Rural round-up

June 20, 2017

Eating quality combats imitations – Annette Scott:

Grow them fast and kill them young is the recipe for the best eating quality in red meat.

And with the threat from synthetic and plant-based meats a good eating experience was critical to underpin New Zealand’s grass-fed, ethically produced red meat story, AbacusBio consultant Jason Archer said.

Older animals had more connective tissue in their muscles, which made their meat tougher, so fast-finishing made for more tenderness, Archer told farmers at a Beef + Lamb NZ beef-focused field day. . .

Synlait revises 2016 / 2017 forecast milk price to reflect current market:

Synlait Milk (NZX: SML; ASX: SM1) is forecasting a total milk price of $6.29 kgMS for the 2016 / 2017 season, consisting of a forecast base milk price of $6.15 kgMS and $0.14 of premium payments.

An average premium payment of $0.14 kgMS will go to Synlait’s Canterbury milk suppliers creating value behind the farm gate with seasonal and Special Milk progammes such as a2 Milk™, Grass Fed™ and Lead With Pride™. . . 

Impressed by carpet launch – Sally Rae:

Trevor Peters admits he was a bit sceptical before he headed to New York for the launch of Carrfields Primary Wool’s Just Shorn range of wool carpets and rugs.

But once there, the Otago farmer was ”pretty impressed”.

A group of farmers attended the launch last month, along with New Zealand Trade Commissioner-Consul General Beatrice Faumuina.

Mr Peters and his family operate Peters Genetics, a large-scale farming operation in Otago, running about 32,000 ewes.

All action at Holstein-Friesian conference – Sally Rae:

Holstein-Friesian breeders from throughout New Zealand will converge on Central Otago this week.

The New Zealand Holstein-Friesian (HFNZ) Association is holding its conference in Cromwell, organised by the Otago branch of the organisation.

Holstein-Friesian cattle make up more than 45% of the national dairy herd and HFNZ has more than 750 members nationally, Otago branch chairwoman Judith Ray said.

The conference theme was High Octane: Gold, Wine and Speed, with various activities organised around that, and it was ”action-packed”.

Planning began about 18 months ago and organisers wanted to ”showcase” what the region had to offer, Mrs Ray said. . . 

More irrigation work approved – Annette Scott:

The $195 million Hunter Downs Water project has received the all clear to implement its proposed irrigation scheme in South Canterbury.

Environment Minister Nick Smith has granted Hunter Downs Water requiring authority status to develop and operate the Hunter Downs irrigation scheme, effectively giving it the green light to go.

The milestone decision gave it the authority to apply to the Timaru and Waimate District Councils and Environment Canterbury for the necessary designations to implement the scheme. . . 

Fieldays showcases the tech changing farming:

A technology tsunami is set to change the way New Zealand agricultural producers do business according to ANZ’s Rural Economist Con Williams.

At Fieldays this week to talk about his latest Agri Focus research into the digital tsunami hitting the primary industries, Mr Williams said the number of apps and innovations designed to help improve agricultural businesses has exploded in recent years.

“A technology tsunami is upon the primary sectors. From meeting consumer demands around how food is produced to adapting to changing regulatory requirements, technology is poised to play a much bigger role in farm management,” Mr Williams said. . . 

Strong interest in on-farm bull sale at Rangiwahia – Jemma Brakebush:

As the bull sale season picks up around the country, the first on-farm bull sale in more than a decade was held in the small farming community of Rangiwahia, this week.

Murray and Fiona Curtis set up Riverlee Stud four years ago and held their first sale on Wednesday, to allow sheep and beef farmers to buy the bulls direct through them. , , 

What’s brown and sticky? – Thomas Lumley:

Q: What’s brown and sticky?

A: A stick!

Q: What do you call a cow on a trampoline?

A: A milk shake!

Q: Where does chocolate milk come from?

A: Brown cows!

There’s a popular news story around claiming that 7% of Americans think chocolate milk comes from brown cows.

It’s not true. . . 

Wilderness Home in Fiordland National Park For Sale:

An idyllic waterfront holiday home in New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park, the ultimate wilderness playground, has been placed on the market for sale.

The property is one of only 25 privately-owned sections located within the majestic Fiordland National Park.

The traditional Kiwi bach is located in an area called Jamestown, which was founded in the 1870s on the shores of Lake McKerrow near the bottom of the South Island’s West Coast. . . 


Rural round-up

June 12, 2017

Agricultural student with five scholarships says success is a balancing act – Sam Kilmister:

A top agricultural student hailing from Bulls believes the busier you are the more time you have.

