Rural round-up

March 18, 2018

Camp manager returns to roots – Philip Chandler:

Managing Camp Glenorchy, which officially opened on Tuesday, is like coming full circle for Peter Kerr.

The 58-year-old’s stellar hotel career had its humble beginnings in Queenstown.

Dunedin-raised, he got to know the resort because his parents had a holiday home in Hallenstein St.

He had plans to go farming after leaving school, but a car accident – not his worst, as it turned out – put paid to that.

After two months in hospital he shifted to Queenstown and to subsidise his skiing, which he had fallen in love with, started working at the Frankton Motor Hotel as a trainee manager. . . 

$160m Kiwi cannabis export deal to US – Madison Reidy:

New Zealand’s only large scale medicinal cannabis grower has inked a $160 million conditional deal to supply a United States manufacturer. 

Under the deal Ruatoria-based Hikurangi Cannabis will send three tonnes of cannabidiol extracts, THC extracts and whole cannabis flowers to Seattle-based cannabis brokerage company Rhizo Sciences next year and up to 12 tonnes by 2021.

Hikurangi has a crop of 5000 plants. Rhizo also has suppliers in Africa, Europe, Australia and North America. . . 

Rabbit hunt postponed due to rabbit virus release

Alexandra’s annual Great Easter Bunny Hunt has been postponed so the newly released K5 rabbit virus has time to work.

The first batches of the virus were released in Central Otago this week at two sites monitored by Landcare Research.

Hunt convener Dave Ramsay, of the Alexandra Lions’ Club, said because there were so many rabbits in the district, the organising committee decided it was necessary to support the introduction of the virus by not holding the hunt, which attracts hundreds of people from across the country.

“We made the decision to see this thing [the virus] work,” Mr Ramsay said.. . 

Old season wool overflow is selling well – Alan Williams:

Large volumes of last season’s crossbred wool are coming out of storage as farmers decide it’s time to meet the market.

That wind-change in sentiment has put pressure on auction values in February and March, but prices, while still low, have crept up slightly at some of the Napier and Christchurch sales, PGG Wrightson South Island sales manager Dave Burridge said.

The older wool has been coming to market along with the latest wool shorn over the same two months and volumes have been about 15% to 20% higher than usual for this time of year and well ahead of the levels forecast by brokers, forcing meetings to work out how to cope with the extra.” . . 

Farm tick coming – Stephen Bell:

An assurance programme to guarantee New Zealand farm products’ environmental and sustainability credentials to the world is being developed by the Ministry of Primary Industries, Labour MP Kieran McAnulty told the Future Farming conference in Palmerston North.

And from now on all Government decisions, no matter what portfolios they relate to, will have to pass a rural-proofing test to assess their impact on provincial people and their communites, McAnulty, speaking of behalf of Agriculture, Biosecurity and Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor, said.

The Government is also reviewing the Biosecuruity Act and plans to enhance the protection of the primary sector by allocating enough resources to protect the country from future incursions. . . 

Manawatū farmer unveils gumboot cleaning device at Central Districts Field Days – Sam Kilmister:

There’s a famous New Zealand folk song that asks “if it weren’t for your gumboots, where would ya be?”. 

It’s a question that Manawatū farmer Ivan Wildbore could put his own spin on as punters stopped by his site at the Central Districts Field Days in Feilding on Friday – if it weren’t for clean gumboots, where would you be? 

The Feilding entrepeneur unveiled the Yuk-Off at the agricultural expo this week, a boot washer he designed that even Fred Dagg would be proud of.  . . 


Rural round-up

March 14, 2018

Irrigation essential for Central Otago – Brittany Pickett:

New technology to help improve water use and efficiency will be essential for the future of horticulture and agriculture in Central Otago, IrrigationNZ says.

“What we’re seeing is a gradual move towards higher and higher land value uses of irrigation,” IrrigationNZ chief executive Andrew Curtis said.

Cherry and other pip fruit businesses, as well as wine, were expected to expand because they used less water per hectare than other farming types, he said.

New technology to assist irrigators meet water quality requirements will be on display at IrrigationNZ’s conference on April 17-19 in Alexandra. . . 

