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.” . .


Rural round-up

July 31, 2017

MPI urges vigilance – Annette Scott:

While he may be the first in New Zealand to have the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis detected on his farm, South Canterbury dairy farmer Aad van Leeuwen is confident he won’t be the last.

The Ministry for Primary Industries notified the detection of Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) disease on a South Canterbury dairy farm on July 25, but the identity of the property wasn’t revealed until four days later, on Friday, prompting speculation to run rife meantime.

Devastated that the disease – listed as an unwanted organism under NZ’s Biosecurity Act 1993 – had hit his dairy operation, van Leeuwen said he was co-operating 100% with MPI. . .

Japan frozen beef tariffs expected – Alan Williams:

New Zealand beef exporters are facing 50% tariffs on frozen exports to Japan over the next eight months.

Suppliers in this country have been caught in the reaction to big shipments from Australia, and especially the United States this year, so that total volumes have reached a trigger point at which the Japanese government has decided it needs to protect domestic farmers. . .

Give up farming generate power – Neil Malthus:

Farmers installing solar power can now get a better return from it than from farming itself, a solar power installer claims.

Electrical contractor Andrew Wells, of ABW Electric, Christchurch, recently set up Sunergy Solar to market solar photovoltaic systems. His company specialises in farm installations, marketed at farming field days and A&P shows; it also does residential systems.

Wells sees huge potential for solar power on farms: electricity charges for a dairy shed average $5000 – $6000 a month and solar panels now cost only about 8% of what they did 10 years ago. . . 

More wool needed for a brighter future – WNZ – Pam Tipa:

Greater sales volume is critical for Wools of NZ, says chair Mark Shadbolt.
The trademarked scouring process Glacier XT will be a more volume-focused business, he says.

“That will create lot more demand. It is creating a wool that is a lot whiter and brighter and is the sort innovation and technology we need to invest in to add value to the wool.

“We have had a lot of interest in the market for it because the brightness is the key aspect that the industry hadn’t been able to acquire until this technology became available.” . .

Southland a winner – Sonita Chandar:

Southlander Katrina Thomas knew “absolutely nothing about cows” when she and husband James Dixon converted to dairy farming.

But she turned that lack of knowledge around by joining the Dairy Women’s Network (DWN) and volunteering her time to the community.

It is this generosity that saw her win the 2017 Dairy Women’s Network Dairy Community Leadership award. . .

NZ’s prosperity still tethered to farm gate – Liam Dann:

There’s nothing like a biosecurity scare to remind us that New Zealand’s economic prosperity is still – for better or for worse – tethered to the farm gate.

The instant that news of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak in South Canterbury hit the headlines last Tuesday the dollar plunged.

Luckily it only dropped 20 basis points (0.2 per cent) before it became apparent that this was a more benign disease than foot and mouth.

But it was enough to put a deep V shape in the daily dollar chart and illustrate how quickly a more serious outbreak could take this country to the brink of recession. . .

Fonterra Australia increase farmgate milk price for the 2017/18 season:

Fonterra Australia has today advised its farmers of an increase of 20 cents per kilogram of milk solids (kgMS) to its farmgate milk price for the 2017/18 season, bringing its average farmgate milk price to $5.50kgMS. The increase will apply from 1 July 2017 and will be paid on 15 August 2017.

Fonterra’s additional payment of 40 cents/kgMS is payable on top of the revised farmgate milk price, and brings the total average cash paid to $5.90kgMS.

Fonterra Australia Managing Director René Dedoncker said that improved market conditions and the strength ohf the Australian business supported this step up. . . .


Rural round-up

July 19, 2017

Fonterra’s Te Rapa investment strengthens local economy Elton Rikihana Smallman:

Fonterra’s $20 million expansion is helping feed Hamilton’s growth.

Demand for dairy products in Asian markets has seen the co-op add new machinery to its Te Rapa factory on the outskirts of Hamilton.

A new, sweeter-than-usual mascarpone is in demand in Japan and new production lines will give Fonterra the capacity to deliver up to 3500 tonnes of cream cheese and up to 400 million individual butter portions per year. . .

Ewe hogget award winner beats brain injury – Tony Benny:

After he was hit by a car and seriously injured, John Harrison was told by doctors he’d be unlikely to be able go back farming but he defied the odds and now he and his wife Jane have won the New Zealand ewe hogget young achievers award.

Growing up on a small farm in Southland, it was John Harrison’s dream to manage a high country station for overseas owners. He was on track to realise that dream with a job on Glenthorne Station in Canterbury until one day seven years ago he stepped onto the road to better see the dog he was working on the hill above.

“It was just before Christmas, and he was on a corner. It had been raining so there was no dust and a car came round the corner and bowled him at 80kmh,” says his wife Jane. . .

Wool still faces buyer resistance

Very good quality new season’s wool is on the market but encountering buyer resistance.

