Rural round-up

October 25, 2018

Formerly gagged Fonterra director seeks re-election – Sally Rae:

Former gagged Fonterra director Leonie Guiney says she can see very clearly how to solve the co-operative’s “reputational issues”.

The South Canterbury dairy farmer is seeking election to the board in this year’s director elections through the self-nomination process.

Mrs Guiney recently settled a defamation claim against the Fonterra board, over a letter the board sent Fonterra’s 10,000-odd farmer-shareholders explaining why it had sought a court injunction gagging her from speaking about the business.

She left the board last year after serving three years. She said she departed because she was prevented from re-contesting her seat when it came up by rotation, the New Zealand Herald reported. . . 

Transforming a ‘nasty little wet farm’ into an award winner:

When you talk to Matamata dairy farmers Rod and Sandra McKinnon about environmental sustainability it’s easy to understand why the couple won the 2017/18 Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

When Rod and Sandra McKinnon bought a 44-hectare farm near Matamata in 1992 some people thought they were crazy.

‘I remember someone describing it as a ‘nasty little wet farm’, but it had a stream and some native bush and we could see the potential”, says Sandra.

Fast forward 26 years and following some serious hard work and expansion the farm (now 194-hectares, milking 400 cows on 155-hectares effective) is an award winner, with Rod and Sandra taking out the supreme title at the 2017/18 Waikato Ballance Farm Environmental Awards. . .

NZ Shareholders Association to vote against Wrightson’s sale:

The New Zealand Shareholders’ Association will vote against the $434 million sale of PGG Wrightson’s seeds division to a Danish cooperative.

The retail investor lobby says the mostly cash offer from DLF Seeds is attractive at face value, with a $292 million capital return attached. However, that short-term gain will shrink Wrightson to less than half its current size and leave it holding businesses inferior to the grains and seeds division.

“It seems to us that if shareholders accept DLF’s offer, they will potentially lose in the long run unless PGW can pull a rabbit out of the hat and grow the rump business,” the Shareholders’ Association said.

Discerning customers drive demand for West Coast butter:

New Zealand sales of Westgold butter have just soared past the three million mark, on the back of a consumer shift towards more natural fats.

Produced in Hokitika by Westland Milk Products, Westgold is marketed as the ‘everyday gourmet butter’. It appeared in nearly a quarter of Kiwi fridges last year, and Westgold’s salted butter was the third most purchased butter in North Island New World supermarkets, according to recent Nielsen data. . .

Allbirds: the billion dollar eco trainers brand that’s about to take London by storm – Chloe Street:

Two years ago, San Francisco-based sustainable sneakers brand Allbirds launched with one style of shoe: the Wool Runner; a pair of minimal, slightly fuzzy lace-up trainers crafted from superfine merino wool.

They were the first trainers ever to have been made from the material, and in the first week of trading, Time magazine wrote a splashy article billing them ‘the world’s most comfortable shoes.’

Customers – including half of Silicon Valley’s tech bros – and investors – including the likes of Leonardo Dicaprio – came in droves. Fast-forward two years and the company, who recently sold its millionth pair, has just raised an additional $50 million in funding, valuing it at over $1 billion.

Drystock farm offers a sweet opportunity :

A coastal sheep and beef farm – which also sustains an eco’ tourism business and commercial honey-production venture – has been placed on the market for sale.

Kawakawa Station at Ngawi near Cape Palliser on the south-eastern tip of the North Island is a 1,379 hectare waterfront property traditionally capable of carrying approximately 5115 stock units over winter. As well as running the freehold block, Kawakawa Station also leases some 785 hectares of adjoining hillside grazing land to feed the Romney herd. . . 

Substantial breeding and finishing farms go up for sale:

 A pair of adjoining sheep and beef breeding and finishing blocks – being run as one substantial farming operation serviced by its own airfield and fantastic laneway system – has been placed on the market for sale.

Combined, the two farms near Dannevirke in the Southern Hawke’s Bay encompass a total of 1,738 hectares of rolling countryside fenced into some 160 paddocks, and known as Rolling Downs Station. . . 

 


Rural round-up

August 4, 2018

Property rights are being forgotten – Gerry Eckhoff:

William Pitt the elder (1708-78) got it right with a famous speech in which he said – in part – ”The poorest man in his cottage may bid defiance to the Crown. It may be frail. The roof may shake, the wind may enter, the rain and storm may enter but the king of England may not – nor all his forces dare cross the threshold of that ruined tenement”.