Clock ticking for farm houses to comply with new laws for insulation – Gerald Piddock:

Farm owners have been warned to make sure their staff accommodation complies with new laws coming into effect in July next year.

The laws will insist that all rental properties, including farm housing, had to meet new standards for insulation.

There was a myth among farmers that they were excluded from the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA), Morrinsville lawyer Jacqui Owen told farmers at a field day near Walton run by the Matamata Piako Three Rivers Trust.

“You 100 per cent are and any one of your staff can file a claim against you with the tenancy tribunal,” she said. . .

Labour shortage could spoil apple season :

A bumper crop of Hawke’s Bay apples is being harvested early this year but there are fears a labour shortage could spoil things – leaving thousands of apples unpicked.

A spokeswoman for Bostock said the company was usually behind conventional packing but this year was 10 days ahead of schedule since they started the harvest.

“We have a good quality product at present, it’s going to be a bumper season. We should be picking 1400 bins a day but we are picking only 1200 and that’s purely because of the labour shortage. . . 

Record crowds see games records :

More than 30,000 people participated in Hilux Rural Games activities in Palmerston North over the weekend.

Rural Games Trust chairwoman Margaret Kouvelis said “It was so fantastic to see people of all ages trying out different things from tree climbing to digger driving to gumboot throwing.

“Friday was fabulous for Feilding as thousands attended the Property Brokers Running of the Wools and that evening the Norwood New Zealand Rural Sports Awards were held in front of a sell-out crowd.” . .

Little farmer reaction to LIC plan – Alan Williams:

Owners of LIC’s co-operative shares are being urged to read the information on the directors’ plans for a share restructure to see what the impact on them will be.

The call from Southland Federated Farmers president Allan Baird applies especially to dairy farmers who own only the co-op shares and not the NZAX-listed investment shares. . . 

Don’t make it hard for next generation– Dan Korff:

Every generation says the same thing, or something similar: “That’s how it is, we had to go through the same thing”.

Why? Why is that just how it is? Who decided? And why would you want other people to keep feeling the same frustration and annoyance you felt?

I’m talking about the challenge of trying to become involved in local or industry committees or groups trying to remain relevant, get new energy into them or attract a new crowd of people back to the cause or event. . . .

Rural round-up

March 11, 2018

Farmer’s lucky escape from Cyclone Bola – Kate Taylor:

A lucky glance gave now-retired Whatatutu farmer Rod Mead time to escape when a flooded river topped its stopbank. Kate Taylor talks to a survivor of Cyclone Bola.

Rod Mead looked across the river flats on Waitahoata Station near Whatatutu, Gisborne, with horror but also relief. Minutes earlier, he had been lifting equipment in the station’s old woolshed in case Cyclone Bola flooded the valley.

Glancing towards the river, Mead saw it had breached its stopbanks and immediately went outside and started up the tractor. As he did so, floodwater swirled around his ankles and he steered the tractor toward the safety of his hillside track 400 metres away.

He didn’t look back again until he reached the track and when he did he saw floodwaters raging where moments before he had been standing.

Learn from best dairy farmers – Alan Williams:

New Zealand’s best dairy farmers are achieving results well above average levels and other farmers are being urged to learn from them.

Their pasture and animal health management put them well ahead in milk produced per cow liveweight and in lower rates of cow losses.

Research overseas and in NZ showed leading farmers are ahead of the consultants, institutions and available information in the work they’re doing, veterinary surgeon and farm systems analyst Brian McKay told a Federated Farmers dairy group presentation in Christchurch. . .

MPI stock process creating huge stress – Sally Rae:

From a distance, Kerry and Rosie Dwyer’s Maheno farm looks a picture.

The sun is shining on a glorious autumn day in North Otago and the paddocks are covered in lush, green grass.

But something is missing; shelter sheds – usually home to hundreds of calves – sit empty and the 120ha farm is devoid of stock, apart from a few sheep.

“I’ve got no business. It’s stuffed and I accept that.

“I just don’t know what we’ll do,” Mr Dwyer says. . . 

Barren paddock turned bustling village: Celebrating 25 years of the Central Districts Field Days -Sam Kilmister:

The Central Districts Field Days turn 25 next week. Sam Kilmister looks back at an agricultural showcase that had small beginnings and now a big following.

