Rural round-up

28/10/2017

Pride is about best practice – Alan Williams:

Synlait Milk’s Lead With Pride programme is all about best practice across all farm operations, Michael Woodward, one of the first farmers to sign up to it, says.

The process was very involved and Ecan deciding it did not have to duplicate Synlait’s audit system was not a step back for the environment.

Dunsandel-based Woodward was the fifth farmer to sign on with Lead With Pride, in 2014.

Synlait’s flagship programme now had 50 farmers involved, out of a supply base of 200, with several more in the process of joining. . . 

Lower carbs and calories spuds – Sudesh Kissun:

Three years ago fruit and vegetable trader T&G told Pukekohe growers about a potato with lower carbs and fewer calories, called Lotatoes.

Two family-owned businesses, Balle Brothers and Masters Produce, were chosen to trial the new variety.

This month, Lotatoes fended off four other food innovators to be crowned overall winner of the Ministry for Primary Industries Primary Sector Products Award at the 2017 New Zealand Food Awards. . . 

‘Never again philosophy drives regional programme:

The devastating flooding across much of the Manuwatu in February 2004 was the catalyst for a programme to address the loss of natural capital stocks and in doing so mitigate the source of much of the sediment finding its way into the region’s rivers and streams.

“The visible devastation on the hill country and across the plains, to infrastructure, people and their businesses, schools and homes was a real shock for the community at the time,” says AgResearch scientist Dr Alec Mackay.

Following the February 2004 storm, Horizons Regional Council held a meeting with a wide range of community representatives to discuss what could be done to reduce hill country erosion and flooding of the region’s plains. . . 

Upper North Island dominates race for New Zealand’s top horticulturist 2017:

This year’s search for New Zealand’s best young horticulturalist has a distinctly Upper North Island flavour with four out of the five contestants for New Zealand’s top young horticulturist 2017 coming from Gisborne, Auckland, Te Puke and Waiheke Island (and one from Christchurch).

Elle Anderson Chair of RNZIH Education Trust says that not so long ago few people would have thought of the Auckland region as a centre for primary production.

“That is changing fast, as horticulture gains traction as a major player in New Zealand’s economy. There’s a lot of good wine and vegetables coming out of Auckland and surrounds.” . . 

Wayne Dickey – FARMAX:

Waikato dairy farmer Wayne Dickey came home to manage his family’s 90 hectare Manawaru dairy farm in 2010 after working as a builder for 18 years.

It wasn’t the easiest transition having been ‘out of the game’ for a while, but four years on, Wayne is now the third generation Dickey to farm the land.

Wayne said that while there is a lot to learn from family who have gone before him, it’s definitely not business as usual on the pretty farm nestled in the lush pastures beneath Mount Te Aroha.

The reality is that Wayne is tasked with transforming the business into a ‘farm of the future’ under a contract milking arrangement with semi-retired parents John and Ngaire. Wayne is a 10 per cent shareholder in Crosskeys, the business that owns the farm’s 280 cows. . . 

What is behind the rising price of butter? – The Conversation:

Have you noticed that some of Australia’s favourite baked goods, such as croissants and buttery biscuits, have been creeping up in price? This becomes less surprising when one considers that globally, the price of butter has risen by around 60% over the past year.

In Australia, just as milk producers keep expressing concerns about farm-gate milk prices offered by cooperatives and dairy processors, butter prices have reached record levels on international commodity markets.

While butter prices have more than doubled since July 2016, farm-gate milk prices in most producing areas have remained stable. Is there a paradox? Not really. The key ingredient butter producers require is not just the milk – but rather the milk fat. . .

 


Rural round-up

04/05/2014

Get on the front foot over environment critiques:

FARMERS ARE too defensive in their responses to the issue of the environmental impact of farming.

So says Tihoi, Lake Taupo, farmer Mike Barton, who with his wife Sharon this year won the top award in Waikato in the Ballance Agri-Nutrients awards contest. 

They have taken a leadership role in dealing with Environment Waikato’s controversial Variation 5 that severely limits the amount of nitrogen a farm can leach. . .