While Hunter Valley Station hardly qualifies as a ”ruined tenement”, the principle of security of tenure and the right to exclude the Crown and by association, the public, holds as true today as it did in the 18th century

And so the debate begins, yet again, 240-odd years later. There are those who seek access to every corner of this fair country but who choose to ignore the common courtesy of seeking permission of the owner. During the last tenure of the previous Labour government, Helen Clark sought to pass legislation to force a right of entry to all rural land which included freehold, Maori, and leasehold land, but especially pastoral lease land. . .

Kiwifruit Industry ‘New Zealand labour just not there’ – Kate Gutsell:

The kiwifruit industry is facing a shortfall of 7000 workers as it predicts it will double in value in the next ten years.

The industry body, Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated, has released a report which estimates the $2.1 billion industry will generate $4b of revenue by 2027.

Kiwifruit is already New Zealand’s largest horticulture export and the report is forecasting production will jump by 54 percent, from 123 million trays to 190 million by 2027. . .

Westland Milk to review ownership as it strives to boost returns – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Westland Milk Products, whose payments to its cooperative shareholders have lagged behind rivals, may change its ownership structure as it looks at ways to improve returns.

Hokitika-based Westland said today it has appointed Macquarie Capital and DG Advisory to consider potential capital and ownership options that will create a more sustainable capital structure and support a higher potential payout. All options will be explored in the process expected to run for several months, it said. . .

Economic outlook the sour note in farm confidence survey:

Pessimism about the economic outlook is a sour note among the otherwise generally positive indicators in the Federated Farmers July Farm Confidence Survey.

This is the 19th time the twice-yearly survey has been conducted and for the first time farmer optimism has increased in all areas except their continuing negative perceptions of the economy, Feds Vice-President Andrew Hoggard says. . .

Farmers worried as Government increases costs:

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor confirmed in Parliament’s Question Time today that farmers will face ‘additional costs’ under his Government, National’s Agriculture Spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“Mr O’Connor has previously signalled a climate tax for farmers, slashed the Primary Growth Partnership fund and won’t fund any new water storage projects,” Mr Guy says. . .

The European Union rejected genome edited crops – Matt Ridley:

The European Court of Justice has just delivered a scientifically absurd ruling, in defiance of advice from its advocate general, but egged on by Jean-Claude Juncker’s allies. It will ensure that more pesticides are used in Britain, our farmers will be less competitive and researchers will leave for North America. Thanks a bunch, your honours. 

By saying that genome-edited crops must be treated to expensive and uncertain regulation, it has pandered to the views of a handful of misguided extremists, who no longer have popular support in this country. . . 

Tell your story by entering the Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Farmers and growers are being encouraged to enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards for 2018/19. The awards are organised by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, a charity set up to promote sustainable farming and growing.

The Chair of the Trust is Joannne van Polanen, who farms in Mid-Canterbury. Joanne says “There’s a lot of discussion about the need for the primary sector to tell our stories. The awards provide an opportunity for farmers and growers to share the positive actions they are involved in with their local community and a wider audience.” . . 

Pact Group launch first rPET bottles for NZ milk producer:

Pact Group subsidiary Alto Packaging has announced the launch of the new 750ml and 1.5litre milk bottles made from 100% recycled plastic polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) for Lewis Road.

Malcolm Bundey Managing Director and CEO of Pact Group says “Pact is proud to have designed and manufactured these bottles. We are excited to be in partnership with Lewis Road and part of their journey to become New Zealand’s first milk producer to switch to using entirely recycled materials for these two products.” . . 


Rural round-up

June 13, 2018

New faces take on arable roles – Annette Scott:

Wairarapa cropping farmer Karen Williams made history as she took up the reins of the Federated Farmers arable section at its annual conference.

The first woman to head the section, the 2017 biosecurity farmer of the year and former Ballance Farm Environment Award winner takes on the job with a bundle of enthusiasm.

“I am excited about the opportunity. 

“For me this role gives me the opportunity to continue to work in biosecurity and engage in that space in Wellington. . . 

