Rural round-up

30/04/2014

PM turns first sod on Central Plains Water irrigation scheme:

Prime Minister John Key today turned the first sod of the $375 million Central Plains Irrigation Scheme near Hororata in Canterbury.

First conceived in 2001, Stage 1 of the 60,000 ha scheme is expected to deliver water to 20,000 ha of Central Canterbury in September next year.

Chief executive Derek Crombie said that the first major work on the $140m first stage, comprising the 17km-long headrace canal and bridges, will commence immediately, with construction of the 130km-long pipeline network picking up momentum mid-year.

“We expect to have up to 150 contractors working on a number of sites in the near future and to this end we are heartened by the experience of our two major contractors, Fulton Hogan/John Holland JV on the headrace canal and Downers, supported by subcontractors Aquaduct NZ Ltd, for the pipe network. . .

Construction begins on Central Plains Water irrigation scheme in Canterbury:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the official start of construction on the Central Plains Water irrigation scheme in Canterbury, which has the potential to create up to $1.4 billion in new economic activity.

“This is a proud day for the Canterbury region, with major benefits both economically and environmentally.

“When fully completed the scheme will irrigate about 60,000ha in the central Canterbury area, bounded by the Rakaia and Waimakariri Rivers, and the foothills and State Highway 1.

“It’s estimated there will be additional economic activity of between $1 billion and $1.4 billion created, an export boost of $300 million per year, and around 1,100 new fulltime equivalent jobs. . .

Sheep and beef farm profits forecast to increase 35 per cent:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s latest forecast, released today, tells a positive story for farmers and the wider industry.

The organisation’s Mid-Season Update predicts better pricing and strong demand for sheepmeat and beef products from key markets.

The report outlined improved product prices which are expected to drive average sheep and beef farm profit up by 35 per cent on the drought-affected level of last season. The Mid-Season Update estimates that farm profit before tax for the 2013-14 season will rise to an average of $113,700 per farm.

B+LNZ Economic Service Chief Economist Andrew Burtt says total gross farm revenue is expected to increase 9.2 per cent to $460,200, reflecting a 12 per cent increase in sheep revenue. Total farm expenditure is estimated to be up 2.8 per cent, to $346,500, on the back of increases in repairs and maintenance expenditures. Interest expenditure dropped by 2.6 per cent, thanks to a slight decrease in farm debt and lower interest rates. . .

The full report is here.

Agricultural footprint risks getting out of balance – Allan Barber:

While not exactly a new or revolutionary call for action, Fish and Game’s call last week for an independent review of water use and leaching into waterways was another bit of pressure on the future development of New Zealand farming. The organisation has long been agitating for such a review, but the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s critical report on land use and nutrient pollution in waterways has provided it with further ammunition.

Inevitably dairy is cited as the main culprit for the increase in pollution because stocking rates are higher and there is more runoff into rivers and waterways from dairy than from sheep and beef. Fonterra says it has collected nutrient data from nearly 4000 farms which will provide information on how to mitigate the impact of nutrients; in addition fencing of waterways is now an obligatory condition of milk collection, although Fish and Game questions how rigorously this is being audited.

According to modelling by NIWA and Motu Economic and Public Policy Research, by 2020 a further 400,000 hectares of sheep and beef farm land will have been converted to dairy. There will be a large increase in nitrogen runoff in most regions including Canterbury, Southland, Otago and Wellington. . .

Kiwi and Korean deer farmers to work together:

The deer industry plans to work with Korean deer farmers to further build demand for New Zealand deer antler velvet in South Korea, its largest market.

“The Korean Deer Breeders Association used to be opposed to velvet imports, but they now accept that by working together we can grow the pie for their farmers, as well as ours,” says Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) chief executive Dan Coup.

Long part of the allure of deer farming, with an Asian medical pedigree going back thousands of years, velvet has recently stepped into the modern era.

“In South Korea there is growing demand among affluent consumers for health foods and tonics based on traditional ingredients like velvet and ginseng. Because of New Zealand’s reputation for natural, safe and quality-assured product, respected Korean food companies see us as the ideal source of velvet,” Mr Coup says. . . .

