Rural round-up

20/07/2021

Farmers are riled up over everything and they’ve got a point – Kerre McIvor:

It takes a lot to get farmers off their land. But Friday’s Howl of Protest saw a goodly representation of every man and his dog fire up the Massey Fergs and John Deeres aroundthe country and take to the streets in protest.

There wasn’t just one issue that had got them so riled up.

Farmers don’t see why they should be taxed to assist high-income city dwellers into electric cars when the rural community has no alternative right now but to use internal combustion engine 4WDs to do their work. . .

Can you hear us now? –  Annette Scott:

The deluge of new regulations and costs from the central government spilled over into protest on Friday when farmers, contractors and tradies across the country rallied for the Howl of a Protest.

Trucks and harvest machinery, tractors, utes, transport companies and dogs took to Ashburton’s streets – just one of more than 45 towns and cities from Kaitaia to Invercargill – to host the peaceful protest rallies.

Organised by Groundswell NZ, in an effort to stand up for farmers, food producers, contractors and tradies against what it claims to be a tsunami of unworkable rules imposed by the central government.

Groundswell is seeking the scrapping of the freshwater, SNA, biodiversity and ute tax policies, changes to immigration, climate change and the Crown Pastoral Lease Act policies. . . 

Faith in farming future shaken – Colin Williscroft:

Future increases in the price of carbon will push hill country farmers off the land, a Central Hawke’s Bay farmer says.

Clem Trotter, who farms with his wife Mickey west of Ongaonga, questions what sort of future sheep and beef farmers on the east coast of the North Island face.

The couple attended last month’s carbon forestry conference in Rotorua and prior to that they believed that targeted tree planting on-farm, while retaining productive areas for agriculture, offered plenty of opportunities for farmers but the wholesale planting of regions needed to stop and something had to be done about it.

From what Trotter heard at the conference, which he says attracted far more lawyers, accountants and investment managers than it did farmers, he now thinks it’s too late for that. . . 

Another protest coming – Sudesh Kissun:

Another nationwide protest by farmers will be held on August 16 unless the Government listens to their concerns.

This was announced at the Groundswell protest in Morrinsville where over 2500 people backed by 250 tractors and 100 utes took part in a rally.

There were calls for the Government to review its policies around farming, especially those related to sustainability and water. Tradies are also unhappy with getting hammered with a clean car tax on utes, vehicles considered an integral part of their job. . .

Palmerston North farmer makes up to $4000 weekly giving virtual tours :

Palmerston North farmer Arthur Chin makes about $4000 in a “good week” hosting virtual tours of his one hectare property.

He told Seven Sharp in his first year of doing it he has hosted 358 tours for more than 4000 people in 32 countries.

Forty-five per cent of his customers come from the US and about 25 per cent from Europe. . .

US and Canada heatwave hammers crops, forcing up global grain prices – Michael Condon, Angus Verley, and Belinda Varischetti:

A heatwave across the United States and Canada is having a devastating effect on crops and pushing grain stocks low.

It is good news for Australian farmers, though, as the price of canola is rocketing.

In the United States, temperatures in some regions have risen to 50 degrees Celsius, smashing previous records, while Canada is in the grip of its worst drought in two decades.

Temperatures have risen to record levels in the Pacific North West and parts of California. . . 


Rural round-up

15/05/2021

Why are we making life harder for farmers? – Mike Hosking:

The Fonterra capital changes announced last week have a story behind them.

It’s a complex business, and Andrew Kelleher explained them very well to us Friday, look it up if you missed it.

This is important because the farmer is gold to this country, Fonterra is our biggest business, and dairy and agriculture are saving us, given the other big game in town is closed.

Now, as Andrew put it, Fonterra have come to the conclusion they have reached peak milk. That doesn’t mean the world is over milk and dairy, because it isn’t. As the world grows, the middle class want good food, and that’s what we do.

So, Fonterra’s move means producing things in this country is getting harder. Between the rules and attitude of the government, making stuff is an uphill battle. . . 

The big dry: Drought hits farmers hard as winter looms – Kurt Bayer:

Up the brown hill where his grandfather lies, Stu Fraser’s epic view tells two stark tales.

Down on the flat of Amuri basin, the local irrigation scheme flaunts its lush rewards: emerald swathes of dairy land, crisscrossing the scenic North Canterbury landscape.

And down by the meandering Hurunui River, Fraser has some green strips too.

But up here on the steep hill country and rolling downs, where 5600 ewes scratch around and trot hopefully behind the red ATV, it’s a different story. . . 

Photographs spur journey from Argentina to Mid Canterbury farm – Toni Williams:

Maria Alvarez was drawn to New Zealand by photographs of a friend’s working holiday.

Those photographs started her on a journey from Argentina to working in the New Zealand dairy industry.

She arrived in New Zealand in 2013 and spent the first few years getting settled in.

“Everyday I get to see a sunrise. It’s beautiful,” she said last week from her home in Mid Canterbury. . . 

Sri Lankan dairy workers move up – Toni Williams:

Dairy farmers Dinuka and Nadeeka Gamage are living the dream.

They are passionate share farmers on a 245ha Dairy Holdings farm at Ealing, milking 980 cows, and are finalists in the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, Share Farmer of the Year category.

They won the final of the Canterbury-North Otago region and will find out this weekend how they fared. The national finals are in Hamilton on Saturday.

Dinuka and Nadeeka love being their own bosses and working with animals in the outside environment. . . 

Collaboration key to meat assurance programmes – Colin Williscroft:

New Zealand sheep and beef farmers may be behind Ireland in their ability to measure farm-level carbon footprints but that is set to change, Beef + Lamb NZ general manager market development Nick Beeby says.

Beeby was responding to comments by Lincoln University agribusiness senior lecturer Dr Nic Lees who spent three months in Ireland looking at the Irish Origin Green programme, which claims to be the world’s first national level, third-party verified sustainability programme and brand for agriculture.

As part of the programme, farm-level carbon footprints and other sustainability measures have been available to Irish farmers since 2011.

Lees says in contrast, NZ is only beginning to implement a comprehensive farm-level carbon footprint measurement system. . . 

Safer farm equipment creates happy vets:

All good livestock farmers know the value of having a good relationships with their vets. And while vets expect to be on call to help with birthing issues, give vaccinations, or check any number of health concerns of farmers’ animals, a breach of safety could lead to vets fearing accepting such calls when they come in. Farmers should be aware, then, that if vets do not feel safe when administering their services, chances are, the farmers themselves may suffer in the long run as a result of high vet turnover or even possibly being sued for negligence.

It is imperative, therefore, to ensure the safety of all vets, along with all other farm workers, who attend to livestock. By ensuring high overall safety standards on farms, farmers are more likely to build robust relationships with those responsible for their animals’ wellbeing. Good relationships, in turn, could ensure higher profits due to trading in healthy stock, lower employee turnover, and the peace of mind that everyone on the farm – both people and animals – is happy and healthy. . . 


Rural round-up

28/03/2021

Call for native tree policy rethink – Colin Williscroft:

A farmer involved in a new initiative that’s calling for a radical change in thinking to meet the Climate Change Commission’s target of 300,000ha of new native forests by 2035 says it’s going to be a big ask – but that’s not putting him off.

O Tātou Ngāhere is a programme launched on Thursday night by Pure Advantage and Tāne’s Tree Trust that not only calls for greater ambition in meeting the commission’s target, but also seeks an urgent change to the way native forests are planted, managed and valued.

Tane Tree Trust trustee Ian Brennan, who runs a small drystock farm providing dairy grazing near Cambridge that he aims to half plant in native trees, says while pine trees have been the focus of a lot of plantings for those targeting carbon credits, he cannot imagine anyone regretting planting natives – although they are a much longer-term project. . . 

UK trade talks going nowhere, slowly – Nigel Stirling:

It appears that Britain’s trade negotiators haven’t yet caught up with the news that their farmers want tariffs on imported agricultural products scrapped.

Ditching high tariffs on agricultural products from countries which meet the same environmental and animal welfare standards as British farmers was one of 22 recommendations made by British Trade Minister Liz Truss’ Trade and Agriculture Commission earlier this month.

Britain’s farmers were fully represented on the commission by the representatives of the English, Welsh and Scottish branches of the UK’s peak farming lobby, the National Farmers Union (NFU), along with several other farmer bodies. . . 

 

Smedley runs faster with FarmIQ:

Running a 5660ha dry stock operation is a big ask at the best of times, but add in a teaching role and it can prove a juggling act which Smedley Station manager Rob Evans is more than up for.

Rob admits having a young crew of cadets to oversee helps him stay sharp, and has also encouraged him to look harder at the new technology out there that young cadets will be engaging with in their farming careers.

This includes FarmIQ, and for the past two years Smedley has been gradually adopting many of the features FarmIQ offers into its day to day operations, and for bigger picture planning during the season.

Initially when he started using FarmIQ Rob had been inputting stock numbers and feed budget data to give himself and staff a more up to date picture of feed supply-demand. This enabled him to share potential options with staff via the computer or cell phone. It has also meant he can get a real time picture across the station’s four blocks. . . 

