Rural round-up

09/08/2021

GDT slump impacts forecasts – Hugh Stringleman:

Eight consecutive falls of the Global Dairy Trade (GDT) price index have all but wiped out the extraordinary 15% rise in the market at the beginning of March.

In the five months since, nine out of 10 fortnightly actions have been downward moves in the market and the GDT price index has dropped 13.2%.

In the first auction for August, whole milk powder (WMP) prices fell by 3.8% and have now fallen 19% since March.

The GDT index lost 1%, as the fall in WMP was balanced somewhat by butter increasing 3.8%, anhydrous milk fat (AMF) by 1.3% and skim milk powder (SMP) by 1.5%. . . 

Soil carbon context important – Jacqueline Rowarth:

It makes up approximately 58% of organic matter, which is the first of seven soil quality indicators in the New Zealand assessment. The prime position of organic matter is because of the attributes associated with it. It holds water and nutrients; soil organisms live in it and decompose it for energy (and nutrients) for their own growth and multiplication; the organisms and the organic matter aid soil structure which in turn assists aeration, infiltration and percolation of water.

A considerable amount of research has been done on building up soil carbon, and on what to avoid in order to prevent a decrease. Some of the results appear to be conflicting. Should we cultivate, strip till or notill to do our best for the environment? Should we flip soils? Can we actually sequester carbon in our soils as other countries are promising to do and so benefit from becoming part of the ETS?

The answer, as so often, is ‘it depends’ – on starting point, soil type, season, crop and all the other usual variables. Context is vital, but sometimes overlooked in enthusiasm for a technology.

The effect on soil carbon of conventional cultivation or conservation (reduced) tillage depends on the measurement depth. . . 

B+LNZ calls for carbon farm limits – Neal Wallace:

Competition from carbon farming is driving up land prices and pushing first-farm buyers out of the market, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

Chief executive Sam McIvor says a commissioned report compiled by BakerAg calculates carbon farmers bought an estimated 31,000ha in the four years since 2017, 34% of the 92,118ha of the sheep and beef farms purchased for conversion to forestry.

“One of the interesting aspects which is parallel with housing, is the fact that carbon farming is driving land prices up, which is putting farms out of reach of young people,” McIvor said.

While timber prices have boosted demand for land, the report attributes a significant reason to climate change policies making revenue from a combination of forestry production and carbon, or carbon-only, more attractive. . . 

Researcher finds chemical-free pest killer to save tomatoes –  Sally Murphy:

A PhD student who has come up with a solution to deal with a tomato plant pest is hoping more large scale greenhouses will try it to prove its success.

Emiliano Veronesi discussed his research at the Horticulture Conference in Hamilton this morning.

He set out trying to find a biological control solution to tomato potato psyllid or TPP which is a bug that can prevent fruit from forming on plants and reduce yields.

And he managed to find a predator for the bug, Engytatus nicotinae, which he has since tested in greenhouses at Lincoln University. . .

Pioneering new food in Southland – Country Life:

Expect to hear a lot more from New Zealand’s latest self-declared food bowl – Southland.

The southernmost province is aiming to put itself on the map nationally and internationally for premium food products.

Southland proudly produces dairy products, lamb, beef, fish, wild meat, oysters, honey, carrots, grain, potatoes, cabbages and swedes. An oat milk factory is in the planning.

The province has the most abundant food bowl in New Zealand, says Mary-Anne Webber, food and beverage manager at Southland’s regional development agency Great South. . . 

Growers may give up double shearing due to shearer drought – Mark Griggs and John Ellicott:

Leading players in the wool and sheep industry have expressed true alarm at the oncoming shearer shortage.

It’s believed no Kiwi shearers will arrive in Australia for the rest of the year due to concerns with local coronavirus outbreaks, a loss of 500 shearers, affecting crutching season.

Growers at a field day near Warren highlighted concerns, some saying it will force woolgrowers to shear only once a year. They’ve called on government and peak wool industry body Australian Wool Innovation to increase training and have trainees working in the wool stands now. . . 


