Rural round-up

11/06/2019

An open letter to the Minister of Regional Development Shane Jones – Richard Alspach:

Dear Mr Jones;

Your plan to plant billions of trees has certainly raised a lot of interest, and not a little concern. I read today of a new lobby group, calling itself 50 shades of Green, which has as its motivation a growing concern about the continued viability of rural communities.

Here in Kaipara we’ve seen it all before. Back in the early eighties the then Government (Prime Minister at the time Rob Muldoon) of the day gave consent for a joint venture to be formed between Shell Oil, an overseas company, and New Zealand Forest Products, at that time New Zealand Owned. The joint venture was called Mangakahia Forests, and its stated intention was to establish a forest of 25,000 hectares, largely in the North of the old Hobson County, since 1989 a part of Kaipara District.

They managed to secure 22,000 hectares. In doing so they displaced a quarter of a million stock units, and brought up 83 separate farms. In a very short time it caused a transformation of the District and its economy. There used to be three top dressing aircraft based in Dargaville, almost overnight it dropped to one. There used to be regular ewe fairs, within two years there were none, the number of shearers dropped off; some country schools closed and others were seriously down sized. The loss of that number of Stock units so quickly was a causal factor in the downsizing of the Moerewa Freezing works. The rate take from that 22,000 hectares dropped significantly, once the land became rateable as exotic forestry. . . 

Austrian aristocrat buys second farm to convert to forest – Gerard Hutching:

Austrian aristocrat Countess Veronika Leeb-Goess-Saurau has snapped up a sheep and beef farm in Wairarapa, to add to the northern Hawke’s Bay property she bought two years ago.

The latest buy is the 1727 hectare Hadleigh farm near Masterton owned by Nelson-based American businessman Tom Sturgess, for which she has paid $13.4 million.

The sale comes amid concerns that a rash of farms is being sold and converted for forestry in areas like the East Coast and Wairarapa, with a resulting loss of jobs and services. . . . 

A sustainable food production silver bullet under our noses – Dr John Baker:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern sees New Zealand becoming a sustainable food producing nation in a big way. It’s part of the Government’s wellbeing policy.

I applaud that. Yet she’s ignoring the way to achieve it.

One of the silver bullets to sustainable food production is under our noses and will achieve wellbeing, not just in New Zealand, but the world.

The Government continues to overlook a technology, developed here, that addresses climate change by returning carbon to the soil instead of releasing it into the atmosphere. That’s fundamental. . .  . . 

Room to move on mohair – Carl King:

Weaving quality mohair is keeping the door open for angora farmers to get even higher returns, writes Federated Farmers – Mohair New Zealand chairman Carl King.

New Zealand mohair is experiencing a lift in fleece prices.

The main two drivers behind the boost are that overseas demand outstrips supply and Australia and South African angora goats are facing severe drought conditions.

Top quality angora fleeces are on average being sold at $40 a kilo plus. . . 

Wool bonanza – Annette Scott:

Increased international demand for fine wool is putting Kiwi wool within reach of becoming a $2 billion industry.

New Zealand Merino Company chief executive John Brakenridge said if half NZ’s crossbred wool clip shifts into higher-value fine wool contracts the economic upside will be as high as $2b.

Increased international demand for fine wool could spell profit for sheep farmers with wool giving kiwifruit and wine a real run for their money in terms of exports, he said. . .

Adding value to the farm business through health and safety:

FMG Young Farmer of the Year grand finalist James Robertson gained first-hand experience of the impact an injury can have on a farm business when his father suffered an accident.

“He was kicked by a cow and broke his thumb,” says James, who grew up on his family’s dairy farm near Mystery Creek.

“I think I’d been a bit oblivious to health and safety as a young person but I really saw the implications an injury has on the business. He wasn’t able to work in the cattle shed for a few weeks. Having a key person not able to do that put a lot of pressure on everyone else.” . . 


Rural round-up

17/04/2015

Southern Dairy Hub Great Farmer Investment:

The Southern Dairy Hub is an excellent investment for southern dairy farmers, as every dollar invested automatically delivers a $6 return.

