Rural round-up

May 9, 2018

Natural Fibre Exchange aimed at providing greater efficiency :

In a significant step forward for the wool sector, industry participants have come together to develop and launch an independent online trading platform.

Modelled on the Global Dairy Trade Events (GDT) platform, the Natural Fibre Exchange (NFX) is scheduled to go live with its first trading event on 22 May 2018.

NFX Ltd shareholders Wools of New Zealand Ltd (WNZ) and Alliance Group have teamed with CRA International (CRA), an acknowledged leader in online trading platforms. CRA, which also designed and manages the GDT platform, has developed and will manage the NFX platform. . . 

Short and long-lived gases need separate regulatory baskets – Keith Woodford:

A key issue for New Zealand is how to meet the Paris commitments for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Fundamental to any analysis is the different attributes of long-lived and short-lived gases.  In particular, how should methane be accounted for, and how should it be brought into any emission trading scheme?

Back in 2016, current Commissioner of the Environment Simon Upton raised the importance of placing short-lived gases in a different regulatory ‘basket’ from long-lived gases. Remarkably, our rural leaders appear to have failed to pick up on the importance of this issue.  

More than any other country in the world, NZ’s gross emissions are influenced by methane-producing ruminant animals. No other developed country has a comparable emission profile, with the arguable exception of Uruguay. . . 

Cheaper lab meat to put pressure on farmers by vying with mince and other red meat cuts – Jill Galloway:

New Zealand farmers are in danger of becoming redundant as synthetic meat took consumers away from red meat, says a strategic science expert.

Dr Anna Campbell, managing director of agribusiness consulting company AbacusBio, said synthetic meats would get cheaper and global consumers would choose them because of their light environmental impact and zero animal treatment.

Campbell was a key speaker talking to about 180 farmers and agribusiness people at the AgInnovation conference in Palmerston North on Wednesday.

“At the moment, synthetic meat-makers take some cells, some blood and other things, spin it around, and get mince.  It’s mince for hamburger patties that is spat out. It is expensive at the moment, but the companies will scale it up and make it cheap.”  . . 

Age not wearing this farmer – Peter Burke:

Moyra Bramley was born in 1933, the year Sir Apirana Ngata and Lord Bledisloe inaugurated the Ahuwhenua Trophy to recognise excellence in Maori farming — now Ms Bramley has at least a 50/50 chance of winning that trophy.

Bramley is in the running for her role as chairwoman of the Onuku Maori Lands Trust, one of two finalists in the competition. 

Onuku’s entry in the competition is its 72ha Boundary Road dairy unit is near Lake Rotomahana, 30km south of Rotorua. It is one of four farms run by the trust.  . . 

Looking into using drones differently – Mark Price:

Wanaka beekeeper Daniel Schweizer is investigating a use for drones that is yet to catch on in New Zealand.

He can see potential for “spray drones” that target weeds in difficult-to-get-to places in the high country.

The weeds would include gorse, broom and wilding pines.

“The only options at the moment are a helicopter and a man with a knapsack, and one is $20 an hour and one is $2000 an hour,” he said. . . 

Drought will bring more crop disease scientists warn:

New Zealand’s land-based primary industries need to get ready for more, and more serious, crop disease as climate change causes more and longer droughts, according to new research.

In the journal Australasian Plant Pathology, the authors say that climate change is expected to bring more droughts in many parts of New Zealand, and more droughts are “likely to increase the severity of a wide range of diseases affecting the plant-based productive sectors”.

Scientists from the Bio-Protection Research Centre, Scion, Lincoln University, AUT University, Landcare Research, and the University of Auckland analysed the potential impact of climate-change-induced drought on several commercial plants and their diseases. . . 


Rural round-up

September 30, 2016

Pasture to plate approach for DCANZ regulatory manager Dianne Schumacher – Sue O’Dowd:

A Taranaki microbiologist skilled in the development of regulatory strategies for the New Zealand dairy industry brings a perceptive pasture-to-plate approach to her work.

Dianne Schumacher, who owns a 62-hectare dairy farm milking 110 cows near Stratford with husband Chris, joined the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) as regulatory manager in January this year. 

She brings to the role broad international and national food safety expertise gathered during her 30-year career in the dairy industry. . . 

The short-term or long-term game – Rick Powdrell:

With hotly contested demand for stock, farmers and meat processors need to think carefully about their existing strategy and what it means for our industry in the long-term.

