Rural round-up

15/04/2021

We just can’t leave it to beaver – Jacqueline Rowarth:

The lucky country is New Zealand.

We have water in abundance. It falls out of the sky and flows out to the sea. It is termed ‘renewable’.

A series of reports from Berl (Business Economics and Research Ltd) make the abundance clear: New Zealand has about twice the quantity of freshwater on its area than United Kingdom, and about four times that of China and the United States of America. On average, New Zealand receives about twenty times the volume of freshwater per square kilometre of area than does ‘unlucky’ Australia.

Per head of population, the figures indicate luxury – far more water per person than is needed to support a population with a mixed economy and a relatively high standard of living. Berl has calculated that New Zealand receives over 24 times the amount of water per person than France, for instance. . . 

Wāhine workers: Changing the face of forestry – Carmen Hall:

Some didn’t get out of the van. Others lasted a day. Some made it through the week. Two originals remain.

Welcome to Truedy Taia’s world. She is the crew manager for an all-female team that work for Mahi Rakau Forest Management – an initiative that became a reality in 2019.

Today the women are out the back of Kawerau with the Tarawera mountain ranges in the distance.

Taia is trudging out of the forest, the back of her hand wipes sweat from her brow as she stamps on bramble and navigates her way through rotting logs and debris. . . 

Agromining: Farming of metal-extracting trees and plants could replace mining :

When scientist Alan Baker made a cut in the side of an exotic plant in the Philippines jungle, the sap that bled out had a jade-green glow.

The shrub was a newly discovered species, soon to be known as Phyllanthus Balgooyi, one of a rare variety of plants that naturally suck high amounts of metallic elements from the soil.

The fluorescent sap turned out to be 9 percent nickel.

It was a welcome finding, but not a surprise, as Professor Baker’s research into so-called “hyperaccumulators” had already uncovered species that seemed to thrive on everything from cobalt to zinc, and even gold. . .

Southern hop growers find ready local market – Sally Rae:

When thinking of hop-growing regions in New Zealand, Garston doesn’t immediately spring to mind.

But an enterprising Southland farming family believes there is great potential in the area — and a craft brewery up the road in Queenstown reckon they are on to a good thing.

The McNamee family first planted hops on their Garston property in 2016. The family has been on the land for more than 140 years and farms mostly sheep and crops.

While having a beer with a mate one day, James McNamee started thinking about how craft brewers in New Zealand were struggling to get New Zealand-produced hops and he thought it was a shame that beer was being made with imported hops. . .

Former Mataura mill to manufacture hemp – Sandy Eggleston:

Growing therapeutic hemp could be a “home run” for Southland farmers, Southern Medicinal managing director Greg Marshall says.

The Dunedin company is setting up a hemp propagating and manufacturing business in the former Mataura Paper Mill.

Mr Marshall said trials showed hemp was a good crop to plant in wet areas of farms and could be part of farmers’ riparian planting plans.

“It sucks up nutrients, it becomes a barrier to stop nitrate flowing into the waterways, it sucks up carbon … it reduces pollution,” Mr Marshall said. . .

Agroecology in Africa: Silver bullet or pathway to poverty? – Joseph Opoku Gakpo:

A model of agroecology that limits farming inputs in Africa to solely indigenous materials is meeting resistance from farmers and others who worry it will most likely force even more people on the continent into poverty and hunger.

“The agroecology promoters will use terms like indigenous foods, indigenous crops, indigenous everything. Like we want to exclude new varieties that are coming. But even the corn we eat today is not from Africa. It’s from America,” observed Pacifique Nshimiyimana, a young farmer and agricultural enterpreneur from Rwanda.

“Corn has been here for many generations,” he noted. “And the varieties my grandma had are no longer responsive to today’s climate situation. This means we need to adapt to new seeds that are resilient to climate change.” . .


Rural round-up

14/10/2020

Dairy farmers rise to sustainability challenge :

The stories of Kiwi farmers leading the world in sustainable farming are being shared as part of DairyNZ’s Rise and Shine campaign launched this week.

“New Zealand dairy has a great story to tell and we are seeing that realised through public sentiment, with 73% of people recently surveyed being favourable toward dairy farmers,” says DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle.

“This is tremendous recognition for farmers playing a key role right now – dually supporting our economic recovery post-Covid while shifting how their day-to-day business operates to further deliver for environment, animals and people.”  . .

Farmers contribute to fundraiser for charity hospital – Jamie Searle:

An organiser believes up to 1000 bales of wool could be donated for the #Bales4Blair fundraiser.

Sarah Dooley said farmers in Southland and further north were getting behind the fundraiser, which is focused on providing wool insulation and carpet for the planned Southland Charity Hospital in Invercargill.

The fundraiser is named after the late Blair Vining who, along with his wife Melissa, campaigned to get better care for cancer patients. The campaign continues, and Melissa and supporters are eagerly awaiting construction of the hospital, starting in February.

Dooley, of Mimihau, and fellow farmers, Amy Blaikie, of Slopedown, and Brooke Cameron, of Mokoreta, launched the fundraiser a week ago. . . 

On a mission to destroy wilding pines :

The Marlborough Sounds Restoration Trust is leading the way in New Zealand in the battle against wilding pines which are not only threatening biodiversity but helping to create tinder box conditions in parts of the country.

Country Life spoke to the chair of the trust, Dr John Hellstrom, about efforts to tackle the problem.

The skeletons of dead and dying pine trees stand above the native bush of Endeavour Inlet like sickly sentinels.

Their branches are dropping off and their trunks are white, in marked contrast to the lush green growth below. . . 

Sheep milking doubles income in Waikato – Gerald Piddock:

New sheep milking conversions in Waikato are delivering twice the per hectare income that the farmers used to earn from cows.