Sam Pike has received five scholarships, balancing his academic commitments with his role as a volunteer firefighter, young farmer, technology blog writer and internship with consultancy firm AgFirst.

The 2014 Feilding High School dux developed his passion for agriculture growing up on a Rangitikei farm and it seemed natural to pursue a career in the industry. . .

Double reason to celebrate 150 years – Rob tipa:

Heavy soils that allow a North Otago farm to hang on longer in drought have kept a family on the land since 1864, reports Rob Tipa.

The Century Farm and Station Awards in Lawrence last month was a special landmark for sesquicentennial farm owners Bob and Nancy Allan, of Calton Hill, near Oamaru.

Not only were they celebrating 153 years of continuous family ownership of their property, but coincidentally the awards dinner fell on the same day as their golden wedding anniversary.

The event turned into a double celebration with their four daughters arriving from Auckland, Christchurch and Oamaru and their bridesmaid, Ainsley Webb, also present to celebrate the Webb family’s century of fruit-growing in Central Otago. . . 

Rural appeal wins over bright city lights for new Southland leader – Brittany Pickett:

Bernadette Hunt is passionate about Southland farming, Brittany Pickett writes.Bernadette Hunt is passionate about Southland farming, Brittany Pickett writes.

Bernadette Hunt wears a lot of different hats.

She’s a farmer, a government employee, a mum, a wife, a community member, and most recently she has become the chairwoman for the meat and fibre section of Southland Federated Farmers.

When she and her husband Alistair bought a farm and moved to Chatton, near Gore, 10 years ago Hunt had just qualified as a teacher and taken on a role at Knapdale School. Since then, life has been busy. . . 

Farmer v Farmer – Richard Rennie:

Waikato Federated Farmers has outlined some far-reaching concerns over the proposed Healthy Rivers plan in its submission, one of more than 1000 received by Waikato Regional Council.

The federation acknowledged the conflict the plan presented to it, given the controversial effect of the plan’s nitrogen limitations on dairy versus drystock operators.

Its submission maintained the plan was “divisive”. It had distilled its submission down to concerns in three key areas. . . 

CP Wool captures greater value – Annette Scott:

Carrfields Primary Wool (CP Wool) has relaunched in the United States to put premium New Zealand wool carpets into the homes of rich Americans.

Carrfields managing director Craig Carr said CP Wool was compelled to push creative boundaries to make a difference for its wool growers.

The key to making that difference involved a revamp of the company’s Just Shorn brand and that opportunity arose when the Just Shorn contract, launched eight years ago, came due for renewal.

CP Wool identified an opportunity to rein in greater control that would create significantly more value for CP Wool and its grower suppliers. . . 

Housing squeezing out farms:

If too many houses replace vegetable growing operations, we may have to look at alternatives such as vertical farming, says Horticulture NZ chief executive Mike Chapman.

He has always been sceptical about such methods for NZ, but we may be “stuck with it” if urbanisation keeps taking productive land, he warns.

Vertical farming was among the most interesting sessions at the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) ANZ conference in Adelaide, he says. . .


Rural round-up

May 9, 2017

NZ beef, lamb and dairy prices on ‘reasonable’ footing – Simon Hartley:

Two separate New Zealand commodity price indexes have the country’s exports in good health, but the strength of the New Zealand dollar remains a concern.

ANZ agri-economist Con Williams said while the headline ANZ commodity price index dipped 0.2% in April, the underlying detail for New Zealand’s main commodities remained ”robust”.

The headline index was driven lower by dairy – it was down 2.5% month on month – while the non-dairy component rose 1.2% for the same period. . .

Gas to energy project – Rueben on line:

An Isla Bank dairy farm is saving money and preventing harmful greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere by converting waste to energy.

Glenarlea Farm, a Fortuna Group dairy farm, is now converting methane gas captured from the dairy effluent pond into electricity for the dairy shed, as well as for heating water which can be used for wash-down purposes on the farm.

Quick decision lead to success – Neal Wallace:

Weo Maag concedes the Pukepoto Farm Trust does things a bit differently.

A trustee of the entity that owns the 1400ha breeding and finishing property at Ongarue near Taumarunui, Maag said the trust aimed to keep things simple but was a willing adopter of any systems or tools that worked.

An Ahuwhenua Trophy finalist, the Pukepoto trust was formed in 1978 and its 1000 shareholders owned land that was originally used as a thoroughfare for Maori travelling between Taranaki and Whanganui. . . 

Disastrous end-of-harvest for South Canterbury’s cropping farmers – Pat Deavoll:

Twice the normal rainfall in March followed by four times the amount in April has meant a disastrous end to the harvest for South Canterbury’s arable farmers.

