Rural round-up

April 12, 2016

Water brings back ‘marvellous’ times – Sally Rae:

“Lower Waitaki – The Community That Water Saved” was the theme of a recent media tour organised by the Waitaki Irrigators Collective and IrrigationNZ and coinciding with IrrigationNZ’s 2016 conference in Oamaru. Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae hopped on the bus to discover just what irrigation has done for the area and its inhabitants.  

When Jim Dennison’s father bought Drumena in 1919, the Hilderthorpe farm was in a “desolate state”.

Local women pitied his new bride moving to such a property to try to make a living. . .

Harnessing the sunshine for record-breaking crop yields – Pat Deavoll:

Farmers talk about growing feed, but North Otago crop and dairy farmer Chris Dennison says he is “harvesting sunshine.”

His world record-breaking crops of barley and oil seed rape were the combination of heavy soils, a coastal environment, reliable water and sustained sunshine, he said.

“Here at Hilderthorpe (just south of the Waitaki River) we get a cool easterly wind which gives a lull in the growing season for cereal and oil seed rape, so the crops can utilise more sunshine.”

Dennison took over the farm from his father Jim in the early 1980s. Traditionally it was a mixed sheep and beef property but when Dennison arrived home he brought with him an interest in cropping. . . 

Waitaki water key to reliable farming – Sally Rae:

Reuben Allan’s dairy shed has one heck of a view.

It overlooks the vast Waitaki River which provides not only recreational opportunities for his family, but also has allowed them to transition from a “feast or famine” dryland operation to one with reliable irrigation.

Mr Allan grew up on Fairway Farm, which used to be a dryland sheep property, near Ikawai.

Irrigation began on the hills in the mid-1990s and the move was made into intensive beef finishing. . . 

Irrigation provides reliability – Sally Rae:

Matt Ross first arrived in North Otago “more by accident”.

But his decision to return, once he completed his university studies, was deliberate as he had identified the potential opportunities in the district.

Mr Ross and his wife Julie operate Kokoamo Farms, which comprise two dairy farms near Duntroon, milking 1730 cows at peak, and lease a run-off property.

Their farming operation is a showcase: lush green grass, extensive plantings, including a wetland development that is home to more than 100,000 plants, and impressive infrastructure. . . 

Still turning them (tractors) on at 85:

North Otago’s Don Fraser is a man who loves his tractors. His love affair has been so intense he is still driving them at the ripe old age of 85.

Part of the hard-working team at EGL Pastoral for 26 years, and a farmer most of his life, Mr Fraser remembers the old style tractors (crawlers) when he first started out and recalls they were so noisy you needed hearing aids. “There was no silencers then and we didn’t have air con back in the day, but then we didn’t need it when a keen souwester was blowing through.” . . .

Sheep Industry Awards celebrate success:

This country’s sheep industry will celebrate its best and brightest at Beef +Lamb New Zealand’s fifth annual New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards in the Wairarapa in July.

Entries are open for the Awards which recognises this country’s top sheep farmers, breeders, scientists and industry innovators.

People can put their name forward, or be nominated for the Award categories; Science Trainer of the Year, Innovation, Significant Contribution to the New Zealand Sheep Industry and the Emerging Talent Award. . . 

Focus on forages is key to sustainable farm profits:

Pastoral farming is a huge earner for New Zealand worth over $23 billion in export revenues last year. Forages – the grasses and other plants grazed by farm animals – are a critical part of pastoral farming systems. Industry participants consider there is significant scope to lift the contribution forages make to the underlying productivity and profitability of the pastoral sectors and to achieve these outcomes in an environmentally sustainable manner.

This is why an initiative to improve the sustainability and profitability of New Zealand’s forage grazing systems has the buy-in of everyone representing the pastoral sector. . . 

Bostock New Zealand experiencing highest quality apples for several years:

New Zealand’s largest organic apple grower is harvesting some of the best quality fruit it’s experienced for years – thanks to near perfect growing and harvesting conditions.

Bostock New Zealand Director, David Brasell says the weather has been outstanding for the harvest and the fruit has sized well.

“The quality of our apples this season is very, very good. The colour is great, the fruit is clean and the size is excellent. . . .

Time to guard against costly nutritional deficits:

A small investment in autumn feed testing can be good insurance against mineral deficiencies in dairy and beef cows that can lead to low growth rates and poor milk yields.

