Rural round-up

21/08/2020

Coronavirus: Millions of bees starve to death as beekeepers held up at COVID-19 checkpoints – James Fyfe:

Millions of bees have starved to death after COVID-19 checkpoints in and out of Auckland caused a delay in beekeepers accessing their hives.

Wetex Kang of Waitakaruru Honey Limited says around 2.5 million bees died after workers were unable to travel from Waikato to Auckland to feed the bees.

Kang, who is based in Auckland, says many of his business’ 2000 beehives are scattered across the North Island, as are the staff who care for them. . . 

Women’s farm training winner – Sally Rae:

A farm training institute with a difference is opening its gates in Northern Southland next year. Business and rural editor Sally Rae finds out more.

When Covid-19 claimed the clientele of her agri-tourism venture near Kingston, Laura Douglas spent a couple of days crying inconsolably.

Still on a high from taking her farm animals to Wanaka A&P Show for a display, she received a phone call from international bus company Contiki two days later, cancelling its visits.

Those tours came through Real Country every month – every week in summer – and represented about 65% of her revenue. Corporate groups also cancelled as the country went into lockdown. . . 

Armadillo Merino aims for the moon – Neal Wallace:

Merino wool has long been praised for its versatility, but Andy Caughey tells Neal Wallace how he is taking use of this miracle fibre to a whole new level.

THE qualities of New Zealand Merino wool clothing are being tested in some of the planet’s most hostile and extreme workplaces and environments – and beyond.

Otago-raised Andy Caughey has for the past nine years been developing and promoting next-to skin Merino wool clothing and socks under his brand Armadillo Merino.

Armadillo clothing is now being considered for astronauts involved in NASA’s 2024 expedition to the moon. . . 

Arable sector must determine its future – Annette Scott:

The next five years will be crunch time for the arable sector that can choose to stand up and shine or remain under the radar and let the larger primary sectors direct New Zealand’s agri-economic development, Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) chief executive Alison Stewart says.

For many years the arable sector has been viewed as the invisible partner of NZ agriculture, given the arable industry’s predominantly domestic, commodity market focus and the fact that it has chosen to fly under the radar on most of the major policy issues affecting NZ’s economic, environmental and social development, Stewart says.

“However, I believe the invisible partner image is slowly changing and could change even more if the entire sector worked together to make it happen,” she said. . . 

Pāmu announces new GM sustainability and farming systems:

Pāmu has appointed Lisa Martin to the executive leadership team in the newly created role of General Manager, Sustainability and Farming Systems.

Ms Martin has extensive experience improving the sustainability practices of the organisations she has worked with, including seafood company Sanford where she was GM of Group Sustainability and at Downer Group where she was GM of Environment and Sustainability. She also co-founded a successful sustainability consultancy, Sustainz which provides sustainability advice to a range of organisations including New Zealand’s agricultural sector.

In her earlier career Ms Martin worked in the environmental science field in New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom. . .

Sugar price rebound sweetens La Niña risk – Shan goodwin:

REBOUNDING global sugar prices are putting a spring in the step of Queensland cane growers who have been hampered by wet weather hold-ups since the crush started in early June.

Raw sugar traded in New York on the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), the global benchmark, broke through the US13 cents per pound barrier last week for the first time since March.

Analysts say that has been on the back of easing lockdown restrictions, the resumption of food service, strong demand from Asia where drought has hit local crops and speculative moves by funds shifting to a bullish outlook for sugar. . . 


Rural round-up

03/01/2020

Honour well deserved say sharemilkers – Sudesh Kissun:

The New Zealand order of merit awarded to Tirau farmer Tony Wilding in the New Years Honours List has been hailed by sharemilkers.

Federated Farmers National Sharemilkers Section chairman, Richard McIntyre says the honour is well deserved.

“Tony is an absolute gentleman who has represented the sharemilker farm owners well, for the betterment of the sharemilking industry,” he told Rural News online. . . 

Land Champion: love of land and bush passed on – Richard Rennie:

A dairy farming couple’s love of the bush has helped inspire the same passion in a younger generation, preserved some valuable bird species and also promoted a more sustainable way to farm.

Maggy and Karl Buhler of Pongakawa in Bay of Plenty are quietly humble about their efforts over the past 40 years to plant more of the country in native bush. 

