Rural round-up

April 21, 2017

Feeding the demand – Alan Williams:

Hawke’s Bay farmers who quit many of their lambs as stores in the severe drought of January and February have been buying back in to keep on top of the remarkable turnaround in feed conditions.

They have to restock because of the strong pasture growth that started with warm rains in March, but their buying is also a sign of confidence in lamb values over the finishing period ahead, through winter and early spring, NZX Agri analyst Rachel Agnew said. . . . 

Landcorp’s future in value-add – Alan Williams:

Some complex plans are involved in Landcorp’s move to a value-add strategy and all the shifts required will take some time, chief executive Steven Carden says.

Farms will be sold to free-up cash for the new investment, which includes plans for alternative land uses and growing more crops across all its properties. The state-owned farmer is doing due diligence on a couple of areas, but Carden couldn’t give further details yet. . .

Dairy farmer shares her knowledge in Sri Lanka – Yvonne O’Hara:

Kelso dairy farmer and dairy adviser Marloes Levelink’s background in tropical agriculture proved useful when she was chosen to be part of Fonterra’s farmer volunteer scheme.

Earlier this year she flew to Sri Lanka to provide training and advice to Fonterra’s supplier relationship officers for three weeks as part of its Dairy Development programme.

The programme supports the growth of sustainable dairy industries in key markets where Fonterra operates, including Sri Lanka, by sharing its expertise and working together with local farmers, governments and industry players. . .

Submitters fear for area’s rural character – Tim Miller:

What is rural and what is not was one of the questions posed at a resource consent hearing in Wanaka this week.

Ballantyne Barker Holdings Ltd, owned by Michael and Caroline Garnham, has applied for resource consent to turn 48ha of land near the Cardrona River in Ballantyne Rd into nine residential lots.

Wendy Baker and David Whitney were the independent commissioners appointed to the hearing. . .

Texel conference to mix it up in style – Yvonne O’Hara:

What do goat and sheep cheeses, the Clyde dam, wine, whisky and wild food have in common?

They are all part of Texel New Zealand’s conference from May 1 to 4.

Organising committee spokesman Alistair McLeod said about 50 delegates were expected for the conference, which would be based in Cromwell. . .

Free range cows and robots in future:

Greg Gemmell is a rare man – a dairy farmer who doesn’t get out of bed at 4.30am to milk the cows. His robots do it for him.

What’s more, he believes he is one of the pioneers in new technology that will change the face of New Zealand dairying.

“This isn’t common now,” says the Bunnythorpe farmer who, with wife Amy and farm owners Margaret and Brian Schnell (Amy’s parents), have invested just under $1 million into three Lely Astronaut robot milking machines and a cowshed renovation and retrofit. “But I’ll bet it is in about 10 years – it’s a life-changer.” . . .


Rural round-up

January 9, 2017

Hold trade partners to account – Nigel Stirling:

They are expensive and have been used only sparingly in New Zealand’s history.

But one of the country’s top trade lawyers, Tracey Epps, says the Government shouldn’t shy away from taking cases against protectionist trading partners to the World Trade Organisation.

She tells Nigel Stirling why.

It amounted to a billion-dollar Christmas present for the country’s beef farmers. . . 

New plan ready to go – Alan Williams:

Farmers want Beef + Lamb NZ to step up its market development work and chairman James Parsons says a start is under way.

The new plan would involve more development work in key, mature markets alongside the export companies, Parsons said.

Promotions would be made only if companies were prepared to follow through with products and had already helped to develop the strategy. . . 

Reforming our regional economy – Chris Perley:

Why do we manage land the way we do? Why does New Zealand focus on ever-more gross production over a great scale of sameness?

Why do we talk of “feeding the world” when we can at best feed 40 million or so? Why do some defend the consequences of pollution of streams?

Why do we think we can keep on farming the way that we do, and then add some token riparian fences as some panacea solution – which it patently is not?

Enough with all the mechanical in-the-box thinking. It is leading us in a vicious treadmill downwards. . . 

