Rural round-up

October 25, 2018

Formerly gagged Fonterra director seeks re-election – Sally Rae:

Former gagged Fonterra director Leonie Guiney says she can see very clearly how to solve the co-operative’s “reputational issues”.

The South Canterbury dairy farmer is seeking election to the board in this year’s director elections through the self-nomination process.

Mrs Guiney recently settled a defamation claim against the Fonterra board, over a letter the board sent Fonterra’s 10,000-odd farmer-shareholders explaining why it had sought a court injunction gagging her from speaking about the business.

She left the board last year after serving three years. She said she departed because she was prevented from re-contesting her seat when it came up by rotation, the New Zealand Herald reported. . . 

Transforming a ‘nasty little wet farm’ into an award winner:

When you talk to Matamata dairy farmers Rod and Sandra McKinnon about environmental sustainability it’s easy to understand why the couple won the 2017/18 Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

When Rod and Sandra McKinnon bought a 44-hectare farm near Matamata in 1992 some people thought they were crazy.

‘I remember someone describing it as a ‘nasty little wet farm’, but it had a stream and some native bush and we could see the potential”, says Sandra.

Fast forward 26 years and following some serious hard work and expansion the farm (now 194-hectares, milking 400 cows on 155-hectares effective) is an award winner, with Rod and Sandra taking out the supreme title at the 2017/18 Waikato Ballance Farm Environmental Awards. . .

NZ Shareholders Association to vote against Wrightson’s sale:

The New Zealand Shareholders’ Association will vote against the $434 million sale of PGG Wrightson’s seeds division to a Danish cooperative.

The retail investor lobby says the mostly cash offer from DLF Seeds is attractive at face value, with a $292 million capital return attached. However, that short-term gain will shrink Wrightson to less than half its current size and leave it holding businesses inferior to the grains and seeds division.

“It seems to us that if shareholders accept DLF’s offer, they will potentially lose in the long run unless PGW can pull a rabbit out of the hat and grow the rump business,” the Shareholders’ Association said.

Discerning customers drive demand for West Coast butter:

New Zealand sales of Westgold butter have just soared past the three million mark, on the back of a consumer shift towards more natural fats.

Produced in Hokitika by Westland Milk Products, Westgold is marketed as the ‘everyday gourmet butter’. It appeared in nearly a quarter of Kiwi fridges last year, and Westgold’s salted butter was the third most purchased butter in North Island New World supermarkets, according to recent Nielsen data. . .

Allbirds: the billion dollar eco trainers brand that’s about to take London by storm – Chloe Street:

Two years ago, San Francisco-based sustainable sneakers brand Allbirds launched with one style of shoe: the Wool Runner; a pair of minimal, slightly fuzzy lace-up trainers crafted from superfine merino wool.

They were the first trainers ever to have been made from the material, and in the first week of trading, Time magazine wrote a splashy article billing them ‘the world’s most comfortable shoes.’

Customers – including half of Silicon Valley’s tech bros – and investors – including the likes of Leonardo Dicaprio – came in droves. Fast-forward two years and the company, who recently sold its millionth pair, has just raised an additional $50 million in funding, valuing it at over $1 billion.

Drystock farm offers a sweet opportunity :

A coastal sheep and beef farm – which also sustains an eco’ tourism business and commercial honey-production venture – has been placed on the market for sale.

Kawakawa Station at Ngawi near Cape Palliser on the south-eastern tip of the North Island is a 1,379 hectare waterfront property traditionally capable of carrying approximately 5115 stock units over winter. As well as running the freehold block, Kawakawa Station also leases some 785 hectares of adjoining hillside grazing land to feed the Romney herd. . . 

Substantial breeding and finishing farms go up for sale:

 A pair of adjoining sheep and beef breeding and finishing blocks – being run as one substantial farming operation serviced by its own airfield and fantastic laneway system – has been placed on the market for sale.

Combined, the two farms near Dannevirke in the Southern Hawke’s Bay encompass a total of 1,738 hectares of rolling countryside fenced into some 160 paddocks, and known as Rolling Downs Station. . . 