Rural New Zealand has been through a challenging climate in recent years, with many farmers still enduring the ‘fallout’ and adjusting their farm policies going forward as they look to return to normal.

Whether you have been through severe drought or de-stocked as a result of last season’s perceived strong El Nino you will be looking to re-stock to more normal numbers. . . 

NZ wins from trade deals –  Mike Chapman:

The question many people are asking is, ‘which trade deal will it be: the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPPA) or the Regional Economic Partnership (RCEP)?’

So much focus has been on the TPPA it is very likely few people in New Zealand know anything about RCEP. The main difference is that the TPPA has the US as one of the partner nations, but not China; while, the RCEP has China as one of the partner nations, but not the US. Neither the US nor China is in both the TPPA and RCEP. For many nations, preferential access to both the US and China is a major goal.

The Peterson Institute assessment is the TPPA will increase annual real incomes in NZ by $US6 billion – 2.2% of our gross domestic product. It will increase our annual exports by $US9b –10.2% of our exports over baseline projections by 2030. This is because the TPPA will eliminate 75% of tariffs when it comes into force and 99% of tariffs when it is fully in force. For horticulture there are real trade benefits totalling around $26m per annum directly due to reduced tariffs. . . 

Time to review your calving date? – Wilma Foster:

With calving almost over and mating on the horizon it’s time to have a review of one of the most significant decisions you will make for next season, calving date.

There are four significant decisions you make on farm every year. They are calving date, stocking rate, BCS at calving and pasture cover at calving.

Historically calving dates were 10-14 days later than what we currently calve.

This has been due to a desire to increase days in milk, farmers mating rising 2-year heifers earlier than the main herd to improve their incalf rates, and the use of bulls with a shorter gestation. . . 

Beetle pest deterred by mussel shell mulch:

Research to find natural ways of reducing insect pest damage in vineyards was highlighted at the 2016 Romeo Bragato Conference – the largest conference for wine growers and makers in New Zealand.

Mauricio González-Chang, a Lincoln University PhD student in the Bio-Protection Research Centre, presented evidence that mineral feeding deterrents and mussel shell mulch can protect vines from grass grub beetle attack.  

Mauricio’s study of vines in the Awatere Valley in Marlborough, found that natural silica-containing feeding deterrents, such as kaolin particles (hydrophobic particle films) and diatomaceous earth, reduced the damage caused by beetles by about a third in chardonnay, and a half in pinot noir grape varieties.  

While the silica results were promising, the greatest reduction in damage was seen when crushed mussel shells were spread under the vine rows. The shells affected landing behaviour of the beetles and resulted in a two-thirds reduction in feeding damage. .  .

Bring your ag innovations to the table :

Innovative food and agribusiness start-ups and fledgling ventures will have the opportunity to showcase themselves to potential investors in Sydney in November.

FoodBytes! Sydney will be staged as part of the international Farm2Fork Summit, focusing on future innovation in food and agriculture, to be held on Thursday, November 3.

Originally launched in the United States in 2015, FoodBytes! is designed to find the most innovative concepts in food and agriculture and pair that creativity with the capital needed to bring them to market. . . 

No automatic alt text available.

I am a farmer. I solve problems you don’t know you have in ways you can’t understand.


Rural round-up

October 1, 2015

To the woman riding in my husband’s combine – Uptown Farms:

To the woman riding in my husband’s combine on a sales call,

I wouldn’t have thought much about you before last night.  Chances are, if you had tried to call on my husband and ride along in his combine I wouldn’t have known about it.  Most likely I would have been on a different farm, with a different farmer, trying to do my job in the same way you are doing yours.

I didn’t think of you before – but now I will.  Last night I read a post from a woman who was upset that a young, presumably attractive female, made a sales call to the farm – and rode in the cab of the combine with the farmer (the poster’s husband).  

For anyone not in the industry, it may sound funny that you would get into a combine with a customer. This time of year, the combine often acts as an office.  People who need to see the farmer go to the field and are often invited to ride along while they keep working.  Roughly 70% of the time that farmer will be a man.  

Women poured out of the woodwork to attack the sales rep, calling her unprofessional, unthoughtful, disrespectful and worse. . . 

