Rural round-up

June 29, 2018

Kindness is the best way to train a cow, dairy leaders say – Esther Taunton:

Dairy farmers were quick to condemn the “training” methods of a Northland sharemilker filmed beating cows with a steel pipe, saying kindness and positivity were more effective.

The hidden camera footage, released to Newsroom, shows the sharemilker repeatedly hitting animals with an alkathene pipe, a stick and a steel pipe during milking. 

When asked if he hit the cows, the sharemilker told journalist Melanie Reid he did, but only to train them and the best approach was to be “kind and firm”.  

“You’ve got to train your cows. You can’t let your cows rule you,” he said.

However, dairy industry leaders rejected his methods and said brute force was never warranted. 

Federated Farmers sharemilkers’ chairman Richard McIntyre said training dairy cattle was about making them want to do what the farmer wanted. . . 

Bridgit Hawkins’ app is helping farmers save water, money and time – Simon Pound:

Business is Boring is a weekly podcast series presented by The Spinoff in association with Callaghan Innovation. Host Simon Pound speaks with innovators and commentators focused on the future of New Zealand, with the interview available as both audio and a transcribed excerpt. This week Simon is joined by Bridget Hawkins, CEO of Regen, an app helping to drive efficiency on farms.

We love a good chat about the things being done to improve farming practice on this show. And today’s guest is the CEO of an app that helps farmers use less water and more efficiently use nitrate fertilisers to only irrigate at times the soil is ready, meaning less runoff of fertiliser and effluent – meaning less crap getting into our waterways.

Sounds pretty good already. But it also helps farmers save money and keep to their council water usage consents  – so it is a tool that you don’t have to be a big greenie to want. . .

New technology finds a greener way to improve NZ’s crops – Charlie Dreaver:

A new research project that’s underway has the potential to give New Zealand’s horticultural industry a bumper crop.

Hot Lime Labs, through Callaghan Innovation, has created a way to use wood chips and limestone to pump CO2 into greenhouses.

They say it will increase crop production and is cheaper and greener than the current alternative.

It’s no secret in the horticultural industry that pumping extra CO2 into greenhouses can significantly increase crop growth.

But Tomatoes New Zealand’s general manager, Helen Barnes, said giving plants an extra dose of CO2 could be difficult. . .

Red Meat Profit Partnership brainstorm ideas to increase profitability:

Farmers are known for their ingenuity and the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) is asking them to bring ideas to the table.

The Red Meat Profit Partnership, which is a joint project between government, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (BLNZ) and the Meat Industry Association, is offering funding to farmers in the form of action groups.

BLNZ southern South Island extension manager Olivia Ross said RMPP was established to increase profitability across the industry. . .

Agriculture sector salary increases:

After little movement in wages in recent years, people working in primary industries have made gains in what they earn according to the latest Federated Farmers Rabobank Remuneration Survey.

The report released today was developed following the survey conducted in late 2017 and early 2018.

Responses were collected from 940 employers on 13 separate farm positions across the dairy, sheep and beef and arable sectors. In addition to information on salaries the report also provides a range of other data including weekly hours worked by employees, employee age, length of employment and recruitment ease. . . .

Leon Clement Announced as Synlait Milk’s New CEO :

Synlait Milk  is pleased to announce Leon Clement will join the organisation as Chief Executive Officer from mid-August.

The appointment is the outcome of a global recruitment search undertaken following co-founder and inaugural CEO John Penno’s announcement in November 2017 of his intention to stand down.

“Leon has led major businesses internationally, specifically in Vietnam and Sri Lanka, and has deep experience in the branded dairy sector,” says Graeme Milne, Chairman. . .

Synlait commits to a sustainable future with bold targets:

Synlait Milk has committed to reducing its environmental impact significantly over the next decade by targeting key areas of their value chain.

The commitments were revealed at Synlait’s annual conference in Christchurch on Wednesday 27 and Thursday 28 June to staff, dairy farmers and partners:
• Reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by 35% per kilogram of milk solids on-farm (consisting of -50% nitrous oxide, -30% methane and -30% carbon dioxide) and 50% per kilogram of milk solids off-farm by 2028
• Reducing water consumption by 20% per kgMS both on-farm and off-farm by 2028
• Reducing nitrogen loss on-farm by 45% per kgMS by 2028
• Significantly boosting support for best practice dairy farming through increased Lead With Pride™ premium payments, including a 100% PKE-free incentive . . .

Sensible solutions making forest safety seamless and smart :

A major national conference on forest safety practices is set to showcase how our forestry leaders have delivered both safety and productivity benefits for people across a range of workplaces.

“Some of our most inspiring forestry leaders have developed safety improvements in both crew culture and harvesting technologies,” says Forest Industry Engineering Association spokesman, Gordon Thomson.

“We’re delighted to have skilled industry leaders outlining their teams’ experiences – especially people who know that safety and productivity can be improved simultaneously. It’s an intriguing line up of case studies for this year’s conference,” he added. . . 

‘Silver Fern Farms National Youth Scholarships applications now open:

Applications are now open for Silver Fern Farms Plate to Pasture Youth Scholarships. In their second year, the scholarships award six young people around New Zealand $5000 to assist with developing their careers and capabilities in the red meat sector.

Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Simon Limmer says the response to last year’s inaugural scholarships indicate a bright future for the red meat sector. . . 

