Rural round-up

February 14, 2019

Irrigation goes high-tech to preserve Christchurch aquifer – Heather Chalmers:

Farmers irrigating just north of Christchurch are using the latest technology to ensure not a drop is wasted.

Preserving water quality is also front of mind as the land they irrigate is geographically linked to an ancient, slow moving aquifer which also supplies domestic drinking water to the city’s residents. 

In the first project of its type in New Zealand, the latest in digital technology has been rolled out to Waimakariri Irrigation’s farmer-shareholders, taking the guesswork out of irrigating.   . . 

Challenge ahead for smaller wineries – Simon Hartley:

A caution has been thrown out to New Zealand’s smaller, domestic market wineries which might be finding it more difficult gaining access to distribution channels.

Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface said the industry in New Zealand had grown substantially in recent decades.

“The industry is heavily concentrated in Marlborough, which specialises in sauvignon blanc production”, about three-quarters of the country’s wine production, by value, she said.

The New Zealand winemaking industry has an annual turnover of $2.5 billion and wine exports have doubled in the past decade to $1.7 billion per year, becoming the country’s sixth largest export by commodity. . . 

New opportunities for agri-food:

Changes being driven by computer scientists in the agri-food sector are providing new opportunities for Kiwi farmers.

The disruption, which is changing what we eat, was the focus of the KPMG farm enterprise specialist Julia Jones’ keynote speech at the Young Farmers Conference.

“There’s a restaurant in Boston with a robotic kitchen,” she said.

Spyce is a world-first and was created by four robotics-obsessed engineers who wanted healthy food at a reasonable price. . . 

Students experience agriculture – Richard Smith:

Kotara Kikuchi, a second-year student at Tono Ryokuho High School, an agricultural school, is on a home stay with three other boys from his school to do farming.

Kikuchi wants to experience agriculture, however, “I want to be a fisherman after graduating from high school”.

Fellow schoolmate Tokiya Ogasawara, 16, hasn’t decided what he wants to be. 

“But there’s nothing outside agriculture that I want to do,” he said. . . 

Agtech is not going to be a road to riches – here’s why – Glen Herud:

Agtech is quite trendy in New Zealand at the moment. But it’s unlikely to be a road to riches for those involved.

I would caution any entrepreneur from developing a tech solution for farmers.

No doubt, technology will change how agriculture is conducted. Just as it is changing all aspects of our lives.

But that doesn’t mean you can actually make any money out of developing some fancy technology solution for farmers. . . 

Joint call made to end non-stun slaughter in UK

The RSPCA and the British Veterinary Association have joined forces to call on the government to repeal a legal exemption that permits animals to be slaughtered without pre-stunning.

Both groups say slaughtering without pre-stunning causes ‘unnecessary pain and suffering’.

The latest figures from 2017/18 reveal that over 120 million animals were slaughtered without being stunned first – more than three animals slaughtered every second on average. . . 


Rural round-up

December 26, 2018

One half of New Zealand’s kūmara-saving couple dies – Harrison Christian:

At the age of 85, Fay Gock was still driving a tractor and tending to her market garden.

The woman who, with her husband Joe, is credited with saving New Zealand’s kūmara, died peacefully last week after a sudden illness.

Her daughter, Jayne Gock, recalls her mother’s generous spirit. Fay Gock was a “loving, caring, and giving person,” with a strong desire to contribute to her community — and country. . . 

Kiwi shearing industry is heading for a crash as Aus beckons – Pat Deavoll:

Its 7.45am in a North Canterbury shearing shed and the day is in full swing. The walls vibrate with the hum and rattle of the machines; the air is pungent with the sweet-sour smell of sheep and sweat, and the radio blares.

Four men take sweeping blows with their handpieces across the sheep they grip between their knees. The wool cascades to the floor. The shearers tattooed arms shine with sweat, even though it is still early morning and chilly. . . 

‘Small city’ of Lake Dunstan summer visitors leads to camping changes:

Authorities in Central Otago have introduced a new regime to tackle freedom campers as “a small city” of visitors descends on the area.

Land Information NZ (LINZ) and Central Otago District Council have teamed up to ensure visitors to Lake Dunstan respect the area.

