Rural round-up

November 24, 2019

Canterbury farmers fearing as much as an 80 percent crop loss from hailstorm – Kaysha Brownlie:

Canterbury farmers are scrambling to salvage what was spared from hail the size of eggs which pummelled Canterbury this week.

Some of them are fearing as much as an 80 percent crop loss after two severe storms battered the region.

Insurers said they’ve received hundreds of claims after the egg-sized hail and driving rain caused extensive damage. . . .

Fowl under fire for pollution – Neal Wallace:

Southland dairy farmers have become more compliant with their resource consent conditions with the rate of significant non-compliance last year falling from 1.9% to 1.8%.

In the 2018-19 year council staff inspected 783 dairy effluent discharge consents either on-site or by air and found 634 fully compliant, 139 graded as low risk or moderately non-compliant and 10, or 1.8%, as significantly non-compliant.

The previous year 922 sites were inspected, some more than twice, and 17, or 1.9%, were found to be significantly non-compliant.

The council’s regulatory committee chairman Neville Cook said the improvement shows farmers are aware of their responsibilities and are doing something about it. . . .

Landcorp subsidiary sued for hundreds of thousands by Australian sheep farmers – Gerard Hutching:

An Australian farming couple is suing Landcorp subsidiary Focus Genetics for hundreds of thousands of dollars because they cannot access their sheep genetics data.

The Wellington High Court recently conducted an urgent hearing over whether Damien and Kirsten Croser, fourth generation farmers from South Australia, could access some of the data for this season’s mating.

The urgent hearing is separate to an application to sue Focus Genetics. Originally the Crosers said they would sue for $1.9 million, but their claim has been reduced to an undisclosed sum. . .

Profitable year leaves Alliance in strong position – Brent Melville:

Alliance group has doubled profits to $20.7 million and will pay its farmer shareholders a $9 million fillip for the year to September.

The country’s largest processor and exporter of sheep and lamb products, yesterday reported turnover of $1.7 billion, largely on the back of record demand and prices from China.

Alliance chairman Murray Taggart, said the increase in profit was pleasing and reflected the co-operative’s drive to maximise operational efficiency and focus on capturing greater market value. .

 

 

Wool stains could stop processing  – Alan WIlliams:

Dye-stained wool unsuitable for scouring could be problem for years because of the high volume being stored, New Zealand Woolscouring chief executive Nigel Hales says.

“We’d only be guessing how much wool there is out there but feedback from field reps is that every motorbike they see has a can of spray on it.”

The dye stains in wool cannot be scoured out and a lot of wool is now not being scoured at all though Hales said the amount is not material given the overall volumes. . .

How Dean Foods’ bankruptcy is a ‘warning sign’ to the milk industry – Lillianna Byington:

Wrestling with debt and struggling to adjust to consumer demands, ​America’s largest dairy producer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last week.

Analysts told Food Dive this news didn’t come as a shock. A number of factors led to Dean Foods’ decline, including dropping fluid milk consumption, rising competition from private label and milk alternatives, and a complex company history with M&A gone wrong and financial missteps from which it never quite recovered. 

These factors culminated in a decline in revenues that led to the company’s bankruptcy filing​ after several CEOs failed to achieve the task of turning around the troubled business. Experts and analysts say what happened to Dean can serve as a cautionary tale to other businesses in the space.

 


Rural round-up

November 18, 2019

Fortitude in face of loss bears fruit – Sally Rae:

A North Otago berry fruit business has grown to be the largest producer of strawberries in the South Island. Business and rural editor Sally Rae speaks to the remarkable driving force behind the operation.

If strawberry plants came in pink, then Leanne Matsinger would probably place a bulk order.

For the North Otago berryfruit grower is particularly fond of the hue and, when she bought a new tractor, she even asked if it was possible to get it in that colour.

Sadly it was not, and when she heads out at 2am with the floodlights blazing to go spraying in the still of the night, it is on a conventionally coloured workhorse.

Wind the clock back to 2010, and Mrs Matsinger did not know how to drive a tractor. Nor how to grow strawberries. . . 

