Rural round-up

December 8, 2019

The changing face of the dairy farm – Gerald Piddock:

It wasn’t easy for Doug and Tracey Chappell to get onto their own land.

But their entry-level Pukeatua dairy farm means more than just what the 60 hectares and its relatively small 150 cow herd add to their long-term business plan.

“It’s our place and it’s something for our kids as well and they have even talked about running the farm in the future,” said Doug. . . 

Shortsighted? – Annette Scott:

Experts fear high ewe prices are encouraging farmers to sell breeding stock to processors at such a rate New Zealand exports might in a few years not have enough product.

That would provide an opening for Australia to grab market share from NZ. There is also a worry a shortage of stock could lead to a single desk seller, thus eliminating procurement competition.

The problem is compounded by the falling number of farmers willing to breed the lambs. Many young farmers are not interested and instead buy in store lambs to fatten. . . 

Striped dairy cows – a rare breed :

Opunake farmer Andy Whitehead milks eight different breeds of cattle, but Lakenvelders are his favourite. They hail from the Netherlands and are easy to spot in the dark.

If you drive past Andy Whitehead’s Taranaki farm at night, his favourite cows are easy to spot.

They look as though they’ve been draped with a white blanket.

“Lakenvelder simply means ‘white blanket’ or ‘white sheet’ which describes the cow with a stripe over her back,” Andy says. . . 

50 avocado trees completely stripped in Hawke’s Bay orchard – Georgia May Gilbertson:

“Stupidity and desperation” are the only reasons a police officer can think of after 50 avocado trees were completely stripped of their fruit in Hawke’s Bay. 

Sergeant Alasdair Macmillan said the theft happened at an orchard belonging to Crab Farm Winery in Bay View and was reported to police last weekend. 

He said the thieves cut through a fence near a group of beehives and it was  estimated they took an apple crate worth of fruit. . . 

Xmas cheer from Fonterra as the bosses at the dairy co-op get back to basics – Point of Order:

Dairy   farmers  had  some   Xmas cheer  this   week,  as  dairy  giant  Fonterra told them  the  forecast  payout  would  be the fourth-highest-ever,  at the mid-point of its farmgate milk price range.

The  $7.30kg/ms means   the cash payout  for the season  will  reach $11.2bn, a rise of about $400m from the earlier  forecast.

There  could  even  be  a  clap  from the cowsheds for the  new bosses of   Fonterra  who are  turning around the co-op’s  financial  performance, as they apply  a back-to-basics  approach  to  recovering from last year’s  horrendous  $605m  loss.  The first  quarter of the  new financial  year has  gone  well. . . 

Canterbury running out of water??? – Gravedodger:

I have returned to the world after another time of peace and calm at “The Gorge”.

Rakaia Gorge that is and it was somewhat different this time. The river that ruled Mona Anderson’s life inspired her to write of her time married to the then manager of Mt Algidus Station, which lies above the confluence of the Rakaia and Wilberforce rivers, the story related in her first book of nine, “A River Rules my Life”. That river was in flood for many recent days peaking at over three thousand cumecs at least twice.

A cumec is a cubic meter of water flowing past a point each second. Just absorb that figure,  three thousand cubic meters every second!

Do the maths. . . 


Rural round-up

December 6, 2019

Be fair about passing on costs, Federated Farmers tells banks:

Federated Farmers is urging the trading banks to absorb as much as possible of the additional costs of new bank capital requirements rather than dump it all on customers, and especially on under-pressure farmers.

The Reserve Bank has estimated the impact of the required lift in total capital to 18% for the four large banks and 16% for remaining smaller banks (from a current average of 14.1%) will be a 0.2% increase in average bank lending rates.

“But the impact on farming is likely to be much higher,” Federated Farmers commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard says.

“This is because there is less lending competition in the agricultural sector and we know banks are already looking to reduce their exposure to farm debt. Banks have been putting the squeeze on farmers even before today’s announcements by the Reserve Bank.” . .

Low methane New Zealand sheep coming to a farm near you – Esther Taunton:

Farmers will soon be able to breed low methane sheep through a “world first” genetics programme. 

Beef and Lamb New Zealand has added low methane production to the list of traits breeders can target when choosing rams.