Drones prove worth on farms – Richard Rennie:

Drones initially welcomed as great novelties are now fixtures as business tools and on farms they can have multiple uses. Richard Rennie talked to farmers who have used them and found a new drone firm setting up shop here as their use becomes more widely accepted.

IN THE heady early days of drone deployment many promises were made about how they would revolutionise some of the grinding daily farm jobs, often all from the comfort of the farm kitchen table. 

A few years on they have proved to be more than a flash in the pan. 

For some farmers they are now an established tool but still as dependent on the technology they take into the sky as the inventiveness of farmers using them. . . 

Meat company results only average for 2017 – will 2018 be any better?  – Allan Barber:

ANZCO’s lacklustre result for 2017, posted last month, concludes the financial reporting for last year by the three major processors which publish their results. ANZCO’s pre-tax profit was $1.8 million which compares disappointingly with Alliance Group’s $16.7 million profit and Silver Fern Farms Cooperative’s 15 month profit of $7.8 million.

None of the three companies achieved a particularly good return on their investment in the business, but both Alliance and SFF showed improvement on the previous year which was in each case the result of substantial changes in the business structure and balance sheet. The $261 million investment by Shanghai Maling in acquiring 50% of SFF had an immediately positive impact on the company’s balance sheet strength and interest bill. During its year to September Alliance was able to reduce debt and make increased investment in plant upgrades at the same time. . . 

Danone adds to investment in NZ infant formula with proposal to buy up to 49% of Yashili New Zealand – Jonathan Underhill

(BusinessDesk) – Danone plans to increase its investment in New Zealand infant formula manufacturing by acquiring up to 49 percent of Yashili New Zealand Dairy Co, the local unit of China Mengniu Dairy, according to a filing in Hong Kong.

Terms of the transaction haven’t been finalised, including the price and method of payment, Yashili International said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange. “The consideration, the payment method and the payment schedule shall be determined after arm’s length negotiations and mutual agreement between the parties,” it said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange. . .

Changes on board of Young farmers – Sally Rae:

Experienced Dunedin marketer Sharon Angus has joined the board of New Zealand Young Farmers as an appointed director.

Ms Angus (54), who is former general manager of marketing at Silver Fern Farms, has extensive experience with food brands.

The marketing consultant was excited about joining the board as she felt New Zealand Young Farmers “represents the future”. . . 

Process vegetables industry signs up to GIA:

Today, Horticulture New Zealand signed a Government Industry Agreement (GIA) for Biosecurity Readiness and Response on behalf of Process Vegetables New Zealand (PVNZ).

PVNZ chair David Hadfield says robust biosecurity should be seen as an investment for growers.

“Committing to the GIA enables us to have closer, more informed interactions with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and other GIA industry partners around biosecurity. This includes planning for potential incursions and taking a leading role in collective biosecurity management where it impacts our members,” Hadfield says. . . 

Knitted with love:

How Fonterra is helping keep Gore’s newest residents warm and cosy this winter.

It’s a rainy Wednesday afternoon in Gore and Lois Shallard’s knitting needles are working over-time. Beside her on the table is a pile of tiny knitted baby socks, singlets and hats and at her feet are balls of wool – hot pink, lime green, lavender and a “lovely mottled blue”.

Lois is 70 this year and she’s been knitting since her teens. She knitted clothes for all her children back in the day and now she’s moved on to knitting for her town’s new mums.

“I love knitting the little socks the best, they are just so tiny and cute.” . . 


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 24, 2018

Farm conversion considers environment – Nicole Sharp:

Kanadale Farms is no ordinary dairy farm.

First to stick out are the rolling hills and steeper landscapes, obvious signs it was once home to animals of a different kind, combined with planting of trees around the property.

It was the diversity of the 355ha property, and the work and investment the Moseby family has put into it, which resulted in their being crowned the 2018 Southland Ballance Farm Environment Award supreme winners. . . 

Hoki Dokey: NZ fish skin facemasks to launch in China – Emma Hatton:

It’s not quite a slap in the face with a wet fish but hoki skins, once destined for pet food, are now in a facemask and going on sale in China this month. 

Sanfords fishing group and Auckland science company Revolution Fibres have teamed up to produce a skincare range, which they claim can reduce wrinkles by up to 31.5 percent.

Revolution Fibres recently created a product called a nanofibre, which is a particle 500 times smaller than the width of a human hair. . . 

