Rural round-up

January 14, 2018

Opuha River ‘flushing’ to control algae, didymo barely noticeable with river in flood, Opuha Ltd says – Elena McPhee:

It may have been barely perceptible to the eye, but releasing water from the Opuha Dam on Friday has hopefully wiped out a large quantity of didymo and other algae in the river, Opuha Water Ltd says.

Operations manager Craig Moore said the dam released a flow peaking about 65 cubic metres per second (cumecs), or 300,000 cubic metres in total during the “flushing” process in the Opuha River on Friday morning.

The river “pulse” stayed within river margins, and the wave was not really noticeable as it made its way downstream, Moore said. . .

Farmers make tracing stock hard -Neal Wallace:

Eradication of Mycoplasma bovis is still the Ministry for Primary Industry’s goal but farmers appear unconvinced it is achievable.

Another case confirmed on an Ashburton farm this week took the total to 14 but some of the more than 800 farmers who attended packed meetings with MPI officials in Methven and Ashburton last Thursday think that while admirable, eradication is unlikely and they might have to learn to live with the disease.

The ministry’s response incident controller David Yard announced plans to test three samples of milk from every dairy farm in the country from February, including milk entering the food chain as well as milk excluded from the vat in a bid to uncover any infection clusters. . . 

Lambs wool in demand – Alan Williams:

Lambs’ wool was in short supply and sold strongly at Thursday’s wool sales in Christchurch and Napier.

Buyers pushed up prices as they worked to fill orders, especially for fleece at 30 microns and lower, PGG Wrightson South Island sales manager Dave Burridge said.

Those wools were up to 8% higher in price with 30 to 32 micron lambs’ wool up to 4% dearer in Christchurch. . . 

Sex on the farm: How gene editing can revolutionize feeding the world – Ed Maixner:

(Editor’s note: Change can be difficult, especially when it comes to adopting new ways of farming and producing food. But there are big innovations underway in labs and universities that analysts describe as “revolutionary,” enabling the creation of new plants and animals in months rather than decades. For the next few weeks, Agri-Pulse will explore “The Breeding Edge” – a seven-part series on how these new precision methods for plant and animal breeding are set to transform global food production and the potential impact for agribusinesses, farmers and consumers around the world.)

The process of producing food, protecting the environment, and improving animal health is advancing at a seemingly breakneck pace.

These advancements are driven in part by new scientific discoveries, genetic research, data science, enhanced computational power, and the availability of new systems for precision breeding like CRISPR—an acronym for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. . . 

C


Rural round-up

September 13, 2016

Producing more and more milk not New Zealand’s future: Landcorp head:

The chief executive of Landcorp, Steven Carden, on TV One’s Q+A programme says the business is reviewing all land conversions and looking for alternate uses for land that are economically more viable, and environmentally more suitable, than dairy farming.

“I think if you look at Landcorp – and we farm throughout the country – we are looking at all of our land portfolio and thinking, “What is the right land use for it?” And I think what we’ve found is that we can’t really find dairying as the justified new additional land-use conversion option,” he told Corin Dann.

“So we are looking at alternatives. I think New Zealand can sustain a few more cows, so long as there are the farm systems set up to do that. So people are looking at herd homes and other farm infrastructure which would require us to farm quite differently but allow us to produce more milk. Having said that, that’s not our future, I don’t think, as a primary-sector country, to just produce more of a commodity product like milk, necessarily.” . . 

Rustlers slit pet cow’s throat, take legs for meat – Phillipa Yalden:

The grisly slaughter of a pet dairy cow that was dismembered for meat has left a South Waikato farming couple fearful.

Thieves armed with a gun and knives broke into Bev and Trevor Bayly’s 172-hectare farm early one morning and slit the throat of their “friendly” Jersey.

When attempts to shoot the cow dead went wrong, the rustlers took to the animal with knives, cutting off the legs before leaving the carcass behind at the property between Wharepapa South and Arohena, near Putaruru. . . 

Shanghai Maling bid to buy Silver Fern Farms stake under consideration by Upston, Bennett – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand’s Overseas Investment Office has sent its recommendation on a proposal for China’s Shanghai Maling Aquarius to acquire a half stake in Silver Fern Farms, New Zealand’s largest meat processor, to the relevant government ministers for a decision.

Land Information Minister Louise Upston and Associate Finance Minister Paula Bennett received the documentation from the Overseas Investment Office last week, and are now considering the application, spokesman Harley Thorpe said. The Ministers are aware of the Sept. 30 deadline Shanghai Maling and Silver Fern Farms had set for the deal and have that in mind, he said. . . 

