Rural round-up

June 13, 2020

Farm jobs offer competitive pay rates say industry experts – Bonnie Flaws:

Former sports trainer Tim Wilson had always harboured dreams of working on a farm, and last year changed career to do just that.

Wilson was motived by both the lifestyle and the potential earnings that farming offered, he said.

He took a $20,000 pay cut to start as a farm assistant, but said he knew long term his earning potential was much higher on the farm.

Wilson started out as a farm assistant and was now beginning his first year training in herd management on a farm near Te Puke, close to Tauranga. . . 

Kiwi workers hold the key to vineyards’ survival, but could we cut the mustard? – Maia Hart:

As thousands become beneficiaries, New Zealand’s biggest wine region still has job opportunities. Could white collar workers really earn their keep in the vineyards? Reporter Maia Hart attempted a morning in the vines. She made minimum wage.

Flanked by rural Marlborough’s grapevines before sunrise, 34 overseas workers in their high vis vests are illuminated by headlights from the company car, jogging on the spot to get their blood pumping and stretch their muscles against the autumn chill.

The workers are in the country on the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme, a huge labour force doing critical hand pruning over winter. Amongst the group are beginners, who worked in New Zealand during summer, stuck in the country because of the Covid-19 pandemic closing borders.

Thornhill Horticulture and Viticulture supervisor Francis Law said it takes a couple of seasons before workers start to realise how much money they can make. They’re likely to make minimum wage to start with. . . 

How many logs do we need? – Dileepa Fonseka:

A new bill has forest owners fuming, but it could be the tip of the iceberg for them if NZ First are re-elected to Government

Forest owners feel blind-sided by a bill before Parliament, but more changes could be coming.

Forestry Minister Shane Jones said the owners of forests hadn’t lived up to their end of a social contract to grow the domestic wood processing industry. 

He signalled they could expect harsher treatment next term if NZ First were re-elected to Government.

That could start with reversing forestry’s special exemptions under the Overseas Investment Act, and could see NZ First could join forces with National after the election to make that change. . .

No going Dutch on farms – Gerard Hutching:

A Nuffield scholar from the Netherlands has been researching the difference in the roles women play in agriculture in New Zealand, which is quite different in her native country. Gerard Hutching reports. 

Dutch dairy farmer and Nuffield scholar Heleen Lansink left New Zealand recently with a heightened appreciation of the differences between the roles of women in agriculture in this country and the Netherlands. 

Lansink lives and works with her husband Rogier and their four children on a dairy farm in eastern Holland, close to the German border. They run 85 milking cows on 55ha. . . 

Asian markets bolster red meat exports :

The overall value of New Zealand red meat and co-products exported for April might have been broadly similar to the same period last year, but the impact of Covid-19 resulted in changes to some major markets.

Analysis by the Meat Industry Association showed New Zealand exported $859million of lamb, mutton, beef and co-products during the month. Total exports to the United Kingdom were down 27% to $39.6million compared with last April, and down 30% to Germany ($22million).

Exports to China continued to recover, up 16% to $353.6million.

There were also increases for other Asian markets, particularly Japan, with total exports up 66% to $46.8million and Taiwan up 36% ($36.4million). . . 

New Ballance recruit is a positive sign for agriculture:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients reputation and great farmer-led culture were just some of the reasons why Auckland based IT professional, David Healy, wanted to join the team.

David Healy, an executive with over 20 years of experience leading change management initiatives for start-ups, public organisations and private companies has accepted the role of Chief Digital Officer (CDO) with the 100% New Zealand (NZ) owned farming co-operative.

David has a proven track record in operations management and research, product and business development across diverse industries including lifestyle company VF Corporation, Icebreaker (before and after they were purchased by VF) and Kathmandu Ltd. . . 


Rural round-up

April 9, 2020

COVID-19: Farming focused on playing its part:

A week into the COVID-19 lockdown, DairyNZ says dairy farmers are settling into life in lockdown but the sector’s focus remains on ensuring support for farms.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said the Government support for farming as an essential service has been positive to date and is helping ensure all farms can be kept ticking.

“DairyNZ is working closely with dairy farmers and agri-partners to ensure all farming families, staff and support services are safe, and that farmers have access to the equipment, services and people they need,” said Dr Mackle.

“We all share concerns about the health and economic effects COVID-19 will have on our families, communities and New Zealand, and farmers are working hard to minimise risks to keep their businesses running smoothly. . . 

Milking shed projects stymied by lockdown rules – Rod Oram:

Dairy farmers trying to get ready for the new season are striking lockdown problems, writes Rod Oram

A farmer in Northland has a problem: his milk processor had condemned his milking shed; a new one was under construction; work has stopped because the Government has yet to classify such projects as essential; and precious time is being lost before the new milking season starts in July.

This is a real example playing out now, says Justin Thompson, DeLaval’s vice president of sales and support in Oceania. The Swedish-based company, which is one of the world’s largest suppliers of milking systems, is supplying equipment to the Northland project. But as soon as New Zealand went into Covid-19 lockdown, subcontractors packed up and left the site. . . 

Commodity prices continue to fall but offset by weakening dollar:

Commodity prices continue to fall as the impact of the Covid-19 virus continues to be felt on international markets, but the blow is being cushioned by a weaker New Zealand dollar.

The ANZ World Commodity Price index dropped 2.1 percent in March and has now fallen 8.3 percent in the past four months.

In local currency terms the index actually lifted 3.3 percent due to a sharp fall in the New Zealand dollar.

Dairy, meat and fibre, forestry and aluminium all fell, but horticulture remain unchanged. . .

Chair of Ballance Agri-Nutrients retires in September:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients Limited Chairman David Peacocke, is stepping down as a Director in September 2020 at the Annual Shareholders Meeting (ASM). Duncan Coull has been elected as the new Chair by the Board of Directors taking up the post after the ASM.

David a Waikato farmer and businessman has been a Ballance Director since 2005 and was elected as Chair in 2013.

“After 15 years, seven as Chair, this is a logical step in the Ballance board’s succession planning and I felt it was time to let someone else take up the challenge,” says David.

“Duncan is the right person to lead Ballance into our next phase , he brings a strong personal view that we need to work collaboratively as a sector to be future-ready.” . . 

Forestry industry preparing for back to work

Forest industry organisations are planning how to get back to work when restrictions on non-essential work are lifted for the industry.

Organisations, representing forest growers, transport, processing and contractors have set up a working group to develop risk assessment protocols in readiness for start-up of the industry sector.

The National Safety Director of the Forest Industry Safety Council, Fiona Ewing says the aim is to assure government that the sector will be able to comply with the epidemic management conditions of COVID-19. . . 

Update on 2020 Awards:

The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards final four regional winners and placegetters have been announced via Facebook Live video and were warmly received by entrants, winners, sponsors and supporters.

The New Zealand dairy industry is resilient, flexible and adaptable to change. The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, adapting and leading with their response to the Covid19 crisis, can be seen as a reflection of the industry and all entrants.

Entrants, families, supporters and sponsors watched with excitement and anticipation in their bubbles. There were hundreds of live streams out numbering the usual attendance to the dinners. It was magical to see the live engagement and comments and likes floating up the screen during the announcements. . . 


Rural round-up

December 19, 2019

The good, the bad, and the ugly – 2019 in review:

As we approach another year’s end we again highlight our annual review of 2019 in the primary sector as seen by Rural News’ editorial team.

THE GOOD

Good messaging award: Dairy Women’s Network’s new chief executive Jules Benton for her clear, confident and articulate communication of the network’s aims and aspirations, but in a real and down-to-earth manner.

Celebrating success: A lot of excellent events and conferences this year with a focus on celebrating the success of old and young people. The Massey Ag students’ dinner is a great example of this where some very smart future leaders come to the fore. The same for the Ahuwhenua Awards where Maori agri success is also celebrated in style. Feds, HortNZ and the dairy industry and others all did their bit to show NZ that the ag sector is well placed for the future.  . .

Phosphate vital, industry says – Brent Melville:

With the recent spotlight on importation of phosphate sourced in the Western Sahara into New Zealand, Brent Melville takes a closer look at the phosphate issue and why we rely on it for our food production.

