Rural round-up

August 20, 2017

Taxing our water:

Figures released yesterday by Irrigation New Zealand included bad news for Otago when it comes to funding being taken in irrigation tax for “Clean Rivers”.

The figures show Otago will pay the second-highest amount of irrigation tax of $7.8 million when it has 8% of rivers said to be poor for swimming and just 3% of irrigated land.

Canterbury, as could be expected, will pay the most at $41 million. The region has 4% of rivers declared poor for swimming but 11% of irrigated land.

Labour has declared it will implement a royalty on the commercial consumption of water to assist with the cost of keeping New Zealand’s water clean. The royalty will be flexible to reflect the scarcity or abundance of water in different regions, the different quality of water and its use. Royalty levels will be set following consultation and the revenue will largely be returned to regional councils. . .

Award recognises work with SIL – Sally Rae:

Invermay scientist Dr Sheryl-Anne Newman has received national recognition for her work with Sheep Improvement Ltd.
Dr Newman received the Sir Arthur Ward Award, presented by the New Zealand Society of Animal Production.

It recognised the successful application of research or experience to an aspect of animal production in New Zealand.

She is only the second woman to receive the award. Dr Julie Everett-Hincks, also from Otago, received it last year for work she had done to improve lamb survival. . .

Growing virtual plants could help farmers boost their crops – Leslie Nemo:

What if farmers could grow sugarcane in a matter of seconds, not days or weeks? Scientists are doing just that. Of course, these crops are not sprouting from soil. Instead they flourish on a computer screen.

Digital plants like these are part of a new movement in agricultural science called “in silico,” where researchers design highly accurate, computer-simulated crops to help speed up selective breeding, in which plants are chosen and replanted to amplify their desirable traits. Scientists believe the future of farming is not just in fields, but in graphics, too. . .

Dispatch from New Zealand no. 4 lessons for the UK – Jonathan Baker:

New Zealand was easily the most challenging and energising place I’ve visited so far. Having thought about it, I think this is because many of the debates are similar, until they’re not. Meaning the cultural and geographic similarities create a sense of familiarity which means the inevitable differences really jarr. I certaintly spent more time gazing into the middle distance here than anywhere else I’ve visited. There is much more I could say about New Zealand but I’m currently in Korea and the detailed synthesis of my thoughts in NZ will have to wait.

In the meantime, here is a non-exhaustive and slightly long set of lessons for the UK:

  1.  Environmental regulation is inevitable
  2. Be nimble
  3. No subsidy, no problems
  4. Look to solve conflict, with collaboration and consensus
  5. Prepare for political ping-pong
  6. The need for new, improved industry – Government collaboration
  7. Using subsidies to compensate for policy change, can allow for more radical policy change
  8. There is trouble in (farming) paradise. . .

Kokako birdsong rings out in Kauri Coast forests:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says there’s been a more than thousand percent increase in the number of kokako in Kauri Coast forests since 1990 due to the continued use of 1080 and trapping.

“An aerial 1080 drop in 1990 is credited with saving the kokako from local extinction and its continued use along with trapping has seen the population grow from a low of 5 pair in 1990 to 60 pair today, as well as 29 single kokako,” Ms Barry says. . . .

Continued Softening in Rural Real Estate Market:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were 76 fewer farm sales (-16.2%) for the three months ended July 2017 than for the three months ended July 2016. Overall, there were 392 farm sales in the three months ended July 2017, compared to 459 farm sales for the three months ended June 2017 (-14.6%), and 468 farm sales for the three months ended July 2016. 1,739 farms were sold in the year to July 2017, 1.5% fewer than were sold in the year to July 2016, with 44% more finishing farms, 28% more dairy farms and 21% fewer grazing and 22% fewer arable farms sold over the same period. . . 

Farmer candidates sought for DairyNZ elections:

Candidate nominations opened this week for farmer-elected roles on the DairyNZ board and Directors Remuneration Committee.

This year two farmer positions on the Board of Directors are available, along with one position on the DairyNZ Directors Remuneration Committee. . .

Kiwis assured all Fresh avocados eaten in New Zealand are grown here:

 “All fresh avocados eaten in New Zealand are grown here,” says New Zealand Avocado CEO Jen Scoular, mitigating concerns that we import the fruit from Mexico. Criticism of Mexican growing practices was raised by an article published this week by the New Zealand Herald in the Lifestyle Section article headlined “Why you should stop eating avocados.”*

Scoular says the article has caused confusion and New Zealand Avocado had fielded some concerned calls from the public for clarification about the origins of the fruit in New Zealand. . .


Rural round-up

August 9, 2016

Scientist added value to lamb crop – Sally Rae:

Work done by Julie Everett-Hincks to improve lamb survival has received national recognition.