But the view from their homestead high above their 100ha dairy farm nicely frames the work that has accounted for about half that period.  . .

 

Land champion: ag passion fires teacher’s mission – Richard Rennie:

Kerry Allen’s efforts to put agriculture and the primary sector back on the radar for secondary school pupils is starting to pay dividends, providing the sector with a growing pool of young talent that risked drying up several years ago.

Allen has been agribusiness curriculum director at St Paul’s Collegiate School in Hamilton for the past three years. 

It is thanks to her efforts the college pioneered New Zealand’s first secondary school agribusiness course.  . . 

FAR researcher of the year – Sudesh Kissun:

The Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) says it has named one of its own as their 2019 Researcher of the Year.

Diana Mathers, who, joined FAR as cropping systems research Mmnager in 2010, has worked to support cropping farmers in the areas of economic and environmental sustainability.

FAR chief executive Alison Stewart says Mather’s award recognises the significant impact she has had in these areas. . . 

Axemen hit halfway mark in Christmas circuit tour – Laura Smith:

Tired arms and sore backs were in store for Southern Axemen’s Christmas Circuit competitors as the tour reached its midway point in Riverton yesterday.

The circuit started in Cromwell last Friday and is set to end in Tuatapere tomorrow. Competitor John Broughton, of Manapouri, said about 40 people had competed at each event.

Mr Broughton said he competed in several events, including the standing block and “pretty much all the sawing”. . . 

Brompton rat controlled grass fires – Stephen Burns:

It was a simple machine, designed and built in a station workshop in western Queensland, and out of fashion now but for many years the Brompton Rat was successful in containing many grass fires on the open plains.

Timely we should be talking about bush fire control, with fires raging out of control along the ranges, and the fire season hasn’t yet started on the plains.

For many years, various inventions were developed each with distinct degrees of success until Gordon Gray and his father Harry designed and built the Brompton Rat on the property Brompton near Mutaburra. . .

 


Rural round-up

28/01/2018

Fonterra has to face up to debacle at Beingmate – Fran O’Sullivan:

Fonterra has run out of lip gloss to apply to its $774 million investment in Beingmate, which has smoked a huge amount of shareholders’ cash since CEO Theo Spierings formed a joint venture through the Chinese company’s charismatic founder three years ago.

Both Spierings and Fonterra chairman John Wilson will have some tough questions to answer when they finally front shareholders over the management of the joint venture – particularly, because of what I see as the clear failure at governance level in Beingmate.

That became alarmingly apparent this week when four directors including its vice-chairman (who is also the third largest shareholder), the chair of the company’s audit committee and Fonterra’s two director representatives, broke ranks and revealed that, in effect, they had no confidence in the integrity of the financial information which had been presented to them as the basis of projected losses of $171m-$214m for the December 2017 financial year. . . 

One billion trees of embarrassment

In October 2017 Shane Jones’ distinctive Shakespearean voice could be heard booming throughout the land as he crowed triumphantly about his 1 billion trees in the Billion Trees Planting Programme. Less than three months later, not a single tree has been planted and the government is on track to come up 90% short of their target of doubling the rate of planting over 10 years.

The issue isn’t so much that there isn’t enough land available for Forestry Minister Shane Jones to plant these trees on. Rather it’s that neither New Zealand First or Labour bothered to ask the public service during the coalition negotiation process whether it was in fact possible.

The “Billion Trees Planting Programme” has been a bit of a disaster right from the get go. . . 

Fruit and vegetable supplies not wilting in summer heat – Gerard Hutching:

Supplies of fruit and vegetables are still plentiful in spite of, or perhaps because of the heat wave covering the country.

And milk quality has not been affected, unlike across the Tasman where Australian baristas are complaining it is not at its frothy best.

Fruit and vegetable growers running out of water are having problems because of the heat but otherwise it is “business as usual”, Horticulture New Zealand senior business manager John Seymour said. . . 

New boss sees huge opporutnities – Annette Scott:

Internationally recognised plant scientist Alison Stewart has been appointed as the new chief executive of the Foundation for Arable Research. She talked to Annette Scott about what attracted to her the key role in in the arable industry. 

When Dr Alison Stewart sat on the panel that did the external programme management review of the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) in 2016 she realised the huge opportunities for the future of the organisation.