Turning point for red meat sector – Allan Barber:

The Shanghai Maling Aquarius offer for 50% of Silver Fern Farms may not be the restructuring catalyst that MIE and some shareholders of both cooperatives were hoping for, but it certainly presages a dramatic change in the industry’s dynamics.

Assuming a positive shareholder vote on 16th October, for the first time in years all the major processors will have relatively strong balance sheets and will be in a position to compete on an equal basis. This is unlikely to bring about an immediate change in livestock procurement calculations, but different companies will progressively move to payments based on quality and specifications supplied for individual markets.

For too long the meat industry has been affected by an excess of processing capacity, under-capitalisation, procurement battles, inadequate market returns and, as a consequence of all this, falling livestock volumes. The recapitalisation of the country’s largest meat company potentially provides a solution to several if not all of these problems. . . 

Silver Fern receives an offer it can’t refuse – Allan Barber:

No wonder the deal between Silver Fern farms and Shanghai Mailing took so long to conclude, but from all appearances it was worth waiting for. Not that you would necessarily think so, if you read about the disappointment of some shareholders and the MIE group about the board’s unwillingness to give serious consideration to an alternative farmer offer of $40 million or some of the business commentary.

Going back several years, SFF wanted $120 million from its shareholders, hoped for $80 million and actually received $22 million. Nothing has really changed since then – good and bad years have followed each other, as livestock numbers and market prices fluctuated and the business struggled under a huge debt burden. . . 

Value-add key to improved returns for shareholders – Westland Milk Products:

Continuing its move into more value-added production is the best strategy to ensure shareholders competitive and sustainable returns Westland Milk Products says, as the co-operative confirmed a company average operating surplus available to shareholders for the 2014-15 season of $4.95 per kilo of milk solids (kgMS), before retentions.

Chief Executive Rod Quin says Westland, like dairy companies globally, has been adversely impacted by the “significantly lower” market prices in the last season, with total group revenue for the financial year 2014-15 down 23 percent on the previous year, at NZ$639 million.

However he says there is room for cautious optimism for an improvement and, accordingly, Westland has increased its forecast payout for the 2015-16 season by 30 cents to $4.90 – $5.30 per kgMS. . . 

Identifying insect species crucial to protect the environment:

Students at Lincoln University are covering the length and breadth of New Zealand to discover new insect species and keep ahead of potential threats to agriculture and the environment.

Bio-Protection Research Centre students, Francesco Martoni, Samuel Brown and Hamish Patrick have visited mountains, grasslands and forests to collect insect specimens. They have identified about 50 new species.

“This research, to understand what [insects] are present in New Zealand, is vital for us to recognise any change. Especially if it involves the introduction of species that may become pests, or spread disease,” says Dr Karen Armstrong, a Senior Researcher at Lincoln University, and the students’ supervisor.

“The only way to stay ahead of this, and to detect damaging interactions, is to know what is here. And for that, we need to produce experts in traditional taxonomy who are also trained to use modern technological approaches to describe and discover [insect species],” says Dr Armstrong. . .

Initiative gives support to rural schools:

Canterbury’s rural primary schools have been given a welcome boost, thanks to the support of local farmers and fertiliser company, Hatuma Dicalcic Phosphate Ltd.

The initiative, calls on farmers to nominate a school that they feel could benefit from Hatuma’s ‘Growing Minds’ fund. Over the last six years, Hatuma has donated over $30,000 to New Zealand’s rural schools through the programme.

One such beneficiary of the fund is Glentunnel School in mid-Canterbury, which attracted huge support from farmers. . . 

Chinese developer harvests first crop in Western Australia’s remote Ord Valley – Tom Edwards:

The Chinese-backed company developing the Ord River Irrigation Area in Western Australia’s east Kimberley is harvesting its first crop.

Kimberley Agricultural Investment is halfway through harvesting 360 hectares of chia in the Goomig farmland of Ord Stage 2.

Farm manager Luke McKay said it was an exciting milestone for the company and for the Ord agricultural zone in general.

“There’s been a fair bit of interest obviously, a lot of excitement about getting to this point,” he said. . . 

Wine Industry welcomes progress with South Korea Trade Deal

New Zealand Winegrowers welcomes news that the Tariff Amendment Bill was passed through Parliament on Friday, a big step towards implementing the Free Trade Agreement with South Korea.

The negotiators have achieved a great outcome for the wine industry, said Philip Gregan, ‘tariff free access into South Korea at the time the agreement comes into force represents a significant boost to our export ambitions in one of the key Asian markets.’ . . 

