Rural round-up

August 31, 2015

Why people oppose GMOs even though science says they are safe – Stefaan Blancke:

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have met with enormous public opposition over the past two decades. Many people believe that GMOs are bad for their health – even poisonous – and that they damage the environment. This is in spite of overwhelming scientific evidence that proves that GMOs are safe to eat, and that they bring environmental benefits by making agriculture more sustainable.

Why is there such a discrepancy between what the science tells us about GMOs, and what people think? To be sure, some concerns, such as herbicide resistance in weeds and the involvement of multinationals, are not without basis, but they are not specific to GMOs. Hence, another question we need to answer is why these arguments become more salient in the context of GMOs. . .

Win over dumping celebrated – Patrick O’Sullivan:

Local growers are celebrating after winning their fight against the relaxation of anti-dumping measures.

They have been lobbying against a proposed relaxation of the measures, which threatened the local canning industry.

Cabinet had agreed in principle to change the rules which would have resulted in anti-dumping duties only after damage to local industry was proven, with the duties removed after an Automatic Termination Period (ATP).

Dumping is illegal under World Trade Organisation agreements. . .

El Niño predicted to give farmers a rough ride over spring and summer –  Michael Forbes and Caleb Harris:

Climate scientists are warning farmers to brace for a large-scale El Nino, with rainfall expected to drop by 15 per cent in some regions and increase by the same amount in others.

The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) is projecting the upper North Island and east coast of both islands will be hardest hit by dry conditions, which could mimic the devastating drought that shaved $618 million, or 0.9 per cent, off national GDP in 1997-98.

Principal climate scientist Andrew Tait said there was a 97 per cent chance El Nino would continue until October and a more than 90 per cent chance it would persist through until April 2016. . .

Retired farmer gives helping hand to struggling sharemilkers  – Hannah Lee:

A man who knows a thing or two about how tough farmers are doing it right now is helping out with a free meal.

Retired Lepperton farmer Bob Pigott said the industry has always had its ups and downs, but the current conditions were pretty dire.

As a way to lend a helping hand, Pigott has donated $1000 in meal vouchers at Sporty’s Cafe and Bar in New Plymouth, for sharemilkers who are in need of a night away from the stress of the job.

“To go from $8.25 to $3.85 payout, I mean, it’s pretty disastrous.

“It’s part and parcel of the job though isn’t it, prices go down and come back again – it’s happening again but I think it’s a lot worse this time.”  . . .


Rural round-up

April 5, 2015

Visitors from overseas join bunny hunt – Lynda van Kempen:

The Great Easter Bunny Hunt has gone global, with four overseas hunters joining the ranks of the 27 teams aiming to decimate the rabbit population.

”If you tried something on this scale back home, with dead rabbits displayed in the park afterwards, you’d have masses of protesters,” Harry Stenton said.

Mr Stenton, of Yorkshire, England, said the New Zealanders he had met were more accepting of hunting as a sport.

”Back home, people would think of rabbits as pets and there would be an absolute outcry about a hunting contest like this,” he said. . .

‘Easter Bunny Hunt’ proves perilous for rabbits – Ceinwen Curtis:

Nearly 8500 rabbits were shot in the annual Easter bunny hunt in Central Otago yesterday in Otago, by over 300 hunters taking part.

 The organisers of the annual Easter Bunny hunt in Otago says it’s a shame the rabbits have to be disposed of rather than made into food and pelts after the event.

The hunt began early on Friday morning in Alexandra with hunters keen to enjoy landscapes they would otherwise not have access to.

The president of Alexandra Lions, John Feron, said one team hunting in the McKenzie country was skinning the last of their rabbits in an experiment to see if the meat can be turned into petfood. . .

Honour and Pari rule the roost at vineyard – Caleb Harris:

Two rare native falcons raised on a Martinborough vineyard are growing up, flexing their powerful wings and terrorising grape thieves.

When three New Zealand bush falcon chicks, or karearea, were moved last year from the Wingspan national bird of prey centre in Rotorua to a specialised nesting box at Escarpment vineyard, outside Martinborough, they were cute little balls of fluff.

Five months on, one has fallen victim to a predator – probably a stoat – emphasising the vulnerability of the species, which has only about 4500 breeding pairs left in the wild. . .

Uplifting award success but future uncertainty lingers – Andrea Fox:

Their financial and production performance officially puts them in the top 5 per cent of New Zealand sheep and beef farmers, but John and Catherine Ford of Rotorua’s Highland Station still feel they are farming on a knife edge.

The couple are the supreme winners of this year’s Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards, a competition they entered partly because they hoped any success might strengthen their case with the local regional council, which holds their farming future in its hands.

The council is developing an “action” plan for Lake Tarawera and Lake Rotokakahi or “Green Lake”, and with 80 per cent of their 1240 hectare (922ha effective) property in the Lake Tarawera catchment and the balance in the other lake’s area, the Fords live daily with uncertainty. . .

Forestry industry to trial drones:

Forestry crown research institute Scion will next month trial the use of drones for use in forestry management and hopes to be an early adopter of imminent rule changes allowing them to be flown beyond line of sight.

Scion has teamed up with Raglan-based Aeronavics to field test unmanned aerial vehicles mounted with interchangeable remote sensing technologies which can transmit vital information on various aspects of forestry management such as tree health and pests.

