Rural round-up

October 20, 2019

Is this the future of irrigation? – Luke Chivers:

Curbing water consumption and the leaching of nitrogen is no easy feat but a major research programme has devised an ingenious plan. Luke Chivers explains.

A six-year research programme on irrigation has ended with a big win for agriculture – the development of promising new sensor technology systems that give arable, vegetable and pastoral farmers the tools to use precision irrigation at sub-paddock scales. 

The systems work alongside existing irrigation scheduling technology, mapping and monitoring a field at sub-paddock scales and calculating exactly how much water is needed at the right time and place. It is a leading development for irrigation and field trials have proved to dramatically reduce water wastage, save users money and minimise farm runoff. . .

On-farm research helps water quality :

An innovative approach to improving environmental sustainability is proving its success in intercepting and treating storm water before it leaves the farm and trials indicate it could be a game-changer for water quality.

A four-year trial has looked at intercepting and treating storm water before it leaves the farm – stopping the phosphorus, sediment and E coli from washing off into Lake Rotorua

The detainment bund science project manager John Paterson says while there is an increasing spotlight on farmers and the impact farming has on waterways, this is a project developed and led by farmers. . .

 

The fourth industrial revolution in agriculture – Sebastiaan Nijhuis and Iris Herrmann:

For agribusinesses, implementing new technologies requires focusing on four critical capabilities.

Do all cows’ faces look the same to you? They don’t to systems powered by artificial intelligence (AI). Bovine facial recognition technology, developed through a strategic partnership between Cargill and an Irish technology company called Cainthus, equips barns and fields with smart cameras that can identify each cow in a herd in seconds based on facial features and hide patterns. Linked to machine learning software, the system determines whether a cow isn’t eating or drinking enough, or if she’s sick, and can alert the farmer via smartphone app. It can also look at the whole herd’s behavior to identify how best to distribute feed or schedule cows’ stints in a specific pen or in the field. Over time, the platform learns from what it sees and begins to automate more of the daily care for each animal. . . 

Profit improves in better year for Alliance: -Sally Rae:

Alliance Group shareholders can expect a “substantial” improvement in profit performance when the company announces its year ended September 30 financial results, chief executive David Surveyor says.

Speaking at a roadshow meeting in Oamaru this week, Mr Surveyor said it was also very pleasing to announce a profit distribution would be made to shareholders.

Last year, the company posted an operating profit of $8million, down from the previous year’s $20.2million, and did not make a distribution to shareholders.

Chairman Murray Taggart said the company had made “really good” progress again this year but there was “still plenty to do“. . .

Hogget lambing ‘taken a hit’ – Yvonne O’Hara:

The recent bad weather has meant farmers in southern areas and the Southland hill country have ”taken a hit” with hogget lambing, says consultant Deane Carson, of Agribusiness Consultants, Invercargill.

Mr Carson said with the recent wet and windy weather last week, farmers had ”high losses”.

”While farmers in Central Southland have a good lambing and are nearly finished, those who are hogget lambing are getting impacted at the moment.”

He said hill country farmers were also affected by the poor weather, which ”knocked them about a bit”, and they also have had high losses, particularly as their lambing season was later than in other areas. . .

 

 

America’s first urban ‘agrihodd’ feeds 2000.  Households for free -Lacy Cooke:

When you think of Detroit, ‘sustainable‘ and ‘agriculture‘ may not be the first two words that you think of. But a new urban agrihood debuted by The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative (MUFI) might change your mind. The three-acre development boasts a two-acre garden, a fruit orchard with 200 trees, and a sensory garden for kids.

If you need a refresher on the definition of agrihood, MUFI describes it as an alternative neighborhood growth model. An agrihood centers around urban agriculture, and MUFI offers fresh, local produce to around 2,000 households for free. . .


Rural round-up

October 27, 2018

Power prices heading north for the summer – Richard Rennie:

 Farmers looking to renew electricity contracts are being cautioned to expect a shock from new prices as the power industry faces tightening supply conditions amid strong demand from South Island irrigators for electricity.

Ruralco Energy general manager Tracey Gordon is dealing almost daily with co-operative farmer shareholders seeking advice as their electricity contracts come to an end and new ones are being set.

While electricity companies are renegotiating contracts with existing customers, those seeking new supply arrangements might find it more difficult to get on board. . .

Large-scale Canterbury irrigation project in new hands:

 An irrigation company has bought the resource consents for the large-scale Hurunui Water Project.

Shareholders on the Hurunui Water Project have voted unanimously to sell the council consents to Amuri Irrigation Company.

Amuri Irrigation chairperson David Croft said the company was aware of a strong desire for irrigation to be delivered to farmers south of the Hurunui River in north Canterbury. . . 

Agritourism witha  touch of southern hospitality – Tess Brunton:

Southland farmers have started looking for greener pasture – and tourist dollars – by welcoming visitors onto their working properties.

