Rural round-up

March 23, 2015

Food Safety Arrangement signed with Viet Nam:

Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew has welcomed an arrangement between New Zealand and Viet Nam to strengthen food safety cooperation.

The Food Safety Cooperation Arrangement between the Ministry for Primary Industries and Viet Nam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development aims to promote recognition and consistency between the regulatory systems of the two countries.

“This arrangement comes as we mark the 40th anniversary of bilateral relations between New Zealand and Viet Nam,” Mrs Goodhew says. “It is an important step towards boosting trade to Viet Nam and further developing the strong ties between our two countries.”

The arrangement was signed in the presence of Prime Minister John Key and Viet Nam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, who is currently visiting New Zealand to discuss strengthening these bilateral ties. . .

Federated Farmers condemn breaches of animal welfare:

Federated Farmers is emphatic farmers and trucking operators must follow the animal welfare rules when they take stock to processing works, especially as drought conditions reduce animal feed in some parts of the country.

A picture of Jersey cows being transported across Cook Straight for slaughter recently, led to thousands of shares on Facebook, attacks on farming practices and a complaint to the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Federated Farmers Animal Welfare spokesperson, Andrew Hoggard, says the rules on stock welfare and stock transport are clearly laid out in Ministry for Primary Industries’ Codes of Welfare Practice.

“For transport, the trucker has to follow rules, such as keeping the animals fed and watered for long distance transport, but both the trucker and farmer are legally responsible for making sure that stock are suitable for transport at loading.” . .

 

Farmers care about cow welfare, says DairyNZ:

Industry body DairyNZ is reminding farmers of the requirements for transporting cattle following recent news and social media comments on a case now being investigated by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

DairyNZ’s veterinary technical policy advisor, Dr Nita Harding, says the requirements for transporting cattle are the same whether the animals are going to slaughter or some other destination – all animals must be fit for the journey.

“It is not acceptable to load and transport very thin animals and most farmers understand that and take great care of their animals. The industry, and that includes farmers, see the importance of everyone adhering to the same standards of care and they place a high priority on ensuring that happens. The law and our industry take animal welfare very seriously and there are strict rules relating to animal transport.” . .

2015 Dairy Community Leadership Awards announced:

Two women deemed to be dedicated and inspiring influences in their dairy communities have won the Dairy Community Leadership Award at the annual Dairy Women’s Network Conference in Invercargill tonight.

The Dairy Community Leadership Award is open to all Dairy Women’s Network members and recognises dairying women who make significant contributions in their local community, through leadership and support.

The 2015 recipients of the award are Western Southland farmer Jo Sanford and Northern Southland mum Rachael Nicholson. . .

 Sustainable Farm Systems Win Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Awards:

The 2015 Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Matt and Tracey Honeysett, aim to farm sustainably taking into consideration the environment and staff.

The couple were the major winners at last night’s Hawkes Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Industry Awards held at the Masterton War Memorial Stadium, winning $11,200 in prizes.

The other big winners were Rowan McGilvary, the region’s 2015 Farm Manager of the Year, and Grace Stephenson, the Dairy Trainee of the Year.

“Our future farming goal is to run a sustainable system taking into consideration the environment, human resources and producing efficient product,” the Honeysett’s said. . .

Big wins for Whitestone – Rebecca Ryan:

Artisan Oamaru cheesemaker Whitestone Cheese won big at the New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards this week, winning the Champion Sheep Cheese category for its Monte Cristo sheep milk cheese.

Whitestone’s other accolades included four gold awards, five silver awards and 19 bronze awards.

The winners were announced in Auckland after a panel of 31 dairy connoisseurs, including top international critics, had judged more than 470 specialty cheeses, yoghurts and butter entries in the 2015 awards. . .

 

"To celebrate our 29 medal win at the New Zealand Cheese Awards, we are giving away 6 x Gold Medal Cheese Packs! (one for every gold medal) Contains one each of the gold medal cheeses. To enter just comment below which cheese is your favorite winner...(can deliver to NZ address only)"

Hawke’s Bay economy gets major blast from new food facility:

Pictured is a Post harvest technician at the Rockit food packing facility in Havelock North

The global success of Rockit™ apples has led to a $17 million investment into land development and a state-of-the-art food packaging facility in Havelock North.