About 20% of the new fleece wool and oddments entered for the first Christchurch auction of the season last week was withdrawn prior to sale with farmers resisting the current price levels, PGG Wrightson South Island wool manager Dave Burridge said.

New season’s wool was showing outstanding colour, length and style, reflecting the very good growing season in most parts of the South Island. . .

Kiwi version a cut above in Sweden – Annette Scott:

Cutting the meat to meet the market has reaped reward for venison processor and marketer Mountain River.

The Canterbury-based venison exporter has made a breakthrough for New Zealand venison in Sweden with the official launch of its range of novel grilling cuts.

Connecting with one of Sweden’s leading restaurant wholesalers, Menigo, Mountain River cemented the breakthrough deal that has the venison marketer dealing direct with a one-stop shop for Swedish food professionals. . .

Safe meat cutting technology:

Meat processor Alliance is investing $3.4 million in new processing technology as part of a wider programme to improve health and safety.
The co-op says 49 band-saws featuring state-of-the art safe cutting technology have been installed at eight plants across the country.

Designed specifically for the meat industry, the band-saws are uniquely designed to stop the blade within 15 milliseconds when the unit senses a person, glove or both are in close proximity or in contact with the saw. . .

Milk needs promotion  – Peter Burke:

Milk and dairy products need ongoing promotion in New Zealand, says a nutritional physiology professor at Massey University.

Marlena Kruger, who specialises in bone growth, has just completed a study of the effects of milk on children in the Fonterra milk-for-schools programme, and those who do not. The milk drinkers had significantly better bone health than those who did not.

The year-long research involved children aged five to ten. As the children’s diets were not controlled during the study, the data could indicate that the children drinking milk at school are also milk drinkers at home, so getting the full benefit of milk and dairy. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 15, 2017

Wool needs red carpet treatment – Neal Wallace:

Wool growers need to put their hands in their pockets to fund the education of marketers and retailers on the merits of carpet wool, an industry veteran says.

Richard Bloemendal, a director of Tech ‘N’ Color, has worked in the New Zealand textile industry since 1980. He said key people in the retail chain today were ignorant of the merits of wool.

He was commenting on news that thousands of bales of short, strong crossbred wool were being placed in storage since the price collapsed because of a lack of demand from yarn manufacturers. . .

Young blood comes in from the cold –  Neal Wallace:

As the country shivered this week through its coldest period of winter so far, 28-year-old Nigel Woodhead conceded the timing wasn’t great.

For the past nine months or so the newly-crowned FMG Young Farmer of the Year confessed to most days making sure his stock was shifted, healthy and fed before returning home to study and prepare for the annual contest.

Now, as the mercury plummets, he has no such excuse. . .

Footrot result a boost for merino – Annette Scott:

A scientific breakthrough has put Kiwi farmers a step closer to breeding footrot-resistant flocks and increasing production of premium Merinos.

Scientists from the NZ Merino Company broke new ground using DNA sampling to accurately predict how resilient a sheep’s progeny would be to footrot.

The breakthrough was the result of four years research and studies using the world’s largest single-site central progeny test. . .

Stink Bug Agreement signed:

 The Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is one of the biggest threats facing New Zealand’s horticultural sector. It threatens the livelihoods of primary sector producers, and would impact on the quality of life of all New Zealanders if ever able to establish here.

An agreement to reduce the damaging impact of BMSB incursion was signed today by a number of horticultural sector groups and Government at the Horticulture NZ Conference in Tauranga. . .

Letters to a Young Farmer– Danielle Nierenberg:

Today, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture released Letters to a Young Farmer,  a book which compiles insight from some of the most influential farmers, writers, and leaders in the food system in an anthology of essays and letters.

The United States is on the cusp of the largest retirement of farmers in U.S. history, with more farmers over the age of 75 than between the ages of 35 and 44. Letters to a Young Farmer aims to help beginning farmers succeed through advice and encouragement, while inspiring all who work in or care about the food system. Among the 36 contributors to the book are thought leaders Barbara Kingsolver, Bill McKibben, Michael Pollan, Dan Barber, Temple Grandin, Wendell Berry, Rick Bayless, and Marion Nestle. I was honored to contribute to the book as well! . . 

Barbara Kingsolver Cheers on Young Farmers:

Letters to a Young Farmer is full of good counsel for the next generation from the likes of Wendell Berry, Michael Pollan, and the noted novelist Barbara Kingsolver.

Dear young farmer,

Let me speak to you as a familiar, because of all the years I’ve cherished members of your tribe. Of course, I also know you’re only yourself, just as I remember the uniqueness of every intern, WWOOFer, and summer weed-puller who has spent a season or two on our family’s farm. Some preferred to work without shoes. Some were captivated by the science of soils, botany, and pest management. Some listened to their iPods, or meditated, or even sang as they hoed and weeded, while others found no music among the bean bee­tles. A few confessed to finding this work too hard, but many have gone on to manage other farms or buy places of their own. In these exceptional souls I invest my hopes.

