Rural round-up

October 28, 2019

‘We have not suddenly woken up’ – Yvonne O’Hara:

For dairy farmer Peter Dobbie, learning about what affects his farm’s environment and how to remedy or improve it has been a continually evolving journey that has taken almost three decades.

”We have not suddenly woken up and realised we need to do this or that,” he said.

He has been farming since 1991, and was a financial consultant before that.

By 2001 he had moved to dairying in partnership with his brother William. . .

Helping farmers make green dough – Tim Fulton:

A team of agricultural innovators wants to help farmers take clever ideas to market across at least 100,000ha of mixed Kiwi farmland. Tim Fultonreports.

The self-described social enterprise-plus, Leftfield Innovation, is helping farmers explore alternative land uses and contracts.

Funding the enterprise mostly from trust grants, processing companies, farmers and science funds the co-founders Nick Pyke and Susan Goodfellow and four colleagues are exploring commercial opportunities for farmers to convert low-yield farmland to grow high-yield crops. . . .

Gas calculator gets support – Samantha Tennent:

With data scientists and software developers at their disposal Jo Kerslake and Mark Teviotdale from AbacusBio are keen to help farmers understand their on-farm emissions.

When Kerslake heard the call for projects from the Rural Innovation Lab she applied without a clear picture of what an end product could look like.

“We were a little unsure about what farmers wanted to know,” she said. . .

New Zealand’s wallaby problem tough to tackle, fears hunters spreading them – Esther Taunton:

New Zealand’s wallaby problem could become a full-blown plague unless efforts to control them are ramped up and ‘shortsighted’ hunters start playing by the rules.

Forest and Bird says the pests could spread to cover a third of the country unless the Government steps in to fund a beefed-up control programme.

Central North Island regional manager Rebecca Stirnemann said wallabies were like giant rabbits, eating their way through native bush, damaging tussock grasslands and devouring pasture and young pine trees. . .

Record cattle kill at Pukeuri :

The Pukeuri meat works near Oamaru processed a record number of cattle in the past season.

The Alliance Group announced the achievement for its North Otago plant on Wednesday, saying more than 71,000 cattle were handled there in the beef season that finished on September 30.

The record was the result of hard work and commitment from staff and from farmers who supported the co-operative, chief executive David Surveyor said. . . .

Potential shake-up of GE restrictions – Pam Tipa:

Current restrictions on genetic modification regulation in New Zealand could be reviewed if National were to form the next government.

The party says it will be ready to go out and consult on a proposed review of the legislation and our current regulations if elected.

National leader Simon Bridges says if NZ is serious about tackling climate change that will require biotech answers.  . .


Rural round-up

October 8, 2019

Green Rush: Foreign forestry companies NZ’s biggest landowners – Kate Newton & Guyon Espiner:

The four largest private landowners in New Zealand are all foreign-owned forestry companies, an RNZ investigation has found.

Despite a clampdown on some overseas investment, including a ban on residential sales to offshore buyers, the Labour-led government has actively encouraged further foreign purchases of land for forestry through a stream-lined ‘special forestry test’.

Since the government was formed, the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) has approved more than $2.3 billion of forestry-related land sales – about 31,000 hectares of it previously in New Zealand hands.

Of that, about half has been sold via a streamlined ‘special forestry test’ introduced by the government last October. . . 

Have your say on water – David Burger:

DairyNZ is working flat tack on assessing the Government’s proposed Essential Freshwater Package.

It is of huge significance to farmers and some of the specific proposals are causing concern, particularly at a time when there is so much to do on-farm. 

The time frames for consultation are extremely short, especially given the amount of change being proposed, the complexity of the issues and the sheer volume of material to understand.

Since it was released DairyNZ’s water quality scientists, policy experts and economists have been working through the details to understand their implications on the environment, dairy farming families and our communities.  . .