Farmers already use several “breeding values” (BV) to select animals with characteristics they want to strengthen in their flocks, including meat yield and lamb survival rate. . . 

Farmer leads second Wayleggo Cup win – David Hill:

Andy Clark is proud to boast an unbeaten record as New Zealand sheep dog trials test team captain.

The Banks Peninsula farmer led his country to a second successive Wayleggo Cup triumph over Australia at the 125th annual Nelson A&P Show on November 23 and 24.

‘‘It’s a great event and it brings out the best in people. It’s always good to represent your country and it’s an honour to be the captain.’’

He had a very successful season with his dog Girl, winning the national long head title and placing sixth overall in the yarding at the New Zealand sheep dog trials championships earlier this year.

Qualification for the national side is based on performances at the North Island and South Island competitions and the national championships. . . 

Growers told change needed now – Colin Williscroft:

Vegetable growers have been told Overseer won’t work for them and farm environment plans are the best way to demonstrate good land management practice.

Agrilink director Andrew Barber, who is working with Vegetables NZ and HortNZ to encourage growers to develop plans, has been running a series of workshops in Levin to explain their benefits. Workshops are also being held in Pukekohe.

But there are a range of drawbacks applying Overseer to vegetable production. . . 

Kiwi farmers are joining a revolution – farming the regenerative way – Jendy Harper & Frank Film:

There’s a buzz in Simon Osborne’s paddock of crimson clover. It’s the hum of animated chatter as around 70 farming folk share their experiences of farming the regenerative way. 

Others in the field are quietly taking it all in – “newbies” attending their first field day to learn more about a farming practice that “mimics nature” and has its roots in soil biology and plant diversity.

With many New Zealand farmers facing financial and environmental challenges, a growing number are showing an interest in regenerative agriculture. . . 

City kids have farm classroom – Annette Scott:

A slice of rural New Zealand in the centre of Auckland has city kids farming with a view of the Sky tower.

While most Mt Albert Grammar School students grapple with the more usual classroom studies others are out getting hands-on agribusiness lesssons on the school’s 8.1 hectare farm.   

The cows and sheep grazing on a farm with a good view of Auckland’s sky tower is the story being told by the third Dairy Women’s Network visual story telling project – Our people, their stories.

The school farm was established in 1932 when the Auckland Horticultural Society decided city children were losing knowledge of farming practices and asked Mount Albert Grammar to teach agriculture and horticulture. . . 

Feeling of being branded ‘unclean’ – Sally Brooker:

North Otago farmers Murray and Gaynor Smith say they feel like they’ve been branded ‘‘unclean’’ as a result of being caught up in the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak.

The Smiths are speaking out to show others in a similar predicament they are not alone.

It all started a year ago when Mr Smith bought eight cattle at Oamaru’s Waiareka saleyards. They joined the one resident steer on the 62ha Livingstone farm.

Mr Smith said he was contacted by the M. bovis casing team in Wellington on September 9, but ‘‘there was no indication given that there was anything to worry about’’.

About a week later, he was phoned by a person assigned by the Ministry for Primary Industries to be his incident control point (ICP) manager. The man, whom Mr Smith preferred not to name, told him his cattle were linked to a property known to have M. bovis. . . 


Rural round-up

November 30, 2019

Good sheep meat prices will last – Annette Scott:

Despite global trade wars, Brexit and the impact of African swine fever the trade fundamentals for New Zealand’s sheep meat sector remain among the strongest in living memory.

Spring lambs at $9 a kilogram and record high mutton prices are not a flash in the pan, Beef + Lamb chief economist Andrew Burtt and senior insight analyst Ben Hancock say. 

And the fundamentals leading to record highs in the sheep industry look set to continue for at least the next three years.  . . 

Fonterra claims sustainability progress

It is not easy being green when you are not profitable, Fonterra leaders say in the co-op’s third annual Sustainability Report.

The past financial year was tough and one of significant challenges and fundamental change in the culture and strategy of the co-operative.

“Given the tough year we had it would’ve been easy to push sustainability to one side, whereas we have in fact continued to make progress,” chief executive Miles Hurrell said.

“We have underlined our commitment to the importance of sustainability and firmed up plans to do more on climate change, coal, waste and sustainable packaging.” . . 

