Rural round-up

December 11, 2017

Once a day switch reaps benefit in intensive farming system – Gerald Piddock:

Dave Swney’s decision to switch his younger cows to once a day (OAD) milking has paid dividends with better animal health and reproductive performance.

The contract milker decided this year to put his younger cow herd on OAD immediately after calving to try and reduce lameness, which had been a massive challenge on the 124 hectare farm.

“A lot of our decisions this year have been based around lame cows. It’s the one area we really wanted to focus on and we feel that if we can get that right, then a lot of other benefits are going to come from that.” . . 

Farmers need more rain soon – Annette Scott:

Drought fears are growing as farmers across the country suggest they could be in big trouble if it doesn’t rain before Christmas.

Many farmers were reporting lower than usual cuts of balage and silage with others pushing stock off early to processors.

For deer farmers a dry early summer was a real challenge because it coincided with the fawn drop and the need of hinds for lush, high-quality feed for lactation and maximum fawn growth. . . 

Stock flood fears – Alan Williams:

Meat processing plants have become very busy in the last two weeks as farmers react to very dry conditions by unloading stock but it’s just become a typical season for this time of year, the companies say.

Plants were working overtime and on Saturdays and livestock backlogs were starting to build-up.

“Two weeks ago I would have said the season was slow but now it’s up to normal,’’ Anzco Foods general manager of agriculture and livestock Grant Bunting said.

“It usually happens about now.”

However, the change had been sudden and three to four weeks ago farmers who usually had a weaning draft were contemplating finishing lambs themselves. . . 

Farmers Fast Five – Beverley Forrester:

The Farmers Fast Five: Where we ask a Farmer five quick questions about Farming, and what Agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Glenmark Rural Women’s Branch President, Yarn Producer, Exporter, Author, Fashion Designer and Proud Farmer Beverley Forrester.

1.How long have you been Farming?

All of my life: 66 years. Brought up on the 4th generation family farms Warkworth, North Auckland, and is still run now by my sister and myself. Since 1986 I have been in Hawarden, North Canterbury, on what is also a 4th generation family farm with which we won the 2006 New Zealand Century Farm and Station Award.

2.What sort of farming are you involved in? 

Farming sheep (natural coloured chemical free wool), cattle and tourists. I have a yarn production and export business in yarn and livestock. . . 

Farmers Fast Five – Jonathan Carden-Holdstock:

The Farmers Fast Five: Where we ask a Farmer five quick questions about Farming, and what Agriculture means to them. Today we talk to Vice President of The Canterbury Dairy Goat Breeders Association and Proud Farmer Jonathan Carden-Holdstock, pictured here with his wife, Proud Farmer Chris Carden-Holdstock.

1. How long have you been farming?

I grew up on and around small traditional family run dairy farms near the Devon and Cornwall border in England. I went to Agricultural College in this area as well

2. What sort of farming were you involved in?

Mostly Dairy farming with the Holstein Friesian breed. We no longer supply Fonterra but still milk a small herd of Holsteins for calf rearing along with my wife’s Pedigree Saanen and Toggenburg Dairy Goats. The milk from this goes into calf rearing and soap. We have always had some beef cattle, I love the Red Devon breed as this was so common in the area I grew up in. . . 

Don’t tell me or others how to eat, pray and love – Mark Wilson:

Summer is BBQ time and what a glorious start to the BBQ season here in the Wakatipu. Add in some great Test cricket on the TV and the arrival of our latest shipment of Bainfield Road lamb from down south, the team at Arthurs Shore couldn’t be happier.

However, as each year goes by I feel a growing animosity towards the carnivores amongst us. It started but a whisper but, amplified by like-minded anti-meat and dairy campaigners banding together on social media and more support in mainstream media, it is now a full-blown movement of some size. . . 

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Rural round-up

November 7, 2017

Crown cash vital to lagoon plan – Tim Fulton:

The Labour-led Government might need to keep backing Crown funding for irrigation to inject life into a vulnerable South Canterbury lagoon.

South Canterbury’s Hunter Downs irrigation scheme was in final-stage talks with farmers and Crown Irrigation Investments for funding linked to a rescue bid for Wainono Lagoon, near Waimate.

Environment Canterbury said using the Waitaki River to add clean, low-nutrient water to the lagoon was a key feature of the proposed 12,000ha Hunter Downs scheme.

ECan classed the coastal lake near Waimate as a nutrient red zone. . . 

Basic farming brings rewards – Annette Scott:

Nick France admits to being pretty stingy in his sheep and beef breeding operation as he sticks with old-fashioned philosophy of attention to detail at key times.