Federated Farmers arable chairman for South Canterbury Mike Porter said he “struggled and battled” his way through harvest and finished last week.

“It’s been a very challenging harvest – the most challenging I have ever known.” . .

Dairy women gathering –  Sally Rae:

Dairying women from throughout New Zealand will converge on Queenstown this week for the Dairy Women’s Network conference.

The event, on Thursday and Friday, features practical workshops and keynote speakers, including All Blacks manager Gilbert Enoka and Corrections Minister Louise Upston. . . 

Water scheme will reflect demand – Annette Scott:

Hunter Downs Water will forge ahead with a multi-million-dollar irrigation scheme for South Canterbury despite falling short of its capital-raising target.

What form it would take was being worked through with the contractor in a redesigned scheme to meet the demand from farmers who had committed through the share uptake, Hunter Downs Water (HDW) project manager Stacey Scott said.

The deadline for the uptake of water and development shares in the $195m scheme was on April 28, after its initial April 10 deadline was extended. . . 


Rural round-up

May 3, 2017

Skilled staff sought to help out on earthquake and flood damaged farms –  Pippa Brown:

An Agstaff and Federated Farmers skilled worker and volunteer initiative is on the lookout for more rural-trained workers in the Kaikoura region.

What started out as a project to help earthquake damaged farms took a step backwards after recent weather events when two cyclonic systems passed through.

Agstaff Supervisor for the Blenheim/Clarence area, Vaughan Beazer, said progress had been going well until the recent weather, which made existing damage worse and caused landslides and flooding. More skilled workers are now required to assist with the recovery work. . .

Higher prices forecast for sheep, beef – Sally Rae:

Higher lamb prices and plenty of grass have bumped up the forecast profit for sheep and beef farmers.

Beef+Lamb New Zealand’s mid-season update showed a before tax profit forecast of $75,200 for all classes of sheep and beef farms, compared with $67,000 six months ago.

In Otago-Southland, gross farm revenue was forecast to drop 1.9% to $387,200 per farm for 2016-17, driven by lower revenue from wool. . .

Holistic grazing regime at Mangarara follows Zimbabwe example – Kate Taylor:

The grazing regime on Mangarara Station is based on a holistic system originating from Zimbabwe with cattle grazed on a long rotation.

Owner Greg Hart said their animals have eaten, trampled and left dung and urine before moving on.

“We mimic that by using electric fences instead of lions and controlling the grazing so they get shifted every day. We’re not afraid of letting our grass get really long and tall in the summer time… . .

A ‘very late’ season for grapes – Sally Brooker:

This year’s harvest is ripening slowly in Waitaki Valley’s vineyards.
The season will be remembered as a difficult one thanks to the weather, Waitaki Valley Wine Growers Association chairman Andrew Ballantyne said.

The valley was traditionally the last region in New Zealand to pick its grapes. Its long growing season combined with its limestone and alluvial greywacke bases meant it was an exciting place to be a wine producer, but it also had risks such as being exposed to more weather events, he said. . . 

Hemp seeds to feed farm returns – Annette Scott:

Cropping farmers are poised to capture their share of a fast-growing global market as 2017 shapes up to be a massive year for hemp seed.

The Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation in Adelaide approved the recommendation by Food Standards Australia and NZ (FSANZ) to allow the sale of low THC hemp seed food products for human consumption.

THC was one of the main psychoactive ingredients in cannabis, to which hemp was closely related. . .

Cow art has dairy farmers over the moon :

A stunning cow mural has become a popular stop along the well-travelled Rai Valley roads in the Marlborough Sounds, and the story behind the artwork is equally as heart-warming as the spectacular mural.

What do you get when you combine a road-side cow shed, a family holiday, and a relief milker with an artistic hand and big heart?

For dairy farm owners John and Lynne Small, the answer was an appropriately themed mural (or should we say moo-ral) turning an ordinary shed wall into a vehicle-stopping work of art. . .


Rural round-up

April 20, 2017

Good PR is a self-help exercise – Neal Wallace:

A united agricultural sector needs to promote itself by telling positive farming stories, public relations expert Deborah Pead says.

Industries such as dairy were constantly under scrutiny and having to defend themselves when the correct strategy was to get in first and tell the public what they were doing to address those concerns.

“It is hard to argue when you see a river dried up and farmers are flat-out irrigating but what is the solution? What are farmers doing about it?” . . 

High country community divided by fence plan – Conan Young:

Green groups are outraged at a plan to spend ratepayer money on a fence that would allow iconic high country land to be more intensively farmed.

The 6km fence is proposed for Flock Hill Station, which is leased by a US-based company and contains scenery made famous in 2005’s The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe.