Farmers’ riparian planting pays for West Otago pool’s new roof – Jo McCarroll:

A few years ago Lloyd McCall, then chair of the Pomahaka Water Care Group, was thinking about the riparian planting needed along the region’s farms’ roughly 4000km of waterway.

“So I worked out how many plants we’d need and it was lots,” he says.

At the same time, McCall was on the committee fundraising to put a new roof on the West Otago Swimming Pool. . .

Successful wintering starts with planning in spring :

Careful planning in spring is an important part of successful wintering and it starts with choosing the right paddocks to grow winter crops in, DairyNZ South Island head Tony Finch says.

”Choosing your paddocks is a crucial part of planning for winter,” Mr Finch said.

”Critical source areas, waterways, shelter, water troughs and being prepared for prolonged weather events all need to be taken into account when selecting a paddock.”

Critical source areas are low-lying parts of a farm, such as gullies and swales, where water flows after rain events. . .

Geraldine High School student named Aorangi TeenAg Member of the Year:

A stroke of luck seven years ago has put a Geraldine student on a path to becoming an arable agronomist.

Ben Chambers, 17, is about to embark on his final set of exams at Geraldine High School.

The Year 13 student has been secretary of the school’s thriving TeenAg club for the past two years. . .

How feeding cattle contributes to national security – Shan Goodwin:

FORGET endless data sets and science-back evidence, the path to communicating with anti-meat campaigners is in changing our own mindset and being able to communicate our ‘why’ in an engaging manner.

So says Colonel Sam Barringer, a veterinarian by trade who spent 30 years in the US Air Force and US Army, during which time he was deployed to 25 different countries and earnt numerous medals and awards for exemplary performance in combat.

Col Barringer today provides technical assistance to Diamond V ruminant teams and plays a key role in the company’s food safety initiatives. He also has extensive knowledge in human behavioural science. . .

 


Rural round-up

June 9, 2019

A recipe for disaster:

That old saying about not being able to see the wood for the trees could well describe the government’s infatuation with forestry at the expense of farming.

Objections are growing stronger in rural New Zealand to the impact the ‘one billion trees’ programme will have on the regions’ farming landscapes, infrastructure and communities. Concern is such that a new lobby group has formed, wanting to preserve the economy, health and welfare of the NZ provinces.

Named 50 Shades of Green, it aims to convince politicians and decisionmakers that the current push to plant a billion trees will destroy the provinces and ultimately may endanger the national economy. . . 

DIRA review nibbles at the status quo and avoids the big questions – Keith Woodford:

The current review of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA) does not address the big decisions that face the New Zealand dairy industry. That may well be a wise decision by Government.

Big decisions will indeed be necessary over the coming years. Clearly, they are difficult decisions. However, trying to make those decisions through the DIRA mechanism would be a brave decision and, in all likelihood, with unintended consequences. So, the Government has stepped back.

Instead, Government is using DIRA to nibble around the edges.  Whether those nibbles are the correct nibbles remains a moot point. . . 

Rural real estate feeling the pinch in South Canterbury – Samesh Mohanlall:

Parts of the rural real estate market are struggling in Canterbury and South Canterbury with key industry figures saying they are concerned about the effect of compliance regulations, anti-farming rhetoric and Environment Canterbury’s (ECan) climate emergency declaration.

South Canterbury’s Federated Farmers president Jason Grant and rural estate agents say much of the gloomy projection in the latest Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (Reinz) rural report stemmed from environmental constraints and negative sentiments “coming out around farming”.  . .

Carbon farms help soil, water – Annette Scott:

Carbon farming is about managing soil, vegetation, water and animals while turning opportunities on the farm into improved business performance and profitability.

All while ensuring long-term benefits to farm businesses, the local economy and the environment.

That was the buy-in for more than 60 farmers and industry stakeholders who attended a Canterbury Agribusiness carbon farming seminar.

Most attendees when asked why they attended said the same – to understand something that’s all a bit new and learn what opportunities are available to them. . . 