New wool partnership ‘one of the biggest’ in New Zealand history – Angie Skerrett:

A new partnership between a Canterbury-based wool company and one of the world’s largest apparel and footwear companies is estimated to be worth more than a quarter of a billion dollars.

The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) and VF Corporation have formalised a framework that will grow the market for ZQ certified merino wool.

ZQ natural fibre is the world’s leading ethical wool with growers having to adhere to the requirements set out in the ZQ Grower Standard. . .

US redwood sequoia company wins approval to buy more NZ land – Eric Frykberg:

A US company wanting to grow giant redwood trees here to sell the lumber back home has won the right to buy another 4000ha in New Zealand.

Tough restrictions on cutting down Redwood, or Sequoia, in the US means people cannot get enough of it to use as a building material.

The wood is especially popular for things like decking and outdoor furniture, as it is admired as both attractive and robust.

To meet the need, the Soper Wheeler Company of California set up the New Zealand Redwood Company in Taupō in 2001.

New Zealand’s moist climate allows higher growth rates for Sequoia than in California. . . 

New tool for farmers to measure their GHG :

Options for farmers have now broadened when it comes to managing their greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint on-farm.

The recent inclusion of urease-coated urea fertilisers as an option in the nutrient budgeting tool OverseerFM means farmers will now be able to demonstrate the benefits of its use in reducing farm emissions.

Urease-inhibited urea fertiliser, such as Ravensdown’s N-Protect, has dual benefits. It decreases volatilisation losses, therefore increasing agronomic efficiency by retaining more nitrogen (N) in the root zone. . . 

Dairy Environment Leaders trade gumboots for suits:

The DairyNZ Dairy Environment Leaders are hosting their 7th Annual farmer-led forum in Wellington from 2 – 4 December with a firm focus on supporting communities and embracing change, says DEL Chairwoman Tracy Brown.

“There is a lot of change currently facing our sector with issues like reducing emissions and improving water quality front of mind for both farmers and the general public” Mrs Brown said.

“Our Dairy Environment Leaders are rising to the challenge and leading from the front as they engage with supporters, critics and other farmers. . . 


Rural round-up

November 25, 2019

Merino passion recognised – Sally Rae:

A Central Otago farming family recently received recognition for the quality of its merino wool. Business and rural editor Sally Rae visits Matangi Station.

At Matangi Station, the Sanders family are firm believers in the adage that there are only two types of sheep in the world – merinos and others.

Four generations have pursued a passion for the breed and that looks set to continue with the fifth generation – Todd – already exhibiting a love of animals and the lifestyle the Central Otago high country property affords.

The family’s pride in producing high-quality fine wool was rewarded recently when Matangi was presented with Reda Group’s Marque of Excellence 2018-19 – or top supplier in New Zealand – at a function at Lake Hayes. . .


Prices go crazy
– Annette Scott:

Red meat prices, buoyed by demand for protein, are sailing in uncharted waters with wethers fetching $373 a head at Coalgate on Thursday, Hazlett livestock general manager Ed Marfell says.

Despite the season tracking behind in both grass and lamb growth, stock are fetching record prices.

“It was a slow start but the way the season is unfolding now it is difficult to say where it might be headed. . .

Lucrative opportunities in horticulture for school leavers:

School leavers should consider horticulture as a career filled with variety, relevance and opportunities to see the world. 

‘Horticulture has a massive range of careers to choose from,’ says Erin Simpson, Head of Capability Development at NZ Apples and Pears. ‘It’s not about picking bags and ladders anymore.

‘The horticulture sector is expecting growth of nearly 4% this year on top of massive growth last year.  This growth is creating fantastic opportunities for school leavers wanting to work in a sector that can take them places and pay them well.’ 

Erin is part of the Horticulture Capability Group (HCG), which was promoting the industry at this year’s Careers and Transition Education Association (CATE) Conference. . .

NZQA exam questions portray unbalanced view of farming:

NZQA needs to front up to concern that has been created by questions in their exams painting a one-sided picture of New Zealand’s farmers, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“Students who sat their NCEA level three English exam were tasked with a question that described waterways as being ravaged by farmers and spoke of a ‘town vs country’ divide.

