Rural round-up

January 31, 2019

Brain tumour felled Fonterra’s last hands on chairman – Fran O’Sullivan:

John Wilson who died on Monday at just 54 years of age was possibly the last Fonterra chairman to take a hands on approach to governing New Zealand’s largest company.

It was inevitable that Wilson would play a strong and sometimes quite political role in public life in New Zealand – the upshot of Fonterra’s dominance of the dairy industry – at times locked into confrontational situations with equally strong-minded politicians on both sides of the House.

Wilson was passionately devoted to Fonterra; strong-willed, direct, not afraid of anyone – yet also imbued with sufficient charm, persuasiveness and an ability to ride through the hard-knuckled politics of the NZ dairy industry to survive many a battle until his last year as chair. . . 

‘Outrageous’: EU votes to reduce NZ export rights – Pattrick Smellie:

The European Union’s parliament has taken a decisive step towards unilaterally reducing New Zealand’s rights to export specified quantities of tariff-free sheepmeat, beef and dairy products to the trading bloc if and when Brexit occurs.

The move has been slammed as “outrageous” by former trade negotiator Charles Finny in a Tweet and “disappointing” by the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the proposed moves risk compounding “growing international economic uncertainty and rising trade tensions”. . . 

Expert evidence rejects water conservation order bid :

Evidence from nine experts supports Horticulture New Zealand’s evidence that a water conservation order (WCO) is not the way to ensure healthy Hawke’s Bay rivers, Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says.

Horticulture New Zealand opposes the application for the WCO in the Lower Ngaruroro River and the Clive River.

“This impacts our economy and our food supply and a WCO is a blunt instrument that has been surpassed with better national and regional planning tools,” Mr Chapman says. . . 

Guy Trafford analyses the sheep meat market showing the changes to where our product goes, and where our rivals are focusing – Guy Trafford:

With the uncertainty around Brexit and what the balance of future access to both the EU and the UK for sheep meat maybe it could be timely to have a look at the drivers of international sheep meat trade.

Australia and New Zealand account for approximately 90% of international trade and both have declining flock numbers. Since 1990 Australia have dropped from 180 mln down to 65 mln and New Zealand from 58 mln to around 28 mln today. It has only been the increased productivity of both flocks, in regard to meat production, that has kept the industry viable with the critical mass required to remain competitive. . . 

Synlait follows Fonterra with lower forecast farmgate payout – Paul McBeth:

 (BusinessDesk) – Synlait Milk has cut its forecast payout to farmers for the current season, following Fonterra’s lead, as weaker global demand and strong domestic production weighs on international prices.

The Rakaia-based milk producer expects to pay $6.25 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2019 season, down from its previous forecast of $6.75/kgMS. That projection will depend on commodity prices recovering for the rest of the season, something Synlait said it considers realistic. . . 

Scott Tech, Mt Cook Alpine Salmon in automated pin boning project – Jenny Ruth:

(BusinessDesk) – Scott Technology and Mt Cook Alpine Salmon have teamed up to automate the removal of pin bones from King salmon with backing of more than $500,000 from Seafood Innovations.

Brent Keelty, Mt Cook’s processing operations manager, says the only way currently of de-boning King salmon is by hand. . . 

World first IoT farming tech trial  NZ

A pioneering arable farming tech trial is expected to make a quantum leap to help boost New Zealand’s primary export revenue.

New Zealand has a low understanding of how the internet of things (IoT) can assist with farm management and sustainability and adoption of precision agriculture techniques also remains low.

New Zealand’s primary industry export revenue is forecast to reach $43.8 billion for the year to June 2019, an increase of 2.5 percent from 2018. . .

TracMap Data Now Available in FarmIQ:

Integrating two of the country’s leading farm software systems means farmers can now have TracMap Proof of Application data seamlessly passed to their FarmIQ account, ensuring records are updated quickly and accurately for compliance and management needs.

“This is an important development for FarmIQ’s customers. Many farmers have been asking us for Tracmap’s Proof of Application and Proof of Placement data for some time,” said FarmIQ chief executive Darryn Pegram. . . 