Kiwi hunters likely to miss another roar due to police firearm licensing delays:

The New Zealand Deerstalkers Association says the backlog in Police’s processing of new and renewing firearms licences will mean that many New Zealanders will, again, miss out on hunting during the deer roar this March and April.

NZDA Chief Executive, Gwyn Thurlow, says “after missing out on the 2020 roar due to Covid-19 Lockdown, hunters are looking forward to the 2021 roar this March and April however many hunters will be forced to sit on the side-lines because of Police administrative delays in renewing their firearm licences.”

“Many hunters have been in touch to tell NZDA that they are one of the many people caught up in the huge backlog in firearms licence processing delays by Police.

“The timing is particularly unfair on hunters who rely on securing meat for their families at this time of year”, says Gwyn Thurlow, noting “the roar is upon the Kiwi hunting community but sadly a good number will miss out through no fault of their own, simply because of the administrative backlog at Police.” . . 

Biosecurity Amendment Bill has HortNZ’s backing:

Horticulture New Zealand is thrilled that the Biosecurity (Information for Incoming Passengers) Amendment Bill has been drawn from the Private Member’s Ballot.

‘When the border re-opens, it will be important to remind travellers of the need to be particularly vigilant when entering New Zealand,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman.

‘New Zealand’s top performing horticulture and other primary industries would be easily destroyed if a particularly virulent pest or disease entered the country. This would have catastrophic effects on exports and the New Zealand economy, at a time when things are already fragile. . . 

2021 Manawatū Dairy Industry Awards winners announced:

The 2021 Manawatū Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winner says he wants to contribute positively to the reputation of the New Zealand dairy industry.

Sam Howard was named the 2021 Manawatū Share Farmer of the Year at the region’s annual awards announced at Awapuni Function Centre on Wednesday night. The other major winners were Karl Wood, the 2021 Manawatū Dairy Manager of the Year, and Josh Wilkinson, the 2021 Manawatū Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Sam won $10,465 in prizes and a clean sweep of eight merit awards. He is 50/50 sharemilking for John Gardner, on his 80ha, 240-cow Palmerston North property. Sam was also named the 2016 Taranaki Dairy Manager of the Year. . .


Rural round-up

31/12/2020

Tasman growers and farmers brace for lasting damage from hail storm – Tracy Neal:

Farmers and growers are counting the cost – thought to be in the tens of millions of dollars – of the Boxing Day hailstorm in Tasman.

It shredded vineyards, smashed greenhouses, dented and bruised apples, kiwifruit and hops and severely damaging buildings in Motueka.

Some say it was the worst hailstorm in living memory, in a region where recent summers have been marred by cyclones, floods, and fires. . .

Brexit: EU-UK deal hurts NZ exporters says  Beef + Lamb :

The meat industry is urging the government to fight new quotas for local exporters as part of new trade deal between the UK and European Union.

The post-Brexit agreement will mean access will be more controlled.

A new quota will force Kiwi sheep and beef exporters to split their product between the UK and EU, even if one of the markets is not going well.

Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva said it was a major step back in trade. . . 

High season for rural theft – Mark Daniel:

Rural insurance company FMG claims data has shown that January is the time when thieves are out and about looking to relieve farmers and rural dwellers of their property.

Stephen Cantwell, FMG’s manager advice services, says theft is the leading cause of farm contents claims at that time of year.

“January appears to be the month when thieves are at their most active, resulting in a higher number of claims, but also with average values up by 23%,” he says.

The rural insurance specialist suggests there are actions people can take to help to deter thieves targeting your property. . . 

Concerns over ‘rural generalists’ as doctors in Greymouth – Lois WIlliams:

Is rural generalism best for the Coast?

In recent weeks, various medics and their union have – unusually for the profession – aired their views in this paper on the use of ‘rural generalists’, a new breed of doctor increasingly being employed on the West Coast to work both in hospitals and at GP clinics.

For the West Coast District Health Board, ‘rural generalists’ or rural health specialists, as they’re also known, are a godsend: the answer to the region’s perennial difficulties in attracting specialists and GPs. But the senior doctors union, the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, has warned of their potential to displace more highly-trained doctors, and ultimately reduce West Coast residents’ access to that level of care. What is the community supposed to make of this? What exactly are rural generalists and how safe are people in their hands? . .

Conduit for growers, researchers – Colin Williscroft:

Late last month Kiwifruit Vine Health liaison adviser and technical specialist Linda Peacock received the Minister’s Award at the New Zealand Biosecurity Awards, recognising more than 30 years of dedicated service to the industry. Colin Williscroft reports.

When Linda Peacock received her award from Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor she told the Wellington audience that a key part of her work involves providing a link between growers and researchers to ensure the collaboration the industry is renowned for continues.

“I talk to people,” Peacock said.

“I help people on the land understand what some of the big words mean and I tell scientists what those people want and have to know, so they can do what they do. . . 

Developing a Great Pyrenees into a poultry guardian – Uptown Farms:

When we first started raising working Great Pyrenees puppies, our dogs went almost exclusively to sheep and goat farms or occasionally to guard cattle herds. But initially, we fielded no requests at all for poultry dogs.

Fast forward to today, and sometimes as many as half the pups in a single Uptown Farms litter are being sent to farms to actively guard birds. Below are some considerations we share with our customers who are looking for poultry or small animal guardians. Please note, we do currently have birds at Uptown Farms, but this is a combination of advice and tips from our customers through the years who have successfully developed poultry dogs. For information on bringing home a livestock guardian, please refer here.

1. Start with a working dog. Starting with a working pup is the most important step for whatever type of working dog you are needing. . .


Rural round-up

13/12/2020

Totara could be part of the water quality answer:

Tōtara oil and milk might seem strange companions – but a project currently under way could one day see both become products emanating from dairy farms.

The pairing is just one option that could stem from a project looking at productive riparian buffers – native and/or exotic planting that can not only promote better water quality in New Zealand waterways but also create new income streams for farmers.

“We know riparian planting benefits the environment by reducing nutrient losses into farm waterways,” says Electra Kalaugher, senior land and water management specialist at DairyNZ. “However, riparian planting can often mean a loss of productive land for farmers.

“Productive riparian buffers are different – and the project is exploring new and existing plant product options and their ability to deliver environmental, social, cultural and financial benefits.” .

Top RWNZ award for shearer – Annette Scott:

A competitive and world record-holding shearer, Sarah Higgins’ passion for shearing has earned her a top award at the NZI Rural Women NZ 2020 Business Awards. She talked with Annette Scott.

SARAH Higgins’ Marlborough-based shearing business breaks all the stereotypes of how a shearing crew might look and behave.

“We strive to break through the status quo of the shearing industry,” Higgins said.

And, it was her passion and commitment to harness her love of the land that has her Higgins Shearing business now firmly rooted in its local community. . . 

 

Farming through the generations – Colin Williscroft:

Members of Guy Bell’s family have been farming in Hawke’s Bay for five generations, with his sons making it six. Colin Williscroft reports.

The Bells are a family that farms four properties across Hawke’s Bay, from the Central Hawke’s Bay coast to the foothills of the Ruahines.

Guy Bell is the fifth generation of his family on his mother’s side to farm in the area, and the second on his father’s side.

He has two brothers and a sister who also farm in the district. . . 

Cut flower farming grew after few seeds planted – Mark Price:

Anna Mackay, of Spotts Creek Station in the Cardrona Valley, has diversified into cut flowers. She described to Mark Price her experiences so far.

During a family holiday in Matakana a few years back, I purchased a book called The Cut Flower Garden by Erin Benzakein, of Floret Farms, in the United States, and I was totally inspired by her story.

In my past life, I have owned a florist’s shop, have been heavily involved with interior design, worked alongside Annabel Langbein as her prop stylist during her ‘‘free-range cook series’’ and, in later years, operated an event-styling company, Barefoot Styling, with good friend Sarah Shore.

When the younger of our two sons started school in September 2016 I wanted to slow my life down. . . 

Sowing the seeds of success :

Rangiora’s Luisetti Seeds’ warehouses, seed clearing facilities and silos are a constant reminder to locals of the town’s long agricultural history.

The family business was established by Vincent Luisetti in 1932 and while it may be 88 years old, the company is in expansion-mode and is investing in state-of-the art seed cleaning technology.

Edward Luisetti, Vincent’s grandson and Luisetti Seeds managing director says the company is in the process of installing the highest capacity ryegrass and cereal seed cleaning facility outside of America. It will be located in Ashburton.

The machinery has been purchased from Germany and initially, Covid delays put a spanner in the works. . . 

Are cows getting a bad rap when it comes to climate change? – Stu McNish:

A leading climate scientist, Myles Allen, believes the effect of cattle on climate change has been overstated.

“The traditional way of accounting for methane emissions from cows overstates the impact of a steady herd by a factor of four.”

That’s a problem, says Allen. “If we are going to set these very ambitious goals to stop global warming, then we need to have accounting tools that are fit for purpose. … The errors distort cows’ contributions — both good and bad — and, in doing so, give CO2 producers a free pass on their total GHG contribution.”