Rural round-up

07/04/2021

Horticulture collapse fears unless Pacific Island workers allowed in – Shawn McAvinue:

A group of Teviot Valley orchardists is calling for the Government to allow more Pacific Islanders to return to the region to fill a labour shortage before the horticulture industry “collapses”.

Darlings Fruit owner Stephen Darling, of Ettrick, said the apple harvest season runs from the end of February to mid May.

He had only about 60% of the 65 pickers and packhouse staff required for the season on his family’s about 90ha of orchard blocks in the valley.

Consequently, apples would rot on the ground this season, he said. . .

Plan change mooted to limit carbon farming – Ashley Smyth:

Attempts are being made by the Waitaki District Council to rein in carbon farming, following public concern over a recent farm sale.

A report presented at a council meeting on Tuesday, suggested a district plan change under the Resource Management Act.

This would allow the council to move independently of the tight timeframe set by the release of the draft district plan review.

It is expected some new areas of outstanding natural landscape, significant natural areas, geological sites and visual amenity landscapes will be included in the plan. . .

Native planting project hoped to protect Tolaga Bay from logging debris–  Maja Burry:

Every time heavy rains hits Uawa – Tolaga Bay, a sense of nervousness washes over the community that a fresh delivery of forestry slash could be brought down from the hillsides.

After years of discussions, it’s hoped a native planting project announced by the area’s largest forestry operation will help protect homes, waterways and coastlines.

Aratu Forests, one of New Zealand’s 10 largest freehold forest plantations, has announced a 90-year ‘right to plant’ land management agreement with sustainable land-use company, eLandNZ – with the backing of the Gisborne District Council.

The programme will see permanent native plantings established in parts of the 35,000 hectare estate which are unsuitable for timber plantation. . .

Horticulture industry can help New Zealand reduce emissions and grow the economy:

The horticulture industry is well placed to help New Zealand reduce its emissions while also enabling the economy to grow, Horticulture New Zealand says. 

‘Our fruit and vegetable growing industry is already environmentally responsible as well as being one of the most efficient in the world,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil. 

‘In our submission to the Climate Change Commission, we pointed out that horticulture is now producing more food from less land, using fewer inputs like fertiliser and water. 

‘Covid has seen demand for healthy food increase, across the world.  This increase puts horticulture in a win/win situation.  Land-use change to horticulture will reduce emissions from the agriculture sector, while the extra production will find ready markets, overseas and locally.’ . . .

Fonterra completes sale of two China farms:

Fonterra has today completed the sale of its two wholly owned China farming hubs in Ying and Yutian

As announced in October 2020, the sale of the farms to Inner Mongolia Youran Dairy Co., Ltd (Youran) was subject to anti-trust clearance and other regulatory approvals in China. These approvals have now been received.

The transaction proceeds comprise the original sale price of NZD $513 million plus NZD $39 million in settlement adjustments, giving cash proceeds of NZD $552 million*.

CEO Miles Hurrell says the completion of the sale is an important milestone for Fonterra following its strategic refresh. . .

Treating soil a little differently could help it store a lot of carbon – Natasha Geiling:

Climate change is a massive problem with the potential to completely reshape the world, both literally (with rising sea levels and melting glaciers) and figuratively (with the way we grow food, or the way that we handle allergies). And while the consequences caused by climate change could be huge, the solutions — transitioning to a completely fossil fuel-free economy, or geoengineering — can often seem equally daunting.

But what if something as simple as the dirt under your feet could help mitigate some of the worst of climate change? The Earth’s soils contain a lot of carbon, and helping to manage and restore them could be a key way to help tackle climate change, according to a recent study in Nature.

Soils are already huge stores of carbon, and improved management can make them even bigger

The study, published by a group of international scientists, suggests that using “soil-smart” techniques for soil management could sequester as much as four-fifths of the annual emissions released by the burning of fossils fuels. These techniques include planting crops with deep roots, which help keep soil intact and encourage the growth of microbial communities that help trap soil carbon, and using charcoal-based composts. The study also calls for a wider adoption of sustainable agriculture techniques — things like no-till farming, which involves growing crops from year to year without disturbing the soil and has been shown to potentially help soil retain carbon, and organic agriculture, which also has shown some promise in restoring and maintaining soil health. . .


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