I don’t need to tell you what there is to love in this life; you’ve chosen it. Maybe you’ve even had to defend that choice already against family or academic advisers who don’t see the future in farming. . . 


Rural round-up

July 9, 2017

Election muddies water issues – Neal Wallace:

Freshwater management faces significant reform regardless of who wins September’s general election.

The Labour and Green Parties would campaign on policies tightening the granting of resource consents for activities such as dairying.

Labour also promised to charge “a resource rental for large water take for irrigation at a fair and affordable price”.

Also in the wings, Environment Minister Nick Smith said a technical paper on options for allocating and pricing water was due in December and would have to be addressed by the incoming government. . . 

Champion kiwi lamb could be world’s healthiest and tastiest – Dave Gooselink:

A bid to produce the world’s healthiest red meat is proving a hit for a group of South Island high country farmers.

Their unique Te Mana lamb was launched onto the market this winter, to be served up at top restaurants both here and in Hong Kong.

Life on the farm’s been a lot tougher in recent years for the country’s sheep, as the growth of dairying pushes them higher into the hills.

Geneticist Aimee Charteris has spent the past decade on a project to create a new breed of sheep. . . 

Geneticist ‘stoked’ to be finalist – Nicole Sharp:

Julia Aspinall is an animal-breeding specialist.

Passionate about her work and the sheep industry, this year she was nominated for the Beef and Lamb New Zealand Significant Contribution to the New Zealand Sheep Industry Award for the first time.

She was announced as a finalist earlier this month, alongside retired Havelock North  Romney breeder Tony Parker and Parnassus Perendale breeder Tim Anderson.

“I was pretty stoked [to find out I was a finalist,]” she said.

“I’m passionate about doing what I’m doing.”

Originally from Mt Aspiring Station in Wanaka, Ms Aspinall has always had a love of the sheep industry. . . 

Confidence, new skills and impetus result from course – Sally Rae:

When Balfour farmer Jonny Elder signed up for the Rabobank farm managers programme last year, the timing was perfect.

Designed for emerging farmers, the programme focused on the development of business management skills, with an emphasis on strategic planning, leadership and self-awareness.

Mr Elder and his wife, Michelle, farm a 460ha sheep and beef property in Northern Southland, where they run ewes, fatten lambs and trade a mix of beef calves and Friesian bulls.

When he went on the course, the couple had just finished their first year farming on their own account — having previously farmed with Mr Elder’s father and brother — and they were ready to put into action their own ideas and visions. . . 

Pest fence broken – Annette Scott:

The biosecurity system is creaking and won’t be sustainable in five years, Ministry for Primary Industries readiness and response director Geoff Gwyn says.

Biosecurity had some big challenges that needed to be addressed collectively, he told farmers at the Federated Farmers arable industry conference.

“To put it bluntly, our system is creaking.

“Biosecurity is working but the model that is there is not sustainable for five years’ time.

“Leave it to the Crown solely and it ain’t going to work. We have got to do it together,” Gwyn said.

And while tourism was great for the country it created greater risk. . . 

Time farming moved on from low cost to added value – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Fieldays at Mystery Creek in mid-June showcased New Zealand innovation, interaction and, in some cases, simply imagination.

When the imagination was backed with evidence, facts and data, it transformed to a goal.

That was the case for the KPMG Agribusiness Agenda released on the first day of the Fieldays.

Titled ‘A Recipe for Action’, the 2017 Agenda said “NZ’s future is as an artisan, niche producer of premium quality, safe and sustainable food and beverages, fibre and timber products”. . . 

Future: threat or opportunity – Annette Scott:

The food industry is one of the fastest changing in the world so producing food to feed it will no longer be business as usual, technology futurist Rosie Bosworth says.

The Future Advantage consultant and communicator told more than 200 farmers at Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s FarmSmart event in Christchurch that while not much had changed in the way food had been produced for the past 10,000 years, it was changing now.

Technology and science were creating change beyond business as usual.

“We are amidst an era of exponential change with new business models evolving, accelerating and converging at breakneck speeds.” . . 

Franco Ledger to stand in Southland – Jonny Turner:

Southern harness racing breeders will have free access to the bloodlines of one of the area’s most recent pacing stars next breeding season.

Two-time Southland horse of the year Franco Ledger, by Falcon Seelster, will stand his first season at stud at Macca Lodge in northern Southland this spring, with a zero service fee.

The horse’s former trainer, Hamish Hunter, and co-owners the What Ever Syndicate, were keen to give the horse an opportunity at stud, so they persuaded Macca Lodge to take the horse, proprietor Brent McIntyre said. . .


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. . .


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