Rural round-up

February 8, 2019

Nelson fire: Water shortage, dry conditions worry farmers

Rural groups are rallying help for farmers, livestock and pets affected by the Nelson fires.

Federated Farmers of New Zealand provincial support person Jan Gillanders said big farms and lots of smaller lifestyle blocks had been affected.

“Farms are not just business units, families live on them,” she said.

“To see everything get ruined and damaged … sometimes you can’t get to your stock, the distress the farmers experience – over wondering where their stock are and what’s happening to the stock – is enormous.” . . 

Drones proving a muster time-saver – Alexia Johnston:

Dogs and their masters are going to new heights in their bid to be the best in the field.

The Lowburn Collie Club added a drone component to its recent dog trials, testing the skills of the musterer while using the airborne device, now commonly used in the high country.

Musterer Tony Buchanan was among those who attended the event, complete with a ute full of loyal dogs and a Phantom 4 Pro.

He said the device had come in handy over the past two years while mustering sheep and cattle.

”But, you still can’t do it without your dogs,” he said. . . 

Nitrogen to be focus at hub field day – Ken Muir:

Nitrogen (N) will be high on the agenda at the Southern Dairy Hub’s field day on February 20.

Hub business manager Guy Michaels said scientists will present a progress report on N leaching loss from the 2018 winter period, as well looking at feed quality with particular emphasis on N, including from the crop in winter 2018.

Other topics will include blood urea N results from winter feeding trial, soil mineral N results and crop N applications and a look at the autumn and winter plan, and how winter grazing would be implemented on farm, taking into account environmental considerations.

‘‘It’s good to be able to present some information and data from our farming systems, but we are still in the early stages of our research,’’ Mr Michaels said. ‘‘Farmers are impatient for results, which is a good thing, but it does put pressure on us.’’ . . 

More money needed for rural connectivity:

The announcement this week of more funding for rural connectivity is positive but it is just a drop in the required connectivity bucket, says Federated Farmers.

The Government’s pledge of an additional $21million towards the creation of “regional digital hubs” in rural areas is good to see, says Feds Telecommunications spokesperson Andrew Hoggard.

“But the investment really just highlights to us that rural business and communities deserve as much chance as their urban counterparts to flourish.” 

The regional digital hubs are a good idea, but the focus must remain on getting better connectivity to where people live and work, Andrew says. . . 

New Zealand apple and pear industry targets biosecurity:

New Zealand’s world leading apple and pear industry has gained a significant funding boost to help prepare and manage biosecurity threats, through the Government’s MPI Sustainable Farming Fund.

New Zealand Apples & Pears biosecurity manager Nicola Robertson said the $420,000 grant, announced this week, would make a huge difference for protecting the industry’s future.

“We are living with the risk of biosecurity threats every day, that could have devastating impacts for growers and across New Zealand. . . 

Watch the BOP’s best young fruit growers in action:

Eight of the Bay of Plenty’s best growers will showcase their horticultural expertise at the Te Puke A&P Show this weekend for 2019’s first Young Fruit Grower competition.

This year’s eight entrants for the Bay of Plenty are: . . 

Nominations open for Silver Fern Farms board directors:

Nominations are now open for one farmer-elected Board position on the Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Board.

Director Tony O’Boyle retires by rotation at the Company’s 2018 Annual Meeting.

Tony O’Boyle has advised he will seek re-election.

Nominations close on Monday 4 March 2019 at 12 noon. . . 

Neighbours rally around hospitalised WA farmer to harvest his crop for free – Ellie Honeybone:

Peter Carey is brought to tears when he recounts the generosity of his rural neighbours.

While the 70-year-old was being flown to hospital in a Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) plane, his friends were working together to ensure the harvest would still go ahead on his farm.

More than 20 locals put aside their own harvest plans to make sure Mr Carey had one less thing to worry about while he recovered from a serious car accident brought about through illness. . . 

 


Rural round-up

August 8, 2018

BLNZ conference offers big choice of topics – Nicole Sharp:

A first for the South Island, farmers will have the future in front of them at Progressive Ag.