Until now, Coast Range Investments has only been allowed to graze it in a low-level way, so as to have a minimal impact on the landscape and its environment. . . 

Water Fools? – Greening of Mackenzie – Kate Gudsell:

It’s the closest thing New Zealand has to a desert. The Mackenzie Basin landscape is not replicated anywhere else in the country, let alone the world, and it is being changed irreversibly.  

Not just the land is being changed, the once-pristine lakes are showing signs of strain too.  

The area has been at the centre of a 10-year court battle after farmers and landowners opposed tougher development rules proposed by the Mackenzie District Council.  . . 

Stable milk price crucial for strong farming season – Sally Rae:

Rabobank is picking a farm- gate milk price around $6.25 for the 2017-18 season, as it says a figure in that area would finally allow dairy farmers to ”emerge from the woods”.

Global dairy prices were now better balanced than at the start of this season.

This was likely to flow through and create largely stable commodity pricing in the new season, a bank report said.

However, despite the improved market balance, the possibility of further lifts to the current season milk price was limited, report author and Rabobank dairy analyst Emma Higgins said.

The price rally experienced since the second half of 2016 had ”some of the gloss” removed, with stronger-than-anticipated New Zealand production impacting on prices.

Job Seekers drawn to plant – Sally Rae:

Hordes of job seekers from Nelson to Dunedin – including a group of Cadbury employees – converged on Fonterra’s Clandeboye site for a recent recruitment day.

A $240 million mozzarella plant development at the South Canterbury site is under way, creating full-time employment for a further 100 people.

There was a “fantastic” response to the recent recruitment day, with between about 1500 and 2000 people attending. That led to about 700-odd applications for the roles, operations manager Steve McKnight said.

The mozzarella plant, the third at Clandeboye, was the single largest food service investment in the history of New Zealand’s dairy industry. . . 

Cervena seeks its place in the sun – Annette Scott:

Marketing Cervena venison as a lighter summer eating option in Germany will be a challenge but it’s a move Deer Industry New Zealand has confidence in, venison marketing manager Marianne Wilson says.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) had begun marketing Cervena in Germany during the northern hemisphere summer as part of a market development trial. While relatively small the trial was symbolically important, Wilson said.

Traditionally the deer industry had been heavily reliant on sales of venison to the German game trade which was highly seasonal, with demand and prices peaking in the northern autumn and winter. . . 

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Rural round-up

December 19, 2016

Alliance develops super lamb – Jamie Gray:

Invercargill-based meat company Alliance Group has developed what it says is a new, tastier, class of lamb.

Alliance is part of the Omega Lamb Primary Growth Partnership – a group of 50 high country farmers and the Ministry for Primary industries – which was formed to come up with an improved product aimed at the premium end of the market.

The partnership aims to increase the total value of lamb and the share of value captured in New Zealand by building high quality, branded products.

Initial feedback from chefs and high end restaurants for the new class has so far been favourable, Mike Tate, general manager of the project, said. . . .

Tinwald bows out – Annette Scott:

The hub of Mid Canterbury’s livestock trading sold stock for the final time last Tuesday marking the end of a once-thriving sheep industry in the district.

As he opened the last-ever weekly sale PGG Wrighston Mid Canterbury livestock manager Greg Cook welcomed a large gathering of farmers, transport operators and drivers, former yardmen and past and present livestock agents.

“This a big turnout to acknowledge the history that goes with the end of an era for Tinwald,” Cook said.

The big yarding of more than 1500 prime sheep was a fitting farewell for 138 years of memories for the local farming community, he said. . .

Greaney at home as Tatum leader – Hugh Strigleman:

Brendhan Greaney feels right at home as the new chief executive of Tatua Co-operative Dairy Company and not just because he has served six years as operations general manager before his promotion.

He was born and raised three kilometres down State Highway 26 from Tatuanui, at Waitoa, where his father Claude was a site manager for New Zealand Dairy Group. . . 

Grass proves most profitable at research farm :

A grass-system dairy farm returned the best profit in the 2015-16 season compared to a cropping farm and a PKE supplement system in an ongoing trial in Northland.

The trial, on the Northland Agricultural Research Farm (NARF) is run by the Northland Dairy Development Trust (with NARF) and is funded by DairyNZ, MPI’s Sustainable Farming Fund and Hine Rangi Trust.

Farm working expenses per kg of milk solids were $3.59, $4.20 and $4.01, respectively, for the grass-only, cropping and PKE farms, says Chris Boom, AgFirst Northland, and Kate Reed, NARF farm manager, speaking at a field day this month. . . 