Blocking  the importation of phosphate into New Zealand could have a $10 billion knock-on effect into the country’s food production and export sector, the fertiliser industry says.

The industry, dominated by the farmer co-operative duopoly of Ravensdown and Ballance Agri-Nutrients, said without access to phosphate rock, rural production would fall by “at least” 50%.

Phosphate rock is the key ingredient in the country’s production of superphosphate, used primarily as a nutrient by sheep and beef and dairy farmers to boost phosphorus and sulphur levels in the soil. . . 

Land champion: it’s hard to find time to retire – Annette Scott:

Federated Farmers high country champion Bob Douglas has contributed to the smooth running of South Island high country farming businesses for 25 years but next year his visits to the back of beyond will be as a tourist. He talked to Annette Scott about his high country office.

Endless dedication to Federated Farmers high country business will come to an end for Bob Douglas in the next few weeks.

By the end of January the South Canterbury Feds stalwart will be waking each morning to a new life.

“And it will be one that will now mean when I go to the high country it will be as a tourist,” Bob said. . . 

Migrant workers worth the effort :

Waikato farmer and Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis says employing migrant workers isn’t always easy but is worth the investment.

Experience has shown me what works best. I could talk about this for hours but I will summarise some of the lessons here.

Employing migrants is not the cheap option for New Zealand dairy farmers. In fact, generally, it will cost you more but it is worth it in the long run.

Firstly, you might need some professional help dealing with Immigration NZ once you’ve found a migrant worker to employ. That will generally cost you $1600-$2000. Visa fees cost about $500 . . 

Routine border checks detect unwanted fruit disease:

Biosecurity New Zealand has suspended fresh melon imports from Queensland following a border detection of an unwanted fruit disease.

Biosecurity New Zealand detected cucumber green mottle mosaic virus (CGMMV) following routine border testing on Friday of a consignment of watermelons from Queensland Australia, says Peter Thomson, Biosecurity New Zealand’s plants and pathways director.

CGMMV does not pose a risk to human health. It affects cucurbit fruit, including watermelon, cucumber, honeydew melon, rock melon, scallopini, zucchini, and pumpkin. . . 

EPA’s Annual Report on aerial use of 1080 released:

The 2018 report on the aerial use of 1080 for pest control provides greater detail than previous years, giving more information on operations and research.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) Annual Report on the aerial use of 1080 during 2018 shows a near halving of activity compared with the previous year, in terms of both the number of operations and total area treated.

There were 29 operations covering 441,000 hectares of land, compared with 50 operations across 877,000 hectares in 2017. This was due to the Department of Conservation (DOC) using less 1080, as there were no mast events in New Zealand’s forests. Heavy seed fall seasons (known as masts) drive rat populations up, threatening native species. . . 


Rural round-up

December 15, 2019

Otago institutions work to create virtual centre for rural health education :

Three Otago institutions are teaming up to improve the future of rural health care.

The University of Otago, Otago Polytechnic and Central Otago Health Services have signed a memorandum of understanding on rural health care practice, service, education and research.

The organisations want to create a virtual centre for rural health education. . .

Telford campus future secured at graduation – John Cosgrove:

During the 2019 graduation ceremony, Southern Institute of Technology chief executive Penny Simmonds spoke of the multimillon-dollar plans for the future of the Balclutha farming industry training institute.

“We are projecting to spend $6 million over the next couple of years on Telford, making sure that it is ramped up with plenty of students there getting graduates out into the primary sector.”

“I am really pleased that SIT have locked in a good level of funding to be able to do the upgrades they need to do at Telford. . .

Emissions profile sparks debate – Laura Smith:

It is a moot point; discussion about whether Southland has too many cows has been generated after Great South released the 2018 Southland greenhouse gas emission profile earlier this week.

Agricultural-related emissions were found to be the largest emission source for Southland, accounting for 69% of overall gross emissions.

Greenpeace sustainable agriculture campaigner Gen Toop said there were too many cows.

“We urgently need fewer cows if we are going to address the climate and water crises.” . .

Fortuna buys Zeestraten farms from Southern Centre – Neal Wallace:

Four farms at the centre of the Southland Mycoplasma bovis outbreak have been sold.

Southern Centre Dairies, owned by Alfons and Gea Zeestraten, has been bought by Southland dairy farming firm, Fortuna Group.

Zeestraten said he is uncertain what he will do next, before politely declining to comment further. . .

 

Commission grants clearance for Cardrona to acquire Treble Cone

The Commerce Commission has granted clearance for Cardrona Alpine Resort Limited to acquir either the shares of Treble Cone Investments Limited or the assets it uses to operate the Treble Cone ski field.

In considering Cardrona’s application for clearance, the Commission focussed on whether the price of single day, multi day and season ski passes would increase with the acquisition, including to skiers in the Wanaka region, and whether the acquisition would increase the likelihood of coordination on ski pass prices. The Commission also considered the extent to which an alternative purchaser would invest in, and develop, the Treble Cone ski field. . .

International Human Resources specialist to join Ballance Agri-Nutrients lead team:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients is proud to announce that Jackie Rich, an internationally experienced human resources professional, has accepted the role of General Manager People and Capability.

“We’re excited to add Jackie to our team. She is a proven HR leader who has successfully led teams at both strategic and operational levels, with over 20 years’ experience spanning the full spectrum of HR functions”, says Mark Wynne, Chief Executive Officer. . .

 


Rural round-up

October 19, 2019

Act now on swine fever – Neal Wallace:

Dr Eric Neumann’s career takes him to animal disease hot spots throughout the world to advise officials and farmers on their response and to monitor severity and behaviour of disease outbreaks Neal Wallace talks to the epidemiologist.

The savagery of African swine fever was starkly illustrated to Kiwi epidemiologist Dr Eric Neumann when he visited a 1000-pig farm in Vietnam.

The fever’s presence had been confirmed in the housed piggery two weeks before his visit but by time he got there 600 animals had died and most of the survivors were sick. . .

Time to effect meaningful change – Dairyman:

Bashing Fonterra in the media is so prevalent it’s almost a national pastime; farmer shareholders keen to share that phone call they got from the chairman, commentators sticking the boot in at the behest of their dairy processor clients and any politician looking for some airtime will happily have a crack.

If the payout is low it’s due to the incompetence of directors and management, if the payout is high it’s because Fonterra is screwing the scrum and forcing their competitors to pay more for milk than it’s worth.

While there are legitimate criticisms to be levelled at the Co-op, and they’re not above scoring own goals in that department, it’s so easy that writing a column panning them is almost lazy. I make no secret that I’m a fan of Fonterra’s new direction; the honesty that is largely on display at shareholder meetings, the way they now engage with the government instead of the ‘Fortress Fonterra’ mentality of old and their willingness to show leadership and vision in areas that affect their farmers. . .

The NZ Government strategy to destroy the farming sector – Barbara McKenzie:

‘If sheep and beef farms convert to forestry on a nationwide scale at just half the rate that has occurred in Wairoa this last year, there will be no sheep and beef farms left by 2050’ (Neil Henderson, Gisborne farmer)

The agricultural sector is New Zealand’s largest industry, made up chiefly of  pastoral farming and horticulture.

The coalition government, however,  is implementing a strategy squarely aimed at replacing the farming sector with forestry.  The result will be depopulation of the countryside, the destruction of  our environment and our way of life, and sets us on the road to poverty. . . 

Leather exporters struggle in oversupplied market :

Leather exporters are grappling with record low prices for hides.

The agricultral insights group, AgriHQ, said strong beef production in Australia, Brazil and the US had meant that the cattle hide market was significantly oversupplied.

A senior analyst at AgriHQ, Mel Croad, said this oversupply, combined with the rise of much more convincing synthetic leather substitutes and a downturn in the manufacture of luxury leather goods meant global demand was very weak.

“In addition, the closure of some Chinese tanneries due to environmental concerns has narrowed down selling options for hides,” Ms Croad said. . .

 

Demand from farmers for SurePhos expected to exceed supply:

 Ballance Agri-Nutrients has produced a sustainable superphosphate product that is expected to displace traditional ‘Super’ fertiliser used by the majority of farmers – with clear environmental and productivity benefits.