More Veterans Set to Go From Protecting America to Feeding America – Nicole Mormann:

For 200,000 U.S. service members transitioning out of the military each year, returning to civilian life will mean trading in their combat boots for a tractor and rubber galoshes, thanks to new farming-focused job-training programs created by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Last week, the USDA and the Department of Defense announced that agriculture will be one of the industries in which the government will provide career assistance and counseling programs to service members finishing their term of enlistment.
Advertisement

The program will give veterans the opportunity to gain farming skills through classroom instruction and registered apprenticeships from experienced farmers. In addition to educational opportunities, the USDA will offer financial assistance to beginning farmers or ranchers who lack the funds to purchase necessary farming equipment, land, livestock, and other resources. Returning service members are also eligible for housing support programs, which can range from repair loans to emergency placement assistance. . . 

 


Rural round-up

May 11, 2015

$48m contract signed to expand NOIC scheme – David Bruce:

A $48 million contract has been signed to extend the North Otago irrigation scheme to another 10,000ha, with work to start this month and water expected to be flowing in September next year.

It is the major cost of the expansion, which is expected to total about $57 million once company and design costs are added.

The North Otago Irrigation Company (NOIC) and McConnell Dowell Constructors Ltd signed the infrastructure contract on Thursday after enough farmers had committed to the scheme in December for the expansion to the Kakanui Valley.  .  .

Government invests in Primary Industry Research Centre:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see two of the country’s top research institutes’ second application for Government funding under the CoREs (Centre of Research Excellence) has been successful.

The two institutes, The Riddet Institute (Massey University) and the Bio-Protection Research Centre (Lincoln University) are crucial to New Zealand’s primary industries and have each made significant advances for New Zealand’s economy, society and the environment thanks to previous Government funding.

“I am thrilled that these highly innovative research centres have made it through the selection process and will now be able to continue their crucial work in sustainable pest management solutions and food science and human health,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers President. . .

Carpet wool comes into fashion:

New Zealand strong wool, renowned for its use in carpets, is set to become world famous for a new use – on people’s feet.

Danish footwear firm Glerups has signed a two-year deal with The New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) and New Zealand’s largest farming company, Landcorp to exclusively supply strong wool for its indoor shoe range.

The indoor shoes, renowned for comfort, warmth and durability, are felted in 100% pure natural wool with soft leather soles. They are sold throughout Denmark and in more than 20 countries, including New Zealand (www.glerups.co.nz). . .

Climate Change Conversation welcomed:

Federated Farmers welcomes the Government’s public consultation on climate change, ahead of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris, in December.

“We live in a global world, where as much as we are a part of its problems we are a part of its solutions,” says Anders Crofoot, Federated Farmers Climate Change Spokesperson.

“It is important that the public are a part of the discussion in setting New Zealand‘s post 2020 climate change target. A critical element to having that discussion is that everyone understands the issues and trade-offs involved in setting our contribution.”

“New Zealand’s economy is driven by exports with 73 percent of our merchandise exports coming from the primary industries, worth $35.2 billion. UN projections have the global population peaking at 11 billion by 2075 and the FAO estimates that agricultural output must increase by 60 percent by 2050 to meet this growth. While New Zealand cannot feed the world we will play our part. It would be irresponsible of us to squander or underutilise our resources.” . . .

Unlocking secrets behind footrot:

New Zealand’s fine wool sector is a step closer to eradicating footrot thanks to ground-breaking research in sheep genetics.

The FeetFirst project, part of a Primary Growth Partnership between the New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) and the Ministry for Primary Industries, is using genetic testing to identify fine-wool sheep with resistance to footrot.  Researchers are now close to developing a simple test for growers to eliminate footrot using selective breeding. . .

Fund helps township with projects

A Waitaki Valley township is cashing in on its history as tourism grows, particularly because of the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail.

Duntroon is undergoing a transformation to re-create its history, with the help of more than $100,000 so far from the Meridian Energy Waitaki Community Fund.

The Duntroon Development Association is leading the work, based on a community vision conceived about 12 years ago, with several projects, including restoration of Nicol’s Forge and a wetland area.

”It’s fantastic what’s been achieved,” association spokesman Mike Gray said yesterday. . .