Should primary producers do more to protect their data?:

While farmers and horticulturalists continue to integrate new digital technologies into their businesses, this data reliance does bring with it new vulnerabilities and risks. The next generation of producers are doing away with basic spreadsheets and building their businesses using a real-time data streams and cloud-based platforms for analysis and storage.

In the past, a simple computer backup was, in many cases, all that was needed. It has now been replaced by a complex web of data-points, data validation, storage, security access and data control. . . 

New funding for 31 community-led projects:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has today announced funding of $9.8 million for 31 new Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) projects.

The SFF provides funding for projects led by farmers, growers, and foresters aimed at building economic, environmental and social sustainability in the primary sector. It has recently been replaced by MPI’s new Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) programme. The 31 projects were in the pipeline prior to its launch in October 2018.

“SFF has been instrumental in kicking off both small and large innovative, community-led projects, and laying the groundwork for SFF Futures,” says Steve Penno, Director of Investment Programmes.

“The new 31 projects cover areas from apiculture and dairy to soil management and horticulture, and are great examples of innovative thinking. . . 

Farmers furious at inclusion on Aussie Farms’ map – Alastair Dowie:

‘Ill-informed’ and ‘disgraceful’ are just some of the words Victorian farmers have used upon finding their details on the controversial Aussie Farms map.

Made public last week, the map identifies a large number of rural and farming enterprises, as well as some saleyards, abattoirs and intensive production operations, across Australia.

Many farmers are furious that their personal information has been displayed on the map without their permission. . . .

 


Rural round-up

January 22, 2019

No “over the fence” spread of Mycoplasma bovis, says MPI– Heather Chalmers:

The Ministry for Primary Industries says there have been no cases of “over the fence spread” of Mycoplasma bovis, as three more farms are confirmed as infected with the cattle disease.

The three new properties were beef farms in the Far North and South Canterbury and a dairy farm in Otago. The Far North farm was only the second case confirmed in Northland. MPI said the farms were linked to other infected farms and their infection status was not unexpected.

Five previously-infected farms, four in Canterbury and one in Tasman, were declared free of contamination, after being destocked, fallowed and cleaned. . . 

Miners discover gold but few celebrating – Madison Reidy:

A small company wanting to extract gold from a mine on conservation land fears for the future of the industry in the face of red tape, local hostility and official indifference.

New Talisman Gold Mines has spent $1.8 million over 18 months to get the century-old mine in Mount Karangahake near Waihi back in to production.

It has a resource consent to extract 20,000 cubic metres of ore a year for sampling, and it estimates it could produce as much as 51,000 ounces of gold from the mine once it starts full commercial production. . .

North Island stag fetches $155,000 – Sally Rae:

Some “exceptional” sales have been recorded at recent deer sales, including a record price of $155,000 in the North Island.

The 5-year-old trophy stag was described by Carrfields Livestock auctioneer Neville Clark as a “phenomenal” animal.

“Something to behold when you saw him in the pen,” he said. . . 

Why are American farmers killing themselves? – Debbie Weingarten:

It is dark in the workshop, but what light there is streams in patches through the windows. Cobwebs coat the wrenches, the cans of spray paint and the rungs of an old wooden chair where Matt Peters used to sit. A stereo plays country music, left on by the renter who now uses the shop.

“It smells so good in here,” I say. “Like …”

“Men, working,” finishes Ginnie Peters.

We inhale. “Yes.”

Ginnie pauses at the desk where she found her husband Matt’s letter on the night he died. . . 

Huge station bought by Aussie farmers –  Mollie Tracey:

IN a monumental sale, one of the world’s biggest stations and the country’s second largest cattle property has been purchased by Australian beef cattle farmers.

Clifton Hills Station was bought by Viv Oldfield and Donny Costello, of Crown Point Pastoral Company, with the deal being confirmed last month.

Mr Oldfield is well-known in the racing industry as a horse trainer and owns properties in the Northern Territory and South Australia.