High tech solution to invasive mammal pests – James Russell:

This year the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge in New Zealand launches its project on high tech solutions to invasive mammal pests, hosted by the University of Auckland. The high tech solutions project aims to deliver the long-term science solutions which will become a part of Predator Free New Zealand. In July 2016 the New Zealand government officially adopted Predator Free New Zealand and in December appointed the PFNZ2050 board of directors and announced its commitment to the Honolulu Challenge. In 2017 the high tech solutions project will commence researching the science which will eventually be needed to achieve the 2050 target. . . 

New Year honours for dairy, beef and wine leaders – Gerard Hutching:

Former National Cabinet minister John Luxton has been honoured with a Companion of the Order of New Zealand (CNZM) for his services to the dairy industry.

“This award is a recognition of the importance of the dairy industry, which is very innovative and responsible for earning nearly half New Zealand’s primary sector exports,” he said.

A National Party MP from 1987 to 2002, Luxton held numerous Cabinet portfolios including Agriculture, Housing and Commerce.

He oversaw the development of industry-good body DairyNZ, stepping down as chairman of the board last year, having held the position since 2008. . . 

Farm-turned-amusement park provides ‘good, wholesome, old fashioned fun‘ – David Burroughs:

If you’ve ever wanted to ride a cow, or get towed behind a tractor, or ride a bike like ET, you need to visit Fernbrooke Farm Amusement Park.

Sitting near the base of Mt Taranaki, the park is the brainchild of Stratford farmer Dave Hunger, who for the last five years has spent his spare time creating weird and wonderful machines and toys.

Hunger started bringing visitors on to his farm five years ago after making a trebuchet, similar to a catapult, out of a 13 metre long tree. . . 

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I work out (side).


Rural round-up

November 29, 2016

Quake cuts off milk for months – Alan Williams:

Don Galletly has been working on developing his Canterbury dairy farm but the earthquake has put a stop to that while he repairs the work already done. But with his cows dispersed to 13 other farms he won’t be producing any more milk this season.

Waiau dairy farmer Don Galletly was all over the television news but didn’t have time to watch it – he was too busy sorting out his wrecked milking shed and what to do with his cows.

The cows were dispersed across other farms in the wider district over the next two days and  the other work  then took up all his time. . . 

Govt bill gives farmers breathing room on quake repairs:

The government has unveiled three urgent bills to speed up the recovery effort following the magnitude 7.8 Kaikoura earthquake.

Acting Minister of Civil Defence Gerry Brownlee says the government will today introduce a bill amending the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act and a separate Hurunui/Kaikoura Earthquakes Recovery Bill.

The latter bill – aimed specifically speeding up the quake recovery – will temporarily increase the timeframes for applying for retrospective consent for emergency post-earthquake work.

It will also give farmers the ability to ask for permission for emergency work until March next year. . . 

Meat exporters and farmers must get used to change– Allan Barber:

As if Brexit wasn’t a big enough shock, the US presidential election has really set the cat amongst the pigeons. Commentators of all nationalities and political inclinations have literally no idea how a Trump presidency will affect the world order, from trade agreements and global interest rates to immigration or deportation, let alone internal security issues and relationships with other nations.

After predictions of imminent disaster, share markets have been cautiously positive and interest rates have started to rise, while there has been an initial fall in the New Zealand dollar. This has nothing to do with our dollar, but merely reflects its relative global importance; however, it provides a small but welcome relief. . . .

Big names in farming get behind plan to reduce death and injury rate – Gerard Hutching:

Farmers need to move on from the risky culture that previous generations operated under if farming is to become a safer job, says Rangitikei dairy farmer Stuart Taylor.

Speaking at the launch of the Agricultural Leaders’ Health and Safety Action Group, Taylor said farming was no longer in its pioneering phase when people took risks and endured pain.

“My grandfather and father used to like talking about their physical toughness, and how they used to break in the land. They had that culture of endurance and overcoming pain.

Innovator wins top prize with a hay bin – Jill Galloway:

Chelsea Hirst’s design for a hay bin that cuts wastage for horses has won the Innovate competition.

Run by Manawatu based-Building Clever Companies (BCC), the contest finds the top new business ideas which could be marketed.

Five of the six best people presented their ideas to three judges, to decide the winner.

They included 11 year-old Riley Kinloch with his Kozy Kennel, a solar heated kennel for dogs, Doug Tietjens with his exercise pack, Chelsea Hirst with her hay feeder, and a quiet door closer, as well as high school student Maqueen-Davies with her SWAG kids healthy dairy food for time poor parents to put in kid’s lunch boxes.

