Rural round-up

October 12, 2012

Business skill vital for farming success – Ali Tocker:

Business skills are crucial to high-performing and profitable farms, new research from DairyNZ shows.

The research covered 150 dairy farms in Waikato and Canterbury, and identified the key characteristics of the top-performing farms.

It took the top quarter of farms surveyed, ranked on operating profit per hectare, and identified their common characteristics.

“It’s not animal husbandry, feed or people management – the biggest skill gap is in the business area,” DairyNZ economist Matthew Newman said. . .

Lamb prices hurting Americans – Gerald Piddock:

New Zealand farmers are not the only lamb producers facing tough times.

North American sheep farmers have had a 40 per cent drop in lamb prices with values now sitting where they were a decade ago, Beef+Lamb North American representative Andrew Burt said.

Mr Burt is back in New Zealand having recently taken up the role of Beef+Lamb’s chief economist.

US lamb producers were forecasting an over-supply of lamb for this coming season he said. . .

Alpaca breeders’ patience pays off – Peter Watson:

You need plenty of patience to breed quality alpacas.

New Zealand herds are invariably small and vary widely in quality, top animals are expensive to buy, females take almost a year to produce an offspring and twins are rare. . .

Apple orchardists on a roll south – Sandra Finny:

With little help from anyone outside of family, orchardists Peter and Danny Bennett are reaping the rewards after nearly six years of battling red tape to bring a lucrative apple growing franchise to South Canterbury.

The Bennetts, who own the established Waipopo Orchard near Temuka, are in expansion mode planting 50,000 apple trees on top of 40,000 they planted three years ago, which are already producing export crops to meet an insatiable demand for their trademark HoneyCrunch apples in US markets.

The apples are a point of difference with Southern hemisphere supply being market-led not producer-driven. . .

Unlocking the perfect sheep:

Imagine the perfect sheep; healthy, fertile, and high producing, with meat of unsurpassed eating quality and wool fit for high value markets. This is the sheep that will transform New Zealand’s sheep industry, providing higher returns to growers and elevating the fibre on which much of the New Zealand economy was built to new heights.

With assistance from the government’s Primary Growth Partnership (PGP), The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) is investing in production science initiatives to unlock the potential of this perfect sheep, which will thrive across a range of geographic areas and combine great quality meat and wool traits in the same animal. . .

And an interesting infographic on the difference between natural cheese and processed cheese.


Rural round-up

July 31, 2011

Owen Glenn: use science to be innovative:

In the second of a series leading up to the election, Owen Glenn says exporters’ form matters even more than the All Blacks’.

Every four years, rugby puts New Zealand on the world stage. Our exporters do the same every day.

Unlike the All Blacks, when exporters aren’t playing to their full potential, the whole country loses.

With two out of three jobs dependent on it and $4 of every $10 our economy produces generated by it, exporting matters. . .

Lonely bull still waiting for rescue – Kathy Marks:

When Victoria was hit by catastrophic floods in January, a bull named Bernard sought refuge on an island in the middle of a lake.

Six months later, he’s still stranded and his owner is appealing for help to reunite the increasingly bad-tempered animal with his herd. . .

8% rise in lamb numbers forecast – Sally Rae:

Reasonable conditions this lambing should see a rise in the total number of lambs by 2 million – up 8% – pushing export lamb production back towards 20.5 million head in 2011-12.

Export lamb production in 2010-11 was expected to finish at about 19 million head, down 11% on the previous season, according to the ANZ Agri-Focus report for July . . .

Researcher seeks tonic in pasture – Sally Rae:

It is a long way from managing a farm in the UK to being a research fellow in Dunedin – but Dr Marion Johnson has led an interesting life.

Dr Johnson, who grew up in Zambia, the UK and New Zealand, initially studied agriculture at Massey University.

She worked as a shepherd around the Wairarapa before shepherding on hill farms in Wales and Scotland . . .

Feeding out made easier – Sally Rae:

Dave McCabe, a North Otago contractor and farmer, has devised a method of pulling strings from bales on feed-out wagons that saves time and machinery.

Previously, he used a loader to pull out the strings. . .

Collaboration succeeding – John Aspinall:

Prior to 1987, most Crown-owned land in New Zealand was managed by the Lands and Survey Department (L&S).

In 1987, L&S was restructured into the Department of Conservation (Doc), Landcorp and Forestcorp. Most of the commercial-minded senior management people went to Landcorp and Forestcorp.