He also owns an outback trucking business called Tanami Transport. . . 

Henare bounces back to claim lambswool title:

World champion woohandler Joel Henare got one back on leading rival Pagan Karauria as he won the Southland Shears’ national crossbred lambs woolhandling title at the Winton A and P Show on Saturday.

Now based back in hometown Gisborne, after about two years in Motueka, where he took a break from the woolsheds to work in the fish shed, Henare beat Karauria by just 0.76pts in reversing the result of the previous day’s Northern Southland Community Shears longwool championships at Long Range, near Lumsden. . . 

Two in a row for champion shearer Smith:

Shearing champion Rowland Smith has taken just two days of the New Year to reinforce his claims to the major titles and possibly a second World championship by winning his first two Open finals of 2019 over the weekend.

Smith won the Horowhenua Shears Open final today in Levin, just 24 hours after winning another Open final 340km away in Wairoa. . . 

Wedd lcocks up second open win:

Mobile shearing operator Phil Wedd drew first blood for the Warkworth team as he won the Kaikohe show’s Open final in the first round of the second ANZ Northland Shearing Competition on Saturday.

Wedd was scoring just his second win in a lengthy but sparsely-competed Open-class career which he’s mixed with shearing abroad and testing his form also as a golfer. . . 

Baigent wins Golden Bay title:

Wakefield shearer Travers Baigent scored his second win of the season and the fifth Open class title of his career at the Golden Bay A and P Show at Takaka on Saturday.

Among one of the smallest entries of shearers at shows in the Top of the South region, Baigent still managed to give the public their money’s woth in a three-man final of 20 lambs each, which he shore in 17min 33sec, 40 seconds clear of runner-up Paul Hodges, of Reefton. . . 


Rural round-up

December 19, 2018

Genetic expert loves being back on the farm – Sally Rae:

Farming is in Jo Scott’s genes. She is the fifth-generation member of the Scott family to be involved in farming and is combining that with her day job,  specialising in animal genetics.

Ms Scott (27) is technical services manager for the New Zealand arm of global animal health company Zoetis.

Although she works out of  the Dunedin office, she lives in North Otago, where both sides of her family have farmed for many years.

After leaving Waitaki Girls’ High School, Ms Scott headed to Massey University to earn  a science degree, with a double major in agriculture and animal science. . . 

NZ Yarn welcomes Hemp New Zealand as new strategic partner:

NZ Yarn Ltd, a world-leading producer of New Zealand wool yarns for the global soft flooring market, is pleased to announce a major new strategic shareholder and business partner: Hemp New Zealand Ltd.

Under the agreement, Hemp New Zealand has acquired a 15% interest in NZ Yarn, with the objective of installing a hemp fibre processing facility within the NZ Yarn factory in Burnside, Christchurch.

The new partnership will be a catalyst for market-leading innovations in hemp fibre processing, as well as the development of new consumer products made from hemp yarn, wool & hemp yarn blends and non-woven wool and hemp products. . . 

Kiwifruit Industry’s big push for Seasonal Labour:

Labour shortage likely for BOP kiwifruit industry in 2019 – Kiwifruit Industry launches attraction campaign for pickers and packers

New Labour Coordinator role for BOP kiwifruit industry formed with support from the Provincial Growth Fund, the Ministry of Social Development and New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers

In 2018 the Bay of Plenty kiwifruit industry experienced a severe labour shortage at harvest with 1,200 vacancies unable to be filled. The kiwifruit industry considers that another labour shortage for the Bay of Plenty is likely in 2019. To mitigate the potential shortage, New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. (NZKGI) is employing a labour coordinator and have launched an attraction campaign to increase seasonal labour numbers. . . 

Waikato dairy farmers on board to supply Synlait:

Synlait  is delighted to have signed up its first Waikato dairy farmers who will supply Synlait Pokeno for the 2019/2020 season.

“Our milk procurement team has received a very warm welcome and a positive response from Waikato dairy farmers and rural professionals. We’re thrilled to have signed up our first group of milk suppliers,” says Leon Clement, CEO.