How to spend 10 years married to a farmer – Wag’n Tales:

1) Be patient – When he tells you to pick him up at the Lone Tree Quarter and you go to the quarter of land that has the only tree on it and he tells you that he meant the quarter of land that had one tree on it when his grandfather was farming…well, that’s just how farmers think.

2) Be flexible – When he says that he’ll be in the house in 20 minutes for supper and you get everything ready and then two hours later he walks in the door saying that some salesman had stopped and that he didn’t buy anything, but time just got away from him…well, maybe he should be the flexible one. That way he can duck when you throw the plate at him. . . 

 


Rural round-up

October 26, 2016

Dairy farmers ‘treat those calves like their babies’ – Alexa Cook:

Farmers have hit back at claims of widespread mistreatment of bobby calves, after a video emerged of calves being thrown onto the back of trucks.

The hidden-camera footage, obtained by activist group Farmwatch, also showed calves being dragged along the ground.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has condemned the treatment, and started a full investigation.

But many farmers and farm workers say what was shown on the video did not reflect the reality of the industry. . .

Cruel practices condemned by DairyNZ chief:

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says cruel and illegal practices are not in any way condoned or accepted by the industry as part of dairy farming.

“The vast majority of farmers care about their animals and we are committed to farming to very high standards.

“DairyNZ works closely with the wider industry in the management of bobby calves, including the transport sector, meat processors and dairy companies, as well as Federated Farmers and MPI.” . . 

Merino to make stars of growers – Sally Rae:

“You are going to be the rock stars for the future consumers,” New Zealand Merino chief executive John Brakenridge told about 100 merino growers in Omarama yesterday.

Speaking before the company’s annual meeting in the township, Mr Brakenridge said new brands were emerging where consumers could get to know the producer.

He had just returned from the United States, where he met former All White Tim Brown, the co-founder of shoe company Allbirds which has produced a shoe made from New Zealand merino. . . 

Loie and Tony Penwarden are ending their Trewithen Farms sharemilking contract – Sue O’Dowd:

An award-winning Taranaki dairy farm will enter a new era next season as family beckons for its long-serving sharemilkers.

The couple, who have been herd-owning sharemilkers on Faull Farms’ Trewithen Farm at Tikorangi since 2004, are retiring at the end of the 2016-17 season. 

The partnership between Faull Farms and the Penwardens won the inaugural Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards (TBFEA) in 2014. . . 

Tokanui shepherd perfect woman – Tim Miller:

After two days of fierce competition, which included cooking a steak and flying a helicopter, the perfect woman for 2016 has been found.

The Perfect Woman competition returned to Wanaka at the weekend, after a year off in 2015, and 16 contestants took part.

Shepherd Rachel Rule (22), from Tokanui, took the title and  $1000 in prize money.

Miss Rule did not expect to win. She said the best part of the weekend was meeting the other competitors.

“It was a fantastic weekend with just a great bunch of girls and the things we got to do, like flying a helicopter, were really amazing.” . . 

Lives given purpose by the ‘legends’ who helped – Marc Gascoigne:

It’s been a stressful spring for farmers in the Waikato with constant rain causing all sorts of problems, but those stresses were put into perspective in a big way for me last week when I attended two funerals.

When people say life is short they’re usually talking about living until you’re in your eighties, so when you are at a two-year-old child’s memorial service, it’s just not right on any level.

Mason was just two when he came to stay at our farm a few weeks ago with his mum and dad and five-year-old brother Weslley. . . 

Rubbish boosts tasty delicacy – Alan Williams:

Saffron growers and wine-makers are among the businesses swearing by the benefits of organic compost made from Christchurch city’s green waste.  

Te Anau saffron growers Steve and Jo Daley were even prepared to pay up to $2500 a load to get compost trucked the 650km from the Living Earth processing plant at Bromley.  

The Living Earth market was 95% rural based, included pastoral and cropping farmers and the rural sales were 85% repeat business, the company’s rural and urban sales manager Graeme Wright said.  