Boom time for ag robotics:

Robots and drones have already started to quietly transform many aspects of agriculture. And now a new report is predicting the agricultural robotics industry, now serving a $3 billion market, will grow to $10 billion by 2022.

The report, by IDTechEx Research in Britain, is called Agricultural Robots and Drones 2016-2026: Technologies, Markets, and Players. It analyses how robotic market and technology developments will change agriculture, enabling ultra-precision farming and helping address key global challenges.

It describes how robotic technology will enter into different aspects of agriculture, how it will change the way farming is done and transform its value chain, how it becomes the future of agrochemicals business and modifies the way we design agricultural machinery. . . 

Helicopter’s beacon leads to farm rescue :

The pilot of a weed-spraying helicopter used his emergency locating beacon to raise the alarm about a seriously injured farm worker in the central North Island.

The pilot was about to start his spraying job on a farm near Ohura, west of Taumarunui, on Monday when he noticed a man on the property had apparently fallen from his horse. . . 

Lake snot the ‘new didymo’ :

Lake snot will have to be treated like a new didymo, says the Otago Regional Council, which has begun a two-year study into the spread of the algal slime.

The slime – also known as lake snow – was first found in Lake Wanaka in 2004, and has since been found in Lake Coleridge and Lake Wakatipu.

The lake snot has clogged up fishing lines, boat intakes and Wanaka’s laundromats, and has led the Queenstown Lakes District Council to install a filter on the Wanaka town water supply. . . 

Lamb day-care proves a hit:

A primary school north of Auckland has seen its roll surge in recent weeks with the opening of an unusual daycare.

Waitoki School near Kaukapakapa has built a daycare pen for lambs and is encouraging its 90 pupils to fill it with their own woolly companions.

“We have about seven to nine lambs on site at the moment. The kids bring them along and it’s their job to raise them, look after them and feed them,” said the school’s principal Chris Neison.

The lamb daycare was built in mid-August by a team of teachers, parents and grandparents. . .

Native Tree Plan Shows Positive Face of Scion’s Research:

The commercial propagation of indigenous trees in Ngati Whare’s new nursery in Minginui is an exciting development for all New Zealand and shows the benefits of ethical research that does not require release of genetically engineered (GE) organisms into the environment. [1]

Scion has been helping with the project by developing vegetative cuttings using leading edge technology that reflects community values. Ngati Whare and Scion are to be congratulated. This shows the acceptable face of Scion’s work and does not involve transgenic organisms or genetic engineering. Scion had earlier success with the propagation of seeds from the rare taonga plant Ngutukākā (white kaka beak), which have been planted on the ancestral lands of Ngāti Kohatu and Ngāti Hinehika. [2] . . 

Minister Goodhew on food safety visit to China:

Food Safety and Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew will travel to China today for bi-lateral meetings and to open a new Fonterra dairy facility in the Shanxi Province.

“The relationship between New Zealand and China has never been stronger, and it is crucial for our economy that we maintain that strong relationship in food safety,” says Mrs Goodhew.

While in Beijing, Mrs Goodhew will meet with Vice Minister Teng Jiacai of the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) for the third Joint Food Safety Commission meeting, to build upon the shared goal for increased communication and cooperation between the two countries. . . 

Events to help make the most of ‘money months’:

DairyNZ’s Tactics for Spring events kicked off in the Waikato last week, aimed at helping farmers manage their pasture during the most productive time of the year on-farm.

The nationwide events are taking place in September and October, the beginning of the ‘money months’ when more pasture will be grown and more milk produced than any other time of the year.

With uncertainty around where milk prices will go DairyNZ research and development general manager Dr David McCall is urging farmers to focus on what they can control. . . 

Image may contain: text

The most memorable days end with the dirtiest clothes.

(that’s not a job that usually dirties clothes and I’m not sure why he’s using a ladder).

New winery future-proofs Rockburn Wines in Central Otago:

After leasing premises at the industrial McNulty Road site for 10 years, the team at Rockburn Wines recently completed their first vintage at their new winery in Ripponvale Road, Cromwell.

The award-winning producer acquired the existing winery site in September last year to meet increasing demand and future-proof its operation.

“Due to rapid growth and remarkable popularity of our wines, we were forced to outsource some processes in previous years due to capacity shortfalls. We’re very pleased to bring everything back under one roof from this vintage onwards. The old McNulty Road winery was getting near breaking point and we’re thrilled to have found a site at Ripponvale Road that sets us up for further growth,” says Paul Donaghy, General Manager of Rockburn Wines. . . 


