Rural round-up

01/01/2021

Roll on 2021  – Rural News editorial:

There is no doubt that 2020 has been a challenging year for New Zealand and the world.

However, despite this, our country’s farmers have soldiered on doing what they do best – farming!

The country’s farmers stepped up during the lockdown, as an important part of New Zealand’s essential services, adapted quickly and kept on farming despite the constraints.

If there is one good thing to come out of Covid-19, it has further emphasised the vitally important role that the agriculture sector plays in NZ. At a time when other major sectors have been adversely affected, farming is playing – and continues to play – an increasingly vital role as a source of income and employment for the country. . .

2020: a most unusual year – Colin Miller:

2020: It definitely has been a most unusual year!

“Who would have thought / I never would have thought…” really sums up our year rather accurately, don’t you think?

Quarantines, social distancing, bubbles and masks were certainly not words on people’s lips, or in the media, when 2020 broke in on us January 1. For the sports fans; who would have thought the Warriors would need to be based in Aussie or drop right out of the comp?

Who would have thought that Super Rugby would be shut down this year, and then the All Blacks would also need to be based across the creek? And, whoever would have thought games would get played with no spectators – before empty grandstands! . . 

Long service to cattle industry :

ONZM

DENIS AITKEN

Dunedin

For services to the dairy industry and the community

Denis Aitken has always believed in paying it forward.

The Dunedin man appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit said he was “gobsmacked” to hear the news.

“I’m pretty humbled … I do enjoy helping the community. . . 

Wanaka woman forestry scholar – Yvonne O’Hara:

Maude Rogers decided earlier this year that she wanted a career in forestry science.

The Wanaka teenager could see it taking her all over the world or working as a sector researcher for the Ministry for Primary Industries.

She was delighted when she was named as one of eight recipients to be awarded a 2021 Nga Karahipi Uru Rakau forestry scholarship .

The scholarship provided $8000 a year for four years, and was designed to encourage more women and Maori to enter New Zealand’s forestry and wood processing sectors. . .

Scholarship allows dream career in beekeeping to take flight :

A Bay of Plenty teen has been given a boost into his dream career in beekeeping after receiving the 2020 Apiculture New Zealand Ron Mossup Youth Scholarship.

Ohope-based Angus Brenton-Rule says he was thrilled to receive the scholarship which provides $2000 to support training and set up costs for new beekeepers, a one-year membership to Apiculture NZ (ApiNZ) and attendance at ApiNZ’s national industry conference.

“I was really, really happy to get it. I didn’t expect it, but I thought I might have had a small chance since I’ve been studying apiculture and fascinated by bees most of my life,” he said.

Brenton-Rule’s childhood interest in bees began with watching YouTube videos of hives in action, and then he got a taste of the real thing when some family friends started beekeeping.

Woola raises €450k to replace bubble wrap with sheep wool:

We’re excited to announce we’ve just closed an investment round of 450 000 euros led by Ragnar Sass, the co-founder of Pipedrive and Lift99. He was joined by Pipedrive co-founder Martin Tajur, Bolt co-founder Martin Villig, Klaus co-founder Kair Käsper, business angel fund Lemonade Stand, Karina Univer through the Atomico Angel Programme, ex JPMorgan Alejandro Jimenez, and a few other angel investors.

Woola takes the waste of one industry – leftover wool – and uses it to solve the waste problem of another – online shopping. Most online stores use plastic bubble wrap to ship fragile items, adding to the global plastic pollution problem.

  • More than 100 billion parcels are shipped every year globally, commonly packed in bubble wrap. Bubble wrap degrades in 500-1000 years and is a large polluter of ocean life. . .


Too much weather

29/09/2020

 

It’s more than a wee bit breezy in North Otago and was so cold this morning water from the k-line irrigators turned to frost.

Further south:


Rural round-up

06/09/2020

MfE on different page to farmers – Annette Scott:

Altering law before it has become effective is a tragic situation that farmers say could have been avoided if the Government had consulted properly.

