Rural round-up

25/02/2021

The rewards of good data – Peter Burke:

New Zealand’s primary sector is our equivalent of the USA’s Silicon Valley of excellence.

That’s the view of one of the country’s illustrious agricultural economists, Rob Davison, who recently received an award for his outstanding contribution to the primary sector.

The award goes alongside the ONZM he received in 2016 for his services to NZ’s sheep and beef sector.

This latest award is well deserved for a person who has helped build and shape one of the most respected economic institutions in the country. Davison has been with Beef+Lamb New Zealand’s Economic Service for more than 40 years, much of that time as its executive director. . . 

Rural trust there for anyone having ‘tough time’ – Shawn McAvinue:

Otago Rural Support Trust chairman Mike Lord, of Outram, said if anyone in Otago’s rural community needed help — or knew of anyone who needed help — they could call the trust.

People called for a “range of reasons” such as financial stress, the impact of adverse weather such as flooding, snow, or drought or any other type of “tough time”.

“I have no doubt we make a difference.”

After Covid hit, a “desperate” farmer called because he had stock and a lack of feed due to meat works taking fewer animals as it dealt with new protocols. . . 

Recommendations ‘ambitious and challenging’ – Peter Burke:

Initial reaction to the Climate Change Commission report has been generally muted, but there are some concerns in the agricultural sector.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern claims the commission’s draft advice, released earlier this month, sets out an ‘achievable blueprint’ for New Zealand. She says the report demonstrates NZ has the tools to achieve our target but calls on us to accelerate our work.

“As a government we are committed to picking up the pace and focusing much more on decarbonisation and reducing emissions rather than overly relying on forestry,” Ardern says. . .  . . 

North Otago chicken farm sharpens its focus – Shawn McAvinue:

Anna Craig knew it was the right time to get cracking and launch a new brand to market the free-range eggs produced on her family’s farm in North Otago.

The Lincoln University agribusiness and food marketing student said she was “torn” about how to spend her summer break.

She could spend it working on her family’s 450ha farm in Herbert, about 20km south of Oamaru, or seek work elsewhere, which might look better on her CV.

She returned to the farm and set herself a goal of launching a new brand to sell some of the eggs laid by about 30,000 free range shaver chickens there. . . 

Strengthen your farming system by leveraging your #1 asset – people:

“Over the years of working with people in many different sized teams, we discovered that it mattered how we were behaving and acting with our team,” says Rebecca Miller of MilkIQ.

Dairy Women’s Network knows that putting people first drives a healthy business and will be running a series of workshops focused on this. They want to ensure that farmers attract and retain talent, and continue to grow the people in the industry.

The free workshops are funded by New Zealand dairy farmers through the DairyNZ levy and align with Commitment #5 of the Dairy Tomorrow Strategy: Building great workplaces for New Zealand’s most talented workforce.

It does not always require big changes to build a great workplace, but small changes that make a difference. The workshops will provide an overview of how to be a good employee or employer and the steps each can take. . . 

 

Handheld breath test device for pregnant cattle to move to industry trials – Joshua Becker:

A device that could change the way farmers preg test cattle is a step closer to commercialisation.

The federal government has offered $600,000 to help a company adapt advances in medicine for use in the grazing industry.

The prototype works by simply putting a device over the cow’s nose while it is in the crush and testing its breath.

Bronwyn Darlington, a farmer at Carwoola in southern NSW and the founder and CEO of Agscent, said the device worked by applying nanotechnologies to what was called breathomics. . . 

 


Rural round-up

21/02/2021

Anxious times – Rural News:

The recent Climate Change Commission discussion document has made many farmers anxious.

Quite rightly, they are keen to know what’s in store for them and DairyNZ has been fielding calls from farmers. The Climate Change Commission was formed alongside work to set the country’s climate targets (including biogenic methane targets).

The establishment of the commission is legislated under the Zero Carbon Act 2019 and its main purpose is to provide evidence-based advice on climate issues.

Under the Act, the commission is required to deliver advice on setting emissions budgets across the entire economy to government. This advice has implications for all sectors of the economy, including farming. . .

Tackling climate change – Andy Loader:

Is it time to take a deep breath and stop to consider the whole climate change debate on a global scale rather than just based on New Zealand’s commitments under the Paris Accord?

We should also consider how we measure the climate change impacts on the environment and move from a per capita basis to one where impact is measured against production outcomes, as this will give a truer picture of the direct impacts on the environment from agricultural production on a global scale.

In last week’s Rural News, Waikato farmer George Moss likened the position New Zealand farmers find themselves in to Team New Zealand in the America’s Cup: “Yes, we are the holders of the cup now, but if we don’t keep innovating and be smart, our competitors will take it off us.”

It’s a great analogy. . . 

Hawke’s Bay farmers not getting enough help with Bovine TB – Sally Round:

A Northern Hawke’s Bay farmer caught up in the response to a bovine tuberculosis outbreak in the area says they’re not getting the support they need to stay afloat.

The animal health agency, OSPRI, works to control the spread of the disease, which is mainly transmitted by possums.

While OSPRI has been working to get the outbreak under control, more than 500 farms have had to spend the last 12 months operating under restricted livestock movement controls. Latest figures released from OSPRI this month showed there were 15 TB-infected herds – down from 20 last year.

Sonya Holloway, who has been farming in the area for 18 years, said the long-running restrictions and additional TB management costs were adding up and they didn’t feel like they were getting enough support. . . 

Gumboot sales booming – Nigel Stirling:

Rubberware sales in export markets and rubber footwear sales in New Zealand boosted Skellerup’s agri division to a record earnings before interest and tax (Ebit) of $15.3 million in the first half of FY2021.

The interim result for the division was an increase on the previous corresponding period of 56% as revenue grew 18%.

The agri division result also contained the first full six-month contribution from the Silclear business in the United Kingdom.

The agri division manufactures dairy consumables and rubber footwear, including milking liners, silicone tubing, teat sprayers and hose nozzles. . . 

A false start to success – Tony Benny:

A Canterbury farming couple tried to do it all from milking the sheep to making and selling their cheeses, but were working long hours so they changed tactics.

When Canterbury farmers Guy and Sue Trafford decided to start milking sheep to make ice cream for export, everything seemed to be falling into place nicely, but those early hopes were dashed and it’s been a long road learning how to make cheese and more importantly, how to market it profitably.

Their Charing Cross Sheep Dairy brand is now well established and after years of doing 90-hour weeks to milk sheep, make cheese, sell it at farmers’ markets and to some supermarkets, as well as both holding down jobs as lecturers at Lincoln University, they’ve now found a way to make it all work – and reduce their hours.

Their interest in milking sheep goes back to when Guy was manager of a 3300ha property near Gisborne, owned by Māori incorporation, Wi Pere Trust. They considered sheep milking and went as far as buying some of the first East Friesian sheep embryos brought into New Zealand. . . 

 

While cities are shut down farmers are making hay – Aaron Patrick:

Australia’s greatest ever wheat crop has made history, and offers lessons for policymakers grappling with natural crises, such as droughts and the pandemic.

From the flat West Australian wheat belt to the slopes of the Great Dividing Range, exhausted farming families have hung up their work boots and parked their tractors, quietly satisfied with making history.

After a drought that tested many farmers’ will to work the dusty soil, this year’s winter crop will be the second-biggest in history, at 55 million tonnes, according to an estimate published on Tuesday by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

Plenty of rain in NSW and Victoria, and good conditions in Western Australia, helped farmers grow 33 million tonnes of wheat – the largest crop ever. . .


Rural round-up

20/02/2021

Regenerative farming fight sad – Anna Campbell:

The New Zealand Merino Company and wool brands Allbirds, Icebreaker, and Smartwool have announced they are working collectively with 167 sheep growers to create the world’s first regenerative wool platform, which represents more than one million hectares in New Zealand.

Consumers want products produced through regenerative farming practices. In the United States, the high-end supermarket chain, Whole Foods Market, declared that regenerative agriculture was the No 1 food trend for 2020. Given some of the environmental challenges we have in New Zealand farming, regenerative farming surely makes sense from a production and marketing perspective?