“Synlait’s Lead With Pride™ programme has been well received by farmers who want to be rewarded for the work they do in terms of environment, animal health and welfare, milk quality and social responsibility” he says. . . 

NZ fertiliser spreading scheme gains international recognition:

Spreadmark, New Zealand’s only fertiliser spreading certification scheme, has gained international recognition from the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand, JAS-ANZ.

JAS-ANZ recognition means that farmers and growers who use Spreadmark trained and registered fertiliser spreaders can now be absolutely assured that all aspects of the programme are robust and reliable. It provides extra reassurance to regional councils and other organisations who require contractors to be Spreadmark certified. It also adds value to the quality assurance programmes (which specify that fertiliser must be spread by a Spreadmark certified spreader), offered to farmers and growers by food processing companies, in return for higher prices for their products. . . 

Entries Open for the 2019 NZ Champion of Cheese Awards:

The New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA) is calling for entries for the revitalised NZ Champions of Cheese Awards which will be judged in February 2019.

The Specialist Cheesemakers Association has been running the awards since 2003 and will judge the 16th annual NZ Champions of Cheese Awards at the AUT School of Hospitality and Tourism on Sunday 24 February 2019. Cheesemakers vying for one of the 23 cheese trophies must complete their online entries by Friday 8 February 2019. . . 

A very cherry Christmas for Air New Zealand Cargo:

Air New Zealand is helping Kiwi exporters to serve up Christmas dinner to people around the world this holiday season.

The airline will work with meat processors and exporters from around the country to move more than 700 tonnes of lamb to the United Kingdom in the lead up to Christmas. More than 1000 tonnes of Central Otago cherries will also be sent to Asia and the United States over the summer season – that’s more than 65 million individual cherries! . . 

South Island honey in demand:

The sweet taste of honey has made it a treat for over 8000 years – but now there’s more.

Growing awareness of its health benefits and the appeal of its natural origins has meant South Island honey producers are riding a wave of unprecedented overseas demand.

Taylor Pass Honey, one of the south’s largest producers, has doubled production over the past two years and the remote wilderness areas they source their honey from has been a compelling selling point for overseas markets, marketing manager Jo Bray says. . . 


Rural round-up

December 7, 2018

Maize crops sick, seeds failing:

 A major seed supplier is urgently investigating reports from farmers that some of their maize crops aren’t growing properly.

Genetic Technologies Limited is the New Zealand producer and distributor of the Pioneer seeds brand and sells more than 20 hybrid maize varieties.

The crop is grown in New Zealand for the production of animal feed, either in the form of grain maize or as maize silage.

This season some farmers say up to 30 percent of their maize seeds from Pioneer have failed and other seeds that have struck are looking sick.

A tale of two milk companies – one of them is being suckled by taxpayers – Point of Order:

The contrasting fortunes of Synlait Milk and Westland Milk Products were thrown into sharp relief last week. On the one hand Synlait won applause at its annual meeting from shareholders, impressed by its performance in virtually doubling profit ($74.6m against $39.4m) in its tenth year of operations. On the other hand Westland had the begging bowl out for a Provincial Growth Fund loan of $9.9m which will help the co-op in funding a $22m manufacturing plant aimed at converting milk to higher-value products.

The Westland dairy exporter, discussing a capital restructure in its 2018 annual report, said it had relatively high debt and limited financial flexibility. . . 

Sheep needed on hill country – Alan Williams:

Waikato farmer Alastair Reeves has taken umbrage at the Productivity Commission’s suggestion sheep should be cast aside to make way for trees. He reckons sheep have a great future if they are not threatened by people making decisions in isolation and ignoring the ramifications of being wrong. He’s even got a plan for wool involving the Duchess of Sussex, aka Meghan Markle.

Sheep should be at the forefront of sustainable farming on hill country rather than being tossed aside for massive tree-planting programmes, Waikato hill farmer Alastair Reeves says.

