Rural round-up

08/11/2020

Clarity on rules wanted – Yvonne O’Hara:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand continues to seek clarity from the Government on the new Essential Freshwater rules, including requirements concerning low slope maps for stock exclusion, winter grazing regulations and farm plans,chief executive Sam McIvor says.

BLNZ had extensive consultation with about 4500 farmers across the country during the submission process and got a “good measure” of farmers’ views and concerns.

“We did get some positive changes made, particularly around restrictions on land use changes for sheep and beef farms.”

However, there are still three key issues with the rules. . .

Award winner takes value from farm tour – David Hill:

Winning the Zanda McDonald would have been beyond Jack Raharuhi’s wildest dreams when he left school.

“I left school at a very young age and chose the wrong pathway in life — drugs and cars. So my dad put me on one of his friend’s farms for a few months and I absolutely hated it.”

But after a while, Mr Raharuhi found “riding around on a farm bike” wasn’t so bad, so he put his head down, studied hard and worked his way up.

The 27-year-old dairy farm manager for Pamu (formerly Landcorp) recently enjoyed a farm tour around New Zealand last month after winning the 2020 Zanda McDonald Award. . . 

The winds of change :

When New Yorkers Anders and Emily Crofoot took over Castlepoint Station on the eastern Wairarapa coast in 1998 they had to make some big adjustments, quickly.

Gone were the freezing winters and reliable summer rains – replaced with year-round growth, frequent summer droughts and relentless wind.

The Crofoots quickly discovered that looking after their farm’s soil required a shift from traditional thinking and practice.

Two attempts at sowing pasture in a conventionally cultivated paddock—and two spring gales that blew about a third of the seed straight out to sea each time—convinced them that there had to be a better way to establish pasture in this climate. . . 

Zespri weighs up partnership with Chinese kiwifruit growers – Susan Murray:

Zespri is considering co-operation with Chinese kiwifruit growers who are illegally growing New Zealand’s gold G3 kiwifruit.

Since late 2019, unlawful plantings of the variety in China have almost doubled to 4000 hectares.

Growers in New Zealand pay hundreds of thousands of dollars per hectare to grow it and Zespri will continue looking at legal channels to protect its plant variety rights.

But Zespri chief grower and alliances officer Dave Courtney said it had been advised to trial working with the small growers in China, in the hope this would prevent more plantings. . . 

MBIE investigating frozen fries import threat:

The New Zealand potato industry are relieved that the Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) trade remedies team has now launched an investigation into the proven threat of surplus frozen fries being imported into New Zealand.

This MBIE decision was based on the positive evidence the New Zealand potato industry provided in their application completed in September this year, as part of the Potatoes New Zealand (PNZ) Pandemic Industry Recovery Plan.

The application was in response to the threat of increased dumped imports of surplus European frozen fries, to the NZ potato processing sector. The dumping and threat, combined with the effects of supply chain disruption caused by Covid-19, created an extraordinary situation that required investigation. . .

Harvesting downgrade fears allayed – Gregor Heard:

FARMERS throughout the northern cropping zone generally received good news when they returned to their harvesters last week after rain delays, with limited reports of weather damaged grain.

Yields continue to please, while farmers in southern NSW, Victoria and South Australia retain confidence of strong yields, although harvest will be some time off yet for many due to the cool finish to the cropping season allowing crops to mature slowly.

Meanwhile, the Queensland harvest is edging closer to completion, with good quality grain partially making up for slightly disappointing yields.

“A lot of people in my area on the Darling Downs have just about finished their harvest,” said Brendan Taylor, Agforce grains section president. . . 


Rural round-up

05/10/2020

Stop making decisions for farmers – Peter Buckley:

From my observations of general media reporting it seems that in today’s world no one wants to take responsibility for their actions.

And more often than not they seek to blame others for the results of their actions. This is the case for private persons, government and their departments, councils and social organisations in a large portion of reports.

The majority seem to want someone else to take responsibility for their actions or lack of action. Some in government want even more control because they believe the government can fix things through legislation.

The problem with the government growing bigger, passing more legislation (much of it being a form of social engineering) and enforcing that legislation is that it takes responsibility away from the people who should hold that responsibility. . . 

Vet’s best work stories Told in new book – Catherine Groenestein:

A Taranaki vet has documented 30 years’ working with cattle in a hefty 1.5kg book that’s part instruction manual, part work stories.

Hāwera vet Cathy Thompson always carried a camera in her kit and took photos of many of the interesting animals she dealt with on farms.

Since retiring in 2017, she has used many of them in two books.

“The first one was a practical guide for cattle vets, but I thought it should be made available for farmers too, so I rewrote it,” she said. . .

Potential second drought shows importance of dams in Northland, trust says – Denise Piper:

The potential for a second drought in Northland shows the vital importance of large-scale dams, according to Te Tai Tokerau Water Trust.

The trust was formed this year to help progress water storage projects, helped along with $70 million in Provincial Growth Funding.

Work is expected to start this month on a 750,000 cubic metre reservoir near Kaikohe – one of the towns so severely impacted by drought there was a real risk taps could run dry in February.

However, the reservoir will not be ready for use until the first half of 2021. . .

Meet the farming couple breeding leeches for New Zealand hospitals :

Maria Lupton has New Zealand’s only leech farm, with tens of thousands of the parasites in tanks on her Waikato property.

If it’s a nice fine spring weekend, then Maria and Robert Lupton know they’ll probably get a call from a hospital asking for their leeches.

The Waikato couple owns a leech farm supplying hospitals throughout the country to help in surgery to restore blood flow to severed fingers or for restorative surgery after cancer treatments.

“Men and skill saws are very good for business,” Maria says. . . 

