Rural round-up

May 31, 2018

‘We’d better off if we had it’ – Sally Rae:

Southland farmer John Young reckons he would be in a better position if his cattle had Mycoplasma bovis.

With a contract for 1000 calves cancelled by Ngai Tahu Farming, he described himself as a ”by-product” of the disease saying there was no recognition for those in similar situations.

Left short of feed and likely to take a massive financial hit, he was perplexed by the iwi’s motivation as he felt he had done everything to mitigate any concerns.

”We’d be better off if we had it. We would know where we’re at [and could] set a plan and work around it. It would be acknowledged we had it, we’d be compensated. The way we are at the moment, we don’t know where we stand,” he said. . . 

Farmer provides positive advice on coping – Sally Rae:

Argentinian-born Leo Bensegues came to New Zealand with only $700 and the desire for a good life.

Fast forward 16 and a-half years and he has a wife, Maite, and a family and his own business, sharemilking at Morven in the Waimate district.

Last August, that good life was interrupted by confirmation there was Mycoplasma bovis in the couple’s herd.

Their 950 cows and 222 young stock were one of the first herds to be culled, although they had 200 heifers which had not been affected by the disease.

Yesterday, Mr Bensegues declined to talk about how he felt seeing those animals dispatched to slaughter, saying that was ”in the past” and they had to focus on the future.

They were starting over again and he had a message for other farmers affected by this week’s announcement of a massive cull of animals in a bid to eradicate the disease.

They had to work with the Ministry for Primary Industries, rather than against it, and they had to stay positive. . . 

‘Bovis cull will be devastating – Sally Rae:

The impact of the impending Mycoplasma bovis cattle cull on  milk and beef supply nationally will be much smaller than the “devastating” impact on affected farmers, Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface says.

In the bank’s latest Agri Update, Ms Boniface said New Zealand’s dairy herd was about 4.8 million, so the population to be culled accounted for about 0.5%, well within usual seasonal variation in the dairy herd.

While processing capacity might be stretched temporarily at a regional level, there should be ample capacity nationwide to process the additional cow cull. . .

 Business case for cattle disease plan kept secret from public – Andrea Fox:

The cost-benefit analysis behind the $886 million government-agriculture sector decision to try to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis is being kept secret from taxpayers picking up most of the bill.

A Herald request to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for a copy of the cost-benefit analysis is being treated by MPI as an Official Information Act request, which normally means waiting nearly a month for a response, with no guarantee of full disclosure.

When the Herald tried to clarify that the cost-benefit analysis was not being made public, and if so, who had access to it, the response from an MPI spokesman was: “This has been part of the decision-making process so the decision makers have had access to this information.” . .

Live deer capture: ‘a wonderful time to be alive and to stay alive’, says pioneer– Heather Chalmers:

Recalling the pioneering live deer capture days, veterans like Bryan Bassett-Smith get a gleam in their eyes.

In the 1970s the emphasis changed from killing deer as a feral pest to wanting to capture and keep deer alive for a fledging farming industry. Deer farming made live recovery more profitable than hunting; there were fortunes to be made and adventures to have.

These were the days before clipboards, hi-vis vests and health and safety regulations.

Bassett-Smith didn’t fly helicopters himself. “I was a guy that jumped out and used the tranquilliser gun.

READ MORE: Deer farmer recalls days of live capture derring-do

“It was a wonderful time to be alive and to stay alive” he says, referring to the casualties and fatalities from helicopter crashes. “Sadly, there were a few too many funerals,” he told deer industry conference delegates during a visit to Mesopotamia Station in the South Canterbury high country, a property actively involved in live deer recovery. . . 

Distribution deal for Mastatest– Sally Rae:

Dunedin-based veterinary diagnostics company Mastaplex has secured a national distribution partnership with AgriHealth for its bovine mastitis diagnostic products.

Company founder and inventor Olaf Bork said Mastatest  was an on-farm or veterinary clinic-based bovine mastitis test which generated results within 24 hours, enabling dairy farmers to select specific antibiotic treatments recommended by their veterinarian once target bacteria had been identified.