Adventure & outdoor conference focusing on the future:

Adventure and outdoor tourism operators will have the opportunity to focus on growing their sector at a one-day conference in July, the Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) says.

The Great Adventure 2015, the only conference specifically for New Zealand’s adventure and outdoor tourism sector, will take place in Wellington on 2-3 July 2015. Registrations open today at www.tianz.org.nz/main/The_Great_Adventure_2015

Now in its third year, The Great Adventure will focus on growing a strong and unified sector that succeeds and leads at every level from safety to profitability. . .


Rural round-up

March 25, 2015

Freeloaders relying on co-ops – Alan Williams:

Using a mathematical formula to work out the level of overcapacity in meat processing won’t work, Silver Fern Farms chairman Rob Hewett says.

And nor would the Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) proposal for a permanent reduction in capacity offset by a reserve processing plant, funded by the industry and used only at times of  very high demand for killing space. That idea, based on the electricity industry model, was too simplistic.

“You’d have hundreds of people just sitting round most of the time, not doing anything. The issue is more complex than that.”

Hewett agreed with farmers who wanted enough killing space available all the time to cope with seasons like the current one, with drought conditions in many areas. . . .

 Rabobank New Zealand 2014 results:

Rabobank New Zealand Limited (RNZL) has further strengthened its position in the New Zealand rural banking market, recording above market rural lending growth, and reporting its highest net profit after tax (NPAT) of $105.49 million in 2014.

RNZL recorded net lending growth of $342 million in 2014, with the bank’s rural lending portfolio growing by 4.5 per cent, slightly ahead of overall rural debt market growth of 4.3 RNZL chief executive officer Ben Russell said the results were pleasing, as they demonstrated Rabobank’s ongoing commitment to New Zealand’s critical food and agribusiness sector, and were consistent with the bank’s goal of supporting clients to both help feed the world and achieve their goals and aspirations. . .

South American beetle introduced to control weeds:

A tiny Chilean beetle has been introduced to New Zealand in a bid to control a weed that if left unchecked could potentially become as big a problem as gorse.

Landcare Research, a Crown research institute which focuses on environmental science, recently provided Environment Southland with about 70 barberry seed weevils to release just north of Invercargill as a biocontrol agent for Darwin’s barberry. The fast-spreading orange-flowered thorny shrub has become a huge problem across the country, threatening to overrun native plants and farmland – particularly in Southland.

It is the first time this species of weevil, a type of beetle, has been used as a biocontrol agent anywhere in the world. . .

Natural pesticides tested:

New Zealand scientists have begun trials to test the effectiveness of some natural pesticides on one of the world’s worst vegetable pests, the diamond back moth.

The moth caterpillar causes serious damage to brassica crops such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and bok choy.

More than a billion dollars a year is spent on trying to control the pest. The moth quickly becomes resistant to whatever chemical pesticide is used on it.

Scientists working under the Bio-Protection Research Centre based at Lincoln University, with the backing of genetic specialists at New Zealands Genomics, have been trying a non-chemical biological approach. . .

Going FAR for farmers – Annette Scott:

It is 20 years this week since formal practical research was initiated for the New Zealand arable industry.

On Wednesday the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR), established in 1995, will mark a number of arable industry milestones as the organisation reaches its 20th birthday.

FAR was set up primarily to do practical research for arable farmers.

Over the past two decades the levy-funded organisation has developed to actively do research and extension on a broad range of grain and seed crops in NZ and Australia. . .

NZ Kiwifruit Growers United In Support For Industry Change:

Following a record voter turn-out, interim results show more than 90 percent of New Zealand kiwifruit growers have supported the outcomes of the Kiwifruit Industry Strategy Project (KISP) to lock-in long-term grower ownership and control of their industry.

KISP’s Independent Chairman, Neil Richardson, said the voter turn-out and interim results were outstanding. They are a clear sign New Zealand kiwifruit growers are united in their vision for the future of their industry, he said.

“Two-thirds of growers, representing 80 percent of production voted in the KISP referendum. This compares to an average voter turn-out in primary industry of around 40 percent. . .

 

Zespri welcomes high turnout and support for positive change in grower referendum:

Kiwifruit growers have made a strong statement about the direction they want for their industry in the Kiwifruit Industry Strategy Project (KSIP) referendum. There is a clear mandate for change with interim results from the referendum showing two-thirds of growers, representing 80 percent of production, voting so far, says Zespri chairman Peter McBride.