That’s the view of Hedgehope dairy farmer Nigel Johnston, who has pledged his support for the Hub proposal and considers it a good investment for his farm business for a number of reasons.

“We need some decent science around what’s happening specifically in Southland and especially around nutrient management. A collective approach to that – like what’s being proposed with the Hub – is critical.” . .

 

Drystock farm ownership, what’s the path? – Kiwifarmer:

Drystock farm ownership, what is the path?

I have a collection of ideas on this and it’s a great discussion to be having.

With drystock farms increasing in value faster than individuals can save and are also realistically out of reach of the saving only model. How becomes a very good question!?

In recent times I’ve read suggestions about share farming and share cropping.

The sticking point for me with these arrangements is the risk and return. There has to be enough return or fat in the agreement that both party’s feel they get their fair share and in the case of the farm owner, they need a fair return on their capital. Which they may or may not currently be getting. . . 

New Zealanders Treat Soil like Dirt:

An international soil scientist claims that, too often, New Zealanders treat “soil like dirt” when it should be revered because “our lives depend on it.”

Dr John Baker says human life exists because of soil yet all that most people do is walk on it, dirty their shoes or dig it up and put buildings and roads on it.

“Soil is a living entity. It provides us with up to 90 percent of our food. There are more living organisms in a cupful of healthy soil than people on the planet,” he says.

Dr Baker says alarming figures provided by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the UK Farmers Weekly suggest that the quality of soil is rapidly diminishing. . .

New Zealand vintners pioneer low-alcohol techniques

(Reuters) — New Zealand’s cooler climate is giving its wine makers an edge as they seek to exploit growing global demand for lighter, premium wines.


Rising temperatures are pushing up the alcohol content of wines from rivals such as Australia and the United States.


The 2015 vintage of the country’s flagship Sauvignon Blanc will be the first produced under a government-backed initiative to research and produce wines that dispel the image of low-alcohol, low-calorie wines as overly sweet, inferior tastes.
 . .

Marlborough vineyard with growth opportunities goes up for sale:

A respected Marlborough vineyard producing award-winning sauvignon blanc grapes has been placed on the market for sale.

Located in the Awatere Valley, the vineyard is owned by the Van Asch family who are well-known for farming in the region for 150 years.

After spending more than a decade creating the vineyard from bare land and building up the business, the owners have decided the time is right to move on. The freehold property has been placed on the market with Bayleys by negotiation, with a closing date for offers of April 22. . .

 

Hat tip: Utopia


Rural round-up

21/08/2013

NZ reputation will bounce back –  Pattrick Smellie:

Honest disclosure of the Fonterra infant milk botulism scare will stand New Zealand’s reputation as a food producer in good stead in the long run, although the country’s reputation for safe food has taken a short term hit, says ANZ Bank’s chief economist for Greater China.

Speaking to BusinessDesk in Hong Kong, Li-Gang Liu described the impact of the incident, and the subsequent discovery of raised nitrate levels in lactoferrin produced by Westland Milk, as “a temporary scare.”

“Most Chinese consumers still trust the goods provided by New Zealand producers,” he said. “I don’t think that has changed fundamentally, especially how this case was handled. . .

NZ scientist wants ploughing outlawed:

A New Zealand soil scientist is campaigning to outlaw the plough and to have a warning on it.

Dr John Baker said ploughing or conventional tillage contributed to global warming, crop failure, soil erosion and eventually famine.

He said the single greatest challenge facing the world was feeding the extra 50 per cent population by the year 2050.

“We can get away with conventional methods in New Zealand because we have rich soil and rotating pasture, but other countries don’t have that luxury. Instead they’re turning their backs on ploughing and adopting no tillage as the only way to feed the population.” . .

Reduced volatility critical for long-term sheepmeat sector viability:

Representatives of the sheepmeat sectors from the United Kingdom, France and New Zealand met last week and have agreed that the volatility of returns is negatively impacting the long term viability of their respective sheepmeat sectors.

They agreed that the roller coaster ride of good years followed by poor years saps the confidence of sheepmeat producers, resulting in a decline in production in most sheep producing countries and a sector that has difficulty attracting and retaining good young people.