Barns have big footprints :

In a New Zealand first new research from Lincoln University doctoral researcher Hafiz Muhammad Abrar Ilyas is estimating the carbon footprints of pastoral or grass-based and barn dairy systems based on their energy consumption.

This study was done on 50 conventional dairy farms in Canterbury – 43 pastoral and seven barn systems.

Hafiz said the difference between the two systems indicates the barn system has an 18% higher carbon footprint than the pastoral system per hectare of farm area and 11% higher footprint per tonne of milksolids. . . 

Off like a Rockit

The CEO of the company that grows and sells New Zealand’s tiny Rockit apple says no-one expected the apple to be so popular.

“It’s blown away everybody’s expectations, which is terrific,” Rockit’s Austin Mortimer says.

Listen duration19:51 

He says Rockit is the only miniature apple available globally.

“My understanding was when it (the apple) was offered to the big players none of them would touch it because they just didn’t think there was value in a small apples.”

There is.

Rockit apples are now returning about $150,000 per hectare to growers. . . 

Ida Valley wool makes good show – Alan Williams:

Fine wool prices might be below last year’s levels but they still made the sale screen at the New Zealand Agricultural Show in Christchurch good viewing for Central Otago farmer Jock McNally.

He watched as his 15 to 17 microns Merino wool sold for up to $17.50/kg greasy at the annual live auction on Thursday.

“The prices are still reasonable, still above the averages of the last few years and I’m happy with the sale,” he said. . . 

Boer goat meat to grace Korea tables – Yvonne O’Hara:

Two tonnes of Central Otago Boer goat meat was shipped from New Zealand recently to appear on the menus of three planned specialist restaurants in Korea.

The shipment was organised by Alexandra-based New Zealand Premium Goat Meat Ltd (NZPGM), which is run by John Cockcroft, of Clyde, and Dougal Laidlaw, of Alexandra.

The first new restaurant, called Cabra’s Kitchen (cabra is Spanish for goat), will specialise in meals made using New Zealand Boer goat, as well as New Zealand beef and lamb and Central Otago wine. . . 

NZ 2019 Young Horticulturist announced

Simon Gourley of Domaine Thomson Wines is the 2019 Young Horticulturist of the Year.

From Central Otago, Simon (28) represented the NZ Winegrowers sector at the competition, which celebrates excellence in people aged under 30, employed in the horticulture industry.

It’s the second consecutive year the Young Horticulturist (Kaiahuone rangatahi o te tau) title has been won by a viticulturist. Last year’s winner was Annabel Bulk, who is also from Central Otago. . .


Rural round-up

November 7, 2019

Canterbury farmer fears sheep and beef property might be turned into forest – Gerard Hutching:

Waimate sheep and beef farmer David Gardner is “gobsmacked” a government policy might see his property sold to an overseas investor and converted into pine trees.

Having reached retirement age, Gardner is looking to sell his 800-hectare Melford Hills farm, about 50 kilometres south of Timaru. He would prefer it remains as it is, but the likely buyer is a forest investor.

In fact he’s already spurned an offer that would see some of the property continue as a farm, and the balance as forestry. . .

Less fat on meat income – Alan Williams:

Scott Technology revenues have jumped in the last year but its automated equipment for meat processing plants played a lesser role.

Revenue from meat processing work for the year ended August 31 was $34.5 million, down from $45m a year earlier, as total revenue from the world-wide activities rose to $225m from $181.8m.

Some of the bigger overseas projects have been challenging and while the operating earnings were higher, at $20m from $19.3m, the after-tax profit fell to $8.6m from $10.77m.

Dunedin-based Scott Tech warned of those challenges in early July and chairman Stuart McLauchlan and managing director Chris Hopkins said the projects are now nearing completion. . .

Kea attack sheep in low numbers, study finds – Will Harvie:

Kea attacks on sheep have been measured for the first time.

About 0.5 per cent of sheep at five South Island high country farms were attacked by the alpine parrots, according to just published research by wildlife scientist and kea specialist Clio Reid and colleagues.

It was the first time “kea strike”, as these attacks are known, has been quantified, she said.

“This study showed that kea strike on sheep was occurring at a low prevalence on the high country farms surveyed. The wounds identified were survivable.” . .

