Hunter Downs irrigation scheme down

October 10, 2018
The Hunter Downs irrigation scheme hasn’t got enough support to go ahead.

Hunter Downs Water Ltd announced yesterday it did not have enough buy-in from landowners in its command area between the Waitaki River and Timaru.

The company owns resource consent to use up to 20.5 cumecs of Waitaki River water.

The irrigation proposition was launched in 2006.

In March last year, shares were offered in a $195million scheme to irrigate 21,000 ha and a government development funding grant of $1.37million had been made. By June 2017, the design was shrunk to 12,000 ha.

At the end of last year, South Canterbury rich-lister Gary Rooney’s offer to buy “dry shares” saved the project from being scrapped then.

In April, Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd’s $70million term debt funding would no longer be available to the scheme. So the company released a new funding proposal in August, asking all prospective investors to reconfirm their commitment.

Not enough did.

Chairman Andrew Fraser said yesterday “a significant drop-off in support” meant the scheme could not proceed.

It was not all about intensifying land use and converting to dairying, but rather relieving pressure on existing water takes, decreasing reliance on surface water extractions, and using the plentiful Waitaki River resource, he said. . .

These schemes have to have the support of farmers. But without debt funding from Crown Irrigation, the cost would have been too high for too many. IrrigationNZ rightly calls it a lost opportunity for South Canterbury.

The scheme had the potential to significantly boost the Waimate economy, create jobs, improve people’s standard of living and help resolve water quality problems,” says Andrew Curtis, Chief Executive of IrrigationNZ.

“It’s disappointing that a scheme with wide reaching community benefits won’t proceed.”

“Much of Environment Canterbury’s plans for improving water quality in the South Canterbury coastal area rely on the development of the irrigation scheme to reduce pressure on groundwater and augment the Lake Wainono Lagoon. Hunter Downs still wants to use its consent to augment the Lake Wainono Lagoon, but the other environmental impacts of the scheme not proceeding will need to be worked through.”

The scheme wouldn’t just have drought-proofed farms, it would have    had environmental benefits in improved water quality and lagoon enhancement.

“While farmers benefit from irrigation development, so do local communities. Irrigation projects are difficult to get off the ground if farmers are the sole funders of major infrastructure projects. There have now been numerous studies completed of New Zealand irrigation schemes and all demonstrate that irrigation have significant benefits for local communities and create substantial new tax income for the government,” says Mr Curtis.

“Other countries are increasing their investment in water storage to recognise that their communities and economies need access to a secure water supply in a changing climate. New Zealand needs to keep making similar investments to future-proof our water resources and food production, and secure our export income.”

On the south of the Waitaki River the economic, environmental and social benefits of irrigation are obvious. Those on the other side of the river will miss out on all of that without the scheme.

Rural round-up

January 20, 2018

Agriculture is not the villain when it comes to NZ’s emissions – Steve Cranston:

Now that we have heard that a climate change commission will be established, this makes 2018 an important year politically for farmers.

There is a real possibility that if the truth about agricultural emissions is not better circulated amongst farmers and the general public alike, the New Zealand agricultural industry may be forced into a highly damaging and completely unnecessary emissions reduction scheme if it is not set up correctly.

With the notable exception of Northland avocado farmer Robin Grieve, few people or organisations have been prepared to state this basic fact that in my opinion, New Zealand agriculture is not the problem it is made out to be. . .

Lives imperiled by cellphone blackspot – Sarah Harris:

Sited in one of New Zealand’s remotest regions, Haast township continues to lobby for life-saving cellphone reception. Sarah Harris reports.

Blair Farmer will never forget how a woman’s life slipped away as he tried to save her on the floor of the information centre in Haast.

Yi-Chieh Feng, from Taiwan, had been flung from the rental camper van when it crashed into a bank. She was not wearing a seatbelt.

Driver Yu-Hsiang Chen could not call 111 as there was no reception. So he bundled her into the van and drove 30 minutes to Haast at the bottom of the West Coast. . . .