SurePhosTM is expected to reduce phosphate losses by up to 75%, making a significant positive impact on the quality of waterways and, due to low water solubility, keeps nutrients in the soil system where they are available to plants.

Ballance Agri-Nutrients Chairman, David Peacocke, says SurePhosTM will be the choice of a new generation of farmers who have sustainability front-of-mind. . . 

I’m a farmer and a no-deal Brexit would put me out of business – Will Case:

Crashing out of the EU would not end uncertainty and would be a dark day for agriculture and food in Britain

Here in the beautiful Cumbrian countryside, the sun is out, our grass is growing and the sky is blue. Sheep are busily nibbling the pasture while cattle are basking in the summer warmth. These are perfect conditions for farming. The animals are content and the farmers are working hard.

Everything should be fine, but there is a big, dark cloud lurking on the horizon: the possibility of a no-deal Brexit. This is a threat to everything we do. The uncertainty around Brexit and the prospect of trade tariffs that would cripple our business is a real worry. The future direction of UK-produced food is simply unknown.

Will we be forced to adhere to ever higher standards, while our government allows food to be imported from countries where farmers adhere to welfare or other standards that would, rightly, be illegal on my farm? Will our politicians assure British farmers that they will avoid a disastrous no-deal Brexit? . . 


Rural round-up

June 25, 2019

Farmers have a tough time ahead let’s stand with them – Tom O’Connor:

The message from environment campaigner Guy Salmon of the need to adapt farming operations to avoid an eventual environmental catastrophe is not new.

It has been repeated many times in many ways by a growing number of far sighted people for several decades. For most of that time many of these people have been pilloried and ridiculed by those with vested interests or others who refused or were unable to understand the consequences of accelerated climate change.       

When Salmon told a conference of the Waikato Small Milk and Supply Herds Group at Lake Karapiro recently, unlike previous generations of dairy farmers, many of those in attendance would have been well aware of what he was talking about and the situation they face but unsure how to prepare for it. . . 

Farm credits on table – Neal Wallace:

The Government is considering letting farmers use riparian planting and shelter belts to offset their greenhouse gas emissions.

To qualify now, vegetation must meet area, height and canopy cover criteria which primary sector leaders claim favours plantation forestry and ignores the carbon sequestering function of most farmland.

Livestock and horticulture sector representatives have been lobbying the Government to broaden the definition, saying New Zealand needs every available tool to meet the goal of being carbon neutral by 2050 . . .

OIO review brought forward a year – Neal Wallace:

The Government has brought forward by a year a review into the screening of foreign forestry investors in response to concerns from rural leaders that large-scale tree planting is destroying communities.

The review was to be started by October next year but Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has confirmed it has already started and will look at the impact of Government changes to the Overseas Investment Act to identify any areas of concern.

The changes streamlined the vetting by the Overseas Investment Office of foreign forestry companies to reflect the fact about 75% of forest companies operating in New Zealand are owned by offshore entities. . . 

Leading food industry figures point to a positive future for New Zealand red meat:

Listen to the episode of Let’s Talk Food NZ podcast feature discussion panel HERE. Download images of the event HERE.

Last night, an expert panel made up of scientists and food industry experts were tasked with tackling the challenging question; Does New Zealand-produced red meat have a role in a healthy and sustainable diet?

Hosted by the Northern Club in Auckland in front of a crowd of food writers, nutritionists, dietitians and other interested parties, the panel covered a range of topics addressing whether we can meet the nutritional needs of exponential population growth, whilst working within the sustainable limits of planetary health.

The discussion was facilitated by NZ Herald journalist and editor-at-large of the Healthy Food Guide, Niki Bezzant who was joined by Dr Denise Conroy, Senior Scientist at Plant & Food Research; Dr Mike Boland, Principle Scientist at the Riddet Institute; Dr Mark Craig, a Auckland-based GP advocating a whole food, plant-based diet; Jeremy Baker, Chief Insights Officer for Beef + Lamb New Zealand Ltd; and Angela Clifford, CEO of Eat New Zealand. . . 

Ballance partners with Hiringa for Kapuni hydrogen project – Gavin Evans

(BusinessDesk) – Ballance Agri-Nutrients is to develop 16 MW of wind generation at its Kapuni site as part of a plan to produce renewable hydrogen there.

The fertiliser maker has partnered with Hiringa Energy to develop the $50 million project at its site in southern Taranaki.

Up to four large wind turbines would provide a 100 percent renewable power supply for the existing plant and to power a series of electrolysers to produce high-purity hydrogen, either for feedstock for the plant or to supply zero-emission trucking fuel. . .

 

Open letter to the non-agricultural community – John Gladigau:

Hi

We need to talk.

Firstly – apologies to you, because we are not always that good at doing this. We all too easily get defensive, up in arms and occasionally confrontational when we are challenged, accused or criticised. The thing is, we get a little sick of being called uneducated and ignorant when we have a lifetime of experience and many of us have qualifications which are similar to (or even exceed) our city cousins. It hurts us when people tells us we are cruel to animals, don’t care for the future of the planet and are blasé about food safety whereas for the majority of us the opposite is true. It frustrates us when people with little agricultural knowledge or experience lecture us on social media about the dangers of chemicals, our contribution to a changing climate, soil health, genetic modification and more when we have spent a lifetime working in, studying, experiencing and developing strategies to not only benefit our businesses, families and communities – but also those we produce for that we don’t even know. . . 

 


Rural round-up

March 3, 2019

Stemming lifestyle bock growth – Richard Rennie:

 Soaring kiwifruit orchard values have helped take some steam from the lure of subdividing quality land into smaller blocks in Western Bay of Plenty.

However, the Western Bay of Plenty District Council has also had to tighten up on development plans to help prevent the loss to uneconomic lifestyle blocks.

Alongside Tauranga City, Western Bay of Plenty is one of the country’s fastest-growing districts, recording a population increase from 27,000 in 1986 to 46,000 in 2013. . .

Farmingin the city – Luke Chivers:

When New Zealanders think of Auckland few think of farming. But a young Karaka dairying couple are combining their love of the city with their passion for the land. Luke Chivers reports.

IT WAS Gypsy Day 2016.

Traditionally, it is the start of the dairying calendar when accounts are settled, stock is bought and sold or moved to a new farm and new careers are launched. At least that was what Chris and Sally Guy hoped when their sharemilking agreement on a well-nurtured and developed inland slice of rural New Zealand kicked in. The couple are 50:50 sharemilkers with his parents Allan and Wendy who own the 80ha Oakview Farm in South Auckland.

New fertigation trial examines effects on nutrient loss – Pat Deavoll:

A new project to trial the use of fertigation, which could help reduce nitrogen leaching on farms, is underway.

State-owned farmer Pāmu was working with IrrigationNZ and Ballance Agri-Nutrients on the trial which had received funding from the Sustainable Farming Fund.

Fertigation is the application of small quantities of fertiliser through an irrigation system. Fertigation is used overseas but was uncommon in New Zealand. . .

Shearers clip for cancer – Toni Williams:

They came, they shore and they conquered, raising more than $85,000 for charity.

Around 70 vintage shearers from New Zealand and overseas, including current and former world champions, stars of the movie She Shears and All Black greats, appeared on the stands at the Shear For Life event at the Ewing Family property, at Hinds in Mid Canterbury on Saturday.

It was the brainchild of shearing mates Rocky Bull, Alan ”Bimbo” Bramley and Steven ”Dixy” Lynch, who wanted a chance to catch up with a few of the old shearing crowd. . .

Wyndham farmer Matt McRae’s community engagement contributes to Otago/Southland Young Farmer of the Year award  – Blair Jackson:

 Community engagement is something Wyndham farmer Matt McRae values highly.

It’s part of the reason he was recently named Otago/Southland Young Farmer of the Year.

Although his rugby career has taken a hit – he will play in Wyndham’s second string side to focus on his farming study and work – he enjoys what he does. . .

Glass bottles. Make a come-back on Country Calendar – Melenie Parkes:

A Nelson dairy farm is looking to the past to take it into the future. These dairy disruptors are using new technology to reinvent an old-fashioned favourite.

When Julian and Cathy Raine’s winter contract was cancelled by Fonterra in 2012, they had to come up with a plan to generate another source of income.