Then, a year later, she saw the advertisement for a new chief executive. . . 

Honey sector growth unsustainable – Rachel Rose:

THERE’S lots of discussion about whether we have pushed past hard limits in the case of dairy farming, but have we gone past “peak bee”?

The Great Springvale Bee Standoff is back and elsewhere in today’s paper you’ll see more complaints about bees causing a nuisance in town.

There were 27 complaints made to Whanganui District Council last year about bees in the urban areas. WDC’s media release last month singled out urban hobbyists with a hive or two on the back lawn, as if the large numbers of commercial hives on the outskirts of the suburbs — particularly over winter — didn’t exist. . . 

New Zealand shearer has worked around the world – Jill Galloway:

Paul Rooney has shorn in Wales, Scotland and England, as well as Italy, the United States and Australia.

Now he has a farm and a family and prefers to limit his shearing to around Manawatū.

His travelling days are over, and he misses the travel and excitement, but not the hard work.

Rooney first went overseas in the New Zealand off-season of 1991 when he was 25. He worked in Britain and the change came as a bit of a shock. . . 


Rural round-up

19/01/2018

Request to farmers as rivers dwindle – John Lewis:

Farmers across Otago are being asked to conserve water, with some rivers across the region dropping to their lowest levels on record.

Otago Regional Council data for October-December 2017 shows ”extremely dry” weather conditions in Central Otago and part of South Otago, and ”moderately dry” conditions for the rest of Otago.

ORC engineering, hazards and science director Gavin Palmer said some areas had particularly low rainfall and the present spell of dry weather, combined with little snow cap to augment river levels from snow melt last year, meant most Otago river levels were low compared to average levels for this time of the year. . . 

Cashmere ‘renaissance’ under way – Sally Rae:

Buoyed by the quality of cashmere produced by goats on their Clinton farm, David and Robyn Shaw believe the fibre offers an “amazing opportunity” for New Zealand farmers.

For the past 35 years, they have been working quietly behind the scenes to now be producing fibre they consider of equal quality to the best in the world.

Mr and Mrs Shaw, who have formed New Zealand Cashmere, recently announced a commercialisation programme with luxury lifestyle brand Untouched World and yarn manufacturer Woolyarns. . . 

New Far CEO well versed in industry – Sally Rae:

Alison Stewart has been appointed chief executive of the Foundation for Arable Research (Far).

Dr Stewart, who is general manager forest science at Scion, takes over in mid-March from founding chief executive Nick Pyke, who has led the organisation since 1995.

Last year, Mr Pyke signalled his intention to step down from the role, saying making the decision was not easy but the time was right.

Far is an applied research and information transfer organisation responsible primarily to arable growers. . . 

A2 to roll out US business to eastern seaboard -Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – A2 Milk Co plans to roll out its US business to nine states on the eastern seaboard, which it expects will expand its retail footprint by more than a third.

Auckland-based, Sydney-headquarter a2 is targeting 60 million Americans who account for about a fifth of milk consumption in the world’s biggest economy, adding New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine to the states it services in the US, it said in a statement. The milk marketer’s a2 branded milk has been accepted by a number of retailers in the region, which will this month expand its presence to about 5,000 retail stores across the US from the previous 3,600 stores. . . 

Fonterra helps farmers with green plans:

Environment Canterbury has confirmed that Fonterra’s farm environment plan template has met the requirements of the Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan (LWRP).

The Fonterra template will make the process of designing a farming environmental plan (FEP) a lot easier, says Environment Canterbury chief executive Bill Bayfield.

FEPs are unique to a property and reflect the local climate and soils, the type of farming operation, and the goals and aspirations of the land user. . . 

Somatic cell to be added into cow Production Worth:

The equivalent of currency for cows will be updated in February to better reflect the industry’s focus on efficient, high quality milk production.

Production Worth, or PW, is an economic index calculated for all New Zealand dairy cows as an estimate of their lifetime production ability. It helps farmers identify the top performers in their herd, to decide which cow’s to keep, cull and assist in determining a value for buying or selling.

Four traits currently contribute to the PW calculation – milk volume, milk fat, protein and liveweight. A fifth trait will be added in February – somatic cell. . . 

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