .
Our CEO @RodSlater1 responds to Professor John Potter's thoroughly disingenuous and misleading op-ed published in @NZStuff
IrrigationNZ says that the timing of the Waitangi Tribunal report and recommendations on freshwater and geothermal resources puts Māori rights and interests in freshwater firmly back in the public spotlight, just when the Government is set to release a raft of policy changes under the ‘Essential Freshwater’ package.
“We are in favour of the Waitangi Tribunal report’s recommendation to establish a body to oversee future water governance and management, including whether a Water Act is required to provide a new framework for freshwater,” says Elizabeth Soal, Chief executive of IrrigationNZ.
“We agree, and firmly believe, that New Zealand needs a national water strategy and a body to oversee this strategy so that this precious resource can be used and allocated for the benefit of all,” says Ms Soal. . .
Empowering farmers working through the Mycoplasma bovis process involves Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) regional managers Charlotte Austin and Lydia Pomeroy working long hours.
But, as a way of being prepared to fight for their cases and keeping up to date with the issues, it is something they are only too happy to do.
”We certainly lose sleep, but we also understand that it’s not nearly as big an impact on us.
”That’s why we will quite happily work a 12, 13 or 14-hour day ‘cos we understand that these individuals are living it,” said Ms Austin, speaking to media after the recent Mid Canterbury Mycoplasma bovis Advisory Group meeting in Ashburton. . .
Last job of the day checking the calving mob! Only one tonight, we do 12 days AB, then in with the #Ezicalve bulls. Check dawn & dusk, no night checks. 1-1.5% calving assists over the last 3 seasons. Those #Ezicalve bulls may almost pay themselves off 😉 pic.twitter.com/h6dK8PmWQI
Red meat is not inherently unsustainable, despite recent headlines – it’s how it is farmed that matters.
A new report by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) called for us to make radical changes to the way we farm and eat to prevent further global warming. But what did the IPPC report actually say on meat eating? Were the NFU and others right to say reporting was misleading?
As ever, the issues are complex, hard to convey accurately in an eye-catching headline or a snappy tweet.
The IPCC is clear that, on a global level, ruminant livestock – that’s cattle and sheep – carry a high greenhouse gas footprint. This leads to the conclusion that if we eat less red meat, we can reduce these emissions. . .
It is impossible to measure greenhouse gas emissions on individual farms and it appears modelling will be used to calculate tax bills when farm-level obligations are imposed from 2025.
Scientists are still working to develop technology and systems but earlier this year AgFirst economist Phil Journeaux and AgResearch scientist Cecile de Klein delivered a paper to New Zealand Agricultural Climate Change Conference saying it is impossible to measure farm level emissions.
The Interim Climate Change Committee and the Government both say farmers should pay for emissions from 2025 but the development of simple, cheap and credible technology to calculate those obligations still seems far off. . .
The rest of the news is that farmers will escape paying 95 per cent of the charges, which means they will pay, for example, 0.01 cents per kilo of milk solids. In other words having them in isn’t a lot different to not having them in, if in fact what you want to do is achieve something as opposed to making a lot of noise about it. . .
Some late afternoon farm views. We overlook the waikato river, and have pretty awesome views, Mt Tauhara and on clear day views all the way to Ruapehu pic.twitter.com/qOtEPZyBkM
‘What are you doing!?’ Trish exclaimed to friends who failed to put bottles in the recycling bin at a dinner party she was hosting. This was the lightbulb moment which kickstarted her passion for change – to educate farmers on the importance of working together, to create a better environment.
South Taranaki farmer, Trish Rankin, was recently named the 2019 Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year. This award is significant, as it recognises the work she is doing beyond her own farm gate to make an impact in the wider industry.
Trish is not afraid to take on a challenge. She’s completed the Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme, focusing on how a circular economy model can be extended to New Zealand dairy farms – all while juggling her roles as mother, farm assistant and CEO, teacher and Chair of the Taranaki Dairy Enviro Leader Group. . .