Treat farms as cluster of small units:

COLE AND Tania Simmons’ property 20 minutes drive east of Dannevirke can get cold and wet during winter, risking soil damage by stock. Simmons have made provision for this by building a feed pad and by planting shelter trees. 

Dr Alec Mackay, AgResearch, told farmers attending the field day to look at their properties as “assemblages of a diversity of landscape units,” rather than just one big farm.  In the past, people have talked more about average numbers but McKay says this fails to address the reality that parts of a farm differ from each other and need to be treated or managed differently. Better to see a farm as smaller units and see what ‘contribution’ each makes to the business.

“There are opportunities to increase the profitability and performance of a farm by moving away from making average decisions on an average basis across the farm and going out and interrogating the land that makes up the farm.  . .

Hawke’s Bay TB control benefiting native wildlife:

Farmers and environmentalists alike are touting the benefits of planned aerial bovine tuberculosis (TB) control operations this winter in Waipunga near the Taupo to Napier highway. Dennis Ward, of Ngatapu Station, fits into both groups and is also a keen recreational hunter.

“When you look at the practicalities of 1080 in improving the quality of life of our native species, it’s a no brainer. People don’t appreciate that possums, stoats, ferrets and rats do more to decimate our native bird populations than anything else,” said Mr Ward.

He said scientific research has shown the positive effects of 1080 on native birds and forests. “The evidence has convinced me that it is the best method for use, particularly in rugged terrain like the Waipunga area, where ground control is impractical.” . . .

Goodhew visits damaged forests on West Coast:

Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew has visited the wind ravaged West Coast today to experience first-hand the impact on local communities.

“The severe winds on last Thursday have affected the indigenous and plantation forests, as well as the wider agriculture sector from Karamea to Haast,” says Ms Goodhew.

During the storm the strongest gust recorded was 130km/hr at Westport, although the level of damage suggests the winds were even stronger in some areas. The Insurance Council of New Zealand is still assessing the damage.

“In true West Coast style the community has rallied around and demonstrated extraordinary resilience,” says Mrs Goodhew. . .

Wool price focus welcome – Cara Jeffery:

MERINO wool has been their lifelong passion on the land but Rick and Pam Martin know their enthusiasm for fine wools can only stretch so far if something isn’t done soon to improve prices.

The Martins run 1700 breeders and 900 Merino wethers on their property “Burnbank”, at Borambola near Wagga Wagga, and say any ideas that could improve the current situation for woolgrowers should be explored.

Their comments come after it was revealed last week that Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) chairman Wally Merriman had floated an idea with the AWI board to regulate the supply of wool into the auction markets to help stabilise price fluctuations in the market. . . .

Final judging underway:

The final judging is underway to determine the winners in the 2014 New Zealand dairy award winners.

The winners will be announced at a sold-out black tie event attended by 650 people at Auckland’s Sky City Hotel on May 9. About $170,000 in prizes are up for grabs in the New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions.

Judging started on Monday (April 28) for the 11 sharemilker/equity farmer and 11 farm manager regional finalists. A team of three judges – a farmer, banker and farm adviser – spend two hours on each finalist’s farm to critique the finalist and their farm business. The task takes the sharemilker/equity farmer judges from Winton, in Southland, to Whataroa, on the West Coast, and to Ohaewai, in Northland. The last of the regional finalists, the Auckland/Hauraki representatives, are judged on Tuesday (May 7). . .

Sponsorship for ‘Pioneering’ Lincoln research:

Leading maize, lucerne, forage sorghum, and inoculant producer Pioneer® Brand Products has generously agreed to an annual sponsorship arrangement with Lincoln University to assist with projects aimed at ensuring a sustainable farming future for New Zealand.

The objective behind the sponsorship aligns well with the commitment of both organisations to continually look for ways to increase farm profitability without compromising environmental quality.

This year’s sponsorship will support work investigating the use of plants in an agricultural setting – such as around paddock borders and riparian zones – to reduce the build-up of nitrates in the soil. . .