Well maybe — it certainly sounds good, but do we understand what regenerative farming means and what it means specifically in a New Zealand farming context? . . .

Native trees come with some caveats – Richard Rennie:

Planting more native trees for carbon sequestration features strongly in the Climate Change Commission’s (CCC) recommendations released this month. Scion scientists Dr Tim Payn and Steve Wakelin are leading work to help provide a better understanding of how native trees can be integrated back into New Zealand’s landscape and carbon soaking toolbox. Richard Rennie reports.

While recommending more native trees be planted in coming years, the CCC also notes there is limited knowledge on cashflows and carbon absorption rates for natives.

Steve Wakelin and Dr Tim Payn agree in principle with this goal to plant more natives for carbon benefits, but also want to highlight the additional environmental and biodiversity benefits of this focus.

They also note there is a devil in the detail behind the commission’s recommendations. . . 

Grand house’ hosts eco-tourism business – Mary-Jo Tohill:

You can take the farmer out of the farm but you can’t take the farm out of the farmer.

Catlins eco-tourism couple Lyndon and Gill McKenzie supposedly left agriculture 21 years ago for pastures new.

Mr McKenzie grew up at Merino Downs at Waikoikoi, between Gore and Tapanui, and Mrs McKenzie at Mataura.

Since they sold the farm in 2000, life has taken the dynamic duo on a series of jobs and ventures in Wanaka, Cromwell, Dunedin and Australia. They’ve done hospitality, mining and even run an outback diner. . . 

Kate Stewart – her story:

The confidence to create my career 

Next Level graduate Kate Stewart on taking charge of her future in agriculture, following the AWDT leadership and governance development programme. 

“I have a checklist now to vet any new opportunities that come my way. It’s called the ‘is this what Kate wants and is good at’ checklist.”

For Kate Stewart, Next Level was about taking ownership of her new career. At 24-years old, the Palmerston North local and Dairy NZ regional consulting officer was considering new leadership opportunities, but unsure of where to turn next. . .

A day in the life of an arable farmer  – Simon Edwards:

New Zealand’s arable industry is worth $2.1 billion each year to the economy, and earns us $260 million in export sales.  It also employs more than 11,300 Kiwis.

It’s a diverse sector, and a world leader in both volume and quality producing the likes of radish seed, white clover seed and carrot seed.

But while many New Zealanders could probably offer some general details about what a dairy or sheep and beef farmer gets up to in working day, the daily tasks facing an arable farmer might be more of a mystery.  So we decided to ask some Federated Farmers arable sector leaders what they’re currently busy with, starting in the deep south… . . 

£1m micro food business scheme to open in NI :

A £1m capital grant scheme will open in March to help small Northern Irish food firms upscale production to secure new markets for their produce.

The aim of the Micro Food Business Investment Scheme is to enable firms that are processing primary agricultural produce to expand.

Grants of between £5,000 and £50,000 will be made available to micro food and drink manufacturing businesses.

A micro enterprise is defined as an enterprise which employs less than 10 full time equivalent employees with a total annual turnover of less than £1.8m. . . 


Rural round-up

17/02/2021

Cows, coal and carbon – Elbow Deep:

I was once told by someone much smarter than me that the Green Party policy of today will be Labour Party policy in 10 years’ time. Even without that level of insight, nobody who has been paying attention to the political discourse for the past decade will be very surprised at the Climate Change Commission’s recent report, though there do seem to be large numbers of people shaking their heads in dazed bewilderment.

The Commission’s report largely reflects the findings and recommendations of the Royal Society’s 2016 one, Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy for New Zealand. That report was essentially ignored by the government of the day, but it is extremely unlikely the current government will treat the latest version in the same manner.

The report calls for, among other things, an immediate end to the construction of coal fired boilers, an end to the burning of coal for process heat by 2037 and a reduction in the national dairy, beef and sheep numbers of 15% each by 2030.

No matter how climate hesitant you might be or how little New Zealand has contributed to global warming since pre-industrial times, the Commission estimates that figure to be 0.0028 degrees C, the fact remains our share of global warming is 4 times greater than our share of the total population and 1.5 times greater than our share of landmass. . . 

Waterways benefit from farmer’s ‘dream’ :

A Southland dairy farmer has invested $200,000 over the last 10 years in planting and fencing around a river and creeks on his property – an outcome of a dream he had back in his native Zimbabwe.

Edwin Mabonga, who together with his wife Fungai milk 850 cows on a 270ha farm bordering the Aparima River at Otautau near Invercargill, used to spend time in Zimbabwe reading books about New Zealand.

“It was always a big goal of mine to come to New Zealand because I saw it as being the world benchmark for dairy farming,” he says. “We used to read books to learn as much as we could and eventually decided to move to find out what the big deal was.” . . .

Agribusiness icon helping to change dairying :

Project to reduce nitrate run-off from farms attracts critical corporate clout.

A key environmental project on lower North Island dairy farms has attracted renewed corporate backing – and a grandmother is helping bring it about.

Two of New Zealand’s biggest business players, Fonterra and Nestle, have joined a DairyNZ-led project in the Tararua district in which a blend of the herb plantain is being sown in pastures with the aim of both reducing nitrate run-off into waterways and lowering on-farm greenhouse gas emissions.

The two companies are bringing their muscle to the project by providing additional funding to enable the 50 farms taking part to increase the amount of plantain they grow. . . 

Lasers used as bird deterrent – Jared Morgan:

Using lasers to control birds might sound like science fiction but Ewing Stevens hopes the technology will save his grapes from the peckish pests.

At age 94, Mr Stevens believes he is New Zealand’s oldest vintner but his age is no barrier to being at the cutting edge of technology when it comes to managing his crop at Anthony James Vineyard near Alexandra.

This week three lasers were installed at his Hillview Rd vineyard to replace labour intensive and expensive bird netting.

Mr Stevens said the idea was born out of a conversation with Viticultura co-owner Timbo Deaker, whose Cromwell-based company manages Mr Stevens’ grapes through its vineyard management service, about three years ago. . . 

FMG Young Farmer of the Year Northern Regional Final postponed :

Following Auckland’s move to Alert Level 3 and the rest of the country to Alert Level 2, we have made the decision to postpone the Northern FMG Young Farmer of the Year Regional Final based on Government recommendations.

Given the uncertainty around the latest COVID-19 community cases, postponement of the event is the safest and most cautious option despite contingency plans we have in place to run events during an alert level two.

Like other businesses, organisations and events, we need to respond and do our part to limit the potential spread of this virus.

The safety of our competitors, staff, sponsors and spectators is our main priority. It is imperative that we protect our people and do not put anyone at risk. . .

 

Grange visit a flashback for ‘Birley girls’ – Shawn McAvinue:

A former Taieri farm girl got her dying wish to say goodbye to the homestead she was raised in.

Joan King (83) and her sister Patricia Snell (75) were young girls when their family moved on to The Grange farm in East Taieri.

Their parents, Percy and Rita Birley, managed the nearly 300ha sheep, beef and dairy farm.

The women, from Motueka and Auckland respectively, visited the homestead recently to celebrate Mrs King’s birthday. . .


Rural round-up

03/02/2021

DairyNZ: Climate Commission lays out challenge :

Industry body DairyNZ says the Climate Change Commission’s new report is a welcome acknowledgement of a split gas approach and that methane does not need to reduce to net zero.
DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said the Commission’s science-based approach is ambitious and challenging for all of New Zealand and farming is no exception.

Dr Mackle said the Climate Change Commission proposals and underlying assumptions will be closely examined over the next few weeks, in particular the biogenic methane targets and advice on reducing stock numbers.

“The short-term 2030 and 2035 methane targets are ambitious, making the next 10-15 years the most important for adapting farm systems and investment in research and development solutions  for agriculture,” said Dr Mackle. . .

Whaling a most unhelpful analogy:

“Climate Commission chair Rod Carr’s suggestion that New Zealand farmers could go the way of the whalers is an extremely unhelpful start to the six week consultation of his draft carbon emissions budget,” says ACT Primary Industries spokesperson Mark Cameron.