This week, dairy farmers nationwide will receive information from DairyNZ about the Biosecurity Response Levy being set at 2.9 cents per kilogram of milksolids for the 2019-20 year. The levy will be collected by dairy supply companies from 1 September 2019.
“We consulted with our farmers earlier this year about increasing the biosecurity response levy cap to 3.9c/kg milksolids in order to pay our share of the M. bovis response,” says DairyNZ Chief Executive, Dr Tim Mackle. We listened to the feedback our farmers gave us and made sure there was a strong farmer voice around the table.
“The 2.9c/kg milksolids is obviously less that than the 3.9c/kg milksolids cap we put in place. This reflects our conversations with farmers, plus the work we’ve been doing with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to develop the terms of payback in the operational agreement we have negotiated. . .
When it comes to eating insects, New Zealanders like them crunchy and if given a choice would opt to eat a black field cricket before other creepy-crawlies, according to a new AgResearch report that explores the nation’s appetite for insects.
The Crown Research Institute surveyed 1300 New Zealanders to assess which native insects respondents would be most likely to consume to test the market potential for each insect as a product. The survey found participants are more likely to eat – given the choice – black field cricket nymphs and locust nymphs, followed by mānuka beetle and then huhu beetle grubs.
For the record, participants said they would least like to consume porina caterpillars and wax moth larvae, which suggests we are more open to eating “crunchier” insects, as opposed to the softer “squishier” insects, reinforcing that texture is an important factor influencing decisions to consume insects. . .
Forests have long served as a critical carbon sink, consuming about a quarter of the carbon dioxide pollution produced by humans worldwide. But decades of fire suppression, warming temperatures and drought have increased wildfire risks — turning California’s forests from carbon sinks to carbon sources.
A study from the University of California, Davis, found that grasslands and rangelands are more resilient carbon sinks than forests in 21st century California. As such, the study indicates they should be given opportunities in the state’s cap-and-and trade market, which is designed to reduce California’s greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. . .
Harder hill country farms have more options for increasing productivity and eco-efficiency than easy hill country farms, AgResearch scientist Alec Mackay says.
Farmers on extensive sheep and beef farms on hard hill country can continue to make production and eco-efficiency gains by increasing the reproductive performance of ewes and lamb weaning and growth rates, he told the Animal Production Society’s annual conference.
They can shift from breeding cows and older cattle to buying and finishing younger cattle. . .
But that was the journey taken by Alliance Group’s steak, which won a gold medal in the World Steak Challenge in Ireland.
The company’s Pure South handpicked 55-day aged beef, processed at its Mataura plant, won a gold medal for ribeye and a bronze medal for fillet.
There were more than 300 entries from 25 countries and the title of world’s best steak was awarded to a grass-fed Ayrshire ribeye steak reared in Finland and entered by JN Meat International, from Denmark . . .
A survey of New Zealand companies involved in the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme has garnered positive results.
The survey, by Immigration New Zealand, shows 45 percent of the RSE members grew their businesses as a result of employing workers from the Pacific.
Immigration’s Pacifica Labour and Skills Manager, George Rarere, said a stable, seasonal workforce meant more employers were able to expand, invest more in equipment and offer jobs to locals. . .
Federation Drought rain data. I spoke with a Victorian farmer whose family rain charts go back this far: “When things are crook and it looks like it's never going to rain again, if nothing else you can pull out the rainfall charts and say ‘well yes it does rain again” @ABCRuralpic.twitter.com/WYJzwWHwCs
Flexible milking frequencies have proved a solution to a Westport farm’s problems with dry summers, Anne Hardie reports.
Last season John and Jo Milne milked their cows twice a day, 3 in 2, 10 in 7 and once a day to achieve good production results during a severe drought on their Westport farm and plenty of sleep-ins.
You read it right – 10 in 7. From mid-December to the end of February they were milking the cows 10 times during the week which meant twice a day (TAD) on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, then once a day (OAD) on the other days. And through the season they changed milking frequencies four times. . .