NZ River Awards 2019 River Story finalist: Wharekopae River, Gisborne :

Cawthron is proud to be running the 2019 New Zealand River Awards. As part of the celebration, the River Story Award category sponsored by the Ministry for the Environment recognises interesting and compelling stories about individuals, businesses and communities working to improve the health of our rivers.

Each year Cawthron receives River Story entries that are representative of our collective desire to improve New Zealand waterways. The stories are inspirational projects that involve community collaboration, science and innovative ways to address freshwater-related challenges.

This year, eight stories were selected as finalists and from these, the judges have selected the top three. The work being done to restore Rere’s Wharekopae River catchment is our second story. . .

With the walls closing in, regenerative farming is a way forward for agriculture – Daniel Eb:

A quiet revolution is growing on New Zealand farms. As debates on water and emissions grind on, a new group of farmers are showing us the way forward – regenerating the land, and themselves, writes Daniel Eb.  

Mum has a saying: when you’re boxed into a corner, move the walls. It’s a reference to the two-sided nature of crisis – that in difficulty lies opportunity.

New Zealand agriculture is not in a crisis, but we all feel the tension rising. They’re a tough bunch, our farmers, but this wave of anger and pain in response to new freshwater and emissions proposals is a clear indication that they’re hurting. A recent morning radio show turned into a public, cathartic release for many Kiwi farmers who just wanted to be heard.

There’s a pervading sense that farming as we know it is under threat – that the walls are closing in. This is a global issue. Australian farmers are losing the fight against historic drought. American farmers are struggling, battling record flooding, reckless trade policy and the breakdown of the family farm way of life. Dutch farmers recently blocked motorways in protest against environmental reforms; some Kiwi farmers have called for the same. . .

Narrandera grower Nathan Heckendorf credits water saving product for reviving crop – Lucy Kinbacher:

A NARRANDERA grower has turned his harvest prospects around and retrieved up to 2.5 tonnes a hectare from his barley crop thanks largely to a water saving organic fertiliser.

Nathan Heckendorf, Top Reeds, Sandigo, was very skeptical when he heard about a product that could hold twice its weight in water and eliminate loss of water to a crop from evaporation or frosts.

Operating a 1600 hectare property, Mr Heckendorf planted 150ha of canola from April 20, 200ha of barley from May 10 and 1000ha of wheat from May 15, along with a summer crop of 70ha of maize. . .

 


Rural round-up

October 29, 2019

How the freshwater plan could ruin my town – Dani Darke:

King Country sheep and beef farmer Dani Darke says her community is under threat if the government’s Essential Water policy passes into law.

Nestled in the heart of the King Country, the settlement of Aria embodies the richness of community spirit that is associated with heartland New Zealand.

With a population of 300 and a bustling CBD of 68, it is a place where everyone knows your name.

The Cosmopolitan Club acts as the community hub. Here age is irrelevant and 70-plus year olds socialise with 18-year-olds. We have thriving squash and tennis clubs and a primary school boasting a role of 50. . .

Farmers only lukewarm on plan :

Farmer and new Environment Canterbury councillor Ian Mackenzie is cautious in his enthusiasm for the Government’s about-turn on the Emissions Trading Scheme.

In a world-first government-industry partnership the Government has backed down on taxing farmers and brokered a deal with the agricultural sector to manage and mitigate on-farm emissions.

It will avoid farmers being included in the ETS if they can commit to a new sector-led plan.

“Clearly, this is good news but it doesn’t necessarily send me skipping across the spring green paddocks with joy,” Mackenzie, an Ashburton cropping and livestock farmer, said. He was also Federated Farmers environment spokesman and a member of the Land and Water Forum. . .

MIA big guns next up in China – Alan Williams:

It follows a successful visit by a smaller technical team in late September that made clear NZ’s keenness to partner with the Chinese industry to help modernise and improve supply chain systems, including cold store infrastructure, the association’s trade and economic manager Sirma Karapeeva said. . .

 

Synlait Milk buys Canterbury’s Dairyworks :

Synlait Milk is buying Canterbury’s Dairyworks for $112 million as part of its push into the consumer market.

