Rural round-up


Teaching Farm Wins Top Award in East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

A well-known Hawke’s Bay station and training farm has taken out the Supreme title in the 2013 East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Smedley Station and Cadet Training Farm also collected several category awards at a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on March 7, 2013.

Managed by Terry and Judy Walters, the 5054ha (3186ha effective) sheep, beef and deer farm near Tikokino, northwest of Waipukurau, is home to 22 cadets who are presented with a wide range of learning opportunities during the two years they live and work on the property.

BFEA judges said the intensely scrutinised station sets and achieves high benchmarks.

 “As a working farm Smedley not only practises profitable and sustainable management, it also teaches this ethos to tomorrow’s agricultural leaders.” . . .

Environmentally conscious couple asked to teach others:

An environmentally-conscious farming family in Waikato is being brought on board by Fonterra as part of a project to restore signifcant waterways around the country.

Andrew and Jennifer Hayes farm an 88 hectare dairy farm between two peat lakes – Kaituna and Komakorau (co-mark-a-row), at Horsham Downs in Waikato.

The Hayes have won environment awards for their guardianship of those lakes and Fonterra has asked them to share their knowledge with fellow farmers. . .

Survey Reveals Huge Pasture Investment:

In the past four years New Zealand farmers have sown enough new proprietary pasture seed to cover more than 1.5 million ha of land, new data shows.

“That’s the equivalent of just over 6600 average sized dairy farms,” says Thomas Chin, general manager of the New Zealand Plant Breeding and Research Association (NZPBRA).

Based on tonnages of seed sold for the four years ending 31 December 2012, the data is a NZ first and reveals the ‘colossal’ potential and effect of proprietary plant varieties on NZ farms.

“What this clearly shows is that farmers are using well-bred, well researched, proven plant genetics to get the best out of their land, and their animals,” Chin says. . .

Brown paddock recovery plan – growing grass after the dry:

 Livestock management may have been farmers’ number one priority during recent dry weeks – and rightly so – but now it’s time to think about pastures too.

“We realise you need to look after livestock, however pasture is what’s going to fuel your recovery after rain, and it will be your main feed for the next 12 months,” says senior agronomist Graham Kerr.

“Continued dry conditions in the last three weeks have dramatically changed the pasture situation on many farms, and pasture renewal programmes need to change likewise.”

The best practice in this type of year is to assess all pastures on the farm, and divide paddocks into three categories. This information can then be turned into proactive pasture renewal and pasture management plans. . .

Ambitious Young Winners in Auckland Hauraki Dairy Awards:

At just 28, the 2013 Auckland Hauraki Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, James Courtman, is young, ambitious and already successful.

Mr Courtman won the title and $14,000 in cash and prizes at the region’s Dairy Industry Awards dinner at the TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre in Manukau last night.

“I entered the awards for the first time to challenge myself, to develop better goals, and to try and win!” he said. In February he contested the regional Young Farmers Competition final, winning the AGMARDT agri-business challenge. . .

Last chance for Aorangi Young Farmer:

Next weekend will be Phil Campbell’s last chance at a Grand Final in the ANZ Young Farmer Contest. At 31, the last year for eligibility, the sheep, beef and cropping farmer will be the oldest competitor in the Aorangi Regional Final being held at the Methven Showgrounds and Heritage Centre, Saturday 16 March.

Eight competitors will be vying for a spot at the Grand Final in Auckland 16-18 May and their share of a considerable prize pack worth $13,000 thanks to ANZ, AGMARDT, Lincoln University Scholarship, Ravensdown, Silver Fern Farms, Honda, and Husqvarna. . .

Cavalier Congratulates Speed Shearers:

The Golden Shears ‘Big Bang’ speed shearing event shows that New Zealand’s reputation for world class shearing is in good hands, says Cavalier Woolscourers Ltd (CWS).

The ‘Big Bang’ is part of the annual Golden Shears programme of events, and sees world class speed shearers compete in Senior and Open grades.

“CWS congratulates Brett Roberts – who topped a Seniors field of 29 contestants with a time of just 34.5 seconds – and Digger Balme, whose 28.92 seconds saw him triumph in the Open section,” said Nigel Hales, CEO of Cavalier Wool Scourers. . .

Wool prices continue firming:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that the combined North and South Island auction offering of 24,400 bales saw a 91 percent clearance and a firm to dearer market across the board.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies was practically unchanged compared to the last sale on 28th February, firming by 0.23 percent.

Mr Dawson advises that the Fine Crossbred Fleece was generally slightly dearer with the shear types firm to 2 percent stronger. . .

Feds Farm Day this Sunday


Federated Farmers Farm Day is taking place this Sunday:

On Sunday 18 March 2012, six farms from around New Zealand will open their gates to the public as part of Federated Farmers Farm Day.  Over the last four years more than 12,000 people have visited a farm in their area.
This national event gives urban people a chance to see what goes on behind the farm gate and get a taste of the rural lifestyle. The farms range from  dairy  farms to meat and fibre operations.
This year each of the six participating provinces: Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Manawatu, Rotorua and the Bay of Plenty, have organised an array of fun filled activities, ranging from sheep shearing, working dog demonstrations, pony rides, milking demonstrations and scenic farm walks.
Federated Farmers Farm Day is in its fourth year. It was established to bridge the urban rural divide, giving both groups a chance to come together.

Farming is full of pleasant surprises and even more pleasant people, like Sue Brown, Federated Farmers Golden Bay Dairy chair. For establishing a farmer-led catchment project to improve water quality, Sue has just become a Landcare Ambassador for the NZ Landcare Trust. Water also links another Landcare ambassador, Andrew Hayes. Together with his wife Jenny, the Hayes invested substantial time and effort to improve peat lakes on their Waikato farm. This work also saw them win the Ministry for the Environment’s 2007 Green Ribbon Award for Rural Sustainability.

Right now, the regional finals for the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards and Young Farmers are all underway. Farmers rightly ask why such positive initiatives aren’t being rewarded with greater media attention. Bad news sells but too much of the negative creates unhelpful stereotypes. It’s time for balance.

Farm Day is our direct appeal to you, the public, to see farming for yourselves. We want to challenge stereotypes by giving you the chance to ask farmers how we manage nutrients and what we do with water. Ask whatever you like about animal welfare while seeing real farms in action. If you happen to be near Wellington, tap me on the shoulder at the Battle Hill Regional Park in Pauatahaui.

Sure we have some ratbags in our industry but it’s my hope people will go away surprised by how ‘green’ most farmers genuinely are. Only last month, 550 people attended the inaugural Canterbury Dairy Effluent Expo in Christchurch. Getting 550 people to any event is big, but one specifically on dairy effluent management? At DairyLink events in the Manawatu, which Federated Farmers is part of, water quality scientist Shirley Hayward is helping farmers to boost productivity while reducing their environmental footprint. Farmers take this seriously.

It’s so easy to forget that the bad news we see in the media is there because it is news while the good news stories, farmers looking after their stock well, improving their farms, taking care of soil and water, aren’t news because that’s what most do, day in and day out.

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