Rural round-up

August 17, 2016

Canterbury sheep sales dry up in drought – Thomas Mead and Annabelle Tukia:

Canterbury livestock sales are starting to feel the impact of the region’s long-running drought, with stock numbers plummeting and prices on the rise.

PGG Wrightson auctioneer Nic Denton says after two dry seasons, many locals have already destocked due to a lack of feed. It was “particularly quiet” with stock numbers down by around 50 percent.

“There’s been some very tough decisions made in north Canterbury with destocking, so obviously it’s a flow-on effect from that,” he says.

“Most of our clients in north Canterbury are probably seeing two-thirds of what they usually carry in normal season.” . . .

Flaxbourne Community Irrigation Scheme considers the benefit of smaller dams – Mike Watson:

A proposed multi-million dollar rural irrigation scheme in Marlborough may use several smaller dams rather than one large dam, supporters of the scheme say.

Cost assessments of the Flaxbourne Community Irrigation Scheme show options available including extracting water from nearby rivers, building more than one dam site for storage, and altering pipe size and pipeline routes.

Ward farmer Kevin Loe said the multiple dam option was being considered by supporters of the scheme as a way to stage the timing of costs to better fit with uptake demand. . . 

Trout disappear from didymo-affected rivers – Hamish Clark:

Trout numbers in the South Island are under threat from the invasive freshwater algae didymo, a new study has found.

University of Canterbury researcher Professor Jon Harding found trout, previously in 20 South Island rivers, are now absent in 60 percent of the rivers with a high didymo biomass.

“The results of our study are of particular concern. We have assumed for some time that didymo will have an impact on fish, but these results show both native fish and introduced sports fish are all being affected by didymo,” Prof Harding says. . . 

Heartland lessens dairy risk – Alan Williams:

Growth in lending has slightly lowered Heartland Bank’s relative exposure to dairy farm debt.  

The dairy sector made up 7% of all lending on the June 30 full-year balance date, compared to 8% on December 31.  

The net group loan book (receivables) on June 30 was $3.21 billion, up $252 million or 9% on a year earlier. . . 

The big question unasked – Craig Wiggins:

The rain and snow turned up on cue with the calves hitting the ground and the banks putting the brakes on spending.  

In some cases paying the necessary outgoings such as winter grazing and feed expenses is not possible until the income starts to filter through so many a farmer, dairy or sheep, will ask why we do what we do.  

This time of year is hard enough to get right without the external pressures over which our control is minimal but the effect has consequences beyond our gate as the flow of revenue slows to a trickle. . . 

Landmark spins wool deal – Annabelle Beale:

AUSTRALIA’S biggest farm services business Landmark is expanding its wool operations while denying speculation a corporate take-over of the company is being negotiated. 

Following 12 months of negotiations, Landmark has purchased the remaining 50 per cent shares in Victoria’s Arcadian Wool brokering company this month, three years after Landmark upped the stake in the company from its founding 40pc in 1985 to nearly 50pc in 2013.

The sale has increased Landmark’s show floor representation by 4.3 per cent to 19pc of the wool traded at Melbourne, including the 36,000 bales sold by Arcadian last year and estimated 120,000 sold by Landmark. . . 

Coolalee experiment pays dividends for Dubbo lamb breeders – Mark Griggs:

AN EXPERIMENT several years ago using Coolalee rams over young first-cross ewes to overcome lambing difficulty from the ewes joining to high indexed Poll Dorsets has paid off so well for Dubbo region second-cross prime lamb breeders, Doug and Robin Godwin, they have continued the practice.  

Further, they are now considering going down the path of maintaining Coolalee/Merino ewe lambs as replacements and joining them back to Coolalees.  “If you do that you are halfway towards a self-replacing flock,” Mr Godwin said. . .

A&P Society elects president :

Wanaka helicopter pilot and fencer Doug Stalker has been elected president of the Upper Clutha A&P Society.

He is joined by Grant Ruddenklau as the new senior vice-president and Mike Scurr as junior vice-president.

Mr Stalker, who was voted president at the society’s annual meeting last week, replaces Tarras farmer Robbie Gibson, who has held the role for the past two years.

Preparations are well under way for the 80th annual show, which will be held on March 10 and 11 next year. . . 

 Mark McHardy wins Cooperative Leader of the Year Award:

Cooperative Business New Zealand has announced Farmlands Fuel General Manager, Mark McHardy, as the winner of the Cooperative Leader of the Year Award for 2015/16.

The award honours an individual who has shown significant co-operative leadership, commitment and support of well recognised and accepted co-operative principles. They also need to display vision and courage for the co-operative model, along with demonstrate successful initiatives that have benefited their co-operative or the co-operative sector.