Allen is a heavyweight in climate circles. The BBC described him as the physicist behind Net Zero. In 2005, he proposed global carbon budgets and in 2010, he received the Appleton medal and prize from the Institute of Physics for his work in climate sciences. . .


Rural round-up

27/11/2020

Farmgate prices for red meat set to fall – Sudesh Kissun:

Red meat farmers are being warned to brace themselves for a dip in market returns.

A new report from Rabobank says reduced global demand for higher-value beef and lamb cuts in the year ahead will see New Zealand farmgate prices for beef and sheepmeat drop from the record highs experienced over recent seasons.

In the bank’s flagship annual outlook for the meat sector, Global Animal Proteins Outlook 2021: Emerging from a world of uncertainty, Rabobank says a slow and uneven recovery in the international foodservice sector, combined with weak global economic conditions, will reduce demand for higher-value New Zealand red meat cuts such as prime beef and lamb racks. . . 

NZ venison ‘facing perfect storm’ – Annette Scott:

Despite currently facing the perfect storm, the deer industry is confident New Zealand farm-raised venison has a long-term future.

With the covid-19 resurgence disrupting key venison markets across Europe and the US, NZ venison processors and marketers are making major efforts to again find new outlets for farm-raised venison cuts.

Many countries and regions have reimposed hospitality lockdowns, meaning expensive cuts such as venison striploins are sitting in freezers in Europe and the US waiting for restaurants to re-open.

Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) chief executive Innes Moffat says the current situation is a challenge with the bulk of NZ venison sold to the US and Germany destined for the food service. . . 

 

Challenges ahead but opportunities abound – Colin Williscroft:

Melissa Clark-Reynolds is stepping down from her role as independent director at Beef + Lamb NZ at the end of the year but she is excited about the future of the primary sector. Colin Williscroft reports.

In-market strategies used to market and distribute New Zealand-produced food will need to be increasingly agile during the next few years, Melissa Clark-Reynolds says.

With food service overseas under pressure due to lockdowns, the emphasis has gone back on retail sales and she predicts traditional markets will be disrupted until at least 2022.

However, the current importance of retail avenues does not mean outlets such as supermarkets are going to have it all their way, with direct-to-consumer products gaining an increasingly strong foothold. . . 

Shearing company scoops business award

Higgins Shearing, Marlborough, was named the Supreme Award winner at the NZI Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) Business Awards last night.

The company was one of seven category award winners announced at the Public Trust Hall in Wellington.

“We strive to break through the status quo of the shearing industry,” owner Sarah Higgins said.

Higgins said that her inspiration comes from passion for the job. . . 

Family lavender farm flourishing – Mary-Jo Tohill:

When there’s a will there’s a way.

That would just about sum up things for the Zeestraten family when they first came to a bare paddock in Wanaka about eight years ago, and began to establish their 12ha Wanaka Lavender Farm.

With the lavender beginning to bloom for a new season, co-owner Tim Zeestraten (37) recalls a journey that began 25 years ago when the family moved from Holland.

“My opa (grandfather) was a tomato grower, which my dad, Jan Zeestraten took over. I was probably — actually most definitely — going to be next in line to continue the family tomato farm, which I was very excited about at the young age of 10. . . 

New England Peonies enjoy bumper peony season on the Northern Tablelands – Billy Jupp:

THEY are one of the most highly sought-after features of Australia’s spring wedding season and are often the centrepiece of a couple’s special day.

Despite COVID-19 forcing many people to postpone their nuptials, 2020 still proved to be a stellar year for peonies.

The colourful, full-bodied flower was still in high demand and the chilly winter conditions on the state’s Northern Tablelands proved to be the perfect breeding ground.

New England Peonies owner Barry Philp said this season was one of the best in his family’s 20 years of growing peonies on their Arding property, near Armidale. . . 


Rural round-up

02/11/2020

Farmers set for another tough summer as staffing woes drag on – Esther Taunton:

Kiwi farmers could be in for another tough slog through spring and summer as staffing woes drag on.

With last summer’s drought still fresh in the minds of farmers across the North Island and many in the south hit hard by February’s floods, the weather remains a concern for many.

But with Niwa predicting a change for the better in the north, including a higher chance of beneficial rain through November and December, and drier conditions in the south, it could become a secondary issue. . . 

Where to now in the war on rabbits? – Hamish MacLean:

For about 150 years New Zealand has waged a war on rabbits.

Ferrets, stoats and cats have been bred and released en masse to hunt down the pests.

Hundreds of kilometres of fences have been erected to box the animals in.

Rabbit burrows have been gassed.

In the wake of World War 2 fixed-wing aeroplanes were used to drop poison, the landscape being bombed with 1080 from 1954. . . 

Online service aims to help fill shortage in fruit pickers :

A new online job service hopes to get students into summer fruit picking work as growers continue to warn of a dire shortage of pickers.

Earlier this month, another warning from growers was issued in a desperate statement, which said some fruit and vegetables could rot unharvested this summer because of a shortage of people to pick them.

Pick Tiki – dreamed up by university graduates Emma Boase and Summer Wynyard – is now linking young New Zealanders with fruit growers around the country. . . 

Whineray climbs his first Fonterra peak – Hugh Stringleman:

One thousand litres of milk a second are flowing into Fonterra’s processing plants at the height of the spring milk peak, chief operating officer Fraser Whineray says.

The newly re-energised dairy industry senior executive has more gee-whiz statistics.

The full flow is around 82 million litres a day, similar to last year, a farm pick-up every nine seconds, a tanker discharged every 22sec and a container door closed every three minutes. . . 

A strong sense of community – Colin Williscroft:

Kohuratahi farmer Daniel ‘Pork’ Hutchinson spent many years working in the UK and parts of mainland Europe and Australia, but for him there’s nowhere better than the eastern Taranaki farm he grew up on. Colin Williscroft reports.

Pork Hutchinson’s connection to the property where he and wife Ceri live, about 20 kilometres north-east of Whangamomona, runs deep.

Born and bred on the property, he’s the third generation of his family to farm it.

Schooled locally, the Welsh black cattle breeder and local community stalwart spent his early years just down the road at Marco School, before his secondary school years at Stratford High. . . 

Bull semen flies out door as LIC ships biggest ever shipment to South Island:

Demand for LIC’s fresh liquid bull semen is literally flying out the door as demand rockets. The cooperative has chartered a plane through Mainland Air to airfreight over 70,000 straws of semen (its biggest inter-island shipment) from Hamilton to Nelson, Christchurch, Invercargill and Dunedin departing on Saturday 31 October.

The shipment is just one of many LIC will be making as its team works to impregnate four million cows over the coming months.

The 12cm long straws flying out of Hamilton tomorrow will be stored in secure chilly bins as cargo during the flight with care and speed of delivery critical to maintaining the semen’s integrity. . . 


Rural round-up

04/10/2020

Regenerative agriculture: let’s put these claims to the test – Catherine Wells:

Lincoln University’s Professor Derrick Moot and retired plant scientist Dr Warwick Scott have done an admirable job by drawing Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor’s attention to the pros and cons of “regenerative agriculture”.

Dr Jacqueline Rowarth, a soil scientist, has written on the topic too. In an article for the New Zealand Herald’s “The Country section”, which challenged the notion that moving to regenerative agriculture with an organic focus will create a primary sector with more ability to help with Covid-19 recovery. Her conclusion: this is wonderful in theory, but doesn’t work in practice.

NZIAHS members should be lending their support – but the bigger issue which should perturb us is the attack on science itself in this era when easy access to the internet can spread fake news, deceptions, falsehoods, fabrications and canards faster and over a much vaster patch of the globe than a top-dresser can spread superphosphate. . . 

Banning nitrogen fertiliser would put food production back decades – Macaulay Jones:

When it comes to synthetic nitrogen fertiliser, good management practices should be encouraged, not an outright ban, writes Federated Farmers Climate Change and Trade Policy adviser, Macaulay Jones.

Synthetic nitrogen fertiliser is suffering from a PR problem in New Zealand.

It’s regularly demonised and blamed for the degradation of waterways, for contributing to climate change and for enabling a perceived unsustainable growth of farming. Some are even calling for it to be banned altogether.

But while synthetic nitrogen fertiliser can undoubtedly lead to environmental issues if used carelessly, it’s this careless use which should be avoided – not the use of the product. . . 

Feds reject trade concerns – Colin Williscroft:

Federated Farmers is confident that scaling back new freshwater regulations or making amendments to climate change legislation will not hurt New Zealand’s prospects of future free trade deals.

As reported in last week’s Farmers Weekly, NZ’s top trade negotiator Vangelis Vitalis has warned sheep and beef farmers that their environmental and animal welfare record will come under close scrutiny, as countries search for ways to protect their own food producers who have taken a hit to demand for their products as a result of coronavirus.

Vitalis acknowledged that environmental regulations will come at a cost to NZ farmers, but says it could pay off in terms of providing improved market access under future free trade deals by helping to quell opposition to them in those countries involved.

Feds president Andrew Hoggard agrees with Vitalis that NZ both needs and has a good environmental record that can be presented internationally. . . 