The Progressive Ag conference, organised by Beef + Lamb New Zealand (BLNZ), is being held in Gore next month, on August 9.

Organiser and BLNZ southern South Island extension manager Olivia Ross said the idea came from a similar event in the North Island.

”They have an ag innovation and we ran a mini all together in one place here in Gore last year,” she said. . .

Retractable roof a NZ first for Central orchard – Aexia Johnston:

A New Zealand-first development is taking shape at Clyde Orchards — a shed with a retractable roof will house three hectares of cherries.

Owners Kevin and Raymond Paulin, who could not yet confirm how much the development would cost, will plant thousands of cherry trees in the shed, boosting the company’s overall crop to 30ha.

They have been working on the project over winter, with the aim of getting it ready for planting so produce will be available in three years’ time. . .

Nailing the big issues:

Climate change and water quality are two issues the sheep and beef industry has yet to nail, says Beef + Lamb NZ chairman, Andrew Morrison.

Speaking to Rural News last week at the Red Meat Sector conference in Napier, he said health and safety was a big issue 12-18 months ago but the industry has moved on from this and is working through these other issues.

“We really want to get the water quality and climate change issues sorted,” Morrison says. “We are working out what tools we can set up to help change the behaviour of people on these issues; not regulation so much as how we can structure policy that gets the necessary outcomes.” . . 

Common ground – Forest & Bird and Pāmu announce new collaboration:

The heads of New Zealand’s largest conservation organisation and largest farming group have agreed to work together to promote best environmental practice in New Zealand’s farming sector.

Forest & Bird and Pāmu have agreed in a Memorandum of Understanding to work together on researching, implementing, and promoting agricultural practices that protect the natural environment.

“Forest & Bird is New Zealand’s largest independent conservation organisation, and Pāmu is New Zealand’s largest farmer. It makes sense for these two influential organisations to collaborate on one of the country’s biggest challenges – how to reverse the crisis facing New Zealand’s unique natural environment,” says Forest & Bird Chief Executive Kevin Hague. . . 

New scholarship in beekeeping launched:

Apiculture New Zealand (ApiNZ) recently launched a new youth scholarship in beekeeping aimed at encouraging young New Zealanders who wish to take up a career in the industry and undertake training that supports best practice beekeeping.

The Ron Mossop Youth Scholarship in Beekeeping is sponsored by Mossop’s Honey based in Tauranga. Ron Mossop was a leading pioneer in the industry, starting out his family beekeeping business in the 1940s and building a values-based family business focused on quality and integrity.

Today, the Mossop family honours those values through the scholarship fund which will be awarded annually. . .

New Zealanders still want meat, just less

Plant-based proteins won’t replace meat as consumers want both, a food scientist says.

Red meat consumption in New Zealand has fallen 57 percent in the last decade and companies like Air New Zealand have started offering meat free burger patties.

But Plant and Food Research scientist Dr Jocelyn Eason told RNZ’s Sunday Morning that did not mean New Zealanders wanted to replace meat with lab-grown meat.

She said consumers were increasingly becoming “flexitarian” – choosing to be vegetarian sometimes and eat meat other times. . . 

New Zealand’s largest alpine resort to be developed between Queenstown & Wanaka:

A new partnership between Cardrona Alpine Resort and Queenstown businessman John Darby will lead to the development of New Zealand’s largest alpine resort, incorporating Cardrona and a new Soho Basin Ski Area.

Soho Basin faces Queenstown and covers all the southern and south-west faces of Mt Cardrona, and includes the two Willow Basins that directly adjoins Cardrona Alpine Resort’s southern boundary. Soho Basin will add an additional 500ha of high altitude skiable terrain, offering up to 500 vertical metres of skiing. . . .

Hat tip: Utopia


Rural round-up

June 20, 2018

Farmers taking massive blow from disease cull to protect others – Andrew Morrison:

This time last year few of us had even heard of Mycoplasma bovis and now this disease is proving devastating to a group of cattle farmers.

We have seen the heart-wrenching scenes of farmers loading otherwise healthy cows onto trucks headed for slaughter and have listened to the descriptions from farmers who have to wake up every morning to the silence of farms devoid of livestock.

