Rural round-up

February 5, 2015

Fonterra and DOC working together on World Wetlands Day:

With World Wetlands Day marked this week (February 2), Fonterra and the Department of Conservation (DOC) are continuing their work to improve the health of five key catchments across New Zealand, through their Living Water partnership.

Living Water contributes to the conservation of wetlands through a ten year programme of work to improve water quality and the variety and abundance of native wildlife at the selected catchments located in major dairying regions.

The Living Water catchments are Hikurangi in Northland, three Waikato peat lakes – Areare, Ruatuna and Rotomānuka, Miranda/Pūkorokoro on the Firth of Thames/ Tīkapa Moana, Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere in Canterbury and Waituna in Southland. . .

 Setting dairying women on the right path:

Two participants of the Agri-Women’s Development Trust’s (AWDT) new pilot programme say they have been left feeling empowered and confident in the running of their dairy farming businesses.

Hawke’s Bay dairy farmer Zoe Kuriger and Arohena dairy farmer Cathy Prendergast were among the first intake of the Pathways Programme, which is run in two modules – the first held in November last year.

The Pathways Programme is a collaborative venture between Dairy Women’s Network and AWDT and is funded by DairyNZ and Ministry for Primary Industries. . .

 

Adding value to business and balance to life:

Dairy Women’s Network and DairyNZ are running free goal setting workshops called ‘Know where you are heading’ in nine locations throughout New Zealand during February and March.

The dairy module is suitable for all levels of dairying, however is open to DWN members and non-members, and both men and women of any profession.

The workshop has been jointly developed by DWN and DairyNZ, using material from DairyNZ’s Mark and Measure seminars.

“The aim of the workshop is to build farmer confidence and gain clarity on goals, as well as an understanding of the essentials of planning, goal setting and workable action plans,” said DWN Takaka regional convenor Tyler Langford, workshop co-presenter. . .

Young bidder gets the job done – :

A determined 17-year-old helped to set the prices at this week’s Hawarden crossbred sheep sale, as she held her nerve and saw off rival bidders for three pens of romney two-tooths.

Louisa McClintock was buying on behalf of her father, and paid between $165 and $173 for 230 romney and romney cross ewes.

“Dad just said, ‘Get the ones you like’, so hopefully I’ve done all right for him,” Louisa laughed after the sale. . .

Farmers urged to plan feed for cows carefully:

Industry body DairyNZ is urging farmers facing drier than normal farming conditions to carefully consider how they make their feed planning decisions to keep cows in milk while maintaining their condition.

General manager of extension, Craig McBeth, says farmers are now reaching some crunch points for making the calls on feed planning and milking frequency.

“We know some farmers have moved on to once a day milking or milking every 16 hours as a way of managing their way through what are still very dry conditions in most parts of the country despite the recent rainfall. In the last couple of weeks we’ve seen pastures go from green to brown pretty quickly with limited post grazing regrowth. Soil moisture levels are still well below the average for this time of year and we’re now seeing that reflected in crisp pastures,” he says. . .

 

 

No slowing in demand to buy Canterbury farms:

Local and international interest in the New Zealand rural real estate market remains extremely strong, defying suggestions demand could soften in the face of the lower Fonterra payout to farmers.

Shane O’Brien, national director of Colliers Rural & Agribusiness division, said buyers were taking the medium to long-term view of the dairy industry and were still keenly contesting quality land.

“We’re still getting strong enquiry both from local buyers wanting to expand their land holdings as well as from international funds and private investors.” . .

Wool Demand Outstrips Supply:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that strong buying interest for quick shipment underpinned this week’s wool market for the 13,789 bales on offer from both Islands.

Currency played a minor role despite the New Zealand dollar’s volatility with the indicator for the main trading currencies practically unchanged at 0.6898 compared to the last sale on 29th January.

Of the offering 90.8 percent sold with most unsold wools coming from the Mid Micron selection.

Mr Dawson advises that there were some inter Island variations in price direction in some sectors, with an overall firm to dearer trend. . . .