Nearly 5 million ewes lost in 10 years – Mel Croad:

The breeding ewe flock continues to battle land use changes and wavering popularity with farmers. However, with many water regulations and policies negatively targeting cattle, sheep farming could find favour once again. Achieving any growth in ewe numbers will be hard in the next 12 months though.

The latest Beef + Lamb NZ Stock Survey estimates breeding ewe numbers held at 16.86 million head. While the breeding flock has stabilised, there could be a real inability to build numbers. The number of hoggets that dispersed this year is the greatest issue. Drought conditions forced farmers to offload hoggets rather than keep them as replacements. This partially explains why the 2019 lamb crop was recently revised higher by over 500,000 head. 

Forecasts peg breeding hogget numbers to be back by 740,000 head on last year, mostly within the North Island. Chances are not all these hoggets were mated this year, or would have even entered the breeding flock next year, but the significant drop in numbers creates a couple of issues. . . 

A precious endeavour:

A possum hunter, a farming couple and a young Polish man are part of the small community who live in Endeavour Inlet in the Marlborough Sounds where, even in this remote spot, the effects of the global pandemic are being felt.

Country Life visited the bay and discovered Covid-19’s tentacles have a long reach indeed.

Listen duration22:24

A hammock in the bush and a feed of wild goat is heaven to Endeavour Inlet’s Possum Gary.

The tall lean Southlander has been living on and off in the bush around the furthest reaches of the inlet in the Marlborough Sounds for about five years now, setting traps and living off the land.

Endeavour Inlet is at the Cook Strait end of Queen Charlotte Sound/ Tōtaranui, a good hour from Picton by boat. . .

Green Party activists told don’t use ‘big words’ when talking to rural voters and Travellers – Cormac McQuinn:

GREEN Party activists have been told not to use ‘big words’ when trying to appeal to rural voters as they may not understand what they mean.

Senator Róisín Garvey said party members need to “choose their words” adding that she learned this from working with Travellers.

Ms Garvey made the remarks at the party’s National Convention during a debate on the “anti-Green narrative” in rural areas that sees the party struggle to win votes outside the big cities.

The Clare-based Senator said of rural voters: “we don’t have to give them statistics on carbon this and climate that and use big vocabulary. . . 


Rural round-up

24/08/2020

Family first for these high flyers – Ashley Smyth:

Topflite tends to fly under the radar when people think of Oamaru businesses, but for this family-owned success story, things are quietly taking off. Ashley Smyth reports.

While being Oamaru-based can present its challenges, these are far outweighed by the benefits the small-town lifestyle offers, Topflite general manager Greg Webster says.

“The fact we’re close to where the product is grown is a big one. Also, being a family business, family is always something we’ve put importance on.

“We want people to have a life outside of work. Living in Oamaru allows that – your staff don’t have an hour commute.”

The company, perhaps most famous locally for its striking sunflower crops, was founded by Greg’s father Jock Webster and Jock’s brothers-in-law Ross and Bruce Mitchell, in the 1970s. . . 

Minister missing in action:

The Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor has taken a staggering 10 days during the Auckland level 3 lockdown to grant a blanket exemptions for sheep and beef farmers, National’s Agriculture spokesperson David Bennett says.

“The previous lockdown allowed farmers to continue operations and travel between properties as essential workers, the current lockdown has imposed stricter requirements of needing a Ministry of Health exemption.

“The delays and confusion are a direct result of the Government’s lack of planning for an outbreak.

“Minister O’Connor has failed to see that this would require further compliance from farmers. It was only after heavy pressure from various sectors that saw exemptions for diary, horticulture and poultry. . . 

New rules go ‘too far’ – farmer – Sally Rae:

“Farming’s a tough game but they are hellbent on making it tougher.”

West Otago dairy farmer Bruce Eade is concerned about the Government’s new freshwater regulations which start coming into force from September 3, saying many of the rules concerning winter cropping and grazing were “almost unfarmable” in the South.

The Eade family are longtime dairy farmers and converted their Kelso property 25 years ago. They milk about 550 cows, have a free-stall barn and also winter beef cattle on crop.

“We’re lifers, you could say. We do it for the cows is the biggest thing for us. If I didn’t love my cows, I wouldn’t be doing it. There’s far easier ways to make a living,” Mr Eade said. . . 

Scramble over new freshwater rules – Colin Williscroft:

Regional councils and industry good groups are scrambling under a tight timeframe to get to grips with how new freshwater regulations will be implemented and what its impact on farmers is likely to be.

The new Essential Freshwater rules became law earlier this month and in the past couple of weeks councils and groups including Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) and DairyNZ have been studying the detail of the regulations so they and the people they represent are as prepared as possible for changes when they come into effect.

Some of those changes come into effect next month, while others will be rolled out over the next few years. . . 

Wool handler keeping work local – Mary-Jo Tohill:

It’s a perfect early spring-like day in the Ida Valley in Central Otago.

Merinos bleat in the yards, and the shearing machines buzz inside the woolshed as the crew gets to work.

Southland-based world-class woolhandler Tina Elers quickly finds her rhythm as the fleece hits the table.

This time of year, she’s chasing the work as well as thinking about upcoming competition as a woolhandler.

“Do I treat the fleece any differently? No. What I do every day in the shed as a wool classer is practice for competition.”

Both come down to quality and speed. . . 

Expensive Geraldine-produced Wagyu beef being auctioned for charity– Samesh Mohanlall:

A South Canterbury farm has produced one of the biggest rare Wagyu steers ever seen in New Zealand.

Evan and Clare Chapman of Rockburn Farming near Geraldine have been raising Wagyu (a term referring to all Japanese beef cattle), which is renowned for its sought after marbled meat and costs hundreds of dollars for a simple steak since 2017.

Last week a 946 kilogram Wagyu steer from the farm was processed by First Light, the New Zealand farming co-operative the Chapman’s belong to.

“This isn’t a one-off,” the co-op’s managing director Gerard Hickey said. . . 

Using data in Nigeria to reduce violence and build food security – Rotimi Williams:

Farming should be safe, but in Nigeria it can be deadly.

It’s so dangerous, in fact, that a report released on June 15 by an all-party parliamentary group in the United Kingdom asks a provocative question in its title: “Nigeria: Unfolding Genocide?

Thousands of Nigerian farmers are murdered each year, according to human-right groups such as Amnesty International-and all we want to do is protect our land so that we can grow the crops our families need and our country requires.

As a rice farmer in Nigeria, I’ve seen this problem up close-and I’m trying to solve it with technology. . . 


Rural round-up

18/08/2020

COVID-19: Time to invest in primary sector R&D – Jacqueline Rowarth:

More investment in agriculture is required to achieve further growth post-COVID, according to Dr Jacqueline Rowarth.

Agricultural debt has reached almost $63 billion dollars, up from $12 billion in 2000.

Not generally mentioned in the same news item is that over the same time period, business debt has increased to $122 billion from $41 billion and household debt (mortgage and personal debt) has increased to $297 billion from $70 billion.

New Zealanders have been investing on farm, in business and in their homes to improve the futures, just as the Government has done during the COVID-19 response. . . 

Farmers need a business mindset – Tony Benny:

A Canterbury farming couple made several changes to their farm system to be more environmentally sustainable, earning them the 2020 Canterbury Balance Farm Environment Supreme Award. Tony Bennyreports.

The key to improved environmental outcomes is for farmers to be profitable and efficient so they can afford to make necessary changes, say Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Supreme Award winners Tony Coltman and Dana Carver.

“It’s not enough to be a good dairy farmer, meaning good with cows and grass, you have to be able to run a profitable business as well. If we, as farmers, don’t learn to be good business managers we’re going to struggle to survive in the world we’re heading into,” Dana says. . . 

Spontaneous fractures – Elbow Deep:

It’s a little daunting starting a new dairy season when you’re coming off the back of the best season the farm has ever had; record production has the effect of setting high expectations of yourself and your staff, and the desire to beat the previous year’s results is foremost in your mind.

Mid Canterbury has had the perfect start to the 2020 season; pasture covers lifted in June thanks  to mild temperatures and good rainfall while all the cows were off farm, and the continuing mild and dry weather since the cows came home has made this one of the easiest calvings I can remember.

While I’ve been making the most of the fine and settled weather I’ve also been waiting for something to go wrong, after all nothing this good can last forever.  I’ve been maximising the benefits of the great conditions while simultaneously bracing myself for an adverse event along the lines of the snowfall of 2006, the one that left this farm without power for twelve days and others in the dark for much longer. . . 

Vets unable to explain broken shoulders in cattle – Gerald Piddock:

Veterinarians and other experts are mystified to explain why more dairy cows are ending up with broken shoulders.

Dairy heifers seem to be most prone to the humerus bone injuries during their first lactation, although they occasionally fall to them in the second lactation. Experts believe the broken shoulders are not an issue with beef cattle.

Broken shoulders appeared mostly during peak lactation in September-October, although they also occurred before calving and through to December, Massey University veterinary professor Dave West told farmers at Limestone Downs Station’s annual field day.