He told farmers at the Beef + Lamb New Zealand farming for profit day he runs his beef operation as cheaply as possible, aligning practice with the philosophy of having bulls that perform well under commercial conditions and produce well-grown, profitable offspring.

“What we do here is cheap and commercial. The cows are a tool. We use them for growing and managing pasture for our commercial sheep operation and selecting bulls for the stud,” France said. . . 

New SIL values thereby hangs a tail – Sally Rae:

A sheep breed developed in West Otago has become the first in the world to have breeding values calculated for tail length and bare skin on the tail.

Allan Richardson, from Avalon Genetics, has been breeding and recording low-input sheep that do not require docking since 2009.

He believes the new SIL (Sheep Improvement Ltd) breeding values will give commercial farmers new opportunities to reduce their cost of production, improve animal welfare and open new markets for their lamb. . . 

Farmlands directors elected – Sally Rae:

Former long-standing Alliance Group director Murray Donald has been elected to the Farmlands board.

Mr Donald, who farms at Winton, is a chartered fellow of the Institute of Directors, councillor and member of the audit and risk committee for the Southern Institute of Technology and a trustee and chairman of the audit and risk committee for the Agri-Women’s Development Trust.

Nine candidates contested the three  vacancies this year and Nikki Davies-Colley, from Northland, was  re-elected. . . 

Wobbly times ahead for wool industry – Andrew McRae:

New Zealand could face a shortage of shearers because they’re not being trained, an industry organisation says.

Wool Research Organisation chair Derrick Millton said young people were not as attracted to shearing as a career as they once were. He said there was no specific training organisation to promote shearing and woolhandling.

“The age of the shearers for a start off, they’re getting older and no new ones coming in… There are a lot of other jobs today that are more appealing than shearing. . . 

Connecting children with dairy:

DairyNZ’s education programme is now used in more than one third of primary schools and one quarter of secondary schools around New Zealand.

Thanks to farmer volunteers, 4500 children (plus teachers and parents) visited a dairy farm in the past year and more than 21,000 children have visited a farm since the Find a Farmer programme launched six years ago.

Science in schools

DairyNZ’s hands-on science kits have helped teachers bring learning alive in the classroom, and explore science through the context of dairying.

Each science kit is distributed to 200 teachers who have signed up for the resource, reaching about 6000 children. The kits provide all the tools a class needs to complete a science experiment, investigating a learning outcome within the context of dairy. The schools share their work on ourfarmvisit.co.nz. . . 


Rural round-up

October 23, 2017

Red meat halves risk of depression:

Women who reduce lamb and beef in their diets are more likely to suffer depression, according to the new study.

Experts admitted surprise at the findings because so many other studies have linked red meat to physical health risks.

The team made the link after a study of 1000 Australian women.
Professor Felice Jacka, who led the research by Deakin University, Victoria, said: “We had originally thought that red meat might not be good for mental health but it turns out that it actually may be quite important. . . 

Tech means go slow to speed up – Richard Rennie:

A warts and all insight to precision agriculture’s impact on those at the sharp end includes frustrations over data quantities it generate but also the rewards of sticking with it and saving significant sums along the way.

At this year’s precision agriculture conference in Hamilton delegates had the chance to learn about hands-on farmer experiences with the many different versions of the technology and pick up some lessons on how to get the most from it. . .

Farmers should benefit from calls for greater transparency around food production – Gerald Piddock:

Consumer demands for more transparency in food production are expected to bring greater rewards for New Zealand farmers demonstrating good environmental stewardship.

The push for more transparency came from a growing interest in how food was produced, Ministry for Primary Industries’ director general Martyn Dunne told delegates at the International Tri-Conference for Precision Agriculture in Hamilton on October 16. . .

Concern for farmers involved in outbreak – Sally Rae:

South Canterbury Rural Support Trust trustee Sarah Barr says she is very concerned for the farmers involved with the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak, describing it as an “excruciating experience” for them.

Mrs Barr, who has been working closely with the farmers, urged the community to support them.

“Keep in mind how terrible it is for these guys losing their animals,” she told about 50 people attending a public meeting in Waimate this week.

Ministry for Primary Industries technical liaison officer Victoria Barrell said Mycoplasma bovis was a “terrible disease“. . .

NAIT disease response fell short – Annette Scott:

National Animal Identification and Tracing fell short of expectation in the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis response, Ministry for Primary Industries readiness and response director Geoff Gwyn says.

He told a farmer meeting in Waimate on Thursday that NAIT animal declaration had played a key part in the response.

“But we have learnt a lot. It has fallen short of expectation, been disappointing,” Gwyn said.

“If this had been a fast moving disease we could well be in a different situation. . . 