Self-contained vehicles are a must at most camping sites in the area and a three-day maximum stay is being enforced.

LINZ deputy chief executive for crown property Jerome Sheppard said the new approach was in response to a massive increase in visitor numbers. . . 

Nurses’ accord concerns rural hospitals – Mike Houlahan:

Otago rural hospitals are bracing for possible industrial action next year, as the implications of the Government’s much heralded nursing safe staffing accord begin to affect them.

Under the accord, signed in July as part of the deal to settle the nurse’s pay dispute, DHBs and the Government committed to safe staffing levels in all hospitals.

All DHBs have been scrambling to hire more nurses – the Otago Daily Times last week reported that the Southern DHB had hired 16 nurses and was looking for more staff. . . 

Farmers’ champion gives up desk – Annette Scott:

People have kept Kevin Geddes associated with Federated Farmers for 60 years but at 80 he’s decided it’s time to call it a day.

Clutching a personalised Federated Farmers life membership certificate presented to him at the national council meeting in Wellington on November 29 Geddes feels very honoured to have worked so long with such amazing people.

He was speechless when given the recognition for a lifetime of outstanding contributions to the business and sustainability of agriculture through innovation, determination and practical leadership. . . 

Outlook for lamb looks fair for farmers – Sally Rae:

International lamb prices might soften a little, but tight supplies in New Zealand and Australia and a weakening New Zealand dollar should ensure any slippage at the farm gate is modest.

That was the message from Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface in the latest Agri Update where she outlined the outlook for lamb, which has experienced bumper prices.

On balance, international prices were expected to slip a little from current levels as growth in China slowed and Brexit continued to weigh on the UK economy.

But back at the farm gate, . . 


Rural round-up

December 10, 2018

Farmers are up to the challenge of meeting climate change targets – William Rolleston:

In October, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its special report on the actions needed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.  This, it said, would require “transformative systemic change” involving “far-reaching, multilevel and cross-sectorial mitigation”.

The report says limiting warming to 1.5C implies reaching net zero CO₂ emissions globally by around 2050 and “deep reductions” in short-lived gases such as methane.

The report recognises that, as a long-lived gas, CO₂ accumulates in the atmosphere, whereas methane from agriculture (while a strong greenhouse gas) is recycled through the system. . . 

Farmers act on sustainability:

Taihape farmers are exploring ways to ensure environmental sustainability while improving the profits from their sheep and beef farms.

The Taihape Action Group formed under the Red Meat Profit Partnership Action Network, which had its first get-together in July, comprises nine farming businesses within a 50km radius of the central North Island town.

It is at an early stage of the profit-growing process. 

The farmers involved are developing individual action plans that set out the on-farm changes they want to make. . . 

The power of a farmer’s story – Jennie Schmidt:

Christmas is a season for stories. We tell tales about the Nativity and the three kings. We also laugh about the time when Uncle Klaus wore the awful sweater to the family dinner.

Stories are the most powerful form of communication available to us. That’s why the four most compelling words in the English language may be: “Once upon a time.”

Farmers don’t always appreciate this fact, especially when we’re discussing our own business of agriculture. We’re inclined to mention inputs and outputs, moisture levels, yields, commodity prices, and more. You know: farmer talk. 

The challenge increases when our conversations turn to technology, and especially when they involve new technologies, including GMO crops, gene editing, and so on. At this point, our rhetoric can sound like boring passages from science textbooks. They’re about as interesting as the homework that none of us miss from our school days. . . 

Waikato farmers acting early on effluent management:

We talk to three Waikato farmers involved in our Dairy Environment Leaders programme, about how they’re managing effluent on their farms.

Ian Taylor, Puketaha

When constructing a new effluent pond, Ian set his sights firmly on the future, by choosing a system that far exceeded minimum standards.

He’d been planning an effluent pond for a while, but was waiting on results from a project investigating how effluent runs through peat soil. However, a very wet spring last year prompted him to act earlier than expected. . . 

Smith keen to work with farmers – Annette Scott:

New primary industries director-general Ray Smith is a self-acclaimed passionate Kiwi who wants his fifth generation New Zealand children to experience a bit of the NZ he grew up with. He talked to Annette Scott on a visit to meet farmers in Ashburton.