West said a soon-to-be-released study from the university showed this was a serious problem in the dairy industry. . . .

TB strain linked to feral pigs – Colin WIlliscroft:

The same strain of bovine TB infecting Hawke’s Bay cattle has been traced back to feral pigs in the Waipunga area off the Napier Taupo Highway, although pest control on the block of land where the pigs were found has been held up through an objection before the Maori Land Court.

Farmers who attended a recent series of three meetings in Hawke’s Bay, arranged by Ospri to update them on the status of the TB control operation in the region, were told DNA-typing of the TB strain found affecting the region has been traced back to feral pigs on about 12,000ha of Tataraakina C Trust land.

That confirms that the spread of TB in Hawke’s Bay is coming via wildlife and not through movement of livestock. . . 

Ground spreaders celebrate award winners:

The winners and runners up of the 2020 New Zealand Groundspread Fertilisers Association (NZGFA) awards were congratulated by Executive Officer, Melanie Dingle, on their contributions to the ground spreading industry at the association’s recent online AGM.

Ted Usmar, head of engineering at Waikato-based Wealleans Ltd, was awarded the Trucks & Trailers sponsored Innovation Award for his long-term commitment to continuous improvement to technical efficiency and driver safety. During his 30 year career, Ted has created engineering solutions that ensure spreader trucks work as efficiently as possible while offering the best safety features for operators. From making small tweaks to full re-designs, Ted’s foresight and innovation is recognised in New Zealand as well as overseas. . . 

Six farmers develop Scotland’s first gluten free oat supply chain :

Six farms have collaborated to develop Scotland’s first gluten free oat supply chain that guarantees provenance, assurance and full traceability.

The market opportunity for gluten free oats drove the six Aberdeenshire farmers to investigate a new supply chain.

The group recognised that, while oats are naturally gluten free, there was no oat assurance scheme that guaranteed that oat storage post-harvest and milling facilities hadn’t been contaminated with gluten from other cereal grains. . .

 


Rural round-up

16/08/2020

Time to get real about who we’re letting into NZ – Esther Taunton:

Picture this – you’re stranded on a desert island, absolutely ravenous and bored out of your mind.

Two crates fall from the sky. One is full to the brim with food, the other contains a portable DVD player and a selection of blockbusters.

Which are you happier to see?

I could probably stop writing right there because most people are going to go with the food, for the simple fact that it will keep them alive. . . 

Business focus helps realise ownership goal – Colin Williscroft:

A changing New Zealand farming landscape has made it increasingly difficult for the next generation to get into farm ownership. Colin Williscroft spoke to Tim and Monique Neeson, who have bucked that trend.

As farm ownership has shifted away from the traditional family-owned model to one that is more corporate based, it has become harder for the next generation of young farmers to buy their own property.

Ruapehu farmers Tim and Monique Neeson, who farm at the end of a no-exit gravel road in Tokirima on the Forgotten World Highway between Whangamomona and Taumarunui, say they are aware that others of their generation have found it difficult to achieve what they have – become farm owners.

For them they knew early on that ownership was what they wanted and focused on that goal; it was just a matter of working out how to achieve it. . . 

 

Saddle-maker learned to fix gear while mustering – Sandy Eggleston:

Barry (Salty) Cox’s interest in making leather goods has its origins in the days when he worked on Glenaray Station.

The 80-year-old Freshford man has worked with leather since as a young man he worked on the station as a musterer.

Mr Cox said 60 years ago much of the stock work on the station was done on horseback. . .

Scheme aims to boost dairy apprenticeships – Colin Williscroft:

Dairy farmers now have financial incentive to take on an apprentice.

Under the Apprenticeship Boost scheme, which began this month and is due to run until the end of next year, dairy farmers who take on an apprentice will be eligible for $1000 a month for the first year of an apprenticeship and $500 a month during the second year.

To be eligible, apprentices must be part of a Tertiary Education Commission-approved New Zealand apprenticeship or managed apprenticeship programme and have done less than two years of their training.

Employers can apply for the Apprenticeship Boost whether an apprentice has just started their training programme, or right up until near the end of their first two years. . . 

An action-packed farm experience for urban kids – Country Life:

Katie Earle started Bush Farm School because she’s passionate about sustainability and wants children to be more resilient and resourceful.

The primary school teacher has teamed up with Banks Peninsula sheep farmer Stella Bauer to develop a hands-on farm programme that gets 5 to 12 year-olds out of the classroom and understanding where food and fibre come from.

Most of the children have never been on a farm before and Earle thinks education needs to change to accommodate more land-based teaching.

“We have no behaviour issues, the kids are wholly engaged and they’re learning about the environment, where they live and how it all connects together,” she says. . . 

Ditch soy alternatives for cows’ milk says the Sustainable Food Trust – Oliver Morrison:

Consumers who want to help make a more sustainable planet should choose cows’ milk over soy alternatives, concludes a study of the published current evidence, based on peer reviewed journals, by the Sustainable Food Trust.

A 2018 Oxford University study claimed that making a glass of cow’s milk produces almost three times more greenhouse emissions and consumes nine times more land than and plant based alternative.

But these claims have been challenged by fresh research by the Sustainable Food Trust. . .


Rural round-up

09/08/2020

Difficult but the right call – Sudesh Kissun:

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says the joint decision three years ago to eradicate Mycoplamsa bovis was a difficult call. However, Mackle says the 10-year eradication plan, while difficult, was the best option for farmers and the economy. He made the comments to mark three years since the bacterial disease was first detected in New Zealand. The discovery shocked the industry and triggered one of New Zealand’s largest ever biosecurity responses.  . .

Farmers missing out on newer technology – Mark Ross:

Ineffective regulation is leading to farmers and growers missing out on products that will increase their productivity and be safer to use.

The Government launched a bold plan to boost primary sector export earnings by $44 billion over the next decade, while protecting the environment and growing jobs.

The plan, launched last month, involves a 10-year roadmap to unlock greater value for a sector vital to New Zealand’s economic recovery.

As the Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor pointed out, there is huge potential in the roadmap, but it can only be achieved through a close government partnership with industry and Māori. . . 

Lamb weight not demand driving price – Annette Scott:

South Island lamb supply is tight but while seasonal procurement pressure may be enough to see marginal price lifts in some regions, weak export markets are keeping a cap on prices.

Alliance Group key account manager Murray Behrent said while procurement pressure may appear to be at fever pitch around the saleyards, the difference in pricing is the weight of the lambs.

Agents around Canterbury saleyards are reporting strong demand is driving prime lamb values with top prices at Temuka and Coalgate this week, fetching $194 and $198 respectively. . . 

Council exploring water storage sites – Colin Williscroft:

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is actively investigating freshwater storage sites to carry excess winter water through to dry periods in summer.

It’s part of a four-pronged regional water security programme, supported by the Provincial Growth Fund, which includes a region-wide freshwater assessment, a 3D aquifer mapping project, and exploring viable locations for small-scale community storage schemes in the Central Hawke’s Bay (Tukituki River) and Heretaunga (Ngaruroro River) catchments.

Council acting manager regional water security Tom Skerman says the regional water assessment is analysing water supply and demand across the region to 2050. . . .

Tarras no stranger to the sly land-buyer transaction – Mark Price:

Before international airports became the talk of Tarras, farming was the district’s main preoccupation. In all its guises, farming has stamped its mark on the district and its people over 162 years. Mark Price takes a look at what has happened to Tarras in the days since its potential for farming was first realised.

Christchurch International Airport Ltd caught plenty of flak for the way it bought up land at Tarras for an airport.

Its agents, while making offers to landowners, did not disclose who they were working for, or why the land was wanted.

The airport’s chief executive, Malcolm Johns, was the man who orchestrated the purchase of 750ha for an airport, at a cost of $45 million.

He saw the potential, acted swiftly and quietly and came up last month, holding the deeds to the various farming properties. . . 

Broadacre farmers have their own fire experience – Mal Peters:

Reinforcing farmers’ perceptions the Rural Fire Service is a Sydney-centric bureaucracy, northern NSW broadacre farmers are scratching their heads at the declaration of a bushfire danger period on August 1.

Grass burns poorly in winter, so most of us are waiting for warmer weather.

We can get a permit to burn, but that only adds to our daily mountain of red tape.

Given recent megafires you’d think the RFS would make it easier to conduct controlled burns. . . 


Rural round-up

02/08/2020

Country’s backbone performs:

New Zealand’s primary sector has added steel to the country’s economy in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recently released report.

Economic and research firm NZIER latest Insight report – released last week – says the livestock, forestry and horticulture sector have performed well over the lockdown period and as the Covid-19 crisis has continued overseas.

“Our land-based industries have proven themselves to be exceptionally resilient, particularly when it comes to trade” says Chris Nixon, NZIER principal economist and lead author of the report.

Farmstrong: fill the fountain not the drain – Trish Rankin:

Juggling farm work and family responsibilities is a challenge many rural women face.

Taranaki sharemilker and 2019 Dairy Woman of the Year winner Trish Rankin and her husband Glen run a 460-cow sharemilking operation near Manaia. 