Minister for Economic Development, Hon. Steven Joyce officially opened the multi-million dollar food facility today (Wednesday).

Havelock North Fruit Company managing director Phil Alison said world-wide consumer demand, which is up 700 percent from 2013, has proved a fruit such as an apple can be marketed as “a premium snack food and compete against sugar-coated confectionary.” . .

 

Farm Prices Steady but Sales Volumes Falling

Summary

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were 70 fewer farm sales (-13.1%) for the three months ended February 2015 than for the three months ended February 2014. Overall, there were 464 farm sales in the three months to end of February 2015, compared to 455 farm sales for the three months ended January 2015 (+2.0%) and 534 farm sales for the three months to the end of February 2014. 1,809 farms were sold in the year to February 2015, 1.0% fewer than were sold in the year to February 2014.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to February 2015 was $28,009 compared to $22,644 recorded for three months ended February 2014 (+23.7%). The median price per hectare rose less than 1% compared to January.  . .

Association records another surplus:

The Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Association have released their Annual Report announcing results for the financial year ending 31 December 2014. Despite some poor weather on the Wednesday and Thursday of the 2014 Canterbury A&P Show, attendance increased with approximately 103,000 visitors, slightly up on 2013.

The 152nd Canterbury A&P Show, hosted by the Canterbury A&P Association, attracted 6682 livestock, equestrian and feature competition entries. The Trade Exhibitor section experienced its most successful year in the history. .

 

 


Counting cost of greening ag

March 16, 2015

DairyNZ and Federated Farmers are surveying dairy farmers to find out how much money they have invested on-farm in environmental initiatives.

Federated Farmers initiated this research on farmers on-farm environmental spend in the Horizons region last year, and found it was invaluable information to have on hand.

In Horizons the survey results from 900 dairy farmers showed 166 of them had spent a total of $18.5 million on environmental initiatives on-farm.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says the industry body has now joined the quest for environmental spend data and is working in tandem with Federated Farmers to cover the rest of the country.

“It’s been difficult for the industry to quantify all the investment that has been made across the 12,000 dairy farms in New Zealand in areas like effluent systems, stock exclusion from waterways and riparian planting. We have all these individual businesses doing what they need to do and just getting on with the job but nobody knows how much money that’s involving. There are obviously costs to all this investment in responsible dairy farming and environmental stewardship and we just want to put some numbers against it.

“If we want the public and the regulators to understand what is already happening out there, we need to know the facts and figures. We can only get those from farmers,” he says.

Federated Farmers Dairy Chair, Andrew Hoggard, says that this is as much about giving the industry something to be proud of as it is about showing the public that dairy farmers are serious about the part they play in protecting the environment.

“The more facts we have, the easier it is to tell the story about how the industry has stepped up to play its part and more importantly the significant amount farmers are investing to do that.”

“Meeting our commitments under the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord and industry strategy is a huge undertaking not just with national resources but with farmer’s time and money.

“We can’t tell the public or others what we don’t know – so we’re trying to understand how much that commitment to the environment is adding up to at a farm level.”

Mr Hoggard added that the Federation and DairyNZ are collecting the data region by region, which they will eventually be able to put together across the country to tell both the regional and national story.

“Now it’s up to New Zealand dairy farmers to take the survey we’ve sent out to them or visit either of our websites to access it.  If they know their environmental spend it’s quick and easy to do.”

“We’re urging farmers to take part in this project if they haven’t already and to complete it by the end of March.”

Farmers need to complete the survey to help those who help us – DairyNZ and Federated Farmers.

Those who do more are more likely to respond than the minority who do little but it will still provide valuable information on what farmers are doing and how much it costs.

Farming to the required environmental standard isn’t negotiable.

Many farmers go well beyond the minimum required. The financial return on that might not justify the expense but there will be environmental benefits and probably social ones too.


Rural round-up

March 11, 2015

Federated Farmers receives threat to contaminate dairy infant formula product:

Federated Farmers has confirmed it has received a threat to sabotage New Zealand infant formula with the pesticide 1080.

The anonymous letter was received at Federated Farmers Wellington offices in late November.  It was addressed to the Chief Executive Graham Smith.