It’s thought the technologies may also prove useful in biosecurity surveillance and eradication operations, along with fire management. . .

Drought a war of attrition – Barry O’Sullivan:

DROUGHT forces the landholder to examine even their most basic order of beliefs: that the family should be on the land; that a simple focus on good laws and good luck will lead to progress and prosperity; that years of research and billions of dollars to improve Australia’s land-use strategies are benefiting agriculture.

Drought throws once-tightly held beliefs and turns them into questions.

When driving through most parts of Central Western Queensland these days you could be forgiven for mistaking it for a moon landscape.

A flat and barren land covered with black dirt and red rocks scattered as far as the eye can see. . .

How to tell if your pig is pregnant – THEKITCHENSGARDEN:

Our pig is pregnant? Isn’t that exciting. Poppy the Hereford gilt (a gilt is a female pig who has not had piglets yet) wishes to announce (though she would prefer NOT to discuss her insides) that she has missed her first heat since being bred.  We have had such a long run of missed breedings, both bovine and porcine, that I am still hedging my bets and in fact my Mentor of all things Pig said she would NOT have bet on it. But the signs are there.  No returning heat and extreme laziness and gentleness. She has not bashed at the gate once! She is a very laid back pig all of a sudden. . . .


Rural round-up

February 22, 2015

Region’s rivers dropping to point of possible irrigation stoppages – Rebecca Fox:

Otago rivers are dropping steadily again as the benefits from rain earlier this month evaporate.

The Taieri catchment is again teetering on the edge of a widespread irrigation stoppage and South Otago rivers are dropping steadily after a week of warm temperatures and little or no rain – the greatest amount to fall in Otago was 3.5mm at Sullivans Dam, near Dunedin.

Forecasts again indicated mostly dry weather was to continue, although while a front was expected to move over southern and eastern parts of New Zealand tomorrow and early Sunday, it was only expected to bring showers. . .

Strategic location move pays off:

It’s not an easy task to up sticks and move to a new farm. Steve and Jenny Herries took that an extra step and moved their angus stud from Central Hawke’s Bay to Gisborne.

Alpine Angus used to be at home on 320ha at Mangaorapa, southeast of Waipukurau. “The kids were enjoying their farming but they’d never seen shepherds on big country with teams of dogs. We’d managed other places like Tutira and Akitio, so we knew it could be different.”

They’ve only increased the farm size by 40 hectares but the country is very different. . .

Maori agribusiness on the brink of ‘enormous growth’  – Sue O’Dowd:

PKW’s new livestock company allows the large Taranaki Maori farming operation to further integrate the various arms of its business.

Te Oranga Livestock began operating in September last year.

“Our strategy has grown and our cattle numbers have grown, so we have created our own livestock company to support our long-term goals,” Parininihi ki Waitotara (PKW) chief executive Dion Tuuta said. “It’s a logical progression and allows us to retain value within our own system.”

In 2011 PKW took a major step towards growing its active business, putting managers on some of its dairy farms and taking on herd ownership. A specialist state-of-the-art calf-rearing unit capable of rearing 1800 calves a year at Matapu in South Taranaki followed. . .

Muster offers drover’s delight – Caleb Harris:

Forget running with the bulls in Pamplona – now you can run after them, in Wairarapa.

Cowboys, stockmen, gauchos and drovers have a special lot in life: superb views, magnificent animals, camaraderie, tough but satisfying work, the campfires, the starlit nights.

“The drover’s life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know,” was Aussie bush bard Banjo Paterson’s apt summary.

Now, the owners of one of New Zealand’s oldest farms are inviting all-comers, including city slickers, to experience the ancient lifestyle’s unique charms, in the form of a back-country cattle muster.

It’s not a contrived offering for tourists but a crucial task, done twice a year for more than 170 years – one of the country’s longest unbroken sequences of annual musters.

Riversdale Station in White Rock Rd, an hour east of Martinborough, has sweeping Pacific views, but otherwise little in common with its genteel namesake resort to the north. Nestled along the Haurangi (or Aorangi) Range, it’s gnarled, bush-cloaked country and not for the faint- hearted. . .

Sheep milk has big potential – Anna Sussmilch:

After a year of study, travel and developing contacts in the agricultural sector at home and aboard, the 2014 Nuffield Scholars have submitted their reports. This is the first in a series profiling each of the 2014 scholars, their experiences and their areas of particular interest.

Lucy Griffiths is a woman who clearly likes to keep busy. 

When approached for an interview she was busily preparing to present her Nuffield Scholarship findings at the inaugural New Zealand ewe milk products and sheep dairying conference at Massey University’s Food HQ, training for the Challenge Wanaka half-ironman and had only recently got married.

At the start of her Nuffield journey Griffiths was known as Lucy Cruikshank. . .

Dairy farmers can expect volatility in milk price:

While it may not be what farmers want to hear, a Lincoln University expert says price volatility in the dairy industry may be the new normal. Farm Management and Agribusiness lecturer Bruce Greig says prices will fluctuate widely from year to year ”as we have seen”.

He says the milk price farmers in New Zealand receive is a result of the demand and supply conditions of milk in the international market. It is a commodity market which exhibits characteristic fluctuations.

Dairy farmers may just have to get used to it and implement systems which can cope with these changes, Mr Greig says. . .


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