“Asked on radio this morning whether the Commission accepted that New Zealand farmers already produce the lowest carbon-impact beef and dairy in the world, Dr Carr said ‘Given the way we produce it that is true, but being the best whale hunters in the world didn’t protect the whaling fleets.’

“To use as an analogy an industry that wasn’t only unsustainable but which has been outlawed in most jurisdictions because the vast majority of the world considers it to be morally reprehensible is extremely unhelpful.

“This sort of rhetoric risks taking us back to a sort of ‘them and us’ stand-off between farmers and the environmental lobby. . . 

Climate report set up fight over herd sizes – Mark Daalder:

The Climate Change Commission wants the primary sector to reduce livestock herds to reduce emissions, but some farmers aren’t so keen, Marc Daalder reports

The Climate Change Commission proved its independence on Sunday when it broke a political taboo in proposing one way to reduce methane emissions from the agricultural sector: Have fewer cows.

While the Commission estimated current policy settings would already lead to an eight to 10 percent reduction in the size of the national cow – and sheep – herds by 2030, it said something on the order of 15 percent would be crucial for meeting emissions reduction targets.

At issue is the thorny problem of biogenic methane, which is produced by decomposing organic matter (the waste sector is responsible for 10 percent of biogenic methane emissions) and the natural digestive processes of ruminant animals, including cows, sheep and goats (the other 90 percent).  . . 

Fonterra lifts its 2020/21 forecast Farmgate Milk Price range:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today lifted its 2020/21 forecast Farmgate Milk Price range to NZD $6.90 – $7.50 per kgMS, up from NZD $6.70 – $7.30 per kgMS.

The midpoint of the range, which farmers are paid off, has increased to NZD $7.20 per kgMS.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says the lift in the 2020/21 forecast Farmgate Milk Price range is a result of strong demand for dairy, which is demonstrated by the continued increase in Global Dairy Trade (GDT) prices since the Co-op last revised its milk price at the beginning of December.

“In particular, we’ve seen strong demand from China and South East Asia for whole milk powder (WMP) and skim milk powder (SMP), which are key drivers of the milk price. . . 

Surge in demand sees AWDT double intake :

A leading governance and leadership programme for primary sector women is doubling its 2021 intake in response to surging demand from aspiring female leaders across New Zealand’s food and fibre sectors, and rural communities.

The Next Level programme is researched, designed and delivered by the Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) and runs across two North Island and two South Island intakes in 2021.

“Offering Next Level more widely is a response to the change in mindset of many primary sector women. They are recognising their value as leaders and choosing to step up as agents of positive change, without the need for permission or position,” AWDT general manager Lisa Sims said.

The six-month programme takes a strength-based approach, empowering women to understand their leadership style, define their personal “why” and design their roadmap to making a positive impact for the people and places they care about. . . 

Ni-Vanuatu seasonal workers will arrive in New Zealand next week

Around 900 Ni-Vanuatu seasonal workers will soon travel to New Zealand for work under the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme.

Last November, the New Zealand government granted a border exception for up to 2000 experienced Pacific Island RSE workers to address labour shortages.

Local media in Vanuatu report that of the quota for the Pacific, Ni-Vanuatu make up 45 percent of the RSE labour for the February to March intake. . . 

Well-established avocado orchard with huge expansion potential placed on the market for sale :

A well-established and highly-productive avocado orchard in the heart of Whangarei’s foremost avocado growing district – and with the potential to double its production capacity – has been placed on the market for sale.

The 40.1-hectare property at Maungatapere on the western outskirts of Whangarei sits in a volcanic soil valley which was once a dairy and beef farming strong-hold, but is now Whangarei’s most concentrated conglomeration of avocado orchards due to the location’s deep fertile volcanic soil base.

The generally rectangular-shaped orchard for sale at 38 Kokopu Block Road features 10 blocks planted with 1,566 Hass on Zutano rootstock currently under production. Replacement clonal trees have also been planted to fill in all the gaps, and will further boost production over the coming seasons. . . 


The Vision is Clear

30/01/2021

Success stories form years two and three of DairyNZ’s Vision is Clear:


How green are our cows?

28/01/2021

How green are our cows?

New research shows New Zealand dairy farmers have the world’s lowest carbon footprint – at half the emissions of other international producers.

AgResearch analysis released today confirms New Zealand retains its outstanding position in low-emission dairy milk production, with an on-farm carbon footprint 46 percent less than the average of 18 countries studied.

Commissioned by DairyNZ, the study was independently produced by AgResearch and peer-reviewed by an international specialist in Ireland.

The research analysed 55 percent of global milk production, including major milk producing countries.

New Zealand is the most efficient producer at 0.74 kg CO2e per kg FPCM (fat and protein corrected milk) – which is 46 percent less than the average of the countries studied. The average is 1.37 kg CO2e per kg FPCM.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said the research plays a key part in understanding how New Zealand dairy farms stack up and informs how our farmers can be even more efficient.

“New Zealand’s dairy sector is committed to remaining the most efficient producer of low emissions milk in the world. Our focus as a sector is sustaining our success as consumers and communities increasingly seek sustainably produced food,” said Dr Mackle.

Dr Mackle said there is a huge amount of work underway to support farmers to reduce emissions.

“New Zealand dairy farmers’ hard work and investment over decades has contributed to this world-leading status. Our grass-based, outdoor grazing system is unique globally and is critical to our success.

“Because we are already so efficient, there is no silver bullet to even greater efficiency. Significant investment in research and development is needed to find solutions.

“Our sector is committed and has research underway. We need Government support as we adopt new knowledge, practices and technology.”

At 0.74 kg CO2e per kg FPCM, New Zealand was followed by Uruguay at 0.85, Portugal at 0.86, Denmark at 0.9 and Sweden at 1. Peru clocks in as the highest emissions producer among the countries studied, at 3.29 kg CO2e per kg FPCM. Peru is followed by Costa Rica at 2.96 and Kenya at 2.54.

The carbon footprint is measured in total greenhouse (GHG) emissions per kg of product.

The research compares carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions per kilogram of milk (fat and protein corrected milk – the nutritional content recognised in the study as CO2e per kg FPCM). This is an internationally recognised method.

The countries selected had published research that enabled a like-for-like comparison.

AgResearch scientists Andre Mazzetto and Stewart Ledgard led the research, following methodology in line with International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) standards.

Dr Mazzetto said it is always challenging to compare carbon footprinting studies, due to different methods in each scientific paper.

“Here, we reviewed international studies and recalculated their footprints in a systematic way, using methods accepted internationally to provide a fair and robust comparison between different countries,” said Dr Mazzetto.

“Bearing in mind, countries may have different emission profiles and different ways of calculating their footprints for milk production, we believe we have reached the best possible comparison from the data available.

“New Zealand is known internationally for its low carbon footprint of dairy product, which is supported by this research. There is still potential to improve and achieve lower emissions as other countries also advance their dairy sectors.”

Waikato dairy farmer and Climate Change Ambassador George Moss said pasture-based farming and genetic improvement are important components.

“Grass-based farms and sophisticated animal breeding are key components to our low carbon footprint but there is more we need to do as we play our part in addressing climate change,” said Mr Moss.

“We are world-leading at emissions efficient milk production, but we must continue to adapt and adopt new technology and knowledge. Our global competitors are never far behind, plus we know it is the right thing to do for our environment, our consumers and humanity as a whole.”

Lower emissions aren’t the only measure of how green cows are, but they are an important one when the pressure is on to meet Paris Accord commitments to lower greenhouse gases.

This research, and the Accord’s declaration that lowering emissions shouldn’t come at the cost of food production ought to provide reassurance to New Zealand dairy farmers.

But there is no guarantee that what ought to happen will happen when the Climate Change Commission reports next month.


Rural round-up

26/01/2021

Urban issues starting to affect Wanaka :

Environmental group says urban growth a threat to lake’s natural beauty.

The popularity of Wanaka’s pristine natural beauty could prove to be the lake’s downfall — but not if a group of environmentally-minded citizens has something to do with it.