Their solution was to sell milk direct to the consumer using innovative vending machines, sourced from Europe and dotted throughout Nelson. . .

 


Rural round-up

February 25, 2019

NZ trade threatened by WTO stand-off — trade expert – Pam Tipa:

The ability of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to hear any New Zealand disputes arising out of Brexit could be under threat.

It is just one example of problems which may arise if the WTO does not have enough appellate body judges to hear appeals, says trade expert Stephen Jacobi.

Seven major NZ agricultural organisations put their concerns to the Government over threats to the WTO rules before the annual forum of global trade and business leaders in Davos Switzerland last month.

Next big technology step is here – Neal Wallace:

The technology’s name, The Internet of Things, sounds both daunting and obscure. But dig below the label and it refers to some very clever technology that will have an application for farmers. Self-confessed technophobe Neal Wallace talks to Internet of Things Alliance executive director Kriv Naicker.

Many farmers are already dabbling in technology’s latest and greatest applications.

Checking the weather, measuring the growth and quality of pasture or crop, weighing animals and checking soil fertility generate data to assist decision-making and administration is made easier with connections to Nait and with rural professionals.

Those things form the basis of the Internet of Things (IoT). . . 

Norwood NZ Rural Sports Awards 2019 finalists announced:

The finalists have been decided for the Norwood NZ Rural Sports Awards for 2019, which take place on Friday March 8 in Palmerston North.

The finalists are leaders in both traditional rural sports like shearing, fencing, wool handling and dog trials, and newer sports like gumboot throwing, cowboy action shooting and tree climbing.

“The range of rural sports represented in this year’s nominations is extraordinary, and I love the fact we’re honouring people from young athletes just starting to make their mark, to the lifetime achievers, and those who work away in the background to make sure our rural sports can happen,” said Sir Brian Lochore, chairman of the New Zealand Rural Sports Awards judging panel. . . 

Native plantings paying dividends:

Mid-Canterbury farmer John Evans is reaping the benefits of native plantings on his farm, in the form of improved pollination and pest control.

“I can’t put a number on it, but I am spending less time and less money on spraying for aphids,” he says.

Evans farms at Dorie, near the coast just south of the Rakaia River, and has five areas devoted to native plantings, established with the help of Tai Tapu native plant nurseryman Steve Brailsford. .  .

Bringing the primary sector together – PINZ 2019 is coming:

Federated Farmers is teaming up with New Zealand’s leading conference company, Conferenz, to bring the country’s primary industry the conference it’s been missing.

The Primary Industries New Zealand Summit will be held at Te Papa in Wellington, July 1-2.

The event is a partnership between Conferenz and Federated Farmers. Both organisations have long histories of running conferences for the primary sector, and this conference will benefit from their combined industry knowledge and experience. . .

Ground Spreaders Announce New Awards Programme:

The New Zealand Groundspread Fertilisers Association (NZGFA) is encouraging agricultural companies to nominate candidates for a set of new industry awards. The awards, introduced to recognise and commend those who have made a significant and positive contribution to the ground spreading industry, have attracted sponsorship from Ballance Agri-Nutrients, Graymont, Ravensdown and Trucks & Trailers.

Nominations for the four awards – the President’s Award, the Innovation Award, the Health & Safety Award and the Young Achiever’s Award – open on Monday 18th February and close on Friday 12th April 2019. Finalists will be invited to attend the NZGFA’s 63rd annual conference in Taupo in July. . . 

Grass-fed beef health benefits – a meat-buyer’s guide –  Kathleen Jade:

Beef that is truly 100 percent grass-fed comes from cows that have grazed in pasture year-round rather than being fed a processed diet for much of their life. Standards and labeling laws for grass-fed beef are controversial and confusing. The terms “grass-fed” or “pasture-raised” are allowed even if your beef really came from cows that spent little or no time outdoors in a pasture setting. U.S. beef labeled as “grass-fed” but not bearing USDA certification may be the result of various combinations of grass and grain feeding including grass finishing. If the label doesn’t specifically say “100 percent grass-fed,” or carry the USDA or similar certification, there’s no guarantee.

Even under USDA certification standards, however, cows labeled “grass-fed”can be confined much of the year and fed antibiotics or hormones. The USDA’s standards are lower than those of the American Grassfed Association (AGA), an alternative organization that, like the USDA, offers certification for grass-fed beef.  . .


Rural round-up

February 7, 2019

Drought bites crops in Tasman with little respite forecast for growers – Katy Jones:

Growers are battling to keep crops alive on the Waimea Plains as the drought continues to bite in Tasman district, with no sign of a significant break in the prolonged dry spell.

Irrigators this week saw the amount of water they were allowed to take from catchments on the plains cut by 50 per cent, as the Waimea River dropped to its lowest level for this time of year since the “Big Dry” in 2001.

High winds at the end of last month compounded growers’ woes, further drying out land already parched by a lack of rain and high temperatures. . . 

Court to decide official location of a riverbank – Eric Frykberg:

Where does the bed of a river end and adjacent farmland begin? That is not an easy question to answer, when dealing with braided rivers that often change course.

However, the Court of Appeal will now get the chance to decide the official location of a riverbank.

The problem began in 2017 when a farmer was prosecuted for doing earthworks in the bed of the Selwyn River, in mid Canterbury.

Although he pleaded guilty, the case gave rise to debate about how wide a braided river actually was.

The District Court sided with Environment Canterbury and ruled a river was as big as the area covered by the river’s waters at their fullest flow. . .

Ravensdown CEO agrees farmers have sometimes applied too much fertiliser – Gerard Hutching:

Fertiliser company Ravensdown says it is trying to persuade farmers to use less nitrogen and concedes that in the past too much has been applied “in some cases.”

However it has recently developed new products which result in less nitrogen being lost to the atmosphere or leaching into the soil where it ends up in waterways.

Greenpeace has demanded the Government ban chemical nitrogen because it claims it causes river pollution. It has created billboards accusing Ravensdown and its competitor Ballance Agri-Nutrients of polluting rivers. . . 

Group ignores fertiliser facts – Alan Emerson:

Driving out of Auckland I saw a huge billboard with the message: Ravensdown and Ballance pollute rivers.

How can that be, I thought, but then I noted the billboard was put there by Greenpeace and Greenpeace never lets the facts get in the way of its prejudices.

Starting at the top, the two fertiliser companies don’t pollute rivers, they sell fertilisers, so factually it is wrong.

According to my dictionary pollute means contaminate with poisonous or harmful substances or to make morally corrupt or to desecrate.

How, then, can Ravensdown and Ballance pollute? . . 

Change constant in 50-year career – Ken Muir:

When you have worked for more than 50 years in the rural sector, change is a constant and for Andrew Welsh, an agribusiness manager at Rabobank in Southland, this has included everything from the model of car he was supplied with to the way he communicates with co-workers and his clients.

Mr Welsh said farming was in his DNA.

”My great grandparents farmed in South Otago and Opotiki, and going further back than that our relatives had farmed in County Durham before coming out to Hawkes Bay.”

He started in the industry at the bottom, he said.

”When I started at Wright Stephenson’s in Gore in 1968 as an office junior, I was everybody’s general dogsbody.” . . 

 

Halter targets April launch date

Kiwi agritech start-up Halter expects to commercially launch its unique GPS-enabled cow collars in April.

“We have just finished setting up our production line in China and we have had our first collars off the line come back,” chief executive and founder Craig Piggott told the Young Farmers conference.

“We are targeting April as our commercial launch. It’s all happening very quickly.”

Auckland-based Halter has developed the collar, which allows cows to be guided around a farm using a smartphone app. . . 


Rural round-up

September 21, 2018

2019 Zanda McDonald Award shortlist announced: 

Six young agriculture professionals from both sides of the Tasman have been announced for the prestigious badge of honour for the primary industry, the Zanda McDonald Award.

Now in its fifth year, the award recognises innovative young professionals in agriculture from across Australasia. Five Australians and one New Zealander have been selected as finalists for the 2019 award based on their passion for agriculture, strong leadership skills, and their vision for the primary industry.