Cooperative Business New Zealand CEO,  says that Mark was the stand out nominee for this award. . . 


Rural round-up

August 3, 2013

Report’s honesty on Chinese meat delays will rebuild trust:

“Refreshingly honest” is how Federated Farmers is describing the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) report into the delays, which affected New Zealand meat exports to China.

“Having read the MPI report and chronology involved, this is a refreshingly honest and critical self-examination of what went wrong in China,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“As the report comes out of the MPI, its honesty will help to rebuild trust. The recommendations are sensible in a market where we have seen phenomenal growth since 2008 when the Free Trade Agreement was signed.

“This rapid growth is no excuse so the report highlights that resources need to match growth. As an exporting country we must listen to our customers and this report tells us that this did not happen. . .

New anti-rustling online map gets the farmer tick:

Federated Farmers is applauding Stop Stock Theft, New Zealand’s first ever online map designed to report and track suspected stock theft. This joint initiative between Crimestoppers NZ, NZX-Agri and the Police will be welcomed by all farmers.

“While shoplifting costs New Zealand some $730 million each year, stock theft is reportedly costing the country a further $120 million,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers rural security spokesperson.

“These are massive sums for red meat farmers who are struggling against a backdrop of the New Zealand dollar and difficult market conditions. . .

Dairy intensification not all bad – vet leader :

WIDESPREAD CONCERN about the welfare of fully housed cows in New Zealand is not well-founded, says the chair of the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, Dr John Hellstrom. If such systems are good, animal health should improve, he says.

In a paper delivered at the recent NZVA annual conference in Palmerston North, Hellstrom argues that many large-herd cows kept outside all their lives suffer poor welfare at certain times of the year. 

For example, sacrifice paddocks don’t provide good animal welfare especially when calving cows are not drafted out onto dry calving places. Hellstrom notes the current DairyNZ advice on sacrifice paddocks makes no reference to animal welfare. . .

Primary jobs for Maori:

Some primary industries are hiring staff from overseas, whereas there are many young Maori ready to enter the workforce, says chairman of the Export Industry Skills Analysis Advisory Group, Peter Douglas.

They need to be found and assisted through their training, says Douglas.

The Export Industry Skills Analysis Advisory Group met for the first time recently as part of Maori Economic Development Action Plan. The plan was announced by Minister for Economic Development Stephen Joyce and Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples in November 2012. . . .

A very unpopular dairy blog post – Milk Maid Marian:

I suspect I am about to make a lot of enemies because there is an elephant in the room and few are in a position to point it out.

Here are the facts:

  • the last season has been dreadful
  • dairy farmers have free access to lots of information about we can keep cows healthy during fodder shortages
  • many dairy farmers who couldn’t afford skyrocketing feed costs have sold a lot of cows at ridiculously low prices so they can feed the remainder of their cows properly
  • farmers have gone broke but kept their cows healthy
  • cows do not starve overnight and watching them weaken over weeks or months would be more than I could bear yet reports of them dying in their hundreds have hit the national news

I was stunned. Perhaps people who would normally sell their cows off long, long before they reached the point of starvation couldn’t for some reason? Maybe they were hoping for a miracle? Maybe they were in denial? . .

Breakthrough on noxious alga :

New Zealand scientists have made a breakthrough in the battle against the noxious pest sometimes known as “rock snot”.

In a world first, researchers at the Cawthron Institute in Nelson have bred the invasive alga, Didymo, in the laboratory.

The scientist say it took four years of research and will allow them to more accurately identify which conditions promote and which deter blooms of Didymo. . .


Rural round-up

July 28, 2013

Macraes project praised – Dene Mackenzie:

Hopes are high the review of Oceana Gold’s operations – particularly of its Macraes gold project – will not cut deeply into the Otago economy.

Otago Chamber of Commerce president Peter McIntyre said yesterday many people in Otago were not aware that such a constructive mining sector operated within the region.

Macraes was estimated to be worth around $100 million annually to the regional economy. . .

Water collectives recommended – Sally Brooker:

Farmers need to continue with collective ventures for better water quality, Federated Farmers says.

The theme of partnership for water progress was discussed by a panel at the federation’s national conference in Ashburton on July 4. Speaking first, former Rotorua-Taupo federation president Neil Heather said collaboration produced ”powerful action”.

He outlined the gains made in cleaning up Lake Rotorua’s water pollution, saying farmers needed to become informed. . .

Fewer cows can mean better profits – Sally Brooker:

The traditional approach to determining stocking rates needs to change, DairyNZ representative Chris Glassey says.

Presenting a paper at the recent South Island Dairy Event at Lincoln University, he said incoming nitrogen limits would force change.

