Rural round-up

September 1, 2013

Weather warning saved Molesworth – Tony Benny:

Even as a forecasters this week predicted a short, sharp, cold front bringing snow down to 300 metres in Canterbury and 400m in Marlborough, Molesworth Station manager Jim Ward was counting his blessings after escaping relatively unscathed from June’s big snow and was enjoying an early spring.

“At this stage, it’s like it is in October – we’ve got beautiful days, we’ve got a bit of green coming away, and the moisture levels are up in the soil,” Ward said.

“We’ve noticed the bird life that turns up in the spring, like oyster catchers – they turned up a bit earlier and there’s a lot more of them so I think that’s a pretty good indication. We could still get a dump now but we’re quite chirpy.” . .

Vision for dairying future is explained – Murray Robertson:

AN $18 million investment proposal has been laid out to get the Ata Milk concept up and running in the Wairoa-Gisborne-East Coast region.

The proposal was presented to a group of about 60 interested people on Thursday afternoon in Gisborne.

The man who has spent the past 10 years developing the principles of Caring Dairying and Ata Milk, Dr Hugh Jellie, outlined his vision for the resurgence of dairying in this region.

“I am very humbled by the level of interest and support shown.”

His dream was to take this region “back to the future”, he said. . .

Dairy potential profiled – Murray robertson:

THE Ata Milk and Caring Dairying proposal for Tairawhiti has the potential to produce more than double the returns achieved by dry-stock farming and cropping, initiator Dr Hugh Jellie said in a presentation in Gisborne this week.

Around 60 interested people heard his vision for the resurgence of dairying in this district.

An investment proposal was laid out for consideration, to raise $18 million to establish the first stage of the project. . .

Gaining a good foothold – Murray Robertson:

GISBORNE now has a new “master” farrier trained by long-time master farrier Dick Parsons.

Ben Akuhata-Brown recently passed his final examination.

“Ben has attained the top qualification for equine practice in New Zealand,” Mr Parsons said.

The 28-year-old started work as an apprentice farrier with Mr Parsons when he left school. . .

Pea-fect conditions for crops – Tim Cronshaw:

Pea crops are springing out of the ground because of unseasonably warm Canterbury weather.

Processor and exporter Wattie’s is already 10 per cent through its sowing schedule ending December and at this rate is expected to bring forward harvesting to the last week of November.

Planting is based in Pendarves in the early pea growing Rakaia area and in Southbridge and Leeston and will then move to Aylesbury and Kirwee before advancing further afield.

Wattie’s South Island agricultural manager Mark Daniels said contracted growers had made a fast start to the planting season, and this was always preferred to get a crop established. . .

Sophie happy to swap fame for farm

She may have travelled the world chasing rowing medals, but for Sophie MacKenzie there’s no place like home. The 21-year-old enjoyed some well-earned time off after picking up a bronze in Austria, checking out the sights of Europe, but she couldn’t wait to return to the top of the valley, her hugely-supportive parents and a menagerie of animals.

As comfortable in gumboots and a farm ute as she is in a double scull, Sophie has found the ideal place to chill out after the high-pressure demands of international sport.

“I’ve never been so excited to come home . . . and see all my animals (I love them), do a bit of farm work, get back to my hills,” she said. . .


Rural round-up

August 19, 2013

Growing good apps to protect crops:

Smartphones that respond to signals from plants? Laptops that co-ordinate irrigation at dozens of vineyards? Remote weather stations programmed to text frost alerts?

Many commercial growers are using laptops, tablets or smartphones to keep costs down and production up. Home gardeners too, if they can afford it.

Apps may get more attention but they’re small potatoes compared with the software and online programs already at work or being tested for horticultural use. Simply scanning a monitor or applying a few keystrokes can save water and fuel, redirect a labour force or protect a crop. . .

New role fulfils rural passion – Sally Rae:

Kim Reilly recalls how she was a ”ridiculous tomboy”, growing up in a farming family on the Taieri Plains, – so it was no surprise that she pursued a career in the rural sector.

Dunedin-based Mrs Reilly (41), a senior policy adviser for Federated Farmers, has taken over from Matt Harcombe as regional policy manager South Island, following his move to the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Working for the rural lobby organisation provided her with the challenge of utilising her tertiary qualifications, while also maintaining her passion for the rural lifestyle and a firm belief in the importance of farming. . .

Unmanned aerial vehicle monitors river pollution – Laura Macdonald:

A Wairarapa farmer’s developing an unmanned aerial vehicle that can be programmed to fly remotely to take video of the state of our rivers.

It’s being tested with the help of Victoria University in the hope it’ll be used by regional councils trying to get to grips with the problem of polluted waterways.

An unmanned aerial vehicle is the last tool in the effort to monitor New Zealand’s fresh water. It’s being test flown in the Wairarapa over the Muir family farm.

“We don’t actually see a lot of what is going on in the back country of New Zealand, and with this we can actually see it,” says farmer James Muir. . .

Making money on dairy futures – post botulism – Michael Field:

Fonterra’s botulism scare may have scared people off buying milk powder and knocked New Zealand’s international trade, but it may have helped financial traders making money off it.

Two years ago, the New Zealand stock exchange launched a futures trading market for milk powder.

NZX Dairy Futures notched up a record trading month last month, and this week – just as Fonterra executive Gary Romano resigned over the botulism scandal – it had a record trading day. . . .

Bold dairy comeback – Murray Robertson:

DAIRY farming will make a big comeback to the Gisborne-East Coast district if a bold new move by landowner partners in the new Ata Milk brand comes to fruition.

The man spearheading the Ata Milk concept, Dr Hugh Jellie, said it’s about “taking the region back to the future”.

He has been working on the project for 10 years.

Dr Jellie and his partner Sheryl Andersen moved to Gisborne from the Bay of Plenty six months ago.

“To get this community project off the ground, it’s important to be part of the community.” . . .

Wineries suffer further damage from latest quake:

Marlborough wineries have suffered more losses and damage from Friday’s magnitude 6.6 earthquake than they did from the 21 July event.

Wine Marlborough general manager Marcus Pickens says a number of wineries in the region closed after the big quake struck on Friday afternoon and structural engineers will be assessing the damage during the week.

He says there has probably been some wine loss, although how much is not really known at this stage.

“I think a number of the tanks, the way they behave would have spilt wine out the top … and those wine losses are financial losses as well.” . . .

Science award winner values time at Invermay – Sally Rae:

George Davis, who spent decades working at Invermay, has been acknowledged by the sheep industry for his contribution to sheep industry science.

Now retired, Dr Davis received the Silver Fern Farms sheep industry science award at the second annual Beef and Lamb New Zealand sheep industry awards in Invercargill last week.

It was both a very nice occasion and a nice surprise to receive the award and it was also special to be recognised by the industry, Dr Davis said.

The award acknowledged his contribution to New Zealand’s significant international profile in sheep genomics research. . .

What is a new potato? New guidelines issued:

A complaint to trading standards officers in Scotland has led to an industry body issuing a new description of what constitutes a “new potato”.

South Ayrshire Council was asked to investigate whether new potatoes were stored for long periods before sale.

It found that in some cases newly-harvested potatoes were stored for up to seven months before being sold.

The Potato Council has now drawn up an industry standard definition after the council raised its concerns.

The traditional description of a new potato is that it has been specially grown and harvested early, with a thin skin or one you can rub off with a finger. . .


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