The letter was accompanied by an enclosed plastic bag containing a powder.

Federated Farmers gave the letter and bag to the Police. . .

Fonterra Acknowledges Threat Investigation:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited acknowledges the announcement by the New Zealand Police and the New Zealand Government about an investigation into a criminal threat relating to the Government’s use of Sodium monofluoroacetate (1080) poison as pest control to protect the country’s native flora and fauna.

The Government said today that there was no health risk to consumers. It has assessed the likelihood of the threat being carried out as ‘extremely low’. For further information please go to: http://www.foodprotection.govt.nz

Fonterra Chief Executive Theo Spierings said the criminal threat targeted New Zealand and the entire dairy industry. . .

Westland says its products are safe:

Westland Milk Products, New Zealand’s second biggest dairy cooperative, says there is no evidence that the safety of its products has been compromised by a threat to contaminate infant and other dairy formula with sodium monoflouroacetate (1080).

CEO Rod Quin says, “We are very confident that our products are secure while within our manufacturing and distribution systems,” he says. . .

 

Synlait Milk confident in its food safety systems:

Synlait Milk is confident that its food safety systems and security standards protect the integrity of its products.

They have been specifically designed to protect against threats such as that announced today by the New Zealand Police and Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said Managing Director Dr. John Penno.

“Food safety and product quality is our highest priority. Our standards and systems reflect this,” said Dr. Penno. . .

NZ infant formula among safest in world:

Mothers in New Zealand and around the world can be assured that infant formula sourced in New Zealand is among the safest available anywhere, says the Infant Nutrition Council.

Chief Executive Jan Carey deplored the anonymous threats made to Fonterra and Federated Farmers.

She says infant formula manufacturers and exporters in New Zealand have full confidence in the safety of their products and in the security of their manufacturing processes.

“These products made in New Zealand are safe and always have been safe.

“We are absolutely confident about the safety of infant formula manufacturing in New Zealand and the products sold in supermarkets. . .

Nominations Open for Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards 2015:

Nominations are now open for this annual event that champions the country’s top performing sheep farmers, breeders, and industry innovators.

The fourth Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards will take place in Invercargill on Wednesday 1 July 2015.

“It’s fitting that the New Zealand sheep industry recognises and rewards its top performers, and in doing so profiles the significant contribution it makes to the New Zealand economy,” says Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) chief executive, Dr Scott Champion.

“Productivity levels have improved dramatically over the past 20. Lambing percentages are 20 per cent higher than they were in 1995, and lamb carcase weights are up 28 per cent. . .

 Future of Farming – NZ Landcare Trust:

Former Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment and current Chair of WWF-NZ Dr Morgan Williams was the guest speaker at a recent Community Catchment Management Workshop organised by NZ Landcare Trust in Murchison. The programme also included presentations from community farming representatives, who highlighted the benefits and successes of community involvement within projects in this region.

Dr Williams began by voicing his support for the work rural communities are doing in sustainable catchment management projects, before outlining his perspectives on broader global and national issues shaping agriculture. . .

 

Career Changes Clean-up in Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Awards:

The three major winners in the 2015 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Industry Awards had all switched careers to dairy farming in recent years.

The 2015 Auckland/Hauraki Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Evan and Jan Billington had been in the New Zealand Police and teaching until seven years ago, while the region’s Farm Manager of the Year, James Foote, had been a professional rugby player, and the 2015 Auckland/Hauraki Dairy Trainee of the Year, Royce King, was a plumber and gas fitter. . .

 All-Rounder Wins Waikato Dairy Awards Title:

The 2015 Waikato Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, Aaron Price, has it all – he’s a young, fit, professional, married man with a plan. He’s also persistent and great to have in the community.

Mr Price, aged 29 years, took out the major title at last night’s 2015 Waikato Dairy Industry Awards, with his win netting him $22,000 in prizes.

The other big winners at the region’s awards dinner held at the Claudelands Events Centre were Paul and Kate Manion, the 2015 Waikato Farm Managers of the Year, and Brett Steeghs, the Waikato Dairy Trainee of the Year. . .

Housing cows not the only way to increase production –  Wayne McNee:

The recent visit by Professor Aalt Dijkhuizen, the president of Topsector Agri and Food in the Netherlands, raised some interested points about how New Zealand dairy farmers can learn from their Dutch counterparts.

