Rural round-up

July 1, 2014

A specialist land-based institution is essential for New Zealand :

Lincoln is New Zealand’s specialist land-based university. Its research and qualifications cover agriculture, yet also life sciences, conservation and ecology, environmental management, tourism, agribusiness, property management, and landscape architecture. This is a tried and true, and successful, model internationally.

Lincoln suffered in the aftermath of the Canterbury earthquakes.  It is now recovering. Unlike most other New Zealand universities, international student numbers at Lincoln are growing strongly, and domestic student numbers have been maintained over the last few years. This is most likely a reflection of the extremely high employment rate of Lincoln’s graduates, and the increasing demand for them as reflected in a recent Ministry of Primary Industries’ report.

The one or two recent opinion pieces regarding the university’s reorganisation are unfortunate, but perhaps not surprising. The University is strengthening its focus on its core purposes – to help Feed the world, Protect the future and help people Live well – and this has necessitated changes in the organisational structure and staffing of the institution, as well as its portfolio of qualifications. . . .

Landcorp considers business case for milking sheep – Pam Graham:

(BusinessDesk) – Landcorp, New Zealand’s largest corporate farmer, is having a serious look at milking sheep and will decide in a few months whether there is a business case for it.

Chief executive Steven Carden, who is about one year in the job, says the board gave him a broad mandate to look expansively at opportunities and milking sheep is one he has come up with.

Landcorp has a flock of about 850,000 ewes, none of which it milks, but it leases about 1,500 to Invercargill-based Blue River Dairy, an existing processor of sheep milk.

“Landcorp has been a very successful sheep farmer for many years,” Carden said. At present the state-owned company produces wool and meat but sees an opportunity in the sheep milk industry where there is no real international player. Sheep milk consumer products are established in many countries but they are largely produced domestically. . .

FE research to save farmers millions

A partnership of CRV Ambreed and AgResearch is helping reduce the impact of facial eczema (FE) in dairy cattle by developing genetics that make cows more tolerant to the disease which costs the dairy industry $160 million a year.

The artificial breeding company and AgResearch were working together under the auspices of the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP).

CRV Ambreed genetic development strategist Phil Beatson said dairy farmers knew facial eczema was a cruel disease that could be incredibly stressful for cattle and an economic risk to their businesses through lowered milk production, weight loss, and stock deaths. . .

Cotton onBernard Lilburn:

Brothers Jono and Jack Lilburn from Manawatu were in a gang of six Kiwi blokes taking on the cotton harvest at Cubbie Station last summer. The numbers are huge, just like the machinery. Bernard Lilburn visited his sons to check out their day job.

The numbers around growing cotton in Australia are truly mind boggling. Contractor Steve O’Brien, based in Gunnedah in northern New South Wales, is a true blue Aussie and one that has some serious commitment to the cotton industry in his region. 

His “region” covers an area about the size of the North Island of New Zealand and he has four 7760 John Deere cotton pickers or round module balers (RMBs) with a replacement value of US$880,000 each! He usually replaces two every year. He also needs at least two 300 horse power tractors to pick up the bales as they come out of the pickers. . .

New pasture tool in the pipeline:

A NOVEL pasture meter jointly developed by English and Irish entrepreneurs was unveiled on the Enterprise Ireland stand at Fieldays.

The Grassometer uses four optical sensors to gauge pasture covers as the operator walks the farm. Its developers believe it is more accurate and convenient than the Platemeter or C-Dax now sold.

“The data is instantly transferred to your computer or smartphone as you walk the paddock and there’s no converting centimetres of pasture into kilogrammes of drymatter: it’s all done for you,” Sam Hoste, commercial manager of Monford Ag Systems, told Rural News. . . .

The Caveman Couch Potato: Lincoln researchers analyse the evolution of sedentary behaviour:

They are credited for the latest diet fads and lauded as exemplars of physical fitness, but were the cavemen and women of our distant past really the best examples of a healthy lifestyle?

The modern epidemic of obesity and disease is often blamed on the rise of a sedentary society, in which we alternate between sitting at the office and on the couch, with only a car ride in between. However, in a paper on ‘Sedentary behaviour and chronic disease’ published in Perspectives in Public Health, two Lincoln University researchers, Associate Professor  Mike Hamlin and Senior Lecturer Adrian Paterson have highlighted that modern society isn’t necessarily more sedentary than that of early hunter-gatherers. They also argue that sedentary behaviour has an important role in society that was as useful to our ancestors as it is today. . .


93,000 hectares sold to Chinese-Japanese consortium

September 4, 2012

An 80% share in a 93,000 property has been sold to a Chinese-Japanese consortium.

But New Zealand opponents of foreign investment will have to find another fire to fight, this one isn’t one of ours, it’s Cubbie Station in Australia.

The decision by the government to approve the sale isn’t universally welcome but not for very good reasons:

. . . Like any Western company, Shandong Ruyi is investing in the production of the material required for its factories, which means the cotton to be grown at Cubbie Station will be sold to mills in China, as happens now. As for the water held in dams on the station, it will remain in Australia.

One of the more vocal critics of the Cubbie sale, Barnaby Joyce, has called for the 93,000 hectare area to be subdivided and sold as conventional farms, on the basis Australian farmers should be allowed to own the area.

In making this stand, he is in conflict with members of his party, notably Nationals MP Bruce Scott, who believes the FIRB should be left to administer the test of whether the sale is in the national interest. Senator Joyce is also in conflict with Coalition policies: a policy paper released in early August recommends only that the threshold for the FIRB to consider a sale should be lowered from $244 million to $15 million for farms and agribusinesses.

In addition, former prime minister John Howard has commented in a public forum that there is no reason to get “over- excited” about Chinese investment, as any companies investing here have to comply with Australian law.

Australia’s economic future is to produce food, fibre and minerals, notably for an ever more prosperous Asia, and to increase production and national income we will need foreign investment. We should not discourage that investment, ­particularly through eccentric populist policies.

That applies just as much on this side of the Tasman.

Foreign investment brings benefits and as long as would-be buyers pass the very stringent test required by the Overseas Investment Office and face the same laws and regulations as everybody else who farms here we have little to fear and lots to gain.


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