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. . .


Rural round-up

September 12, 2018

Methane narrative changes with less need for drastic action – Keith Woodford:

The recent note on methane emissions  put out by Parliamentary Commissioner Simon Upton in late August, and underpinned by a contracted research report written by Dr Andy Reisinger from the Government-funded New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC), will change the methane narrative. History will look back at Upton’s note as a fundamental contribution that moved the methane debate towards a logic-based science-informed position.

The key message is that short-lived gases such as methane do need to be considered differently than long-lived gases. That does not mean that they are unimportant. But lumping them together with long-lived carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide has led down false pathways . . 

Good to be ‘out there listening’ – Sally Rae:

Federated Farmers’ new chief executive Terry Copeland freely admits he is not a practical person.

Growing up, he was an “urban kid” with no connection to the primary industries, Mr Copeland (50) said. In fact, he had a music degree.

But he had huge respect and admiration for New Zealand’s farming sector and bemoaned how little the country’s food producers were  celebrated, the lack of acknowledgement being “appalling”.

One thing he said he did love was learning and — six weeks into the new role at the helm of the rural lobby group — he had been enjoying attending cluster meetings around the country. . .

Lamb losses likely after heavy rain in Wairarapa :

Stormy weather could not have come at a worst time for Wairarapa farmers, who are in the thick of lambing season.

From rural Masterton to Castlepoint, and down to the South Wairarapa coast, rain has interrupted lambing, with many farmers recording deaths already, along with saturated paddocks causing slips.

PGG Wrightson area livestock manager Steve Wilkinson said the past few days of rain were “a real shame“. . .

 

Access free-for-all grates with farmers:

Common courtesy and sound workplace and biosecurity safety practice is thrown out the window with proposed new employment laws reported back to Parliament this week, Federated Farmers says.

“There’s been little or no fuss with current laws that enable union representatives to enter a farm or any other workplace to talk to workers after liaising with the owner or manager about a suitable time,” Feds employment spokesman Chris Lewis says. . .

LambEx shows kiwis the future – Annette Scott:

Home from the 2018 LambEx conference in Perth, Beef + Lamb New Zealand-sponsored sheep industry ambassadors Katey Craig and David Ingham are firing hot.

The young generation farmers are excited to share their lessons with fellow farmers and looking forward to being a part of their home country hosting LambEx 2019.

While in Australia the pair also visited several farms to study new systems on a road trip from Melbourne to Adelaide. . .

A&P President: young people crucial – David Hill:

He might be the youngest show president, but Tim Black says attracting even younger people is essential to ensuring the future of A&P shows.

Mr Black, aged 44, is the Canterbury A&P Association’s youngest show president.

He is keen to promote wool and encourage more young people to get involved as he looks ahead to the rebranded New Zealand Agricultural Show in November.

”It’s been a great thing for me to be involved in and I would like to see a lot more young people involved. . .

50-Year Plan Needed for Farming Confidence

New Zealand farmers need to take a long-term view if they are to meet the freight train of compliance requirements and other changes heading their way.

Recent farming confidence surveys show a decline in confidence from the rural sector, with Federated Farmers’ results revealing regulation and compliance remain top worries for farmers, along with uncertainty around the future of water regulations under the Government.

Bridgit Hawkins, ReGen CEO, says the farming sector is coming under increasing pressure and the confidence survey results echo what she hears on the farm. . . .

NZ wineries look to continue their stellar performance in the Sydney International Wine Competition – entries for 39th Competition set to close on 21 September:

Entry to the 39th Sydney International Wine Competition – the only international wine show that judges all its finalists in combination with appropriate food – is set to close on 21 September.

After a record year of production in many wine regions, entries to the Sydney International have been flowing in from all districts in Australia and New Zealand and from major wine producers in Europe. Entries to the Competition are capped at a total of 2000 wines to ensure the most rigorous judging process. . .


Rural round-up

July 19, 2014

Regen owner named Mumtrepreneur of the Year:

Wellington businesswoman Bridgit Hawkins has been named Fly Buys Mumtrepreneur of the Year in the Fly Buys Mumtrepreneur Awards.

Hawkins’ business, Regen Ltd, helps dairy farmers manage a key issue – disposing of cattle effluent. The company has developed software that turns data, including soil moisture, temperature and rainfall, into a simple daily recommendation that’s sent to the farmer by text message.

Since Regen launched in 2010, the company has helped hundreds of farms across the country manage effluent disposal efficiently and its customer numbers have doubled year on year. . .