Environmental consultant Chris Arbuckle, along with agribusiness expert Erica Van Reenen and keen local lake swimmer Eddie Spearing, have initiated the Touchstone project, bringing together local people concerned about the Lake Wanaka catchment, raise awareness of water quality issues, and encourage positive action.

While the vast majority of the lake’s catchment is rural, Arbuckle says urban issues are just as significant, if not more so, as Wanaka grows in size and popularity. The district’s population has doubled in the past 10 years, and is estimated to reach 50,000 by 2040. . . .

FE spore counts hit 1.2m in Matamata – Gerald Piddock:

Farmers are being warned to make sure they have an adequate facial eczema (FE) management plan in place after the first spore counts of the year topped nearly 1.2 million from one grass sample in Matamata.

The maximum spore counts analysed by Hamilton-based Gribbles Veterinary on January 14 also reached 30,000 in Franklin and Tauranga, 120,000 in Waikato, 35,0000 in Waitomo and 150,000 on the East Coast.

In the second week of monitoring, samples collected from farms in Waihi, Franklin, Hauraki, Whitianga, Rotorua, Whakatane, Tauranga, Hamilton, Morrinsville, Waipa, Waitomo, New Plymouth and Gisborne were all higher than the 30,000 spores/gram threshold at which veterinarians recommend farmers take action against facial eczema. . . 

Trees are our great weapons against climate change. But what if they stop soaking? – Mirjam Guesgen :

A new study suggests that trees’ ability to soak up carbon could expire. Mirjam Guesgen explains.

Trees have long been held as the saviour for climate change. Plant enough trees and we might be able to balance out some of that carbon-emmitting flying or driving. But a new scientific study says that trees only buy us a certain amount of time. Push a tree too far and it’ll turn on you.

How do trees fight climate change?

The reason trees make such excellent climate fighting machines has to do with chemistry. They suck up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and use it as one of the ingredients to make sugar, their form of fuel. That’s the basics of photosynthesis. . . 

M. Boris numbers falling – MPI :

The Ministry of Primary Industries says New Zealand is getting closer to the eradication of Mycoplasma Bovis.

Ten properties in Canterbury are currently infected with the cattle disease, including two Lincoln University research farms.

The Ministry is working through depopulation plans with the two research farms, but final cull numbers haven’t been determined. . .

Rain secures feed surplus – Gerald Piddock:

Warm temperatures and frequent summer rain have led to a bumper season for summer feed crops and pasture covers for livestock farmers in most regions up and down the country.

It’s been a remarkable turnaround compared to 12 months ago, where severe drought had written off feed crops and farmers around the North Island were burning through their feed reserves to keep their stock healthy.

DairyNZ general manager of farm performance Sharon Morrell says while it has been a good year for many, regions such as Northland was getting dry and areas of the Hauraki Plains also had declining pasture growth rates. . .

Farmers to showcase farmland bird conservation work :

Farmers are being encouraged to get behind this year’s Big Farmland Bird Count to showcase the conservation work being done on farms across the country.

The Big Farmland Bird Count returns in 2021, and organisers are asking farmers and land managers – who look after 71% of Britain’s countryside – to join in.

The project helps show which farmland birds are benefitting from conservation efforts while identifying the species most in need of help.

The annual count, run by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), is scheduled for the 5 – 14 February 2021. . . 


Rural round-up

02/01/2021

Dairy sector pushing for export tariffs removal – Tom Kitchin:

The dairy industry wants export tariffs scrapped as it tries to get the best bang for its buck overseas – and doesn’t think the new post-Brexit trade deal will help.

New Zealand is in the throes of sorting out trade agreements with the UK and the European bloc, after the two sides finally put a deal on the table just days before the deadline.

Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand executive director Kimberly Crewther said Kiwi exporters had battled tariffs as they tried to find their way in the market. This even happened when the UK was part of the EU. . .

Motueka hop growers picking up pieces after hail stripped vines bare

Hop growers in the Motueka area are counting the costs of the area’s freak Boxing Day hail storm, with estimates that more than half the crop has been destroyed on some farms.

The hail storm damaged dozens of businesses in the town, west of Nelson, wiped out up to 100 per cent of some fruit-growers’ crops in Moutere, Motueka and Riwaka, and left a market gardening couple scrambling for cover as a mini-tornado tore up their glasshouse.

The losses have been estimated in the tens of millions of dollars, but the full impact will take time to assess.

Lower Moutere grower Brent McGlashen said his farm, Mac Hops, was one of the five to six hop farms that were hit hardest by the storm. . .

Wakefield farmer carries on tradition of community service – Tim Newman:

For most of his life, Wakefield sheep and beef farmer Colin Gibbs has been making time to lend a hand to help out his local community.

Gibbs has been awarded the Queen’s Service Medal for services to agriculture and the community, after more than 50 years working across various farming, sporting, and community organisations.

The fourth-generation Wakefield farmer has worn many hats over that time, becoming involved with volunteer work soon after leaving school to work on the family farm.

These included roles at the Waimea and Tapawera Dog Trial Clubs, the Nelson A&P Association, the Wakefield Target Shooting Club, and St John’s Church Wakefield. . .

Dairy’s record production in challenging year:

The annual New Zealand Dairy Statistics publication reveals another record year for the dairy sector, with total milksolids production at a record high.

The DairyNZ and Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) statistics show that in the 2019-20 season, New Zealand dairy companies processed 21.1 billion litres of milk containing 1.90 billion kgMS, a 0.6% increase from the previous season.

Average milk production per cow also increased from 381kgMS last season to 385kgMS this season, while the latest count showed that New Zealand has 4.921 million milking cows – a decrease of 0.5% from the previous season. . .

Woodchopping royalty visits – Jared Morgan:

A pact made with her late husband has led axewoman Sheree Taylor to the South to compete on the gruelling Christmas woodchopping circuit for the first time.

The Te Aroha woman made good on that agreement at the Cromwell Town and Country Club on Sunday and the Gore Town and Country Club yesterday, competing for the Rotorua Axeman’s club some two years after the death of her husband, axeman Alastair.

His loss left her considering her future in the sport and her grief was still raw, but somehow she had rallied, she said.

“I’m doing it for him and I’m doing it for me. . .

Clydesdale horse breed faces uncertain future :

IT IS Scotland’s most iconic and distinctive horse, a beast which powered industrial and agricultural revolutions and helped to win the First World War.

Now a plan to save the Clydesdale horse in its homeland has been revealed in a new BBC Scotland feature-length documentary to be shown next week.

The film, Clydesdale: Saving the Greatest Horse, reveals how the breed is entering the “vortex of extinction”.

Once exported from Scotland all over the world, the current small size and relative isolation of the population has impacted on its genetic diversity. . . .


Rural round-up

18/12/2020

A near miss – Nigel Beckford:

A near-fatal accident completely changed Owen Gullery’s approach to life and farming. Now he’s alerting other farmers to the dangers of fatigue and burnout.

Owen contract milks 480 cows on a dairy farm near Cambridge. He’s been in the industry 20 years and loves ‘the daily challenges of farming – good and bad.’

“We’re having a good year, spring’s been kind to us in terms of weather – we’re not swimming round in mud. Everything’s tracking along nicely, the cows are doing well, it’s a nice property and good people.”

Which all sounds cruisy, doesn’t it? In fact, it turns out Owen’s lucky to be farming at all. A few years back a tractor accident almost claimed his life. It’s a moment he still vividly recalls. . . 

Paving the way for nurse practitioners – Annette Scott:

Raised in a farming family on Pitt Island, Tania Kemp’s upbringing had a huge impact on her career path as a rural nurse practitioner. She talked with her Annette Scott about bridging the rural health gap.

South Canterbury-based nurse practitioner Tania Kemp says rural health care needs to be promoted as a specialty area and not seen as the poor cousin to the glittering lights of urban medical practices.

Kemp has been recognised for her commitment and leadership in her drive to improve health care for rural communities.

The recipient of the New Zealand Rural General Practice Network 2020 Peter Snow Memorial Award says the inequities of the rural health statistics urgently need addressing. . . 

IrrigationNZ honours Canterbury farmer – John Donkers:

Former IrrigationNZ chair John Donkers has long been involved in the politics of water with his many years of service to the industry recently honoured by the organisation. He talked with Annette Scott about his interest in water and irrigation.