Sanford lifts first-half profit 43% with focus on higher value fish fillets – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Sanford, New Zealand’s largest listed seafood company, lifted first-half profit 43 percent as it continued to focus on higher value items such as fish fillets rather than frozen commodity products.

Profit rose to $27.3 million, or 29.2 cents per share, in the six months ended March 31, from $19 million, or 20.4 cents, a year earlier, the Auckland-based company said in a statement. Revenue from continuing operations lifted 18 percent to $272.7 million. Earnings before interest and tax lifted 14 percent to $35.4 million. . . 

(That tweet is form yesterday, today is National Lamb Day).

Zespri annual profit rises 38%, lifts grower payment – Rebecca Howard:

 (BusinessDesk) – Zespri Group reported a 38 percent lift in full-year profit and tripled its dividend after revenue growth was driven by the release of 400 hectares of licences for the profitable SunGold variety in 2017.

Net profit for the season ended March 31 was $101.8 million with global kiwifruit sales for the year up 6 percent at $2.39 billion, the Tauranga-based business said in a statement. Total revenue, which includes the license income, was $2.51 billion.

Zespri said the total dividend returned to shareholders was 76 cents per share, versus 25 cents per share in the previous season.  . . 

Sheep and Beef sector welcomes agreement to start NZ-EU FTA negotiations:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA) welcome the agreement to start the New Zealand-European Union Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations following the agreement from all European Union Member States on the negotiating mandate.

B+LNZ Chief Executive Sam McIvor says the agreement to start negotiations represents a significant milestone for the sector in the face of growing protectionist rhetoric worldwide. . . 

Specialty cheesemakers ‘worse off’ in EU trade deal – Chris Bramwell:

An award-winning cheese producer says a trade deal with the European Union will hurt the specialty cheese industry.

The EU, the world’s biggest trading bloc, overnight approved the beginning of negotiations with New Zealand and Australia.

Whitestone Cheese company produces a range of products from blue to feta in its Oamaru-based factory.

Whitestone Cheese chief executive Simon Berry said for cheesemakers in the specialty trade like his, the news of a trade deal with the EU was not that great. . . 

NZ Apple Industry Leads the World Four Years Running:

The World Apple Review has for the fourth year running named New Zealand’s apple industry the most competitive on the global stage, against 33 major apple growing countries.

Released this week by Belrose Inc, the US based world fruit market analysts, the World Apple Review, stated that the innovations emerging from New Zealand’s apple industry will increasingly impact production and marketing throughout the world.

New Zealand’s high productivity gains helped deliver the outstanding performance, ahead of its closest rivals Chile and the United States. . . 

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The Farmer’s dilemma.

Many have said “farming is easy.” “All farmers get rich.” “Farmers only work a few months out of the year.”

However, if farming is so easy, so profitable, & requires so little work; why are only 2% of the population brave enough to be farmers.

Australians buzzing about New Zealand honey as Manuka Health wins most ‘Trusted Honey Brand’ across the Tasman:

Reader’s Digest ‘Trusted Brands’ survey reveals Aussies prefer New Zealand’s Manuka honey to homegrown brands

Leader in the Manuka honey industry for more than a decade, New Zealand natural healthcare company, Manuka Health New Zealand, has been voted the ‘Most Trusted Honey Brand’ by Australians – topping brands including Capilano and Beechworth.

The award has been revealed as Reader’s Digest releases the results of its 2018 ‘Trusted Brands’ survey, highlighting the most trusted brands in Australia from across 70 categories, as chosen by more than 2,400 members of the Australian public.. . 

FQC produces guidelines for bulk fertiliser storage and handling:

The Fertiliser Quality Council (FQC) has produced a set of storage and handling guidelines for manufacturers and distributors who deal with bulk fertiliser.

The guidelines, which can also be applied to the storage and handling of fertiliser on-farm, aim to ensure that the physical quality of the product is maintained from when it arrives at the depot (or farm) to the point it is distributed on the land. . . 

 


Rural round-up

May 23, 2018

All you need to know about Mycoplasma bovis:

As the Mycoplasma bovis disease spreads, here is everything you need to know.

What is Mycoplasma bovis?

It’s a bacteria that can cause diseases in cattle. It can cause untreatable mastitis, abortions, pneumonia and arthritis.

How is it spread?

