Rural round-up

19/09/2021

Horticulture making a comeback in Taranaki – Robin Martin:

Horticulture is making a comeback in Taranaki.

Avocado and kiwifruit orchards are being planted in numbers not seen since 1988 – when the devastation of Cyclone Bola forced many to convert to dairy.

Dairy farmers Holly and Jarrod Murdoch’s leap into kiwifruit came via a knock at the door from a representative from industry giant Apata.

Holly said the Bay of Plenty company’s approach piqued her husband’s interest in the fruit. . . 

Breaking tech barriers – Tony Benny:

Research shows there are numerous barriers to the uptake in technology by farmers and many of these are interconnected.

Farmers’ reluctance to share data is slowing the adoption of technology that could help transform New Zealand’s food production systems to be more sustainable, resilient and consumer-focused, a study by researchers from AgResearch has found.

The study was part of the New Zealand Bioeconomy in the Digital Age (NZBIDA) project, which aims to test if digital technologies can provide new solutions to many of the issues that farmers face today. . . 

Bumper crop’ of kumera selling at low prices :

Kumara prices are sitting at low levels not seen for nearly a decade.

Warm, dry conditions led to this year’s crop being 35 percent higher than last season – about 25,000 tonnes have been harvested.

Despite a spike in sales during lockdown there is still plenty in storage which is keeping the price low for consumers at between $2.50 and $3.50 a kilo.

Delta Produce group in Dargaville is the country’s largest kumara producer, general manager Lochie Wilson said prices haven’t been this low in nine years. . .

Exploring farming alternatives – Avneesh Vincent:

A Te Tairawhiti research project exploring different land-use preferences shows that Maori landowners overwhelmingly value native forest carbon farming over other land uses.

“The research explores how native forest carbon farming could be used as a land development option for Maori land on the East Coast,” former Victoria University student Dr Leo Mercer said.

“Especially when compared with other dominating land use options, namely forestry, sheep and beef farming.”

A particular emphasis was placed on the applicability and feasibility of native forest carbon farming within Aotearoa’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). . . 

Sustainability score card shows good progress for Fonterra:

Fonterra has released its sustainability score card summarising progress towards its people and environmental targets.

Fonterra COO Fraser Whineray says “transparently reporting across a range of sustainability metrics is very important for our Co-operative. At the time of our annual results release next week we will also publish our fifth Sustainability Report. This covers in detail our activities across business, people and environment, three vital ingredients for a sustainable Co-operative. In advance of that, we are sharing a summarised scorecard covering the people and environmental aspects.”

One of the biggest ones is the 11% reduction in GHG emissions from coal in a single year, primarily through the conversion to renewable wood pellets at our Te Awamutu site. This is a great step towards delivering our 2030 target and our goal of getting out of coal by 2037. . . 

New talent and skills to underpin sector’s future:

New Zealand’s ability to provide high quality protein, fibre and produce to consumers prepared to pay a premium for it is starting to resonate more strongly throughout the primary sector.

This has been bought about in part by customers seeking products with a clearly sustainable provenance and back story that meets their desire to purchase food and fibre that treads with a lighter environmental footprint.

This country’s efforts to measure and ensure farming is sustainable, both environmentally and financially, is also helping create multiple opportunities for the next generation of people who want to stake their career within the primary sector.

The simpler, more commodity-based focus of the past has given way to production of food and fibre that require a wider variety of skills and talent to farm, process, research, and market to an increasingly diverse, sophisticated global market. . . 

 


Rural round-up

13/01/2021

Rural lobby group wants cheques until broadband rollout completed – Tom Kitchin:

Some rural communities fear the phasing out of cheques this year is coming too fast, too soon.

They say reliable internet must come first before they rip up their chequebooks.

Sharron-Davie Martin, who lives on a farm in Loburn near Rangiora in Canterbury, sometimes has to pay $500 a month for her internet, even though she has serious problems with using it.

She said she received a tax fine because her unreliable internet hampered her ability to do a GST return. . .

Sheep and beef farmers ‘dodged a nuclear warhead’ in 2020 – Piers Fuller:

Prospects at the start of last year were looking bleak for farmers with one of the worst droughts of a generation and sudden, massive disruption brought on by Covid-19.

Now fresh into 2021 with lots of grass and high market demand for meat products, the sheep and beef sector has experienced a remarkable turnaround.

Wairarapa farmer William Beetham said they feel incredibly fortunate to have weathered the 2020 storm.

“We probably didn’t dodge a bullet, we dodged a nuclear warhead. What could have been a terrible season last year, has actually turned out really, really well.” . . 

Farming company adapts technology for Covid-19 sanitation :

A farming company is ready to roll out new sanitising technology if Covid-19 returns to the community.

Palmerston North’s Saflex Pumps primarily uses a spray technology to keep the teats of dairy cows clean before milking to reduce mastitis.

But co-founder Mark Bell Booth said the same technology – along with an automated fly spray – inspired the design of a new system which can sanitise indoor areas to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

A dry fog machine pumped sanitiser in microns smaller than the size of a human hair into a closed room, he said. . . 

Gore shearer Megan Whitehead to take on world record :

A Gore shearer will this week tackle a world shearing record that has stood for more than 13 years.

Megan Whitehead, 24, will attempt the solo women’s nine-hours strongwool lamb shearing record of 648 (72 an hour), set on November 27, 2007, by Waikato shearer Emily Welch. The previous record of 541 had been set in 1989.

Whitehead has been shearing in recent months in Hawke’s Bay and King Country.

The attempt will take place at the Grant Brothers woolshed at Gore on Thursday, starting at 5am and finishing at 5pm. . . 

