Word of the day

July 27, 2018

Selenelion – an uncommon type of lunar eclipse when both the sun and the eclipsed moon can be seen at the same time; a lunar eclipse occurring as the moon sets, simultaneously with sunrise; blood moon.

Weather permitting, southerners will see a selenelion at about 8 o’clock tomorrow morning.

Dr Duncan Steel, of Otago’s Centre for Space Science Technology, said this might be figured impossible, given an eclipse occurred when the sun, Earth and moon were all in a straight line.

“If the moon is above the horizon then the sun must surely be below it – but the bending of the rays of light caused by our atmosphere makes it feasible to see both the eclipsed moon and the sun at the same time, so long as you are in the right place.”

The areas of our planet from which this can be experienced were very limited, because the total lunar eclipse must be ongoing at the time of moonset and sunrise.

“In this case, the further south you are in New Zealand the better, with Otago and Southland being favoured.”

In Auckland, the eclipse would still be partial as the moon disappeared below the horizon.

For those in areas from Whanganui to Wellington, there was just a slim chance of glimpsing the totally-eclipsed moon as the sun peeked above the horizon.

The opportunity was longer in the southernmost parts of the country. . . 


Rural round-up

January 18, 2018

Mycoplasma bovis is unlikely to go away – Keith Woodford:

It now seems likely that Mycoplasma bovis is in New Zealand to stay. Just like the rest of the world, we must learn how to live with it. We do not yet have to give up totally on hopes of eradication, but eradication is looking more and more unlikely.

The control program has suffered from incorrect information and poor communication, and there is much to be learned from that. These information flaws have affected farmer and public attitudes. In some cases, this has created additional and unnecessary stress, and unfair criticism of individuals.

However, the probability is that these flaws have not affected the success or failure of the eradication program. The chances are that Mycoplasma bovis has been here for some years, in which case eradication was always going to be impossible. . .

Plants dying as drought threatens vegetable and fruit supplies to shoppers – Pat Deavoll:

Droughts are threatening the supply of fresh fruit and vegetables on shopping shelves and storing water in dams would rectify this, says Horticulture New Zealand.

“Relying on water to fall from the sky simply isn’t enough,” said HortNZ chief executive Mike Chapman. “HortNZ believes we should be more proactive in capturing and storing that water to ensure sustainability of supply during times of drought.”

Chapman said the dry conditions of early summer were putting fruit and vegetable growers under pressure to the point where some of them were having to make decisions about which plants and trees they would plant or harvest. . . 

Kiwi-born Nasa scientist for CSST – Pam Jones:

An award-winning Nasa scientist has been appointed director of research for the Centre for Space Science Technology (CSST).

The appointment of Delwyn Moller was announced yesterday.

Dr Moller was born and raised in the Waikato, studied at the University of Auckland and went on to design and implement technology for Nasa space missions. She will be moving to Central Otago from Los Angeles with her husband and two children.

CSST chief executive Steve Cotter said Dr Moller’s contribution would be invaluable to CSST and to New Zealand as a whole. . . 

Ask a farmer, we don’t hate you – Pete Fitzherbert:

It must be so easy for the average New Zealander to just start again at the end of one year and begin another – make some resolutions, forget about them within the week, and then if you are feeling a little overweight just go down to the food court at the local mall and problem solved, because compared to the fatty at the smorgasbord you are an athlete!

It’s fair to say it is not as easy for your average farmer. Our seasons roll over without ever having a definitive start or finish.

So, what kind of New Year resolutions or hopes could we have? The best we can do sometimes is hope for the best, plan for the worst and the rest of the time play it as it lays.

Maybe we could hope the next year brings the chance to take off a couple of those public holidays.

Maybe hope for a totally average year in every way, or hope that we can farm, just farm, to the best the season presents us with without the public scrutiny that has begun to develop around agriculture.

Could you imagine a return to a world where the only people that gave dairy farmers grief were sheep farmers and bank managers? . . 

Fonterra partners with Alibaba’s Hema Fresh to launch fresh milk product into China:

Fonterra has launched a new fresh milk product in China in partnership with Hema Fresh, Alibaba’s innovative new retail concept which combines traditional bricks-and-mortar shopping with a digital experience.