It is a disgrace for the Productivity Commission to suggest up to 2.8 million hectares of new forestry be planted as a means of achieving a low carbon-emissions economy.  . . 

Water storage essential for future resilience – as experts cite drought as a major risk to NZ:

IrrigationNZ says a recent expert discussion document on drought and climate change highlights that future national planning to improve water storage and look at a range of options to mitigate the effects of the more severe droughts forecast is urgently needed.

“More frequent droughts and more variable rainfall will affect both urban and rural communities and will mean that we will need to rethink how we manage water in the future.
For example with less rainfall forecast over summer in western areas of New Zealand, there will be more demand for water storage from both councils and farmers to provide a reliable water supply,” says IrrigationNZ Chief Executive Andrew Curtis. . . 

Elitism of another kind – Clive Bibby:

I grew up on a farm just outside the small Central Hawkes Bay town of Waipawa.

My forebears had owned sizeable tracts of farming land that had been hacked out of the bush and scrub under the Ruahine Ranges.

I am very proud to be a descendant of such pioneering folk who understood what it means to build a business from nothing and see it grow into something that makes a reasonable contribution to the local economy. They also built the first trading general store in CHB. The building still stands.

It is perhaps ironic that much of the farm land in question was in the near vicinity of the catchment area for the now defunct Ruataniwha Fresh Water Dam proposal. . . 

New tool helps farmers gauge carbon footprint:

Meridian Energy and Westpac NZ are proud to support a new carbon calculator that gives farmers a guide to the size of their carbon footprint

The tool has been developed by Lincoln University’s Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit (AERU) and Agrilink NZ, with financial assistance from Meridian Energy and Westpac NZ.

It is available at http://www.lincoln.ac.nz/carboncalculator. . . 

Horticulture growth retains momentum:

Horticulture growth retained momentum with a seven percent growth in export earnings since 2016, according to an updated report, with tariffs on exported produce down by 12 percent since 2012.

The New Zealand Horticulture Export Authority (HEA) and Horticulture New Zealand commission the report New Zealand Horticulture – Barriers to Our Export Trade every two years, with funding support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, NZ Fruitgrowers Charitable Trust, and industry. . . 

International Boma NZ summit to help Aotearoa’s food:

A future-thinking agriculture summit will bring together global and local experts on future farming trends, exponential change, and new business models and product pathways. The summit, called Grow 2019, is designed to help Aotearoa’s food and fibre sector be more innovative, collaborative, sustainable and profitable now and into the future.

Organiser Kaila Colbin says the two-day summit is an opportunity to learn about the future trends that are impacting the agriculture sector, and what to do about them, in a practical way, from people on the ground. Grow 2019 will also connect groups of like-minded individuals and organisations so that together we can understand, adapt and grow in a future that looks nothing like today. . . 


Rural round-up

December 5, 2018

Seed of interest planted at young age – Sally Rae:

In a year marking the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand, South Pacific Seeds managing director Charlotte Connoley has become the first woman in the New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association’s 100-year history to be elected to its executive. She talks to Sally Rae.

Charlotte Connoley likes nothing better than getting back to her rural roots.

As well as catching up with Kurow-based family, it was also an opportunity to share a taste of her own farming upbringing with her two preschool-aged sons.

Whether getting them in a woolshed or shifting sheep, it helped give them an understanding of where their food came from and how it was produced, Mrs Connoley (39) said. . . 

All about taking Southdown ‘to next level’ – Sally Rae:

Southdown sheep might be a breed steeped in history — it is the oldest of the terminal sire breeds in the UK — but a group of breeders in New Zealand is firmly focused on positioning it for the future, as  Sally Rae reports.

Lawrence farmer Don Murray quips he is a novice when it comes to breeding Southdown sheep.

There were stalwart breeders who had been there “forever” and from whom he had learned a lot since establishing his stud in 2006.

Mr Murray said he had always liked breeding sheep and was interested in recording. His father-in-law, who had bred Southdowns, further encouraged his interest to venture into stud breeding. . . 