That is the view of high country farmers struggling to come to grips with Government’s freshwater policy reforms that are now law.

Federated Farmers high country chairman Rob Stokes is bitterly disappointed over the Government’s approach.

“It’s been a case of rush through the legislation with no proper consultation and the result is an unworkable policy,” he said. . . 

Plan for the worst hope for the best – Gerald Piddock:

Each month the milk monitor Gerald Piddock delves into the dairy industry and gives us the low-down on the good, the bag, the ugly and everything in between.

NEW Zealand dairy farmers who felt the worst impact of last season’s drought are recovering well thanks to a relatively kind winter.

From all accounts, calving has gone smoothly and most farms have good pasture covers, setting them up well for spring.

But despite those positives, farmers will need this season to be as close to perfect as possible if they are to fully recover from the drought. . . 

Rural veterinarians empathetic but compromised over animal welfare reporting, vet says – Andrew McRae:

A vet who is also a farmer has come out in support of claims rural vets sometimes turn a blind eye to animal welfare issues because they are scared of how their community will react to it.

Animal welfare campaigner Angus Robson told RNZ on Thursday that rural vets are often compromised because reporting a farmer could affect their veterinary business.

Alison Dewes is a vet and farmer from Waikato and said vets played a major part in a rural community and this it made it difficult to dob someone in.

“I have worked myself for 30 years in rural communities and I think as veterinarians they are particularly compromised if they have got to be seen to be responsible for notifying welfare issues.” . . 

Farmers seeking more productive heifers turn to fresh sexed bull semen to meet mating goals:

Herd improvement and agri-tech cooperative LIC, the only provider of fresh, liquid sexed semen to New Zealand dairy farmers, is preparing for a busy spring as more farmers factor this new component into their 2020 breeding programmes.

Fresh sexed semen from LIC is helping dairy farmers accelerate genetic gain within their herds by enabling them to get more replacement heifer (female) calves from their top performing cows. It delivers a 90 per cent chance of producing a heifer, providing surplus calves with having an increased chance of being retained on farm and destined for either domestic or export beef markets.

LIC General Manager NZ Markets, Malcolm Ellis says demand for fresh sexed bull semen has been steadily increasing over the last few seasons with this year set to more than triple 2019 sales. . . 

The value of long-acting drench treatments again under the spotlight:

The outcomes of a Beef + Lamb New Zealand co-funded study has cast even more doubt on the economic value of drenching ewes with long-acting products.

The study, led by AgResearch’s Dave Leathwick and co-funded by B+LNZ and AgResearch, showed that initial benefits of drenching with these products, especially to low body condition score ewes, were short-lived and declined in the interval after the treatments had expired. Untreated ewes tended to catch-up to their treated equivalents.

“This has also been seen in other New Zealand studies and highlights the danger of only assessing benefits at the end of the drugs pay-out period.”

He says many sheep farmers treat their ewes pre-lambing with long-acting drench products (capsules or injections) expecting their ewes and lambs to benefit, however this study shows that any benefits seen at weaning are likely to over-estimate the true value. . . 

Global investors boost NZ red seaweed farming venture:

Aquaculture startup CH4 Global has closed on seed funding of US$3 million (NZ$4.45 million) and will scale up its New Zealand operations with commercial marine and tank-based seaweed cultivation pilots based at Rakiura/Stewart Island. These pilots will serve as the platform to deliver an end to end production module in late 2021.

CH4 Global is currently operating a sustainable wild harvest programme at Rakiura of a specific species of red seaweed – Asparagopsis armata – to use as a livestock supplement solution to reduce ruminant methane emissions by up to 90 percent. The harvesting programme will provide the seed stock for the scale-up as well as finished product for dairy and sheep trials.

“Our focus is on urgently impacting climate change within the next decade, so this investment means NZ farmers, and farmers in the US and Australia, could be the first in the world to make a meaningful impact on emissions in this way,” comments Dr Steve Meller, President, CEO and Co-Founder of CH4 Global. . . 