“Over 90 percent of growers have clearly stated their desire for change in three areas which affect Zespri – ownership of Zespri shares by growers who have left the industry, the mechanism by which the Zespri margin is calculated and changes to Zespri’s board to formalise the three independent members. . .

 

Memories of the working horse – Mark Griggs:

RON Job, now retired at Parkes, says a lot of memories return as he inspects some of the horse harness and gear stored in the tack room at “The Grange”, Peak Hill.

The tack room was attached to the original stables, which have been converted into a machinery shed and workshop now the work-horse days are long gone.

“The Grange” is owned by the Frecklington family who settled there in the late 1800s.

The property is now operated by Ian and Lyn Frecklington, who have kept the old gear stored in the tack room where it was left as motor vehicles took over from real horsepower, and have been close family friends with the Job family for many years. . .


Rural round-up

December 16, 2014

Largest ever control campaign knocks back predators:

The Department of Conservation’s largest ever aerial 1080 campaign to combat this year’s rat and stoat plague has successfully knocked down predator populations in key target areas.

Over the last four months, DOC has completed an unprecedented 25 aerial 1080 operations over about 550,000 hectares to combat the biggest beech seed-fuelled rodent plague seen in 15 years.

Rat numbers reached extreme levels at some sites but early results from the Battle for Our Birds 1080 programme show rat populations crashing giving much needed protection to breeding populations of vulnerable native birds and bats. (see attached graph). . .

EPA 1080 annual report released:

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has released its seventh annual report on the aerial use of 1080. Findings are again consistent with previous years. The 1080 regime is working as intended with the benefits of using 1080 being seen while the risks are minimised.

1080, also known as sodium fluoroacetate, is used to control animal pests such as possums, rabbits, stoats and rats, to reduce the impacts on native animals and plants, and to prevent the spread of bovine tuberculosis. Aerial application uses aircraft to distribute baits and is considered by users to be a key advantage where pest control is undertaken on rugged or remote land. . .

 Farmhand graduate praises training – Sally Rae:

”Oh, mate, I’m just overwhelmingly chuffed,” a delighted Emma Hollamby said after graduating from the inaugural Farmhand training programme.

Ms Hollamby was among the first intake of the pilot programme, which was launched in Dunedin in September.

The programme, which ran for 12 weeks, aimed to expose the city’s disengaged youth to rural work opportunities. . . 

Allflex acquisition set to help Australasian producers:

Allflex, the worldwide market leader in animal identification products, has announced a $250 million dollar acquisition of livestock monitoring and intelligent milking solutions company, SCR Engineers Ltd.

Based in Israel, SCR Engineers is highly regarded across the globe for its cutting-edge cow-monitoring systems, which gather data via activity and rumination sensors.

High-tech analysis then converts the data into real-time reports to help monitor individual animals as well as provide reliable data around herd performance. . .

Dairy prices end 2014 low, in contrast to where they started the year:

Beef prices end 2014 still flying high

The Reserve Bank delivers an early Christmas present

It’s a mixed end to 2014 according to the latest ASB Farmshed Economics Report, with dairy prices low compared to the high prices at the start of the year.

“Beef prices, on the other hand, are providing farmers with some festive joy and are currently 23 percent higher than last Christmas,” explains ASB Rural Economist Nathan Penny. “Lamb prices peaked ahead of the previous two seasons this year, although prices have softened recently.” . . .

Seeka announces record returns for Class 2 kiwifruit into Australia:

Seeka Kiwifruit Industries Ltd (NZX:SEK) has delivered record returns to growers from its SeekaFresh programmes, primarily into Australia, the company said today.

In its latest grower forecast, Seeka said that Class 2 returns per Class 1 tray averaged $0.24 for Hayward Green (conventional) and $0.50 for Hayward Green (organic) in 2014, well up on last year and significantly ahead of industry average forecasts of $0.14 for conventional and $0.16 for organic green. The season also saw record returns for SeekaFresh-marketed avocados and kiwiberries.

“Lean overhead cost structures plus an Australia programme directed at major retailers rather than wholesalers, supported by promotions, planning and quality, have delivered Seeka growers record returns,” said Seeka chief executive Michael Franks. . .

Move to protect farm information:

Farmers can be more confident their information is being protected as organisations handling their data sign up to a new code of practice.