Good health needs to be worked on – Mark Daniel:

Rural life, and agriculture is driven by changing seasons that dictate on-farm tasks and operations and busy times can mean pressure on owners or employees.

The pressure of a high workload over an extended period can create illness or fatigue, often in the form of the “silent killers” such as high blood pressure, diabetes or obesity.

While you wouldn’t baulk at making informed decisions about stock, pastures or crops, it’s sometimes too easy to forget about making good decisions about the overall management of your staff and indeed your own time to keep things on an even keel. . . 

Vet’s life brings variety – Ross Nolly:

Many country kids who grow up on a dairy farm dream of becoming a vet and working with large animals. 

But even though they have probably come in contact with a vet numerous times they often don’t know the realities of the job. 

Cathy Thompson who only recently retired from the Taranaki Veterinary Centre was a large animal vet for well over 30 years. A large proportion of her workload was on the region’s many dairy farms.

When she began her career only 20% of vets were female and it was a novelty for a farmer to have a female vet attend a call-out. 

Now 80% of new vets are women. . . 

Fonterra likely to cut forecast payout to farmer shareholder:

Fonterra Cooperative Group is expected to cut its forecast payout to farmers when it publishes first-quarter results on Thursday.

Record production in New Zealand and weak global dairy prices are seen weighing on the cooperative, which currently predicts a payment of $6.25-to-$6.50 per kilogram of milk solids for the 2019 season, down from a previous forecast of $6.75/kgMS and the $7/kgMS opening prediction in May. Fonterra paid $6.69/kgMS in the 2018 season. . .

Americans have planted so much corn that’s it’s changed the climate – Eric J. Wallace:

CORN FARMERS IN EASTERN NEBRASKA have long claimed weather patterns are changing, but in an unexpected way.

“It’s something I’ve talked about with my dad and grandad many times,” says fifth-generation corn farmer Brandon Giltner. Along with his father and brother, the 45-year-old lives in the 400-person village of Giltner and grows about 2,000 acres of corn each year. From above, the area looks like a blip of homes surrounded by an expansive grid of circular fields. Though Brandon’s grandfather is retired, he takes an active interest in the business. “Contrary to what you’d think should be happening, both him and my dad swear up and down [that] droughts used to come more often and be a lot worse,” says Hunnicutt. “Considering it’s been 30 years since we had a really bad one, I’ve started kind of taking them at their word.” . . 

 

More milk please – Saul Morris:

Dairy consumption is a much debated topic among nutritionists. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends reducing saturated fats to less than 10 percent of total energy intake and reducing trans-fats to less than 1 percent of total energy intake.

This recommendation is translated into “practical advice” to “replace” butter with oils rich in polyunsaturated fats and eat reduced-fat dairy foods, among other suggestions. But is this advice in line with the latest evidence, and is it appropriate for populations in Africa and Asia that currently have very low consumption of dairy products and may not find it easy to access to reduced-fat products?

A study published this month in the leading medical journal The Lancet casts doubt on the epidemiological evidence base for discouraging dairy consumption. The authors followed up, for an average of nine years, more than 136,000 individuals aged 35-70 years from 21 countries from five continents. They measured their diets using locally appropriate food frequency questionnaires and tracked their subsequent rates of serious heart disease and death from all causes. They found that dairy consumption was protective against both serious heart disease and death from all causes, and that this protective effect was particularly marked for whole-fat dairy. Milk and yoghurt both showed the same protective effect when analysed separately; cheese and butter did not show statistically significant effects. . .

 


Rural round-up

November 28, 2018

Sheep burping project given wheels – Sally Rae:

This is a tale of burping sheep.

Among the work AgResearch scientists have been doing to reduce methane emissions from agriculture is a project to breed sheep that naturally produce less methane – the gas released in the burps of ruminant livestock.

Having determined sheep could be bred for lower methane emissions, the project was now being rolled-out to farms, giving breeders the opportunity to measure and select sheep with lowered environmental impacts.