But there was a flaw in his argument – profitability and efficiency did not seem to feature highly.

The two go hand in hand here. Profit is the ultimate goal for New Zealand dairy farmers, regardless of the system or technology utilised.

The best way to make a profit is by breeding animals that will efficiently, and repeatedly, convert feed into quality, high-value milk. . .

 Fledgling agri-food course whetting student appetites:

A new multi-disciplinary degree course taking food production beyond the farm gate and onto the world stage is experiencing 150 per cent growth in new enrolment numbers in only the second year it has been offered at Lincoln University.

Developed to meet the needs of an industry decrying a lack of graduates prepared for careers in the agri-food supply chain the Bachelor of Agribusiness and Food Marketing degree (B.AFM) has gone from 20 students in 2014 to 50 students this year.

It is one of the success stories at Lincoln University’s Te Waihora campus which has seen good growth in new student enrolments in 2015, both for New Zealand and international students. . .

Moving stock? Think about your Theileria risks:

Industry body DairyNZ is warning farmers to assess the risks to their herds from the tick-borne disease Theileria if they are moving stock this autumn and winter.
.
DairyNZ veterinarian and technical policy advisor, Nita Harding, says stock out at grazing such as heifers that will be coming onto the farm could pose a risk, or be at risk of Theileria, depending on the situation on farm.

Nita says farmers can help the industry and veterinarians manage and prevent the spread of the disease if they are moving cattle between Theileria zones this season. . .

Giesen stamps mark in China:

Giesen Wines is earning a growing following in China, where it has been exporting for the past five years.

Its wines recently won acclaim at China’s largest and most prestigious wine competition, CWSA (China Wines & Spirits Awards), which brings together winemakers from all over the world to compete in a blind tasting. Giesen’s haul included a trophy, two double golds, five golds, and it was named the CWSA Marlborough Winery of the Year.

General manager Kyle Skene said Giesen’s total wine portfolio is exported to China, including Giesen Estate, The Brothers (Reserve) and Single Vineyard series. Its wines are sold across 12 Chinese cities and seven provinces. . . .


Rural round-up

March 7, 2015

NZ wool market mixed amid targeted buying – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand crossbred wool, which accounts for the majority of the country’s production, rose to a three-and-a-half month high this week on lower volumes.

The price for 35-micron clean wool, commonly used for carpets, advanced 3.9 percent to $5.35 per kilogram, the highest level since Nov. 20, according to AgriHQ. The wool type only sold in the South Island this week, with the lower supply bolstering the price as other strong wool types declined in auctions across both islands.

Some 21,228 bales were offered for sale at the combined auctions across the North and South islands, the second-largest volume this year, as New Zealand comes out of its main shearing season from December to early February, which accounts for about 60 percent of the annual crossbred wool clip. . .

Rural Canterbury should diversify land use:

A report suggests Canterbury’s land use and crops should be diversified to support the region’s economy.

The report, released by the Canterbury Development Corporation yesterday, said diversification would help when other sectors such as dairying were under pressure with a low milk payout and the drought.

The corporation’s chief executive Tom Hooper said branching out from the region’s traditional cropping and sheep and beef farming, was making sure the eggs were not all in one basket.

The research found milking sheep and production of honey, blackcurrants and pharmaceutical crops such as poppies were all viable options. . .

Veterinarians play key role in judicious use of antimicrobials following McDonald’s announcement on use of antibiotics in supply-chain:

Yesterday fast food restaurant McDonald’s announced that it will only source animals raised without antibiotics that are important to human health, highlighting the key role veterinarians play in judicious use of antimicrobials to combat the rise of antimicrobial resistant bacteria.

New Zealand is a world leader in the prudent and highly regulated use of antimicrobials. Antibiotics used in animals are regulated by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), and are registered for use for the treatment of animal disease. Antibiotics play a vital role in keeping animals healthy and protecting their welfare. In both pets and livestock, these products treat and control infections that threaten life and productivity, providing significant benefit to both the animals receiving treatment and the people looking after them. New Zealand is different to some overseas countries, in that antibiotics are not permitted to be used for the purpose of growth promotion here. . .