Noel and Eleanor Mortimer recall the moment their son-in-law Don Eade started the Central Districts Field Days.

He had returned from the Mystery Creek Fieldays, near Hamilton, which ignited a vision to have it replicated in Manawatū. . .

What a whopper! Dart takes pumpkin prize again – Sally Rae:

It was a hell of a pumpkin.

Dart Watson might have been one of the younger entrants in the produce shed at the Wanaka A&P Show, but he sure grew one of the most spectacular entries.

For the third consecutive year, Dart (13) won the largest pumpkin in the junior section with an absolutely whopping vegetable. . .

Heat detection device up for an award :

A low-cost device designed to detect when cows are ovulating and ready to be inseminated has earned two Kiwi entrepreneurs a place among the finalists in the 2018 New Zealander of the Year awards.

Fraser Smith and Matt Yallop, of Farmshed Labs, are finalists in the New Zealand Innovator of the Year category for their product FlashMate.


Rural round-up

February 11, 2018

Pest eradication has more birds singing – Kerrie Waterworth:

A four-year plan to trap stoats, rats, possums and weasels in the Matukituki Valley, near Wanaka, is music to the ears, writes Kerrie Waterworth.

This summer, for the first time in years, tourist jet-boat operators report hearing birds in the forests of the Matukituki Valley between Lake Wanaka and Mt Aspiring.

Wanaka-based River Journeys guide James Blunt has been taking tourists up the Matukituki River for six years and said he had really started noticing the birdsong since October.

“We’ve gone from long periods of nothing to now getting four to six species of birds most trips.” . . 

Environmental concerns prompt changes – Pam Tipa:

Concerns about the sensitive environment of the Kaipara Harbour prompted the top-performing drystock unit Te Opu to transition from sheep and beef breeding to a successful unit finishing bulls and lambs.

This gave the farm the flexibility needed to respond to the sensitive environmental challenges of its location on the Kaipara Harbour shores.

The farm is now a three year Beef + Lamb NZ environmental focus farm sponsored from several sources. . .

Fish farms get pollution blame – Tim Fulton:

Fish farming in Mackenzie Basin hydro canals is feeding worms usually found in sewage, aquatic expert Rowan Wells says.

Wells, a NIWA freshwater botanist, monitored the health of the glacier-fed water and said the ecosystem in the waterways around the area’s salmon farms was clearly degraded.

NIWA was reporting to Meridian Energy on algae and periphyton and fungal bacterial matter coating rocks and plants. . . 

First up best dressed – Mark Daniel:

The rising fortunes of global farming are raising the demand for European-made tackle, which might signal supply problems for Kiwi farmers and contractors looking to hit the new season with new toys.

Several importers and distributors — including Origin Agroup that imports Pottinger, Joskin and Alpego, and Power Farming Wholesale that imports and distribute McHale, Kverneland and Maschio – are advising early ordering to guarantee delivery by late August.

“European manufacturers were predicting a 3% rise in volumes for the 2018 season after a couple of stagnant years,” David Donnelly, managing director of Origin Agroup told Rural News. . .

Dual meat-Wool sheep sell well – Alan Williams:

Good prices were secured across the board at the annual Rollesby Valley onfarm lamb sales on Thursday with halfbreds especially in strong demand for their dual wool and meat income.

About 20,000 lambs from 12 vendors were sold across nine properties in the wider Burkes Pass area of inland South Canterbury.

Most were store lambs but a good number of primes sold well for processing,with a top price of $160 and the better types trading up from about $130. The second cut of primes sold at $120 to $129, PGG Wrightson’s South Canterbury livestock manager Joe Higgins said. . .

Does mainstream media help or hinder farming?

January 23, 2018

Key findings from Nuffield Scholar, Anna Jones’ report Help or Hinder?  How the Mainstream Media Portrays Farming to the Public were:

The urban/rural disconnect is real, more so in Western and urbanised societies, and both the media and farming industry are contributing to it.

Some mainstream media coverage is clouded by urban bias, knee-jerk distrust of agribusiness, failing to differentiate between campaigners and informers and an over-reliance on too few sources with an overt political agenda. There is a severe lack of agricultural specialism among general news journalists.