Orchard buyers set new kiwifruit gold standard as Zespri expands plantings – Gerard Hutching:

Prices for kiwifruit orchards have hit new highs, with a handful of sales this week in Bay of Plenty over the $1 million per hectare mark.

Stan Robb of PGG Wrightson Real Estate in Te Puke said properties were in such demand they were snapped up in days.

In June the region was abuzz with news of the first orchards to break through the $1m per ha ceiling. Those orchards had a full crop on them, so the new owners could make an immediate income, unlike the recent ones. . .


Rural round-up

September 19, 2017

Guiney misses out on selection – Hugh Stringleman:

One long-serving director and two newcomers are the preferred candidates for three Fonterra board seats this year leaving sitting board member Leonie Guiney out in the cold.

They were former Fonterra Shareholders Council chairman and nine-year director John Monaghan, of Wairarapa, former Deer Industry New Zealand chairman and farm consultant Andy Macfarlane of Mid-Canterbury and PWC partner and National Fieldays Society board member Brent Goldsack, of Waikato.

The three were named as independent nomination process candidates for three vacancies among seven farmer-director seats on the Fonterra board. . .

Palmerston North farmer Peter Bills owns more machines than most – Samantha Tennent:

Not many contractors or services agents come through the gate of Te Rata Farm at Linton, owned by Peter and Kim Bills. The Bills try to be as self-sufficient as possible across their business.

The Bills run a pretty taut ship, keeping costs down by doing all their own cultivation, mowing and bailing. They admit they own more gear than the average 260-cow farm; almost the only piece of equipment they don’t have is a harvester.

“It keeps costs down for us but more importantly we aren’t relying on a contractor to get the work done. . .

Weather hits somber pea growers – Annette Scott:

There’s been no compensation for Wairarapa pea growers heading into their second season of a two-year pea moratorium.

And on top of wet weather that meant they could not get crops in the ground put farmers in a pretty sombre mood, Wairarapa cropping farmer Karen Williams said.

Williams, the 2017 Biosecurity Farmer of the Year, was an integral part of the grower group working alongside farmers and the Ministry for Primary Industries in the pea weevil response. . .

Restrictions lifted on feijoas in Taranaki after being cleared of myrtle rust threat – Gerald Piddock:

Feijoa lovers can breathe a sigh of relief after ministry officials put the plant in the low risk category for infection from myrtle rust.

Growers will also be relieved after the Ministry for Primary Industries lifted restrictions for moving feijoa plants in and out of Taranaki after it concluded there was little risk of them spreading myrtle rust.

Since myrtle rust was found in New Zealand earlier this year, there had not been a single feijoa plant found with the infection, the New Zealand Plant Producers Incorporated said in a statement. . .

From milk to medicine with DFE Pharma – a farmer’s journey from Taranaki to Europe:

Under the mountain in Kapuni, Taranaki, our farmers’ milk is being made into something pretty remarkable.

Our Kapuni site focuses on producing pharmaceutical lactose, a key ingredient in inhalers helping people around the world manage their asthma.

The lactose we make at Kapuni is the most pure lactose you can make in the world. And in short, gets the medicine in powder inhalers to where it’s needed – the lungs. . . 


Rural round-up

September 14, 2017

Maniototo farmers challenge Ardern to visit them on water tax

A group of Central Otago farmers are challenging Jacinda Ardern to visit their farms to discuss Labour’s water tax plans.

The group of women, known as Water Maniototo, say they cannot afford a royalty on irrigated water, planned at one to two cents per thousand litres of water, and it could drive some off their land.

Francine Hore, who farms sheep at Patearoa, says she supports fixing up the nation’s waterways, but many farmers are doing everything they can already. . . 

Lambs hit $7/kg – Annette Scott:

Low global stocks pushing lamb markets above the odds for this season is positive news for the New Zealand sheep industry but farmers are not yet jumping with excitement, Federated Farmers meat and fibre chairman Miles Anderson says.

Latest trade statistics revealed average export prices for both chilled and frozen product were tracking well above any prices seen in recent years, including 2011, the last time NZ saw such strong global demand for lamb.

Demand for chilled lamb had held solid in recent months, driven by the tight supply with chilled prices reaching historically high levels. . . 

Broken business makes comeback – Annette Scott:

From a business that was “essentially broken” to one recording a modest profit in less than 12 months, NZ Yarn is now poised to add value for New Zealand woolgrowers.

Over the past year the Canterbury yarn processor has spun its own turnaround project.

Getting back on its feet to lift returns for farmers and shareholders had been the focus of NZ Yarn’s reinvention, chief executive Colin McKenzie said.

