Rural round-up

February 14, 2015

Drought déjà vu

Dairy production plunging at the same time prices are spiking.

Lamb prices soft on drought impact.

Reserve Bank signals OCR could go up or down.

Stronger dairy prices in the most recent dairy action are a double-edged sword, according the latest ASB Farmshed Economics Report.

“Strengthening dairy prices in the 2 February dairy auction have given upward momentum to prices,” says ASB’s Rural Economist Nathan Penny. “However, farmers still have to navigate this summer’s drought and potential falls in production. But if farmers can manage through this tough drought and low milk price combo, we expect a rebound in the milk price for the 2015/16 season to around $6.00/kg.” . .

Farmers need to evolve new systems:

New Zealand farmers face a new evolutionary pressure – farming within nutrient limits – and together with scientists and industry bodies, they will need to evolve new farming systems in response to this challenge, a University of Waikato economist told the Australian Agricultural & Resource Economics Society’s conference in Rotorua this week.

Associate Professor Graeme Doole, an economist who specialises in the connections between agriculture and the environment and acts as an advisor to the government on water issues, says the economic impact of nutrient limits that are now being developed and implemented around the country will be significant for farmers.

“It is something that the industry has to deal with because generally around 75 to 90 percent of Nitrogen eaten by cows is lost in urine,” he says. . .

Future proofing our pastures against drought – Lynley Hargreaves:

New Zealand may have escaped another official declaration of drought, but climate-change forecasts make dry periods more likely. Good news, then, that a New Zealand high school student has helped improve the drought-resistance of future pastures. Former Palmerston North Girls’ High School student Minushika Punchihewa explains her Gold CREST research that ensures successful cross-breeding just by looking closely at a clover plant.  

Why are clovers being cross-bred?

Currently Trifolium repens (White Clover) is the most common species of clover used in New Zealand’s agricultural sector and is depended upon by farmers to feed their live stock and for pastoral growth. However, a relativity new type of clover called Trifolium ambiguum was introduced to New Zealand from regions surrounding the Black Sea. This clover has many advantageous traits such as drought tolerance, pest and disease resistance and strong rhizomes for spreading, so scientists are beginning to cross breed this clover with T.repens to try incorporate some of these beneficial traits. . .

New Zealand captures over 10% of its freshwater resource – Waiology:

Following a recent Timaru Herald article (3 February, 2015), I learned of a claim that 98% of NZ’s rainfall is left to flow out to sea, and that we only capture the other 2%.

‘‘This country doesn’t have a water shortage issue. What it has is a water storage issue. We capture a mere 2 per cent of our country’s total rainfall, the rest pours out to sea!’’ – Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean’s office.

‘‘It is wasteful that we only capture around 2 per cent of rainfall in New Zealand, with the rest roaring out to sea.’’ – Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy, in a speech to Crown Irrigation Investment Ltd.

These statements aren’t quite right, but because the topic is of vital importance, it is worth commenting on what is actually happening. Some of the rain evaporates before it can reach the sea or get used by us, and the “2%” isn’t actually how much we capture anyway. . .

 Liveweight breeding values and breeding worth calculations change this month:

Liveweight breeding values for dairy cattle are to improve as a result of data analyses carried out by NZ Animal Evaluation Limited (NZAEL), a wholly owned subsidiary of DairyNZ.

Changes to these breeding values and the flow-on effects for the overall measure of cow and sire genetic merit; Breeding Worth (BW) will be implemented from 16 February 2015.

These improvements are focused around the conversion of liveweight information into a mature weight equivalent.

“Historically this conversion has been done within the liveweight animal evaluation model, but over time the information that we receive has become heavily weighted towards data for two-year-olds which skews the calculation,” says NZAEL Manager Dr Jeremy Bryant. . .

 


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