The speciality milk producer said Dairyworks was a good fit for its everyday dairy strategy, and complemented the recent purchase of cheese manufacturer Talbot Forest.

Dairyworks supplied New Zealand with almost half of its cheese, a quarter of its butter, as well as milk powder and Deep South ice-cream. . .

90-year-old Northland Kiwifruit farmer feeding the world – Susan Botting:

Northland grower Zela Charlton, 90, enjoys feeding the world from her Glenbervie kiwifruit orchard.

“My reward is feeding the people of the world. Even if it’s a bit of a luxury, kiwifruit is a very nourishing food,” Charlton said.

The nonagenarian loves kiwifruit – both green and gold.

“You can’t imagine what a perfectly ripe kiwifruit taken straight off the vine tastes like – it’s out of this world.” . . 

Win for prime agrcultural land – Mitchel Clapham:

NSW Farmers has lobbied long and hard to protect our prime agricultural land and water resources in the face of increased mining and CSG activity.

On May 1, 2012, NSW Farmers spearheaded the ‘Protect our Land and Water Rally’ in Macquarie Street, joining with many other organisations like the CWA to galvanise support for local food and fibre production.

In response, the state government developed a Strategic Regional Land Use Policy and Gateway process, which was supposed to map and protect Biophysical Strategic Agricultural Land (BSAL), which comprises only 3 per cent of NSW. . .

 


Rural round-up

October 26, 2019

The deal’s done – Bryan Gibson:

Farmers now control their emissions destiny but industry leaders warn the hard work starts here.

The Government has adopted He Waka Eke Noa – the Primary Sector Climate Change Commitment, which Beef + Lamb New Zealand chairman Andrew Morrison said is a good outcome for farmers.

“I hope farmers understand the importance of today,” he said.

“This is a piece of work that empowers us as a sector to put the tools in place to measure the mitigations, the sequestrations against our liabilities. 

“That’s our goal and that will drive the right behaviours.”

But now the office work is done the farm work will start. . .

Water policy stymies green work :

Hill-Country farmers will be deterred from doing environmental protection and enhancement because of limits put on land use by the proposed Essential Freshwater policies, Tararua farmers Simon and Trudy Hales say.

They believe restrictions on farmers’ ability to realise the productive potential of their land will stymie investment in environmental protection.

The couple, this year’s Supreme Award winners in the Manawatu-Wanganui Region Ballance Farm Environment Awards, estimate over the past four years they have spent about $120,000 on environmental protection on their 970ha, 819ha effective, hill country farm. . .

Taranaki farming couple reap benefit after lifetime of responsible land management – Mike Watson:

When Norton and Coral Moller decided to plant trees on a bare coastal dairy farm south of New Plymouth, the response from neighbours was disbelief.

Nearly 50 years later the retired Oakura couple are reaping the benefits.

Last month they were among 17 Taranaki Environment Award winners, for environmental leadership in dairying. . .

New Zealand’s anti-science GMO laws need to change to tackle climate change – Mia Sutherland:

If this coalition government is serious about tackling climate change and ensuring future generations are left with a prosperous planet, GMO law reform must be considered.

A poignant aspect of making a difference to New Zealand’s carbon emissions is discontinuing ‘business as usual’, meaning that the lifestyles we have founded and the way our society operates now needs to change. It’s not sustainable, and doesn’t promise the 170,000 people who took to the streets on September 27 or their children an inhabitable future.

We need to be exploring new methods, changing the way we think, and reevaluating ideas we have while taking into consideration the increasingly fast development of science. We need to reform the law about genetically modified organisms. . .

Kiwifruit pushes onto dairy land – Alan WIlliams:

Two properties destined for conversion to kiwifruit are among the few dairy farms being sold.

The farms are in the Pukehina area, east of the main kiwifruit zone at Te Puke in Bay of Plenty.

It is fringe kiwifruit land away from the main post-harvest infrastructure and indications are the buyers are already in the industry with the knowledge to make the bare-land investment, Real Estate Institute rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said.  . .

More Trades Academy places good news for primary sector:

The announcement of up to 4000 more trades training places in schools will help meet demand from students to learn about farming and horticulture, Primary ITO chief executive Nigel Philpott says.