Winter feeds like fodder beet, low pasture phosphorus levels in some regions, and lower seasonal availability for copper can lead to deficiencies of both of these key minerals during late pregnancy, early lactation and calf growth.

Consultant nutritionist to SealesWinslow, Paul Sharp, says for around $100 a comprehensive pasture mineral test will provide the right information to farmers. . . 

Yealands Launches NZ’s First Vineyard Tour Guide App:

The first kiwi wine app that allows the user to take a self-guided vineyard tour – and take in Yealands’ famous White Road hot-spots.

One of the only vineyards to actually let visitors drive through its vineyard, wine innovators, Yealands Wine Group have released a mobile application that allows visitors to its Seaview Vineyard in the Awatere Valley, Marlborough the unique opportunity of taking their own self-guided vineyard tour. . .


Rural round-up

November 25, 2013

Lenders suggest farmers get better governance in place:

Farmers are being asked by rural lenders to take a board approach to their operations and stop making important decisions around the kitchen table.

Fraser Farm rural financial advisor Don Fraser says banks are asking farmers to get better governance and structures in place.

He says the banks are wanting a board approach and it’s best practice for everybody including the lender.

Mr Fraser says while he can’t provide specific details of the banks asking farmers to take this approach he knows it is happening under the radar.

He says in the past farmers have often made decisions and then gone to the banks asking them to fund it. . .

Export tax proposal won’t fix forestry – Alan Emmerson:

The loss of jobs at Rotorua as the result of yet another sawmill closure is a tragedy.

The problem is the Chinese are prepared to pay a high price for logs and, speaking as a forester, I’ll take the best price I can get.

Ultimately I’m not concerned where my logs are processed, just that I can make the most money from my long-term investment.

The issue for sawmills is they have to pay a high price for logs and the New Zealand dollar is high. The combination of the two factors makes many export sawmills uneconomic.

Like it or not, that is the way of the market. . .

NZ faces massive pest explosion:

New Zealand faces one of its biggest pest population explosions in decades.

This year is a mast year for the South Island’s beech forests, which means the trees are going through their heaviest seeding in nearly a decade. That means a feeding frenzy for mice and rats which leads to an explosion in stoats and weasels.

And to make matters worse, DOC Director General Lou Sanson says possum control hasn’t been operating at full capacity over the last year. . .

Rabbit control at Earnscleugh’s heart – Sally Rae:

If it were not for rabbiters, the Campbell family would not still be on Earnscleugh Station.

From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, the future of the vast Central Otago high country property hung in the balance.

Plagued by rabbits, they were in ”serious strife” and it was an ”absolute nightmare”, Alistair Campbell told about 300 people attending a field day at the property on Friday.

Today, 21,000ha Earnscleugh Station is a far cry from the barren landscape of those rabbit-plagued years when some areas resembled a desert, without a blade of grass. . .

Visiting Canada to study water issues – Sally Rae:

Waitaki Irrigators Collective policy manager Elizabeth Soal will travel to Canada next year to study water management and beneficial farming practices.

Ms Soal, who is also a director of Irrigation New Zealand, has been named a 2014 Churchill Fellow, receiving a travel grant from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.

The Oamaru woman will head overseas in July next year and spend four weeks travelling in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Manitoba and New Brunswick, meeting government representatives, academics, water managers, farmers and members of the irrigation community. . .

Wine wins proof of Central’s strength – Timothy Brown:

The performance of Central Otago wines at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards has shown the area has matured as a wine growing region.

Central Otago wines won 18 gold medals in the initial judging process and dominated the pinot noir category.

The elite gold medal and trophy winners will be announced at the awards dinner on November 23 in Queenstown.

Akarua Winery won three golds. Winemaker Matt Connell said he was ”thrilled” with the results. . .

 Quad safety heading in the right direction – Jeannete Maxwell:

Quad bikes have been in the news again following coroner Brandt Shortland’s well-constructed findings into five deaths in 2010-11.

Given the families involved will be grieving anew it is something we need to be sensitive about.

Yet any mention of a quad bike these days seems to attract almost irrational media attention.

Quad bikes are bikes and are not all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), though Federated Farmers is seeking to get them reclassified as an agricultural vehicle. . .


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