It’s spread from animal to animal through close contact and bodily fluids. Calves can be infected through drinking milk from infected cows. Farm equipment can play a role in spreading the disease. It’s spread between farms through the movement of cattle.

Can it be spread to other animals?

Other animals are very unlikely to be infected by the disease.

Had it been found in New Zealand previously?

No. The original July 2017 detection was the first time the disease had been found in New Zealand. . .  

A timeline of the Mycoplasma bovis spread around New Zealand :

Cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis is spreading around New Zealand farms at a rate much faster than previously thought. RNZ maps out the spread of the virus over time.

July 2017 – Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) responds to the detection of Mycoplasma bovis on a dairy farm near Oamaru. The farm, part of the Van Leeuwen Dairy Group (VLDG), is put under legal controls to restrict movement of stock and other at-risk goods. Other farms in the group are also put under controls.

July 31, 2017 – A second farm in the VLDG is confirmed to have the disease.

August 2017 – Testing begins on farms bordering VLDG properties.

August 2017 – Four more properties test positive, bringing the total number of infected farms to six. . .

Farmer’s determination pays off – Sally Rae:

When Logan Wallace returned home to take over the family sheep farm in South Otago, he had a big task to take on.

He set some goals, including making sure he farmed sustainably, meeting both the environmental requirements of councils and expectations of consumers.

The young farmer’s determination and ability has already paid off. He and his parents, Ross and Alexa, were this year’s Otago Ballance Farm Environment Award winners and he will also represent Otago-Southland in the grand final of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year contest in Invercargill in July. . . 

Merino and natural fibres could help clothing companies battle scourge of microplastics – Jess Cartwright:

Microplastics are one of the biggest threats to oceans and synthetic textiles are a huge contributor to the problem, but now a New Zealand company is hoping to lead change by promoting the use of natural fibres like merino wool.

The issue of microbeads in beauty products is well known, but tiny plastic fibres from clothing are an even bigger issue for oceans and marine life.

For example, each time people wash their synthetic clothing these microplastic fibres break off and, because they’re so tiny, they’re then carried into rivers and eventually oceans. . .

From a ‘nasty little wet farm’ to an award-winning dairy property – Gerald Piddock:

Sandra McKinnon always remembers the unflattering description made of the farm she and husband Rob bought in 1992.

The 44 hectare property near Matamata was unkindly called by an industry colleague: “A nasty little wet farm and what did we think we were doing buying it.”

She admits it had little going for it at the time. But it did have a a stream and native bush and that was enough.

“It’s an ex-ballot farm, it hadn’t had a lot of work done to it,” she says. . . 

Farmer’s mid-life crisis results in buying a rare sheep breed – Peter McDonald:

 “Honey, I’ve just bought a sheep stud.”

That’s what I said as I put the phone down. I joke that I will just have to throw this one in the bucket with all my other mid-life crisis, although this is starting to wear a bit thin I’m told, as mid-life is well and truly in my rear vision mirror.

The ryeland is classified as a rare sheep breed in New Zealand with about six to seven mostly small flocks scattered throughout the country. Some could say they are a breed that time forgot, their popularity peaked in Great Britain in the 1800s and here through the 1960s.

To give you an idea of their long history as a breed it was reported that Queen Elizabeth requested before the onset of winter that stockings be knitted especially for her from ryeland wool, now this is not the current Queen Elizabeth this story refers to Queen Elizabeth the first who ruled from 1558-1603. . . 

EU co-funded Armenia wool value chain project kicks off in Shirak Province

Within the framework of the European Union (EU) Days in Armenia, Minister of Territorial Administration and Development Suren Papikyan on Sunday attended the official start of the EU co-funded EU4 Shirak: Wool for Jobs project, in Amasia rural community of the Shirak province.

Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, Head of the Delegation of the EU to Armenia, also was on hand at this event, the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development informed Armenian News-NEWS.am. . . 


Rural round-up

April 28, 2018

Minister refuses to meet MP to discuss future of rescue helicopter base – Guy Williams:

Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker says Health Minister David Clark has refused to meet him to discuss the fate of Te Anau’s rescue helicopter base.

Te Anau was one of three bases cut from a list of bases in a tender for air rescue services put out by the ACC and Ministry of Health last month.

Taupo and Rotorua’s bases were effectively restored to the list after three North Island mayors met Mr Clark on Monday. . . 