Forget the Hunger Games, greet the driverless tractor – Marian L. Tupy and Chelsea Follett:

If you are a sci-fi fan, then you have probably noticed the dystopian character of movies about the future. From the classics, such as Soylent Green and Blade Runner, to modern hits, such as the Matrix trilogy and District 9, Hollywood’s take on the future is almost invariably negative. The story lines tend to centre on depletion of natural resources, like in the Mad Max movies, the emergence of highly stratified societies, like Elysium, or both.

In Hollywood’s rendition, the future consists of a few people at the top, who partake in the good life and enjoy what’s left of earth’s resources, while the much more numerous masses suffer some form of enslavement and destitution. That is, until one day, a messianic figure emerges to overthrow the existing order, slaughters the oppressors, liberates the untermenschen and ushers in an era of peace and prosperity. . .

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Rural round-up

April 23, 2018

I founded Happy Cow Milk to make a difference in dairying. I failed – Glen Herud:

He founded an ethical dairying company that would allow calves to stay with their mothers. Last week, Glenn Herud had to admit that his enterprise had failed.

I’m a third generation dairy farmer. The milk business is the only business I know. Four years ago I decided to find a way to do dairy in a more sustainable way.

I know New Zealanders want this. They want the land treated better, they want rivers treated better, and they want animals treated better. And they would like the option to buy their milk in something other than plastic bottles.

I founded Happy Cow Milk to make a difference. But last week I had to admit to myself that I failed. . . 

Record butter prices expected: economist – Simon Hartley:

Households, restaurants and bakeries be warned, butter prices are expected to rise well above last year’s records, already sitting just 5% below the highs set last September.

ASB senior rural economist Nathan Penny said butter prices were already well up on the same period a year ago, and the seasonal lull in New Zealand milk production was still to come.

“We anticipate butter prices will shatter last year’s records over coming months,” Mr Penny said.

In October last year, butter prices were up more than 60% against a year earlier. By November, one Dunedin supermarket’s cheapest 500g block cost $5.90 and there were reports of $8 blocks in other Otago towns. . . 

Commercial Mycoplasma bovis test being developed:

A commercial diagnostic tool which will allow farmers to test for cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis themselves is being developed by a partnership comprising commercial laboratories, industry representatives and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

The tool will be released once sampling guidelines, a testing strategy and possibly an accreditation programme have been developed – to ensure the test can be accurately applied and interpreted. . . 

There’s more M bovis to come yet – Glenys Christian:

Up to three to four years of Mycoplasma bovis monitoring will be needed and more infected animals will probably be found next year, Primary Industries Ministry senior policy analyst Emil Murphy says.

“It doesn’t make animals sick directly,” he told Auckland Federated Farmers executive.

“It’s more like a cold sore where something happens to an animal which is weak already and M bovis  jumps in and makes it worse.”

Genetic analysis showed the local strain of M bovis is quite different to that seen in Australia for the last 10 years. . . 

Iwi in peat-mining venture say wetland is a wasteland:

The iwi involved in a peat mining venture in the Far North says it’s disappointed the Conservation Minister wants to derail it.

The Auckland company Resin and Wax Holdings has been granted resource consents to dig over land owned by the iwi Ngāi Takoto, in the Kaimaumau wetland.

The company plans to extract valuable industrial compounds from the peat, using a chemical process perfected in the United States.

The project has had several government grants from the Callaghan Innovation fund. . . 

Co-ops also present in German ag – Sudesh Kissun:

The power of cooperative agriculture is proudly on display at a dairy farm near the German city of Dresden.

The Agrargenossenschaft Gnaschwitz (Agri Co-op), in the town of Gnaschwitz, milks 460 cows year round with eight Lely robotic machines. Lely recently unveiled its new Astronaut A5 machine.

The co-op is owned by about 100 shareholders, each owning a small parcel of the farm. Following the reunification of Germany in 1990, land seized by the former communist regime in East Germany was returned to people if they could show evidence of their family’s ownership. .  .

Human ingenuity and the future of food – Chelsea Follett:

A recent article in Business Insider showing what the ancestors of modern fruits and vegetables looked like painted a bleak picture. A carrot was indistinguishable from any skinny brown root yanked up from the earth at random. Corn looked nearly as thin and insubstantial as a blade of grass. Peaches were once tiny berries with more pit than flesh. Bananas were the least recognizable of all, lacking the best features associated with their modern counterparts: the convenient peel and the seedless interior. How did these barely edible plants transform into the appetizing fruits and vegetables we know today? The answer is human ingenuity and millennia of genetic modification.

Humanity is continuously innovating to produce more food with less landless water, and fewer emissionsAs a result, food is not only more plentiful, but it is also coming down in price.

The pace of technological advancement can be, if you will pardon the pun, difficult to digest. Lab-grown meat created without the need to kill an animal is already a reality. The first lab-grown burger debuted in 2013, costing over $300,000, but the price of a lab-grown burger patty has since plummeted, and the innovation’s creator “expects to be able to produce the patties on a large enough scale to sell them for under $10 a piece in a matter of five years.” 

People who eschew meat are a growing demographic, and lab-grown meat is great news for those who avoid meat solely for ethical reasons. It currently takes more land, energy, and water to produce a pound of beef than it does to produce equivalent calories in the form of chickens, but also grains. So, cultured meat could also lead to huge gains in food production efficiency.  . . 

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