Last month, the Government with industry support made the decision to pursue a phased eradication of this production-limiting disease.

Knowing the pain it was going to cause some farmers meant that it was not a decision made lightly.  These farmers are taking a massive blow to protect the 99 per cent of farmers who don’t have Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) on their properties. We, as an industry, need to do everything we can to support these people both financially and emotionally. . . 

North Otago calves confirmed to have had M bovis -Conan Young:

A North Otago farmer who lost her farm after having to deal with a mystery illness has had it confirmed her calves that year had Mycoplasma bovis.

Susan McEwan’s story featured on RNZ’s Checkpoint and Insight programmes.

At that stage she suspected the reason she lost 600 of the 3000 animals she was raising to arthritis and pneumonia, was due to Mycoplasma bovis, but had no way to prove it. . . 

Farm exports growing – Sally Rae:

A strong export performance and farm profitability results, despite a  variety of challenges, is testament to the resilience of farmers, the Ministry for Primary Industries’ latest Situation and Outlook for Primary Industries report says.

That resilience provided confidence  farmers would be able to adapt to future disruptions such as climate change, adverse events or potential trade issues.

It was also reflected in MPI’s medium-term outlook for annual export growth to range between 1.2% to 2.6% between 2019 and 2022.

Primary sector exports are forecast to exceed $46 billion by the end of the outlook period.

Production and export volumes were forecast to be relatively stable, particularly in dairy and meat and wool.  . . 

Keeping tradition alive after 50 years of Feildays – Horiana Henderson:

Kerepehi stalwart, Alex Quinn is committed to Fieldays and has the golden “50 years commemorating support” award, and a cap, to prove it.

In typical fashion, he was to be found amongst the agricultural equipment ready with a big smile and friendly conversation. He is the owner of Quinn Engineering and attended the first Fieldays with his father Eddie Quinn.

In the 1960s, Eddie created a tractor attachment for handling hay called the Baleboy and brought it to market at Fieldays in 1970. .  .

NZ missing a trick when it comes to selling our food overseas – Heather Chalmers:

The Government needs to invest in a national food brand in the same way it spends $100 million each year to promote New Zealand as a tourist destination, says an agrifood marketing expert.

Synlait’s infant formula sold in the United States was “unashamedly branded” as coming from New Zealand grass-fed dairy cows, but most New Zealand products were unbranded, said Lincoln University agribusiness management senior lecturer Nic Lees.

This was despite research that showed most western consumers view New Zealand food as the next best thing to their own products.

“This research was done by the University of Florida. This is an example of how little market research we do as a country into understanding perceptions of our food in different countries.” . . 

Stay ahead of the game deer farmers urged – Alexia Johnston:

Deer farmers are being urged to ”stay ahead of the game”.

Those words of advice were the key theme at this year’s Deer Industry New Zealand (Dinz) annual conference, recently hosted in Timaru.

Dinz CEO Dan Coup said the three-day event, which included a field trip to Mesopotamia Station, was a success, helped by the positive attitude by those in attendance. . .

Getting calves off to a great start – Peter Burke:

Dairy farmers and calf rearers will in a few months be flat-out dealing with new life on farms. AgResearch scientist Dr Sue McCoard and colleagues are working on adding valuable science and data to this important task.

Sue McCoard says she and her fellow researchers, in partnership with the industry, are researching different feeds and feeding management options and their impact on whole-of-life performance. .  .

 


Rural round-up

February 9, 2018

Watch mates farmers told – Kerrie Waterworth:

Otago farmers are being asked ”to keep an eye on their partners and neighbours” as the stress from the drought, or what has been termed a medium-scale adverse weather event, continues.

Otago Federated Farmers president Phill Hunt said the rain last week was a big boost to the farming community but ”it’s not over yet”.

”The rain and the cooler temperatures have been very welcome; in particular the rain has filled up a lot of dams both for stock water and for irrigation.”

”People who have put infrastructure in for irrigation have been staring down the barrel of not being able to use it; a very expensive clothes line is how it was described to me by one farmer.” . . 