The shortlist is made up by Australians Alice Mabin 32, owner of Alice Mabin Pty Ltd in Linthorpe Queensland, Harry Kelly, 26, Manager of Mooramook Pastoral Co. in Caramut Victoria, Luke Evans, 28, Station Manager of Cleveland Agriculture in Tennant Creek Northern Territory, Nick Boshammer, 30, Director of NBG Holdings Pty Ltd in Chinchilla Queensland, and Shannon Landmark, 27, Co-ordinator of the Northern Genomics Project of the University of Queensland. Kiwi Grant McNaughton, 34, Managing Director of McNaughton Farms in Oamaru, North Otago rounds off the six. . . 

Kiwi farmers take on growing South American super food – Catherine Groenestein:

Growing Taranaki’s first commercial crop of quinoa was challenge enough, but finding a combine harvester in a district devoted to dairying proved tougher.

Luckily for Hamish and Kate Dunlop of Hāwera, they found someone who owns the only suitable machine in the region living just down the road.

The couple’s journey into growing a crop native to South America on their sheep and beef farm began with a discussion about whether quinoa, a food the health-conscious family was already familiar with, would grow in South Taranaki, Kate said. . .

 The grass on the far side of the fence will look much greener for Fonterra farmers – Point of Order:

It  must have felt  like  salt being rubbed into  their  financial wounds   for Fonterra’s farmer-shareholders, when Synlait  Milk this week  reported  its  net profit  soared  89%  to  $74.6m.   Fonterra’s  mob   saw  their  co-op  notch  up  a  loss of  $196m, and  with prices  at GDT auctions trending down,  they may also have to accept a trim  to the forecast milk price.

Where  Fonterra  talks of   slimming its  portfolio,  Synlait  is still investing  in expansion.

In the latest year Synlait has been working on new and expanded plants in Dunsandel, Auckland and Pokeno as well as a research and development centre in Palmerston North. . .

Much more mozzarella – Chris Tobin:

Cutting-edge technology used in Fonterra’s new mozzarella line at its Clandeboye plant is the first of its kind in the world, and being kept under wraps.

”It’s the result of years of investment into R&D and hard work at the Fonterra Research and Development Centre,” Clandeboye cheese plant manager Chris Turner said.

”The work has been supported in part by the Primary Growth Partnership between the Government, Fonterra and Dairy NZ.

”Other than that we can’t tell you too much more. . .

Fonterra steers clear of consultants after paying millions to McKinseys – Nikki Mandow:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group will not use external consultants for its newly-announced everything-on-the-table asset review, the dairy processor says. This follows allegations it paid up to $100 million a year between 2015 and 2017 to global consultancy giant McKinsey as part of its “Velocity” cost-cutting and restructuring programme.

It also forked out millions of dollars in CEO and other staff bonuses as part of its Velocity Leadership Incentive scheme. . .

Balle and Coull to join Ballance Agri-Nutrients Board

Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ shareholders have chosen Dacey Balle and Duncan Coull from an unprecedented field of 19 candidates to join the Co-operative’s Board, representing the North Island.

Murray Taggart, who retired by rotation this year, was unopposed in the South Island Ward and re-elected to the Board – while the decisions of Gray Baldwin to not seek re-election and Donna Smit to step down in the North Island Ward, opened a rare opportunity to secure a governance role with a leading rural business. . .


Rural round-up

September 8, 2018

Action groups are still growing – Neal Wallace:

More than 700 farm businesses have joined Red Meat Profit Partnership Action Network Groups with more than half them in three regions.

Most groups have been formed in Waikato-Bay of Plenty with 133, Canterbury 118 and Otago 114.

The top five areas of interest are animal performance, financial management, business planning, feed management and pasture management. . . 

Plant protein not a threat :

Silver Fern Farms chief executive Simon Limmer is not overly concerned about the threat of plant-based meat substitutes.

Limmer’s transition from chief operating officer of Zespri to chief executive of Silver Fern Farms has been seamless.

He notes protein consumption is growing worldwide and NZ is not going to be able to supply the world. NZ doesn’t need to be everything to every consumer, he says. . .

More than $22m loss for Norhtland dairy farmers as Fonterra slashes forecast milk price – Imran Ali:

Income for Northland dairy farmers will reduce by $22.5 million under Fonterra’s revised forecast payout for next season.

The dairy giant revised its 2018/19 forecast farmgate milk price from $7 per kg/MS to $6.75 per kgMS this week in response to stronger milk supply from the world’s key dairy producing countries.

Northland’s 1030 dairy farms supply about 90 million kg/MS each year. A payout of $7 as earlier announced would have fetched them $630m but $6.75 per kg/MS would earn $607.5m— down $22.5m. . .

Tea from an unlikely source – Mark Daniel:

Best known as the dairy capital of New Zealand, Waikato can also claim to be the nation’s home of tea. 

The Zealong Tea Estate, just north of Hamilton, is NZ’s only commercial tea grower.

The Zealong story starts in 1996, when Vincent Chen noticed the region’s abundant camellia bushes — the same Camellia sinensis that is used to produce white, green, black and oolong teas.  . .

Ballance to reinvest its surplus – Alan Williams:

For the first time in four years Ballance Agri-Nutrients has surplus earnings to reinvest in the business after the rebate payment to farmer shareholders.

The fertiliser co-operative has confirmed a bottom-line profit of $9.19 million for the year ended May 31.  

The rebate took $56.8m though only $39.4m was paid in cash with the balance allocated for new shares, further helping the cash position, the annual report said. . .

Crowdfunding saves a Jamberoo family from losing its livelihood – Rebecca Fist:

A drought-striken Jamberoo dairy farmer reached out for help, and found relief through his neighbour and drought funding campaigner Jason Maloney.

Jamberoo Road farmer Michael Harris has been working 12 hours a day, seven days a week to keep the dairy running, take care of his pregnant partner Natalie Fava, and put food on the table for their three children, and his brother living with a disability, Randall.

For months, Michael watched the prospect of keeping the family farm diminish before his eyes, like the grass on his land. . .


Rural round-up

August 2, 2018

Farmers seek off-farm income to counter rising costs – Heather Chalmers:

A farming leader says it is no surprise that farms are increasingly reliant on off-farm income.  

A Lincoln University survey has shown just over a quarter of farms obtained 30 per cent or more of their income from off-farm sources.

Farmers were struggling to keep up with the mainly inflation-caused price squeeze, the survey found. But the authors said some families found the rural lifestyle compensated for tight finances. . .

Dairy farm effluent compliance in Tasman District coming up roses – Cherie Sivignon:

Tasman district deputy mayor Tim King says the result of the 2017-18 dairy farm effluent compliance survey is a “good story all round”.

It revealed 90 of the 96 farms inspected were fully compliant for effluent management. The other six, graded non-compliant, comprised five with minor ponding and one that failed to adhere to setback rules.

In a report on the matter, council compliance and investigation officer Kat Bunting says all six instances of non-compliance were considered a minor breach of the rules that resulted in “no adverse environmental effect”.

Formal written warnings with directions for improvements were sent to those six farms and return visits found full and continued compliance. . .

Rabobank Global Dairy Top 20 – A Shuffling of the deck chairs:

Dairy price recovery in 2017 has positively affected the combined turnover of the top 20 global dairy companies, which, in 2017, was up 7.2% on the year in US dollar terms and 5.1% in euro terms, according to RaboResearch’s latest Global Dairy Top 20 – A Shuffling of the Deck Chairs report.

“For the second consecutive year, there were no new entrants to the Dairy Top 20 list, with the USD 5bn threshold difficult to achieve due to a scarcity of large acquisitions or mergers.” says Peter Paul Coppes, Senior Analyst – Dairy. “However, while the names have remained the same, the order shifted in 2017.” . . 

UK’s Daily Mail urges Theresa May to listen to Kiwi trade expert– Point of Order:

Brits who may be despairing at the lack of progress on Brexit, as Britain’s political class trade blows and the process becomes bogged down in politicking, have been told “there is a small corner of a government department that they can turn to for cheer”.

This is the office of New Zealand’s Crawford Falconer, Chief Trade Negotiation Adviser at the Department of International Trade, described by the Daily Mail as

“… a man of immense experience in such matters. And, in contrast to the doomsayers, his message about Brexit is one of almost unbounded optimism.”

 The article goes on to say: . .