Southern Rangitikei vet Kristina Dykes determined to keep vets in the job – Kate Taylor:

A southern Rangitikei vet is determined to improve retention numbers in the profession she loves. She spoke with Kate Taylor.

As one of five children growing up in Auckland, Kristina Dykes never pictured herself working as a rural vet in provincial New Zealand.

She did want to be a vet from an early age, but it was cats and dogs in her sights more than cattle and sheep. She went to vet school quite indifferent to the rural sector but soon realised the opportunities available to her. . . 

NZ crossbred wool ‘in a crisis’:

Low financial returns have pitched the New Zealand crossbred wool industry into a crisis, a leading grower says.

Sales of merino wool were doing fine, but these represented less than 15 per cent of our national wool clip, with most of the country not high and dry enough to run merino sheep.

In contrast, returns from coarser crossbred wool were so low, many farmers found it barely worth taking their quadbikes out of the shed.

Campaign for Wool NZ Trust chairperson Renata Apatu, in particular, paints a grim picture. . .

Hunter Downs good to go – Annette Scott:

A desperate plea to farmers and investors has finally pushed Hunter Downs Water across the start line.

Late last year the proposed multi-million dollar South Canterbury irrigation scheme was at risk of being abandoned but a last-ditch effort proved successful.

After a renewed push for investors, HDW chairman Andrew Fraser confirmed the company had the shareholders needed to proceed with the $110 million scheme. . . 

Snow levels as high as 12 inches across Scotland – Zoë Wilson:

TOWNS across Scotland have been affected by heavy snow since Monday evening, and, although some people have experienced chaotic situations, others are taking advantage of the glorious views, and even considered the impact snow can have on their current situation.

One lorry couldn’t access Scotstounbank Farm, in Blyth Bridge, West Linton, due to heavy snowfall, and instead of abandoning the job, the lorry driver waited in the village while the farmer, William Aitken, dropped 270 prime Blackface wedder lambs off using a Massey Ferguson tractor and trailer. . .


Rural round-up

December 27, 2017

More than 100 people help farming family after tragedy – Andrew Owen:

About 40 shearers and a support crew of more than 60 helped a farming family complete one of the biggest tasks of the year, days after a tragic accident cost the lives of their son and his friend.

Craig “Yopp” Murphy, 31, and his mate Jason Payne, 34, died on December 9 when their ute rolled on a remote, privately-owned farm in Kohuratahi, in the Whangamomona Valley, about 76 kilometres inland from Stratford.

Craig Murphy’s funeral took place on Saturday, December 16, and four days later more than 100 people got to work helping his bereaved parents, Whangamomona Valley farmers Dan and Kathy Murphy, shear their 3400 sheep for free, a task that needed to be finished at the peak of the season before Christmas. . .

Hunter Downs scheme meets share target – Daniel Birchfield:

The 12,000ha Hunter Downs irrigation scheme is to go ahead, after the required number of shares were sold.

Hunter Downs Water Ltd, the company behind the proposal to use water from the Waitaki River on land towards Timaru, held its annual meeting on December 14, when it was expected a decision would be made on whether to proceed or return funds to those who had already made the commitment to take water.

After a delay of several days, Hunter Downs Water Ltd chairman Andrew Fraser announced yesterday the company had “secured sufficient farmer uptake to now enable it to proceed” and finalise the funding structure and contractual arrangements to start construction, which was likely to be early next year. . .

New trapping project already successful – Louise Scott:

A pest control operation to protect native birds in the Rees-Dart River delta is proving successful just one month in.

Glenorchy local Russell Varcoe has built and set four new trapping lines as part of the Routeburn Dart Wildlife Trust’s Braided River Project.

That includes 601 traps — of which 574 had been placed by last Friday.