”The optimum stocking rate is never a constant. This paper challenges the belief that more cows means more profit.” . .

Kiwi shearers fleece British opposition in test series – Ruth Grundy:

The two-man New Zealand shearing team has won the British leg of its northern hemisphere series.

Rowland Smith, of Hastings, and Tony Coster, of Rakaia, beat Ulster at the Rickamore Shears in Ireland on July 13,notching up the third win on their four-event 2013 Elders Primary Wool United Kingdom Tour.

The pair opened the UK series a fortnight earlier with a loss to Scotland at Lochearnhead Shears but quickly bounced back with two wins over England. . .

Bee numbers on the rise – Tim Cronshaw:

Commercial bee numbers are on the rise in spite of the varroa mite disease which has plundered wild bee stocks.

Bees in managed hives were hit hard by varroa, but hive treatment has allowed them to withstand the disease and their numbers have grown as demand for honey production and pollinating crops has increased.

Registered beehives are up about 7 per cent to 450,000 from last year and rising since 2005 along with increasing numbers of registered beekeepers.

Federated Farmers North Canterbury chairman Barry Hantz said good prices for manuka honey had encouraged beekeepers to put in more hives, particularly in the North Island. . .

Didymo find ‘gutting’ – Rebecca Fox:

The battle to keep Fiordland didymo-free has been lost.

The invasive algae has been discovered in the remote Large Burn valley.

Western Fiordland was one of the ”last frontiers” to remain free of didymo in the South Island, despite it being originally discovered in the nearby Waiau River in 2004, Department of Conservation freshwater ranger Lyndsay Murray said yesterday.

”It’s pretty gutting really. It’s the first confirmed positive sample of a waterway west of the divide.” . . .


Tomato & Capsicum Exports Suspended

June 5, 2008

Exports of tomatoes and capsicums  have been suspended after the discovery of a debilitating bacterium in three North Island hot houses.

 

MAF Biosecurity has withdrawn phytosanitary certification for fresh tomato and capsicum exports until further notice and says it’s a significant find which could impact on export markets.

 

Total exports of tomatoes are valued at $7.3 million, while capsicums are worth $34m. Australia is the largest importer of the products, while Japan, the Pacific Islands, United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong are other capsicum markets. Those countries have been informed about the outbreak.

MAF director of border standards Tim Knox said the withdrawal of certification was a precautionary measure until more information about the bacterium was known.

“Initial findings suggest that the bacterium may be transmitted by a small insect called the tomato/potato psyllid.”

He said there were no considered human health issues associated with the bacterium or with eating tomatoes or capsicum.  At this time of year exports of tomatoes and capsicum are negligible – they usually begin on a large scale in October. The bacterium affects both the growth and quality of plants and reduces yield.

 Border incursions by pests and diseases pose an enormous risk to our economy but a lot of people don’t understand that and some who ought to, don’t care.

When I was coming home from Australia the airport x-ray picked up a jar.  I told the MAF officer it was only hand cream but he said sorry, he had to check it. I said there was no need to apologise because I was from a farm and understood the importance of border security; he replied that meant nothing. The previous day he’d caught two farmers returning with muddy boots and they abused him when they were fined.

 

Not all infringements are deliberate. An Australian friend flew in to New Zealand with a pair of boots for his daughter who was working here. He forgot about them when he was filling in the MAF declaration form but they showed up on the x-ray and the MAF officer pulled them out for inspection. Rod had scrubbed the boots before he’d packed them and the MAF man said because of that he wouldn’t be fined but he did get a written warning that next time there’d be no leniency.

 

These examples ought to give us confidence in our border protection, but it isn’t always this strict. A couple of years ago a friend from the USA who had been on farms in Argentina came to New Zealand with work boots in his case. He too forgot to declare them and they weren’t picked up by MAF screening.

 

Unless everything in every bag is checked, there will always be an element of luck in whether or not something untoward comes in with a traveller, even if they pack carefully. We brought some wine home from Argentina and an insect crawled out of the bubble wrap as I was unpacking it. I cut it in half and burned it so no harm was done but it made me realise how easily something could come in by accident.

 

However, more worrying than missing something by chance is the experience of a friend who returned to New Zealand after shearing in Britain during the foot and mouth outbreak. He explained this when he showed his hand piece to the MAF inspectors but they weren’t at all concerned and the shearer had to persuade them to take his gear for cleaning.

 

Our borders have already been breeched by didymo, varroa bee mite and now this insect which is attacking the tomatoes and capsicums so fears that it’s a matter of when, rather than if, we face an incursion which infects farm animals are realistic.


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