Doc gained practical hands-on field staff, but many of their management people took a very idealistic view that they would save the environment and could do it alone . . .

Farmers’ web portal winner:

AG-HUB, an agriculture web portal for farmers, has been awarded the Telecommunications Users’ Association of New Zealand (Tuanz) “best of the best” prize at its 2011 innovations awards.

Ag-Hub captured information from on-farm recording devices such as feed readers, effluent irrigators, moisture tapes and weather stations. . .

Fascinating new pastures for dairy cows thanks to innovative farmers – Pasture to Profit:

Many pasture based dairy farmers in both France & the UK are experimenting with mixed pasture swards. These “New Pastures” always include an abundance of clovers & increasingly include herbs such as Chicory & Plantain. The inclusion of the deep rooting herbs adds a completely new dimension to pastures for grazing dairy cows.

These pastures are very different from conventional pastures in many ways. Nitrogen fed pastures tend to be monocultures of ryegrasses. Well managed ryegrass clover pastures are highly productive. The clover content is related to the grazing intensity & the amount of nitrogen used. The mixed pastures offer considerable biodiversity, interesting possible changes to the cows diet, generally higher protein levels but more complex grazing properties. In mixed species pastures some plants are grazed out & its difficult to graze according to every plant’s requirements. However these new pastures might well enhance the health benefits of grass fed milk . . .

Alpaca breeders get serious about business – Jon Morgan:

Peter McKay gives a demonstration of the mating ritual of the alpaca. It’s not what you think. The Hawke’s Bay farmer tilts back his head, opens his throat and goes “orgleorgleorgleorgle”.

This rumbling gargle is the male alpaca’s foreplay. It starts the female ovulating. Mr McKay and wife Tessa have 160 alpacas on their 235-hectare sheep and beef farm at Maraekakaho.

Mrs McKay tells what happens next. “They mate sitting down. It’s called a cush,” she says. “Then we wait two weeks to see if she is pregnant. If she goes into the cush for him, it didn’t work the first time. If she spits at him, it did.” . . .

Wine moguls thrive in hard year – Michael Berry:

Most Marlborough-linked wine magnates listed in this year’s National Business Review Rich List managed to increase their wealth in a tough year for the wine industry.

Siblings Jim and Rosmari Delegat, owners of Oyster Bay Vineyards Marlborough and who own much of the NZX-listed Delegat’s Wine Estate dropped to 39th this year, while increasing their net worth by $35 million to $150m . . .

Record rebate for Ballance Farmers:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients will pay shareholders a record rebate and dividend of $50.29 per tonne after achieving an $85.9 million operating profit for the 2010/11 financial year, more than four times the $20.7 million achieved in the prior year.

The total average payment to shareholders of $50.29 per tonne includes a rebate of $46 per tonne on fertiliser purchased and an imputed dividend of $0.10 per share, resulting in a total distribution to shareholders of $49 million. Ballance’s rebate payment is calculated based on both the quantity and the value of the product purchased. This means that farmers who have purchased higher-value products such as DAP, triple superphosphate or potash will receive a rebate and dividend in excess of $62 per tonne, with urea returning a rebate of over $54 per tonne. . .

Sheep: barnyard brainiacs

It turns out that sheep are far more intelligent than their reputation for barnyard slowness would lead one to believe. In recent research published in PLoS ONE1, Professor Jenny Morton of the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Cambridge and her colleague Laura Avanzo reported that domestic sheep can perform extremely well on tests of designed to measure cognitive abilities, possibly as well as any animal other than primates.

Professor Morton, who had been studying Huntington’s disease, wanted to find out whether transgenic sheep with a specific genetic defect might be useful in preclinical research regarding potential treatments for this neurodegenerative disease. Because Huntington’s is characterized by cognitive deterioration, Morton was particularly interested in seeing how well sheep would perform cognitively, since suitable research subjects for neurologic disorders like Huntington’s inevitably must undergo systematic cognitive testing relevant to the disease. . .

Hat Tip: Tim Worstall


Rural round-up

April 17, 2011

Fonterra benefits from Chinese dairy market:

Cracking progress on its dairy farm developments in China has helped Fonterra achieve nearly 50 per cent compound annual revenue growth in the powerhouse economy in the past five years.

The growth across Fonterra’s four business units in China – ingredients, food service, brands and farming – reflects escalating demand for dairy products in China as well as consumer calls for safe, quality product. . .

Greeen methods no bar to profits –  Mark Hotton writes:

Waimea Valley farmers Grant and Bernie Weller won the supreme award at the Southland Farm Environment Awards last night.