Farmers and industry are fuelling the disconnect through a lack of openness and transparency, disproportionate defensiveness in the face of legitimate challenge, disunity among farming sectors and a sense of ‘exceptionalism’ or entitlement to positive coverage.

The public debate and narrative around agriculture is being dominated by farming unions and lobbyists. Politics at an industry level is drowning out individuals at a farm level, contributing to more distrust.

Her full report is here.

Jones visited USA, Kenya, Denmark, Ireland, France and Belgium. Would her findings be very  different here?

New Zealand has some very good rural journalists in the print media including the Otago Daily Times’ Sally Rae; Stuff’s  Kate Taylor, Gerald  Piddock and Gerard Hutching; NZ Farming Weekly’s Neal Wallace, Annette Scott, Richard Rennie, Tim Fulton, Alan Williams; Pam Tipa and Nigel Malthus at Rural News and RNZ’s  Alexa Cook.

We also have a good variety of rural shows on radio and television.

Jamie Mackay does an excellent job of covering farming and wider rural issues on The Country as does Andy Thompson on The Muster.

Country Calendar seems to cover more lifestyle and alternative farmers now but still does very good work. Rural Delivery was always interesting but now it’s failed to get NZ on AIr funding probably won’t be back.

RNZ  has Country Life and its Friday night and early Saturday morning slots don’t matter so much when it’s easy to listen online at a time that suits better.

We are generally well served by rural media and rural journalists in general media.

The problem is other journalists outside rural media who don’t understand farming and wider rural issues.

They’re the ones who buy the anti-farming propaganda often wrapped in faux-green wrapping; the ones who pedal the emotion and don’t have the inclination or time to check the facts.

They’re the ones who serve farming and the wider rural community badly and undo much of the good rural media and journalists do.


Rural round-up

January 14, 2018

Opuha River ‘flushing’ to control algae, didymo barely noticeable with river in flood, Opuha Ltd says – Elena McPhee:

It may have been barely perceptible to the eye, but releasing water from the Opuha Dam on Friday has hopefully wiped out a large quantity of didymo and other algae in the river, Opuha Water Ltd says.

Operations manager Craig Moore said the dam released a flow peaking about 65 cubic metres per second (cumecs), or 300,000 cubic metres in total during the “flushing” process in the Opuha River on Friday morning.

The river “pulse” stayed within river margins, and the wave was not really noticeable as it made its way downstream, Moore said. . .

Farmers make tracing stock hard -Neal Wallace:

Eradication of Mycoplasma bovis is still the Ministry for Primary Industry’s goal but farmers appear unconvinced it is achievable.

Another case confirmed on an Ashburton farm this week took the total to 14 but some of the more than 800 farmers who attended packed meetings with MPI officials in Methven and Ashburton last Thursday think that while admirable, eradication is unlikely and they might have to learn to live with the disease.

The ministry’s response incident controller David Yard announced plans to test three samples of milk from every dairy farm in the country from February, including milk entering the food chain as well as milk excluded from the vat in a bid to uncover any infection clusters. . . 

Lambs wool in demand – Alan Williams:

Lambs’ wool was in short supply and sold strongly at Thursday’s wool sales in Christchurch and Napier.

Buyers pushed up prices as they worked to fill orders, especially for fleece at 30 microns and lower, PGG Wrightson South Island sales manager Dave Burridge said.

Those wools were up to 8% higher in price with 30 to 32 micron lambs’ wool up to 4% dearer in Christchurch. . . 

Sex on the farm: How gene editing can revolutionize feeding the world – Ed Maixner:

(Editor’s note: Change can be difficult, especially when it comes to adopting new ways of farming and producing food. But there are big innovations underway in labs and universities that analysts describe as “revolutionary,” enabling the creation of new plants and animals in months rather than decades. For the next few weeks, Agri-Pulse will explore “The Breeding Edge” – a seven-part series on how these new precision methods for plant and animal breeding are set to transform global food production and the potential impact for agribusinesses, farmers and consumers around the world.)

The process of producing food, protecting the environment, and improving animal health is advancing at a seemingly breakneck pace.

