Rural round-up

October 5, 2017

2018 Zanda McDonald Award shortlist announced:

A record number of applicants have been narrowed down to a shortlist of seven for the prestigious agribusiness badge of honour, the Zanda McDonald Award.

The trans-Tasman award, now in its fourth year, recognises agriculture’s most innovative young professionals. The four New Zealand and three Australian finalists for the 2018 award were selected for their strong leadership skills, passion for agriculture, and their vision and inspiration for the primary industry.

The Kiwi finalists are Thomas MacDonald, 24, Business Manager of Spring Sheep Milk Company in Waikato and Sir Don Llewellyn scholar, Lisa Kendall, 25, owner/operator of Nuture Farming Ltd and vice-chair of the Franklin Young Farmers Club, Ashley Waterworth 34, who manages and co-owns the family sheep and beef farm in Waikato, and Hamish Clarke, 27, third generation farm manager in the Northern King Country. . . 

Alliance calls fro more merinos and hoggets – Jemma Brakebush:

The country’s biggest sheep meat processor Alliance is calling for more merino farmer suppliers for its Silere brand, as Asian demand for the meat grows.

Alliance took over the brand Silere from New Zealand Merino and Silver Fern Farms last year, when it wanted to expand its portfolio of premium products.

Silere Merino’s season is very short and more lambs are needed to meet the strong demand, Alliance marketing manager for premium products Wayne Cameron said.

Processing here started at the end of September and goes through until Christmas, which is winter in Asia and when consumers prefer to eat lamb. . . 

Life on Muzzle Station – the most remote farm in NZ – Pat Deavoll:

On a bend in the Clarence River, tucked between the Inland and Seaward Kaikoura ranges under the distant towers of Mt Tapuaenuku is New Zealand’s most remote high country station.

Muzzle Station is only accessible by 40 kilometres of rugged, muddy 4WD track that connects it to the Inland Kaikoura road. The track crosses the Clarence and a 1300 metre pass on the Seaward Range.

Deep snow makes it impassible in winter. It takes about three hours to get from Muzzle to Kaikoura and that’s on a good day when the river is fordable and the pass ice-free. . .

Foreign investment crucial for forestry industry – Jemma Brakebush:

Foreign investment in forestry is crucial and New Zealand could never afford to buy back all the forests it has sold, the Forest Owners Association says.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said the future of forestry and timber supplies for local mills is one of his party’s priorities as it heads into coalition talks.

He wanted the next government to protect wood supply to domestic mills by creating a Forest Service, and had previously stuck-up for Northland wood processors who said they were being squeezed out of the market by foreign forest owners and buyers.

Commercial forestry is a much bigger industry than most people think, with $25 billion to $30bn invested in plantations, the association’s president Peter Clark said. . . 

Pipfruit industry alarmed at new port fees – Alexa Cook:

The Hawkes Bay apple industry is negotiating with Napier’s port over two proposed levies the sector says could cost it millions of dollars.

The first levy is to cover an extra $2 million in insurance premiums, which have risen because of quake damage in Lyttelton and Wellington.

The second is aimed at the pipfruit sector during peak season. The port is proposing a fee of $100 per 20,000-foot refrigerated container, starting in February. . . 

Lasers from above to zap weeds causing billion-dollar headache:

Drone-mounted lasers could be used to zap weeds that are posing a billion-dollar problem for New Zealand agriculture, AgResearch scientists say.

AgResearch – with partners the Universities of Auckland and Michigan and NZ-based technology firm Redfern Solutions Limited – has been awarded just under $1 million from the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment’s Endeavour Fund to look into how to “map and zap” the many weeds plaguing productive land.

A recent study led by AgResearch concluded from available research that the known costs of weeds to New Zealand agriculture was at least $1.685 billion a year, but that the true cost from all weeds was likely to be much higher. Environmentally friendly tools are being urgently sought for the early control of these weeds. . . 

Last chance for free DDT Muster:

Farmers are being urged to check sheds and chemical stores for DDT or other banned pesticides as The Great DDT Muster does a final sweep of the country.

Funding for this free collection and disposal service for persistent organic pesticides (POPs) is coming to an end but the company responsible for the service, 3R Group Ltd, believes there is still more out there. 

3R’s ChemCollect manager, Jason Richards, says they’ve been running rural chemical collections for a number of years but knew that farmers weren’t having DDT and other POPs picked up simply because it was too expensive. . . 

 


Environmental politics responsible for Zika?

February 11, 2016

The World Health Organisation has declared the Zika virus is a public health emergency.

It is carried by mosquitoes and Dr Jacqueline Rowarth lays the blame for them on the DDT ban:

Emotion transcends evidence; fears transcend facts; anti-science is on the rise. . . 

In 1962 Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring hit the shelves.

The American Council on Science and Health describes the book as “lyrical but scientifically flawed – arguing eloquently but erroneously that pesticides, and especially DDT, were poisoning the environment and also endangering human health.” . . .

But emotion and politics trumped the science.

Banning DDT was a political move. It has been claimed as the first major victory for the environmentalist movement in the US.

During its use between 1940 (when its insecticidal properties were discovered) and 1972, DDT was estimated to have saved more lives than any other man-made chemical.

Particular efficacy in the malaria battle has been recorded. In tropical regions the prevalence of malaria-infected people decreased from approximately 70% in the late 1950s, to 5% in the mid 60s. But by the mid 1980s cases infection was over 50% again.

The US Agency for International Development has stated that malaria would have been 98% eradicated had DDT continued to be used. . . 

Forty-four years from the banning of DDT, the lines of sad women in hospitals in Brazil, with their microcephalic babies in their arms or still in utero, have etched themselves into memory.

People are wondering whether the scientifically-proven use of DDT could have prevented this tragedy. Both the emotion and the evidence have been presented globally on screen; fears and facts are inter-linked.

A positive future depends on correct interpretation of scientific research, and good communication of the research implications. Real victories require an apolitical approach, whatever the topic.

This isn’t the first time that environmental politics and emotion have trumped science but it could be one of the costliest in human terms because of the severity of the birth defects Zika virus causes and the number of people affected by them.


Tuesday’s answers

September 21, 2010

Monday’s questions were:

1. What is  Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane commonly known as and what is it used for?

2. What are the first six letters in the Nato (phonetic ) alphabet used for radio, telephone and military communications.

3. Who said “Clever and attractive women do not want to vote; they are willing to let men govern as long as they govern men.”?

4. Who is the patron saint of florists?

5.What is the birthstone for September?

Points awarded for answers:

Mr Gronk got three right.

David got 1 5/6.

Bearhunter got three, a bonus for lateral thinking and a happy birthday.

Chris wins the electronic bouquet for a perfect score and a happy birthday.

Andrei got three right and a sigh for true but cynical for his last answer.

Tuesday’s answers follow the break:

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