 It’s a niche market now, but there are hopes the region could become a mecca for agritourism.

Venture Southland has been running agritourism information workshops across the region this week, attracting more than one hundred people over four sessions.

Velvet prospects sound:

The velvet market during the 2018-19 season is expected to be reasonably stable, with consumption in Asia increasing in line with production growth in New Zealand.

Apart from a brief downward dip in prices two years ago, driven by uncertainty about regulatory changes in China, NZ velvet production and prices have increased for eight years. . .


Meat companies only have themselves to blame if meat prices are too high – Allan Barber:

 Seven years ago, the last time lamb prices were as high as they have been for the last 12 months, overseas customers suddenly decided enough was enough and turned off the tap, causing a sharp drop in price which reached its low point of less than $4.50 per kilo more than a year later. The difference this time appears to be a more gradual climb and a longer peak with no sign yet of a repeat collapse.

The other significant difference is the emergence of China as a key market, whereas in 2012 the traditional markets of UK, EU and USA had to bear the impact of selling to their consumers a product which had effectively priced itself off the market. Today the spread of market demand means more of the lamb carcase can be sold at a higher price; although this doesn’t mean there isn’t some risk of another collapse, there are greater signs of sustainability. . .

Why cows are getting a bad rap in lab-grown meat debate – Alison Van Eenennaam:

A battle royal is brewing over what to call animal cells grown in cell culture for food. Should it be in-vitro meat, cellular meat, cultured meat or fermented meat? What about animal-free meat, slaughter-free meat, artificial meat, synthetic meat, zombie meat, lab-grown meat, non-meat or artificial muscle proteins?

Then there is the polarizing “fake” versus “clean” meat framing that boils this complex topic down to a simple good versus bad dichotomy. The opposite of fake is of course the ambiguous but desirous “natural.” And modeled after “clean” energy, “clean” meat is by inference superior to its alternative, which must logically be “dirty” meat.

See the whole picture here.


Rural round-up

July 17, 2017

Susatainability key to role as new AgResearch leader – Sally Rae:

The big thrust for AgResearch in the future has to be around farm and environmental sustainability issues, new chairman Jeff Grant says.

His focus would be continuing to build on AgResearch’s ability to deliver science that was “highly relevant” to the future of farming.

Regional council changes, in a bid to get better outcomes around land and water, would force AgResearch to provide the science to ‘‘get the answers’’ and the tools for farmers.

“I see the organisation as being the lead provider of answers that allow farmers to meet the expectations for producing high quality food in natural and sustainable environments, while also being able to run a viable business. . .

Cattle grazing on river edges keeps weed ‘shambles’ down on extensive farms – Bob Todhunter:

With alI the bad publicity our rivers are receiving I feel the general public is confused between extensive and intensive grazing.

I would like to make some observations about stock grazing alongside waterways. I am no scientist, however I do have 70-plus years of practical observation.

I remember being taught fishing by my grandfather in the 1950s on the rivers of the Canterbury Plains when sheep and cattle were grazed extensively by the riverbeds. . .

Pine tree seedlings in short supply after poor growing season  – Jill Galloway:

A shortage of pine tree seedlings after a poor growing season for tree nurseries has hit some forest owners and farm foresters.

Patrick Murray ,who is owner of Murray’s Nurseries at Woodville in Tararua, said he had turned down orders of 1.2 million pines.

“We grew around five million pinus radiata but could easily have sold more. It has been a wet summer and poor autumn and that affected badly the growth of the trees.” . . 

EU farmer subsidies under threat – Nigel Stirling:

There are signs that the massive subsidisation of European agriculture could be cut back.

New Zealand has long fought the policy, which tops up the incomes of millions of European farmers.

For decades, NZ has argued the policy keeps European production higher than justified by market prices, and supply on global markets out of kilter with demand. . .

Alliance looks to food service growth – Alan Williams:

Alliance Group hopes that its new food service business will be achieving annual sales above $100 million in the next three years or so.

A four-strong development team is working up a pilot programme in the United Kingdom that the meat exporter will use as a springboard for wider Europe, and into Asian markets as well, general manager sales Murray Brown said.

“Who knows how it could go – we’re a $1.5 billion business and if we could get the food service up to 10% of total sales over three years that would be $100m to $150m.” . .

Nitrate data suggests a corner turned – Nicole Sharp:

Environment Southland’s latest water quality report shows a trend of decreasing or indeterminate nitrogen levels and Southland farmers deserve a pat on the back for this, Agribusiness farm consultant Deane Carson says.

Nitrate levels in Southland had always been an area of significant concern for him, and for a while were somewhat out of control, he said.

But the latest report showed the majority of the sites were indeterminate for nitrite­nitrate nitrogen (NNN) levels over the five years covered and nine of the 49 sites had a decreasing trend. . .


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