It is hoped the project will protect five species classified by the Department of Conservation as either endangered or threatened: wrybills, black-fronted terns, banded dotterels, black-billed gulls and black stilts . .

Leading questions: Synlait Milk founder and chief executive John Penno:

Business leaders discuss the year just gone and what will affect them in 2018. Today: Synlait Milk founder and chief executive John Penno.

What is 2018 looking like for your business?

2017 was very busy – after opening a new infant formula blending and packaging facility in Auckland, and nearing capacity at our Dunsandel site, we are entering 2018 looking to build an infant formula manufacturing site somewhere in the upper North Island.

We’ll also be constructing a $125 million world-class milk packaging plant in Dunsandel to supply fresh milk and cream to South Island families through our new partnership with Foodstuffs South Island. . . 

 

 

Rain on Christmas wish-list as drought conditions become critical in outback Queensland – Eric Barker:

With less than half the average rainfall across many parts of western Queensland this year, rain is top of the Christmas wish-list for most graziers.

While widespread winter rain in 2016 lifted spirits, most of central and south-west Queensland has been officially drought declared for the past four years.

Grazier and Blackall Tambo Shire Mayor Andrew Martin said most of the area had been suffering below-average wet seasons before the drought declarations. . .


Rural round-up

March 9, 2015

Scotsman wins Golden Shears open final:

The competition dubbed the ‘Wimbledon of shearing’ entered a new era at the weekend with the retirement of legend David Fagan and its first ever international winner.

Fagan, the long-standing champion, has 16 Golden Shears wins under his belt, but in the year of his retirement he did not make the final of the open event on Saturday.

Instead, he ended his 35 year career in the semi-finals, leaving the Masterton crowd to witness something the competition has never seen before in the 55 years it has been running.

In front of a full house of 1600 people, plus another 40,000 around the world who watched a live stream of the event, the Scottish national anthem rang out for the first time.

Scotsman Gavin Mutch, who now farms in Whangamomona in the King Country with his family, was initially lost for words at his win. . .

Hunter Downs water scheme a viable proposal – Annette Scott:

Proposers of a new $350 million irrigation scheme in South Canterbury have tagged their preferred option and unveiled the scheme costings.

The scheme proposes to irrigate 40,000ha from the Waitaki River.

Hunter Downs Irrigation chairman Andrew Fraser said its technical and economic feasibility had been confirmed with a second capital call going out before the end of this month. . .

Rules must be obeyed, ECan says – Annette Scott:

Rain that has fallen in the past two weeks has been welcome but has been no drought-breaker for parched Canterbury farmland.

As farmers desperately wait for nature to give them a much needed break, NIWA’s autumn forecast does come under a brighter rainbow for parched pastures and farmer anxiety as worst-decision time approaches.

A serious concern now is an autumn drought, which would be worse because there won’t be enough autumn growth to see livestock through winter. . .

Morrinsville sharemilker wins title –   Gerald Piddock:

Aaron Price is a young, fit, professional married man with a plan.

He is also the 2015 Waikato Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year winner, netting him $22,000 in prizes.

The 29 year old took out the major title at Friday night’s 2015 Waikato Dairy Industry Awards.

It was the fourth time he had entered the contest and had been runner-up twice.

Winning the title helped him achieve a short-term goal. . .

Bald Hills sold to overseas investor – Lynda Van Kempen:

Another Central Otago vineyard is changing hands to an overseas investor – the second this year.

The sale of Bald Hills, owned by Blair and Estelle Hunt, was approved by the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) this week.

The 11ha Bannockburn property has been bought by a Japanese investor, who has set up a company called Beecom (NZ) Ltd. . .

Planting an orchard to build a pre-school:

Planting an orchard as a marketing ploy – hardly from the pages of marketing textbooks but highly effective for the Pukeko Pre-School at Tauwhare, near Hamilton.

The recipients of a grant from Fonterra’s Grass Roots Foundation (as well as from the WEL Energy Trust), the pre-school kicked off its efforts to create a new $300,000 facility with a tree planting exercise late last year.