$107.5m to Lincoln University science rebuild:

Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce today announced that the Government has approved in principle to provide up to $107.5 million in capital funding toward the rebuilding of Lincoln University’s science facilities destroyed in the Canterbury earthquakes.

“Lincoln University suffered very significant damage in the Canterbury earthquakes, and this money will assist the university with its rebuild programme and help it get back fully on its feet. Lincoln is focused on growing its undergraduate enrolments and the rebuild of its key facilities is the next stage in returning it to sustainable operations”, Mr Joyce says.

Lincoln University lost more than 40 per cent of its academic floor space in the Canterbury earthquakes, including much of its facilities for science teaching and research. The rebuild will involve demolishing the badly damaged Hilgendorf and Burns buildings, and replacing them with modern facilities. . .

Federated Farmers on Ruataniwha appeal:

While Federated Farmers did not lodge an appeal with the High Court against the Board of Inquiry decision on the Ruataniwha Dam and the associated Plan Change 6, it is now considering options in light of Hawke’s Bay & Eastern Fish & Game Councils lodging an appeal.

“Federated Farmers principal interests are in the plan change rather than the dam, which was given consent to proceed,” says Will Foley, Federated Farmers Hawke’s Bay Provincial President.

“I cannot comment on the merits of Fish & Game’s appeal until we see it next week.

“Since we now know of Fish & Game appeal, we must now reconsider the best way forward.  I need our members to know that we do have options.

“It seems farcical since the news today says Kiwi farmers will have to make big changes to cope with climate change, following release of the International State of the Climate report.  Yet more reasons to store water. . . .

Looking for the South Island’s next top farmer:

The South Island’s next top farmer is out there and Federated Farmers wants to see farmers nominated for the 2014 Lincoln University Foundation South Island Farmer of the Year award. The 2013 award being won by the winemaker, Peter Yealands.

“New Zealand farming does not celebrate success enough,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers National President.

“As the farmer-comedian Te Radar told us at Federated Farmers’ National Conference, we do not take time to stop and appreciate just how good our farmers really are. . .

Levy vote about capturing wool’s value –  Chris Irons:

In recent news, one might think that sheep farming is all about red meat, but the sheep farmer’s story is not all about protein. We farm a dual purpose animal and whilst the red meat side is performing, its fibre counterpart has yet to reach its full potential.

Sheep farmers are world leaders in producing fibre; supplying 45 percent of the world’s carpet wool, we are the world’s third largest wool exporter. To capture that value behind the farm gate and building the industry’s worth of $700 million, we need a Wool Levy.

The Wool Levy Consultation has been officially launched, and the Referendum will be voted on the 10th October. Imagine the possibilities, with the average value of our raw wool exports having increased by 38 percent from 2010 to 2014. . . .

Rural elderly communities to struggle – report:

An ageing population where deaths outnumber births will be a challenge for rural communities who won’t be able to afford the services they need, according to analysis of New Zealand census data.

The challenges of adapting to an older population are highlighted in the Our Futures report, by an expert panel at the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Panel chairman, Professor Gary Hawke, says the review is a unique multi-disciplinary approach that looks at the big picture.

“We wanted to highlight what an evolving New Zealand society might look like, what is underlying these changes, and the challenges and opportunities these present.” . . .

Mixed fortunes at wool auction:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that the South Island auction offering 10,122 bales this week received varied support despite a weaker New Zealand dollar compared to the last sale on 10th July.

The weighted currency indicator was down 1.11 percent with 81 percent of the offering being sold.

Steady demand from China underpinned the Fine Crossbred sector, however most carpet wool types eased as contracts in this area have been harder to conclude recently. . .

Value Creation and Environmental Sustainability for Marlborough Wine Industry By-Products:

Marlborough’s wine producers have come together with the Marlborough District Council in a new collaborative approach to the management of grape marc disposal, to generate a new, commercially viable and environmentally sustainable product from grape waste.

Facilitated by the District Council, participating wine companies have formed the “Marlborough Grape Marc (MGM) group” to advance a proposal for an environmentally sustainable use of the wine industry’s waste streams.

The MGM group is chaired by Eric Hughes of Pernod Ricard Winemakers with representatives from Cloudy Bay, Constellation Brands, Delegat’s, Giesen, Indevin, Matua, Mount Riley, NZ Wineries, Pernod Ricard Winemakers, Saint Clair and Villa Maria. The group members generate approximately 80% of the wine production in Marlborough. MGM is an open collective, it is hoped that further companies will join and support this industry wide initiative. . .


Rural round-up

February 13, 2014

Farming confidence bodes well for Southern Field Days – Diane Bishop:

Southern Field Days is the place to be.