Fonterra takes sustainable dairy farming to YouTube:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited is putting dairy farm water and environmental conservation in the spotlight with the launch of a series of YouTube videos focusing on responsible dairying initiatives taking place on New Zealand farms.

Entitled Farm Focus, the series begins today and will feature one farm every Wednesday for four weeks on Fonterra’s YouTube channel. The videos will also be posted on Fonterra’s Facebook and Twitter pages under the hashtag #farmfocus.

The four farms featured are from the central and eastern North Island of New Zealand. Each video accounts for one farm and the activities undertaken to protect waterways and natural resources while enhancing the economic viability of a farm. . . .

Birds are on the menu once more:

The 2014 Gamebird Food Festival is opening this Saturday with restaurants from Kerikeri to Invercargill opening their kitchens to cook either this year’s catch of duck, pheasant and quail, or commercially sourced birds.

So far 13 restaurants have confirmed they are taking part in this year’s Gamebird Food Festival to celebrate the hunting season, which opens on Saturday (3 May).

The aim of Fish & Game New Zealand’s Festival is to promote game birds as a delicious, free-range food source: Hunters can take their own birds into participating restaurants to have them prepared by professional chefs, or non-hunters can choose commercially sourced duck, pheasant or quail from the menu. . .

Yealands Family Wines wins ‘Green Company of the Year’ in leading global sustainability awards:

Yealands Estate has been selected as the “Green Company of the Year” by the UK’s leading drinks publisher, Drinks Business.

The Green Awards are the world’s largest programme in the drinks trade raising awareness of green issues and recognising those leading the way in sustainability and environmental practice.

Founder of Yealands Family Wines, Peter Yealands, says this global recognition is another welcome endorsement of their philosophy, culture and focus on continual environmental improvement. . .


Rural round-up

10/04/2014

Personal tragedy drives ‘worker representative’ on ACC forestry sector injury prevention committee:

ACC announced today that following a nationwide ballot of forestry workers, Wiremu Edmonds and Neil Thomas will be the worker representatives on its new injury prevention programme, aimed at encouraging safer practices in the forestry sector.

Both are experienced forestry workers and passionate, experienced health and safety advocates – and in Wiremu’s case, his passion is strengthened by the personal tragedy of having lost a son to the industry.
The ‘ACC Forestry Sector Injury Prevention Programme’ is being developed and implemented in collaboration with WorkSafe NZ, the NZ Forest Owners Association (FOA), the Forestry Industry Contractors Association (FICA) and the Council of Trade Unions (CTU). . .

Aquaduct NZ wins IrrigationNZ Innovation Award:

Aquaduct NZ and its entrepreneurial founder Gerard van den Bosch took out the highly-sought-after 2014 IrrigationNZ Innovation Award at its biennial conference in Napier last night.

Aquaduct’s entry (alongside associate company Bosch Irrigation Ltd) included its ground-breaking solution for the manufacture of irrigation pipe for Valetta Irrigation Scheme’s new 84km underground pipe network.

A factory to produce pipe on-site was created in a paddock within the scheme’s boundaries slashing welding requirements by 80% and reducing installation time and costs. The company supplied over 80km of pipe in sizes from 1.6m diameter to 200mm – in lengths up to 250 metres. The factory is New Zealand’s largest capacity plant pumping out 5800 tonnes of pipe in 60 days. . . .

Irrigation champions share 2014 Ron Cocks Memorial Award:

For the first time ever, IrrigationNZ has awarded its Ron Cocks Memorial Award to two individuals at its national conference.

Retired MAF Policy Manager Grant McFadden and farm business consultant and rural valuer Bob Engelbrecht were jointly awarded the prestigious title at last night’s IrrigationNZ conference dinner in Napier.

McFadden from Christchurch and Ashburton-based Engelbrecht have together more than a century of involvement in advocating for agriculture and irrigation interests, said IrrigationNZ chairman John Donkers who presented the awards.