General manager of operations Peter Gatley says the new farms supplying Maui Milk this season are making around $14,000 a hectare, compared to $7000/ha a cow milking farm would typically earn.

“Income per hectare is a simple function of stocking rate, yield and payout,” he said.

“A ratio of six ewes per cow gives us about 17 ewes per hectare on Waikato dairy country. Our payout is $17 per kg of total solids, or about $3 per litre. Therefore, an average yield per ewe of 275 litres will deliver $14,000.” . . 

Too much time spent on chasing interest groups down wombat holes, beef producers told – Shan Goodwin:

HOW much the opinions of agenda groups working to shut down animal production actually count was a key topic put under the microscope at a beef industry event in Rockhampton this week.

Hosted by Agforce Queensland, The Business of Beef was run live at the Central Queensland Livestock Exchange as part of Brahman Week proceedings, as well as being live streamed.

A question on the best way to combat falsehoods about beef production and the environment brought passionate responses from the four well known northern producers who headlined the event.

Bryce Camm, who oversees his family’s integrated beef and cropping enterprise with interests across Queensland and is the current chairman of Beef Australia, along with being president of the Australian Lot Feeders’ Association, questioned how much money, and time and energy, the industry had spent “chasing every interest group down every wombat hole trying to appease them.” . .

Courgette prices fall back to earth:

Courgette prices were down 58 percent in September 2020 as the growing season resumed and more local produce arrived back on the shelves, Stats NZ said today.

Courgettes dropped to a weighted average price of $12.36 per kilo in the month, after reaching an all-time high of $29.60 in July during a trade ban from Queensland due to a crop virus. See Vegetable prices continue to grow for more information.

“The increase in domestic supply has filled the gap left by a shortage of imported courgettes during the winter,” consumer prices manager Nicola Growden said. . .


Rural round-up

09/07/2020

Wool, trees, rules threaten sheep – Annette Scott:

Sheep farming is under serious threat from incentives to grow trees and more crops, retired Federated Farmers meat and wool chairman Miles Anderson says.

In his six years on the national executive, the past three as section chairman, Anderson said the biggest single frustration has been wool.

“We have got a product we have selectively bred for generations and generations, it ticks all the environmental boxes and many of us are dumping crutchings, bellies and pieces on-farm because it costs more to get them to the woolstore than you get for it – it’s ridiculous.

“If there was ever a time for the wool industry to get its act together and work collaboratively to improve the fortunes of everyone in the industry, now is the time. . . 

We don’t know how lucky we are – Gerald Piddock:

New Federated Farmers dairy chairman Wayne Langford says the next few years will be critical for the industry as it navigates freshwater reform, climate change and Mycoplasma bovis.

The Golden Bay dairy farmer takes over from Chris Lewis, having served as his vice-president for the past three years.

“I think with the state of the Government and potentially them doing another term, I think these are all going to start to come to a head. 

“They have made their intentions pretty clear on that so I think these next three years are pretty crucial in that, making sure our farming sector, where we are still profitable and where there are still vibrant communities and a bunch of young farmers still on the ground.” . .  

A shake-up for the land and her export billions – Tim Murphy:

The Government wants to accelerate improvements to production and sustainability on the land to greatly increase export earnings over the next decade. But big change will be needed, Tim Murphy reports.

A new package to grow our agriculture, food and fibre industries, improve the environment and stimulate jobs has a huge financial target and an even bigger set of challenges for farmers and growers.

The final report of the Primary Sector Council – Fit for a Better World – sets an ambitious agenda to ‘transform’ farm and forestry practices sustainably and in keeping with Te Taiao (the natural world) to address the climate crisis, while finding new $1 billion export products and saving and developing free trade for our products.

After a long period of consultation and research, the council’s vision for New Zealand’s primary industries is all encompassing: “We are committed to meeting the greatest challenge humanity faces: rapidly moving to a low carbon emissions society, restoring the health of our water, reversing the decline in biodiversity and, at the same time, feeding our people.” . . 

Grief over grain drain – David Anderson:

A whole generation of farmers don’t seem to know about the advantages of feeding NZ-grown grain to livestock, claims Jeremy Talbot.

Talbot is a South Canterbury arable farmer and long-time proponent of farmers using more NZ-grown grain to feed their livestock.

believes the current drought in many parts of the country, and the resulting shortage of hay and baleage, is an ideal time for the practice of grain feeding livestock to be highlighted. . . 

Government Sells Taxpayers Down The River:

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is sceptical that 61% of taxpayer funding for waterway clean-up just happens to be focused on the Northland electorate.

Union spokesperson Louis Houlbrooke says: “The Government has announced that $162 million of taxpayers’ money will be spent on cleaning our waterways. There are 23 projects, but one will receive $100 million, 61% of the total allocation. It is also the only project set to run more than one year.”

“The Kaipara Moana Remediation programme is predicted to create 1,094 jobs over the six-year life of the project surrounding the Kaipara Harbour, most of which sits within the key electorate of Northland.  . . 

How bush fire management is saving the Carpentaria grasswren – Derek Barry:

Aerial fire management is helping save the Carpentaria grasswren in North West Queensland.

The project at Calton Hills at Gunpowder, north of Mount Isa has been running for three years replicating land management that used to be done for centuries before Europeans arrived and a new video produced by Southern Gulf NRM is showing how it is working.

Michael Blackman, a fire management consultant with Friendly Fire Ecological Consultants said the aerial burns was carried out in older age spinifex.

“This country here has a lot of large wildfires come through in 2011 and 2012 and the main reason for doing this project is to assist in the recovery of the Carpentaria grasswren which lives in the old age spinifex,” Mr Blackman said. . . 


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