The Daleys were determined to be organic growers and the cost was worth it for them, with the consistency of the compost and its ability to hold its properties through a hot, dry summer. . . 

Plant-based alternative milk consumption growing in Australia as dairy industry holds firm – Marty McCarthy:

Dairy milk has been flying off the supermarket shelves as consumers continue to sympathise with Australia’s dairy farmers, following the Murray Goulburn crisis.

But so-called “alternative milks” are rising in popularity, and new research shows consumers are increasingly lapping them up.

Supermarkets now stock a range of plant-based milks, including soy, almond, coconut, hazelnut, rice, oat and more recently, macadamia milk.

“While the incidences of lactose intolerance have been increasing there have also been food trends that recommend avoiding cow’s milk,” IBISWorld analyst Lauren Magner said. . . 

Rabobank Global Wine Quarterly Q4 2016: Red Dawn? Behind the Rise in Australian Wine Grape Prices:

Australia takes the pulse of wine grape markets, while the Northern Hemisphere harvest appears set to fall on the short side, and China headlines developments in global wine trade, according to Rabobank’s Global Wine Quarterly for Q4 2016.

The Australian wine grape industry has experienced a ‘red dawn’, with prices rising from their 2011 lows, particularly for red wine grape varieties sourced from more premium growing regions. Rabobank senior analyst Marc Soccio says: “Life has returned to Australian wine grape prices, with China driving much of the recovery in market conditions.”

Highlighting the key role of the China/Hong Kong market in Australia’s wine grape price recovery, the performance of the Chinese market remains a key barometer of future red wine grape market condition. The premiumisation trend in other major markets is also a factor, namely in Australia’s domestic market, as well as in the US and Canada. . . 

Nominations Have Closed for the 2016 Fonterra Elections:

Nominations for the Fonterra Board of Directors’ Independent Nomination Process candidates and the Shareholders’ Council, Directors’ Remuneration Committee, and Fonterra Farmer Custodian Trustee elections closed at 12 noon today.

The candidates successfully nominated following the Independent Nomination Process will be announced on Friday 4 November, 2016. The full list of candidates, including Self-Nominated candidates for the Fonterra Board of Directors’ Election will be announced by Wednesday, 16 November 2016. . . 

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Do not cross this pasture unless you can do it in 9 seconds, because the bull can do it in 10.

 


Ruralround-up

August 19, 2016

Flaws to idea of reducing dairy herd – Jacqueline Rowarth:

A suggestion that New Zealand should remove 80per cent of dairy cows to return to a natural environment overlooks various fundamental problems including: what is natural?

Dairy farms tend to be in flat to rolling countryside where grass grows well and cows can create milk efficiently.

It is in this country that clear mountain streams become winding rivers, picking up sediment and nutrients from the soils through which they are travelling. As they slow down, plants and fish have a chance to grow.

Dairying occupies 1.7 million hectares of New Zealand’s 26.8 million hectares. This area, with the associated processing and value adding, resulted in export revenue for the year to June 2015 of $14 billion.

In some contrast, sheep, beef and deer farms cover 11.5 million hectares of mostly somewhat steeper land, and bring in $9 billion. . .

Lamb price spike to be brief – Alan Williams:

Sheep farmers could get $6/kg or more for a lamb this season – but only briefly.

The shortage of lambs also meant many farmers would not be able to take full advantage of the short-lived spike, AgriHQ analyst Mel Croad said.

Some overseas markets were prepared to pay up for lambs, knowing there was a NZ shortage and she believed that might push South Island procurement prices to $6/kg and the North Island to $6.10/$6.20 in October and November. . .

Buyers caught napping by possible milk production decline – Gerard Hutching:

A milk futures broker says whole milk powder buyers have been “caught napping” by a potential shortfall in the product, explaining why the price has risen 28.8 per cent at the last two global dairy auctions.

Director of OM Financial Nigel Brunel said the price hike had been “staggering” and taken everyone by surprise.

“Buyers haven’t been able to source WMP at the right price and have been concerned that New Zealand supply could be well down this season. They have been caught napping in a sleepy sideways WMP market for almost a year,” Brunel said.

As a result the buyers had climbed over each other to source WMP and lifted the price.