The new Daily Fresh milk range is now available in Hema’s 14 stores in Shanghai and Suzhou in 750mL bottles, sourced directly from Fonterra’s farm hub in Hebei province. The product boasts unique product labels to match each day of the week in order to emphasise freshness, with stock being replenished overnight ready for each new day.

Initial volumes are currently around three metric tonnes daily, with plans to scale-up over time and expand with the retailer as it rapidly grows its footprint of stores across China. . . 

A blast from the Haast – NZ’s most isolated town – Sarah Harris:

Of the 240 people who call Haast home there’s one policeman, 13 students at the only school, one electrician who is trying to retire and no plumber. If one comes to town residents chase him down the road.

There’s also no doctor – one comes once a fortnight. If there’s a medicial emergency a helicopter can land on the school field.

A drive to the closest supermarket is two hours away and the nearest hospital in Greymouth is a four-hour drive or 90 minute flight. . . 

Can we keep our country shows alive? – Alex Druce:

IT’s been nearly two years since Wingham last held a country show and organisers are determined to get it right.

“We had to go back to the drawing board, and we’ve got some pretty exciting new things,” says press officer Elaine Turner. 

“For starters, there’s the piggy races. And the demolition derby is going to be on again too . Everyone loves that.” . . 


Rural round-up

February 1, 2017

Space-generated data could boost crops, save thousands:

Space-generated data will create more efficient irrigation and maximise crop yields, potentially saving farmers thousands of dollars, Alexandra farmer Gary Kelliher says.

Mr Kelliher is an implementation group member of the planned Centre for Space Science Technology (CSST) in Alexandra. He said having continual and improved access to space-generated data would allow for more efficient irrigation and greater crop yield,  and that better imagery and  daily information about plant density and health, biomass and fire risks would be some of the key possibilities for farmers once the centre  was established.

“The application possibilities are endless,” Mr Kelliher said. . . 

Border dyke system improving soil health at Masterton waste water plant – Piers Fuller:

Branded as “dinosaur technology”, fears about the effectiveness of Masterton’s $50 million waste water scheme’s irrigation system have  been proven unfounded.

Before the installation of  the border dyke scheme there was heated debate as to whether the method would destroy the soil quality.

Now fully functional, monitoring has shown that the 72 hectares of ground is doing a good job at absorbing the waste water and the soil quality is improving, after it was extensively excavated for border dykes. . . 

Young beekeeper ‘busts his arse’ to get where he is today – Pat Deavol:

Anyone who works a 12 hour day and lives on a work site is dedicated to their profession.

James Malcolm has lived this life for a decade, but the graft and commitment have paid off. At 28 he owns Natural New Zealand Honey Ltd, a beekeeping operation tucked under the tussock and beech-covered foothills of North Canterbury, with 3500 hives, a beekeeping HQ, and 16 full-time staff.

Backtrack 10 years ago and Malcolm had just completed a Diploma of Agriculture at Lincoln University and was helping out his father on the family cropping farm near Ashburton.  . . .

Young shepherd to represent NZ:

A passion for Angus cattle has seen Mount Linton Station shepherd Allen Gregory selected to attend the World Angus Forum in Scotland.

Originally from Gore, Mr Gregory is one of eight young Angus enthusiasts who will travel to the forum later this year,  representing New Zealand.

Last year, 12 people  took part in the selection day  run by Generation Angus.

“It was a mixture of theory and practical. We did some showing and some judging and we also had to write an essay,” he said. . . 

Farm course gets NZQA tick:

A programme designed to engage primary and secondary school students in farming can now be used to gain NCEA credits.

The resources, trialled in 10 primary and 16 secondary schools last year, help students learn more about the sector and promote awareness of the wide range of career opportunities.

It was developed by the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP), a Primary Growth Partnership programme working to help the red meat sector increase productivity and profitability.

Resources, including assessments within the programme, have now received the New Zealand Qualification Authority (NZQA) Quality Assured Assessment Materials (QAAM) trademark. . . 

Oceana sets 500,000oz gold target – Simon Hartley:

Oceana Gold has boosted its exploration and capital expenditure programme for 2017 to $US252 million ($NZ345.9 million), as it targets more than 500,000oz of gold in a calendar year for the first time in its 27-year history.