Comvita touted as potential bidder for Manuka Health company – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita, the NZX-listed manuka honey company, declined to comment on whether it is interested in making a bid for honey company Manuka Health New Zealand which has reportedly been put up for sale by its Australian owner Pacific Equity Partners.

The Australian newspaper suggested Comvita or its largest shareholder China Resources Ng Fung as possible buyers of Manuka Health, which was put on the market about six weeks ago for more than A$200 million by PEP and advisers Luminis Partners. Manuka Health was reportedly sold to the Australian private equity firm in 2015 for $110 million. . .

 

Inter-club challenge still going strong:

The last hurrah for the Canterbury dog trial season, the annual Inter-Club Challenge, was held at Waihi Station, home to the Geraldine Collie Club, on July 1.

The day turned from a ”rugged-up” winter’s morning to a balmy northwest afternoon.

The Canterbury Centre is one of the largest centres in New Zealand,comprising 18 club trials stretching from Cheviot in the north to Mackenzie in the east and Levels (Timaru area) in the south, encompassing all areas in between.

In its 25th year of competition, the trial attracted a strong gallery of spectators and team supporters from throughout the province, testament to the strength and popularity of the sport. . .

Strong interest expected with vacant governance roles on Ballance board:

 A “genuine and rare governance opportunity” has opened up with one of New Zealand’s industry-leading rural co-operatives with Ballance Agri-Nutrients announcing that two farmer-elected directors will be stepping down from its Board this year.

Ballance shareholders are currently being notified of the vacancies created by the decisions of Gray Baldwin not to seek re-election, and Donna Smit who is standing down in the North Island Ward (N). Murray Taggart is retiring by rotation (as required under the Co-operative’s Constitution) and seeking re-election in the South Island Ward (S). . .

MyFarm launches $17.6m Hop Garden investment

MyFarm has launched a $17.64 million investment into what will become New Zealand’s largest hop garden.

The opportunity to invest in Tapawera Hop Garden Limited Partnership includes the purchase of a 96-hectare property and the lease of a second 50-hectare property which will be developed into a 116 canopy (effective) hectare garden. Half of the garden will be planted this spring alongside other development such as building hop picking and drying facilities and worker accommodation. . . 


Rural round-up

July 21, 2018

Crop biotech 3.0: a farmer’s perspective – Craige Mackenzie:

Here in New Zealand, we did not participate in the GE Gene Revolution. Farmers like me see an advantage in making sure that we do not miss the next one. 

You’ve seen the statistics. Farmers around the world have planted and harvested billions of acres of genetically engineered crops. Not long ago, we used to talk about GMOs and conventional crops as if they belonged in different categories. Increasingly—and especially in North and South America—GMOs are the new conventional. They’ve become an ordinary part of agriculture. 

Some nations, of course have resisted the use of GMOs, starting with members of the European Union. New Zealand has taken its own wait-and-see approach, turning it into a sort of permanent delay. The science on GMOs safety to human health and our environment may be settled but my country has wanted to preserve its clean-green image in food production, in the belief that this gives us a competitive advantage as we market ourselves to the world.  . . 

Eradicating cattle disease M. bovis in New Zealand may be costly, even impossible, but we must try – Riachard Laven:

In May this year, the New Zealand government decided that it would attempt to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis, a bacterial disease that affects cattle.

A phased eradication means that an additional 126,000 livestock will need to be culled, at an estimated cost of NZ$886 million.

Here’s what we know, what we don’t know and what’s at stake.

How do we know this is a new incursion?

M. bovis causes mastitis and arthritis in adult cattle and pneumonia in calves. It is found around the world, but New Zealand was one of the last disease-free countriesuntil the detection of infected cows on a dairy farm in July 2017.  . .

Career path judged correctly – Sally Rae:

Brooke Flett never intended a career in farming.

But now, settled on the family dairy farm at Scotts Gap in Southland, it was “working out all right”.

“Most of the time, I love it,” she laughed.

Miss Flett (26), who is chairwoman of Thornbury Young Farmers Club, was recently named Young Farmers national stock-judging champion.

She grew up on the farm and boarded at Southland Girls’ High School before studying at Victoria University for a bachelor of arts in education.

But it “never really clicked” and she did not pursue a career in that area. .

Farm sales and prices ease on year June but horticulture farms shine –  Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Farm sales fell 7 percent on the year in the three months to June and the median price per hectare was down 16.3 percent although horticulture farm prices continued to push higher, according to the Real Estate Institute.

Overall, 427 farms were sold in the three months ended June 30 from 459 farms in the same period a year earlier. Some 1,480 farms were sold in the year to June, down 17 percent on the year. . .

Software to keep containment’s out:

Fertiliser co-op Ballance will commercially launch a new farm environment planning tool, MitAgator, by spring.

Developed by Ballance and AgResearch, MitAgator measures the loss of four main farm contaminants — nitrogen, phosphorous, sediment and E. coli.

New Zealand-wide trials are pointing to a launch by late September. . .

Deer velvet looking good in Asia

Long-term prospects for NZ velvet in the major Asian markets are looking positive says Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) Asia manager Rhys Griffiths.

“There has been an explosion in consumer demand for consumer-ready velvet-based products in Korea. Ten years ago this product category didn’t even exist,” he says.

“In the past six months, 23 new velvet-based healthy food products have been launched in Korea; the majority of them using NZ velvet. . .

Importers snap up cheap U.S. soybeans as China stops buying – Karl Plume:

China’s retaliatory tariffs on U.S. soybeans, threatened for weeks and enacted Friday, have driven down prices and triggered a wave of bargain shopping by importers in other countries stocking up on cheap U.S. supplies, according to a Reuters analysis of government data.

Chinese buyers have so far this year accounted for just 17 percent of all advanced purchases of the fall U.S. soybean harvest – down from an average of 60 percent over the past decade, the analysis found. They are instead loading up on Brazilian soybeans, which now sell at a premium of up to $1.50 a bushel as U.S. soybean futures have fallen 17 percent over six weeks to about $8.50, their lowest level in nearly a decade. . .

The rise of soil carbon cowboys – Peter Byck:

Ranching is a rare occupation. Rarer still are the ranchers pioneering new ways to graze cattle, transforming their ranches and farms into vibrant ecosystems, producing black ink for their bank accounts and giving their incredibly robust animals a great life (with the exception of one bad day).

These new grazing methods have many names — mob grazing, managed intensive grazing, holistic management. Our group of scientists and ranchers call it Adaptive Multi-Paddock (AMP) Grazing.  . .


Orchardists ambassadors for sustainable farming/growing

June 8, 2018

The Ballance Farm Environment Award has been won by orchardists for the first time:

Bay of Plenty Kiwifruit Growers Mark and Catriona White Are the New National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing.

The New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFET) runs the Ballance Farm Environment Awards and announced the Recipients of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy at an awards function at Te Papa in Wellington on Thursday night – chosen from 11 regional supreme winners gathered from throughout the country.

Ten years ago, the Whites embarked on a quest to find an improved lifestyle for their family away from the city and found it on a bare block of land near Opotiki. Their work and passion has transformed a 5.85ha section of a former organic dairy farm into the Coastal Kiwis Orchard it is today.

Former national ambassador Dianne Kidd from Helensville, who chaired the judging panel, says the Whites demonstrate an excellent understanding of all aspects of sustainable food production.

“They are outstanding strategic and agile thinkers on the key issues for New Zealand and have strong primary sector and community leadership qualities. They communicate and operate exceptionally well as a team and are natural leaders with a wealth of knowledge and experience and a willingness to impart this to others.”

She says Mark and Catriona show a respect for the Maori principles of kaitiakitanga – acting as guardian, protector and conserver – within their kiwifruit orchard management.

“They are strong users of evidence-based science and technology in their business and orchard and demonstrate a broad global market understanding and a real energy to be agents of change. They come from diverse careers into the primary sector bringing their expertise and capital to their chosen horticultural business and the community in Opotiki.”

Catriona’s family has been on the farm for four generations. Although they initially did not know much about kiwifruit, the couple did most of the physical development work themselves, keeping costs down and learning by their mistakes. Mark also did a National Certificate in Horticulture.