 

Call for 1080 to be used on organic properties:

In a bid to combat wild dogs in Australia, the organics industry there is considering allowing 1080 to be used as bait on certified properties.

While 1080 is derived from plants, it is produced synthetically and not approved for organic livestock farmers to use.

But Australia’s Invasive Animals Co-operative Research Centre is calling for that to change.

The Australian organic industry’s national standards sub-committee will meet early this month to discuss submissions calling for 1080 to be allowed on organic properties to control the wild dog population. . .

New release takes annual ryegrass to a new level:

A new tetraploid annual ryegrass proven to yield 1 tonne dry matter/ha more than old common varieties will help farmers enhance the productivity of their land this season.

That’s the word from Agriseeds, which bred the new cultivar Hogan to replace Archie, and says it will raise the bar for annual ryegrass performance on New Zealand farms.

Hogan’s significant yield advantage over old genetics is valued by the DairyNZ Forage Value Index (FVI) at $380/ha extra profit.

Agriseeds pasture systems manager Graham Kerr says this stacks up to a 10 fold return on investment for the extra $35-$45/ha it costs to sow Hogan compared with Moata or Tama. .

“It amazes us how much Moata and Tama seed is still sold, because these cultivars were released well over 30 years ago. . .

 

*   *   *

 

The Fujita Scale measures the power of tornados but was regarded as too technical for lay people so meteorologists came up with the Moojita Scale:

M0 Tornado- Cows in an open field are spun around parallel to the wind flow and become mildly annoyed
M1 Tornado- Cows are tipped over and can’t get up
M2 Tornado- Cows begin rolling with the wind
M3 Tornado- Cows tumble and bounce
M4 Tornado- Cows are airborne.
M5 Tornado- Steak.


Rural round-up

February 19, 2015

Future dairy leaders - Sam Johnson:

Last week I was invited to speak to 60 graduates at Fonterra in Palmerston North. As New Zealand’s largest co-operative, Fonterra is seen as delivering significant economic value back into Aotearoa.

The 60 graduates I was privileged to speak to have all graduated at the top of their classes from various institutions around New Zealand. After graduating, they each spent two years working in various factories around the country, learning about everything; from milk production, the intricate details of making yoghurt to coming up with new ideas using their skills to streamline processes, ultimately seeking to improve the efficiency and success of Fonterra.

Before I arrived, each person delivered a 10-minute presentation on their project or thesis around their area of expertise. Then the debates began on whether or not the idea would save the company $10 million. While saving money didn’t appear to be the brief from the company, I was interested in how frequently the cost saving aspect was referenced. . .

Good progress in Auckland fruit fly operation:

Field work is ramping up in Auckland today in response to the detection earlier this week of a single male Queensland fruit fly in a surveillance trap in Grey Lynn.

MPI, along with response partners and Government Industry Agreement partners KVH and Pipfruit NZ, have responded swiftly.

Today a field team of more than 90 staff is setting additional fruit fly lure traps to determine if other flies are present in the area.

Field teams are also collecting samples of fruit from home gardens in the area to test for any flies or their eggs or larvae. . . .

Students making quads safer:

850 farmers are injured each year from quad bike accidents in New Zealand. Two to seven die. A group of young innovative entrepreneurs are launching a new, safe storage solution for carrying equipment on quad bikes. Launching this week, Flatpak is a bag that is specifically designed to easily attach onto the back of a quad bike. They are launching their pledge me campaign on the 18th of February. Here, customers are able to pre-order a limited edition Flatpak along with other rewards.

They are working to raise $40,000 to produce their first run of 100 Flatpaks! They need your help. . .

‘Tactics for Tight Times’ to be shared – Sally Rae:

DairyNZ has launched a campaign to help dairy farmers get through a tough season brought on by a low milk price and drought.

The declaration of drought conditions on the South Island’s east coast as a medium scale adverse event had highlighted the ”critical need” for extra support for farmers, DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said.

”The milk price hit a six year low in December, and dry conditions have exacerbated the situation, forcing many farmers to make some pretty tough decisions, especially as they look to set themselves up for next season,” he said. . .