Rural round-up

08/05/2013

Reserve Bank watching farming sector after drought adds more stress –  Paul McBeth:

The Reserve Bank is “carefully monitoring” an already highly indebted agriculture sector after the recent drought in the North Island is likely to more strain on already stretched balance sheets.

The central bank has previously flagged concerns about the high level of indebtedness among farmers and its dairy concentration, and warns the recent drought could “expose financial vulnerabilities” across the sector, according to its six-monthly financial stability report.

“Parts of the agriculture sector in particular remain quite leveraged, and progress in reducing debt loads in recent years has been fairly limited,” the bank said. “For these reasons, the Reserve Bank will be carefully monitoring developments in these markets for signs that systemic risks are increasing.” . . .

$15 Million Investment In Lactoferrin Production For Infant Formula:

Synlait Milk is investing $15 million to upgrade its Special Milks Drier at Dunsandel as it looks to further tap into the $15 billion a year demand for infant formula in China.

The investment will enable Synlait Milk to become one of only two manufacturers in the world to produce lactoferrin as a spray dried powder, and will also allow the Company to manufacture dairy ingredients to a pharmaceutical standard.

Lactoferrin is a bioactive protein extracted from milk that provides significant antibacterial protection and other health benefits for people of all ages. It is in demand globally for health foods including infant formula and adult nutritional powders. With the new capability, Synlait Milk expects production to reach 18 metric tonnes within four years of commissioning in late 2013 to early 2014. . .

Benje Patterson finds that pasture-raised Kiwi cows are highly productive specimens living in a sweet spot:

When we talk about the dairy industry in New Zealand, we tend to focus on how farmers are going, however, we rarely stop to think about the plight of the cows they milk.

Over the past decade, these dairy cows have become increasingly indebted and the number of other cows they are forced to share paddocks with has also increased.

This article examines how dairy cows have responded to these conditions, and if their underlying financial positions compensate them for all of their hard work. . .

Telford open day:

About 70 southern dairy farmers will hear the first year results of an industry research project at the Telford Farm Training Institute open day on Wednesday.

Dairy NZ senior scientist Dr Dawn Dalley said three different approaches to farming cows over winter are being trialled to help farmers maximise their performance and minimise their environmental impacts.

She said one approach uses a largely traditional method while the second introduces several innovative measures, including calving the herd two weeks later so the cows return to more pasture cover, reducing the need for supplementary feed. . .

Meat Industry Excellence Gisborne & Te Kuiti meetings:

Following the enormous success of its Feilding meeting, Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) is holding additional meetings in Te Kuiti and Gisborne next week.

“As both Gisborne and Te Kuiti are major sheep producing areas, it is important that they be given the opportunity to be part of the meat industry’s change process,” says John McCarthy, MIE Executive Member.

“The MIE initiative is based around the premise that the industry model is broken.

“The ‘Boom and Bust’ model is not serving any of its participants well and needs serious attention if sheep and sheep farmers are to have a future. . .

Meat farm environmental impact steady – research:

New research suggests the environmental impact of sheep and beef farming in New Zealand has remained steady over the past 20 years despite a big increase in productivity.

AgResearch scientist Dr Alec MacKay has compared sheep and beef farm inputs – livestock and fertiliser – with the outputs of meat, greenhouse gases and nutrients.

Dr MacKay said he found huge eco-efficiency gains. . .

Vintage 2013 Keeps Marlborough Winemakers on Toes:

• Cooler Nights Ensure Aromatic Expression
• Pinot Noir Described as “Sensational”

Marlborough winemakers were kept on their toes, during what has been described as one of the most “intense” vintages ever experienced in the region. However no one is complaining about the quality of the fruit harvested in 2013.

After last year’s lower than average yields, Marlborough benefited from more ideal flowering conditions in December. While there has been some variability throughout the region, crop levels are described as being nearer to average this year – which will help to overcome the shortage of wine experienced in 2012.

The drought that impacted on most of the country, did not affect Marlborough. Instead timely rain events allowed the vines to stay healthy, without the fruit suffering disease pressure. . .


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