Just three weeks into his new job as primary industries director-general Ray Smith was hungry for information and couldn’t get his teeth into his new patch soon enough.

He heard about a meeting being facilitated by Federated Farmers in Ashburton for farmers affected by the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis and made a call to ask if he could invite himself. . . 

China remains the key to dairy prices – Mark Daniel:

China remains the key to where the global marketplace is heading in dairy prices, says Westpac economist Anne Boniface.

Speaking at a recent Owl Farm focus day at St Peters School, Cambridge, Boniface said China’s growth had slipped from 6.9% to 6.3% in the past 12 months.

However, she believes Chinese consumer spending is still strong, with any economic slowdown due to a squeeze on credit for larger capital projects. . . 

How precision agriculture can transform the agritech sector and improve the lot of every Indian farmer – Shruti Kedia:

Using big data, satellite imaging and Internet of Things, Precision Agriculture can help address low productivity, lack of farm mechanisation, access to markets, and increase crop yields.

In 1965, India’s green revolution led to a sharp increase in crop yields and farmers’ income. Decades later, could a tech revolution change the way this agrarian country farms?

The answer is, yes it can. In fact, it already is. . . 

 


Rural round-up

May 31, 2018

‘We’d better off if we had it’ – Sally Rae:

Southland farmer John Young reckons he would be in a better position if his cattle had Mycoplasma bovis.

With a contract for 1000 calves cancelled by Ngai Tahu Farming, he described himself as a ”by-product” of the disease saying there was no recognition for those in similar situations.

Left short of feed and likely to take a massive financial hit, he was perplexed by the iwi’s motivation as he felt he had done everything to mitigate any concerns.

”We’d be better off if we had it. We would know where we’re at [and could] set a plan and work around it. It would be acknowledged we had it, we’d be compensated. The way we are at the moment, we don’t know where we stand,” he said. . . 

Farmer provides positive advice on coping – Sally Rae:

Argentinian-born Leo Bensegues came to New Zealand with only $700 and the desire for a good life.

Fast forward 16 and a-half years and he has a wife, Maite, and a family and his own business, sharemilking at Morven in the Waimate district.

Last August, that good life was interrupted by confirmation there was Mycoplasma bovis in the couple’s herd.

Their 950 cows and 222 young stock were one of the first herds to be culled, although they had 200 heifers which had not been affected by the disease.

Yesterday, Mr Bensegues declined to talk about how he felt seeing those animals dispatched to slaughter, saying that was ”in the past” and they had to focus on the future.

They were starting over again and he had a message for other farmers affected by this week’s announcement of a massive cull of animals in a bid to eradicate the disease.

They had to work with the Ministry for Primary Industries, rather than against it, and they had to stay positive. . . 

‘Bovis cull will be devastating – Sally Rae:

The impact of the impending Mycoplasma bovis cattle cull on  milk and beef supply nationally will be much smaller than the “devastating” impact on affected farmers, Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface says.

In the bank’s latest Agri Update, Ms Boniface said New Zealand’s dairy herd was about 4.8 million, so the population to be culled accounted for about 0.5%, well within usual seasonal variation in the dairy herd.

While processing capacity might be stretched temporarily at a regional level, there should be ample capacity nationwide to process the additional cow cull. . .

 Business case for cattle disease plan kept secret from public – Andrea Fox:

The cost-benefit analysis behind the $886 million government-agriculture sector decision to try to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis is being kept secret from taxpayers picking up most of the bill.

A Herald request to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for a copy of the cost-benefit analysis is being treated by MPI as an Official Information Act request, which normally means waiting nearly a month for a response, with no guarantee of full disclosure.

When the Herald tried to clarify that the cost-benefit analysis was not being made public, and if so, who had access to it, the response from an MPI spokesman was: “This has been part of the decision-making process so the decision makers have had access to this information.” . .

Live deer capture: ‘a wonderful time to be alive and to stay alive’, says pioneer– Heather Chalmers:

Recalling the pioneering live deer capture days, veterans like Bryan Bassett-Smith get a gleam in their eyes.