A cross-sector group from the UK and France came to New Zealand on a fact-finding mission to better understand the current outlook for New Zealand sheep farmers and to identify and discuss common challenges. They met with representatives from key industry organisations, farming groups and the meat processing and exporting companies. . .

Views differ on effluent threat to marine farms – Peter Watson:

Farmers and the Tasman District Council are confident increased monitoring and a lot of on-farm work have reduced the risk of dairy pollution again threatening marine farms off the Collingwood coast, but marine farmers say more still needs to be done.

In November, 2011 and May last year high E coli readings in marine farms near the mouth of the Aorere River caused alarm within the export industry, sparking fears the spikes may halt harvesting and prompting complaints to the council about outdated dairy practices, weak rules and a lack of oversight.

It sparked tension in Golden Bay as one heavyweight export industry was seen to take on another. . .

Wineries suffer further damage from latest quake:

Marlborough wineries have suffered more losses and damage from Friday’s magnitude 6.6 earthquake than they did from the 21 July event.

Wine Marlborough general manager Marcus Pickens says a number of wineries in the region closed after the big quake struck on Friday afternoon and structural engineers will be assessing the damage during the week.

He says there has probably been some wine loss, although how much is not really known at this stage.

“I think a number of the tanks, the way they behave would have spilt wine out the top … and those wine losses are financial losses as well.”

Mr Pickens says wineries are reporting minimal damage to bottled wine stocks. . .

Dairy Awards Plan 25th Anniversary Celebrations:

The 2014 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the sharemilker competition with a special launch event and celebration ball at its annual awards dinner.

National convenor Chris Keeping says the milestone anniversary creates an opportunity to delve into the sharemilker competition history and to celebrate its success.

“It’s pretty amazing to think that over those years thousands of sharemilkers have participated in the competition, relishing the opportunity to have their business analysed and enhance their progress in the industry while having some fun and meeting lots of people.” . . .


Rural round-up

14/08/2013

Ploughs Need Cigarette-Style Warning on Them:

In Holland the first beef burger without disturbing a cow has been eaten, globally governments intend to ban smoking and, in New Zealand, a soil scientist is campaigning to outlaw the plough.

World authority on soil science, Dr John Baker, says ploughing or conventional tillage contributes to global warming, crop failure, soil erosion and eventually famine in areas of the world.

Ploughing is like invasive surgery. It releases carbon into the atmosphere which add to global warming and depletes the micro-organisms which enrich the soil.

Over time tillage leads to soil erosion, crop failure and drought.

Dr Baker, who has a MAgrSc in soil science and Ph.D in agricultural engineering from Massey University, says the single greatest challenge facing the world today is feeding the extra 50 percent population by the year 2050. . .

Land monitoring critically important – Sally Rae:

When it comes to farming, Barrie Wills is an advocate for striking the right balance between conservation and production.

Brought up on a Timaru farm and now living in Alexandra, Dr Wills has spent more than 30 years as a research scientist.

He was initially involved with soil conservation control under the then Ministry of Works and Development water and soil division, and then pastoral management, revegetation and erosion control in semi-arid and high-country environments under Landcare Research and AgResearch, until 2004. . . .

Paramedic up in air, on road – Sally Rae:

Annabel Taylor feels privileged to serve the rural community.

As a paramedic based at Taieri, Miss Taylor (36) works for both the Otago Regional Rescue Helicopter and the Dunedin St John ambulance service.

She was recently awarded a $3000 Rural Women New Zealand/Access scholarship, which will help cover her expenses while she studies for a year-long postgraduate certificate in specialty care, advanced paramedic practice, at Whitireia Polytechnic in Porirua next year. . .

Rules push over feeding pigs food waste – Ruth Grundy:

A Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) spokesman says the ministry has been using various means to educate backyard pig farmers about their biosecurity obligations and the precautions they must take before feeding food waste to pigs.

MPI import and export animals manager Howard Pharo was responding to questions put to the ministry last month by Courier Country and raised by New Zealand Pork Industry Board chairman Ian Carter and lifestyleblock.co.nz website editor Kate Brennan. . .

Greenshell New Zealand Takes Home Supreme Award at American Chamber of Commerce Awards:

Greenshell New Zealand proved just how strong its mussel business is at last week’s American Chamber of Commerce DHL Express Success & Innovation Awards, scooping up two prestigious awards.

