Rural round-up

March 10, 2019

Canterbury shepherd a history-maker as Young Farmer of the Year finalist – Emma Dangerfield:

A North Canterbury shepherd has made history by qualifying for the prestigious FMG Young Farmer of the Year grand final.

Georgie Lindsay, 23, won the fiercely-contested Tasman regional final in Culverden on Saturday, beating seven other contestants. It is the first time a woman has made it to the grand final from the Tasman region.

She is also one of only five women in New Zealand to ever qualify for the grand final in the competition’s 51-year history. . . 

Showchanges over to years ‘unbelievable’ – Sally Rae:

Few know their way around the main ring at the Wanaka A&P Show like Tussock Lucas. Mr Lucas (74), who will be in his usual position leading the grand parade today, has attended the show for 57 years.

He competed for many years in jumping events and also exhibited sheep and wool at the show while farming at Timburn Station, near Tarras.

Now semi-retired and living in Wanaka, he is chief steward for round-the-ring jumping at the show and also helps out with the FEI showjumping classes.

Agritech is growing :

Agritech has been buzzing since a large Australian event was held last month. In Melbourne, AgriFutures Australia hosted EvokeAG, an event designed to bring together the agritech community. Over 1,100 attendees, including a strong contingent from New Zealand, were treated to a great overview of where the industry is at, what are the big innovations, key challenges, opportunities and who the principal players are in the agritech space.

The programme covered panel discussions on everything, from field robotics and agriculture 4.0, to alternative protein farming and tech investments. From a New Zealand perspective, one key takeaway came from AgritechNZ executive director, Peter Wren-Hilton.

“The exciting thing for New Zealand is our alignment with addressing many of the big global challenges for feeding the world while not destroying the planet.” . . 

Allbirds is taking its viral fabric tennis shoes to China – Selina Wang:

Allbirds Inc., the wool shoe startup that’s become a staple of Silicon Valley fashion, is opening its first stores in China, aiming to replicate its viral success in the world’s second-largest economy.

San Francisco-based Allbirds plans to announce this week that it will open a brick-and-mortar store in Shanghai in the coming months. By the end of the year, it plans to have stores in Beijing and Chengdu. It will also be rolling out its goods on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s Tmall online shopping website as well as building its presence on Chinese social media services including WeChat and Weibo. . . 

Winter brings a year’s worth of water for 9 million Californians – Peter Chawaga:

California may have a reputation for persistent drought and water scarcity, but already this year the state’s freshwater reserves are worth celebrating.

Storms in the beginning of January brought an influx of snow to the Sierra Nevada and heavy rains elsewhere in the state, boosting its water reservoirs exponentially.

Over the first three weeks of January, “47 key reservoirs that state water officials closely monitor added 580 billion gallons of water — as much as roughly 9 million people use in a year,”  . . 


Rural round-up

March 26, 2018

Expatriate banking on new future for Twizel – Sally Rae:

People don’t realise what is going on in Twizel.

That’s the belief of Chris White, a Dallas-domiciled Kiwi with a passion for the former hydro town. In fact, he describes it as genuinely being a “hidden gem”.

The Mackenzie town has left behind the hydro days, when it was constructed as the temporary base for the Upper Waitaki Power Development, with new housing springing up all over the place and people falling for its charms.

“I’m a little bit sick of it being known as a dam town now. It’s moved on. You want to see the people that are holidaying here. There’s a real underbelly … of really smart intellect and talent moving in here and holidaying here. People want to get out of the rat race,” he said. . .

Horticulture growth predictions and constraints – Mike Chapman:

This week the Ministry for Primary Industries released its growth predictions. Modest growth is predicted for horticulture (including wine), with kiwifruit and apples predicted to be growth leaders. This comes after two years of exceptional growth: 10% in 2015, and 19.5% in 2016. The Ministry’s predictions may be considered by some in the industry as conservative, due to plantings around the country both underway and planned, and not only with kiwifruit and apples.