B+LNZ and OSPRI to improve sheep traceability with electronic ASDs:

Introductions of pests and diseases onto farms can be devastating for businesses and rural communities.

COVID-19 and the response to Mycoplasma bovis has underscored the importance of tracing to find, contain and control infectious diseases.

For sheep, mob-based tracing is an efficient and effective method.  For a number of years, B+LNZ has been seeking to improve the traceability of mobs of sheep.

Current tracing of movements of sheep relies on Animal Status Declarations (ASDs). These are paper-based, which limits investigators’ ability to trace a rapidly moving disease because they must follow the ‘paper trail’. . . 

 

Coronavirus leads to food industry crisis in Europe – Gavin Lee:

Across Europe, much of the food and agriculture industry has been badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Half of the fishermen in the Netherlands have stopped going out to sea. That’s because the price of fresh fish has plummeted due to a lack of demand.

In France, 1,500 tonnes of high quality cheese went off last week, because farmers can’t sell it.

And many of the warehouses that store fresh food across Europe are now reaching capacity.

BBC Europe correspondent Gavin Lee takes a look at the impact. . .


Birds and people pooh too

20/11/2017

Water quality in Canterbury rivers is improving:

Recreational water quality sampling has found that, of the 52 monitored freshwater swimming sites, 12 have improved a grade, and four declined.

During swimming season (November to March), Environment Canterbury assesses the health risks from faecal contamination at popular swimming sites around the region.

“We test and grade popular places that people swim in Canterbury.  This year 12 sites have improved.  The year before, 10 sites improved and the year before that only five improved, so the trend is going in the right direction,” said Tim Davie, Chief Scientist.

“The improvement demonstrates the hard work of landowners to exclude stock and protect waterways by planting and fencing.  Reduced runoff from two dry summers has helped as well.” . . 

It’s good to see farmers getting credit for the work they’ve done to protect waterways.

Too often farm animals get all the blam but birds and people pooh too and now the blame for some of the problems is correctly being laid on birds:

. . . Hurunui District Mayor Winton Dalley said large numbers of birds near the Hurunui river were likely to be a major contributor to faecal contamination at the popular swimming spot by State Highway 7, which is the main route to Hamner Springs.

“There is no logic that it is farm related, but we do know there is considerable bird life in the river just upstream of the site,” he said.

But Mr Dalley said he was unsure what could be done to move them on.

“I don’t know what is feasible in terms of whether they can be moved to somewhere else…we will have to talk to bird experts, but we will first have to determine that is the cause,” he said.

Mr Davie said the regional council was continuing testing at the Hurunui site, but it did blame birds for the faecal contamination at Lake Hood’s main swimming beach.

“It’s fundamentally to do with birds and the lake circulation…there was a raft there and the birds sat on it…we had a lot of faecal contamination there,” said Mr Davie.

This isn’t the only place water pollution is caused by birds.

Water pollution isn’t the only problem birds cause.

Growing numbers of native birds is cause for celebration, but the news isn’t all good:

. . . they also warn of a downside if a rampant bird population comes to depend on agricultural crops for food because its natural habitat is too small.

Hawke’s Bay farmer and former president of Federated Farmers, Bruce Wills, has raised the problem.

Mr Wills is a green farmer, and chair of the environmental consultancy Motu.

He also helps eliminate predators on his farm as part of a local wildlife programme, Cape to City, of which he is on the board.

However, Mr Wills said bird restoration might one day be too successful.

“There’s no question, bird numbers have gone through the roof.

“I have never seen the sort of bird numbers that I am seeing now, and most of that is due to the success with predator eradication.”

Mr Wills said large numbers of birds could spread seeds to widespread locations, and there was another problem.

The Hawke’s Bay grows 70 percent of New Zealand’s apples and pears, he said.

“We are bringing the kākā and the kākāriki in from Cape Kidnappers and of course these two birds enjoy eating our apples and pears.

“I have had phone calls of concern from apple and pear growers saying this is great but potentially will have an adverse effect on a quickly growing Hawke’s Bay apple and pear industry.”

Mr Wills said he had no intention of abandoning his support of native birds, but said potential overpopulation was an issue that needed to be faced.

Alan Pollard, of New Zealand Apples and Pears, formerly Pipfruit New Zealand, agreed with him.

“There is certainly a risk because obviously apples are a crop that birds are attracted to, so we need to make sure we achieve good population growth but also protect the growing areas that we have.”

Bird life in New Zealand evolved over millions of years to step in with the bush cover that existed before human settlement.

When that bush cover declined, so did the bird population.

But intensive breeding and predator eradication means the bird population could grow faster than the bush that supports it. This could push the population out of synch with modern New Zealand ecology – which has masses of farmland. . . 

Back to water quality, 16 Auckland beaches are unswimmable and human waste is a big part of the problem:

Ecomatters Environment Trust’s Dan Ducker said this was unacceptable. 

The environmentalist said he’d seen day-trippers defecating at such lagoons.

“This happens especially in summer time when the public facilities are quite full, or at times are closed.”

“It’s complicated, but the major health risks to humans comes from humans.”

The lagoons at Piha and Bethells have been contaminated by faeces for years, he said.

Recent Auckland Council reports showed faulty septic tanks were part of the problem. Dog, birds, and livestock faeces have been found in the lagoons.

Waiheke Island’s Little Oneroa has had similar faeces issues.

But Ducker said human faeces at Piha, Karekare and Bethells lagoons “was the most dangerous aspect for humans”. . . 

Farmers, quite rightly, are no longer getting away with the practices which pollute waterways but councils continue to allow leeway for pollution for people and themselves.

Water contamination from people is common in developing countries. It shouldn’t be a problem in New Zealand and wouldn’t be if councils put the effort, and money, into better storm water and sewerage infrastructure.

 

 

 


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