FMG Selects Interactive Intelligence as Telephony Partner

Reinforces Insurer’s Commitment to Servicing New Zealand’s Rural Sector

Interactive Intelligence Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ININ) has announced that it will partner with FMG, New Zealand’s leading rural insurer, to roll out its Customer Interaction Center™ (CIC) IP communications software suite across the company’s New Zealand service centre operations.

CIC will support FMG in improving its overall customer experience delivery through key features, including recording and quality assurance, multi-media ACD contact centre, IVR, outbound dialer, agent and supervisor desktop functionality. . .

 


Rural round-up

January 15, 2015

Strong demand improves meat export returns:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand compiles lamb, mutton and beef export statistics for the country. The following summarises activity during the first quarter of the 2014-15 meat export season (1 October 2014 to 31 December 2014).

Summary

A more favourable exchange rate and strong demand – particularly for beef – saw average meat export returns improve in the first quarter of the 2014-15 season. . .

Parched land alarms farmers – David Loughrey:

 The reality of Otago’s continuing dry weather is beginning to bite hard and an end to irrigation for some farmers is taking a financial toll.

Andrew and Lynnore Templeton have been a full week in a brown, baking Middlemarch with no water available from a Taieri River running below its minimum flow.

Federated Farmers said farmers were becoming alarmed at how fast the land was drying out, while the Otago Regional Council said it was continuing meetings with farmers to try to deal with the situation. . .

Dry soil conditions put DairyNZ on alert to boost support:

Soils are drying out fast around the country, but above the ground it’s a different story, with grass and feed supplies looking good in many parts of the country, says industry body DairyNZ.

General manager of extension, Craig McBeth, says DairyNZ is closely monitoring the soil moisture and feed levels in all regions in case it needs to quickly ramp up support for farmers having a dry summer coming on top of a low seasonal milk price.

“It is already severely dry in parts of Canterbury and North Otago and farmers there are facing serious measures with some irrigation restrictions now in place. The south of the Wairarapa is also very dry. The soil moisture data is also showing us that the rest of the country is on the brink of heading into dryer than average soil moisture conditions. We need to see some rain soon to reduce the risk of a normal dry summer turning into something more serious,” he says. . .

 The Search is on for the Nation’s Top Steak:

Beef farmers across the country are putting their best entries forward for the thirteenth annual Beef + Lamb New Zealand Steak of Origin Competition.

The highly anticipated competition, sponsored by Zoetis, seeks to find New Zealand’s most tender and tasty steak, an award taken seriously by those in the industry.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand CEO, Dr Scott Champion, says the competition is a great platform to showcase the New Zealand beef industry and illustrates the great care farmers take in producing the best quality beef.

“It’s also a competition keenly contested by beef farmers who strive to take the coveted Steak of Origin title,” says Champion. . . .

New test for serious algal toxin threat saves time and money for NZ shellfish farmers – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – The most serious algal toxin threat to New Zealand shellfish can now be detected faster and at around a quarter of the previous cost through a new test method likely to be introduced this year.

The test for paralytic shellfish toxin (PST), the most serious of shellfish poisoning syndromes caused by harmful algae, has been developed by New Zealand’s Cawthron Institute in collaboration with the UK’s Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science.

Cawthron researchers developed the world’s first instrumental test method for marine toxins in seafood using marine biotoxins it sells for more than $100,000 per teaspoonful to laboratories worldwide after some people fell sick from eating shellfish affected by algal blooms in the 1990s. . .

Potato shortage has upside in Southland – Phil McCarthy:

They’re eating our potatoes in the North Island, and in Taiwan too.

A nationwide potato shortage is leaving some chip-lovers pining for their favourite flavours, with some Southland supermarkets posting notices in chip aisles apologising for supply shortages. However, one Southland company is making up for a shortage of fresh potatoes in the central North Island – and tip-toeing into exporting fresh potatoes to Asia. 

Pyper’s Produce director Brent Lamb said it was not very often the Branxholme-based growers sold potatoes into the North Island but they had since late November because poor growing conditions there had limited the supply of fresh potatoes. . .