Two more farms infected with Mycoplasma bovis:

The number of properties with the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis has risen, with 23 farms now infected.

The latest properties are in Southland and the Waitaki District.

First found in South Canterbury in July last year the disease is now spread from Southland to Hawke’s Bay.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has 38 farms in lockdown and said it was still aiming to eradicate the disease. . .

Friendship and farming for Hugh Abbiss and Patrick Crawshaw in Takapau – Kate Taylor:

Central Hawke’s Bay friends and workmates, Patrick Crawshaw and Hugh Abbiss, will become rivals in the East Coast Young Farmer of the Year on February 17. Kate Taylor reports.

The temperature has been higher than 30 degrees all week, so it’s no surprise to catch Central Hawke’s Bay farmers Hugh Abbiss and Patrick Crawshaw taking the chance to work inside in the shade.

They’re working out feed budgets and stock movements for the next two months as the above average Hawke’s Bay summer has given them an abundance of feed.

The pair work for Foley Farming, where the make-up of the staff is a bit different to most – with four staff, all aged under 30 and three with university degrees. . . 

New take on use of coarse, strong wool for commercial purposes – Annette Lambly:

A Northland farming couple are hoping to add value to the wool they shear from the family flock by creating high value, decorative and functional architectural products which includes a natural wall covering.

Sarah Hewlett and her husband Chris Coffey run Hewlett Point, a sheep and beef farm near Mata around 25 kilometres south east of Whangarei.

Their two young sons are the seventh generation to live on the family farm. . . 

Motion-sensor cameras on farms – Alexia Johnston:

Farmers are turning to hunting technology to protect stock from thieves.

While Parliament is debating a proposed law that would impose harsher penalties on stock rustlers, property owners are already taking steps to protect their stock.

Hunting and Fishing New Zealand Timaru owner Alister Jones said a ”huge” percentage of his sales were now going towards farmers who wanted to protect their land and property.

Previously, sales of motion sensor cameras, also known as game cameras, were predominantly made to hunters who wanted to monitor and catch animals such as deer. . . 

Irrigation an essential tool for Canterbury farmers – Sonita Chandar:

Wet spring conditions followed by a hot dry summer is creating havoc for a Canterbury Dairy farmer 

A Canterbury farmer wants whoever flicked the fine weather switch on, to switch it back to rain for a while.

Robin Hornblow and fiancée Kirstie Austin are farm managers on Willsden Farm Ltd, a 306ha farm at Te Pirita – one of several owned by the Camden Group.

This is their first season on this farm and so far, the weather has not been kind. . . 

Warning over rising facial eczema spore counts:

Farmers are being warned to keep a close eye on their stock as facial eczema spore counts rise around the country.

Spore counts are trending upwards in Northland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, East Coast and the lower North Island, as well as in Tasman and on the West Coast.

Facial eczema affects cattle, sheep, goats and deer and can result in liver and skin damage, which can severely affect an animal, seriously reduce production and can in worst cases cause death.

It is estimated that production losses caused by the disease are around $200m annually in this country. . .

Autogrow opens virtual innovation community:

Autogrow has opened a virtual agtech and science lab and are inviting indoor ag developers, growers and enthusiasts to join in building a dynamic and innovative community.

Following on from the launch of their Jelly SDK, APIs and Autogrow Cloud platform last year, the Autogrow Lab was set up as a collaborative environment for continued research and development of control systems for indoor agriculture.

“The industry is a fragmented hardware landscape with software and data technology being introduced into the mix. Our goal is to bring much of that together in an open platform, add in the science of plant biology and create a space for discussion, invention and pushing the boundaries,” explains Chief Technology Officer Jeffrey Law. . . 

 


Rural round-up

December 26, 2017

‘Drag ‘n drop’ grazing now a reality – Nigel Malthus:

The idea of virtual fencing has been around for 20 years, but AgResearch believes its time has come and will soon start testing an Australian product.
Farm systems scientist Warren King, of AgResearch Ruakura, says it has been watching the technology for years and now believes the eShepherd product from Melbourne company Agersens is “the real deal”.