The Government will fund 2000 more Trades Academy places, where secondary students combine full-time study with experience in the workplace, as well as up to 2000 Gateway places, where students have job placements along with classroom learning. The Trades Academies are across a number of sectors.

Primary ITO currently has New Zealand’s biggest Trades Academy, with approximately 830 students, and Mr Philpott says schools have asked for nearly 1100 Trades Academy places for next year. . .

Genetic engineering, CRISPR and food: What the ‘revolution’ will bring in the near future – Steven Cerier:

Humankind is on the verge of a genetic revolution that holds great promise and potential. It will change the ways food is grown, medicine is produced, animals are altered and will give rise to new ways of producing plastics, biofuels and chemicals.

Many object to the genetic revolution, insisting we should not be ‘playing God’ by tinkering with the building blocks of life; we should leave the genie in the bottle. This is the view held by many opponents of GMO foods But few transformative scientific advances are widely embraced at first. Once a discovery has been made and its impact widely felt it is impossible to stop despite the pleas of doubters and critics concerned about potential unintended consequences. Otherwise, science would not have experienced great leaps throughout history­­—and we would still be living a primitive existence


Rural round-up

October 21, 2019

Awards help farmers put spotlight on environmental progress:

It’s never been more important for farmers to showcase to fellow New Zealanders the work they’re doing to lighten their environmental footprint, Federated Farmers says.

“We’re in the middle of a national debate on the best regulatory settings to help drive improved water quality in our rivers and lakes.  Some of the talk might drive an impression that we’re in some sort of downward environmental spiral, when the truth is many farmers up and down the nation are putting in huge amounts of sustainability and biodiversity enhancement work,” Feds environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

Deadlines for the 2019 Ballance Farm Environment Awards in Horizons, Wellington and Waikato have already passed, but it’s not too late for farmers in eight other regions around New Zealand. . .

Shearing costs eat wool cheques  – Alan WIlliams:

A fourth straight year of poor strong-wool prices lies ahead for sheep farmers.

After the increase in shearing charges in 2018-19 Beef+Lamb has estimated that combined with continuing abnormally low strong-wool prices that in the North Island, where nearly all the wool clip is crossbred, shearing costs take up 90% of farm wool receipts.

Until the start of the downturn four years ago shearing costs typically accounted for just 45% of wool returns. . . .

Fewer cows produce more milk – Neal Wallace:

An emerging approach to dairying might let farmers obey environment rules while maintaining or growing milk production.

The farm system change project has found farmers can run fewer but higher-performing cows while maintaining or growing milk supply.

It is done by accurately managing costs, feed quality and quantity to maintain cow condition, which results in a more efficient farm and conversion of feed by cows. . .

Seaweed feed could reduce cattle greenhouse gases :

 

The Cawthron Institute will receive $100,000 from the Government, to help it turn a native red seaweed into a greenhouse gas-busting cattle feed supplement.

The money comes from the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund and was announced by the Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister during a visit to the Nelson-based research institute today. . .

Chicken virus can be eradicated MPI says  – Maja Burry:

The Ministry for Primary Industries believes its is possible to eradicate a chicken virus that was recently detected here.

Last month MPI reported routine industry testing at two Otago egg farms owned by Mainland Poultry had identified the likely presence of Infectious Bursal Disease type one.

The virus can affect the immune system of young chickens but doesn’t pose any risk to human health. . .

‘Hyperactive’ 80-yr-old vet Jakob Malmo retires to run two dairy farms – Marion MacDonald:

Jakob Malmo says he’s too old to be lying in the mud delivering a calf so Gippsland’s legendary dairy vet has retired at 80 – to run two large dairy farms with his new wife, Jean.

Admitting others have described him as ‘hyperactive’, Dr Malmo is not one to sit still.

The achievements across his 58-year veterinary career are so many, it’s hard to know where to start but the man himself was most proud of the Melbourne University Rural Veterinary Unit he and Professor Doug Blood established in Maffra. . .