Runs on board for deer initiative:

Advance Parties, a Deer Industry NZ initiative designed to help farmers increase the profitability of their farm businesses, is getting runs on the board. At the end of the first year of a three-year trial co-funded by the Sustainable Farming Fund, there are eight Advance Parties underway, involving 89 farms.

Project manager Amy Wills says Advance Party members are committed to personal and farm business development, sharing their data, methods, plans, results, problems and successes. It’s very different to a farm discussion group.

Because members lay all their cards on the table, Advance Party meetings are limited to the participating farmers, their families and staff, plus a facilitator. Meetings are not open to the public or the media. . .

 

New Zealand Winegrowers launches Mandarin-language website

New Zealand Winegrowers has launched a Mandarin-language website to support ongoing marketing activities in China.

The site, www.nz-wine.cn, features information about New Zealand’s wine-growing regions and key grape varietals with content mirroring the flagship English-language site www.nzwine.com. In addition it includes details of upcoming events in Mainland China, links to social media platforms Weibo and WeChat, and offers insight to the New Zealand wine industry’s widespread commitment to sustainability. . .

 


Rural round-up

March 7, 2014

Why agribusiness is different – Keith Woodford:

There is a common perception within Business Schools that agribusiness should operate by the same principles as other businesses. The reality is somewhat different. Agribusiness plays by its own complex set of biophysical rules, and beats to its own drum.

There are at least six defining reasons why agribusiness is different from most other types of business. It is these differences which make agribusiness so complex, so fascinating, and at times so frustrating. It is these same differences that can also cause so-called business experts to struggle when they apply their textbook skills to agribusiness.

The six defining characteristics are long investment cycles, long production cycles, production volatility, food safety issues, the politics of food security and environmental implications. The specific ways that these characteristics play out vary from situation to situation. . .

Education for Agribusiness – Keith Woodford:

Last week I wrote about how agribusiness was fundamentally different to other forms of business. I described the defining characteristics as long investment cycles, long production cycles, production volatility, food safety issues, the politics of food security, and environmental impacts. The one I missed was perishability.

All of the above have implications for agribusiness education. Without an understanding of biology, agribusiness managers will blunder.

Of course agribusiness managers also have to understand the principles of economics, marketing, accounting, finance, and law. And then there is the challenge of bringing all of these together within an overall bio-physical system. . .

Kiwi gene tool offers big boost – Abby Brown:

Kiwi technology developed to find desirable sheep traits and now being used on Atlantic salmon could boost agricultural profits by $300 million every year.

It has potential for use on other farm animals, pastures, pests, trees and diseases and could be used for audit and traceability purposes.

Genomic tools created by AgResearch to test a sheep’s genetic worth and predict its future productive merit and meat quality are now being transferred to Atlantic salmon in Iceland in a project that could see them used in other animals, plants and organisms.

The Infinium chip’s technology has enabled researchers to profile a diverse range of traits in a sheep’s DNA and for the first time across a variety of breeds. . .

Employers must recruit on skills – Marie Taylor:

Fencepost Jobs website staff have refused to post advertisements for dairy farmers who want to employ only Filipino staff.

Employing people had a large legal responsibility that went with it and human rights legislation made it illegal to discriminate in employment, which started with advertising roles, DairyNZ people team leader Jane Muir said.

All New Zealand employers, including farmers, had to recruit on skills, Muir said.

“This should also give you the best person for the role.”

A Fencepost spokeswoman said while the site was the largest in the country for dairy workers, containing up to 500 advertisements for work wanted or offered at one time, the advertisements were not policed. . .

Advanced weaning approach boosts beef return:

IF YOU haven’t weaned your beef calves by the end of this month you could be compromising calf and overall farm performance, the experience of a leading Hawkes Bay station shows.

Rissington Station’s advanced weaning approach, honed over the past five years, is to wean calves at 150 days old instead of the traditional March or April date.

A minimum liveweight threshold of 160kg is applied but in practice calves are averaging 230kg at 150 days. . .

 

Dry message goes out:

DairyNZ is issuing summer dry messages to farmers and advising farmers to look after young stock.