North Canterbury’s bumper lamb crop hanging on for rain – Tony Benny:

Warm, settled weather and plenty of twins on the ground makes for the sort of lambing farmers treasure but after two years of drought, North Canterbury farmers are just worried about how they’ll feed the extra mouths. Tony Benny reports.

The countryside around Hawarden, North Canterbury, looks a picture.  The sky is clear, the air is still and warm, the paddocks are green, dotted with hundreds of healthy lambs and on the horizon are snow-capped mountains.

But talk to locals like Lew Wright and his son Iain and it becomes clear that they’re just hanging on, unsure how they’ll feed their bumper crop of lambs, let alone the 600 ewe hoggets due to come home from grazing in the next couple of weeks.

“The paddocks have got nothing in them, they’re just bare, they’ve just got no grass.  It’s scary,” says Iain. . . 


Rural round-up

August 17, 2016

Canterbury sheep sales dry up in drought – Thomas Mead and Annabelle Tukia:

Canterbury livestock sales are starting to feel the impact of the region’s long-running drought, with stock numbers plummeting and prices on the rise.

PGG Wrightson auctioneer Nic Denton says after two dry seasons, many locals have already destocked due to a lack of feed. It was “particularly quiet” with stock numbers down by around 50 percent.

“There’s been some very tough decisions made in north Canterbury with destocking, so obviously it’s a flow-on effect from that,” he says.

“Most of our clients in north Canterbury are probably seeing two-thirds of what they usually carry in normal season.” . . .

Flaxbourne Community Irrigation Scheme considers the benefit of smaller dams – Mike Watson:

A proposed multi-million dollar rural irrigation scheme in Marlborough may use several smaller dams rather than one large dam, supporters of the scheme say.

Cost assessments of the Flaxbourne Community Irrigation Scheme show options available including extracting water from nearby rivers, building more than one dam site for storage, and altering pipe size and pipeline routes.

Ward farmer Kevin Loe said the multiple dam option was being considered by supporters of the scheme as a way to stage the timing of costs to better fit with uptake demand. . . 

Trout disappear from didymo-affected rivers – Hamish Clark:

Trout numbers in the South Island are under threat from the invasive freshwater algae didymo, a new study has found.

University of Canterbury researcher Professor Jon Harding found trout, previously in 20 South Island rivers, are now absent in 60 percent of the rivers with a high didymo biomass.

“The results of our study are of particular concern. We have assumed for some time that didymo will have an impact on fish, but these results show both native fish and introduced sports fish are all being affected by didymo,” Prof Harding says. . . 

Heartland lessens dairy risk – Alan Williams:

Growth in lending has slightly lowered Heartland Bank’s relative exposure to dairy farm debt.  

The dairy sector made up 7% of all lending on the June 30 full-year balance date, compared to 8% on December 31.  

The net group loan book (receivables) on June 30 was $3.21 billion, up $252 million or 9% on a year earlier. . . 

The big question unasked – Craig Wiggins:

The rain and snow turned up on cue with the calves hitting the ground and the banks putting the brakes on spending.  

In some cases paying the necessary outgoings such as winter grazing and feed expenses is not possible until the income starts to filter through so many a farmer, dairy or sheep, will ask why we do what we do.  

This time of year is hard enough to get right without the external pressures over which our control is minimal but the effect has consequences beyond our gate as the flow of revenue slows to a trickle. . . 

Landmark spins wool deal – Annabelle Beale:

AUSTRALIA’S biggest farm services business Landmark is expanding its wool operations while denying speculation a corporate take-over of the company is being negotiated. 

Following 12 months of negotiations, Landmark has purchased the remaining 50 per cent shares in Victoria’s Arcadian Wool brokering company this month, three years after Landmark upped the stake in the company from its founding 40pc in 1985 to nearly 50pc in 2013.

The sale has increased Landmark’s show floor representation by 4.3 per cent to 19pc of the wool traded at Melbourne, including the 36,000 bales sold by Arcadian last year and estimated 120,000 sold by Landmark. . . 

Coolalee experiment pays dividends for Dubbo lamb breeders – Mark Griggs:

AN EXPERIMENT several years ago using Coolalee rams over young first-cross ewes to overcome lambing difficulty from the ewes joining to high indexed Poll Dorsets has paid off so well for Dubbo region second-cross prime lamb breeders, Doug and Robin Godwin, they have continued the practice.  