Rural round-up

19/08/2020

COVID-19: Time for a rethink on priorities – Doug Edmeades:

The Government needs to put environmental goals on the back burner whilst managing debt from COVID-19, according to Dr Doug Edmeades.

New Zealand’s Government has spent about $50-odd billion to-date to counteract the ravages of the COVID virus.

It is an enormous debt. Somehow, someday, we must repay it. But how?

Unfortunately, our tourism industry is also a casualty of the virus. This leaves agriculture as the only industry large enough to muscle-down this debt over time. . . 

Ruminant methane under the spotlight:

For over 20 years New Zealand’s farmers have been unfairly harangued and vilified for their animal’s ruminant methane emissions and a new farming group says it wants to set the record straight.

A recently established organization named “FARM”, which stands for Facts About Ruminant Methane, has been set up by concerned farmers and scientists to present the facts about ruminant methane to challenge unjustified, unscientific emissions reduction requirements imposed by the Government.

FARM says the politics is running away from commonsense and science with current climate policy based on flawed input data about ruminant methane’s impact. . . 

Long way from being out of the woods yet – Allan Barber:

The sense of calm and normality pervading the country for over three months has been shattered by the latest cases of community transmission the country. Until today New Zealanders have been going about their everyday lives, most of them still with jobs and being paid, at least until the wage subsidy ends, while the major concerns appeared to be what Judith’s raised eyebrows say, which political poll is closer to reality, and how many more people would break out of quarantine. Suddenly the media has a lot more than the election to get its teeth into.

Cars have been selling faster than ever, house prices remain steady, people have been able to eat out and travel round the country, enjoying local tourism experiences instead of flying round the world, and agricultural export prices have held up reasonably well. It seemed at first glance as if all was right in our little corner of the world. But the latest events have proved this may just be the calm before the storm which could be brewing in any number of different ways. While optimism is great, it would be as well to anticipate some of the risks facing New Zealand and ensure there are strategies to manage them. . . 

Fonterra confirms appointment of Teh-han Chow:

Fonterra is pleased to confirm the appointment of Teh-han Chow to the role of Chief Executive Officer, Greater China.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says since December 2019, Teh-han has been at the helm in an acting capacity, overseeing the Co-op’s overall Greater China business, including Ingredients, Foodservice, Consumer Brands and China Farms.

“He’s made an impressive contribution. It’s certainly not been a steady-state. Teh-han has been responsible for implementation of our new strategy across the Greater China business, and over the course of this calendar year, has shown outstanding resilience, resourcefulness and empathy in getting his team and our China business through the ongoing challenge of the COVID-19 global pandemic. . . 

Growing Food Through COVID-19 – Nutrient Services Essential (again) :

As farming gears up for a busy spring, farm nutrient provider Ravensdown has been given the green light as an essential service as it was during previous levels 3 and 4.

Back in autumn, farmers were catching up on fertiliser and feed as they tried to recover from a crippling drought. A potentially COVID-disrupted spring places different demands on the farm nutrient and environmental experts as soil tests, fertiliser recommendations, nutrient budgets and farm environmental plans need to be generated.

“Our network will be operating as before ensuring the essential nutrients remain available as farmers grow the food for people and livestock,” said Bryan Inch General Manager Customer Relationships. “The team of on-farm advisors will try to do what they can remotely, but unlike the last lockdown, on really important occasions they will need to visit a farm. Of course, they will check ahead and comply with the relevant government advice around safe interaction.” . . 

Derecho: Assessing damage – Rob Swoboda:

Across a wide swath of central and eastern Iowa, people are dealing with the heartbreaking aftermath of a rare derecho windstorm that has turned what was looking like a big corn and soybean crop into deep losses for many farmers.