“There needs to be some balance in how our education system portrays farmers. We have the most sustainable farmers in the world but this rarely gets mentioned.

“Coupled with our national museum Te Papa advising our children they should be giving up meat and dairy for the sake of the environment, there is a concern our kids are being convinced that farming drives environmental degradation. . .

Connectivity powers irrigation efficiency:

Internet connectivity and technology are playing a vital role in the growth of Ashburton-based Plains Irrigators, which has grown from a local business into a large South Island enterprise employing around 40 staff.

The company started in the 1990s with the beginning of centre pivot irrigation. It designs, installs and services pivot and lateral irrigators, and retrofits existing systems.

Manager Dan Stephens describes internet connectivity as crucial to the company’s growth. . .

The farmers who started out with student debt and big dreams – Charley Adams:

When Lewis Steer was 16, his parents gave him three sheep as a reward for doing well in his GCSEs.

It was an unusual present but Lewis and his girlfriend Flora Searson had an unusual goal – despite coming from non-farming families, they dreamed of running their own farm.

Now in their mid-20s, that’s something they’re doing, rearing three flocks of rare-breed sheep on rented land in Dartmoor, Devon.

They explain what it’s been like breaking into an industry that’s often associated with a suspicion of outsiders. . .


Rural round-up

November 21, 2019

Top farm is 100 not out – Jo Grigg:

Fraser and Shelley Avery, Bonavaree, have taken out top place in the Westpac Bayleys Marlborough Sheep and Beef Farmer of the Year 2019 and a $32,000 prize package.

Together with Fraser’s parents Doug and Wendy Avery, the inter-generational farm partnership first made award headlines in 2010, winning South Island Farmer of the Year.

Since then the business has grown in scale to 2232 hectares (effective) and six staff but the successful recipe around direct grazing of lucerne has not changed. 

Doug and Wendy have moved off the farm but maintain an interest and Fraser runs the business while Shelley has started working full-time for St John Ambulance. . . 

Sustainability award for Stonehenge – Annette Scott:

Otago sheep and beef farmers Andrew and Francine Hore have been internationally recognised for their environmentally friendly farming.

The couple who are fourth generation farmers on the family’s 18,000 hectare Stonehenge property in Maniototo took out the Reda Group’s Sustainability Award.

The Reda Group, a Biella, Italy, leader in the production of Merino wool fabrics held its annual conference in Queenstown earlier this month where it crowned the Hore’s Stonehenge Merinos as its second ever sustainability award winner.  . . 

Will apple trees replace pines in North Canterbury?:

Apple trees could be replacing pines in North Canterbury.

Ngāi Tahu Farming has ordered tree stocks for planting a trial orchard in the Culverden/Balmoral area in 2021.

The initial 15ha commercial pipfruit orchard could be the first in the wider Amuri Basin.

The area is known for long, hot, fine days and low rainfall. Local farmers have been known to grow fruit trees successfully for home consumption and it was partly this knowledge that prompted Ngāi Tahu Farming to consider trialling horticulture as an option in the area. . .

Merino-judging debut leads to success, chance to learn – Sally Rae:

Harriet Gardner has had a successful first attempt at judging merino sheep.

Miss Gardner (25), who comes from a sheep and beef farm at Waihaorunga, near Waimate, won the merino junior judging competition held at the Paterson family’s property Armidale in the Maniototo recently.

That qualified her to compete in the junior judging competition at the New Zealand Agricultural Show in Christchurch last week where she finished second.

She had previously won a cattle-judging competition, which saw her travel to Australia, but she had not tackled merino judging. . . 

Sisters maintain family tradition in Maniototo – Sally Rae:

It will be a sister act at Maniototo A&P Show in Ranfurly in February.

Siblings Margot Hall and Janine Smith will be at the helm of the show, as president and secretary respectively.

If their duties in those positions do not sound busy enough, Ms Smith will also be exhibiting about 25 sheep.

Mrs Hall was following in the footsteps of her father, well-known sheep breeder Ian Smith, who has had two stints as president.

Ms Smith took over last year from longstanding secretary Neville Wahrlich who was in the job for more than 40 years. “I haven’t got that in me”, she confided. . . 