Honorary membership of Irrigation New Zealand recognises outstanding contribution to the organisation and the 2020 honour has been awarded to South Canterbury farm consultant John Donkers.

A farmer and dairy farm consultant for more than 25 years, with involvement in IrrigationNZ since 2003, Donkers has a good understanding of how Canterbury’s water runs.

His initial interest stems from farming in central Canterbury and the need to understand the groundwater network. . . 

Dairy’s record milksolids production in a challenging year:

The annual New Zealand Dairy Statistics publication released today shows another record year for New Zealand’s dairy sector, with total milksolids production at a record high.

The DairyNZ and Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) statistics show that in the 2019-20 season, New Zealand dairy companies processed 21.1 billion litres of milk containing 1.90 billion kilograms of milksolids (kg MS). This is a 0.6 percent increase in milksolids from the previous season.

Average milk production per cow also increased from 381 kg MS last season to 385 kg MS this season, while the latest count showed that New Zealand has 4.921 million milking cows – a decrease of 0.5 per cent from the previous season. This is again down significantly from peak cow numbers in 2014/15, which were at over 5 million. . . 

New analysis highlights dairy’s economic contribution:

The dairy sector is encouraged by today’s GDP results that emphasise New Zealand’s economic rebound amid Covid-19.

The dairy sector is playing a key role in a stable economy, contributing nearly one in every four dollars earned from total goods exports and services in the year to September 2020.

Recent Sense Partners analysis, for DairyNZ and DCANZ, shows the sector is delivering $20 billion in export value.

“Today’s GDP rebound may be a short-term benefit from the recovery in retail spending, wage subsidy and a hot housing market. So, it is important we don’t forget to focus on export-led growth moving forward,” said DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle. . .

Careers in horticulture look bright for Northlanders :

A local horticulture expo and ‘speed meet’ attracted more than 200 people from across Northland and the North Island last Wednesday.

Held at the Cornerstone Church in Kerikeri, the speed meet matched jobseekers with Northland growers needing workers for the season, training providers and career advisors.

Bruce Campbell, a Director on the Horticulture New Zealand board, says in the current environment, industry led events like this are critical for growers, and for those looking for immediate employment or to build a new career for themselves. . . 


Rural round-up

15/12/2020

Scientists press to put ‘regenerative farming’ to the test – Sally Rae:

A call for proposals for projects that will investigate regenerative farming practices “can’t happen soon enough”, New Zealand Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Science president Jon Hickford says.

In a strongly worded statement, the NZIAHS said it was “concerned about the dearth of sound science underpinning the hype surrounding regenerative agriculture”.

The organisation had published a series of articles from scientists from different disciplines in this month’s issue of its online AgScience magazine which showed regenerative agriculture was “more hype than reality”, it said.

MPI said there was increasing interest from farmers and the wider community about regenerative agricultural practices. . . 

Fonterra, Nestlé and DairyNZ join forces to tackle nitrogen leaching:

Fonterra and Nestlé are teaming up with DairyNZ to expand a promising plantain trial to help improve waterways and reduce on-farm greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Incorporating certain varieties of plantain into a cow’s diet has been shown to reduce the nitrogen concentration in their urine, which can leach through soil into groundwater.

To test the benefits in local pastures, DairyNZ has been leading the Tararua Plantain Project in the lower North Island, where farmers have been growing the leafy herb for their cows. The Ministry for Primary Industries is also involved as a key contributor. . .

Rams key to breeding top lambs – David Hill:

North Canterbury rams are the secret to breeding mint condition lambs, according to Marlborough farmers Ali and Stu Campbell.

The Marlborough father and son duo paid tribute to their ram breeders, Chris and Jane Earl, of Scargill in North Canterbury, after being announced as the winners of the Canterbury A&P Association mint lamb competition on Friday.

“It’s nice to give some recognition to Marlborough, but we couldn’t do it without our ram breeder,” Stu Campbell said.

“Chris and Jane look after us well and we appreciate what they do for us. . . 

My challenge to you – Anna Campbell:

For as long as I have been involved in agriculture, our industry has lamented our poor image and the fact that we struggle to attract young people.

I have heard people say we need a rebrand, agriculture is a term which brings to mind a lack of sophistication. In the game of cricket, an “agricultural batsman” is someone who dispatches the ball to “cow corner” in a rather basic manner!

Suggesting an agricultural career to a youngster will not automatically make them think about producing the finest food in the world, advanced genetics, machine learning, international food chains, global food security, financial modelling or GIS mapping. Yet, those of us in the industry understand agriculture encompasses all of that and so much more.

Various government and industry initiatives have produced scholarships for students and held open days to attract youngsters. This has helped, but we need more – we face an aging workforce, challenges in world food supply systems and a growing rural-urban divide. It will take a commitment from all agriculturalists to turn the tide – what might that commitment look like? . .

Shepherding when I’m 64 – Paul Brut:

I’m 64 and my heading dog is 63. We were watching a ewe standing awkwardly on a steep face above a dirty gully. She was trying to lamb but with only one foot showing I doubted she would cope on her own.

We needed to catch her. At 64 you can’t just do it, you need a plan. A shepherd’s crook is essential but I had temporarily misplaced mine… agility isn’t the only thing that deserts you at 64.

There was a whiff on the cool October breeze, at least about me, and I remembered where I had left the crook. Earlier that morning I had lambed a hogget with lambs that had been long dead inside her. That must be one of the most unpleasant jobs of shepherding as the state of decomposition meant the second lamb didn’t come out whole.

The extreme thing, apart from the smell is that that hogget will most likely survive. It’s a marvel that a mammal’s physiology can contain that level of infection and not let the body succumb. . .

Farmers could be ‘unintended victims’ of Wealth Tax plan:

Struggling farming businesses could be unintended victims of the recently proposed Wealth Tax plan, NFU Mutual has warned.

The Wealth Tax Commission issued its report this week, proposing a one percent tax for the next five years on individual wealth over £500,000.

The pandemic has placed a significant strain on the UK economy, and the government is exploring a number of different revenue-raising options.

The proposed tax would apply to all wealth, including homes and other property such as farms, pensions, as well as business wealth. . . 


Rural round-up

14/12/2020

Environmental Protection Authority releases annual report on aerial use of 1080 :

The latest annual report on aerial use of 1080 has been released, showing that while use of the pest control poison increased in 2019, new research into alternatives is continuing.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) report, titled 1080 use in Aotearoa New Zealand 2019, showed there were 44 aerial operations covering 918,000 hectares of land.

Aerial operations rose due to a mega-mast event in 2019, where beech seed, tussock seed, or podocarp fruit flower at once in forests, dropping seed and driving rat populations up, which then threaten native species.

However, according to the report, the average application rate was just above three grams of 1080 per hectare, which equates to roughly one teaspoonful of 1080 on a rugby field. This is well below the maximum allowable rate of 30 grams per hectare, the report stated. . . 

Working on an orchard – how hard could it be? – Marty Sharpe:

So how hard is it really to pick fruit?

It’s a topical question, what with the horticultural sector crying out for workers in light of their regular labour force drying up.

Covid-19 has meant the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme has been slashed and backpackers are scarce.This has led the sector to implore Kiwis to have a crack at working in the fields.

In a quest to get an idea of just how hard this could be, I arranged to spend a sweltering Wednesday this past week on an orchard just outside Hastings. . . 

Time to cut the No 8 wire concept – Peter Burke:

Scottie Chapman says New Zealanders should stop extolling the virtues of the No 8 wire concept.

The head of Spring Sheep Dairy says the No 8 wire concept was a success story of our past when, because of travel times, NZ was a long way from everywhere and we had to find a way to improvise

However, Chapman believes the link to improvisation in the form of the No 8 wire concept – from the past to the way we operate today with modern technology and transport – is completely wrong.

“The No 8 concept was important 150 years ago because it helped get us where we are today,” he told Dairy News. . .

Passion for chasing sheep key trait – Matthew Mckew:

Walter Peak High Country Farm rural operations co-ordinator Peter Hamilton is in the business of showing the public what the working dog can do.