In the 1970s the emphasis changed from killing deer as a feral pest to wanting to capture and keep deer alive for a fledging farming industry. Deer farming made live recovery more profitable than hunting; there were fortunes to be made and adventures to have.

These were the days before clipboards, hi-vis vests and health and safety regulations.

Bassett-Smith didn’t fly helicopters himself. “I was a guy that jumped out and used the tranquilliser gun.

READ MORE: Deer farmer recalls days of live capture derring-do

“It was a wonderful time to be alive and to stay alive” he says, referring to the casualties and fatalities from helicopter crashes. “Sadly, there were a few too many funerals,” he told deer industry conference delegates during a visit to Mesopotamia Station in the South Canterbury high country, a property actively involved in live deer recovery. . . 

Distribution deal for Mastatest– Sally Rae:

Dunedin-based veterinary diagnostics company Mastaplex has secured a national distribution partnership with AgriHealth for its bovine mastitis diagnostic products.

Company founder and inventor Olaf Bork said Mastatest  was an on-farm or veterinary clinic-based bovine mastitis test which generated results within 24 hours, enabling dairy farmers to select specific antibiotic treatments recommended by their veterinarian once target bacteria had been identified.

The early  growth-stage company, which is based at the University of Otago’s Centre for Innovation, was also negotiating with a European distributor and  seeking an alliance in the United States, he said. . . 

Rural health must be integral in health services review:

The New Zealand Rural General Practice Network today welcomed an announcement of a comprehensive review of health services in New Zealand.

The NZRGPN is the national network representing the staff of rural medical practices across New Zealand.

“A comprehensive review of the delivery of health and disability services is timely,” said NZRGPN Chief Executive Dalton Kelly. “This review must be comprehensive and wide-ranging, taking into account the full range of communities and health service providers across New Zealand. . .

Tough year hits Anzco profits – Alan Williams:

A difficult year in beef procurement and processing caused a big fall in profit for Anzco Foods.

Intense competition for stock and uneven livestock flows increased costs while consumer market prices were just steady, chief executive Peter Conley said.

Anzco’s pre-tax profit fell to just $1.8 million in the year ended December 31, from $17m a year earlier. Because the group’s international trade offices are required to pay tax in the countries they’re based in, overall group tax took up $1.7m of the earnings, leaving an after-tax operating profit of $100,000, down from $12m previously. . . 

How a routine day on the farm turned into a pig’s dinner – Joyce Wyllie:

Sometimes routine jobs on a routine day take a less routine turn.

With Jock away at dog trials, I walked to the kennels one evening to run and feed the remainder of his team left at home.

It’s a familiar routine of letting energetic dogs off for enthusiastic exercise, feeding pellets to pigs and shutting the team up with their tea.

It was drizzling as I opened the doors and let animated animals race off for time out and toilet. Pushing the feed shed door open to get pig tucker revealed a four-legged super surprise. . . 

Hounding the horehound weed:

Two moths may be imported to combat the horehound weed, which a recent survey estimates to cost New Zealand dryland farmers almost $7 million per year.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is considering an application from a collective of affected farmers – the Horehound Biocontrol Group – to introduce the horehound plume moth and horehound clearwing moth to attack this invasive weed, and is calling for public submissions. The application is supported by the Ministry for Primary Industries’ sustainable farming fund. . .


Rural round-up

May 8, 2018

The problem is not dirty dairying, it’s still dirty government – Not PC:

Environment Minister David Parker is all set to tell dairy farmers how many cows he’s going to be let them have on their own farms.  This is, he claims, to fix “dirty dairying.”

But turns out you neither need nor want central planning to fix the alleged problem. What you do need is property rights — and common law.

Here’s a repost from 2008 that’s sadly topical again, explaining what that means… . . 

Give farmers who are having a free ride on the Feds a rev up, says Manawatu leader – Jill Galloway:

Freeloading farmers are getting a free ride when Federated Farmers goes to bat for them on rural issues, says a Manawatū leader.

Manawatū/Rangitīkei Federated Farmers president Richard Morrison said the value of Federated Farmers was often queried and everyone was after a tangible return for every dollar they spent.

“I can see why they want to know how the money is spent … however consider the wins we at the federation have had. There has been a benefit for farmers and rural communities.”