 


Rural round-up

October 14, 2018

Nebraska trip all about irrigation– Yvonne O’Hara:

Ben Donaldson, of Cromwell, was one of a group of people to visit Nebraska to look at new technology and new ideas relating to irrigation.

The recent five-day trip was organised by Irrigation New Zealand and as well as farmers, there were irrigators, consultants and service industry representatives

In addition to visiting the Husker Harvest Days,  the world’s largest irrigated farm show, they  visited the University of Nebraska’s Water for Food Global Institute, research farms and research trials, irrigation schemes, natural resource districts, which manage water resources, and irrigation manufacturers. Mr Donaldson,  general manager (Southern) of Irrigation Services,  said he found the trip useful.

“For me the greatest learnings were around the nitrate levels in the water, education of the children in regards to agriculture and how the use of fertigation ties all of this together,” he said. . . 

Honey collectors will act as biosecurity buzzers – Neal Wallace:

New Zealand could be about to recruit millions of extra biosecurity officers who will pay for their work by supplying nectar and honey.

A $1 million Endeavour Fund grant to Otago University researchers aims to recruit honey bees as biosecurity monitors to detect and find noxious weeds.

Biochemistry research fellow Dr Andrew Cridge said the plan is to strategically site hives in areas where there are suspected to be unwanted plants.

Because the cost of DNA diagnostic testing has fallen so much, it makes it viable to analyse bee-collected pollen to see if unwanted plants are near the hives. . .

Hipsters pay for farm view – Tim Fulton:

South Island couple Genna and Alistair Bird have opened a door to a world of people wanting to soak up a panoramic view from their Tiny House on a hill. Tim Fulton reports.

Hipsters are getting to know The Grange and the open skies and plains of Canterbury. Genna and Alistair Bird run a 560ha sheep and beef farm near Ashley Gorge, just out of Oxford. . .

New Zealand avocado industry on track to bounce back from last year’s low volume season:

New Zealand Avocado growers are expecting volumes to be around 25 per cent higher than last season.

NZ Avocado Chief Executive Jen Scoular says the current season is a medium volume season, following on from a low volume season in 2017-18 and a record high volume season in the year prior.

“The season’s total harvest volume is forecast at 5.2million trays (5.5kg), of which 3.6million trays are forecast for export, accounting for around 60 per cent increase on the previous seasons export volumes,” she said. . . 

$434M sale of Wrightson’s seeds fair to minorities – Paul McBeth:

Danish cooperative DLF Seeds’ $434 million cash and debt bid to buy PGG Wrightson’s seeds unit is fair to minority shareholders, independent advisor KordaMentha says.

Wrightson’s 12,059 shareholders will vote on the deal at a combined annual and special meeting on Oct. 30 in Christchurch. The transaction needs 75 percent support to go ahead, meaning controlling shareholder Agria can’t force it through. . .

Get advice before burnoff:

Farmers are being urged to seek advice from rural fire officers before burning off standing vegetation or slash after a burn-off got out of control in Northland on Wednesday.

The landowner was intending to burn off about two hectares of standing gorse and logging waste on the Tinopai Peninsula, but the fire jumped a firebreak into more gorse and slash and eventually burnt through most of a 50 hectare block before stopping once it got to green pasture.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand Northland Deputy Principal Rural Fire Officer Rory Renwick said after jumping the firebreak the fire burnt rapidly along a ridge to where a digger was still in the process of building further fire breaks. . . 

Mastitis prevention and milking efficiency go hand in glove:

Udder health and milk quality are important to farm productivity and profitability. There’s a strong link between milking efficiency and preventing mastitis, while improving milking times will also improve milk quality, says mastitis expert and AgriHealth vet Dr Steve Cranefield.

Mastitis in New Zealand dairy cattle is our sector’s most common (and costly) disease. “Cows with healthy udders have less mastitis, produce more and are easier to milk,” says Steve. “Maintaining good teat skin condition is essential to reduce the chance of bacteria multiplying on the teats and getting into the udder. In addition, adopting good milking routines will help reduce the mastitis risk from teat end damage caused by over-milking.” . .


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