The orchard is BioGro certified. It has 3.19 ha of Zespri Organic Green kiwifruit, producing in 2017 a total of 23,483 trays of kiwi-start fruit. Zespri Organic SunGold (G3) is currently grown on 2.65 ha producing 38,362 trays. This production was achieved in a “challenging growing year” which included various cyclones and a very wet and windy autumn. Recently developed blocks of SunGold have come into production this season.

Alongside Kidd on the national judging panel were Warwick Catto from Ballance Agri-Nutrients, NZFET’s Jamie Strang, George Murdoch from Rabobank and Julia Jones from KPMG.

“New Zealand can be proud of the global leading achievements of our farmers and growers,” Kidd says.

“New Zealand media needs to help tell these great stories about our outstanding food producers. A common theme from this year’s supreme regional winners is a focus and clear understanding there is a need to connect with our consumers – a real market focus.”

The supreme winners of 11 regional awards were invited to the Showcase in Wellington to be considered for the trophy named in honour of Waikato farmer and noted conservationist, the late Gordon Stephenson. As a national award it is separate to the regional programme and judged under different criteria.

Chair of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, Joanne van Polanen, says she is looking forward to supporting the Whites fulfil their ambassadorial duties including an overseas study tour. “Catriona and Mark will do the country proud as food producers of the highest quality.”



Rural round-up

May 11, 2018

Urea plant upgrade hangs in the Ballance – Rebecca Howard:

The ban on new offshore gas exploration is another spanner in the works for a major upgrade of New Zealand’s only ammonia-urea production plant.

Fertiliser cooperative Ballance Agri-Nutrients has been planning a $1 billion rebuild of its urea plant at Kapuni for several years, but has been stymied by cost increases, low urea prices and the withdrawal of a cornerstone investment partner. Now it says the government’s decision to end new offshore exploration permits is another risk factor for the project.

Natural gas from the nearby Maui gas field is a feedstock for the Kapuni plant, which produces about a third of New Zealand’s total urea needs. Urea is the most widely used fertiliser for dairy farms and is also used to produce resins for wood manufacturing.  . . 

New dairy season to “hit a six” – with shaky start possible for but strong finish anticipated:

The 2018/19 dairy season is expected to “hit a six”, with a shaky start possible, but a strong finish anticipated, resulting in a third season with a “milk price starting with a six”, according to a new industry report.

In its recently-released dairy seasonal update A hit for six in 2018/19 – New Zealand dairy farmers face a triple treat, agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank says New Zealand dairy farmers have enjoyed a period of profitability with milk prices above breakeven – and the upcoming season will see this run continue. . . 

Hinds Young Farmer member in the running for national award:

The chair of Hinds Young Farmers is receiving national recognition for her hard work in the dairy industry.

Cheyenne Wilson is a finalist for the 2018 Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Award for Dairy.

The 25-year-old is an assistant manager for Nathan and Erin Christian on Lochan Mor farm near Ashburton. . .

Whanganui’s Mac Hole Drillers a one-woman operation for Renee Matthews-Cooper – Sue Dudman:

When Renee Matthews-Cooper turned up in her truck at one job, she was asked when her man would be arriving to do the work.

She’s frequently asked by male farmers if she’s okay and what they can do to help her. But Matthews-Cooper is in her element operating her hole drilling business by herself.

Matthews-Cooper and her father, Ted Matthews, bought a purpose-built mobile rig last year and set up Mac Hole Drillers, offering offal hole, soak hole and post hole digging services. It is a subsidiary of Matthews’ business Balgownie Truck & Cranes. . . 

Struggle Street stories don’t cut it for dairy farmer determined to stay afloat – Lyn Webster:

Maybe I am tired from the end of the season. Bar a short break at Christmas, I have milked every day since the payout dropped to $3.90 a kilogram of milk solids a couple of years ago, leaving me skint.

But you know what? I have actually enjoyed it.

Now thankfully the milk price is $6/kg, and there is hope of survival. I just have to keep on milking those cows and paying that lease.

I have little time for stories of people on Struggle Street – hard but true. . . 

Robotics Plus signs global deal for robotic apple packers:

Robotics Plus, a New Zealand agricultural robotics and automation company, today announced it has signed an agency and distribution agreement with GlobalPac Technologies which will see the company’s revolutionary robotic apple packers go global. The deal, which will initially target the US, Australian and New Zealand markets, is fuelling a period of accelerated growth for Robotics Plus as industry demand for its innovation grows.

GlobalPac Technologies is a joint venture between United States company Van Doren Sales and New Zealand-owned Jenkins Group. . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

April 27, 2018

Direct link between irrigation and polluted waterways is ‘wrong’ says mayor – Jo McKenzie McLean:

Wide opinion that an “incontrovertible” direct link exists between irrigation and the degradation of New Zealand’s waterways “is wrong”, Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan says.

Cadogan delivered an opening speech at Irrigation New Zealand’s national conference being held in Alexandra, Central Otago, on Wednesday and Thursday. 

He told a crowd of over 400 that he was one of the few at the conference who had an “unbiased view” and in the past had drawn criticism from both ends of the spectrum. . . .

Goats blue is gold for cheese maker – Daniel Birchfield:

The accolades just keep coming for Oamaru cheesemaker Whitestone Cheese.

Following its successful showing at last month’s Wisconsin World Champion Cheese Contest in the United States, where it picked up two top-five placings, Whitestone was last week awarded one gold and two silver medals in the dairy category of the 2018 Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards.

Its Ohau Goat’s Blue cheese claimed gold and Lindis Pass Brie and Camembert silver.

Whitestone’s Shenley Station cheese was highly commended. . .

Ballance Agri-Nutrients reaps savings, health and safety benefits with new app:

A new locally developed mobile app is helping Ballance Agri-Nutrients provide a safer environment for staff and customers, while removing paper-work, streamlining business processes and providing cost efficiencies for the company and its shareholders alike.

The New Zealand farmer-owned co-operative, which provides fertilisers as part of its business, called on its trusted technology partner, Soltius, to develop the mobile app which plugs into the company’s traditional SAP enterprise software.

The Loader Driver app mobilises the company’s SAP S/4 HANA system, providing ‘a shopping cart in your loader cab’ for the drivers to be able to more easily load spreading trucks picking up fertiliser from Ballance Agri-Nutrients centres around New Zealand. . .

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Rural round-up

April 25, 2018

Water the new gold in Central Otago – Sally Rae:

Irrigation New Zealand held its conference in Alexandra last week. Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae joined a media tour in Central Otago to see  the benefits of water.

It gives John Perriam such a buzz to see “rabbit s…  being turned into world-class pinot”.

But to do that on Bendigo Station, in the heart of Central Otago, it has taken technology, resources and water.

Bendigo —between Tarras and Cromwell — is a very different place to when the Perriam family first arrived in the late 1970s, having been literally flooded out of their previous property by  the Clyde Dam hydro development.

They took over 6000 superfine merino sheep from the previous owners, the Lucas family, and fine and superfine merinos remained a core part of the operation. . . 

Bonding time:

Determined to realise the potential offered by triplet-bearing ewes, Chris, Julia and Richard Dawkins have, with the help of Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Innovation Farm programme, set-up an indoor lambing system on their Marlborough sheep and beef farm.

This is part one of a two-part series looking at the benefits and the economics of this system.An on-farm trial aimed at economically improving lamb survival by lambing triplet-bearing ewes indoors and rearing mis-mothered lambs has got off to an encouraging start.

The Marlborough-based Dawkins family is running the three-year trial on their sheep and beef property as part of Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Innovation Farm programme. . . 

Gypsy Day start of new chapter – Toni Williams:

Trudy Bensted is planning the next chapter in her life, packing up her family and moving farms.

She is motivated to succeed in the dairy industry, but also driven to give her children life experiences.

Trudy has a sole charge position in Temuka milking 260 cows but on June 1 – the traditional Gypsy Day – she moves to a new job.

She will be taking on a new venture joining the team at Kintore farms in Mid Canterbury.

”Kintore consists of two sheds south of Ashburton, 1500 cows, excellent apps and systems in place for an efficient and effective farm,” Trudy said. . . 

Politicking put aside on livestock rustling:

Federated Farmers is greatly encouraged by the cross-party support for tougher livestock theft deterrents being shown by members of the Primary Production Select Committee.