Life’s plenty busy for the couple, they’re also raising four kids aged 15, 13, 9 and 7.

“I generally work about four days a week on-farm over the season just to give people days off but obviously in calving and higher-intensity times I’m full-time on-farm.  . . 

From cockpit to farm :

When COVID-19 ground his eight-year career as a pilot for Air New Zealand to a sudden halt, Henry Lambert decided to turn it into an opportunity for a complete change – to farming.

His story has been featured as a positive example of COVID career pivots on the six o’clock news, but the father-of-two is no stranger to dairy. He grew up around his grandfather’s and uncles’ dairy farms and while he was flying planes, a career on the land had always been in the back of his mind. So, when the pandemic started to hit the aviation industry, it seemed like the perfect time to change gears.

The dairy industry’s crying out for skilled workers, so Henry hoped by creating a CV and posting it on the Farm Source website, he’d get to give farming a crack.

“I always thought I’d like to have a go one day, so when I was presented with this unique opportunity, it seemed like a good fit.”. . .

Time for sector to find united voice – Allan Barber:

Several organisations with an interest in the future of our agricultural sector have come out with strategies or visions for what needs to be done to find New Zealand’s place in the sun. One such report produced by the Primary Sector Council has been sponsored, one could say hijacked, by the government, and converted by MPI into a set of financial and environmental targets. Another is the result of independent research and consultation. Ideally either the government will engage with the primary sector to agree the best policy settings the industry believes necessary to meet these ambitious targets, rather than insisting on following the plan it commissioned to meet its own priorities.

The coronavirus pandemic and the upcoming Election have to some extent provided a distraction from the pace of environmental change, but nobody should be under any illusion – this will undoubtedly accelerate when a new government is in power which at the moment looks like a Labour/Greens coalition without the NZ First handbrake being needed to govern. There is a small window for the primary sector to argue for its preferred future direction. . . 

Nappies in plan to revive wool – Colin Williscroft:

Using New Zealand strong wool to produce biodegradable disposal nappies for a multi-billion dollar global market is gaining traction as a new avenue for farmers desperate to find new places to sell their product, with multinational companies showing interest in NZ technology.

As part of the recent launch of the strong wool sector’s plan for the future Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said Wellington-based company Woolchemy will get $80,000 from the Ministry for Primary Industry’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures Fund.

Woolchemy co-founder and chief executive Derelee Potroz-Smith says the money will pay for a commercial trial of technology that enables wool to replace petroleum-derived textiles in consumer hygiene products, adding significant value to the raw material produced by NZ strong wool farmers. . . 

New crops offer opportunities :

Six ‘star’ crops – soy, hemp, chickpeas, oats, buckwheat and quinoa – could represent new opportunities for New Zealand farmers.

According to the Specialty Grains & Pulses Report produced by an Our Land and Water National Science Challenge research programme, Next Generation Systems, locally grown grains and pulses like soy, chickpeas and quinoa are being explored by local researchers and growers. In the report, researchers looked at the opportunities presented by new and different plant crops in the grain and pulses families. From a long list of 22 possible grains and pulses, the research team narrowed their focus down to six ‘star’ crops they think have the most potential for New Zealand farmers. These are soy, hemp, chickpeas, oats, buckwheat and quinoa. 


Rural round-up

25/07/2020

Irrigation NZ restructures in response to sector’s needs:

Irrigation New Zealand is restructuring to put renewed focus on solving the tension between the fundamental need for irrigation in a post-COVID New Zealand, and the sector’s increasingly restricted licence to operate.

In addition, the loss of IrrigationNZ’s flagship conference due to lockdown meant the organisation experienced significant financial loss creating reason to review, reset and refocus.

As such, the Board of IrrigationNZ has restructured the organisation to reflect a new two-pronged approach to focus on advocacy at a national level, as well as deliver value ‘on the ground’ in the regions. The following changes have been made: . .

Rain fails to wash away problems – Colin Williscroft:

The drought might have been broken across most of Hawke’s Bay but many farmers are still dealing with its effects.

Jacqui Anderson, who with husband Wayne has farms at Waipukurau in Central Hawke’s Bay and Maraekakaho, west of Hastings, says the extended drought followed by plenty of rain over the past month has affected each property differently.

They couple have farmed at Waipukurau for 20 years, mainly trading bulls, and put plans in place early. They did a feed budget last year knowing the number of bulls they were likely to carry over winter so bought balage when it wasn’t too hard to get. . . 

From drought to deluge, farmer loses 30 hectares of grass – Amy WIlliams:

A Northland swamp farmer has lost hectares of grass to flooding just months after a drought dried up pastures.

Evan Smeath has farmed a dairy herd on his 190 hectare farm at the top end of the Hikurangi Swamp just north of Whangārei for 42 years.

“This was some of the most intense rainfall I’ve seen in all the time we’ve been here but they’re not the biggest floods,” Smeath said.

“This one came so quick, so fast, it’s done a bit of damage to the fencing and drains. . .

Māori tech business creates app to streamline job matching for seasonal workers – Bonnie Flaws:

A new app that connects seasonal workers with horticultural employers promises to streamline the hiring process.

It was notoriously difficult for horticulture businesses to find and keep skilled staff, Jobloads founder Candice Pardy said.

As a persimmon orchard owner who has struggled to find workers when needed, Pardy said she knew first-hand the frustration of employers. . . 

Want bacon but really prefer to eat lamb? Here’s the product for you – Bonnie Flaws:

Have you ever sat down to breakfast and thought: “I wish this bacon was really made of lamb?”

Auckland butcher Nadine Bates is stocking an unusual product on offer at her shop – lamb bacon. She says it’s a “mind-teasing” alternative to the traditional stuff.

And while you might think of bacon as something that solely comes from pigs, Bates says in fact it can be made from any meat. It’s the curing process that makes something bacon, not the fact that it’s pork, she says. . .

Cutting edge tech removing need for inspectors in meat plants – Shan Goodwin:

Beef and sheep meat processors are well down the road to removing the need for inspectors to come on-site to conduct audits, thanks to cutting-edge augmented reality smart glasses technology.

Australian immersive technology solution company Bondi Labs has been working for several years on wearable, artificial intelligence enabled hands-free technology that would allow for the remote seeing and assisting of tasks and operations within a meat processing facility in real-time.

The initial catalyst for the work was addressing supply chain transparency and quality assurance non-compliance issues in real time globally to build greater trust and confidence in those supply chains. . .


Rural round-up

20/07/2020

New apple ‘Dazzles’ Chinese consumers :

New Zealand’s largest organic apple producer says it cannot keep up with the Chinese demand for New Zealand’s newest apple, Dazzle.

Bostock New Zealand owner John Bostock says Dazzle is the best apple he has ever grown organically in his 30 years of growing organic apples.

“Without any doubt, I believe this is the best apple since the worldwide domination of New Zealand Royal Gala. It looks and tastes amazing, it’s bright red and sweet and it also yields and packs well.”

It’s the first year the company has had commercial volumes of organic Dazzle apples available for Chinese retailers.   . .

Nats hit the rural hustings – Mark Daniel:

National’s Waikato team of David Bennett and Tim van der Molen have been spreading the party word at a series of farmer meetings around the region.

Bennett, now the party’s agriculture spokesman, following Todd Muller’s recent move to leader, focused on the issues likely to affect agriculture. He claimed National’s ag polices aimed to drive momentum.

Starting out by commending the current Government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, Bennett raised the question of how New Zealand will pay its bills in the future. He intimidated that the current Labour/NZ First coalition’s policies were reactionary, rather than visionary.

With all the major political parties agreeing that sustainable agriculture, horticulture and viticulture will be vital in a post-Covid future, Bennett suggested that the current drive for sustainability needs to be addressed.  . .

Honey business finds sweet spot – Colin Williscroft:

When James Annabell’s budding rugby career wasn’t quite going the way he hoped the former Taranaki Bulls hooker put his drive into honey, which has led to the development of a multimillion dollar business, as Colin Williscroft reports.

James Annabell was back in Taranaki on a break from playing rugby in Hong Kong when the chance that changed his life came along.

He’d already tried a law degree in Wellington and played rugby for Taranaki from 2006 to 2008.

But there was no regional contract on offer the following year so he went to Hong Kong and Germany to continue with rugby. . . 

Adventure, experience affords view of pig picture – George Clark:

From his travels and experience in pig farming, Ian Jackson knew he was going to breed pigs in the open air.

A Scot by birth, he was brought up on a pig and poultry farm in the UK. Uninterested in poultry, he specialised in pigs at Usk Agricultural College.

After working in the UK pig industry, he was eager to see the world and set off on an adventure with a tent on his back, wandering across Europe and then to Australia and New Zealand.

Mr Jackson met Kiwi wife Linda 21 years ago this month. She had never lived on a farm and did not know anything about pigs. . . 

Food service finds new pathway – Hugh Stringleman:

A refreshed strategy for its food service business is being introduced by Fonterra to counter the disruption caused by covid-19 to eating out in restaurants and hotels.

