Rural round-up

March 17, 2019

Water restrictions reduced in Nelson after ‘significant’ rainfall in dam catchment – Skara Bohny:

Nelson’s water restriction is back down  to stage two after “significant” rainfall into the dam catchment, and closed reserves are being reopened.

Nelson City Council (NCC) has peddled back from stage three restrictions to stage two after rainfall overnight raised the Maitai Dam levels by 930mm, or just under one metre.

Over the course of the drought, the dam level had dropped by four metres. . . 

GPS-enabled collars allow farmers to steer cows around the farm remotely – Sam Kilmister:

Growing up on a small dairy farm in Waikato exposed Craig Piggott to the problems farmers face.

Armed with an engineering degree and a year’s experience building satellites for Rocket Lab, Piggott, 24, is now solving them with his own agri-tech invention. 

His brainchild is a GPS-enabled collar powered by solar energy, named Halter, which was unveiled to farmers at the Central District Field Days at Manfeild, Feilding, on Thursday. . . 

Wagyu-style lamb group recruiting more farmers – Maja Burry:

A group breeding a premium Wagyu-style lamb is looking to recruit more farmers as it aims to scale up production.

Te Mana Lamb is bred in the New Zealand high country and costs about 50 percent more than normal lamb.

It is marketed as being to lamb what Wagyu is to beef, with a fine marbling of Omega-3 fats achieved through breeding and grazing on a specific type of chicory pasture.

The product is part of the Omega Lamb Project, a programme which started in 2015 and involves New Zealand’s largest sheepmeat exporter Alliance Group, the Ministry for Primary Industries and 35 farmers. . . 

Selecting deer for resistance – Ken Muir:

Selecting deer with natural resistance to internal parasites could be the next tool for deer farmers in their search for better growth rates and ways to reduce the use of drenches in their animals says Tikana Wapiti Stud owner Dave Lawrence.

Resistance levels were scored using a saliva test that measured the antibodies triggered when animals ingested internal parasites.

Dubbed CARLA (Carla), short for carbohydrate larval antigens, the test was developed by AgResearch scientists for the sheep industry, where Carla breeding values (BVs) are now a routine part of genetic selection.

The Carla test measured antibodies triggered when animals ingested internal parasites. The saliva test for the antibodies was now well-established. . .

Precision bee keeping launches in New Zealand:

Helping New Zealand’s commercial bee keepers get more out of their hives is the goal of a new start up that marries together the best of the tech world with solid, Kiwi knowhow.

Until now most of New Zealand’s 880,000 registered bee hives have produced honey without the bee keepers knowing for sure how the hive is operating until the day of harvest. They’ve been working in the blind, hoping and trusting that the hive is active and producing, but with no cost-effective way to check on the hive’s progress.

Typically the first opportunity a bee keeper has to see how a hive is performing is on the day of harvesting itself – something that usually involves helicopters, trucks and personnel. By then, it’s too costly to change the harvesting schedule if required.. . 

Stop the tractor man and tell her when you’re coming home – Uptown Farms:

She didn’t understand. And I didn’t get that she didn’t understand. When I came back to the farm, I was just continuing on what had been done for six generations in my family.

I didn’t know we were so different – the hours, the seasons, the lifestyle. Farming was completely normal to me.

For a long time, I missed just how not normal it was for her. I missed how hard it was. I’m not saying I’m perfect now, but going into our eleventh planting season, I can guarantee I’m better today than I was before. . . 


Rural round-up

February 7, 2019

Drought bites crops in Tasman with little respite forecast for growers – Katy Jones:

Growers are battling to keep crops alive on the Waimea Plains as the drought continues to bite in Tasman district, with no sign of a significant break in the prolonged dry spell.

Irrigators this week saw the amount of water they were allowed to take from catchments on the plains cut by 50 per cent, as the Waimea River dropped to its lowest level for this time of year since the “Big Dry” in 2001.

High winds at the end of last month compounded growers’ woes, further drying out land already parched by a lack of rain and high temperatures. . . 

Court to decide official location of a riverbank – Eric Frykberg:

Where does the bed of a river end and adjacent farmland begin? That is not an easy question to answer, when dealing with braided rivers that often change course.

However, the Court of Appeal will now get the chance to decide the official location of a riverbank.

The problem began in 2017 when a farmer was prosecuted for doing earthworks in the bed of the Selwyn River, in mid Canterbury.

Although he pleaded guilty, the case gave rise to debate about how wide a braided river actually was.

The District Court sided with Environment Canterbury and ruled a river was as big as the area covered by the river’s waters at their fullest flow. . .

Ravensdown CEO agrees farmers have sometimes applied too much fertiliser – Gerard Hutching:

Fertiliser company Ravensdown says it is trying to persuade farmers to use less nitrogen and concedes that in the past too much has been applied “in some cases.”

However it has recently developed new products which result in less nitrogen being lost to the atmosphere or leaching into the soil where it ends up in waterways.

Greenpeace has demanded the Government ban chemical nitrogen because it claims it causes river pollution. It has created billboards accusing Ravensdown and its competitor Ballance Agri-Nutrients of polluting rivers. . . 

Group ignores fertiliser facts – Alan Emerson:

Driving out of Auckland I saw a huge billboard with the message: Ravensdown and Ballance pollute rivers.

How can that be, I thought, but then I noted the billboard was put there by Greenpeace and Greenpeace never lets the facts get in the way of its prejudices.

Starting at the top, the two fertiliser companies don’t pollute rivers, they sell fertilisers, so factually it is wrong.

According to my dictionary pollute means contaminate with poisonous or harmful substances or to make morally corrupt or to desecrate.

How, then, can Ravensdown and Ballance pollute? . . 