The Aug. 10 storm flattened cornfields and destroyed or damaged barns, machine sheds, livestock buildings, grain bins, and homes. Central and eastern Iowa were hit by winds up to 100 mph. A derecho is an inland hurricane with ferocious straight-line winds and varying amounts of rain.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig traveled the area to get a firsthand look at the damage, listening to farmers and other folks affected. He held a phone conference with reporters Aug. 12 after viewing fields in central and west-central Iowa. . . 


Rural round-up

15/05/2020

IrrigationNZ believes Budget 2020 missed opportunity for water investment to aid Covid recovery:

IrrigationNZ believes that strategic water storage in key regions could aid a post-Covid recovery which focuses on protecting jobs, creating new ones, achieving positive environmental outcomes, and contributing to climate change targets.

“But Budget 2020 has missed the opportunity for water storage to be part of the solution,” says IrrigationNZ chief executive Elizabeth Soal.

“IrrigationNZ understands the exceptional circumstances of COVID-19 but believes that strategic management of this essential resource remains important, and that a water strategy to guide spending would be beneficial,’’ Ms Soal says.

“We will continue to talk to the Government about how this can be done utilising the $20 billion unallocated funding, and the $3.2 billion infrastructure contingency fund.” . .

Workers not leaving quarters a problem – Sally Rae:

Farm workers refusing to leave their accommodation are causing headaches for farmers preparing for the start of the new dairy season.

A large number of dairy farming families, sharemilkers, contract milkers and employees move to new farms to begin new employment and milking contracts on June 1, known as Moving Day.

But Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker said changes to tenancy law passed through the Covid-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Amendment Act, which placed general restrictions on all landlords, had left some farmers without employee accommodation.

Mr Walker had been contacted by more than 10 farmers with issues about former employees not moving out of the accommodation provided for working on the farm. . .

’Together We Grow NZ’ initiative launched to celebrate Kiwi farmers :

Some of New Zealand’s leading women in agriculture have launched “Together we Grow NZ”, a new initiative with a goal to connect urban and rural communities.

“Together We Grow NZ” will showcase the importance of both communities working together by sharing stories, collaborating, and creating opportunities to highlight New Zealand’s farming background to the next generation.

The project was created by 15 women, who met while completing the Agri-Women’s Development Trust’s leadership and governance programme “Escalator”.

The group continued working together during the Covid-19 lockdown and saw an opportunity to bring to light some of the stories of Kiwi food producers. . . 

 

Groups set up to help the helpers – Annette Scott:

A red meat industry initiative to upskill rural professionals is focused on building capability to help enable a sustainable future for farming.

Launched in Canterbury as part of the Red Meat Profit Partnership Action Network Group, the initiative is bringing together small groups of rural professionals to work towards a shared focus and goals.

The group of 12 rural professionals has joined forces to develop their skills in helping farmers make positive changes.

RMPP group facilitator Richard Brown said the action group model lets young professionals achieve their goals as facilitators and experts. . .

Fonterra council future in the air:

Fonterra has asked its shareholders and sharemilkers to help determine the future of its 25-strong shareholders’ council, seven months after initiating a review of the council’s relevance and cost.

The dairy co-operative billed an initial farmer survey as the first stage of consultation to review the council’s role and functions and acknowledged that came only after criticism of the council’s performance by some farmers. 

The functions of the council, set up to act as a farmer-run watchdog for the co-operative, have not been amended since it was founded in 2001. . .

Helius secures major grant for $2.4m R&D project:

Helius Therapeutics has confirmed it’s the recipient of a substantial grant for its New Zealand-based cultivation, plant breeding and medicines research programme.

The $2.4 million research and development project has been approved for co-funding of up to 28% by New Zealand’s innovation agency, Callaghan Innovation. Supporting innovative and high-performing R&D businesses, the agency has committed to contributing up to nearly $600,000 (excluding GST) to Kiwi-owned Helius Therapeutics over the next three years.

Chief Science Officer at Helius, Dr Jim Polston, says Callaghan Innovation’s co-funding will help Helius advance unique cannabis genetics and develop safe, consistent, and high-quality, novel cannabis medications for clinical trials. . . 


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