His demonstrations educate people on the rich agricultural heritage of the country and display how dogs help keep the economy moving.

Mr Hamilton got his first dog — Sprite — when he was just 12, and has worked with the short-haired English collie since then.

Sprite is no longer able to get over the fence and chase the sheep, but she still watched from the sidelines. . . 

 

Kudos for landmark fertility research :

Ground-breaking collaborative research into improving dairy fertility genetics has been recognised in the annual Kudos Awards.

The Improving Dairy Fertility Genetics research project has determined new ways to select inherently fertile cows and that genetic selection for cow fertility will improve herd reproduction.

The project is part of DairyNZ’s Pillars of a New Dairy System research, which has funding from DairyNZ and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. Additional support comes from AgResearch, LIC, CRV Ambreed and AbacusBio. . .

Fewer anti-drug laws lets cannabis research gather pace :

Cannabis research and genetic improvements are gathering pace thanks to new genomic technologies, combined with fewer restrictive laws governing cultivation, research and use of the plant, according to a La Trobe University study.

In their paper published in New Phytologist, researchers from the La Trobe Institute of Agriculture and Food, home for the Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Research Hub for Medicinal Agriculture (ARC MedAg Hub), reviewed international studies of cannabis genomics and identified significant gaps in the research.

Lead researcher Associate Professor Mathew Lewsey said cannabis is one of the oldest cultivated plants believed to have unique medicinal properties, but for decades research into identifying those properties had been restricted by anti-drug laws.

“These rules have meant that while our understanding of the basic biology and properties of other crop species has advanced through the use of genomics for example, our knowledge of cannabis has lagged,” Lewsey, who is Deputy Director of the ARC MedAg Hub, said. . . 


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

08/12/2020

Learning to be brave key lesson – Sally Rae:

Being brave.

That’s something Kate Menzies has learnt a lot about through her involvement over the past decade with the Agri-Women’s Development Trust.

The charitable trust, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, was founded by Eketahuna woman Lindy Nelson.

It supported women through a range of leadership, farming business and personal development programmes and had notched up 4500 graduates in that time. . . 

New Zealand farmers prepare to export ‘best cannabis in the world – Tracey Neal:

Sun, sea and soil: these are the key ingredients for growing New Zealand’s largest-ever medical cannabis crop.

The first seedlings are now in the ground along the salt-laden and sunny slopes of Kēkerengū – just north of Kaikōura.

The ocean-side plantation run by research and development and cultivation company Puro will eventually cover the equivalent of 10 rugby fields.

Fresh out of quarantine, US-based cultivation technician Max Jablonski was last Friday focused on planting the prized seedlings into freshly furrowed, chocolate coloured soil. . . 

Family working out how to keep tracks open :

Merinos and mountain bikes.

Changes are afoot at Matangi Station, near Alexandra, where the Sanders family is seeking to open a commercial mountain bike park over the summer.

As lambing ends and recreational access to the Little Valley property reopens, the family has been grappling with how to keep the tracks behind the town’s famed clock open to the public for years to come.

“We feel we have always had a positive relationship with the community around them utilising our family land, especially during recent times,” Brett Sanders said. . . 

Deep dive gems on N use efficiency – Anne Lee:

A deep dive into Lincoln  University Dairy Farm’s data sets is offering Canterbury farmers insights into what to expect and how they may be able to profitably offset likely pasture production losses expected from the government’s new farm input control – the 190kg/ha/year nitrogen cap. While others were taking up crafts or completing 5000-piece jigsaws during Covid-19 lockdown, DairyNZ scientist David Chapman’s pastime was to crunch the numbers from the myriad of LUDF data sets. They included 2500 grazing events and 1800 fertiliser events.

His specific focus was to interrogate the data on the farm’s shift from using 300+kg/ha/year of nitrogen fertiliser to 168kg/ha/year as it moved to a lower input farming system that also saw a reduction in stocking rate.

Among his surprising finds were a smaller drop in pasture production than expected, a big jump in nitrogen use efficiency and the discovery of previously wasted opportunities for pasture utilisation and feed conversion efficiency. . . 

Seasoned industry leader joins FarmIQ board:

Industry leader, farmer and cattle breeder, Shane McManaway, has taken a place as a director on the FarmIQ board, representing MSD Animal Health. The owner of Gold Creek Charolais stud and past leader of Allflex Livestock Intelligence in Asia-Pacific and China said he welcomes the opportunity to step into the role, at a time when turning farm data into usable information has never been more critical to business success.

“ FarmIQ with its ‘farmer-centric’ approach to data is one of the best platforms for making it possible for companies with data collecting software and technology to hook into, and over time I believe this will only grow.”

Having headed up Allflex Livestock Intelligence for 15 years, McManaway comes with a deep understanding of farm data collection, and the ability to integrate livestock tagging systems to become more than just a compliance box to be ticked. . .

Andrew Forrest secures iconic Kimberley cattle stations as $30 million sale wins final approval

After almost six months, the $30 million sale of two iconic Kimberley cattle stations to billionaires Andrew and Nicola Forrest has been finalised.

The news comes days after West Australian Lands Minister Ben Wyatt approved the land transfer of Jubilee Downs and Quanbun to the Forrest family company.

In July, the Forrests bid more than $30 million to secure the highly sought-after pastoral leases, outbidding 14 interested parties, including a group of Yi-Martuwarra traditional owners who attempted to block the sale.

The stations were formerly owned by a partnership of American billionaire and environmentalist Edward Bass and Kimberley pastoralists Keith and Karen Anderson, who managed the property for more than 40 years. . . 


Lower footprint higher profit

18/11/2020

DairyNZ shows how New Zealand dairy farmers are working to continue to improve their sustainability.


Rural round-up

07/11/2020

Meat’s outlook looks reddish – David Anderson:

New Zealand beef and sheep farmers are facing more than 25% less income in the season ahead.

That’s the conclusion of Beef+Lamb NZ (BLNZ) in its recently released new season outlook for 2020-21. It is forecasting lamb export receipts to decline by almost 15% and sheepmeat co-products to decline by around 8% compared to the 2019-20 season.

Beef and veal export revenue is forecast to decline by 9% on 2019-20. “The uncertainty in the export market will be reflected in farm-gate prices and subsequent farm profitability,” says BLNZ’s chief economist Andrew Burtt. . . 

NZ challenges US farm subsidies :

New Zealand is questioning whether Donald Trump’s payments of billions of dollars to American farmers go beyond the limits allowed under international trade rules.

The Trump administration forked out US$12 billion in subsidies in 2018 to buffer American farmers from the fallout of the President’s trade war with China. It topped that up with another US$16bn in 2019.

Billions more were set aside after covid-19 dealt a further blow to US farm incomes, which are forecast to drop this year by 15% even after subsidies are accounted for.

According to one US report, payments from the federal government will make up 36% of American farm incomes this year – the highest share since 2001. . . 

New Zealand red meat exports to United States leap 50 per cent in third quarter:

New Zealand’s red meat sector continued to demonstrate its agility in the third quarter with exports to the United States growing by 50 per cent over the three months from July to September compared to a year earlier.

Total exports to the US reached $400 million for the quarter, closely followed by a 42 per cent rise to the UK ($71m) and Germany, a 25 per cent increase to $70m.

The growth in the third quarter offset a 25 per cent decline to China ($530m) although the value of sheepmeat and beef exports to China remains at an historically high level. Overall, exports in the third quarter were $1.69 billion, unchanged from the same period in 2019. . . 

Wool course plans national rollout – Neal Wallace:

The level of interest in a wool grading course has encouraged organisers to take it on the road.

Organised by the Southern Institute of Technology and held at its Telford campus near Balclutha, the plan is to buy a trailer to take equipment and samples to woolsheds to make it easier for people to access training.

The two-day block session for the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) approved course held earlier this month, attracted 14 wool handlers from throughout the South Island.

The course is completed through distance learning and filing assignments; one on shed inspection and a grading report on a clip they prepared. . . 