DairyNZ and the Ministry for Primary Industries have funded development of the new Farm Data Code of Practice and associated data standards through the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP), with a contribution from FarmIQ Systems in the first year and co-funding from the Red Meat Profit Partnership this year.

The funding organisations are all involved in PGP programmes that focus on innovation in farming and food processing, and as part of this they are driving new developments in farm data recording, storage, analysis and reporting. This led to awareness of the need for a code to guide fair behaviour and standards to get consistency. . .

Determining the origin of insect pests:

Researchers in the Bio-Protection Research Centre at Lincoln University are developing a new way to reveal the birthplace of unwanted insect pests – information that is vital for managing pest incursions. . .

Despite stringent biosecurity measures, unwanted insects occasionally arrive in New Zealand from overseas in shipping containers and imported goods. If these pests breed and spread, they could have a huge impact on agriculture, horticulture, forestry and the environment. . .

Pinpointing the birthplace of an exotic insect pest is crucial for determining whether it is an isolated ‘hitchhiker’ or part of an established breeding population. This knowledge is helpful for biosecurity agencies, such as the Ministry for Primary Industries, to decide the best approach for dealing with an incursion. . .

Fyfe Joins Craggy Range – Strategic role supports winery’s global growth:

Craggy Range today announces that Icebreaker CEO Rob Fyfe is joining the award winning winery in a newly created position of strategic advisor reporting to the board and CEO Michael Wilding.

Mr Fyfe has been working in a consultancy capacity with Craggy Range, for more than 12 months. The move formalises his involvement with the winery that was recently named the New World Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast.

A former CEO of Air New Zealand, Mr Fyfe says his long-standing passion for businesses and NZ brands are behind his decision to accept the role. . .

Origin Earth Drops Price of Milk:

Local boutique dairy company Origin Earth has announced a reduction in the price of their 2 litre bottles of milk.

Origin Earth director, Joanie Williams said “The price that we pay for our raw milk is inextricably linked with the price that farmers receive from Fonterra.”

She went on to say, “As you will be aware Fonterra has reduced its forecast payout for the coming season which in turn has the reduced the cost of our raw milk. As a result we are pleased to be able to pass this cost saving on our Hawke’s Bay customers and as from today, 12 December 2014, the recommended retail price for our 2 litre bottles of milk drops from $5.80 to $5.50. We also feel that this price drop will put our all natural whole milk within reach of even more customers and look forward to welcoming these new customers to enjoying milk the way it used to be.” . . . 

Origin Earth produces Hawke’s Bay’s own Chocolate Milk:

Origin Earth’s Chocolate Milk combines the popular Hawke’s Bay sourced Origin Earth cow’s milk with organic and fair trade chocolate and cocoa powder from Hawke’s Bay chocolatier La Petite Chocolat, then adds a dash of Hawke’s Bay honey and a drop of Heilala vanilla extract and that’s it. Just like our milk it is not homogenised, just pasteurised, and there are no thickeners, emulsifiers, milk powders, additives or stabilisers.

Chocolate and flavoured milks have long been Kiwi favourites and it was in response to requests from customers wanting a product made using Origin Earth milk that got Origin Earth director, Joanie Williams, into the testing room and trying out different combinations/recipes. . .

 Christmas ‘lights’ from Whitecliff:

Whitecliff’s newly released 2014 low alcohol wines give Kiwi wine drinkers a refreshing, low alcohol option, perfect for Christmas festivities and to help lighten up the season of excess.

Whitecliff low alcohol Sauvignon Blanc 2014 and low alcohol Pinot Gris 2014 are ideal wines for those people wanting to enjoy the festive season but still fulfil their New Year’s resolutions to live a healthier lifestyle.

Whether it is for a Boxing Day barbecue or a casual Christmas catch up with friends, these wines from the 2014 vintage offer reduced alcohol and calories without compromising on flavour. . .


Rural round-up

January 26, 2014

Girls rule on South Otago dairy farm – Sally Rae:

Who needs a man?

For South Otago dairy farm manager Kara-Lee Clark (33) and farm worker Ashleigh McKechnie (19), assisted by two other female relieving staff when needed, being part of an all-women team is just normal.

The diminutive duo milk 340 cows on a 120ha property, owned by the Clark family near Milton. They are particularly proud of the herd of predominantly large Friesians.

”We get a bit of a hard time about that. They are big cows and we’re not the biggest of people,” Miss Clark said.