The Ministry is doubtless looking at what constrains growth. In the last and current seasons, the cold and wet was followed by hot and dry, in turn followed by heavy rain from cyclones, has hindered production across the country, particularly in the North Island and the top of the South Island. Productivity has been significantly down, and this has been seen by consumers in the increased price for some vegetables due to short supply. Although there appears to be more of these extreme climatic episodes affecting production, the last year and a half has been particularly difficult. A return to more normal weather patterns will see a return to more normal production levels, and higher levels of growth. . .

Fresh NZ milk flies to China – Sudesh Kissun:

Fresh milk produced in New Zealand is now available for the first time on supermarket shelves in Shanghai.

The 1L product is available at 18 Alibaba’s Hema Fresh supermarkets, alongside Fonterra’s fresh milk produced from its China farms.

The milk is mostly sourced from Theland’s Tahi Farms – formerly Crafar Farms – and processed by Green Valley Dairy in South Auckland. . . 

A is for Auckland A is for agri :

Auckland isn’t the first word that usually springs to mind when discussing the future of farming in New Zealand. It’s the city of sails, motorways and high rises, after all.

But our biggest city holds the key to the Government’s goal of doubling primary industry exports in real terms from $32 billion in 2012 to $64 billion by 2025.

To achieve this ambitious goal people are the key – not just to expand the workforce of our primary industries, but to replace retiring baby boomers. . .

University of Southern Queensland shows benefits of digital connectivity for remote and rural communities – Sharon O’Keeffe:

DIGITAL connectivity improves your quality of life. Research conducted by the University of Southern Queensland showed a digital connection is increasingly crucial to service delivery, economic development and quality life in remote and rural Australia.

This supports research conducted by the Australian Farm Institute, which indicated a 25-per-cent increase in the gross productivity of farming outputs could be achieved through the adoption of digital technologies.

The USQ research follows a 2015 landmark agreement, where the Barcoo and Diamantina Shires successfully lobbied to have fibre optic cable and mobile coverage connected to the remote communities of Birdsville, Bedourie, Jundah, Stonehenge and Windorah. . . 

Wheat in heat: the ‘crazy idea’ that could combat food insecurity – Mark HIllsdon:

Durum wheat varieties can withstand 40C heat along the Senegal River basin, and could produce 600,000 tonnes of food.

In the northern Senegalese village of Ndiayene Pendao, close to the border with Mauritania, Fatouma Sow is pulling weeds. Her team of female farmers tread carefully among the tall, ripening plants as they prepare to harvest the country’s first ever crop of durum wheat.

They had grown onions and tomatoes on the one-hectare plot (2.47 acres), Sow explains, but the crops took too long to grow and disrupted the essential rice growing season. Now the wheat offers a fast-growing, lucrative alternative.

Following four years of trials, which saw thousands of wheat varieties tested in the unforgiving sub-Saharan heat, scientists have successfully turned what was first thought of as a “crazy idea” into a vital new food crop. With more than 1 million smallholders living along the Senegal River basin, which also runs through Mali and Mauritania, it was an important strategic area to trial the wheat. . . 


Rural round-up

January 18, 2018

Mycoplasma bovis is unlikely to go away – Keith Woodford:

It now seems likely that Mycoplasma bovis is in New Zealand to stay. Just like the rest of the world, we must learn how to live with it. We do not yet have to give up totally on hopes of eradication, but eradication is looking more and more unlikely.

The control program has suffered from incorrect information and poor communication, and there is much to be learned from that. These information flaws have affected farmer and public attitudes. In some cases, this has created additional and unnecessary stress, and unfair criticism of individuals.

However, the probability is that these flaws have not affected the success or failure of the eradication program. The chances are that Mycoplasma bovis has been here for some years, in which case eradication was always going to be impossible. . .

Plants dying as drought threatens vegetable and fruit supplies to shoppers – Pat Deavoll:

Droughts are threatening the supply of fresh fruit and vegetables on shopping shelves and storing water in dams would rectify this, says Horticulture New Zealand.