2021 Ngā Karahipi Uru Rākau – Forestry Scholarship recipients selected :

Ngā Karahipi Uru Rākau – Forestry Scholarship is pleased to support another eight aspiring New Zealanders to study and pursue careers in forestry, with its 2021 Scholarship recipients announced today.

Now in its third year, the Scholarships are increasing diversity in forestry sciences and engineering, with a strong focus on encouraging Māori and women to embark on forestry careers.

“Māori and women represent only a small percentage of the forestry workforce. Te Uru Rākau endeavours to change that and make the forestry and wood processing sector more reflective of our communities,” says Henry Weston, Acting Deputy Director-General Te Uru Rākau/ Forestry New Zealand. . . 

Heirlooms – naturally – for one Mansfield small farm business – Andrew Miller:

Mansfield’s self-confessed “small scale farmer” Simone Boyd is on a mission to show Victorians carrots come in more colours than orange and not every lettuce is green.

Ms Boyd, and husband Cam, grow vegetables on a small property in the north-eastern town, selling at farmers markets, to restaurants and now branching out into online sales through their Heirloom Naturally business.

She says heirloom vegetables are much like precious pieces of jewellery, or furniture, which are passed down from generation to generation, after being saved season after season. . . 

 


Rural round-up

06/11/2020

Feds: staff shortages are undermining safety, mental wellbeing:

Skilled staff shortages are not only taking a toll on productivity but also farmer mental wellbeing, Federated Farmers Dairy Chair and rural health spokesperson Wayne Langford says.

“Farmers across New Zealand are having to push the limits to get silage/baleage cut, with many crops in the South Island being harvested when it’s wet.

“With variable weather conditions and a lack of skilled contracting staff, farmers are being pushed to make questionable decisions, such as pushing on with mowing because if they don’t they may not see the contractor again for weeks.” . . 

Dairy farming ‘one of the shining stars of Covid’ – ANZ :

Recent banking results show dairy farming might be one of the “shining stars” of the Covid-19 pandemic.

ANZ chief executive Antonia Watson said New Zealand’s farming sector had taken advantage of good prices for their products.

This means they were able to pay down the principal of their loans.

The problems in the dairy industry usually feature large in ANZ Bank’s full year results but they were absent from its latest annual report. . . 

Foreign investors get land purchase approval – Neal Wallace:

Two foreign-owned forestry companies have been given Government approval to buy land in multiple transactions without requiring approval for each purchase from the Overseas Investment Office.

Known as standing consent, Oji Fibre Solutions and Nelson Forests can both buy up to 15,000ha of sensitive land up to a maximum single purchase of 2500ha of land that is exclusively or nearly exclusively in forestry.

The approval also allows the two companies to buy a maximum of 500ha of land per transaction that is not currently in forestry.

The permission is capped at 25 transactions, excludes residential land and expires on 30 September 2023. . . 

Feds on labour issues as DairyNZ shelves GoDairy – Gerald Piddock:

DairyNZ’S shelving of its GoDairy campaign has shown how hard it is to recruit people into the dairy industry, Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

DairyNZ has put the dairy training initiative on hold until March as it reviews the three-week course and looks at ways it could be improved.

Federated Farmers assisted DairyNZ in getting GoDairy up and running while at the same time, launching its own scheme to get more New Zealanders onto farms.

He says those who had successfully gained employment were given starter packs from Federated Farmers and so far, 240 packs had been sent out. . . 

Feds president Andrew Hoggard elected to IDF board:

Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard is well used to representing New Zealand’s farmers. On top of that, he’ll now be representing dairy farmers from all corners of the planet on the board of the International Dairy Federation.

The Manawatu dairy farmer gets up at 4.30am to milk his herd but at least once or twice a month it’s going to be midnight or 1am starts as he joins on-line northern hemisphere meetings.

The IDF is the only organisation which represents the entire dairy value chain at global level – from farm gate to retailer fridge. Hundreds of millions of people depend on the dairy sector for their livelihoods as farmers, processors, suppliers or traders and every day billions of people consume protein, calcium and other key nutrients from milk and dairy products. . . 

Avian flu: 13,000 birds to be culled at Cheshire farm :

A total of 13,000 chickens are to be culled after an outbreak of avian influenza (bird flu) was confirmed at a Cheshire farm.

The H5N8 strain of the disease was confirmed at a broiler breeder’s premises near Frodsham on Monday (2 November).

It follows the unrelated discovery of the H5N2 low pathogenic strain of the virus at a small commercial poultry farm in Deal, Kent, where 480 birds have been culled.

Authorities said all 13,000 birds at the Frodsham premises, which produces hatching eggs, will be humanely culled to limit the spread of the disease. . . 


Rural round-up

05/11/2020

Time to recognise farmers for their sequestration?:

Sheep and beef farmers are arguing their operations are close to carbon neutral.

But it is not counted in New Zealand’s ETS system.

So should they be getting formal recognition?

 In the first study of its kind, spacial analysis mapping of sheep and beef farms has revealed significant levels of  woody vegetation. . . 

Farmers increasingly using taylor-made environment plans – Fonterra :

Fonterra says 34 percent of its farmers now have tailored farm environment plans, up from 23 percent at the start of the year.

The company has just released its latest sustainability report, which for the second year is including a triple bottom line of economic, social and environmental impacts.

Global Sustainability director Carolyn Mortland said another 1000 of the co-operative’s 10,000 suppliers had farm specific plans compared to last year, many of them in higher risk catchments.

Mortland said there was a bottleneck of farmers wanting plans, and Fonterra was increasing its sustainable farm advisor pool from 30 to 40. . . 

Who are the most emissions efficient milk producers in the world?

A glass of New Zealand milk produces less than half of greenhouse gas emissions compared to the global average. This makes Kiwi dairy farmers the most emissions efficient milk producers in the world.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says sustainable practices and world-leading ability to make quality, highly nutritious milk means New Zealand is the best at efficiently converting grass to glass.

“As the world navigates uncertain times, we’ve carved out an enviable position in primary sector production,” says Mackle. “What is less well known, is our environmental journey. We are part of He Waka Eke Noa, a world-first partnership between the farming sector and government, building a framework to reduce agricultural emissions.”

For over a decade, farmers have transitioned to increasingly sustainable practices and those changes are being formalised through Farm Environment Plans, which improve water quality and further reduce emissions. Through the sector’s Dairy Tomorrow strategy, all farms will have an environment plan by 2025. . . 

Department Of Conservation selling Central Hawke’s Bay surplus rural sections:

The Department of Conservation is taking five separate Hawke’s Bay rural lifestyle sections without covenants to the market for sale. Turley & Co is leading the process for DoC, and Bayleys is the marketing agency.

The undeveloped blocks in the southern part of the province around the periphery of Waipukurau, are known as:

  • Streamside Paddock
  • Hunters Sections one
  • Hunters Section two
  • Beatties’ Corner, and;
  • Rural Site, Rotohiwi Road . . 

Wine label making a difference wins gold at Marlborough Wine Show:

Kōparepare, the wine brand created to support LegaSea, a non-profit organisation committed to the protection of the New Zealand marine environment, has been awarded a Gold Medal at the 2020 Marlborough Wine Show for its Kōparepare 2020 Pinot Noir Rosé. What makes the Gold medal significant, is that 100% of the revenue from each bottle of this Gold medal wine sold is donated entirely to LegaSea. The Gold medal win is also a demonstration that consumers don’t have to sacrifice quality, when purchasing wines to support a cause.

Created in 2018 by Whitehaven Wine Company, the Kōparepare label was relaunched in October this year under a refreshed label and with a campaign to donate 100% of the revenue from the first 125 cases sold online at www.koparepare.co.nz to LegaSea. After the first 125 cases are sold, the family winery will continue to fund the work of LegaSea by donating $1 from every bottle of Kōparepare sold.

Kōparepare (Māori for gift or contribution) is produced and bottled by Whitehaven, and demonstrates Whitehaven’s sustainability ethos, with a focus on the protection, preservation and restoration of New Zealand’s natural resources.  . . 

Finishing farm with unique harbour lifestyle:

A finishing property on the harbour near Raglan township in Waikato that brings the best of cattle country with its strong pastoral capacity and good contour is on the market after a decade of re-development and investment.