Aorangi Young Farmers to be put to the test in ANZ Young Farmer Contest Regional Final:

The second ANZ Young Farmer Contest Grand Finalist will be determined next weekend, Saturday 28 February at the Aorangi Regional Final held in Oamaru.

“This contest season is shaping up to be very impressive after a fantastic Regional Final in Queenstown over Waitangi weekend. Every year the calibre of contestants continues to impress,” says Terry Copeland, Chief Executive of New Zealand Young Farmers – organisers of the event.

The eight finalists are contending for a spot at the Grand Final in Taupo 2 – 4 July and their share of an impressive prize pack worth over $271,000 in products, services and scholarships from ANZ, FMG, Lincoln University, Silver Fern Farms, AGMARDT, Ravensdown, Honda, Husqvarna and Vodafone. . .

 Tractor industry reports buoyant sales:

Waikato led the way in purchases of tractors in New Zealand during 2014, in a year when tractor sales approached record highs.

A total of 4061 tractors were purchased between January and December, including 3,419 of at least 40 horsepower (HP), the most common measure for farm tractors. The figure is significantly more than the 3065 40HP tractors bought in 2013.

Ian Massicks, president of the Tractor and Machinery Association (TAMA) which gathers the sales data, said a combination of the record dairy payouts last year and good growing conditions were key to farmers investing in new equipment. . .

 

And Spring Rolls into Summer:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were 109 fewer farm sales (-19.3%) for the three months ended January 2015 than for the three months ended January 2014. Overall, there were 455 farm sales in the three months to end of January 2015, compared to 486 farm sales for the three months ended December 2014 (-6.4%) and 564 farm sales for the three months to the end of January 2014. 1,811 farms were sold in the year to January 2015, 1.0% more than were sold in the year to January 2014.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to January 2015 was $27,997 compared to $22,664 recorded for three months ended January 2014 (+23.6%). The median price per hectare fell 2.7% compared to December. . .


Rural round-up

February 16, 2015

Work of dedicated greenie on view  – Tim Cronshaw:

A lifetime’s work by a Canterbury farmer to lay out a tree canopy on his property, the envy of many farmers, will be opened up to visitors this month.

Lochaber Downs was until lately the home of Graeme and Christine McArthur and they spent decades putting in shelterbelts, woodlots and many varieties of native trees and plants on the 680 hectare hill country and downs property at Whitecliffs, inland Canterbury.

This was rewarded with the couple being named the Husqvarna Farm Foresters of the Year for the South Island. As part of the award they will hold a field day on February 21 despite since selling the farm. The field day has been allowed to continue with the consent of new owner Ken Wragg. . .

Kiwi smashes world barley record – Alan Williams:

Timaru farmer Warren Darling set his mind on a new world barley growing record after going close last season without really trying.

His determination has paid off with the numbers and now he’s just waiting to see if Guinness World Records will ratify the result. Word from the United Kingdom-based group was expected any time.

The January 23 harvest produced a yield of 13.8 tonnes a hectare from the 11.5ha block of land on the coastal Poplar Grove Farm. . .

 Dairy man disputes barn finding – Neal Wallace:

A study questioning the merits of wintering barns or free stalls has been slammed as muddled and narrow-focused by an advocate of the system.

Ray Macleod, the manager of Landward Management, a Dunedin company specialising in hybrid dairy farming systems, said the report failed to look at the barn system as part of a year-round production cycle and confused farm intensification with better use of resources.

The study by DairyNZ senior economist Matthew Newman and AgFrirst consultant Phil Journeaux said the jury was still out on the financial and environmental merits of the barns. . .

Astronauts catch on to wool’s fire resistant qualities – Mary-Jo Tohill:

For merino wool protective clothing specialist Andy Caughey, there’s nothing like going straight to the source.

The New Zealand merino wool advocate was at the Central Otago A&P Show at Omakau yesterday, mingling with some of the farmers who grow wool for his UK-based brand, Armadillo Merino. 

From the sheep’s back to outer space might sound a bit far-fetched, but not when you’re talking about astronauts, whose under-garments are made from merino wool. . .

Government distrust of Fonterra ‘staggering':

The level of Government distrust in Fonterra was a “huge shock” according to the man who led the dairy giant’s board inquiry into 2013’s botulism scare.

Speaking at an Institute of Directors function in the Waikato today, Jack Hodder, QC, said the inquiry team was taken aback by the lack of goodwill between the country’s largest company and politicians.

“That was a huge shock. That was probably the most staggering thing,” the Chapman Tripp partner said. 

“Accidents happen, but the lack of goodwill Fonterra had in Wellington was a real concern.”

Hodder said what goodwill had existed between the two “evaporated” once the botulism scare broke. . .


Rural round-up

February 14, 2015

Drought déjà vu

Dairy production plunging at the same time prices are spiking.

Lamb prices soft on drought impact.

Reserve Bank signals OCR could go up or down.

Stronger dairy prices in the most recent dairy action are a double-edged sword, according the latest ASB Farmshed Economics Report.

“Strengthening dairy prices in the 2 February dairy auction have given upward momentum to prices,” says ASB’s Rural Economist Nathan Penny. “However, farmers still have to navigate this summer’s drought and potential falls in production. But if farmers can manage through this tough drought and low milk price combo, we expect a rebound in the milk price for the 2015/16 season to around $6.00/kg.” . .

Farmers need to evolve new systems:

New Zealand farmers face a new evolutionary pressure – farming within nutrient limits – and together with scientists and industry bodies, they will need to evolve new farming systems in response to this challenge, a University of Waikato economist told the Australian Agricultural & Resource Economics Society’s conference in Rotorua this week.

Associate Professor Graeme Doole, an economist who specialises in the connections between agriculture and the environment and acts as an advisor to the government on water issues, says the economic impact of nutrient limits that are now being developed and implemented around the country will be significant for farmers.

“It is something that the industry has to deal with because generally around 75 to 90 percent of Nitrogen eaten by cows is lost in urine,” he says. . .

Future proofing our pastures against drought – Lynley Hargreaves:

New Zealand may have escaped another official declaration of drought, but climate-change forecasts make dry periods more likely. Good news, then, that a New Zealand high school student has helped improve the drought-resistance of future pastures. Former Palmerston North Girls’ High School student Minushika Punchihewa explains her Gold CREST research that ensures successful cross-breeding just by looking closely at a clover plant.  

Why are clovers being cross-bred?

Currently Trifolium repens (White Clover) is the most common species of clover used in New Zealand’s agricultural sector and is depended upon by farmers to feed their live stock and for pastoral growth. However, a relativity new type of clover called Trifolium ambiguum was introduced to New Zealand from regions surrounding the Black Sea. This clover has many advantageous traits such as drought tolerance, pest and disease resistance and strong rhizomes for spreading, so scientists are beginning to cross breed this clover with T.repens to try incorporate some of these beneficial traits. . .

New Zealand captures over 10% of its freshwater resource – Waiology:

Following a recent Timaru Herald article (3 February, 2015), I learned of a claim that 98% of NZ’s rainfall is left to flow out to sea, and that we only capture the other 2%.

‘‘This country doesn’t have a water shortage issue. What it has is a water storage issue. We capture a mere 2 per cent of our country’s total rainfall, the rest pours out to sea!’’ – Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean’s office.

‘‘It is wasteful that we only capture around 2 per cent of rainfall in New Zealand, with the rest roaring out to sea.’’ – Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy, in a speech to Crown Irrigation Investment Ltd.

These statements aren’t quite right, but because the topic is of vital importance, it is worth commenting on what is actually happening. Some of the rain evaporates before it can reach the sea or get used by us, and the “2%” isn’t actually how much we capture anyway. . .

 Liveweight breeding values and breeding worth calculations change this month:

Liveweight breeding values for dairy cattle are to improve as a result of data analyses carried out by NZ Animal Evaluation Limited (NZAEL), a wholly owned subsidiary of DairyNZ.

Changes to these breeding values and the flow-on effects for the overall measure of cow and sire genetic merit; Breeding Worth (BW) will be implemented from 16 February 2015.

These improvements are focused around the conversion of liveweight information into a mature weight equivalent.

“Historically this conversion has been done within the liveweight animal evaluation model, but over time the information that we receive has become heavily weighted towards data for two-year-olds which skews the calculation,” says NZAEL Manager Dr Jeremy Bryant. . .

 


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