These advancements are driven in part by new scientific discoveries, genetic research, data science, enhanced computational power, and the availability of new systems for precision breeding like CRISPR—an acronym for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. . . 


Rural round-up

December 12, 2017

Family focussed on top quality – Sally Rae:

Think of the Armidale farming operation in the Maniototo and the word “quality”  springs to mind.

It is a family operation in every sense of the word and the Paterson family is justifiably proud of what they have achieved. Young Hugo (5) and Bede (3) Paterson — already keen  farmers — are  the sixth generation on the Gimmerburn property.

Last week, the Paterson family hosted a field day, as winners of the New Zealand ewe hogget competition, an accolade adding to their  considerable list of accomplishments.Armidale is farmed by Allan and Eris Paterson in partnership with their son Simon and his wife Sarah.

The family has had a presence at Armidale since the early 1880s, when a small block of land was first drawn. . . 

From Mediterranean to Maniototo farm – Sally Rae:

For the 26 years that Janine Smith lived in Greece, she always knew she would one day return home to the Maniototo — she just did not know how or when it would happen.

Managing a sailing company was a serious job that came with a lot of responsibility and, for her to leave it, it had to be ‘‘a monstrous change’’.‘‘It had to be a big contrast for me to leave Greece behind and embrace New Zealand. It had to be a steep learning curve and something I could really get hold of. So far, so good,’’ she said.

Last December, she and  partner Simon Norwick made that monumental change and traded life in the Mediterranean for farming in the Maniototo.‘‘I grew up on a farm and I’m starting from the beginning,’’ the 50-year-old said. Ms Smith, who has taken over her father Ian’s Romney and Dorset Down sheep studs, had considerable success at last month’s Canterbury A&P Show in Christchurch, winning supreme champion Romney and champion strong-woolled sheep with a Romney ram hogget. . . 

Old wool knocks prices back – Alan Williams:

Prices disappointed again at the Napier and Christchurch wool sales last Thursday.

There was strong interest in 27 to 29 micron fine lambs’ wool at Napier and other new-season lambs’ wool was also in good demand but otherwise the market was back on the previous sale, PGG Wrightson North Island auctioneer Steve Fussell said.

There were 17,000 bales split between the two venues, with 11,000 in Napier, of which 14% were passed in, not meeting the vendor reserve. The smaller Christchurch offering had a 25% pass-in rate but some second shear crossbred wools were sold higher.

The volumes included more wool from last season coming out of storage as growers decided to try to cash in on it but the clearance rate was not as good as other recent sales. . . 

Spring sheep NZ bringing sheep milk to the masses:

Spring Sheep New Zealand, a joint venture between Landcorp & a boutique food marketing company, aims to produce & market the very best sheep milk in the world.

Spring Sheep New Zealand chief operating officer Nick Hammond joins Rural Exchange about the journey of the company from its inception.

“We are fantastic at dairy. We are fantastic at sheep,” he says. “But we have no sheep milking industry.”

That’s exactly what Spring Sheep NZ aims to address, with co-funding from the Ministry of Primary Industries. . . 

Vegans are the new vegetarians – Amy Williams:

Veganism is no longer just the domain of animal rights activists and hippies but everyday people concerned about their health, animal welfare and the environment.

There’s no doubt plant-based eating is becoming more mainstream – just look at Instagram and the big money being injected into lab-made meat.

Let’s be clear, I’m not a vegan or even a vegetarian but a term exists for people jlike me. We’re reducetarians.

We aspire to eat less meat and for me it’s mainly for health and environmental reasons.

I like to eat good quality meat, knowing its provenance. . . 


Image may contain: cloud, sky, text, outdoor and nature

“I plant GM crops so I can spray more pesticide, destroy the environment and poison my friends, family and neighbours” said no farmer ever, in the history of farming.

Sweet success in manuka honey – Peter Burke:

Manuka honey could long term earn more money for a central North Island Maori trust than its sheep and beef farming operation.

Atihau Whanganui Incorporation, whose large land holdings range from the central North Island to the Whanganui River, is planting manuka on steep country largely unsuitable, or less productive, for sheep and beef.

Chief executive Andrew Beijeman says they are also letting land, which is naturally reverting back to manuka. . . 

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