Being a female farm manager at the local Milton farm discussion group was quite a rarity, although she was not sure how unusual it was further afield.

When she embarked on a career in the dairy industry, after spending nine and a-half years working as a veterinary nurse at Clutha Vets in Balclutha, Miss Clark admitted she had a lot to prove to her family. . .

Initial trapping survey results in:

The first trapping results for Queensland Fruit Fly in Whangarei have shown no suspect flies detected in all 83 traps in Zone A and in all 90 lure traps from outside the controlled zones.

MPI Deputy Director-General Compliance and Response, Andrew Coleman, says “It’s a good early result but it’s important not to get complacent. We have still got a number of days to go before we know for sure whether there is a breeding population or not.”

The Whangarei community has been hugely supportive and to date has placed 180kgs of restricted produce in bins in Zone A and 70kgs in Zone B.

“We are very appreciative of this support,” Mr Coleman says. “It is vital that material that could contain the fly is not taken out of the zone, just in case there is a breeding population present in the area, which takes in Parihaka, Riverside and parts of central Whangarei.”

This insect is an unwanted and notifiable organism that could have serious consequences for New Zealand’s horticultural industry. It can damage a wide range of fruit and vegetables.

Insecticide ruling brings challenge – Richard Rennie:

The clock is ticking for researchers trying to find an alternative for a broad-spectrum insecticide destined to be phased out by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

Following a reassessment of the use of organophosphates and carbamates in New Zealand’s crop and pastoral sector a number are scheduled to be phased out, because the authority considers their impact on human and environmental health to be unacceptable.

A key insecticide set to go by July 2028 is diazinon, which plays a critical role in controlling grass grub in pasture.

The authority issued its ruling on diazinon’s phase-out in the middle of last year but the long lead time to develop alternative chemicals to combat grass grub has researchers scrambling to develop alternatives. . .

Fast soil makes for bigger sink:

Rapidity in the natural world is relative; yet, while the latest findings from a research collaboration between Lincoln University and the University of Washington can hardly speak of comet-like quickness, it does shatter prevailing views, with implications for climate change as well.

Samples collected from western slopes of the Southern Alps have revealed that soil – the chemically and biologically active skin on the Earth’s surface – can be produced from mountainous bedrock almost twice as fast as previously thought. A subsequent proportional increase in chemical weathering of the soil was also observed.

The findings are important, as eroding mountainous regions account for over half of the world’s sediment production. If that sediment is produced by the formation of soil, rather than just slabs of bedrock collapsing off slopes as landslides, there is much greater potential for atmospheric carbon to be stored. This is significant because mountains play the role of carbon sinks – natural reservoirs that can accumulate and store atmospheric carbon. . .

Diesel from dust: using low fertility soils for biodiesel crops:

The escalating issue around peak oil in the context of the far-reaching global demand for fossil fuels is nothing new. Likewise, the increasing pressure this demand places on sourcing alternative fuels is also well established. One option is biofuels.

Producing biofuels comes with its own problems. There can be issues around an inability of supply to meet demand (such as is the case with tallow), but there can also be resistance to using productive land for biofuels instead of using it for growing food.

To meet these challenges, and in the interest of accelerating the young biodiesel industry in New Zealand, Professor of Ecology,  Steve Wratten at the Bio-Protection Research Centre has been heading up a research team to explore ways of growing plants suitable for biodiesel. More specifically, however, the aim is to find ways to grow these plants on low fertility soils and in such a way as to require minimal fertiliser inputs. . .

My old friend is telling me his twilight time is coming near #horses – Mad Bush Farm:

My old friend I’ve had for over eight years has grown very old. Over the last few days his walk has become slower, and the sparkle in his eye is gradually being replaced by that look that says “I’m tired and soon I will go to my forever sleep” I called him this morning from the other side of the farm. Usually, he would be the first one to arrive at a gallop, knowing he would be put onto some lush grass for the day . The ponies do not need it, but old Ed at over 30 years of age needs the best possible pasture each day. Today though, it took him a very long time, longer than usual. He had stiffly made his way back to where I was. I took him nearly 20 minutes to reach me. All four legs have developed arthritis in the last few weeks, and he’s lost some condition. Why? The answer is very simple. He is just very, very, old. It means now for me, I may have to say goodbye to a loyal equine friend I love very deeply. . .


%d bloggers like this: