Rural round-up

11/01/2021

Tackling farmer health face to face :

Dr Tom Mulholland has made it his mission to look after the heart health of farmers for most of the past decade.

He has a 1988 retro V8 ambulance kitted out for doing blood pressure and cholesterol tests, but also, old fashioned house calls to be what you might call the ambulance at the top of the cliff for farmers under time and financial pressure.

Dr Tom has talked to thousands of people on farmers’ physical mental and social health, and saved and changed more than a few lives.  He’s also developed an app called KYND Wellness to help farmers track their own health. . . 

Orchardists counting costs of cherries ruined by downpours – Jared Morgan:

Central Otago fruitgrowers are still counting the costs of the New Year deluge that decimated this season’s cherry harvest.

Estimates sit at about 60% on average of cherry crop lost across the region, shaving millions of dollars in value off this season’s harvest.

Other fruit was also affected by four days of torrential rain punctuated by showers throughout the week and a week on from the rain starting growers were assessing how much fruit was still salvageable.

At Ripponvale, near Cromwell, Cheeki Cherries/Dam Good Fruit owner Martin Milne said his losses were a mixed bag. . . 

Filipino contract milker makes most of opportunities in Southland – Jamie Searle:

South Hillend contract milker Guillermo Tolentino is a survivor, but he shudders to think what would have happened to him without help from former Wreys Bush dairy farm owners Wayne and Angela Carpenter.

Tolentino remembers arriving in New Zealand in 2003, only to find out the details of the job promised to him on a Canterbury farm were different to what he agreed to and it didn’t work out.

Panic struck and Tolentino didn’t know what to do. The $1000 he had on him was to tide him over until his first pay packet. . .

Farewell to Sir Bob Elliott – Keith Woodford:

When I wrote the book ‘Devil in the Milk’ back in 2007, I introduced Bob Elliott in the very first paragraph. Bob was the Auckland paediatrician who first identified A1 beta-casein from milk as a big risk factor for Type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is the form of the disease that often strikes in childhood and then requires daily insulin injections throughout life.

In the years since then I have often thought that history will in time regard Bob as one of the great heroes of modern medicine. He sowed the seeds on which others have continued to build, with a particular focus on A1 beta casein but with those findings also having relevance to other food-derived opioids. . .

Shearing legend Sir David Fagan shears champion wool handler’s hair for charity :

Shearing legend Sir David Fagan used a crank-powered handpiece to shave former England World championships wool handling representative Natalie Crisp’s head in Te Kuiti on Friday.

This charity event was held during the North Island Speedshear Shearing Championship and is the latest of several fundraising shearing events.

Fagan, who retired from competitive shearing in 2015 with 642 open-class wins, surprised even himself with how clean his job was on the head-shave. . . 

 

Flatulent cows no long on the nose with seaweed solution :

Australian scientists and entrepreneurs have begun rolling out a commercial solution to a major source of greenhouse gases with a seaweed feed to block gassy livestock burps, and promising results offering more than a whiff of global potential.

Two Australian companies, CH4 Global and Sea Forest, are kicking off world-first commercial trials with major dairy and beef companies of a feed supplement they say can enable the livestock to become carbon neutral.

They are using intellectual property licensed to FutureFeed, CSIRO’s commercial venture, for a feed additive made from the native asparagopsis seaweed species, which reduces livestock emissions by more than 80 per cent. . .


Rural round-up

13/11/2020

MIA wary as second wave hits

New Zealand’s red meat trade continues to generate crucial export revenue but with the full economic impact of covid-19 yet to hit, the industry cannot afford to be complacent.

Meat Industry Association (MIA) chief executive Sirma Karapeeva says the red meat processing and exporting sector has been NZ’s success story during the covid-19 crisis but with further disruptions in the global markets expected, she urged caution. 

“The red meat processing and exporting sector has been a real success story during the covid-19 crisis and continues to generate crucial export revenue for the country when other sectors are facing significant headwinds,” she said. . . 

North Otago farmers call for more fire ponds  – Kayla Hodge:

A large fire has highlighted the need for a greater water supply in one of the “driest areas” in North Otago.

Last month, a blaze in a pine forestry block near Livingstone burnt through 611ha.

At a public meeting with officials last week, farmers asked if there was a plan to install more water in the area, to help fight fires.

One farmer, whose pond was used during the emergency, knew there was no water for the helicopters to use when the October 4 fire started. . . 

How are you dealing with change? :

Farming into the future is changing in New Zealand to meet consumer demand – but change can be scary.

 Sarah’s Country host Sarah Perriam has teamed up with Farmlands to bring you a thought-provoking seminar series at AgFest on November 13-14.

Join the conversation at the Farmlands site during AgFest dealing with change and advice on the season ahead from the Technical and Growth and Innovation teams.
You won’t want to miss these expert panel discussions covering topics specific to West Coast challenges, as well as dealing with national regulation changes. . . 

Car-racing farm manager artificially inseminates more than 25,000 dairy cows in 10-year career :

It is 3.15am on a calm spring morning as Dannevirke dairy farmer Tania Cresswell slides on her gumboots and heads outside.

The 29-year-old manages her parents’ 55-hectare dairy farm at Papatawa, milking 160 predominately Holstein Friesian cows.

Cresswell jumps on to a two-wheeler motorbike, giving it a kick-start. The engine roars to life, piercing the pre-dawn silence.

It is not long before the farm’s 14-aside milking shed starts to fill with cows gently jostling for position and eager to be milked. . . 

LIC invests in first of two start-ups to deliver more value to dairy farmers:

LIC has increased its level of investment in its AgCelerator™ Fund and announced its first two investments designed to deliver more value to New Zealand dairy farmers. The cooperative has confirmed investments in New Zealand-based TrackBack and Mastaplex.

Auckland-based TrackBack uses blockchain technology in the agriculture sector to provide trust and transparency through the supply chain for global confidence in quality, integrity and provenance. Fuelled by the pandemic, traceability is increasingly front of mind for consumers and the data LIC holds on animal health is an important contribution to providing quality assurances for New Zealand dairy farmers.

The other business LIC is investing in is Dunedin-based Mastaplex which has developed a proprietary mastitis testing device, Mastatest®.  . . 

New chief scientist Cathy Foley to get research out of the lab – Sally Whyte:

Australia’s incoming chief scientist wants to help Australia’s “fabulous” research move beyond the laboratory and “turn it into prosperity and impact”.

Dr Cathy Foley, currently the chief scientist at the CSIRO, will take over from Dr Alan Finkel at the start of next year, and she has a long to-do list, much of it continuing the work she has already been doing at the national science research agency.

The world-renowned physicist wants to continue increasing diversity in science, increasing work in national preparedness, and championing “research translation” – moving discoveries beyond the theoretical and into making a difference in people’s lives.

“We’ve got fabulous research in Australia, but everyone knows we haven’t necessarily been able to take that from the laboratory bench turn it into prosperity and impact in a whole range of ways,” Dr Foley said. . . 


Rural round-up

19/08/2019

Fonterra woes for two biggest shareholders – Rebecca Howard:

Fonterra Cooperative Group’s two biggest shareholders – Dairy Holdings and state-owned Landcorp Farming – say the latest downgrade will weigh on their own earnings and add to farmer malaise against a backdrop of already weak confidence.

The dairy exporter this week said it expects to report a full-year loss of as much as $675 million and won’t pay a dividend as it slashes the value of global assets. It will be the second annual loss in a row.

This is a concern and will have quite an impact on farmer balance sheets and cash flow. Our hope is that Fonterra completes the strategy refresh quickly,» said Colin Glass, chief executive of Dairy Holdings. . .

Gene editing could combat ‘weed trees’ and climate change – Esther Taunton:

A forest industry leader has joined the growing chorus of voices calling for serious public debate on genetic technologies.

Forest Owners Association president Peter Weir said the Royal Society Te Apārangi’s recently released report on gene editing should be taken seriously by anyone concerned about the state of the environment.

The report highlighted the problem of wilding conifers, where, despite a multimillion-dollar control programme, the weed trees continued to spread, Weir said. . . 

Farmers call for law change on gene-edited crops – Tom Allen-Stevens:

What sort of regulatory environment for new breeding technologies is required and what will be the implication for farmers, and ultimately consumers, who lie at the heart of this debate? CPM reports exclusively on a survey of farmers.

GM can be a divisive topic, and the farming community is no less split on how and whether it should be introduced as the public in general. Views on gene-editing, however are harder to gauge.

A survey was undertaken in March 2019 by the Gene-Editing for Environment and Crop Improvement Initiative, that represents scientists, breeders and others in the UK agricultural industry with an interest in new breeding technologies (NBTs). The views expressed aren’t representative of farming opinion as the respondents have been selected as those who are relatively well informed on a technology that is, as yet, largely unknown and not commercially available. . . 

We can’t continue to pave paradise and put up a parking lot:

We’ve grown lazy and complacent. Fattened on the plenty provided by rich lands, we are now increasingly turning  our backs on them.

So separated have we become from the production of the food that passes over our plates; so inexorable has the shift been in human resources and amenities from the heartland to the high street, that the Government has seen a need to step in and protect the fertile soils that have long fed it all.

That complacency is built on something of a lie.

Most of us live in cities and other centres of urban sprawl. But the images that we employ to sell our country to others, and the dream to ourselves, are those of bucolic rural spread, mile upon mile upon mile of rolling river, meadow and gentle hill, all leading to majestic mountain ranges. . . 

Seaweeds help curb cow burping :

Queensland researchers say a pink seaweed that stops cows from burping could help slash greenhouse gas emissions.

Asparagopsis grows prolifically off the Queensland coast and a CSIRO study five years ago found it was the only seaweed they knew of that stopped cows burping methane into the atmosphere.

New Zealand research into seaweed supplements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has identified another species with such effects on the nation’s coast.

Researchers from the University of the Sunshine Coast are now investigating how it might be farmed on a commercial scale and added to cattle feed to slash emissions. . . 

We need genetic engineering to stave off climate change-induced global hunger – Devang Mehta:

Last week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Special Report on Climate Change and Land, a document authored by 107 experts from 52 countries. It warned that “Land is a critical resource.”

The main conclusion of the report is that humans already use nearly half of the planet’s land for food production and, as global population levels rise, agricultural land is going to be in very short supply. This is because one of the effects of climate-change will be a decline in agricultural productivity across the tropics, meaning that we will need to cut down forests and convert unused land into farmland. This deforestation will lead to even more carbon emissions, culminating in a vicious cycle of increasing warming. 

The report is a frightening 1,400 page-long prediction of rising food costs and starvation of the world’s poor. In fact, behind all the numbers and probability estimates is one truth that carries throughout — that climate change is going to be especially hard on the poor and on people living in the tropics. The IPCC concludes that as carbon dioxide levels rise and the planet warms, farms in temperate latitudes (i.e. the wealthier countries of Europe and North America) will in fact see an increase in yields.  . . 

5 things to do in the countryside – Life of a Country Mum:

Hey lovely country people,

I thought I would give you an in site to some of the top activities I love to do and also activities I can’t wait to do with my baby!

I am a strong believer that all this technology for children is what’s making the world a horrible place (in certain places). What ever happened to us all going to the outside playing, using our imagination. They were the best memories for me when I was younger.

Fields, haybales and making dens! I have so many stories I could tell you with my siblings. . . 

 


Rural round-up

29/04/2019

Leading women fill many roles – Annette Scott:

Women on farms are not just farmers’ wives and that is highlighted by the four finalists in the 2019 Dairy Woman of the Year award.

“They all juggle multiple roles from being a vet and mechanic to a financial planner and strategic thinker,” Dairy Women’s Network trustee and awards judge Alison Gibb said.

“There’s no doubt the role women play in dairy farming now completely breaks the old-fashioned mould of public perception about what a farmer’s wife is.

“They’re all farming partners, farming in their own right, playing a major role in running a million-dollar business,” Gibb said. . .

Too many farmers are hurting – Annette Scott:

Mycoplasma bovis hotspot farmers are angry at news an unprecedented number of farms will go under movement control before winter.

The Ministry for Primary Industries said last week the M bovis response programme will ramp up over the next six weeks.

M bovis programme director Geoff Gwyn said it will give farmers as much certainty as possible heading into winter.

“Well, what sort of certainty is that,” Mid Canterbury dairy farmer Frank Peters said. . .

Primary sector facing staff shortages – Yvonne O’Hara:

Many industries within the primary sector are facing staffing issues.

Alliance Group general manager people and safety Chris Selbie said the company employed more than 2500 people in Southland during the peak processing season and continued to face ongoing shortages of people for its Mataura and Lorneville plants.

”Alliance runs regular recruitment programmes to attract local people to take up roles with the co-operative and we work closely with Work and Income, the Ministry of Social Development and local development agencies on solutions to address the shortages,” he said. . .

Kiwi-born shepherd shatters world shearing record:

A New Zealander has broken the world record for the most merino ewes shorn in eight hours at a farm in Western Australia.

The 497 sheep shorn by New Zealand born shearer Lou Brown was 31 more than the record of 466 set by his coach and mentor, fellow-Kiwi Cartwright Terry.

Few jobs rival the physical demands of shearing, and Mr Brown’s gruelling effort is attributable to years of practice and months of physical training and meditation. . .

Tougher times lead to better food waste behaviour – John Ellicott:

The average Australian household wasted about $890 worth of food last year, an improved figure on previous years, but still a staggering degree of wastage.

The 2019 Rabobank food waste report found we are doing better as potential wasters but there is till a huge way to go, and awareness is the key. Men and women are both equal in food wastage.

It found farmers are wising up to food wastage and becoming increasingly more innovative in making sure their products were used properly throughout the food chain. It also found regional Australians were less wasteful than city consumers, mainly because they appreciated the value of food more. . .

New Zealand cashing in on boutique foods:

New Zealand has been better than Australia at capitalising on the market for boutique foods, according to a top Australian scientist.

Dr Stefan Hajkowicz told the Rabobank Farm2Fork seminar, in Sydney, this was being done through the High Value Nutrition Programme – a joint government-industry initiative.

The CSIRO senior principal scientist – strategy and foresight, was giving a perspective on the next 20 years of food production. . . 


Rural round-up

23/02/2014

Farmers will need to change environment thinking– Tony Benny:

Farmers will need to change their way of thinking about the environment under new regulations in the Canterbury land and water regional plan, but while that may initially be painful for some there will be bottomline payoffs.

The plan was notified last month and with appeals, solely on questions of law, to close today (February 22), it is likely to become operative within a few months. It prescribes limits on allowable nitrate leaching, varying depending on where farms are, and whether water quality is already compromised (red zones), at risk (orange) or acceptable (blue or green). . .

Westland Milk considering China-based  subsidiary – Alan Wood:

The West Coast’s dairy co-operative plans to increase its China export base with a possible subsidiary company and an increased number of employees to add to its Shanghai office.

Westland Milk Products has invested in the milk processing and infant formula powder sectors and exports about $130 million of product a year into China.

There is another $130m of product exported into other Asian countries, and Asia including China together made up about 40 per cent of Westland Milk’s sales, chairman Matt O’Regan said. . .

Kiwi genetic expertise for salmon health:

ONE OF the world’s leading salmon egg producers is working with AgResearch to develop genomic selection in Atlantic salmon.

Icelandic company Stofnfiskur HF and AgResearch, New Zealand’s pastoral crown research institute, are working together to help increase the efficiency of the company’s salmon breeding systems, using modern genomic tools pioneered in sheep.

Stofnfiskur’s high health status of their breeding stock in Iceland allows eggs to be exported to most salmon-producing countries throughout the world. . .

Summer hunting on offer to help farmers:

A SPECIAL two-day bird hunting season is being held in Taranaki and Whanganui to help farmers disperse paradise shelducks.

Fish & Game has declared a special two-day hunting season for paradise shelduck to help farmers disperse flocks which can damage pastures and crops.

The special season will run from 6.30am, Saturday, March 1, until 8pm on Sunday March 2, in Game Management Areas B and C only. The daily bag limit has been set at 10 paradise shelduck per hunter. . . .

Think small plea to machinery makers:

MACHINERY MAKERS should focus more on the smallholder, says the lead editor of a new UN Food and Agriculture Organisation book.

 Mechanisation for rural development, a review of patterns and progress from around the world contains in-depth studies of mechanisation from Africa, Asia, the Near East, South America and Eastern Europe, and covers topics such as development needs, manufacturing and information exchange.

“The book delves into many aspects of farm mechanisation, not only how machines will contribute to an environmentally sustainable future, but also what policies will put machines at the service of family farms so that they too can profit,” says Ren Wang, assistant director-general of FAO’s agriculture and consumer protection department. . . .

R&D targets bee killer

DEVELOPING new ways to treat the devastating honey bee parasite, varroa mite, is among the aims of a new research and development (R&D) statement from the federal government.

Varroa mites are parasites that live on bees and they can lead to the destruction of whole colonies and hives.

Modelling by CSIRO shows varroa mite could cost our crop industries about $70 million a year if it established in Australia.

Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce this week released a statement outlining the areas where R&D could help to better prepare our industries and mitigate the risk. . .


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