Rural round-up

May 14, 2018

Fewer cows no easy task – ODT editorial:

Environment Minister David Parker is continuing his campaign to clean up New Zealand’s waterways.

It is not as though New Zealand has not had plenty of warning. In June last year, Mr Parker made the point of saying Labour would make it tougher for farms to intensify operations under a 12-point freshwater policy.

The party’s policy sought to crack down harder on polluters, make all rivers and lakes swimmable, and extend freshwater quality standards.

At the weekend, Mr Parker indicated he wants fewer cows per hectare because the number now is higher than the environment can sustain. . . 

Budget day the benchmark for judging Government’s C+ performance in regions- Gerald Piddock:

 Six months have passed since the new Government has taken office and made a vast array of decisions negatively impacting on provincial New Zealand and in turn, farmers.

The list is depressingly long: The ban on offshore oil and gas exploration in Taranaki, the end of government money for irrigation, the loss of air ambulances in Rotorua, Taupo and Te Anau, the refusal to give $600,000 funding to the Rural Health Alliance, regional fuel taxes and just recently David Parker talking up the prospect of nutrient limits – effectively a cap on stock numbers.

The devil will be in the detail on the latter, but on the surface, Parker’s aims appear similar to what most regional councils are putting in place around the country anyway.

Topping it all off are the ballooning costs of biosecurity issues and the likelihood of agriculture coming into the Emissions Trading Scheme.  Labour will also almost certainly be campaigning for a water tax in the 2020 election . . 

Farmers are spooked – Sudesh Kissun:

Dairy farmers are spooked and they have every right to be.

We have a Prime Minister describing climate change as “my generation’s nuclear free moment”; and a Climate Change Minister who not only happens to co-lead the Greens but who sees climate change “as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reinvent parts of our economy and society for the better”.

And this new Labour-Greens-NZ First Government is forthright in its green-leaning tendencies and policies.

Last month, in a historic move, it announced that no new exploration permits for offshore oil and gas fields will be issued, in support of its commitment to action on climate change. . . 

Inaugural Winners of New National Dairy Award Announced:

The inaugural winners of the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Fonterra Farm Source Responsible Dairying Award are considered leaders within the dairy industry, in all areas of sustainability, business and farm management, as well as in the way they give back to the industry and community.

Edward (Wynn) and Tracy Brown own a 320ha 700-cow farm near Matamata, with a further 30ha leased from their neighbour. Their property bears the name “Tiroroa”, which means ‘extensive view’ or ‘view to the future’.

“Our aim is to run an economically and environmentally sustainable dairy farming business maximising production while minimizing footprint,” say the couple. “We like to take the meaning of Tiroroa into consideration with all our decision-making. . . 

Daily milk urea readings could help tackle N in urine:

New Zealand’s 4.8 million milking cows excrete 1000 tonnes of nitrogen a day in their urine, and 200 tonnes of this end up in groundwater, says CRV Ambreed.

The company says it calculated the daily numbers using existing data related to milk urea concentration in daily bulk milk reports.

Farmers could be using the milk urea concentration (MU) value on their daily bulk milk reports to calculate the amount of nitrogen their herd is excreting in urine and take steps to address that, says Phil Beatson, the company’s head of R&D. . .

‘Wool Shed’ about inspiring – Nicole Sharp:

Teenagers will be encouraged to come up with ways to use wool creatively in a bid to have them take up the torch as ”Generation Wool”.

Campaign for Wool board member and former chairman Craig Smith officially opened the South Island’s new ”wool shed” in Riverton recently, but it is no normal wool shed.

Accompanied by Wool in Schools project manager Vicki Linstrom and PGG Wrightson Wool general manager Grant Edwards, the ”wool shed,” an education resource, initiated by the Campaign for Wool, was delivered to its first stop at Aparima College . . 