Food service revenue is bouncing back, especially in the number one market of China, but positioning has changed, Asia and the Pacific chief executive Judith Swales told a webinar for Fonterra shareholders.

Covid-19 has accelerated trends already apparent in the market like more home cooking, outsourcing in food preparation, more home delivery and investment in digital and contactless technologies. . .

Planting trees to fight climate change ‘ not best strategy’ :

Mass tree planting to mitigate climate change is ‘not always the best strategy’ – with some experimental sites failing to increase carbon stocks, researchers say.

Four locations in Scotland where birch trees were planted onto heather moorland was analysed as part of a new study involving UK scientists.

They found that, over decades, there was no net increase in ecosystem carbon storage.

The team found that any increase to carbon storage in tree biomass was offset by a loss of carbon stored in the soil. . . 


Rural round-up

19/07/2020

Early mornings shear joy – Sally Rae:

It was shearing time on the Strachan family’s sheep and beef farm at Awamoko, in North Otago, and Sid was helping pen up when he was not busy shearing at his own stand.

He had been there since 7am and, by late morning, he reckoned his tally was about 8200 — which might have been a slight exaggeration, but there was no doubting his infectious enthusiasm and work ethic.

Sid might only be 6 years old but he has been interested in shearing from an even younger age and spends a full day in the woolshed whenever he can.

He had two very clear ambitions: to buy North Otago shearing contractor Phil Cleland’s business — “he said I can do it when I’m 13” — and to win the Golden Shears. . .

Wool revival coming – Annette Scott:

South Island farmer Kate Acland says the Government’s report on the wool industry is a chance for the sector to come together and realise its potential.

The Vision and Action for the wool sector put together by the Government-appointed wool industry Project Action Group suggests New Zealand is on the cusp of a natural fibre renaissance being led by more environmentally and socially conscious consumers. 

A new approach is needed to seize the opportunity and turn things around.

The report recommends the appointment of an executive officer and establishment of a wool sector governance group to oversee development of an investment case. . . 

A Fonterra of wool is necessary – Annette Scott:

The wool industry needs a real plan to be profitable and the Government’s vision and action report for wool has failed to deliver, according to some industry leaders.

While the report is a step in the right direction a concrete plan is needed to lift the industry from its doldrums, National Council of New Zealand Wool Interests chairman Craig Smith said.

“It’s a report that tells us what we know, the wool industry in general is in a really bad place.

“What needs to happen very quickly now is another report with a clearly defined strategy then we can put some structure around that strategy,” Smith said. . . 

Nappies in plan to revive wool – Colin Williscroft:

Using New Zealand strong wool to produce biodegradable disposal nappies for a multi-billion dollar global market is gaining traction as a new avenue for farmers desperate to find new places to sell their product, with multinational companies showing interest in NZ technology.

As part of the recent launch of the strong wool sector’s plan for the future Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said Wellington-based company Woolchemy will get $80,000 from the Ministry for Primary Industry’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures Fund.

Woolchemy co-founder and chief executive Derelee Potroz-Smith says the money will pay for a commercial trial of technology that enables wool to replace petroleum-derived textiles in consumer hygiene products, adding significant value to the raw material produced by NZ strong wool farmers. . . 

Still work to be done after diagnosis – Alice Scott:

Like many typical Otago blokes, Scott Clearwater (41) shrugged off his headaches, too busy on his Goodwood sheep and beef farm to see a doctor.

But as Covid-19 cases petered and the country went into Level 2, Mr Clearwater’s headaches got worse.

“He was writhing around on the floor one night and that’s when I said, ‘Enough’s enough, you need to get to a doctor’,” his wife, Joy Clearwater, said.

Since that May 29 GP visit, the family’s life has been turned upside down. . . 

Socially acceptable cows of the future could be within reach – Hannah Powe:

As animal health and husbandry becomes a hot topic in the agriculture industry, DairyBio research scientists have identified the traits needed to breed the socially acceptable cow of the future.

During the Genetics Australia 2020 Virtual Series, Agriculture Victoria principal research scientist and leader of DairyBio, Professor Jennie Pryce said there were five keys areas needed to breed the socially acceptable cow.

“They need to be resource efficient, have a low environmental footprint and low methane emissions, and traits consistent with high standards of animal welfare such as good health and fertility (polled and longevity),” Prof Pryce said. . . 

 


Rural round-up

22/06/2020

Agriculture Minister is missing in (in)action while climate change warriors harry NZ’s dairy industry – Point of Order:

The  world stands  on  the  brink of a  food crisis worse  than  any seen  in the last  50 years, the  UN has  warned  as  it  urged  governments to  act swiftly to avoid  disaster.

So what  is the  Ardern  government  doing about  it?   Shouldn’t   it  be working  to  ramp  up  food production?  After  all,  NZ   prides  itself  on being  among  the world’s  leaders  in producing  high-quality  food.

Instead,  Climate  Change  Minister  James  Shaw is celebrating  being  “ ambitious” in tackling  what he calls the climate crisis with,  he   says, . . 

Carbon farming ‘a waste of land’ driving rural residents away – farmers – Lisette Reymer:

There are warnings that New Zealand’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2050 is destroying rural communities.

Productive sheep and beef east coast farmland is being blanketed in pine trees that may never be harvested in a mission called ‘carbon farming’, where trees are grown for carbon credits, not for sale.

The Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) makes carbon farming a financial windfall for landowners – often making it more lucrative than farming stock or milling the trees for export.

And east coasters fear an impending forestry boom will turn more of its communities into ghost towns. . .

Rural women missing out on vital pregnancy ultrasounds – Conor Whitten:

Maternity care is supposed to be free and available to every woman – but that isn’t the case. 

Senior doctors have told Newshub Nation that funding for maternity care is broken and pregnant women are missing out on ultrasound scans – and Health Minister David Clark has known about it for at least two years.

Lack of access to healthcare for pregnant women can see them miss out on crucial scans, including some that should be offered to every pregnant woman. Going without can have tragic consequences, as Kaitaia midwife Shelley Tweedie told Newshub Nation. 

“The worst outcome you could look at is having a foetal demise, a baby dying. That would be the worst outcome that could happen from a lack of access to ultrasound services. It is absolutely devastating. Nobody would want to go through that.” . . 

Action, not old news, needed now – Neal Wallace:

There is plenty the Rural General Practice Network likes about the just released review of health services. 

Now it wants to see action to address the issues.

The Health and Disability System Review said the inequitable access by rural communities to health care is unacceptable, Network chief executive Grant Davidson said.

Rural health in New Zealand is at breaking point. . . 

Art raising money and awareness – Colin Williscroft:

A painting created in support of farmers’ mental health will raise funds for the Rural Support Trust and reduce the stigma of depression.

Taranaki artist Paul Rangiwahia wrote and produced Top Six Inches in a collaboration with Taranaki Rural Support Trust chairman and national council member Mike Green. 

Green says art is a great way to break down the stigma of mental health while helping people talk about what they are experiencing and feeling.

“Two things which make depression much more likely are having long-term sources of stress and an insecure future,” he says. . .

Working in cheese a world-first for TIA student :

In a world first, a PhD student at the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture is developing predictive tools to influence food safety management decisions for the soft cheese, paneer.

Paneer is a fresh, unaged, soft cheese that is particularly popular in South Asia, but is made and sold around the world.

In Australia, there are currently eight major brands producing paneer, across NSW, Victoria and northern Tasmania.

Not a lot is known about how pathogens behave in paneer and this information is important for refining food safety regulations. . . 

 


Rural round-up

18/06/2020

Farmers must drive change – Colin Williscroft:

Catchment groups offer farmers the chance to take the lead in freshwater quality enhancement while maintaining profits. 

In the process they encourage thriving farming communities, presenters told a Beef + Lamb eforum.

Rangitikei Rivers Catchment Collective chairman Roger Dalrymple said community catchment groups let farmers make change from the bottom up rather than having it forced on them from the top down, which has often been the approach.

Farmers in catchment groups can help lift knowledge and education and have more control of pressure to make environmental improvements while ensuring their businesses remain sound. . . 

Tough road ahead for wool – Sally Rae:

The costs incurred in shearing crossbred sheep are starting to seriously impede the profitability of sheep farming, ANZ’s latest Agri Focus report says.

Strong wool prices were at the lowest level recorded this decade while shearing costs accelerated, a trend that would only continue. Returns were “absolutely dismal” and that situation was unlikely to improve significantly until existing stocks had cleared, the report said.

Wool had built up throughout the pipeline with in-market stocks elevated, local wool stores full and product starting to pile up in wool sheds.

End-user demand for coarse wool remained tied to carpet production. Wool carpets were generally still expensive relative to synthetic carpet which would make selling wool products even more challenging as global economic conditions imploded. . . 

Too important for lazy labels – Mike Manning:

The espoused benefits of regenerative agriculture have captured headlines recently. Proponents argue climate, soil health, waterways and food nutrition can all be improved by taking a regenerative approach. 

That’s quite a list for a cure-all.

Before we throw the export-dollar-generating baby out with the conventional-farming bathwater it pays to probe beneath the buzzword. Where did the concept come from and what is actually meant by the word regenerative?