Held at the Pullman Hotel in Auckland, the family-owned business was recognised and rewarded for exports of its innovative products under the award-winning Ikana brand.

Presented by Prime Minister John Key, Greenshell New Zealand won both The Exporter of the Year to the USA Award from the $500,000 to $5 million category and The Supreme Award 2013. . .

Fishery officers use Facebook to catch paua poacher:

A Rotorua man has been sentenced to 200 hours community service after pleading guilty to paua poaching charges.

On 31 July 2013, 34 year old unemployed man Raymond Major appeared in the Rotorua District Court on charges under Section 232 of the Fisheries Act 1996 relating to the illegal sale of paua.

Major was initially identified after offering both Paua and Kina for sale through his Facebook page. A Fishery Officer was then deployed to make contact with the defendant and arrange to buy seafood from him. . .


Rural round-up

15/03/2013

North Island drought confirmed. West Coast makes request:

Federated Farmers welcomes confirmation that the entire North Island has been declared a medium scale adverse event due to drought. The West Coast is today forwarding its request to the Ministry for Primary Industries for a medium scale adverse event declaration.

“The 2012-13 drought came late in the season but is North Island wide and that’s something Wellingtonians know all too well,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers Adverse Events spokesperson.

“I can now confirm the West Coast of the South Island is also requesting a medium scale adverse event declaration due to drought. . .

Dairy Farmers Say Core Financial Skills Getting Them Through Summer Drought:

As drought bites throughout the North Island, Kevin White is one dairy farmer who, at first glance, seems to have a secret for staving off panic.

Kevin has farmed for seven years and currently manages a 350-cow herd just south of Te Aroha. He says he’s like every other dairy farmer around the North Island, in that he’s watching the clouds and hoping for rain. In the meantime, he says the key to getting through and managing anxiety levels is pretty simple: have a plan.

He completed the National Diploma in Agribusiness Management two years ago, having started it during the last drought in 2007/08, and says, “one major thing I took away was that smart farmers always have a contingency plan in place for the worst case scenarios – in this case a major drought. . .

Farm Days Starring Fonterra Milk Tankers And Milk This Weekend And Next:

Fonterra Cooperative Group is bringing its high-tech milk tankers to the special ‘Farming in Drought’ Farm Days taking place this Sunday, March 17, in Wellington and Rotorua and next weekend in Tauranga (Sunday, March 24). Farm Day is completely free and is open to the public.

“Every one at Federated Farmers thanks Fonterra Cooperative Group because these milk tankers could rival the Star Ship Enterprise,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“What is more Fonterra is bringing wholesome milk products to try. A taster for Fonterra Milk in Schools, which by Term One next year, will see most New Zealand primary-aged children enjoying the goodness of dairy every school day through free milk in schools.

“It is truly exciting to have New Zealand’s largest cooperative and exporter partnering with us on Farm Days 2013. . . .

Don’t Wait for Rain, Drill Now:

A leading world authority on soil science is recommending that, even in severe drought conditions, farmers should be drilling new seed now.

Dr John Baker says even after weeks of drought, seeds can still survive in the ground until the weather breaks. He explains that dry sowing is common in Australia and even Wairarapa.

There could still be moisture vapour in the soil even if there’s no usable liquid moisture present he says. But even if there’s no moisture vapour the seeds won’t come to any harm until it rains. . .

Kapiti Most Awarded Cheesemaker:

Kapiti has received the highest number of awards at the 2013 Champion of Cheese Awards, taking away a total of four category trophies and 22 medals.
Fifty nine cheese companies entered 413 cheeses in this year’s competition, with the winners announced at a gala dinner and awards ceremony at The Langham.

As well as winning the Champion Washed Rind, Champion Blue Cheese, New World Champion Favourite and Champion Original Cheese category trophies, Kapiti cheeses won a slew of gold, silver and bronze medals for a wide range of their cheese across almost all categories.

Founded in 1984, Kapiti prides itself on being dedicated to using the finest New Zealand produce to create cheese which is original, unique and handcrafted. . .