Rural round-up

October 15, 2019

Liberated they sold the plough – Neal Wallace:

Mike Porter reckons he has re-educated himself how to farm in the last five years. Neal Wallace meets the South Canterbury arable farmer who is not afraid of change.

Mike Porter is a considered man.

His views and actions are more than opinions formed from spending too many hours behind the wheel of a tractor on his South Canterbury arable farm.

Porter has carefully considered and studied options to some of the big issues he faces on his 480ha arable and livestock farm at Lyalldale, which he runs with wife Lynne. . .

Stronger YFC, school links the goal – Yvonne O’Hara:

Otago-Southland territory manager Bridget (Biddy) Huddleston, of Alexandra, is keen to see closer ties between the New Zealand Young Farmers clubs, and schools.

”Nationally, we are going to increase our focus on Young Farmers clubs and the [school-based] TeenAg clubs,” she said.

”Moving forward, the challenge for us will be how we are going to structure that.”

She also wants to encourage a greater uptake of the organisation’s education ”Agrication” food production resources, which have been developed by NZYF and teachers, ticked off by NZQA and funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership for schools, which are designed to give pupils a greater awareness of food production. . .

Frost this spring has been ‘unrelenting’, say winegrowers – Maja Burry:

Winegrowers in some regions are reporting a turbulent start to the new grape growing season, with frost-fighting efforts already well up on last year.

ANZ rural economist Susan Kilsby said early varieties were budding which was causing some concern due to the recent cold snap.

“There certainly has been some concern around frost, certainly in the Wairarapa and Marlborough, so everyone’s been out fighting frost, [but] so far I’ve only heard of damage of small areas of some of the early season crops,” Ms Kilsby said. . . 

Held stock boost sheep numbers – Alan Williams:

South Island sheep numbers rose slightly in the latest June year but some of the gain was caused by higher numbers being carried over for processing between July and September.

In the North Island the sheep population was slightly lower on June 30 than a year earlier and also included plenty of carry-over trade lambs in the Northland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty due for processing, Beef + Lamb says its New Season Outlook.

Total sheep numbers were estimated at 27.4 million, with the North Island at 13.5m, down 92,000 or 0.7%. South Island numbers were 13.9m, up 1.4%. . .

Commission releases draft report on Fonterra’s milk price:

The Commerce Commission has today released its draft report on Fonterra’s base milk price calculation for the 2018/19 dairy season.

The Commission is required to review Fonterra’s base milk price calculation at the end of each dairy season under the milk price monitoring regime in the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA).

The base milk price is the average price that Fonterra pays farmers for raw milk, which was calculated at $6.35 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2018/19 dairy season. The report does not cover the forecast 2019/20 price of $6.25-$7.25 that Fonterra announced in May.

Commission Deputy Chair Sue Begg said this year’s review of the 2018/19 base milk price revealed no new major areas of concern. . . 

Medicinal cannabis company Rua Bioscience seeks experienced grower – Esther Taunton:

A Kiwi company is on the hunt for a green-thumbed project manager, preferably with cannabis growing experience.

Gisborne-based Rua Bioscience was the first local company to secure a license to cultivate medicinal cannabis and is now looking for someone to help grow its budding operation.

Advertised online this week, the cultivation project manager would “play a key role in setting up stage two of our cultivation and growing activities”.  . . 

China is breeding massive pigs that weigh more than a grand piano -Kristin Houser:

Pork Problems

A devastating outbreak of African swine fever has destroyed an estimated half of China’s pig population over the past year or so.

That’s a huge deal given that China consumes more pork than any other nation, so China’s government responded by urging farmers to increase pig production — and some have taken that to mean they should breed the biggest pigs we’ve seen this side of “Okja,” according to a new Bloomberg story.

Making Weight

Bloomberg notes that some Chinese farmers have managed to increase the typical average weight of their pigs at slaughter from 110 kilograms (242 pounds) up to 140 kilograms (308 pounds).

In the province of Jilin, meanwhile, farmers are trying to raise the pigs “as big as possible,” farmer Zhao Hailin told Bloomberg, with the goal being an average weight of 175 to 200 kilograms (385 to 440 pounds) as opposed to the typical 125 kilograms (275 pounds). . .


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