Rural round-up

September 15, 2013

Getting low riding out the big blow – Tim Fulton:

Tom Kearney, his wife and family hunkered down in a bedroom and rode it out when the nor’wester whacked their farm near Ashburton.

The Kearneys’ home at Winslow was well sheltered but it felt for a while like the windows might blow in, Kearney said.

“We’ve got a young daughter and another one on the way in about three weeks time so it could have got a bit frightening if it (the baby) decided to turn up a bit early.”

The sheep farmers expect they lost up to 1000 trees in the gale, about half the trees on the property. Some of thee shelter-belt trees were 50-60 years old. . .

Response needed on black grass – Annette Scott:

The black grass damage is done and the focus now must go on establishing a robust response plan, Methven cropping farmer Ian Letham says.

Letham farms along the route the contaminated seed took on its journey to a Methven seed-dressing plant.

“I’m extremely concerned about this issue,” he said of a biosecurity breach that resulted in the spillage of the noxious weed black grass in Mid Canterbury. . .

NZ-linked Chinese dairy firms rank highly – Jamie Gray:

Chinese dairy companies Yili and Mengniu – both of which will soon have factories in New Zealand – now rate among the top 15 of the world’s biggest dairy companies in terms of turnover, rural lending specialist Rabobank said.

Rabobank said Yili is now ranked at 12th, up from 15th last year, while Mengniu went to 15th from 16th.

Yili has plans to manufacture in South Canterbury while Yashili – which is in the throes of being taken over by Mengniu – is building a factory at Pokeno, on the southern outskirts of Auckland.

The top five rankings – with Fonterra at number four – remained unchanged from last year. . .

Genetics programme critical for improving productivity – Allan Barber:

Two complementary programmes have just been announced which promise to deliver improved sheep traits which will compensate for lower production and generate greater profits.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics is a proposed new partnership between B+LNZ and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) which will combine existing levy payer funding of $2.9 million with $1.5 million of third party investment to be matched by $4.4 million from MBIE.

B+LNZ currently invests its share in the activities of Sheep Improvement Limited, Central Progeny Test and Ovita which has been a joint venture with AgResearch for the last 10 years. This will now be wrapped up into B+LNZ Genetics, while AgResearch will provide major input into the new programme which will broaden the historical breeding excellence focus to determine breeding values and genetic ability to perform on hill country. . .

Vision projects #4 – Credo Quia Absurdum Est:

I see agribusiness biotechnology startups in the news every week.  They usually have the words “Massey University”, or occasionally the school for backward farm kids “Lincoln” attached to them.

There’s no reason why they shouldn’t have Invercargill attached to them.

But we have had decades of wasteful spending on airport runways, pastoral land at Awarua and other ridiculous projects that are not going to create community wealth or jobs.

Invercargill needs to play to its strengths. . .

Pāua Data Logging to Better Manage the Fishery:
Commercial pāua diving is entering the electronic age with logging of every shellfish taken.

When the new season opens on Oct 1, every diver in the Pāua 2 fishery will be wearing a data logger that will record each captured pāua’s location, depth, weight and the water temperature.

The small electronic boxes strapped to wetsuits unload their data on the supporting dive boat, which will provide a reef by reef picture of what is happening in the fishery.

“This will allow us to spread the catch effort, ensure an area is not over exploited and better manage a sustainable fishery,” Tony Craig, Pāua 2 Management Group chairman, said. . .


Beyond stupid

September 7, 2013

PGG Wrightson has admitted a biosecurity breech after carrying prohibited seed in an open bins on a truck through Canterbury’s cropping belt.

PGG Wrightson says it is disappointed in itself for making the mistakes that caused a roadside spill of seeds from an invasive weed.

The seed is from black grass or meadow fox tail, an invader of winter crops in Britain and Europe. It was found in a 16.3 tonne consignment of red fescue grass seed imported from Denmark and was being taken to a containment centre at Methven, Mid-Canterbury.

PGG Wrightson seeds manager John McKenzie said it appeared seed was sucked by air pressure from steel bins on a truck.

A manager had not followed Primary Industries Ministry instructions to enclose the bins.

“We’re disappointed in ourselves for this breakdown in procedures,” he said. . .

Croppping farmers are more than disappointed, they’re furious.

They’re describing this as like someone driving a herd of animals with foot and mouth disease down the road and letting some escape.

MPI response manager David Yard said the seeds were “fairly immature”. “There might be three or four germinate in the first year and one or two in the second year.”

He estimated 28 kilograms of red fescue had spilled during the trip. Included in that would have been about 2100 black grass seeds – enough to fill an eggcup. . .

Black grass is resistant to many herbicides and is  difficult to control in several crops. It competes for nutrients, light, water and space, out-competing crops and reducing yields.

Yard said MPI would also be taking up the matter of the contaminated cargo with Danish authorities. The red fescue consignment had been rejected and would shortly be shipped back to Denmark. . .

Even if only a small amount of seed escaped it  is beyond stupid to carry contaminated seed in open bins.

No matter how strong our biosecurity regulations are, they could be breached by stupidity.

 


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