He said some farmers who were not members were getting an easy free ride on others. “Talk to those people and see if they will join up,” he told about 50 members at the region’s Federated Farmers annual meeting. . . 

Farmers have stake in caring for water: Waikato mayor – Craig Rowley:

At the heart of the Waimate district is the rural sector – farming that contributes to both the local and national economies.

Farmers have and continue to work hard to reduce any negative impacts on the environment. The establishment of water zone committees is one example of this.

The Lower Waitaki South Coastal Canterbury Water Zone committee is made up of local people, including farmers, who have a wide range of interests in water – the source, the use and the benefits that come with good water management practices. . . 

Commodity prices good but problems possible – Simon Hartley:

Commodity prices in many of the country’s agriculture sectors are in a “sweet spot” at present, but Brexit, US-China relations and global trade talks could yet create headwinds.

The waning strength of the New Zealand dollar has been in the headlines for the past week.The kiwi has been down 5% against its United States counterpart in recent weeks and at one point fell below US70c, boosting commodity prices in New Zealand dollar terms.

Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface said, from a revenue perspective, the country’s agricultural sector was “in a bit of a sweet spot”,  although there was  the odd exception. . .

Emma Lewin wins Tararua Shepherd of the Year :

Four candidates — two men and two women competed for the title of Tararua Shepherd of the Year 2018.

At the Greenhill Station Field Day on Friday April 27 Emma Lewin was declared the winner.

According to judge Damian Reynolds of Totaranui Angus each was put through their paces in a rigorous two-hour assessment on the properties where they currently work.

This involved both practical skills such as stock handling and shearing as well as knowledge of the industry and operation of the farm they work on. . . 

Not an easy fit for agricultural drones in broadacre – Sharon O’Keefe:

THEY take pretty pictures and if you choreograph your headers correctly, your drone video may even trend on social media. 

However, precision agriculture specialists and researchers are questioning the utility of drones for broadacre agriculture. 

McGregor Gourlay, national digital agriculture manager, Brooke Sauer said while her company was a drone stockist, she felt as a general rule, drones were more useful for purposes other than broadacre precision agriculture.  . . 

Cumbrian farmer tracks down stolen pregnant sheep:

FOURTEEN stolen pregnant ewes have been safely returned to their Cumbrian farm thanks to a high-tech marking system.

Pip Simpson, whose farm is at Troutbeck near Windermere, has been a victim of previous livestock thefts.

He turned to a tracing system to help protect his flock from criminals targeting isolated farms across the county.

TecTracer, a forensic sheep tracing system developed by John Minary, a former senior police detective, and a Swedish ballistics expert ingrains coded markers into a sheep’s fleece,“marking” them with a unique identifying code which makes it easy to trace which farm the sheep originated from. . . 


Rural round-up

April 11, 2018

Leading bunch of female students contribute to solving nitrogen leaching problem – Pat Deavoll:

A group of super smart women is helping to find answers to one of the major environmental challenges facing farming – reducing nitrate leaching.

The PhD students  Kirsty Martin, Anna Carlton, Roshean Woods, Lisa Box, Elena Minnee, and Grace Cun have joined a team of scientists from AgResearch, DairyNZ, Foundation for Arable Research, Landcare Research, Lincoln University, and Plant and Food Research to investigate which forages would best reduce nitrate losses.

Based at the Lincoln University research dairy farm, Martin was researching the response of 12 pasture forages to nitrogen.  . .

Allbirds: the Kiwi shoes taking the world by storm – Niki Bezzant:

Food writer Kathy Paterson doesn’t need to think about which shoes to wear when she gets dressed in the morning. For the past year or more she has worn her “uniform” almost every day: casual wool shoes by online company Allbirds.

Paterson is an evangelist for the unusual sneakers, dubbed “the world’s most comfortable shoes” by Time magazine.

She has converted many others to wearing the New Zealand merino wool shoes, she reckons, and at Christmas she bought them as gifts for her parents and sister.

Paterson has two pairs in rotation. “They’re incredibly comfortable,” she says. “I do not take them off, winter and summer. . . 

Bovis cull will be devastating – Sally Rae:

The impact of the impending Mycoplasma bovis cattle cull on milk and beef supply nationally will be much smaller than the “devastating” impact on affected farmers, Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface says.

In the bank’s latest Agri Update, Ms Boniface said New Zealand’s dairy herd was about 4.8 million, so the population to be culled accounted for about 0.5%, well within usual seasonal variation in the dairy herd.

While processing capacity might be stretched temporarily at a regional level, there should be ample capacity nationwide to process the additional cow cull. . . 

Strong gales hit Ag Fest site – Laura Mills:

Contractors were out in howling winds and the dark last night to drop four marquees at the Ag Fest site at Greymouth aerodrome ahead of gale-force winds this morning.

The site was a hive of activity this morning as about 30 people helped stabilise tents damaged in the strong south-easterlies, as preparations resumed for the festival opening on Friday morning.

The wintry storm dumped snow on Arthur’s Pass, where the temperature fell to 0degC overnight, and a chilly 11degC in Greymouth this morning. . .

Rabobank Global Dairy Quarterly Q1 2018: turn the pressure down:

A robust import programme by Chinese buyers, combined with a weather-impacted New Zealand season, were the perfect ingredients for the short-term rally in Q1 2018. In the background, the export engine is firing on most other cylinders, as production growth expanded across all other regions, according to the latest RaboResearch report ‘Dairy Quarterly Q1 2018: ‘Turn the Pressure Down’.

The export engine has been running on most cylinders since mid-2017. However, weather risks have now been extended beyond New Zealand. Europe battled a cold front, Australia had localised bushfires, and there are drought conditions at play in Argentina.. . .

Te Mata Estate’s well-kept secret – vintage pickers – Astrid Austin:

Look in any one of Te Mata Estate’s vineyards and you will see a gang of hard-working pickers, although they may not be your average type – a little more vintage you could say.

More than 70 people, averaging 70 years old, but anywhere from early retirement age to well into their 80s, hand pick the winery’s grapes.

Te Mata Estate founder John Buck said: “They are people who epitomise what the unsung quality of Hawke’s Bay is really all about.

“They are just utterly fabulous, so they are a bit of a contrast to all the articles about picking-crew people. They give a lie to it, frankly. . .

The unloved Cinderella of science – Farah Hancock:

Climate change could make insect swarms an issue for New Zealand farmers and a lack of funding for long-term monitoring may mean we won’t have warning a swarm is likely to form.

Unlike other first world OECD countries, New Zealand doesn’t have long-term ecological research networks.

University of Auckland’s Dr Margaret Stanley said overseas research networks collect data on everything, from water and vegetation to insects. The data can predict potential changes based on a pest being introduced, or climate change which could trigger events such as a locust swarm.

Without data Stanley said: “We’re making decisions, puddling around in the dark a little, but not really understanding what’s going on.” . . .


Rural round-up

February 12, 2014

Syndicate farming a growing venture – Sue O’Dowd:

School didn’t fit the bill for a young Taranaki man wanting to party and make money.

The man behind Taranaki’s Farm Venture, a business that establishes syndicates to buy and operate dairy farms in Taranaki and the King Country, wanted to get on with life.

Tim Barrett was a pupil at Francis Douglas Memorial College in New Plymouth and principal Brother Peter Bray was adamant he wanted the 15-year-old to stay at school so he could go to university.

“But I had stuff I wanted to do,” the now 50-year-old millionaire businessman said, “and I needed money to do it.” .

So Barrett got his way and embarked on a farming career. He managed to fit in some partying but he was more focused on becoming a farmer, so he followed the traditional path of working for wages and as a variable order and 50/50 sharemilker to dairy farm ownership at Te Kiri in South Taranaki. Along the way he also spent a year in Canada working on beef and cropping farms. . .

Changing world for sheep farming and sheep meat – Allan Barber:

It may be a statement of the obvious, but the world for sheep farming, processing and sheep meat has changed dramatically, particularly in the past 30 years.

The age of massive single shift plants, high wool prices, large stations, the frozen carcase trade with the UK and farm subsidies has disappeared for ever. It has been replaced by a new era in which the main characteristics are no subsidies, less sheep and lambs, smaller, more flexible plants, an increasing proportion of chilled product, higher value co-products with less income from wool, and progressively more trade with markets other than the UK and Europe.