They also won the water quality and habitat improvement award at the ceremony in front of about 230 people at Ascot Park Hotel.

The awards are becoming an increasingly important date on the farming calendar with the industry coming under increasing public pressure to prove it can be environmentally sustainable.

Finalist Geoff Clark said it was increasingly important to showcase properties and farms that are portraying a positive image of farming to the wider community. . .

Moving earth for water Claire Allison writes:

When the first sod was turned on Rangitata South Irrigation’s new scheme, there was no celebration – no photograph in the paper, speeches or ceremony.

Chairman Ian Morten says they like to keep things low key.

That might be a bit harder now that construction has begun, and the scale of the project is becoming more evident by the day.

Low-key it might be, but there’s no denying it’s large-scale.

The numbers involved are impressive. Taking up to 20 cubic metres of water a day from the south bank of the Rangitata River during high flows, the water will be fed into storage ponds, before being sent down the line to more than 40 properties between the Rangitata and Orari rivers. . .

The ‘Happy Factor’ – Victoria Rutherford writes:

Dr Andrew Greer has been interested in overseas trials involving the “happy factor” TST trials, and has been working at Ashley Dene to add a New Zealand basis to the research findings.

 TSTs are a part-flock or mob anthelmintic treatment directed at the individual animals most likely to benefit. This helps to slow the development of anthelmintic resistance through providing a parasite population that is not exposed to the drug, effectively diluting the frequency of anthelmintic-resistant genes within a parasite population. . .

Awash with schemes – Jackie Harrigan writes:

The country is awash with plans for new irrigation schemes according to Irrigation NZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

In total, 450,000-500,000ha of new irrigation area is “on the books”, 300,000 of which is new irrigation area and 200,000ha that will have increased water reliability. Roughly one-third of the area is already consented, but only 50,000ha is build-ready. . .

Trials, tribulations of farm forestry – Steve Wyn-Harris writes:

I’ve got a cheque to come in the mail shortly that has been 30 years in the offing. However, in this case I can’t blame New Zealand Post.

It is from a couple of small forestry blocks and an entrée for when my main plantings come on stream in 10 years.

In this case I didn’t plant the trees but in their second year I remember an awful job of working my way through the block to straighten them and stamp the soft soil firm again after a heavy rain and wind event.

It must have worked because few of them fell over again. I did the low and medium pruning and lacking a decent ladder and a height anxiety employed someone to do the high prune. . .

Alpaca on menus soon in New Zealand  – Hugh Stringleman writes:

Commercial slaughter and toll processing of alpaca for their meat has begun in New Zealand with two trial consignments through Venison Packers Feilding Ltd.

Alpaca breeders Peter and Tessa McKay at Maraekakaho, Hawke’s Bay, collated the first 43 animals to be killed and Venison Packers is working through the approvals of its risk management plan (RMP) amendments.

“We needed 30 sets of mainly microbiological data to validate the major changes to our RMP,” said Venison Packers general manager Simon Wishnowsky. . .

Opportunities for smart efficiency with tagging – Sally Rae writes:

Opportunities for more efficency exist with introducing of the National Animal Identification and Tracing (Nait) system, farmers are hearing.

The system will provide lifetime animal traceability, assisting with biosecurity and management of disease outbreaks. . .

Gene hints dessiminated – Sally Rae writes:

Commercial beef farmers had an opportunity to increase their knowledge and gain a better understanding of the estimated breeding values (EBVs) system at a recent beef genetics forum in North Otago.

The forum, hosted by Fossil Creek Angus and Goldwyn Angus, was held at Neil and Rose Sanderson’s Fossil Creek Angus stud at Ngapara. . .

Centre stage for wool at Fieldays Chris Gardner writes:

Waikato wool growers are excited their commodity will take the spotlight at the National Agricultural Fieldays, writes Farming editor Chris Gardner.

Wool’s comeback will be recognised at the National Agricultural Fieldays with the Primary Wool Co-operative the focus of the event’s premier feature.

The 900-strong farmer co-operative will showcase the way New Zealand’s best wool is farmed and demonstrate how wool carpets are made and sold internationally to tie in with this year’s Fieldays theme ”Breaking barriers to productivity”.

Te Kuiti sheep farmer and five times world champion shearer David Fagan welcomed the idea. ”I think it’s brilliant,” he said.

”Wool’s been on the back burner for a good number of years. It’s a great opportunity to get it out there again. . .

Hat tip: interest.co.nz


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