Change constant in 50-year career – Ken Muir:

When you have worked for more than 50 years in the rural sector, change is a constant and for Andrew Welsh, an agribusiness manager at Rabobank in Southland, this has included everything from the model of car he was supplied with to the way he communicates with co-workers and his clients.

Mr Welsh said farming was in his DNA.

”My great grandparents farmed in South Otago and Opotiki, and going further back than that our relatives had farmed in County Durham before coming out to Hawkes Bay.”

He started in the industry at the bottom, he said.

”When I started at Wright Stephenson’s in Gore in 1968 as an office junior, I was everybody’s general dogsbody.” . . 

 

Halter targets April launch date

Kiwi agritech start-up Halter expects to commercially launch its unique GPS-enabled cow collars in April.

“We have just finished setting up our production line in China and we have had our first collars off the line come back,” chief executive and founder Craig Piggott told the Young Farmers conference.

“We are targeting April as our commercial launch. It’s all happening very quickly.”

Auckland-based Halter has developed the collar, which allows cows to be guided around a farm using a smartphone app. . . 


Rural round-up

March 30, 2017

Taihape farmer opens up about depression – Gerard Hutching:

Taihape farmer Dan Mickleson has spilled his heart out on Facebook after a second bout of depression, and has been overwhelmed by the response. 

“The reaction’s gone way beyond anything I imagined when I asked them to post it. I thought it might get 100 likes and 20-odd comments but when they sent me the tracking stats this morning it’s reached over 130,000 people,” he said.

Entitled “Real Men Don’t Cry”, the 1000-word admission of Mickleson’s struggles was posted on the NZ Farming Facebook page.

I’m a food producer not a farmer: Richard Kidd  – Gerald Piddock:

Richard Kidd is not just a sheep and beef farmer, he is a food producer.

It is a small but subtle twist on words that he believed has helped him better connect with urban consumers.

Just calling himself a farmer was too broad, he said.

“We have a better story to say than we are just farmers. We are producing food that the public has to eat and I think they deserve to know that it’s well farmed, as free as chemicals as possible and a good story behind it.” . . 

Engineering student’s start-up has billion-dollar prospects – Madison Reidy:

Growing up on a 300-cow dairy farm in Matamata exposed Craig Piggott to the problems farmers face.

With a first class honours engineering degree and a year’s experience building rockets for Rocket Lab under his belt, he is now solving them with his own agri-tech invention. 

Piggott, 22, came up with the idea for a GPS tracking, solar powered cow collar while studying at Auckland University. The idea could not wait until he graduated, he said. . . 

Strong environmental gains on farm show opportunities:

Substantial reductions in the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions at a South Canterbury farm show environmental gains can be made hand in hand with a farm’s growth, scientists say.

Record keeping back to 1991, when Bill and Shirley Wright took on the sheep and cattle farm at Cave, has allowed scientists to study the profile of greenhouse gas emissions over time in an evolving farm system.

Analysis of the Wrights’ farm system in the last couple of years has also provided important insights into nitrate leaching (the loss of nitrogen), and what impacts on the amount of leaching and how best it can be managed. . . 

Synlait posts 3.8% gain in 1H profit, expects ‘modest’ full-year earnings growth – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – Synlait Milk, the NZX-listed dairy company, posted a 3.8 percent lift in first-half profit as higher sales offset increased investment in people and business development.

Profit increased to $10.6 million, or 6.34 cents per share, in the six months ended Jan. 31, from $10.2 million, or 6.99 cents, a year earlier, the Rakaia-based company said in a statement. Sales jumped 35 percent to $288.7 million. The year-earlier earnings included a $2.9 million unrealised foreign exchange loss. . . 

Fonterra Launches Popular New Maternal Nutrition Programme in Hong Kong:

Fonterra has launched a unique nutrition programme for pregnant women in Hong Kong, developing a website endorsed by professional dieticians to give women access to healthy, nutritious at-home dining recipes and tips for eating well when dining out during pregnancy.

The programme, called ‘Anmum You & B’, also offers access to fine dining seminars where pregnant women can receive personalised food and nutrition advice from certified dieticians.

The programme’s introductory video was viewed more than 1.5 million times in one week – accounting for more than half of the 3.5 million females living in Hong Kong. . .

Te Aroha owners take role in governing their land:

Over 2000 owners of Te Aroha Aggregation farm in Waihi are celebrating a major milestone in its development, with an open day on Saturday. The day signifies the start of responsibility for the farm being passed back to the owners.

For the last three years, owners and trustees of the Māori-owned dairy farm have been supported by Te Tumu Paeroa to develop the skills and experience in governance so they can self-manage the successful enterprise.

Since 1989, Te Tumu Paeroa have been responsible trustee to Te Aroha Aggregation. Saturday’s ceremony signifies an important step for owners in the transition of management responsibility to them. . . 

Breakthrough genetics looking at cutting nitrogen leaching by 20% in NZ – CRV Ambreed:

CRV Ambreed has made a genetic discovery that it anticipates will result in a more sustainable dairy industry and potentially reduce nitrogen leaching on New Zealand farms by 20% within 20 years.

In what’s thought to be an international first, the dairy herd improvement company has announced it will market bulls that are desirable for traditional traits as well as being genetically superior for a new trait that is related to urea nitrogen in milk.

CRV Ambreed is now selling semen from bulls whose daughters will have reduced concentration of Milk Urea Nitrogen (MUN) under a LowN Sires™ brand. MUN is a measure of the amount of nitrogen contained as milk urea, and CRV Ambreed R&D Manager Phil Beatson says there’s overwhelming international evidence of a direct connection between MUN and the amount of nitrogen excreted in urine when fed different diets.  . . 

 


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