Nelson mums find solution for skin condition in the paddock – Anuja Nadkarni:

It all started with some flowers planted in a paddock.

Dot Kettle and her partner Georgia Richards traded in their fast-paced corporate lives in Wellington for a more relaxed life to raise their three boys in Dove Valley, 45 minutes from Nelson more than 10 years ago.

Kettle, a lawyer, and IT analyst Richards knew next to nothing about farming, but with 42 hectares of land, the couple decided to plant a field of peonies for export as they are the ideal blooms for Nelson’s climate. . . 

Dodgy fert size to get shake-up – Richard Rennie:

Lumpy, uneven and irregular fertiliser, long the bane of farmers and spreaders, will face tighter scrutiny once the Fertiliser Quality Council establishes standards for the product’s physical qualities.

While standards have been set for the mineral and nutrient content of fertiliser, council chairman Anders Crofoot admits it has taken longer than expected to set them for particle shape and size.

“Setting the chemical standard for fertilisers was fine and has worked well for a long time. . .

 


Rural round-up

May 8, 2019

Chinese demand still strong – Hugh Stringleman:

China’s dairy demand is steady and the feedback from customers there is strong, Miraka chief executive Richard Wyeth says.

After talking to Chinese customers and Miraka’s sales representatives through Global Dairy Network, Wyeth doesn’t expect big commodity price increases for the season ahead but neither will there be big decreases.

“I think it will be steady as it goes, which is a nice situation to be in.”

All of Miraka’s UHT liquid milk output and about half of its milk powder volume go to China. . . 

Artist and actor riding high in a bull market – Sally Rae:

“You’re the chick who paints cows. You’re the bull painter.”

Amelia Guild gets used to hearing such comments from those familiar with her bold and bright paintings of animals, particularly cattle.

The Canterbury-based artist and actor is excited about her upcoming exhibition, “Mustering the Muscle”, which opens at The Artist’s Room Fine Art Gallery in Dunedin on May 11.

Life is busy – “on the cusp of getting chaotic” – for the mother of 4-year-old Willa and 16-month-old Rollo.

But she is also living the dream, being able to reside in her “happy place” on High Peak Station, the high country property she grew up on, inland from Windwhistle, near the Rakaia Gorge. . . 

Farmer-led group lobbying for changes to Waimakariri water plan – Emma Dangerfield:

A group of young North Canterbury farmers are challenging proposed environmental rules they say are “unachievable”.

The farmers had established the Waimakariri Next Generation Farmers Trust in response to planned changes and rules affecting farmers in the district.

They hope to collaborate with industry and local authorities to address environmental concerns, particularly relating to water quality and management issues. . . 

 

Breeders on tour – Sally Rae:

Bruce Robertson describes the fellowship of Dorset Down breeders as being like a family.

Breeders from throughout the country were in Canterbury and North Otago last week for an annual tour.

About 35 people visited studs in the Ashburton area, before heading to Aoraki-Mount Cook for a night, a visit to merino property Benmore Station, and then to Oamaru. It ended with a visit to studs in South Canterbury. . . 

IHC fundraising calf scheme is on again– Annette Scott:

The annual IHC calf and rural fundraising scheme fell short of its target last season with organisers reaching out to farmers to get on board this year.

IHC national fundraising manager Greg Millar said last year was terrible for many farmers and he hopes the scheme can bounce back this year. 

“Farmers still managed to raise $650,000 for people with intellectual disabilities and despite falling short of our $1m target it was great to see the rural community continue to support our cause,” Millar said.

The national advocacy organisation for people with intellectual disabilities has acknowledged the challenging times with the introduction of new processes as the industry grapples with Mycoplasma bovis. . . 

Helping hands needed for animal farm rescue centre in Glenhope – Carly Gooch:

Lisa Grennell did everything she could to save a piglet but when the little porker lost its battle, the decision was made – time to set up an animal farm rescue centre.