Further, they are now considering going down the path of maintaining Coolalee/Merino ewe lambs as replacements and joining them back to Coolalees.  “If you do that you are halfway towards a self-replacing flock,” Mr Godwin said. . .

A&P Society elects president :

Wanaka helicopter pilot and fencer Doug Stalker has been elected president of the Upper Clutha A&P Society.

He is joined by Grant Ruddenklau as the new senior vice-president and Mike Scurr as junior vice-president.

Mr Stalker, who was voted president at the society’s annual meeting last week, replaces Tarras farmer Robbie Gibson, who has held the role for the past two years.

Preparations are well under way for the 80th annual show, which will be held on March 10 and 11 next year. . . 

 Mark McHardy wins Cooperative Leader of the Year Award:

Cooperative Business New Zealand has announced Farmlands Fuel General Manager, Mark McHardy, as the winner of the Cooperative Leader of the Year Award for 2015/16.

The award honours an individual who has shown significant co-operative leadership, commitment and support of well recognised and accepted co-operative principles. They also need to display vision and courage for the co-operative model, along with demonstrate successful initiatives that have benefited their co-operative or the co-operative sector.

Cooperative Business New Zealand CEO,  says that Mark was the stand out nominee for this award. . . 


Rural round-up

July 25, 2016

Future grim if deal off – Neal Wallace and Alan Williams:

A grim economic future has been painted by Silver Fern Farms directors should the meat company not complete its merger with Shanghai Maling.  

In notice of meeting documentation being sent to shareholders, chairman Rob Hewett said banks twice last year warned the co-operative they would not “under any circumstances” provide ongoing finance unless shareholders approved a new injection of capital.

Hewett said in an interview that nothing had changed since those warnings were issued in May and June last year. . . 

Market-ready lamb set for China:

Alliance Group has launched a new range of market-ready retail packs to China.

The co-branded lamb products will begin being sold in China’s retail and food service sectors next month in conjunction with the co-op’s in-market partner Grand Farm.

The initial focus of the programme will be on the upper end of the Chinese market with five regions, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Harbin, being targeted. . .

Turning effluent into electricity – Allison Beckham:

Southland cows are good at producing milk, and now it has been proven they are also good at producing another useful staple – electricity.

After two years of planning and design, a pilot plant producing electricity from dairy effluent methane is about to be commissioned on a Southland dairy farm.

The system is expected to generate about 50kW of electricity annually, enough to power about 75% of the farm’s electricity needs and equivalent to the requirements of about 10 urban households. . . 

Minister clarifies China trade issue:

Trade Minister Todd McClay has today reiterated that the Government has sought and received assurances from the Chinese Government that any competition issues would not impact on trade between the two countries.

Mr McClay is responding to reports that retaliatory action could be imposed if an investigation is launched into allegations of steel dumping.

“On my return from Indonesia I asked my office for a full review of the broader issues around this matter.

“I want to make it clear today that there have been discussions and limited correspondence over the past few months as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has endeavoured to assess the veracity of these reports. . . 

New PGP harvest technology targets safety:

New forest harvesting technology revealed today in Nelson sets its sights on further increasing safety in steep land harvesting operations, Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew says.

The new ‘tele-operation’ technology provides out-of-harm’s way operation of a purpose-built tracked feller-buncher forest harvester, from the safety of a separate operator cabin and console.

The breakthrough is part of Steepland Harvesting, a 6-year, $6 million Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme between the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and a consortium of forestry companies and contractors, led by Future Forests Research Ltd (FFR). . . 

New Zealand’s Largest Organic Apple Grower Plants Big in New Varieties:

New Zealand’s largest organic apple grower, Bostock New Zealand has been making the most of the sunny Hawke’s Bay weather, busily planting about 4000 new apple trees each day.

The company has been pulling out it’s old apple varieties and planting new trees to keep up with the international demand for organic, GM Free fruit.

Bostock New Zealand Organic Orchards Manager Craig Treneman says it’s exciting to be planting new varieties, which are sweeter and higher colour and appeal to the growing Asia market.

“We have some new orchard developments in Twyford, where we are planting about 4000 new tree varieties a day. . . 


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