From the grants, the trust overseeing the new pre-school decided to plant about 45 trees – feijoas, blueberries, peaches, plums, apples, lemon, oranges, mandarins, limes, persimmons and some rosemary. A planting day involving about 40 parents and children saw the trees start their new lives after being purchased from a Te Aroha nursery. . .


Rural round-up

April 11, 2014

Farmers back irrigation feasibility study:

A planned large-scale irrigation scheme in South Canterbury has got enough farmer backing for it to carry out an in depth feasibility study.

The Hunter Downs Irrigation Scheme, which could irrigate up to 40,000 hectares of land from Waitaki to just south of Timaru, also has significant financial backing from the Government.

Hunter Downs Irrigation chairman Andrew Fraser says they’ve been going through a capital raising process over the last several weeks – and have managed to get over the threshold of 20,000 hectares of farmer uptake.

“This funding will enable us to do a feasibility study and so that will tell us whether the scheme is economically and technically viable so we hope to have that result back out to the shareholders and farmers by the end of the year.”

Mr Fraser says the capital raising period has been extended as the scheme gauges corporate interest and speaks to more farmers in the area. . .

Winners committed to pushing farming change – Gerald Piddock:

Mike and Sharon Barton’s innovative approach to farming in an environmentally sensitive area has earned them the supreme title in the 2014 Waikato Farm Environment Awards.

The Western Taupo beef farmers were presented with the award as well as category awards for soil management and innovation at a ceremony near Karapiro last night.

The Barton’s farm at Glen Emmreth Farm near Tihoi. They purchased the 142ha property in 2004 at a time when strict environmental legislation to protect the health of the lake was looming.

They faced this challenge head-on, determined to make their farm as environmentally sustainable as possible. . .

Farmers warned to tidy up act:

Federated Farmers is warning farmers not to risk making the dairy industry a scapegoat at this year’s general election through poor farm practices.

In a message to farmers, dairy chairman Willy Leferink said he was worried they could be negatively portrayed during the election campaign and they needed to do the basics properly to avoid bad publicity.

Visual aspects of the industry needing to be tidied up, and that could help create a better public image, Mr Leferink said. . .

Call for better health and safety on farms after death –  Collette Devlin:

Farming is a hazardous occupation and the number of injuries and deaths on Southland farms must come down, industry insiders say.

They are calling for better health and safety awareness on farms.

The issue has been put in the spotlight by the tragic death of fertiliser truck driver Les Cain, killed when the truck he was driving overturned on a northern Southland farm on Tuesday.

Southland Federated Farmers president Russell MacPherson said one farm death was one too many.

The old attitude of ‘she’ll be right’ needed to disappear from the industry. . .

Hawke’s Bay Farmers of the Year – Hugh and Sharon Ritchie – RivettingKateTaylor:

Well done to Hugh and Sharon Ritchie – Hawke’s Bay Farmers of the Year.

I’ve just been writing about Hugh lately as I am doing the Nuffield NZ newsletter and he has just retired after 12 years as a trustee (we also went through Young Farmers together, although I hasten to add he is older than me!!!  Hugh, Shane Tilson and I won a national debating final in 1995!)

So last night (back to the important news) they were awarded the prestigious Silver Fern Farms Hawke’s Bay Farmer of the Year title in front of 350 people at a dinner at Showgrounds Hawke’s Bay (well done on great night Hillary). . .

D2S ‘growing at a rate of knots’:

Wool growers have rallied behind Wools of New Zealand’s Direct-to-Scour (D2S) spot market sales option.

Launched in October last year, volumes under D2S are doubling month on month and have now reached around 350,000 kgs, with annualised volumes expected to reach between 3.5m – 4m kilograms within its first year, about 8% of the market.