The concept of regenerative agriculture originated from justifiable concerns about how continuous arable cropping can degrade soils, an example of which occurred in North American wheat and cornfields. The notorious dust bowls of the 1930s were the result of soil problems such as loss of organic matter, compaction, reduced water-holding capacity and diminishing fertility. . . 

New sheep breed key to organic success for Southland family :

Imagine a breed of sheep that requires no dagging, shearing, vaccinations or dipping. It is highly fertile, lives a reproductive life of 15 years or more and puts all of its energy into producing meat.

It has been a 30-year labour of love for Tim and Helen Gow and their family at Mangapiri Downs organic stud farm and this year they are busy selling more than 100 Shire stud rams.

The Gow family established their Wiltshire flock in 1987 after seeing them in England a couple of years earlier.

“Wiltshire horned are believed to have descended from the Persian hair meat sheep brought to Britain by the Romans as the first British meat sheep,” he said. . . 

Reproductive results: Bay of Plenty farm almost halves its empty rate:

A focus on cow condition helped Jessica Willis almost halve the empty rate on a dairy farm she managed for four years.

The 31-year-old ran a 48-hectare farm, milking 150 Holstein Friesians at Opotiki in the Bay of Plenty until May 2020.

The flat property was below sea level and got extremely wet during the winter and spring.

“It was a constant juggling act to ensure cows didn’t pug paddocks and damage pasture when it was wet,” said Willis. . . 

Farming for the future – Virginia Tapscott:

In a eucalyptus forest east of Monto in central Queensland, fat, glossy cattle have retreated to the shade to escape the midday sun. The sun in northern Australia stings even in the cooler months. Flicking flies with their tails, the animals seem completely oblivious to the vital role they have played in the transformation of Goondicum Station. They have enabled Rob and Nadia Campbell to capitalise on the dawn of an unconventional agricultural trade — natural capital.

Not only is the private sector paying them for their bushland and the carbon it captures, but the bank manager is on board too. National Australia Bank has recognised the value of environmental improvements that began at Goondicum in the 1960s, cutting interest rates on parts of the station under conservation. The grazing systems developed by successive generations of the Campbell family have allowed large areas of native vegetation to regenerate and encouraged native wildlife populations to increase. . . 


Rural round-up

09/06/2020

Book puts farming at centre of NZ’s story :

Brian Easton says his new book could not ignore farming’s contribution to the history of NZ.

William Soltau Davidson is not usually considered one of New Zealand’s great 19th century heroes. He came to New Zealand in 1865 as a 19-year-old farm cadet at the Levels in South Canterbury. By the age of 32 he was general manager of the New Zealand and Australian Land Company, which held some 3,000,000 acres in the South Island, in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, some of which Davidson sold off to small holders.

In 1882 he supervised the loading of the first exports of frozen meat at Port Chalmers and welcomed the Dunedin when it reached London. That Davidson does not appear more prominently in our general histories reflects their neglect of the central role of farming.

It is a strange omission, probably the result of the urban base of the writers, the tendency to imitate foreign histories with their focus on industrialisation and their lack of interest in the economy. . . 

Farmer is game for a challenge – Colin Williscroft:

Two-time women’s Rugby World Cup winner Bex Mahoney is these days putting her energy into running a Tararua farming business with her husband Luke but she’s also breaking new ground on the rugby field. There are synergies between the two, as Colin Williscroft reports.

Bex Mahoney likes to challenge herself to have a go at different things because that gives her an edge.

Is a simple philosophy but one that has paid off for the Pahiatua farmer. 

Only the fourth New Zealander to have played 50 first class games of rugby and gone on to referee 50 first class games, both men’s and women’s, the mother of two young girls spends much of her time getting her hands dirty on-farm while also exploring new farming opportunities online and on the phone.  . . 

Farmstrong hits 5th birthday:

Rural wellbeing initiative Farmstrong is celebrating its fifth birthday.

More than 18,000 Kiwi farmers and growers have engaged in the last year alone. 

Farmstrong helps farmers and their families cope with the ups and downs of farming by sharing things farmers can do to look after themselves and the people in their business.

It offers practical tools and resources through its website, workshops and community events, inviting farmers to find out what works for them and lock it in. Farmers using good techniques to stay mentally and physically fit and healthy are regularly featured in stories in Farmers Weekly.  . . 

Queens Birthday honours: cattle breeder Bruce McKenzie:

Bruce McKenzie is proud of his Queen’s Birthday Honour, even though rumour has it, he thought it was a joke at first.

The Wairarapa beef breeder was awarded Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for his services to the cattle industry.

“It’s a great honour to receive this. I think agriculture is going to be a part of the future in New Zealand and I feel very proud to have this honour” he told The Country’s Jamie Mackay. . .

Research finds sheep eyes are the window to their stressed out souls :

Kiwi researchers have found the temperature of a sheep’s eye is linked to the animal’s level of stress.

Thermal imaging technology is being used by AgResearch scientists to gain greater insights into how livestock experience stress, and how that knowledge can help enhance animal welfare.

Research in which the technology is focused on sheep has been published today in the PLOS ONE scientific journal, entitled “Evaluation of infrared thermography as a non-invasive method of measuring the autonomic nervous response in sheep“. . . 

Partners in agritech innovation – Niall Casey:

While it may sound like a cliché to say that Ireland and New Zealand both punch above their weights, it’s clear from the figures that it’s true.

Ireland, a country of less than 5 million people produces enough food to feed over 50 million people, while NZ’s agri-food is known across the world for its food – with its dairy farming passing $15b in export earnings annually.

Both countries are united by their shared commitment to quality, traceability and the highest standards in production and safety.


Rural round-up

24/05/2020

Farmers feel the love – Neal Wallace:

With the demise of New Zealand’s $41 billion tourism industry because of covid-19 the primary sector will carry an even greater economic burden. Not only will it fund the lion’s share of health, education and social welfare but also service the $200 billion the Government plans to borrow. This week we start the series, Growing Our Recovery, which looks at what obstacles and opportunities the sector faces as it leads NZ out of economic recession.

Renewed trust in the primary sector is being shown by the Government and its officials as they see changing economic fortunes around the globe, sector leaders say.

“We are picking up an awareness amongst Government that the stakes have all of a sudden got very high, not that they weren’t high before, but the stakes now are doubly high and they’re very much aware of that,” DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said. . . 

Farmers aim to feed the need – Colin Williscroft:

An AgriHQ initiative started earlier this year is playing a key role providing options for farmers wanting to buy supplementary stock feed while donated balage and hay continue to be trucked into Hawke’s Bay.

In February AgriHQ saw a growing demand for supplementary feed from farmers relying on various avenues to supply their needs.

To connect buyers with sellers it set up the AgriHQ Feed Noticeboard to let sellers listing what they have got, its cost, their location and contact details.

Commercial leader Steph Holloway says the online noticeboard proved popular popular from the start with it not uncommon for feed to be listed one day then gone the next. . . 

Motivated young farmer making rapid gains in sector – Yvonne O’Hara:

Josh Cochrane is passionate about cows and enthusiastic about working in the dairy sector.

At 22, Mr Cochrane has wanted to be a dairy farmer for as long as he can remember.

He is in his first season as a 2IC for contract milkers Ben Franklin and Chelsea Saywell, on Roddy MacInnes’ 140ha property at Ryal Bush, milking 520 cows.

However, next season he moves to a 600-cow property in Oamaru as a contract milker.

He entered this year’s Southland/Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year competition and placed third.

His family were on a dairy farm near Rotorua and moved to Southland in 2007, when he was 10. . . 

Zero bobby calves for South Canterbury farming couple :

The versatility of Holstein Friesians is being credited with allowing a young South Canterbury couple to produce zero bobby calves.

Ryan and Billie Moffat milk 460 cows at Waimate. Production on the 145-hectare irrigated property was 262,000 kilograms of milksolids (kgMS) in 2018-19.

The couple bought the farm off Ryan’s parents Mike and Chris Moffat last year, after buying their herd four years’ earlier.

“Our business doesn’t produce any bobby calves,” said Billie. . .

Farm ownership long term goal – Yvonne O’Hara:

Jakeb Lawson has been working in the dairy industry since he was about 13 and likes it so much, he wants to eventually own his own farm.

Mr Lawson (19) is a farm assistant for sharemilker Matt McKenzie, on a 300ha property owned by Eoin and Jayne McKenzie, at Woodlands.

They milk 650 cows and the expected production this year is 360,000 kg of milk solids.

‘‘I got the opportunity to do some work for my brother-in-law when I was about 13 or 14 and I really enjoyed it,’’ Mr Lawson said. . . 

Farmers still need ‘up to 40,000’ workers to help pick crop :

Farmers still need up to 40,000 workers to help bring the harvest in this summer despite an ‘overwhelming’ response to hiring campaigns.

Defra launched the initiative ‘Pick for Britain’ last month to bring workers and employers together as the impact of Covid-19 leaves a diminished workforce.

From pickers and packers, to plant husbandry and tractor or forklift drivers, there are a wide range of roles available for furloughed employees. . . 


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