“A year ago the business was essentially broken.

“We have reinvented, repositioned and resized operations and moved from making sizeable losses to recording our first modest profit in July,” McKenzie said. . . 

Millions tune in watch start of fresh NZ milk sales to China through Alibaba – Gerald Piddock:

Milk New Zealand’s trade agreement with global online retailer Alibaba has been launched with millions of Chinese consumers tuning in to watch the event.

The Chinese-owned company’s Collins Road Farm is just south of Hamilton and its 29 New Zealand farms will supply Alibaba with fresh milk to be sold on its online platform.

Organisers of the launch rented a satellite facility for the day to enable it to be live streamed directly to China. In attendance were 10 of China’s biggest social media influencers including Yuni and Joyce, who are known as the Chufei Churan twins in China.

The pair are considered the Chinese Kardashians with social media follower numbers larger than New Zealand’s entire population. They and other influencers videoed the event and the farm directly to their followers in China. . . 

Water royalty point of divergence – Nicole Sharp:

Water and the environment are two of the key talking points for Southern Rural Life readers this coming election. As voting day fast approaches, reporter Nicole Sharp talked to the candidates in the rural electorates of Waitaki and Clutha-Southland about these two issues that will affect rural voters.

Water is crucial to the agricultural sector and all candidates and their parties standing in the Waitaki electorate this upcoming election want to do all they can to preserve water quality now and in the future, they say.

Current Waitaki MP and National candidate Jacqui Dean said National’s new policy statement on freshwater, which was announced last month, would pursue a target of 90% of rivers and lakes swimmable by 2040. . .

 

Canterbury cropping farmer embraces environmental limits – Tony Benny:

Third-generation Canterbury cropping farmer David Birkett isn’t phased by tougher environmental regulations and says they can even lead to an improved bottom line. He talked to Tony Benny.

David Birkett’s farm is near Leeston, not far from what has been called New Zealand’s most polluted lake, Te Waihora/Ellesmere, and he’s well used to close scrutiny of the environmental effects of farming there by the regional council, members of the public and media.

“There’s a bit of pressure on farmers but they gain out of it, that’s the silly thing. I can’t understand someone who doesn’t bother to try to do the best they can because your bottom line is going to be better,” he says.

“Doing some measuring and making sure you know what’s needed, most of the time you’re actually financially better off than what you’d previously been doing.” . . 

Adding value more than just adding cost – Nigel Malthus:

The term ‘value added’ is too often used as a vague generic, and farmers need to consider specific strategies for adding value, says Rabobank analyst Blake Holgate.

Speaking at the recent Red Meat Sector conference in Dunedin, Holgate noted that most lamb was still exported frozen, returning $6906/tonne instead of chilled at $11,897/t.

“By and large we’re still treating sheep meat as a commodity market, so the lower value frozen export market still makes up about 80% of what we export, while the higher value chilled market, that’s worth nearly twice as much per tonne, is only 20%. . .


Rural round-up

September 10, 2017

Why we should get rid of the word ‘townie’ for NZ’s sake – Sarah Perriam:

There is a civil war brewing on social media between “food producers” and “food consumers” and the aggression has reached the level of straight out bullying.

A friend of mine who works as a Farm Environment Auditor (yes that’s a thing) sends me screenshots of tweets (I don’t have the patience for Twitter!). One tweet said “You farmers are just a bunch of c**ts, see you next Tuesday, and you deserve everything you get.”

If this sort of comment was aimed at women, children or homosexuals, would this be appropriate? Of course not. But sadly, in this day and age, our Facebook feed is our news, with many are reading the comments rather than the article, looking to confirm their beliefs rather than form new ones. . .

Farmer fears for future – Annette Scott:

Mid Canterbury cropping farmer David Clark has grave concern about the disconnection between food production and urban people. He talked to Annette Scott about his passion for the land and his fear for the future of farming in New Zealand.

David Clark is a full time, working arable farmer, passionate about the greater industry and its sustainability for future generations.

The Mid Canterbury Federated Farmers vice president says the farming industry has been good to him and his involvement in Feds is one way he can give back to the industry.

If there is an issue to sort, Clark will be there to contribute his bob’s worth for the betterment of farming. . .

Ferreting out rabbits seen as a ‘win-win‘ – Pam Jones:

A medieval method of pest control is helping an endangered species at a Central Otago reserve. Pam Jones finds out how ferreting is tackling both rabbits and redbacks in the fight to protect the Cromwell chafer beetle.

It is an ancient and environmentally friendly practice that is getting results in a protected Central Otago landscape. But it will also get you bitten occasionally.