Ross Townshend, Chief Executive of Wools of New Zealand told shareholder growers and supporters during the company’s roadshow series of 12 national meetings this week that the system was “simpler and put more money into the pockets of growers than the conventional model. It makes logical sense for growers’ wool to go to the first point of processing which is the scour where it can be core-sampled, independently tested, objectively assessed and fairly priced. . . .

Wool Market Defies Dollar:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that despite a resurgent New Zealand dollar the South Island offering of 11,500 bales saw most types range from firm to 3 percent dearer. Even with the strength of the sale and an 86 percent clearance, some growers were still unprepared to accept current market levels with 13 percent of the offering being passed in.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies was 1.36 percent up on the last sale on 3rd April.

Mr Dawson advises that Fine Crossbred Fleece and Shears were between 1 and 3 percent firmer. . .


Rural round-up

October 29, 2013

Futuristic drones to watch your sheep – Howard Keene:

Kiwi agriculture scholarship winner sees drones having a big potential in the industry.

Natasha King went overseas on a Nuffield Scholarship recently to primarily look for energy-generating solutions to New Zealand’s effluent disposal problems, but also became fascinated by some of the new technologies she came across.

“It wasn’t my area, but I became interested in it as a basic farmer from New Zealand,” Ms King, who is Meridian Energy’s national agribusiness manager based in Christchurch, said. . .

Steaks high in trans-Tasman Trans-Tasman beef battle – Jenna Lynch &  Elton Smallman:

The Kiwi and Aussie battle is heating up again, but there’s no sport in sight. This time it’s a battle of the beef.

Australian red meat is making its way across ditch and filling a gap in our supermarkets, as Kiwi beef farmers recover from last summer’s drought.

But how does the Aussie beef compare to a good homegrown Kiwi steak?

Well there’s only one way to find out: A blind taste test. . .

Lots of changes in industry, but basic principles remain the same – Yvonne OHara:

Winning the first and second Southland regional Sharemilker of the Year competitions and coming second by half a point in the national competition was memorable and disappointing for Karen Bellew and Stephen Malone.

The former Edendale 50/50 sharemilkers, who have since separated, won the inaugural regional competition in 1990 but it was held too late for them to compete in the national final.

However, they were allowed to enter the Southland event the following year and won again. . .

Lincoln University to apply expertise to restoration project:

International mining company Rio Tinto has confirmed that it will continue funding a major ecological restoration project currently underway at Punakaiki on the South Island’s West Coast.

The Punakaiki Coastal Restoration Project (PCRP) has been underway for five years and is part of a four-way partnership between Lincoln University, Rio Tinto, the Department for Conservation (DoC) and Conservation Volunteers New Zealand (CVNZ). Professor of Ecology, Nicholas Dickinson , and his colleagues in the Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences have been spear-heading the project for Lincoln University.

Rio Tinto has committed to another three years of funding the PCRP, which involves the restoration of a 70-hectare site that has been negatively impacted over the years through both mining and agriculture. The company originally bought the site to mine ilmenite (an oxide of titanium), but later gifted it to DoC. . . .

Tarras Water weighs options:

Tarras Water Ltd is still afloat, even if the company’s hopes for a dry shareholder have been sunk, director Peter Jolly says.

When contacted by Southern Rural Life last week, Mr Jolly said the company’s shareholders were looking at their options, including some which would not involve Tarras Water Ltd.

The company’s board was still meeting regularly and had a ”telephone link-up” about three weeks ago and an ”informal” meeting last week, he said.

However, the board had abandoned hope of a dry shareholder taking equity in the company, he said. . .

Council downsizes, reports increased event attendance  – Timothy Brown:

Beef and Lamb New Zealand’s Central South Island Council decided on a smaller council at its annual meeting in Cromwell last week, reducing the number of councillors from four to three.

South Canterbury farmer Andrew Fraser stepped down, and the three other councillors, Blair Smith, Ivan Geary and Robert Peacock were re-elected unopposed. . .

Council downsizes, reports increased event attendance


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