The Rothery Road property comprising 790ha has been dedicated to cattle finishing for the past 10 years. Stock types have included both bulls and weaner steers across the easy to medium contoured farm that sits across the harbour from Raglan township.

“The vendor has committed a decade of hard work to improving facilities and subdivision on the entire property, and that has included bringing two farms together, which also accounts for the fact there are two high quality, spacious dwellings on the farm today,” says Bayleys Waikato salesperson Russell Bovill. . . 


Rural round-up

29/10/2020

Dairy industry short hundreds of staff

The dairy industry says despite a big push to try and attract locals, it is still hundreds of staff short this season.

Dairy NZ chief executive Tim Mackle said there were about 800 vacancies farmers were still looking to fill. The busy calving period had been challenging and exhausting for those who were unable to plug gaps, he said.

Mackle said a government-backed GoDairy course launched in May to attract and upskill locals did help, but like many in the primary sector, it had not seen as much demand for work as was expected.

“GoDairy was designed during the first Covid-19 lockdown in April when unemployment was expected to reach upwards of nine percent, if not higher, by late 2020. . . 

Is food too cheap? What makes up the price of your fruit and vegetables – Dr Helen Darling:

Warnings of an acute shortage of workers to harvest food crops in New Zealand are growing. But the problem – and potential solution – are more complex than they may seem, and give rise to the question: ‘Is food too cheap?’ Food Truth’s Dr Helen Darling considers the issues.

Spring brings hope on the orchard; trees burst to life with blossom signalling a good crop, however, the usual horticultural fears of frost, rain and hail have been joined this year by a significant shortfall of orchard workers.

The situation is not new, but it is usually addressed by the influx of seasonal workers from the Pacific Islands. This year is different, of course, because closed borders mean fewer workers are now available. Commentators (and there have been many) claim orchard workers are paid too little, and Kiwis are too lazy to do the work. The reality, however, is that it is not that simple and it raises the rather interesting question of who is responsible for our end-to-end food system? . . 

Helping the meat industry nurture female talent – Sally Rae:

When Ashley Gray was studying communications in Auckland, she dreamed of working for a large, “glossy” public relations agency.

The last thing on the self-described city girl’s mind was a job in the meat industry and yet, fast forward a few years, and she wears multiple “hats” within the sector.

Among those roles is chairwoman of the New Zealand chapter of Meat Business Women, a professional networking initiative founded in the United Kingdom by Laura Ryan in 2015.

The New Zealand meat sector and Meat Business Women recently signed an agreement aimed at boosting the number of women in the industry . . 

Growers employment expo in Hawke’s Bay

Hawke’s Bay growers are facing their most challenging season, with about 10,000 workers needed between November and April for thinning, picking, packing and processing the region’s world renowned produce.

COVID-19 has severely impacted the availability of overseas workers so the industry is looking for local heroes to help.

Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst says we feed the country and the world with our produce and the industry needs everyone’s help in these unprecedented times.

“More than 8,000 local people are permanently employed in Hawke’s Bay in and around the horticulture and viticulture sectors, from pack-houses to the port. However these jobs are at risk if the fruit is not picked. . . 

Woolhandler wins two major titles at Waimate – Yvonne O’Hara:

Amber Poihipi is passionate about the wool industry and wool handling.

That passion contributed to her success when she won both the New Zealand Spring Championship and South Island Circuit senior woolhandling finals at Waimate.

Based in Winton, Ms Poihipi has been working for Shear Tech Ltd owners Ray Te Whata and Matt Watson for about a year.

She has been in the industry full-time for 14 years, and has worked throughout New Zealand and also spent six years in Australia, as well as several months in the United States, grading wool in a mobile woolshed.

“It was very different working out there in a trailer, and we graded into short, long, strong and coloured wools and we didn’t skirt,” she said. . . 

The farmers trying to  save the world and how you can help :

Farmers are using innovative methods, on their farms and further afield, to reduce their environmental impact. Some are creating products you may not know about, others are using techniques and technology designed to slash their carbon footprint. Just how far has environmentally friendly farming come, and what questions should you be asking about how your food is produced?

Slashing food waste

Fruit farmer Charlie Fermor has two main environmental focuses: to reduce food waste and find the most environmentally-friendly packaging for his farm. And he’s found ways to do both.

“We’ve always tried to be as efficient as possible on the farm, and reducing waste is probably the biggest part of that.” . . 


Rural round-up

28/10/2020

Back the sector that backs New Zealand – Sam McIvor:

The biggest issue currently facing our industry is environmental policy, writes Beef+Lamb NZ chief executive Sam McIvor.

Farmers are passionate about being good stewards of their land and want to do the right thing. However, the scale and pace of new government regulations is impacting the financial viability of farming, affecting farmers’ confidence in their industry and having adverse effects on mental health.

In the next government term, we need to see improvements in the essential freshwater regulations to make the rules workable for farmers so they can get on with achieving the desired water health outcomes.

Meanwhile, the government must get fossil fuel emitters to reduce their emissions rather than just planting their pollution on our farms. Limits must be set on the amount of offsetting allowed in the ETS before it’s too late and further swathes of productive sheep and beef farmland are converted to forestry for carbon farming. The RMA isn’t the right tool to fix this problem, but we can work with the government on what is.  . . 

Meat forecast raises questions – Neal Wallace:

Forecasts that this year’s export lamb crop could be below 18 million for the first time has observers questioning what the impact will be.

Beef + Lamb NZ’s (B+LNZ) new season outlook is forecasting the value of meat exports to fall $1 billion to $7.4bn in the coming year due to market uncertainty from the covid-19 pandemic and increased competition for beef markets.

The report forecasts a lamb crop of 22.3 million, of which 17.4m will be processed for export.

Last year the crop was 23.3m, of which 18.7m were processed. . . 

Sector needs breathing space – Neal Wallace:

Farming leaders say they can work with the incoming government but are asking for space to allow the sector to adjust to regulations introduced by the previous administration.

Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) chair Andrew Morrison says a priority for the next three years will be developing and enhancing trade, especially free trade agreements with the UK and European Union.

But he is asking that the Government give farmers time to implement new freshwater and climate change rules and regulations.

“Don’t give us more stuff, let us deliver this stuff first,” he said. . . 

Van der Poel, Glass re-elected by farmers – Sudesh Kissun:

Dairy farmers have returned Jim van der Poel and Colin Glass as DairyNZ directors for another three-year term.

Van der Poel, who chairs the industry-good organisation and Glass, chief executive of Dairy Holdings Ltd, saw off a challenge from young Ashburton farmer Cole Groves in this year’s director elections.

The result was announced at DairyNZ’s annual meeting in Ashburton last night. . . 

History underpins infant formula operation – Richard Davison:

French food and drink giant Danone enjoys closer links to New Zealand — and particularly the deep South — than might at first be apparent. Richard Davison finds out more about the company’s plans for its Clydevale, South Otago, operation as it invests $30million in green energy, and in its latest boost to local employment.

Danone, founded in Barcelona, Spain in 1919 by Isaac Carasso, and perhaps best known for dominating the yoghurt and dairy food markets in Europe, is better known domestically for its foothold in the infant formula market.

Brands such as Aptamil and Karicare are familiar names to many a Kiwi mum, and the latter brand also has a close historical association with a key New Zealand identity.

New Plymouth-born Sir Truby King was a noted innovator in many areas and, during the early 1900s, ran a dairy farm and logging operation in remote Catlins hamlet Tahakopa. . .

From defense to disruption, how companies are approaching sustainability in the food system:

When Mary Shelman, an internationally recognized thought leader and speaker, takes to the stage, there are many accolades and qualifications she could list to introduce herself. But she always starts like this:

“You’ll see that I live in Boston. You know, I was at Harvard Business school, but I’m from Kentucky. And not only Kentucky- my Dad was a farm equipment dealer there, and then when I was in middle school, he bought one farm and then a second farm.”

The generations before her -on both sides – were all from Kentucky.

 “Always in agriculture, always too poor to own their own land,” she said.  . . 


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