“Ferrets here have to be trapped from the wild and tamed down by handling lots. The younger they are when trapped the easier to train — in general. But I have had many a sore finger from unsuitable ferrets that cannot be tamed down.”

Steve “Billy” Barton is talking about rabbiting, done an old-fashioned away. Ferrets have been used to catch and kill rabbits and hares since before medieval times, and in Central Otago they have been used for pest control on and off for decades. . .

Riparian survey to capture data – Richard Rennie:

As the go-to option for managing sediment runoff, there are surprisingly few case studies showing how different approaches to riparian plantings work. Now Niwa researchers hope to change that. Richard Rennie spoke to freshwater ecologist Richard Storey who is leading the initiative.

Farmers are being invited to provide information on their riparian plantings to help measure their effectiveness and provide a pool of data for future plantings.

“Riparian plantings are now a major investment people all over the country are working on and that includes dairy processors and industry groups,” Niwa scientist Dr Richard Storey says. . .

Texas farmers suffers extensive crop damage in wake of Harvey  – Carrie Kahn:

In south Texas, this was going to be one of the best years farmers had seen in a while. The cotton crop was projected to bring in record prices and even clear out many families’ debts. But the massive rainfall, winds and a slow drying-out process from Harvey have left many farmers overwhelmed and worried.

That includes people like Dave Murrell, whom I meet at AL-T’s Seafood and Steakhouse, a Cajun restaurant in Winnie, Texas, a rural town about an hour east of Houston. The place is packed, even though lunchtime has long come and gone. No one is in a hurry to get back to their fields — they can’t. They’re flooded. Murrell says nearly 400 acres of his rice are totally submerged. . .


Rural round-up

August 12, 2017

Farming to end –  Annette Scott:

FARMING will have to shut down in Canterbury’s Selwyn district to meet national water quality standards for the region’s polluted Lake Ellesmere, Environment Canterbury has told the Government.

In a business case analysis provided to the Ministry for the Environment, ECan outlined significant fundamental change needed to bring the lake, one of New Zealand’s most polluted, into line.

“On the current basis to achieve Government freshwater outcomes as mandated it would mean taking all intensive agriculture, not just dairy, out of the play,” ECan councillor and Selwyn district farmer John Sunckell said. . .

Mycoplasma bovis update:

MPI’s progress in the response to the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis was the focus of a well-attended public meeting in Waimate last night.

Around 100 people turned out to hear MPI officials and a number of industry body partners outline the current surveillance and testing regime and timelines, the robustness of disease containment measures and the actions farmers can take to protect their farms.

There remains no change to the number of properties with confirmed positive test results for Mycoplasma bovis – 2 farms, both within the wider Van Leeuwen group of farms. . .

Beltex lambs hit the ground – Annette Scott:

THE first lamb has hit the ground marking the beginning of an exciting new meat breed for the New Zealand sheep industry.

And for the partners in the venture it was almost more exciting than getting grandchildren.

Beltex embryos imported from England were transferred to four-year-old Perendale ewes on Blair Gallagher’s Mid Canterbury foothills Rangiatea farm in March. . .

Demand for vets ‘unprecedented‘ – Yvonne O’Hara:

As the southern dairy industry improves after seasons of low payouts and on-farm cost-cutting, some of the region’s veterinarian practices are finding it difficult to fill staff vacancies, a trend that is reflected nationally.

They are also in competition with overseas recruiting agencies, which are eyeing New Zealand to fill their clients’ needs.

The increasing demand for both production and companion animal vet services as practices get busier, is a good indicator of how well the economy is doing, New Zealand Veterinary Association’s Veterinary Business Group chairwoman Debra Gates said. . .

Catchment group and iwi join forces – Nicole Sharp:

The Pourakino Catchment Group and local iwi are putting a game plan in place for increasing plantings and improving water quality in the catchment by working together.

The group hosted a field day at Oraka Aparima Runaka marae recently, talking about the nursery run by the marae and how the two groups would work together to grow and plant trees in the catchment.

The group saw itself as a driver of change in Southland, as one of the earliest formed catchment groups in the region. . .

Too wet to sow pick-your-own verges for Palmerston North grower – Jill Galloway:

A pick-your-own garden is running to crunch point to get some vegetables planted so they’re ready for the week before Christmas, when everybody wants fresh potatoes, peas and berries.

Neville Dickey from Delta Gardens near Palmerston North said he was feeling the pinch of continual wet weather after 34 years of vegetable growing and meeting the Christmas market.

The 12 hectare block was on river silt, gravel and sand, and would dry out soon if there was a break in the weather, he said.

“There are not many years that have we have seen so much rain. We have had rain on and off since September last year.” . .


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