The early  growth-stage company, which is based at the University of Otago’s Centre for Innovation, was also negotiating with a European distributor and  seeking an alliance in the United States, he said. . . 

Rural health must be integral in health services review:

The New Zealand Rural General Practice Network today welcomed an announcement of a comprehensive review of health services in New Zealand.

The NZRGPN is the national network representing the staff of rural medical practices across New Zealand.

“A comprehensive review of the delivery of health and disability services is timely,” said NZRGPN Chief Executive Dalton Kelly. “This review must be comprehensive and wide-ranging, taking into account the full range of communities and health service providers across New Zealand. . .

Tough year hits Anzco profits – Alan Williams:

A difficult year in beef procurement and processing caused a big fall in profit for Anzco Foods.

Intense competition for stock and uneven livestock flows increased costs while consumer market prices were just steady, chief executive Peter Conley said.

Anzco’s pre-tax profit fell to just $1.8 million in the year ended December 31, from $17m a year earlier. Because the group’s international trade offices are required to pay tax in the countries they’re based in, overall group tax took up $1.7m of the earnings, leaving an after-tax operating profit of $100,000, down from $12m previously. . . 

How a routine day on the farm turned into a pig’s dinner – Joyce Wyllie:

Sometimes routine jobs on a routine day take a less routine turn.

With Jock away at dog trials, I walked to the kennels one evening to run and feed the remainder of his team left at home.

It’s a familiar routine of letting energetic dogs off for enthusiastic exercise, feeding pellets to pigs and shutting the team up with their tea.

It was drizzling as I opened the doors and let animated animals race off for time out and toilet. Pushing the feed shed door open to get pig tucker revealed a four-legged super surprise. . . 

Hounding the horehound weed:

Two moths may be imported to combat the horehound weed, which a recent survey estimates to cost New Zealand dryland farmers almost $7 million per year.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is considering an application from a collective of affected farmers – the Horehound Biocontrol Group – to introduce the horehound plume moth and horehound clearwing moth to attack this invasive weed, and is calling for public submissions. The application is supported by the Ministry for Primary Industries’ sustainable farming fund. . .

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Rural round-up

May 20, 2018

Too stoned to work – Pam Tipa:

Substance abuse problems, timekeeping and the attitude of young people entering workforce must be addressed for the future of the horticulture industry, says Vegetables NZ Inc. chairman Andre de Bruin.

The Dargaville kumara grower says the industry relies on a core of good “fantastic seasonal workers” but that core is not coming through in the younger generation. There is an occasional “gem” but they are getting much harder to find.

As de Bruin spoke to Rural News he could see five seasonal workers sitting in a vehicle either stoned or drunk when they should have been at work. . .

LINZ to ‘open up’ with new high country advisory group – Tom Kitchen:

Land Information New Zealand has announced the creation of a high country advisory group to help make better decisions for New Zealand’s high country regions.

Speaking at this year’s Federated Farmers High Country Conference in Cromwell yesterday, Linz  deputy chief executive Crown property Jerome Sheppard said Linz needed the group because of the complications and debates around the tenure review process and the influx of tourists in the country.

“We’re wanting to open up our shop a wee bit more so you can see what’s going on … we think debate needs to happen”. . . 

Wool prices cause disbelief – Alan Williams:

Buyers clearly had orders to fill as prices increased again at Thursday’s Napier wool sale.

The volumes rose on the floor as buyers tried to outbid each other, PGG Wrightson North Island auctioneer Steve Fussell said. 

There was some disbelief about some of the price gains.

Buyers were especially keen on very good style, new, second-shear wool with prices 6% to 7% up on the May 3 sale in Napier. . .

Present can make not a bad future :

Venison could become the next kiwifruit but getting there will be a tough mountain to climb, Primary Sector Council chairman Lain Jager says.