Scientists work on simple way to clean streams – Tony Benny:

Canterbury University scientists have perfected a simple method to reduce sediment load in waterways by up to 70 per cent, part of a project to find solutions to Canterbury’s water woes. Tony Benny reports.

On the Canterbury Plains alone, there are about 17,000km of waterways, many of which carry high levels of nitrogen, phosphate-laden sediment and faecal bacteria and a huge effort is going into ways to reverse this decline in water quality, with local and national government agencies, farm industry bodies, iwi and farmers all joining in.

Adding some science to the mix is the Canterbury Water Rehabilitation Experiment (Carex), a project by the University of Canterbury’s Freshwater Ecology Research Group, funded by the Ashburton-based Mackenzie Charitable Foundation. The Carex team comprises nine scientists including professors, researchers and students. . . .

Gas not grass at farm field day – Richard Rennie:

Ground-breaking research turning a commercial dairy farm into a living lab is starting to reveal some valuable insights for farmers seeking ways to reduce and mitigate greenhouse gases.

Waikato University has, for the first time, thrown back the blanket on its researchers’ cutting-edge equipment and early lessons from that equipment on a Matamata property that has been a core site over the past six years.

In something of a national first, the traditional style Waikato farm discussion day had greenhouse gases rather than growing more grass as the key focus for those attending.

At the heart of the property’s research into better understanding of nitrous oxide release on dairy farms is the university’s $250,000 Quantum Cascade Laser. The high tech kit is helping researchers gain far more accurate analysis what the gas does when released from cow urine patches.  . . 

Hurdles ahead in future irrigation development – Yvonne O’Hara:

Irrigation New Zealand’s (INZ) held its conference in Alexandra earlier this month and the primary focus was on irrigation and its future role.

IrrigationNZ chair Nicky Hyslop said the conference “celebrated the role that irrigation played”.

The future of the Manuherikia Catchment Water Strategy Group’s plan to raise the height of Falls Dam by 6m to irrigate 12,500ha was highlighted following the announcement that the Crown Irrigation Investments (CII) would not be funding any more irrigation projects.

Water strategy group chairman Allan Kane said it had decided, based on pre-feasibility study information, that raising Falls Dam by 6m to irrigate 12,500ha was the best option.

However, the Government’s announcement meant alternative funding options would need to be found to contribute to the group’s final feasibility study. . . 

Bulk milk tests ‘not working’ – Annette Scott:

Frank Peters’ $4 million dairy herd, the result of 55 years of breeding genetics is about to be slaughtered despite being clean in bulk milk testing.

Now he’s worried about 2500 calves he has sold in the four years since Mycoplasma bovis arrived on his 1400-cow farm in stock he bought from Southern Centre Dairies in Southland in autumn 2014.

“That’s four years ago and we have sold 2500 calves in that time that could be anywhere now. . .

Big year for Wallace Family of South Otago – Rob Tipa:

Rob Tipa visits a family that has caught the judges’ eye in a couple of recent competitions.

This year is shaping up as a big one for the Wallace family of Waipahi in South Otago, winning several major southern farming awards in the space of a week.

Logan, Ross and Alexa Wallace won the Beef + Lamb Livestock Award, the Massey University Innovation Award and the supreme award for the Otago region at the Ballance Farm Environment Awards in Wanaka earlier this month.

Last weekend Logan, 28, added a win in the Otago-Southland regional final of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year awards in Winton to his impressive record in the industry. . .

Put wellbeing in business plan:

If the wool industry wants to attract the next generation of shearers it needs to prioritise the wellbeing of its workforce, industry veteran Dion Morrell says.

Dion and his partner Gabriela run a busy, Alexandra-based contracting business employing up to 50 shearers at peak time. 

He’s worked in the industry for over 40 years, starting as a shearer straight out of school, working his way up to elite level competition representing New Zealand and setting four world records along the way.  . . 

Viral American farming sensation on tour in New Zealand

From a family farm in Kansas in the United States, four siblings known as The Peterson Farm Bros have risen to social media fame with their funny parody videos.

Songs names like “Takin’ Care of Livestock” (Taking Care of Business Parody) are sure to put you on the map, and these siblings have racked up over 50 million views on their videos.

However, the world’s most popular farming family are using their fame for the greater good to advocate for agriculture and to correct farming misconceptions. . .


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