Grant McFadden began his career as a farm advisor with MAF in the mid 1960s and was a key support for farmers in the Lower Waitaki as they initiated their irrigation scheme in the 1970s. From the early 80s, McFadden worked with farmers going through deregulation and drought experiences and later moved into MAF Policy “as I realised there were opportunities in the policy area to make a real difference to people.” . . .

Minister welcomes first investment by Crown Irrigation company:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the first investment by Crown Irrigation Investment Ltd, with draft terms agreed for $6.5 million towards the Central Plains Water scheme in Canterbury announced today.

“Last year the Government put $80 million towards creating Crown Irrigation as an independent investor to help kick-start regional water infrastructure projects.

“It’s great to see the first investment decision made. Central Plains Water will help irrigate around 60,000 hectares of land on the Canterbury plains once all three stages are complete, giving a real boost to the region’s economy.

“Without this funding, it’s unlikely the scheme would be developed to the size and scale required. . . .

Proactive Mindset Helps Tihoi Farmers Win Supreme in 2014 Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

A unique and innovative approach to farming in an environmentally sensitive area has earned Tihoi beef farmers Mike and Sharon Barton the Supreme title in the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

At a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony on April 8, the Bartons, who farm 142ha Glen Emmreth Farm on the western side of Lake Taupo, were also presented with the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management Award and the Massey University Innovation Award.

Mike and Sharon bought the Tihoi farm in 2004 at a time when strict environmental legislation to protect the health of the lake was looming. They faced this challenge head-on, determined to make their farm as environmentally sustainable as possible.

BFEA judges said the business “has been built from its inception with the understanding that it must be made environmentally sustainable in an extremely difficult location”. . . .

Busy winter ahead for contestant – Sally Rae:

Winter is shaping up to be a memorable season for Glenham farmer Dean Rabbidge.

Mr Rabbidge (28), a member of the Wyndham Young Farmers Club, is Otago-Southland’s representative in the grand final of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest in Christchurch on July 3-5.

He and his wife Sarah are also expecting the arrival of their first child on June 18.

”It’s just going to be busy enough this winter,” he quipped. . . .

Central Otago wineries “delighted” to showcase the region’s wines to Duke and Duchess of Cambridge:

Central Otago wineries are gearing up for what could be the most important wine tasting of the century ahead of the Duke and Duchess’s visit to Queenstown this Sunday April 13.

A handful of local wineries and staff have been selected to present their Central Otago wines to the young Royals at a private wine and food event to be held at host winery Amisfield.

Central Otago Winegrowers Association president James Dicey is the lucky man who will escort the Duke through the tasting, while Central Otago Pinot Noir Chairwoman Lucie Lawrence will accompany the Duchess. . .

Final call for applications – leading farm business management program:

Applications are to close at the end of this month for this year’s Rabobank Farm Managers Program, Australasia’s leading agricultural business management course for the next generation of farm leaders.

Now in its ninth year, the prestigious Rabobank program offers young farmers from across New Zealand and Australia, and a range of agricultural sectors, the opportunity to develop and enhance their business management skills.

Rabobank business programs manager Nerida Sweetapple says the Farm Managers Program is constantly evolving to reflect the changing challenges and opportunities in agriculture.  . . .

Steer and dog BFFs – Thomas Mead:

They’re usually each other’s worst enemy, but down south in Ranfurly a farm dog and steer have found a forbidden love.

Scotty, a jersey cross steer, and Bo, a purebred kelpie, have been inseparable after meeting on the job late last year. The unlikely duo often sneak away to play together, wrestling, licking and jumping around the farm.

Owner Jan MacKenzie says they’d spend all day together if they could.

“[Bo’s] not allowed to be out there by himself – he does sneak over the fence when no one’s looking,” she says.

“He tries to play with everybody but they’re cows and he’s a dog. Everybody else, [except Scotty], understands it’s meant to work that way.”

But Bo, who is a working farm dog, knows the difference between work and play. . .


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