“Relying on water to fall from the sky simply isn’t enough,” said HortNZ chief executive Mike Chapman. “HortNZ believes we should be more proactive in capturing and storing that water to ensure sustainability of supply during times of drought.”

Chapman said the dry conditions of early summer were putting fruit and vegetable growers under pressure to the point where some of them were having to make decisions about which plants and trees they would plant or harvest. . . 

Kiwi-born Nasa scientist for CSST – Pam Jones:

An award-winning Nasa scientist has been appointed director of research for the Centre for Space Science Technology (CSST).

The appointment of Delwyn Moller was announced yesterday.

Dr Moller was born and raised in the Waikato, studied at the University of Auckland and went on to design and implement technology for Nasa space missions. She will be moving to Central Otago from Los Angeles with her husband and two children.

CSST chief executive Steve Cotter said Dr Moller’s contribution would be invaluable to CSST and to New Zealand as a whole. . . 

Ask a farmer, we don’t hate you – Pete Fitzherbert:

It must be so easy for the average New Zealander to just start again at the end of one year and begin another – make some resolutions, forget about them within the week, and then if you are feeling a little overweight just go down to the food court at the local mall and problem solved, because compared to the fatty at the smorgasbord you are an athlete!

It’s fair to say it is not as easy for your average farmer. Our seasons roll over without ever having a definitive start or finish.

So, what kind of New Year resolutions or hopes could we have? The best we can do sometimes is hope for the best, plan for the worst and the rest of the time play it as it lays.

Maybe we could hope the next year brings the chance to take off a couple of those public holidays.

Maybe hope for a totally average year in every way, or hope that we can farm, just farm, to the best the season presents us with without the public scrutiny that has begun to develop around agriculture.

Could you imagine a return to a world where the only people that gave dairy farmers grief were sheep farmers and bank managers? . . 

Fonterra partners with Alibaba’s Hema Fresh to launch fresh milk product into China:

Fonterra has launched a new fresh milk product in China in partnership with Hema Fresh, Alibaba’s innovative new retail concept which combines traditional bricks-and-mortar shopping with a digital experience.

The new Daily Fresh milk range is now available in Hema’s 14 stores in Shanghai and Suzhou in 750mL bottles, sourced directly from Fonterra’s farm hub in Hebei province. The product boasts unique product labels to match each day of the week in order to emphasise freshness, with stock being replenished overnight ready for each new day.

Initial volumes are currently around three metric tonnes daily, with plans to scale-up over time and expand with the retailer as it rapidly grows its footprint of stores across China. . . 

A blast from the Haast – NZ’s most isolated town – Sarah Harris:

Of the 240 people who call Haast home there’s one policeman, 13 students at the only school, one electrician who is trying to retire and no plumber. If one comes to town residents chase him down the road.

There’s also no doctor – one comes once a fortnight. If there’s a medicial emergency a helicopter can land on the school field.

A drive to the closest supermarket is two hours away and the nearest hospital in Greymouth is a four-hour drive or 90 minute flight. . . 

Can we keep our country shows alive? – Alex Druce:

IT’s been nearly two years since Wingham last held a country show and organisers are determined to get it right.

“We had to go back to the drawing board, and we’ve got some pretty exciting new things,” says press officer Elaine Turner. 

“For starters, there’s the piggy races. And the demolition derby is going to be on again too . Everyone loves that.” . . 


Rural round-up

September 14, 2017

Maniototo farmers challenge Ardern to visit them on water tax

A group of Central Otago farmers are challenging Jacinda Ardern to visit their farms to discuss Labour’s water tax plans.

The group of women, known as Water Maniototo, say they cannot afford a royalty on irrigated water, planned at one to two cents per thousand litres of water, and it could drive some off their land.

Francine Hore, who farms sheep at Patearoa, says she supports fixing up the nation’s waterways, but many farmers are doing everything they can already. . . 