Scientists had been working on the prospect of low methane sheep for quite some time, AgResearch Invermay-based senior scientist Dr Suzanne Rowe said yesterday. . . 

Weather, labour stalls contractors – Ken Muir:

While the weather has meant a testing time for farmers and contractors in the south, labour issues continue to be a major constraint in keeping up with work on farms, Southland agricultural contractor Peter Corcoran says.

‘The weather has undoubtedly been better than last year and the recent variations we’ve had have caused some backlogs,” Mr Corcoran said.

”While this has been annoying, we are undoubtedly in much better shape than we were last year.”

At that stage, he said, contractors were sitting around with nothing to do, but at least this year things were off to an early start. . . 

 

Postharvest scientist honoured by NZIAHS:

Plant & Food Research scientist Dr Jeremy Burdon has been awarded a Fellowship of the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science in recognition of his longstanding contributions to postharvest science that supports New Zealand’s fresh fruit industries, particularly kiwifruit and avocado.

Dr Burdon is a leading postharvest scientist well respected by industry and academic peers. Over a career spanning 30 years, he has consistently demonstrated outstanding skills in innovative thinking and scientific excellence in partnering science with business. He is especially noted for the science underpinning the successful commercialisation of new kiwifruit cultivars and his practical advice to packhouse and coolstore operators. . . 

Vertical farming has limits:

Vertical farming – where food is grown indoors in high stacks – will not replace traditional fruit and vegetable growing in New Zealand, but it may supplement it in future if technology makes it economically viable, research released today finds.

As part of her Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme, Horticulture New Zealand environmental policy advisor Rachel McClung has published a report, “Can vertical farming replace New Zealand’s productive land to deliver high quality fruits and vegetables in the future?”

“Growing towns and cities are reducing access to some of New Zealand’s most productive land for growing fruit and vegetables,” McClung says. “There is some complacency about this because of the misconception that fruit and vegetables can be grown ‘somewhere else’. But the combination of the right soils and climate is necessary.  . . 

When good sense takes control of the wheel:

 Today marks a big win for on farm safety and biosecurity, says Federated Farmers dairy chair Chris Lewis. In the Government’s announcement of its Employment Relations Bill today, a change Federated Farmers advocated for appears to be included.

The Bill allows union representatives the right to access worksites where union members are covered by or bargaining for a collective agreement, but requires consent from employers in all other circumstances. . . 

Glyphosate and TIME magazine: writer employed by advocacy group a dubious choice – Grant Jacobs:

TIME magazine has a story on DeWayne ‘Lee’ Johnston who took Monsanto to court claiming RoundUp caused his non-Hodgkin lymphoma.[1] The story has obvious appeal, but is crying out for balance and it’s provenance is, to be kind, awkward. I’d love to read his account of his experiences since the trial — but from a source I can trust. I’m dubious that a writer employed by an advocacy organisation can be sensibly used as a journalist.

A reply

responded on TIME’s Facebook page, . . 

Tulips from Balfour – Blair Drysdale:

Quite often when farmers share their frustrations about the weather in conversation with others, we’re accused of just being a “whinging farmer”. But for farmers and horticulturalists alike among others, it dictates our day-to-day operations, our state of mind and the bottom line result at the end of the financial year.

And this year just like all before it, has had its perils and is no exception. A dull winter with little sun and few frosts, has continued on well into spring with plenty of precipitation, a combination of a lack of equinox winds and little sunshine to dry the soil out, has made it very frustrating trying to get spring barley in the ground here. . . 

On the farm – what’s happening in rural New Zealand:

What’s happening on farms and orchards around New Zealand? Each week Country Life reporters talk to people in rural areas across the country to find out.

Northland warmed up as the week progressed. It has had a drop or two of rain – 30 to 40mm in the west, less in the east. That has nudged along sluggish grass growth, which has given farmers the confidence to buy cattle. Two-year-old steers have been fetching between $1200 and $1500 and yearlings $650 to $1000. Female cattle have not been doing so well. Prices are down for younger cattle by 8 to12 percent compared with last year. . . 