Federal ‘green bank’ and Mike Cannon-Brookes back new ‘agrifood’ fund – John McDuling:

The federal government’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation and Atlassian billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes have teamed up to back a new $30 million venture capital fund targeting the “agrifood” sector.

The CEFC and Mr Cannon-Brookes’ personal investment fund, Grok Ventures, have each committed $8 million to Tenacious Ventures, which describes itself as “Australia’s first dedicated agrifood tech venture capital firm”.

Tenacious Ventures is seeking to raise $30 million and is led by Matthew Pryor, who helped found agrifood tech startup Observant, which was sold to India’s Jain Irrigation in 2017; and Sarah Nolet, CEO of agrifood tech advisory firm AgThentic.The fund plans to invest in early-stage startups focused on the agricultural supply chain and which are trying to lift farm efficiency and reduce waste. . .

Rural round-up

November 8, 2019

Muller: Labour wants ag gone – Annette Scott:

The Government does not see agribusiness as part of the future of New Zealand’s economy, National Party agriculture spokesman Todd Muller says.

And the freshwater reforms are potentially damaging to the rural community, he told about 200 people at a meeting in Ashburton.

He is wary of new rules without factoring in the potential economic impact.

“You can only get sustainable, enduring outcomes if farmers can see a way they can farm to their limits.

“Economic, social and environmental implications are all perspectives that need to be in communications.

“That’s why we are pushing back very hard and will do if we are in government after September next year.”   . . 

Fonterra wants change to water rules – Sudesh Kissun:

Fonterra wants the Government to remove suggested maximum required levels of nitrogen and phosphorous in streams.

In its submission on the Government’s Action of Healthy Waterways proposal, Fonterra says it “strongly opposes” some of the maximum required levels for dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) and dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP).

Farm Source Group director Richard Allen says the discussion document does not contain sufficient economic analysis to justify the proposed bottom line values.

Fonterra believes that in-stream bottom lines should only be used where there is a direct link to the outcomes sought. . .

‘Some mud needs to be thrown’ – farmer at Fonterra AGM :

Fonterra shareholders are frustrated and want accountability after turbulent times for the country’s biggest enterprise.

About 200 farmers gathered in Invercargill for the dairy giant’s annual general meeting.

The co-op recently posted a $605 million loss for the last financial year, and didn’t pay dividends to shareholders.

Farmer shareholders acknowledged that today was going to be tough for Fonterra’s leaders during an Q and A session. . .

Breeders boost eating quality – Neal Wallace:

Breeders are responding to customers’ desires and positioning the sheep farmers for the day when processors start grading meat for its eating qualities. Neal Wallace reports.

Meat processors don’t recognise eating quality yet but a group of ram breeders is preparing for when they do.

Andrew Tripp from Nithdale Station in Southland is involved in the South Island genomic calibration project, which uses DNA testing to let breeders predict terminal sire rams likely to produce offspring with meat that has superior qualities of tenderness and juiciness.

Other partners in the project include Beef + Lamb Genetics, Pamu, AgResearch, Focus Genetics, Kelso, the Premier Suftex group, the Southern Suffolk group and Beltex NZ. . . 

A blaze of yellow – Nigel Malthus:

Several thousand hectares of South Island farmland is a blaze of yellow as the annual rapeseed crop welcomes the spring.

Cropping farmer Warren Darling is one whose display regularly wows the public, since his farm straddles State Highway One just south of Timaru. His 120ha of rape is at “peak flower” and he expects to harvest at the end of January.

Darling has been growing the crop for about 12 years, along with wheat and barley.

He is now also trying sunflowers, beans and industrial hemp, in an effort to find compatible crops to move to a four-year rotation. . .

Busy music career gathers speed – Alice Scott:

Farmer’s wife, teacher, mother of twin boys, fledgling musician and all while recovering from brain surgery … it’s fair to say Casey Evans hasn’t been taking things easy over the last few years.

Casey moved to husband Rhys’ family farm near Owaka just under three years ago and things have been moving rapidly since, as her country music career begins to gain momentum and she is about to set off on a Somewhere Back Road music tour, raising funds to produce her first solo album.

It is just over a year since Casey underwent surgery to extend the size of her skull and release the pressure on her cerebellum and brain stem tissue which was pushing against the hole at base of her skull. For years Casey said she has experienced chronic fatigue and headaches which she attributed to “a few too many” horse falls. Being pregnant with twins, the symptoms compounded and Casey blacked out.