Lambs hit $7/kg – Annette Scott:

Low global stocks pushing lamb markets above the odds for this season is positive news for the New Zealand sheep industry but farmers are not yet jumping with excitement, Federated Farmers meat and fibre chairman Miles Anderson says.

Latest trade statistics revealed average export prices for both chilled and frozen product were tracking well above any prices seen in recent years, including 2011, the last time NZ saw such strong global demand for lamb.

Demand for chilled lamb had held solid in recent months, driven by the tight supply with chilled prices reaching historically high levels. . . 

Broken business makes comeback – Annette Scott:

From a business that was “essentially broken” to one recording a modest profit in less than 12 months, NZ Yarn is now poised to add value for New Zealand woolgrowers.

Over the past year the Canterbury yarn processor has spun its own turnaround project.

Getting back on its feet to lift returns for farmers and shareholders had been the focus of NZ Yarn’s reinvention, chief executive Colin McKenzie said.

“A year ago the business was essentially broken.

“We have reinvented, repositioned and resized operations and moved from making sizeable losses to recording our first modest profit in July,” McKenzie said. . . 

Millions tune in watch start of fresh NZ milk sales to China through Alibaba – Gerald Piddock:

Milk New Zealand’s trade agreement with global online retailer Alibaba has been launched with millions of Chinese consumers tuning in to watch the event.

The Chinese-owned company’s Collins Road Farm is just south of Hamilton and its 29 New Zealand farms will supply Alibaba with fresh milk to be sold on its online platform.

Organisers of the launch rented a satellite facility for the day to enable it to be live streamed directly to China. In attendance were 10 of China’s biggest social media influencers including Yuni and Joyce, who are known as the Chufei Churan twins in China.

The pair are considered the Chinese Kardashians with social media follower numbers larger than New Zealand’s entire population. They and other influencers videoed the event and the farm directly to their followers in China. . . 

Water royalty point of divergence – Nicole Sharp:

Water and the environment are two of the key talking points for Southern Rural Life readers this coming election. As voting day fast approaches, reporter Nicole Sharp talked to the candidates in the rural electorates of Waitaki and Clutha-Southland about these two issues that will affect rural voters.

Water is crucial to the agricultural sector and all candidates and their parties standing in the Waitaki electorate this upcoming election want to do all they can to preserve water quality now and in the future, they say.

Current Waitaki MP and National candidate Jacqui Dean said National’s new policy statement on freshwater, which was announced last month, would pursue a target of 90% of rivers and lakes swimmable by 2040. . .

 

Canterbury cropping farmer embraces environmental limits – Tony Benny:

Third-generation Canterbury cropping farmer David Birkett isn’t phased by tougher environmental regulations and says they can even lead to an improved bottom line. He talked to Tony Benny.

David Birkett’s farm is near Leeston, not far from what has been called New Zealand’s most polluted lake, Te Waihora/Ellesmere, and he’s well used to close scrutiny of the environmental effects of farming there by the regional council, members of the public and media.

“There’s a bit of pressure on farmers but they gain out of it, that’s the silly thing. I can’t understand someone who doesn’t bother to try to do the best they can because your bottom line is going to be better,” he says.

“Doing some measuring and making sure you know what’s needed, most of the time you’re actually financially better off than what you’d previously been doing.” . . 

Adding value more than just adding cost – Nigel Malthus:

The term ‘value added’ is too often used as a vague generic, and farmers need to consider specific strategies for adding value, says Rabobank analyst Blake Holgate.

Speaking at the recent Red Meat Sector conference in Dunedin, Holgate noted that most lamb was still exported frozen, returning $6906/tonne instead of chilled at $11,897/t.

“By and large we’re still treating sheep meat as a commodity market, so the lower value frozen export market still makes up about 80% of what we export, while the higher value chilled market, that’s worth nearly twice as much per tonne, is only 20%. . .


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