Birds and people pooh too

November 20, 2017

Water quality in Canterbury rivers is improving:

Recreational water quality sampling has found that, of the 52 monitored freshwater swimming sites, 12 have improved a grade, and four declined.

During swimming season (November to March), Environment Canterbury assesses the health risks from faecal contamination at popular swimming sites around the region.

“We test and grade popular places that people swim in Canterbury.  This year 12 sites have improved.  The year before, 10 sites improved and the year before that only five improved, so the trend is going in the right direction,” said Tim Davie, Chief Scientist.

“The improvement demonstrates the hard work of landowners to exclude stock and protect waterways by planting and fencing.  Reduced runoff from two dry summers has helped as well.” . . 

It’s good to see farmers getting credit for the work they’ve done to protect waterways.

Too often farm animals get all the blam but birds and people pooh too and now the blame for some of the problems is correctly being laid on birds:

. . . Hurunui District Mayor Winton Dalley said large numbers of birds near the Hurunui river were likely to be a major contributor to faecal contamination at the popular swimming spot by State Highway 7, which is the main route to Hamner Springs.

“There is no logic that it is farm related, but we do know there is considerable bird life in the river just upstream of the site,” he said.

But Mr Dalley said he was unsure what could be done to move them on.

“I don’t know what is feasible in terms of whether they can be moved to somewhere else…we will have to talk to bird experts, but we will first have to determine that is the cause,” he said.

Mr Davie said the regional council was continuing testing at the Hurunui site, but it did blame birds for the faecal contamination at Lake Hood’s main swimming beach.

“It’s fundamentally to do with birds and the lake circulation…there was a raft there and the birds sat on it…we had a lot of faecal contamination there,” said Mr Davie.

This isn’t the only place water pollution is caused by birds.

Water pollution isn’t the only problem birds cause.

Growing numbers of native birds is cause for celebration, but the news isn’t all good:

. . . they also warn of a downside if a rampant bird population comes to depend on agricultural crops for food because its natural habitat is too small.

Hawke’s Bay farmer and former president of Federated Farmers, Bruce Wills, has raised the problem.

Mr Wills is a green farmer, and chair of the environmental consultancy Motu.

He also helps eliminate predators on his farm as part of a local wildlife programme, Cape to City, of which he is on the board.

However, Mr Wills said bird restoration might one day be too successful.

“There’s no question, bird numbers have gone through the roof.

“I have never seen the sort of bird numbers that I am seeing now, and most of that is due to the success with predator eradication.”

Mr Wills said large numbers of birds could spread seeds to widespread locations, and there was another problem.

The Hawke’s Bay grows 70 percent of New Zealand’s apples and pears, he said.

“We are bringing the kākā and the kākāriki in from Cape Kidnappers and of course these two birds enjoy eating our apples and pears.

“I have had phone calls of concern from apple and pear growers saying this is great but potentially will have an adverse effect on a quickly growing Hawke’s Bay apple and pear industry.”

Mr Wills said he had no intention of abandoning his support of native birds, but said potential overpopulation was an issue that needed to be faced.

Alan Pollard, of New Zealand Apples and Pears, formerly Pipfruit New Zealand, agreed with him.

“There is certainly a risk because obviously apples are a crop that birds are attracted to, so we need to make sure we achieve good population growth but also protect the growing areas that we have.”

Bird life in New Zealand evolved over millions of years to step in with the bush cover that existed before human settlement.

When that bush cover declined, so did the bird population.

But intensive breeding and predator eradication means the bird population could grow faster than the bush that supports it. This could push the population out of synch with modern New Zealand ecology – which has masses of farmland. . . 

Back to water quality, 16 Auckland beaches are unswimmable and human waste is a big part of the problem:

Ecomatters Environment Trust’s Dan Ducker said this was unacceptable. 

The environmentalist said he’d seen day-trippers defecating at such lagoons.

“This happens especially in summer time when the public facilities are quite full, or at times are closed.”

“It’s complicated, but the major health risks to humans comes from humans.”

The lagoons at Piha and Bethells have been contaminated by faeces for years, he said.

Recent Auckland Council reports showed faulty septic tanks were part of the problem. Dog, birds, and livestock faeces have been found in the lagoons.

Waiheke Island’s Little Oneroa has had similar faeces issues.

But Ducker said human faeces at Piha, Karekare and Bethells lagoons “was the most dangerous aspect for humans”. . . 

Farmers, quite rightly, are no longer getting away with the practices which pollute waterways but councils continue to allow leeway for pollution for people and themselves.

Water contamination from people is common in developing countries. It shouldn’t be a problem in New Zealand and wouldn’t be if councils put the effort, and money, into better storm water and sewerage infrastructure.

 

 

 


Rural round-up

June 9, 2016

Five-year deal ‘huge’ for fine wool sector – Sally Rae:

“A breath of fresh air for fine wool” is how Central Otago farmer Bevan McKnight describes a $45 million deal between Italian textile company Reda and the New Zealand Merino Company.

Under a five-year contract to source fine wool from NZM, 2500 tonnes will be shipped to Italy to fuel the growth of Reda’s high-end suiting fabrics and active product ranges.

Mr McKnight and his wife, Tiffany, of Merino Ridges, in the Ida Valley, were ‘‘absolutely” passionate about merino sheep. . . 

Farmer buoyed by support – Sally Rae:

Port Chalmers dairy farmer Merrall MacNeille has suggested a pilot programme involving the University of Otago, Ministry for Primary Industries and himself, in an attempt to keep selling his milk.