Speaking at the Deer Industry conference in Timaru Jager, the former Zespri chief executive, compared the deer industry model to the highly successful kiwifruit industry, looking at whether venison could become the next kiwifruit.

The two have a lot in common but venison lags on several counts. . .

Rural News Group ‘here to stay’:

Independently-owned Rural News Group says its newspapers will continue to serve the primary sector.

The company is not part of the closures and sell-offs announced this week by Fairfax and NZX. Rural News Group publishes leading national publications – Rural News, Dairy News and NZ Winegrower; it also provides daily news updates on www.ruralnewsgroup.co.nz.

“We are a strongly independent and New Zealand owned and are here to stay,” says Rural News Group general manager Adam Fricker. . .

Twice the talent; bumper crop of winners from Young Vegetable Grower:

For the first time in the competition’s history, there are two winners of the Young Vegetable Grower of the Year competition: Esteban Ibanez and Gurjant Singh.

The day-long competition in Christchurch saw entrants compete in a series of practical and theoretical challenges designed to test the skills needed to run a successful vegetable growing business, from pest identification to forklift proficiency.

Currently working as a production agronomist for Leaderbrand South Island and with a Bachelor in Agriculture, 30 year old Esteban is all about growing vegetables, and hopes that this win will be a step towards networking with people who share his same goals and ideals. . . 


Rural round-up

May 18, 2018

Wild West meat market – Ruby Nyika:

Complaints about food being sold illegally on social media and Trade Me have almost doubled over the past three years.

Illegal online meat sales alone nearly tripled, the Ministry for Primary Industries says. 

It’s a way to offload excess home kill and for buyers to shave dollars off meat costs, Tauwhare Home Kills owner Trevor Brunton said. 

But selling unlicensed meat – raw or cooked – online is illegal, and home-kill meat is particularly risky. . . 

Changes may lead to unforeseen problems – Pam Tipa:

Imposing changes on farming without considering wider issues such as economic and community impacts could cause unforeseen problems out ahead, says Robyn Dynes, science impact leader, AgResearch.

He was referring to Minister for the Environment David Parker saying nutrient limits may be used to reduce cow numbers.

Dynes says requirements or targets for reducing nutrient losses on farms are nothing new in many regions; most farmers are already moving that way. . . 

Good surge in strong wool prices heartening – Alan WIlliams:

Wool prices made a major advance at Thursday’s Christchurch wool sale, on large volume.

Prices remain at a low ebb but the move was heartening following gradual recent improvement, PGG Wrightson’s South Island sale manager Dave Burridge said.

The wool pipeline was moving through international markets without any stockpiles building up and a weaker NZ dollar, just below US$0.70, helped underpin the solid demand from a full gallery of buyers. . .

Farmers are suffering – Peter Burke:

Farmers and farm staff are overworked and some are facing chronic exhaustion.

That’s the view of Joyce Brown who runs StayWell – volunteer nurses who attend farm events to offer health checks to farmers.

Brown says this problem stems partly from the average age of a dairy farmer being about 58 and a drystock farm about 68. 

But it’s not only older people who are affected, she says.  . . 

New marketing initiatives – getting social :

New Zealand Winegrowers’ marketing team have launched a number of new initiatives to help promote the story of New Zealand wine.

Global Marketing Director Chris Yorke tells Tessa Nicholson about them.

Utilising digital and social media 

For many this is a strange new world of marketing yet it is one of the most important tools in the box for New Zealand Winegrowers and wineries alike. Which is why, Chris Yorke says, they are undertaking tests across all the major NZW activities in an effort to help the industry. . .

The future of food – Shan Lynch:

Today’s technology is rushing into one of the last traditional industries: agriculture.

A field largely still unaffected by the technological revolution, farming is ripe for change as need couples with opportunity.

“We’ve seen a wave of technology impact our information industries,” says Stanford Graduate School of Business professor Haim Mendelson. “Now we see another big wave of technology reshaping our traditional industries, and certainly agriculture is one of the most basic ones.” . . 


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. . .


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