“It was then they did a scan and diagnosed the problem.” . . 

EcoScapes: Stunning views, mental massages and the country’s coolest cinema – Brook Sabin:

I’ve come up with a great concept: the mental massage.

Let me explain. It’s a crazy time to be a human: we’re bombarded with so much information, we’re expected to do more than ever, and we’re all feeling, well, a little bit tired. 

So, you’ll like this next bit: it’s time for a mental massage. I’m talking about a little holiday that slows the heartbeat. That relaxes the muscles. That gives your brain a break. 

And, boy, I think I’ve found it. 

It’s a luxury pod in the mountains, where you can sit back in bed and stare at the Southern Alps. And with the flick of a button, the room transforms into the country’s coolest cinema – all to enjoy with just one other person. . . 


Rural round-up

November 5, 2019

A tale of three shepherds :

Shepherding is more a lifestyle than a job for Kate White, Lesley Pollock and Kacey Johnson.

They’re among the youngest team of women shepherds in the country.

Kate White (23) groans when she remembers her first experience as a shepherd.

“I thought, I’m too soft for this,” she says, manoeuvring a grunty ute up steep hill country on the outskirts of Taupo. . .

Chairman keen to keep up world-class facility status – Yvonne O’Hara:

As the new chairman of the Southern Dairy Development Trust, (SDDT) fourth generation farmer Tim Driscoll brings years of farming and financial experience to the role.

He is a dairy farmer near Winton, milking 600 cows on 200ha with a 300,000kg of milk solids target this season.

The farm was converted to dairy in 2012 from sheep and beef property in 2012. . .

 

Her passion for farming the spur :

Kate Stainton-Herbert is one of the new members of the Southern Dairy Development Trust, which is a cornerstone partner in the commercial and research dairy unit, the Southern Dairy Hub, near Wallacetown.

Q Tell me a little about your background, family, your farm size, stock numbers, production etc. and your current career.

I grew up on a sheep, beef and deer farm in Balfour, Northern Southland.

I am the oldest of three girls, and from a very young age was lucky enough that my parents involved us heavily on farm and passed their passion for farming on to us.

After attending school and university in Dunedin I spent five years working in banking in Auckland. During this time, I gained incredible knowledge and experiences, as sitting in the dealing room during during the 2008 global financial crisis was something you do not see every day. . .

No silver bullet for phosphorus – Mike Manning:

In New Zealand’s soils, phosphorus does a great job at growing plants but unfortunately it does the same thing if it makes it into our water.

Once dissolved phosphate is in surface water, it assists in growing the wrong plants such as oxygen-depleting algae that starve other organisms.

There has been plenty of heat and noise about the Government’s proposed limit for dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) in New Zealand’s waterways and its impact on food creation. But the proposed limit for dissolved reactive phosphate (DRP) deserves just as much focus because the implications are just as serious.

The proposed 0.018 parts per million limit for DRP is certainly ambitious. The impacts of such an in-stream phosphate limit could affect more catchments than the proposed nitrogen limit: approximately 30% of monitored river sites exceed this threshold.   . .

Look ahead with farm confidence – Annette Scott:

A programme to help sheep and beef farming partners plan for their future and adapt to change will next year extend to 20 rural centres.

The two-month Future Focus business planning programme, set up in 2017, equips farming partnerships to set a future path for their businesses, develop systems to achieve goals and lead their teams to success. 

The programme, delivered by the Agri-Women’s Development Trust to more than 130 sheep and beef farmers this year, will reach 320 farmers in 2020 with continued support from the Red Meat Profit Partnership. . .

Genomic testing helps farmers fair-track genetic gain:

David Fullerton can tell before a heifer calf is weaned if it’s going to grow into a profitable, high-producing dairy cow.

David and his wife Pip, along with their sons Alex and Dean, milk almost 600 Holstein Friesians at Ngahinapouri near Hamilton.

They’re using genomic testing to identify calves with the greatest genetic potential, enabling breeding decisions to be fast-tracked.

“Genomic screening has been one of the biggest advancements in cattle breeding in the last 100 years,” said Fullerton. . .

 


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