Meat and Wool Chairman Miles Anderson spoke to the committee on the Sentencing (Livestock Rustling) Amendment Bill this morning. He said it was heartening to see there was no politicking on the issue, just determination to work out the best ways of combating the problem.

“There’s good momentum to put in place effective measures to tackle this serious and growing scourge.” . . 

Digital core to future of New Zealand farming – Ballance:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients’ today announced changes to its lead team that reinforce digitisation as core to the Co-operative and the future competitiveness of New Zealand farming.

Chief Executive, Mark Wynne, says the creation of a new Chief Digital Officer role reflects a strategy to become a truly customer-centric organisation, with digital at the heart.

Ballance was the first New Zealand organisation to go live with SAP S/4HANA in 2016, providing a foundation for the launch this year of the MyBallance customer experience platform that puts customers in control – providing real-time data and the capability to place and track nutrient plans and orders online 24/7, and with digital mapping the ability to report accurately on nutrient application on their farms. . . 

Tech will have profound impact on NZ agriculture:

The New Zealand IoT (internet of things) Alliance believes cutting-edge technologies will have a profound impact on helping improve New Zealand’s agricultural productivity.

Alliance executive director Kriv Naicker says a major study into the potential benefits of IoT last year found that better use of IoT across agriculture could provide more than $570 million for the economy.

“In an earlier study by the Sapere research group found that if New Zealand firms made better use of the internet it could have a major impact on GDP, potentially lifting it by $34 billion,” Naicker says. . . 


Rural round-up

October 30, 2017

Brexit problems proliferate while negotiators procrastinate– Alan Barber:

An Agri Brigade piece in the latest Private Eye, that marvellous example of good old-fashioned investigative journalism, made me acutely aware of the law of unintended consequences that inevitably applies to trade agreements. With less than 18 months until Brexit, UK negotiators don’t appear to have made any tangible progress towards a workable agreement with their EU counterparts.

In fact each side is talking right past the other: the EU wants to set the amount the UK will pay to exit before discussing important things like trade and the UK doesn’t want to mention it for fear of causing political mayhem at home. And we think we’ve got problems with the coalition discussions which should have reached a conclusion by the time you read this. . .

EU plans to trade ‘much’ more with Australia and New Zealand after Brexit – Jon Stone:

An upcoming trade deal between the European Union and Australia and New Zealand will help to dramatically increase trade between the blocs, the EU’s trade commission has said.

Despite high-profile Brexiteers hoping Britain would do more trade with Commonwealth countries after Britain leaves the bloc, the EU has pulled away with a head-start in negotiating its own agreement with the two former British colonies.

Cecilia Malmström told the European Parliament on Wednesday that her negotiating team was moving to the next phase of preparations for the trade deal. . .

Overseas land ownership not just a New Zealand problem – Alan Barber:

On a recent trip to Australia I read an article about overseas land holdings on that side of the Tasman which illustrates

the dramatic growth in Chinese investment in Australian agricultural land. In contrast to the rather sketchy and out of date statistics available in New Zealand, the Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land Register provides very specific figures at 30th June this year.

Foreign investors now own 13.6% of Australian agricultural land, up from 11% three years ago, with British investment at 33% still the largest source of foreign capital, although this percentage has fallen sharply from 52% 12 months earlier. . .

Technology needs human factor – Richard Rennie:

Kellogg participant and Ballance Agri-Nutrients technical expert Oliver Knowles embarked on his six-month course with the aim of better understanding how farmers take up new technology, particularly precision agri-tech. His work comprised a review of literature on farmer adoption and uptake and a study of applying the findings of that to precision ag technology. He told Richard Rennie about it.

Understanding farmers will help them adopt new technology and develop precision agriculture attitudes, Kellog scholar Oliver Knowles says.

During his study Knowles realised there was more to be uncovered about the make-up of Kiwi farmers.

Early on in his research he quickly came to recognise the conflict farmers almost subconsciously had to deal with when adopting new ideas. . .

LIC: dairying must adapt:

LIC chairman Murray King has warned dairy farmers of the threat of disruption and told them they must keep improving and adapting to the changing world.

New Zealand dairy farmers have a global edge in terms of productivity and profitability, but the industry needs to remain ambitious about keeping that edge against the best in the world.

King was speaking at the farmer-owned co-operative’s annual meeting in Invercargill. . .

Genetically modified wheat used to make coeliac-friendly bread – Michael Le Page:

People forced to avoid gluten could soon have their bread (and cake) and eat it. Now there are strains of wheat that do not produce the forms of gluten that trigger a dangerous immune reaction in as many as 1 in 100 people.

Because the new strains still contain some kinds of gluten, though, the wheat can still be used to bake bread. “It’s regarded as being pretty good, certainly better than anything on the gluten-free shelves,” says Jan Chojecki of PBL-Ventures in the UK, who is working with investors in North America to market products made with this wheat.

Gluten is the general term for all the proteins in wheat and related cereals. During baking, these proteins link up to form elastic chains, which is what holds breads and cakes together as they rise. . .


Rural round-up

July 29, 2017

Shearing record falls:

Hawke’s Bay shearer Rowland Smith has smashed a World shearing record in England.

The 30-year-old father-of-two shore 644 romney and crossbred ewes in eight hours at Trefranck Farm, near St Clether in Cornwall, beating the previous record of 605 set by Invercargill shearer Leon Samuels in Southland earlier this year.

It was the latest in a string of world shearing records in the family, including the ultimate record of 731 ewes in nine hours by Matthew Smith at Tefranck on July 26 last year. . .

Knee-deep and wanting to cry – Sally Rae:

“It’s just the worst thing to happen to a farm,” Taieri dairy farmer Katie Clark rues as she stands in knee-deep floodwater in front of her home.

Calving is due to start in two days on the Clark family’s property, on Otokia Rd West, yet most of their farm remains under water.

Yesterday, their house was surrounded by water, firewood was floating in the yard, they could not use the shower or toilet, a mattress had floated from a shed into the garden, and there was no sign of the water level dropping.

Ask Mrs Clark how she is faring and she says “it’s horrible. We just want to cry. Look where our cows are.” . . 

Optimism follows record rain – Annette Scott:

Canterbury soils are saturated, crops have drowned and pastures have transformed to mud bowls, but in the aftermath of the worst-ever rain event on record, there are positives.

“Despite the fact we are sludging on in extremely trying conditions, and more rain, the positives would outweigh the negatives,” Federated Farmers Mid Canterbury vice-chairman David Clark said.

In the worst-hit parts of the South Island, the deluge dumped up to 180mm across Mid Canterbury in what has been recorded as the biggest rain event ever for the region, while in South Canterbury 67mm of rain fell in 12 hours, more than its average July rainfall of 40mm. . .

Ballance delivers strong FY2017 result and returns $54m to farmers:

• Gross trading result up $22 million to $56.8 million

• Shareholder rebate of $45 per tonne, with total distribution of $54 million

• Record urea production of 277,224 tonnes, with staged investment in Kapuni

• $35 million investment in distribution network and digital transformation. . .

Silver Fern CEO Dean Hamilton steps down – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Silver Fern Farms announced the resignation of chief executive Dean Hamilton, who will leave at the end of the year, and said a search is underway for his replacement.

Hamilton has been chief executive of Silver Fern Farms, New Zealand’s biggest meat company, for three years and steered it through the Shanghai Maling investment and partnership. No reason was given for his resignation but co-chairman Rob Hewett said “we been discussing for some time the demands on him of working away from home” and the board “appreciates and accepts” his desire for change. . .

Wool prices firm ;

At yesterday’s South Island sale, longer 37-micron crossbred second-shear wool increased 40 cents to $3.15 a kilogram compared to last week’s North Island sale, while mid-length fibre gained 25 cents to $2.70/kg and shorter styles were firm at $2.40, according to AgriHQ. Meanwhile, 31-micron lamb wool was also up week on week by 80 cents to $3.70/kg.

Compared with the last South Island sale two weeks ago, 37-micron crossbred fleece was up 5 cents to $3/kg. Meanwhile the improvements in the second shear were not as large due to the premium that is typical for the South Island. The longer 37-micron second shear was up 5 cents to $3.15/kg while the shorter style was firm at $2.40/kg, AgriHQ said. . .


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