To a casual observer or time traveller who has spent the last 30 years elsewhere, there are still some obvious similarities, but a more careful study would show the differences pretty quickly. For example the swathes of irrigated land from mid Canterbury to Southland with dairy cattle instead of sheep grazing, thousands of hectares now covered with vines in Central Otago, Marlborough, Hawkes Bay and Gisborne, the size of lambs going to slaughter, the volume and price of wool at auction and the number of saleyards round the country would all indicate more than a token shift in farming practice. . .

The South Island’s best farmer grows grapes:

The colourful Peter Yealands, who was named 2013 South Island Farmer of the Year, is hosting the winner’s Field Day at his multi award winning Marlborough winery this Thursday (13 February).

“Federated Farmers congratulates the Lincoln University Foundation for recognising the best of South Island farming through its South Island Farmer of the Year competition,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“This Thursday, farmers will have a chance to see just why Marlborough entrepreneur and winemaker, Peter Yealands, was named the South Island’s best farmer for 2013.

“From biological lawn mowers using “baby-doll” sheep to his overall ‘vine to bottle’ approach, the Lincoln Foundation is right to say the knowledge shared at this field day will not just be inspirational, but have relevance to all primary industries. . .

Loyalty and contribution to the betterment of the people of Sarawak honoured:

A man whose career has been marked by an outstanding ability to relate to people across a wide spectrum, from poor indigenous farmers and their communities through to commercial agribusiness and industrial companies, senior government officials and political figures at state and federal level, was today (11 February) awarded the Lincoln Alumni International Medal.

Datu Dr Ngenang Ak Jangu of Sarawak, Malaysia has made an outstanding contribution in his home country, in his chosen field of agriculture.

The Lincoln Alumni International Medal is awarded to a former student, or a past or current staff member of Lincoln University who, in the opinion of the Lincoln University Council, has made an outstanding contribution to his or her chosen field, and brought credit to Lincoln University through achievements in a country other than New Zealand. . .

Weakened milk price predicted to fall back to $7 – Gerald Piddock:

An expected softening in milk prices in mid 2014 has bank economists predicting a milk price of around $7/kg milk solids for the 2014-15 season.

This weakened payout is predicted to occur when northern hemisphere production peaks later this year. The resulting extra supply would push prices down, Westpac senior economist Anne Boniface said. The bank had forecast an opening price of $7.10/kg MS for the 2014-15 season.

“We’re expecting dairy prices to soften a little bit over the course of 2014 as global supply increases.

“It was still a good price. It’s not quite as good as 2013-2014, but not too bad either.” . . .

A floral fight against green terrorists:

Flower power is alive and well in the Waikato. No, it’s not a hemp-wearing, nettle-tea drinking hippy commune promoting pacifism. Rather, depending on where you stand in the food chain, this one’s a bit more sinister. In fact, it’s designed for death.

No need to alert the authorities, however. The horror is taking place at a more microscopic level, and it’s all for a good cause.

To promote biodiversity and reduce the use of pesticides, award winning food company Snap Fresh Foods has teamed up with Lincoln University to harness the pest-killing attributes of flowers. More to the point, the flowers are being used to attract the right kind of killer insects. . .

Enjoy your kiwi heritage – rafting the Clarence – Stephen Franks:

I’ve just come off 6 days rafting down the Clarence River with 13 friends. We’re raving about good times that surpassed all expectation.

The river starts above Hanmer and reaches the sea near Kaikoura. Rafting it should be on every New Zealander’s heritage ‘must do’ list, like the Otago Rail Trail.

Do it for the scale of the country, its emptiness, the clarity of the sky, the alternating serenity and rush of rafting. Do it to enjoy the chatter of your raft-mates, the walking and climbing from campsites among scrub and snowgrass. Do it to swim in deep blue pools and drink the water you swim in all the way down. Do it to boil the billy on wood fires and taste the difference between manuka  and willow smoke in your tea. Do it to be without electronic contact for the entire trip.

Do it to sip your Waipara wines as the swallows zip and dart over your camp after insects in the evening. . . .


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