New Zealand’s Gallagher Group is a lead investor in Agersens, with marketing manager Mark Harris on the board. . .

Recent heat boost for lavender crops:

A South Canterbury lavender grower is experiencing an early start to the season.

Rob Martin, of Limestone Valley Estate, near Cave, said his crop of Pacific blue lavender was two weeks early this year, and his other varieties were following close behind.

He put the ”very early” start down to the year’s weather patterns, which were ”excellent” for lavender.

”[There was a] sudden heavy wet winter and spring and that immediately changed to hot weather,” he said. . .

Mozzarella plant on track for May start – Alexia Johnston:

Clandeboye’s $240million mozzarella plant is on target for commissioning in May.

AThe project, which is the third mozzarella plant for Fonterra’s Clandeboye site, is three-quarters complete and has already created 75 new jobs.

A further 25 employees will join the team in February.

Clandeboye operations manager Steve McKnight was among those watching progress.

”There’s a real buzz in the air on site as we have more people on site and the plant takes shape,” he said. . .

Decades of service:

The 2017 NZ Winegrower Personality of the Year goes to the NZSVO and its departing Executive Officer, Nick Sage and the recently announced life member, Rengasamy Balasubramaniam – better known as Bala.

There seems to be a common thread when you look at the retiring committee members of the NZSVO. All seem to have landed the job after being lured to an AGM by the offer of free wine. . .

I can’t wait for when we don’t have any possums – Andrew Austin:

The rabbits populating my neighbourhood seem to have begun breeding like, well, rabbits.

They are all around – on the roads, in the gardens, in the paddocks. They are a menace. As I am not a gun owner, I simply have to live with them.

The dogs give them (literally) a run for their money, so at least they don’t come too close to the house.

But even worse than rabbits are the possums. I drive along a one kilometre-long shared rural driveway to get to my house and every night I see at least one possum waddling along the road. Workmates and others tell me that I should aim for them and run them over. I have tried, but always seem to pull out at the last moment. . .

Gove tells Brits to be more patriotic about cheese buying habits

Brits who are worried about the price of their foreign produce going up after Brexit should be more patriotic about their choices, according to Michael Gove.

Mr Gove, who attended the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA) on Wednesday (20 December), has criticised claims that the price of cheddar cheese will go up by 40 percent if Britain leaves the EU without a trade deal.

The Defra Secretary said Brits should instead focus their priority on British cheddar. He said that, in a WTO scenario, if cheese prices rise steeply then the British public should buy more British cheese. . .


Rural round-up

November 27, 2017

More business courses for rural women planned:

Business development programmes for women involved in sheep and beef farming are expanding to new locations next year.
The Agri-Women’s Development Trust runs the programmes with funding from the Red Meat Profit Partnership with the aim of lifting the sector’s performance and profitability.

Oamaru and Fairlie will be the first of 32 rural centres to host the programmes in early February.

They comprise ”Understanding Your Farm Business”, which has had 780 graduates since it began in 2014, and ”Wahine Maia Wahine Whenua” for women who are trustees, managers or partners in Maori sheep and beef farming businesses. . .

Cool winter boosts currants – Alexia Johnston:

A cold, wet winter is paying off for at least one South Canterbury berry grower.

ViBERi owner manager Tony Howey said the chill of last winter had provided a welcome boost to his crops of blackcurrants and redcurrants.

Moisture in the cooler months had also helped, he said.

”It was really good for the berries … and for some cereal crops as well.”

Cool temperatures in October, with some mornings near-freezing, were almost too cold, but the crops survived well. . . 

Demand for mini apples drives orchard investment:

Feilding rural investment company, MyFarm is chasing $13 million for the lease and development of four apple orchards in Hawke’s Bay.

The investment group will grow the niche export apple brand Rockit, which is a mini-apple under licence by Rockit Global.

One of the Rockit Global’s challenges has been growing enough apples to meet global demand despite production lifting 40 per cent on last year. . .