DairyNZ’s Craig McBeth drove from Hamilton to Wellington last weekend and got a pretty good idea of the situation, he says.

The drought is severe in Waikato and he was amazed at how dry it was around Otaki in Horowhenua, he says. He knows it is equally dry in parts of Northland’s west. . . .


Rural round-up

March 1, 2013

Minister welcomes biosecurity report:

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has welcomed a report from the Auditor-General into biosecurity incursions, and says it will be carefully considered by the Government.

“My office has received a copy of the full report today and I’m looking forward to working through it with the Ministry for Primary Industries.

“Biosecurity is my top priority as Minister and we will carefully consider any advice and recommendations that could improve our biosecurity system.

“The report notes improvements MPI already has in progress, including updating plans for dealing with specific pests, better surveillance targeting and more regular exercises and simulations. It also notes that overall New Zealand’s biosecurity system has been improved though sharing knowledge and innovative practices.

“We are always looking to review how we do things, and improve our systems. This report is part of that process, and I would encourage people to read the full document. . .

Auditor-General report sets the right direction:

Federated Farmers welcomes the audit by the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) on the Ministry for Primary Industries biosecurity preparedness and response activities, particularly relating to Food and Mouth (FMD) disease.

“This is an important and timely report given FMD would not only cripple pastoral farming, but it would hit almost every New Zealander in their pocket,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Biosecurity spokesperson.

“We were first contacted by the OAG in 2011 and participated in their initial research.

“The pastoral farming sector itself has been proactive in coming together to deal with weaknesses we identified with FMD response planning. . .

Farmers Need To Know ‘They Are Not Alone’, Says DairyNZ:

Industry body DairyNZ is joining with other agencies and organisations to co-ordinate a range of drought support mechanisms for Northland and other North Island dairy farmers, with a focus on facilitating farmer-to-farmer advice.

A state of drought has been officially declared in Northland today by the Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy, with other regions likely to follow soon.

DairyNZ’s regional team manager, Craig McBeth, says dry conditions are being experienced throughout the North Island and the industry body has already been sending out weekly newsletters with practical advice to farmers. It is also using its local discussion groups to help farmers find out how others are dealing with the dry conditions. . .

Drafting lambs electronically – Gerald Piddock:

Using electronic identification technology in sheep production is paying off for Ken Fraser.

The Fairlie farmer is into his third year using electronic tagging in his sheep flock.

He demonstrated its benefits at a Beef+Lamb field day at Opuha Downs last week.

The information captured by the tags allows him to calculate the growth rates of lambs according to which paddock they grazed on, the crop they ate and what type of ram they were bred from.

It allowed him to measure his lambs by weight gain rather than simply weight. . .

Broom worry backed – Gerald Piddock:

Environment Canterbury is backing the concerns of a Timaru resident over a jump in broom levels throughout the Mackenzie Country this summer.

Broom levels have increased in the Mackenzie Country and other parts of South Canterbury this summer, largely due to the rain the region had in early summer.

The increase prompted Timaru resident Gary Bleeker to write to the Timaru Herald earlier this week out of concern that landowners should take more responsibility to keep on top of the weed. . .

Water governance in NZ – an introduction – Wailolgy:

“Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over.”

So goes the saying, often dubiously attributed to Mark Twain, when talking about water politics in the western US. And while New Zealanders are fortunate to have a much wetter climate (and tend to prefer beer or wine), we are no strangers to fights over water.

We see these tensions time and time again in the news. Fishing vs. irrigation in Canterbury. Greens vs. dams in Hawkes Bay. Residents vs. Auckland Council over rates. The Maori Council vs. the Government over ownership. As a nation, we have diverse and, at times, conflicting values when it comes to water.

To help resolve these tensions we turn to some form of governing body or another. Whether it is the central government, a regional or local government, or even small water user groups, they have been given the authority to make trade-offs on behalf of their constituents – to try to balance rival values. (The word ‘rival’ is in fact derived from the same root as ‘rivulet’ – rivals share the same river.) . . .

 


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