Mr MacNeille and his wife Alex have been inundated with support from customers and the public since being ordered to stop selling raw milk after a tuberculosis-positive heifer was discovered on their property above Careys Bay.

For at least three years, he has been working with the university, supplying milk to use in an electronic milk purifier. Unlike regular pasteurisation, which heated milk to “crazy” temperatures and then cooled it, the machine did not heat the milk. . . 

South Canterbury deer farms join forces for feed for profit project – Pat Deavoll:

Martin Rupert of Mt Peel and Dave Morgan of Raincliff Station have teamed up in a DEEResearch funded project aimed at giving South Canterbury deer farmers the chance to pool skills, knowledge and experience.

The focus farms have informal field days allowing participants the opportunity to discuss shared issues. 

“It’s pretty basic. The theme is “feed to profit.” We all have to feed stock well to make a profit,” said Morgan. . . 

 Driving force behind wildlife sanctuary – Patrick O’Sullivan:

Andrew Lowe’s passion for conservation has seen him named a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

He was the driving force in the establishment of the 2500ha Cape Sanctuary wildlife restoration project at Cape Kidnappers.

It enabled the re-introduction of endangered wildlife species that once flourished at the Cape and Ocean Beach, and contains the greatest diversity of native birds on mainland coastal New Zealand. . . 

Fonterra Eltham – Filling Billions of Burgers World-Wide:

Fonterra today celebrated the official opening of its new slice on slice cheese expansion at Eltham, with the plant now able to produce enough cheese to fill more than three billion burgers each year.

The expansion opening, which was attended by Fonterra farmers, staff, iwi and central and local government representatives, was officiated by Whanganui MP, Hon. Chester Borrows and South Taranaki District Council Mayor Ross Dunlop, along with Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings, Director David MacLeod and Managing Director Global Operations Robert Spurway.

The first cheese marks the successful completion of the 10 month build to install two new lines that will double the site’s sliced cheese production. The new individually wrapped sliced cheese line was completed last year. . . 

Brushing up on first aid down on the farm – Joyce Wyllie:

“Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah…Staying Alive” is the rhythm to play in the mind while remembering guidelines for CPR compressions and breaths.

Who would have thought the Stayin’ Alive disco song by the Bee Gees would have a place on the farm?

The action plan acronym “DRS. ABCD” jogs the memory for action in an emergency situation.  First ensure there is no Danger to patient, self or bystander, check for Response, Send for help, then deal with Airways, Breathing, Circulation and finally D for Doctor.

All this and more will be familiar to those who have done a first aid course.  Jock and I had a day off the farm to brush up on these important skills and increase our confidence  dealing with a crisis. The others on the  training were mostly  farmers but also truck drivers, retired folk and young mums. . . 

Yili’s Oceania Dairy narrows full-year loss as production ramps up, sales surge – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Oceania Dairy, the South Canterbury-based dairy company owned by China’s Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group, narrowed its annual loss as sales quadrupled from its processing facility at Glenavy.

The loss was $16.3 million in calendar 2015, from a loss of $17.6 million in 2014, the first full year for the company created in 2013. Revenue soared to about $141 million from $34 million a year earlier, according to Oceania’s financial statements. . . 

Leading New Zealand botanists honoured:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has presented New Zealand’s foremost botany award, the Loder Cup, to Neill and Barbara Simpson of Queenstown.

One of New Zealand’s oldest conservation awards, the Loder Cup recognises outstanding work to investigate, promote, retain and cherish the country’s incomparable native plant life.

“Neill and Barbara Simpson truly deserve to be honoured with the presentation of the cup at the Green Ribbon Awards tonight,” Ms Barry says.

“Their tireless work to protect native flora and get others involved in looking after it has been an almost life-long journey.

“They are an outstanding couple who have worked with extraordinary dedication, and represent the very best of the New Zealand conservation movement.” . . 

Canada’s dairy farmers say diafiltered milk from U.S. costs them millions – Lucas Powers:

Our wily neighbours to the south have figured out a clever way of not paying tariffs on a certain — let’s say “controversial” — commodity, and Canadian dairy farmers say it’s costing them hundreds of millions every year.

The product in question is called diafiltered milk.

Essentially, it’s milk that’s filtered, flushed with water, and then filtered a second time, with a few other steps along the way. The end product has a high concentration of protein, about 85 per cent, and very little of the fat and lactose that make up natural milk.

‘It’s a classic case of the right hand of the government doing one thing, and the left hand doing another.’
– Maurice Doyon, Laval University professor

The Canadian government allows it to cross the border without a tariff, because if it were dried into a powder, it would have the same amount of protein as the kinds of protein powders allowed to pass through tariff-free under trade agreements. . . 

Moving beyond pro/con debates over genetically engineered crops – Pamela Ronald:

Since the 1980s biologists have used genetic engineering to express novel traits in crop plants. Over the last 20 years, these crops have been grown on more than one billion acres in the United States and globally. Despite their rapid adoption by farmers, genetically engineered (GE) crops remain controversial among many consumers, who have sometimes found it hard to obtain accurate information.

Last month the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a review of 20 years of data regarding GE crops. The report largely confirms findings from previous National Academies reports and reviews produced by other major scientific organizations around the world, including the World Health Organization and the European Commission.

I direct a laboratory that studies rice, a staple food crop for half the world’s people. Researchers in my lab are identifying genes that control tolerance to environmental stress and resistance to disease. We use genetic engineering and other genetic methods to understand gene function. . . 

 


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