Plum Tree Farm in Glenhope, 80km south of Nelson is home to Lisa and her husband, Mal, but it’s also a sanctuary for farm animals including donkeys, alpaca, kunekune, calves, lambs and goats.

The animal farm “gradually happened”, Lisa said, after the couple moved to the 42 acres nearly four years ago.  . . 


Rural round-up

March 23, 2019

Canterbury farmer credits advances in technology with revolutionising farming – Emma Dangerfield:

A North Canterbury farmer says advances in technology will help him pass on a thriving legacy to his daughters.

Mike Smith and his family began their farming partnership in Eyrewell in 2010 and had been able to improve land production by making use of new technology.

It allowed him to make informed decisions and had reduced the farm’s environmental impact, he said. . . 

China will be hungry for NZ meat – Pam tipa:

African swine fever’s huge impact on China’s pork production this year will be a huge opportunity for New Zealand’s meat industry.

Rabobank’s global strategist for animal protein Justin Sherrard believes the market hasn’t yet fully picked up on the impacts the disease will have.

“This has become a major issue in China,” he told Rural News.  . . 

Sunflowers used to regenerate soil – Yvonne O’Hara:

Mark and Madeline Anderson are trialing a pasture mix that includes sunflowers as a method of soil regeneration and as an alternative polyculture forage on their Waiwera Gorge dairy farm.

They are also looking forward to see their first Normande-cross calves on the ground in August.

They have a 580ha (effective) dairy farm and run 750 milking cows, along with another 300 to 400 young stock.

Mr Anderson said he had sown 50ha using a pasture mix of sunflowers, kale, plantain, phacelia, vetch, buckwheat, various clovers including Persian clover, oats, ryecorn, prairie grass and linseed to create a polyculture rather than the monoculture like ryegrass. . . 

Big wetland bush block opens to public after 500,000 crowd-funding effort  – Mike Watson:

An endangered forest wetland in Taranaki, saved from farmland development by a public fundraising drive, is ready to be opened up to the public.

The 134 hectare Mahood-Lowe reserve, near Kaimiro, 20km south east of New Plymouth, included rare kamahi, northern rata, tawa and totara as well as lichens and mosses.

There is also burgeoning populations of kiwi, whio and falcons. . .

Hectic period for pioneer in deer AI – Sally Rae:

Lynne Currie has the distinction of probably artificially inseminating more deer than anyone else in the world.

Mrs Currie, who lives near Wanaka, is in the middle of a short but hectic season as she travels the country helping deer farmers to diversify the genetic base of their herds.

The first farm was programmed for March 15 and the last on April 8 and much work goes into planning the logistics, including coordinating both vets and farmers. . . 

Dollar a litre demise good news for milk’s nutritional appeal – Andrew Marshall:

A significant flow-on benefit from the past month’s 10 cents a litre rise in prices for supermarket labeled two- and three-litre milk lines will be a restoration of milk’s nutritional and value perception in the eyes of consumers.

Dairy Connect chief executive officer, Shaughn Morgan, described the latest announcement by Coles and Aldi as a valuable initiative in what remains a long journey ahead to find structural solutions to the industry.

“We have long argued that part of the great damage done by $1 a litre milk discounting was to undervalue dairy farmers, the dairy industry and the nutritious fresh milk by denigrating its significant nutritional contribution to human health,” he said. . . 

 


Rural round-up

November 30, 2018

Flying the flag for female farmers – Sally Brooker:

Kerry Watson is a can-do person.

The Five Forks dairy farm worker is the only woman in the Aorangi regional final of the Young Farmer of the Year competition.

But rather than being concerned about its physical challenges, she is more worried about the theory.

Miss Watson (27) grew up on a sheep and beef farm in Cumbria, in the northwest of England, until her family emigrated to New Zealand when she was 11. . . 

Farm advisors helping improve water quality – Pam Tipa:

Fonterra’s director of sustainability Carolyn Mortland says she is very heartened by the work farmers are putting into the environment.