When a farm becomes a school :

Prize-winning dairy farm doubles as environmental “classroom”.

Schoolkids in New Zealand’s deep south may soon be attending lessons in a different kind of classroom – on a dairy farm.

Farmer Chris Giles and his wife Desiree are looking at establishing a “learning hub” on their 206ha property near Gore in Southland as a place to teach young Kiwis about sustainable farming.

The couple, who milk 550 cows at Waimumu Downs, are part of the Southland Enviroschools programme. Every term they host hundreds of students from schools in the district who spend a day at the farm involved in a myriad of activities such as testing water quality, native seed sourcing and learning about what to plant and where. . . 

 

Share the lamb campaign 2021 MLA ad begins – Mark Griggs:

Evocative as usual and expected, the 2021 summer season Australian lamb promotion began today.

Each year leading up to Australia Day, Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), release its masterpiece promotion of lamb, especially cooked on a barbecue. This year’s promo is no exception after a year that has seen Aussies more divided than ever.

Building on the ‘Share the Lamb’ brand platform, MLA’s integrated campaign reflects upon 2020 as a pivotal time in our history where, for the first time, Australia was physically distanced due to the pandemic.

The new TV advert takes us to the year 2031 – where division between states has escalated to new heights and a once united nation is separated by a great wall, towering over every state border – offering a tongue-in-cheek look at what could be if state borders are shut for good. . . 

(If you haven’t seen the ad, scroll back and you’ll find I posted it yesterday).

 


Rural round-up

23/12/2020

Resilient Kiwi spirit kept agriculture strong through pandemic :

Kiwi ingenuity and a drive to “make it work” have been pivotal in New Zealand’s agriculture sector getting through the COVID-19 pandemic with relatively little impact, according to a new study by AgResearch and its partners.

Farmers and others working in the agriculture and food systems in New Zealand and Australia were surveyed or interviewed about the impacts of COVID-19 in the period through to June 2020, which included national lockdowns. While acknowledging overall negative effects, additional stress and pressures from the pandemic and response, only 47 per cent of New Zealand survey respondents viewed the effect on their farms or businesses as negative over that period. A further 37 per cent said the effect was neutral. . . 

Nuffield Scholars’ tour taking in NZ– Yvonne O’Hara:

Southland dairy farmer Lynsey Stratford is looking forward to her “world tour of New Zealand” as part of the 2021 Nuffield New Zealand farming scholarship programme.

She was one of five people to be awarded scholarships. In addition to extensive study and travel, each scholar completes a project, which looks at improving an aspect of primary sector production.

Mrs Stratford would focus on farm health and safety; how to make farms safer for people working on them and what could be learned from other industries.

She had also been looking forward to the four months of overseas travel, which was part of the scholarship. However, as Covid-19 border restrictions meant that could not go ahead, organisers were putting together an alternative travel itinerary. . . 

Lambs sell to Southland buyers – Suz Bremner:

Lambs that were sold at on-farm sales in South Otago and Southland had a much shorter journey than others offered in the past few weeks, as Southland buyers secured the majority.

The first on-farm sale for the week was Dunmore Farm Ltd at Clinton, and Rural Livestock agent Mark Sheppard says the vendor was pleased with the results. 

“The sale was held in a howling nor’wester, but by the end of the day the vendor and purchasers were happy,” Sheppard said. 

“Buyers were from South Otago and Southland, and lambs were sold undrafted for this second annual sale.”  . . 

Lamb the top choice on Christmas Day – the great 2020 Kiwi Christmas survey :

The results of the most important vote of the year are in; lamb will be the most popular protein on Kiwis’ plates on Christmas Day. 

The result comes as part of the Classic Kiwi Christmas Survey – the third edition of the poll run by Retail Meat New Zealand.

The poll of over 1,800 Kiwis covering a range of Christmas traditions, saw lamb rise to the top as the go-to meat of choice with 37% of respondents saying they’ll be serving it for Christmas. Ham was a very close second with 32% and beef came third with 13%.

With lockdowns and a lack of travel impacting everyone in 2020, it’s unsurprising that 93% of respondents stated that spending time at Christmas with family was the most important part of Christmas – a three percent increase on 2019. . . 

Bostock Brothers wins sustainability award

Hawke’s Bay organic chicken business Bostock Brothers has won an award for its circular system methods such as recycling its home compostable packaging to use on its maize paddocks.

The business took out the Good Food Award at the 2020 Sustainable Business Awards. This award is presented to an organisation which is “transforming the food system to create a positive impact on people and/or the environment”.

The company was the first meat producer in New Zealand to use home compostable packaging and now also allows customers to return the packaging if they do not have a home compost, which creates a circular system.

The returned packaging is put into a large compostable site where it breaks down quickly and easily with the right amount of soil, heat oxygen and water. . . 

Nine-year growth trial in NT finds interesting comparisons – Bob Freebairn:

Cattle grazing in the long term grazing management trial at Douglas Daly Research Farm, 220 km south of Darwin. The nine-year study found better cattle performance on set stocked areas than intensively rotationally grazed ones.

THE published paper, “Effect of high-intensity rotational grazing on the growth of cattle grazing buffel pasture in the Northern Territory and on soil carbon sequestration”, while in a climate quite different to NSW is interesting.

The detailed research over nine-years, mid-2009 to mid-2018, was conducted at Douglas Daly Research Farm, 220km south of Darwin where average annual rainfall is 1209 millimetres usually falling between October and April. Growth of cattle was greater both per head and per hectare under continuous grazing (CG) compared to intensive rotational grazing (IRG). . .

 


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