Southern goat group formed – Yvonne O’Hara:

Whitestone Boer Goat Stud owners Owen and Annette Booth formed the goat farmers and breeders’ Southern Goat Group following a wet field day on their Milton property on April 28.

Mr Booth is the chairman and Kaaren Wilkes, of Chatto Creek, is the secretary.

Mr Booth said the heavy rain contributed to lower than expected numbers attending.

”We had about 12 people there,” he said.

”They came from Duntroon, Alexandra, Peninsula and Brighton.

”We formed the group and got things under way.” . . 

No kidding! Newborns blamed for shortage of goat milk – Belle Puri:

The herd of goats on a Fraser Valley farm is kidding, but the farmer isn’t when it comes to a recent shortage of certified organic goat milk.

An explosion of newborn goats or “kids” has put a dent in the production line at Farm House Natural Cheeses in Agassiz, B.C.

The kids get first access to doe milk before any of it can be used to make products for human consumption, said Farm House office manager Dana Dinn. . .


Rural round-up

December 30, 2017

Earlier crop worrying for winemakers – Louise Scott:

Gibbston winemakers say they also could be faced with a shortage of seasonal workers after hot weather conditions mean they are ahead of schedule for grape picking.

Grant Taylor, of Gibbston’s Valli Vineyard, has never seen such an early harvest in more than 25 years in the industry.

While perfect conditions will ensure a bumper crop, he worries labour could be an issue.

“It is a real concern that because things are early there won’t be enough pickers in the region. Usually we pick in April but I wouldn’t be surprised if we were picking at the middle of March.” . .

Milk once a day to avoid burn out – Christine Allen:

The co-ordinator of Northland’s Rural Support Trust is urging the region’s dairy farmers to reduce to once-a-day milking and plan for time off over the summer holidays to prevent burnout and stress later on in the year.

Northland Rural Support Trust co-ordinator Julie Jonker said those working in agriculture could often resist taking time off as, unlike many other business models, they can’t just “close the door and leave”.

Ms Jonker said that while most farmers took their large break later in the year, once cows were dried off, they still needed to plan for days, or half days, away from the farm as many had been working hard since calving earlier in the year. . .

Golden fleeces flow from progeny testing and elite breeding – John Ellicott:

On the Monaro, the quest for the golden fleece is no legend, it’s a woolgrowing victory fashioned over the decades, making finer wool but increasing fleece weights. Access to top stud stock, improved pastures and adapting shearing times has created the legend.

Steve Blyton from TWG Cooma has seen average microns for the Monaro reduce from 21 microns to about 18 microns due to “breeding being so good in the area”. Some growers have seen a 3 micron improvement in their flock fleeces with fleece weight gains. . .

NZ genetics sought after says South American expert Luis Balfour  –

Whitestone Boers stud owners Owen and Annette Booth, of Milton, recently hosted Argentinian genetic importer/exporter Luis Balfour on their Milton property. Southern Rural Life talked to Mr Balfour about his interest in New Zealand stock.

Argentinian genetic importer/exporter Luis Balfour says New Zealand pedigree stock is attractive to his clients in South America as New Zealand breeders provided the ”best package” of desired traits.

Mr Balfour has been involved with importing and exporting cattle between Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Canada, the US, Great Britain, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand for more than 30 years. . . 

Genetically modified insects next for agriculture – Chris Bennett:

Want to crash an insect population? Slip in a self-limiting gene and topple the family tree in two to three generations. The promise of biotech mosquitoes to combat the pest that spreads Zika, dengue and yellow fever grabs the headlines, but just off center stage, the same technology utilizing genetically engineered (GE) insects is being tested on U.S. farmland.

With the flick of a genetic switch, agriculture could turn the sex drive of an insect against itself. The arrival of GE insects in farming could usher in a new wave of pest management, based on species-specific tools targeting pest insects, and result in a significant reduction in broad-spectrum insecticide applications. GE insects may provide growers with a major new pest weapon if all goes according to plan. . . 


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