“I think we will see it really turning around in future years,” she told Dairy News.

Fonterra recently put out a progress report on its six commitments to improve waterways — one year on from launching the actions. . .

Partnership approach pays off – Pam Tipa:

The partnership approach was a key to Kiwifruit Vine Health (KVH) winning the industry award at the 2018 New Zealand Biosecurity Awards last week, says KVH chief executive Stu Hutchings.

The partnership approach has ensured the industry was better placed for any future biosecurity event, he says.

“There is no doubt that by working in partnership we can achieve better biosecurity outcomes,” Hutchings says. . . 

What’sthe beef with methane? – Eloise Gibson:

The Government’s proposal for a Zero Carbon Bill has exposed an argument between scientists about the importance of methane. But it’s not really about science, as Eloise Gibson reports in this deep-dive news feature.

There’s beef in the world of methane. Like a piece of marbled Wagyu, it is probably quite healthy — if consumed in moderation.

The argument is over when and how much New Zealand should reduce the methane from cow and sheep burps, which make up almost a third of our emissions, as we currently record them. . .

Anonymous anti-dam brochure reckless, says MP:

Nelson MP Nick Smith is concerned at the distress being caused by an anonymous anti-dam brochure delivered to all households in Brightwater that makes false claims of the town being at risk of an eight metre tidal wave if the dam proceeds.

“I am appalled that dam opponents have resorted to this sort of desperate scaremongering. I have had frightened older residents contacting my office scared witless and mothers in tears at the A & P show over the weekend out of fear for their family. Nobody should be publishing or distributing made up claims on issues as serious as earthquake and tidal wave risks.”

“It is bad enough that those responsible for this scaremongering have not put their name to it, but worse that they have tried to give it credibility by using the good names of Dr Mike Johnson of GNS and Tonkin and Taylor. These experts have dismissed the accuracy of the claims in the brochure, saying they are “very misleading” and “mischievous.” . . 

Farmers’ perspective vital to long-term improvements in agricultural practices:

A study published by scientists from The University of Western Australia jointly with farmers is one of the first to address the role of temperate perennial grass pastures in contributing to soil organic carbon in south-western Australia.Intensive sampling was conducted on a trial site near Wagin consisting of a mix of temperate perennial and annual grasses that had been sown over a ten-year period. The results demonstrated the potential of perennial pastures for short-term gain in soil organic carbon stocks.

Emeritus Professor Lynette Abbott from UWA’s School of Agriculture and Environment and Institute of Agriculture said temperate perennial grass pastures are currently an uncommon choice in this region but have the potential for future development.  . . 

Yorkshire shepherdess and her nine VERY free-range children: Christmas presents for £2, no computer games and six mile walks to buy a packet of peanuts – meet the ultimate antidote to helicopter parenting:

  • Amanda Owen gave birth to five of her nine children in a car or an ambulance 
  • She lives in an isolated farmhouse in the Yorkshire Dales with her large family
  • She grew up in suburban Huddersfield but fell in love with the idea of rural life  
  • Her family were filmed on and off for a year and will star in a TV show next week

Five of Amanda Owen’s nine children were born in either cars or ambulances at the side of the road. Quite frankly, on the tortuous (if scenic) journey to her farmhouse high in the Yorkshire Dales, you wonder how she made it to hospital with any of them.

On the map, it looks as if Amanda, better known as the Yorkshire Shepherdess, lives just a hop and skip from civilisation. In reality, the drive is a precarious one involving a twisty road, with sheer drops. The nearest maternity unit is two hours away. For a woman in labour, in the dark, this must be the road to hell.

Little wonder, then, that when the contractions started for baby No 8, Amanda didn’t even wake husband Clive and tell him to get the car keys. She simply piled towels in front of the fire, gave herself a stern talking to, and eased the baby out with her own hands. . . 


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