Its Macraes mine in east Otago has been the mainstay of operations for decades, and while other Oceana mines are challenging its production dominance, it is getting its fair share of exploration, works and expansion funding within the wider group during 2017.

Oceana, now the country’s largest gold miner accounting for about 98% of output, produced within guidance 416,741 oz of gold in 2016 overall, and 21,123 tonnes of copper from Didipio in the northern Philippines, the latter commodity a by-product of the gold mining which hugely offsets production costs. . . 

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It’s better to sit in a tractor and think about anything than to sit anywhere else and think about farming.


Rural round-up

November 15, 2016

North Canterbury farmers confronted by milk crisis – Tim Cronshaw, Gerald Piddock, Gerard Hutching:

Dairy farmers across the Kaikoura and North Canterbury region will have to dump their milk into effluent systems or find other ways to deal with it because it cannot be picked up.

Fonterra said road conditions in Kaikoura meant there were about 30 farms that might not have their milk collected, while others around the country might have late collections as tankers were rerouted.

A Federated Farmers spokeswoman said local councils had given the go-ahead for milk to be dumped into paddocks, following the midnight quake. . . 

Farmers pool resources to keep milking:

North Canterbury farmers are rallying together by sharing cow sheds and lending generators as they try to carry out the daily business of running their farms despite some suffering extensive damage from Monday morning’s quake.

Culverden dairy farmer Justin Slattery said about half of Culverden, in north Canterbury, had lost power and he was still waiting for it to come back on at his farm.

Slattery had been using his neighbour’s milking shed and was working around him, meaning his 520 cows got milked almost five hours late on Monday morning. He planned to return at 6pm if power had not returned to his property. . . 

 

Low price impact on milk production slight – Sally Rae:

Milk production eased only slightly in 2015-16, despite the lowest milk prices in at least 20 seasons, figures released by DairyNZ and LIC show.

Production was down 1.5% nationally, despite 52 fewer herds and 20,522 fewer cows than in 2014-15.

South Island production increased 2%, with rises in both Marlborough-Canterbury (2%) and Otago-Southland (2%). . . 

Alexandra space research centre taking off :

A Central Otago space research centre has been tipped as a game changer for Alexandra after it was announced this morning it is to be funded as a regional research institute.

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce made the announcement at a breakfast meeting in Alexandra.

Mr Joyce said the New Zealand Research Institute of Viticulture and Oenology in Marlborough had been chosen as the first new regional research institute. 

The Centre for Space Science Technology (CSST), led by Alexandra-based research company Bodeker Scientific requested $15million in funding. . .

Constable Rhys Connell says police want to work in partnership with rural communities – Sue O’Dowd:

Police are committed to working in partnership with rural communities, says Taranaki rural police officer Rhys Connell. 

 “Ninety per cent of rural crime is solved by people in the community who see and hear things and let us know about them,” he told about 50 people at a rural crime prevention national roadshow in Stratford.

The roadshow also visited Tikorangi. Eight roadshows have already been in other areas of the country as part of a joint police, FMG and Federated Farmers initiative to promote rural crime prevention measures. 

“You are our eyes and ears,” Connell said. “It’s us together, not you and us.” . . 

Native mussels thrive in Canterbury stream:

Last year, we heard the story of Nigel Gardiner who found some Endangered native mussels as a result of riparian planting and continued work around the stream to improve its health. Here’s the latest update, a year on since the first discovery.

Endangered native mussels, or Kākahi, are continuing to thrive in the creek on FLO – Triangle farm in Canterbury one year after they were discovered by sharemilker Nigel Gardiner.

Kākahi are one of only three species of the endangered fresh water mussels to exist in New Zealand and can live for between 30 and 50 years. . . 

Far from ‘uneducated’ – Life on this Side of the Fence:

If you watched any of the recent presidential election results, you may have noticed a recurring theme.  As traditionally blue states turned red, a common phrase heard among reporters was that the “uneducated rural community” had made a larger turnout than what was expected.  As a member of the rural community, which is quite educated might I add, I saw a few things wrong with this statement.

First, the political affiliations of a certain group of people should in no way merit the assumption of education, or lack thereof.  In a society that claims to be open to all walks of life and discourages the labeling of cultural groups, I felt that the way rural voters were viewed was quite misguided. . . 

 


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