That’s according to 789 exhibitors who will showcase their wares at the South Island’s largest rural expo – the Southern Field Days – which starts at Waimumu near Gore today and continues tomorrow and Friday.

Schouten Machines managing director Marcel van Hazendonk said it was his second time exhibiting at the field days.

“You’ve got to be here. It’s important for exhibitors because if you’re not here you could be missing out on business,” Mr van Hazendonk said.

Southern Field Days chairman Mark Dillon expected there would be a “mad rush” this morning as exhibitors completed their sites in readiness for the crowds. “As long as the weather stays like this it will be fantastic,” he said. . .

Not much in farming qualifies as natural – Doug Edmeades:

The word “natural” and its derivatives such as “nature’s way”, “nature’s own”, “grown naturally”, a “product of nature” and “naturally organic” are tossed into product advertising like minties at a lolly scramble.

They convey a feeling that something, a product or a process, is honest and true, as in the way Mother Nature intended, and not artificial or false, in the sense of being man- made.

The implication is always that nature’s way is better than man’s way or more specifically, mankind has screwed nature and we must now bow our heads in penitential shame.

I thought it was time to play with this idea. Is our clover-based pastoral system natural? . . .

LIC’s half-year profit dips – Alan Williams:

Sales were higher but costs of a rebuild of the database and technology platform bit into LIC’s half-year profits.

The dairy genetics company reported today an after-tax profit of $26.9 million for the six months ended November 30 on sales of $135m.

In the same period a year earlier the profit was $30m on sales of $131.2m. Earnings per investment share slipped to 91.3c from $1.01.

High milk prices and stable weather had encouraged farmers to increase investment in a range of information management tools, chairman Murray King said. . . .

 

Solid Energy farm blocks for sale – Lauren Hayes:

More than 2000 hectares of farmland has been put on the market in Eastern Southland.

The land is owned by Solid Energy and is being sold, as one of the largest offerings of New Zealand dairy land, through PGG Wrightson Real Estate.

PGG Wrightson Real Estate general manager Peter Newbold said the block was made up of nine farms, three of which were dairy farms and six of which could be dairy support properties or dairy conversions. . .

 

Progress For Wool:

Over 100 New Zealand wool industry members gathered in late January to listen to international wool leaders discuss the significant progress being made on a global scale by both the Campaign for Wool and International Wool and Textile Organisation (IWTO).

Peter Ackroyd the President of the International Wool and Textile Organisation (IWTO) and Chief Operating Officer of the Campaign for Wool and Ian Hartley, the Chief Executive of the British Wool Marketing Board shared the stage.

Ackroyd shared the background and benefits of the International Wool and Textile Organisation including internationally recognised procedures which are fundamental to trade and manufacturing, coordinated environmental standards, and standardising environmental “foot printing”. . .

February 2014 – Rabobank Agribusiness Monthly & Rural Economics Monthly:

The Rabobank Agribusiness Monthly provides timely information and analysis on agricultural conditions, commodity price updates and commentary on the latest sectoral trends and developments. In conjunction, the Rural Economics Monthly provides a useful overview of the key macro developments in the local and global economies while also covering specific economic developments relevant to New Zealand and Australian agricultural sectors.

Key highlights
Agribusiness Monthly

• Beef – Strong Chinese demand drives growth in beef exports

• Dairy – Chinese supply issues to drive commodity markets in 2014

• Other costs – Baltic Dry Index weak as global economy takes wrong turn

• Fertilizer – All eyes on demand fundamentals in 2014

• Climate – Mostly normal outlook for New Zealand

• Currency – New Zealand dollar supported by solid economic growth . . .

The full report is here.

Nitrogen management made easy by new farming app:

A next-generation product for nitrogen management on-farm will be launched by the innovative Kiwi start-up company, Regen, at the Southern Field Days in Waimumu beginning this Wednesday the12th of February.

Regen, who successfully launched “ReGen Effluent” are now bringing to market “ReGen Nitrogen” – a powerful yet simple product that assists farmers make real-time decisions about fertiliser application.

“ReGen Nitrogen uses on-farm data such as climate and soil information. It calculates the expected response from nitrogen application on any given day and advises the farmer for or against application and the reasons why. The product calculates the kilograms of dry matter likely to be achieved from each kilogram of nitrogen, given the prevailing climate and soil conditions. It also calculates how many cents per kilogram of dry matter that response rate would equate to,” says Bridgit Hawkins, Chief Executive Officer & Director at Regen. . . .


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