Lower Fonterra milk price seems likely – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra might reduce its farmgate milk price forecast by 25c to 50c/kg as early as this week after the fourth consecutive fall in world dairy prices on the fortnightly Global Dairy Trade auction platform.

Global prices fell 10% over the past two months since Fonterra reaffirmed its $6.75/kg forecast at the time of its annual results presentation.

After the latest 3.4% GDT index fall market analysts have found some unanimity with forecasts of $6.25-$6.50, along with predictions Fonterra would have to downgrade sooner rather than later. . .

Van der Poel elected new DairyNZ chair:

Waikato dairy farmer Jim van der Poel has been elected the new chairman of industry good body, DairyNZ. He replaces Michael Spaans, who passed away earlier this week.

Jim says Michael was a skilled, dedicated and passionate chair for DairyNZ and he plans to continue the vision established for DairyNZ and dairy farmers.

“While I step into this position under sad circumstances, as a board we will continue Michael’s good work – his influence will continue as we develop plans for the future of our industry.” . . 


Rural round-up

September 15, 2017

Dairy conversions falling:

DairyNZ says a fall in the number of dairy conversions in Canterbury signals strongly that fears of a big rise in dairying there are unwarranted.

Environment Canterbury (ECan) reports 20 consents were granted for new dairy farms in the last financial year — nearly half last year’s figure and a huge drop on the 110 granted in 2011.

The last year in which only 20 conversions were consented was 2007. . . 

Dairy farming a game changer for Englishman

Poacher turned gamekeeper is an idiom as old as the hills, but gamekeeper turned Waikato dairy farmer? Now that’s new. The dairyman and former gamekeeper is Ben Moore, who with wife Lizzy farms 450 cows at Okororie, near Tirau in Waikato.

Ben, from Hampshire, in the south of England, was a professional gamekeeper of pheasants in Rotorua when he met Lizzy, daughter of Federated Farmers leader and former dairy industry director Tony Wilding, nine years ago.

New Zealanders would be rightly surprised to discover that right here at home exists a world straight out of Downton Abbey including plus-fours, gun loaders, ground beaters and all. . .

Rural sector underpins growth – Alexia Johnston:

South Canterbury’s rural sector is being credited as a major contributor to recent economic growth.

 Latest economic development figures from Infometrics show the Timaru district has experienced 1.3% growth in the latest June quarter.

That figure is well above the 0.8% recorded for wider Canterbury, but was below the nationwide figure of 2.8%.

Timaru district’s gross domestic product (GDP) for the year to June was $2318million. . .

Wings stabilise irrigators in wind – Maureen Bishop:

The design trials are over; now the field trials have begun for a new irrigator ”wing” aimed at providing stabilisation in times of high winds.

The galvanised wing is the brainchild of farmer Greg Lovett and kite-maker, inventor and engineer Peter Lynn.

The high winds of spring 2013 which destroyed hundreds of irrigators, prompted Mr Lovett to look at some method of stabilising irrigators which could prevent them toppling over.

He sought expertise advice from Mr Lynn. As a pioneer of kite surfing and buggying, and the holder of the record for the world’s largest kite, Mr Lynn knows a lot about wind and its power. . . 

Southland arable farm thrives when dairying flourishes :

Balfour arable farmer Chris Dillon says the first rule of arable farming is that you don’t treat your soil like dirt.

Dillon became the Federated Farmers Southland arable chairman this year and feels strongly that arable farmers deserve strong representation even if they are a small group in the region.

“Arable farms are a minority group in Southland but we play a very important part in it as well,” he says . .

Hail and wet weather take a toll on vegetables – Gerard Hutching:

Hail in Pukekohe and cold, wet weather throughout the country have hit vegetable crops but it is too soon to say how much more consumers might have to pay for potatoes, lettuce and cauliflowers this spring.

Pukekohe grower Bharat Bhana said the hailstorms which came through the region in the last few days had done more damage than wet weather, but in other parts of the country a wet spring has come on top of a soggy winter.

“Onions are smashed, lettuce have got bullet holes in them, looks like a flock of chickens has gone through,” Bhana said. . . 


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