Last bid at world shearing record – Yvonne O’Hara:

Attempting a world shearing record over eight hours is similar to running two marathons, Roxburgh shearer Eru Weeds says.
However, regardless of whether he and his team-mates succeed or fail in the attempt, it will be the last time he attempts such a challenge.

Along with fellow shearers James Mack, of Dannevirke, and Luke Mullins, of Taihape, Mr Weeds, who is in Hawke’s Bay working, will attempt to set a world record for shearing ewes over eight hours on January 17 at Waitara Station near Napier.

He said the record was 1349. . . 

Theft of stock alleged  – Simon Hartley:

Allegations of widespread stock theft across the lower South Island have rocked Otago’s farming community, which collectively could be hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket.

Whether the allegations could be defined as poaching, theft or fraud is as yet unclear.

While the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is potentially looking at a wider alleged-fraud operation, police are only dealing with reports of individual cases of theft.

However, shell companies may have been used and there are claims farmers across Otago, and further afield, could collectively be hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket, with hundreds of cattle stolen. . . 

 


Rural round-up

December 5, 2016

First transport of milk in and out of Kaikoura today :

Milk tankers will be able to start using Kaikōura’s only access road from today.

Essential freight is also being given priority on the inland road, which is considered fragile and hazardous.

Transport Agency regional performance manager Pete Connors said about 240 vehicles would be driving north on the road this morning. . . 

Scholarship awarded – Sally Rae:

Olivia Ross lives by the mantra: “make the most of every day”.

Miss Ross (28), of Longridge North, near Balfour, is one of five young primary industry leaders to receive the inaugural ANZ Future Leaders scholarship.

Open to New Zealand Young Farmer members, the scholarship, worth up to $10,000, was designed to give future leaders in the primary sector a “step up” by providing them with financial support for their planned path of study or professional development. . . 

Tertiary training demand falls – Neal Wallace:

Primary sector productivity rates will remain stalled unless more people are trained and issues with training providers are addressed, DairyNZ strategy leader Mark Paine says.

Industry studies and the Productivity Commission had found primary sector productivity had plateaued and part of the answer to improve that was a strong, flexible training structure, Paine, who is responsible for strategy and investment for people and business, said.

Last week the Farmers Weekly revealed providers responsible for training about 1000 sub-degree trainees were closing or considering doing so. . .

The sale of all sales – Annette Scott:

A national shortage of store cattle and grass-derived demand pushed weaner calf prices to record levels at the last ever cattle sale at Tinwald.

As the hammer went down on the annual consignment of calves, the Ashburton IHC calf and rural scheme fundraiser hit the record books in more ways than one.

The organisation’s calf prices not only hit record highs but the cattle sale was also the last for Tinwald sale yards, destined for closure this month.

The wet weather failed to dampen bidders’ spirits. . . 

NZ taking world leadership role against invasive species:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry today announced that New Zealand will take on a leadership role internationally, working with others to control and eradicate invasive alien species and protect native habitats.

The Minister has made the announcement at the International Convention on Biological Diversity which is currently meeting in Cancun, Mexico to consider the best way to meets targets to reduce the impact of invasive species on global biodiversity.

“New Zealand’s commitment to Predator Free 2050 is the largest and most ambitious invasive species eradication project ever attempted.  We are already seen as world leaders in pest control,” says Ms Barry. . . 

Going, going, gone :

PGG Wrightson senior auctioneer John McKone  sells a ram at the Merrydowns Romney and Southdown ram fair at Waikoikoi last week.

Blair and Sally Robertson sold 194 rams as far afield as Warkworth for an average price of $1130.

Romney rams ranged from $600 to $3800,  the top priced ram purchased by Peter and Diane Lowe from Ashburton, and Southdown rams sold from $450 to $3000. . . 

Gorse set to fire Chinese barbecues in win-win for for farmers and the environment – Carol Rääbus:

Take a drive along the Midland Highway through Tasmania and you will see hillsides covered in thousands of gorse plants.

The spikey evergreen has become a major problem for farmers and the state’s environment since it was introduced with the arrival of Europeans.

It tends to like the conditions down here,” John Boland from Gorse Power told Leon Compton on 936 ABC Hobart. . . .

IR8 – the miracle rice which saved millions of lives – Justin Rowlatt:

Last week I received a very unusual invitation indeed. It was to a 50th birthday party in a swanky Delhi hotel, but the party was for a plant: a strain of rice known only by its initials, IR8.

A celebration for an angry rice variety; who could refuse?

The Indian Agriculture Minister, Shri Sudarshan Bhagat, opened the event, describing the introduction of IR8 as “a great moment in India’s history”. . . 

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