Trees on Farms Workshop:

The first Trees on Farms workshop for 2013 focuses on riparian plantings, a hot topic for the country’s dairy farmers.

The Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord is set to be in place for the start of the dairy season in August, and will cover all of the country’s 12,000 dairy farmers, not just Fonterra suppliers. Every Fonterra farmer’s annual Farm Dairy and Environmental assessment and the company’s conditions of supply require all Accord-type waterways to be fenced by the end of this year. But fencing off waterways is only part of the sustainable dairying equation – dairy farmers also need to get their heads around how to plant and manage their riparian areas.

This straight talking workshop has been specifically designed for dairy farmers, by dairy farmers, all locals and all experienced tree planters, and will particularly look at how riparian planting can provide cost effective, sustainable long term land use solutions. . .

Sweet as! Long hot summer results in delicious tomato crop at great prices:

The long hot summer has proved the ideal climate for tomato growing, with a bumper crop of sweet ripe fruit.

TomatoesNZ, Vice Chairman, Frank Van Rijen said that with tomatoes retailing around $2/kg it’s an ideal time to enjoy plenty of your favourite tomato recipes.

“Fresh tomatoes are great eating and excellent value right now,” said Mr Van Rijen. “If you are planning on making preserves or pasta sauces or soups to bottle or freeze for winter, then this is also the ideal time to take advantage of great seasonal prices. . .

Organic Lamb All About Queenstown:

Twin Rivers Organic Lamb launches today to bring local organic lamb cuts and whole lambs to Queenstown through its online store.

“The need to localise food and celebrate New Zealand Produce is so important. We want to share that with kiwis in a way they can relate to though.”

“People live in Queenstown for the lifestyle and that’s what we wanted to promoteeating quality meat and produce with good friends and family in a beautiful place. We love it.” Said company Director Dave Hockly. . .

Young talent to be tested in Gore:

Eight of the best Young Farmers will be competing at the Otago-Southland Regional Final Saturday 23 March in Gore for the 2013 ANZ Young Farmer Contest.

Contest hopefuls will complete four different Challenges during the Practical Day at the Southern Field Days Site and then straight into the Evening Show at the St James Theatre.

By the end of the evening one contestant will have secured their spot at the Grand Final (16-18 May, Auckland) and their share of the Regional Prize Pool worth $13,000 thanks to ANZ, AGMARDT, Lincoln University, Ravensdown, Silver Fern Farms, Honda, and Husqvarna. The top prize is worth an impressive $9000. . . .


Direct drill inventor up for World Food Prize

02/06/2012

The sight of one of our neighbour’s paddocks blowing past our kitchen window in a nor wester is one of my enduring memories of the droughts which punctuated the 1980s in North Otago.

Thankfully it is something I’ve never seen since and one of the reasons for that is that soon after  that happened direct drilling was introduced.

This low tillage method of cultivation doesn’t leave the soil exposed to wind and weather as conventional ploughing does and it is now the preferred practice in our district.

The drill revolutionised farming and its inventor has been nominated for the US$250,000 (NZ$327,000) World Food Prize.

Dr John Baker perfected the cross-slot seed drill over 30 years as a scientist at Massey University and then spent 10 years fighting to win ownership of it from companies the university sold it to.

He regained control of the drill in 1998, after $10 million had been spent on developing it, and set up a factory in Feilding to build them.

Cross-slot tillage is described as the keyhole surgery of farming. The drill creates two side-by-side pockets as it passes through the soil, depositing seed in one and fertiliser in the other.

Unlike ploughing, it does not disturb the surface of the soil and preserves soil micro-organisms and carbon. . .

 . . . Nomination follows Baker reaching the finals of the World Technology Awards in 2010. Baker said the food prize nomination stemmed from his lift in profile at the technology awards.

“It awakened a lot of people to the fact 90 per cent of the world’s food is annual crops. They all start off as seed and if you don’t sow those seeds correctly, they won’t grow and we all starve.

The drill, sold widely in New Zealand at prices ranging from $200,000 to $600,000, is also being exported to 17 countries . . .  

The inventor of the drill which protects soils and as a result increases yields is a worthy nominee for this prestigious prize.


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