Rural round-up

October 28, 2018

Farmers’ green efforts unrewarded – Hugh Stringleman:

New Zealand dairy farmers are world-leading in many aspects of sustainability but not getting international recognition for their efforts, Federated Farmers dairy group chairman Chris Lewis says.

NZ is an echo chamber in which environmentalists and farmers hear themselves repeatedly, often without an international perspective or frame of reference.

“We think that if we solve our problems we are solving the world’s problems but we are a long way ahead of most countries.” . . 

On Farm story: sheep beat dairy temptation – Annette Scott:

North Canterbury sheep and beef farmer Ben Ensor planned to take a year out after leaving school then head off to university. He hasn’t got there – yet but who knows what might happen, he says. Meantime, he’s passionate about the challenges of farming in the close-knit rural community of Cheviot. Annette Scott visited him to learn what drives him.

Ben Ensor grew up farming in the Cheviot district where the family name is synonymous with the small rural community in North Canterbury.

On leaving high school he looked forward to a year out of study before heading to university but that year grew to several as he first worked with a shearing contractor them worked his way around New Zealand on sheep and beef farms, climbing the ladder to stock manager status.

Then with a couple of years overseas and university fallen by the wayside Ensor returned to the family farm in 2000 as managing director of the sheep and beef business. . . 

Guy Trafford looks at our current struggle with mycoplasma bovis and compares that with how others have tackled other major animal disease outbreaks:

If anyone needed reminding about the importance of bio-security, then the report that Britain has had a reactor animal for BSE (mad-cow disease) should capture all‘s attention.

Found in the Scottish region of Aberdeenshire, the surprising thing that came out of the report, from this commentator’s perspective, is the regularity of these outbreaks.

This is the first since 2015, but over the last decade 76 animals have been identified over the UK. Given that in the UK 4.4 million animals were destroyed during the 1986 outbreak it shows the difficulty in getting rid of diseases that get a hold within a resident population. . . 

New device helps farmers to identify crop viruses faster – Stacey Bryan:

A new agri-tech innovation could help New Zealand farmers to diagnose crop viruses, according to an expert in molecular diagnostics.

An international team of scientists, including Jo-Ann Stanton from Otago University, have invented a hand-held device that can sequence a viruses genome so farmers can quickly identify the disease without leaving the field and act to mitigate it.

Dr Stanton, who is a senior researcher specialising in molecular diagnostics, said the technology was easy to use and had reduced the time farmers in Africa had to wait for diagnoses from six months to just four hours. . . 

On the farm: what’s happening around rural New Zealand:

What’s happening on farms and orchards around Aotearoa New Zealand? Each week Country Life reporters talk to people in rural areas across the country to find out.

A lot of the North Island is crying out for rain and farmers are checking the rain radar to make sure wet weather forecast for the weekend is still planning to arrive.

In Northland around Dargaville, the dry conditions have been ideal for planting kumara but now they need a drink as does the grass. The stock market is okay but would be a lot better if it rained. Next week Dargaville is hosting its spring cattle fair. There will be 1500 cattle to sell over two days and stock agents are hoping Northland buyers will be joined by others from around the North Island. . . 

Ag graduates’ innovation key to industry’s future:

 New Zealand’s agricultural graduates need to back themselves and the sector needs to welcome their insights in order to navigate the changing demands of farming, according to Massey agricultural alumni award winner, Bridgit Hawkins from .

Bridgit Hawkins spoke to over 250 graduates, industry partners, and educators at Massey University’s 25th Agricultural Awards Dinner, held in Palmerston North on Friday evening, before herself receiving The Massey Agriculture Alumni Achievement Award in her role as founder and Chief Executive of New Zealand agritech company Regen.

Raised on a Reporoa sheep and beef farm, Ms Hawkins completed a Master’s Degree in Agricultural Science in 1989. Now a leader in Agricultural technology, Regen provides technology for solutions for farmers to manage effluent and irrigation, taking the guesswork out of farming and reducing their impact on the environment. . .


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