Dr Everett-Hincks has been awarded the Sir Arthur Ward award, presented by the New Zealand Society of Animal Production.

It was a “huge honour” to receive the award at the joint Australian Society of Animal Production and New Zealand Society of Animal Production conference in Adelaide, she said.

Dr Everett-Hincks was the first woman to receive it. . . 

Fonterra ‘we are changing’ – Sally Rae:

Let’s face it —  wastewater might not be the most glamorous subject.

But at Fonterra’s Edendale factory,  some  cool things are being achieved with treated wastewater.

It is being used to irrigate surrounding farmland and  “waste-activated sludge” (WAS) from the factory  is  being used as fertiliser.

The grass grown ultimately returned to Fonterra as milk in  a “really good cradle-to-grave story”, national environment group manager Ian Goldschmidt said.

Edendale is a big operation, employing about 650 people. . . 

Pond developer vents his frustration – Mark Price:

The Wanaka developer of a new salmon “fish-out” facility has complained to Conservation Minister Maggie Barry that Fish and Game New Zealand has opposed the project in order to protect its own commercial interests.

Graham and Hayley Lee, as Inderlee Ltd, were granted resource consent in November for their operation along Cameron Creek, on the eastern outskirts of Wanaka near Albert Town.

They plan to offer the public the chance to catch chinook salmon from large ponds from November next year.

Their consent application was opposed by Fish and Game, and Mr Lee told the Otago Daily Times this week he has complained by email to Ms Barry about the organisation’s motives. . . 

Produce industry leader wins Bledisloe Cup:

Murray McPhail, founder and owner of LeaderBrand Produce, won horticulture’s top award, the Bledisloe Cup, last night.

Horticulture NZ’s president Julian Raine said the Bledilsoe Cup is an outstanding award to receive and this year was honouring a 40 year commitment to the horticulture industry. The award was presented at Horticulture NZ’s annual awards dinner, held in conjunction with Pipfruit NZ, at the annual conference in Nelson.

As McPhail was overseas his son Richard accepted the award on his behalf. . . 

Rural Broadband Initiative phase one complete:

The first phase of the Government’s Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) is now complete, benefitting 300,000 homes and businesses, says Communications Minister Amy Adams.

“Under the programme, rural communities around New Zealand have significantly improved broadband, thanks to the Government’s $300 million investment into RBI. We’ve seen a considerable improvement in access, reliability and speeds across New Zealand,” says Ms Adams.

“Prior to our RBI build, only 20 per cent of rural lines were capable of speeds around 5Mbps. RBI phase one increases this to 90 per cent of rural New Zealand households and businesses, and speeds are in fact well in excess of 5Mbps.

“Before the project, our rural communities were grappling with poor speeds, little better than dial up – but are now enjoying speeds around 100 times faster. . . 

Protecting a local delicacy:

Fishers and keen cooks gearing up for whitebaiting season, opening on Monday 15 August, should be aware of the rules or the rare delicacy could disappear from dinner tables forever.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is responsible for administering the whitebait fishery and ensuring people observe the regulations.

Whitebait are juveniles of five species of native fish: giant kokopu, banded kokopu, shortjaw kokopu, inanga, and koaro. Those that escape the whitebait net grow into adult fish which are some of our most endangered native species – some whitebait species have the same threat status as kiwi and New Zealand falcon. . . 

Wires kill pilots:

The rural economy is vitally important to New Zealand’s economic prosperity but the safety of the aviation industry, which plays an important role in ensuring regional prosperity, is not assured,’ said John Nicholson, Chief Executive of industry body Aviation NZ.

Between 1979 and 2015, helicopter pilots alone had 116 wire strikes resulting in 28 deaths. While people on the ground can generally see wires, they can often be invisible to pilots of low flying aircraft.

Electricity and phone lines are generally well marked with the towers and poles they run between quite visible – be you on the ground or in the air.
‘The major concern is wires erected by farmers,’ said Alan Beck, Chairman of the NZ Agricultural Aviation Association.

They present the greatest risk to agricultural aviation because they can run across gullies, and can be attached to obscure poles or even trees. To make it worse , some manufacturers even produce green covered wire. . . 

Landcorp ditches palm kernel feed to boost environmental credentials – Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – Landcorp Farming, the state-owned farmer, will stop using palm kernel expeller on its farms in the current financial year to shore up its environmental sustainability credentials.

Palm kernel, used by dairy farmers as a supplementary feed to grass during winter or in seasonal droughts, is imported from Southeast Asia and has faced criticism for its environmental impacts as expansion of the palm oil industry spurs tropical forest clearance and peat fires.

Landcorp, New Zealand’s largest corporate farmer, wants to move away from being a commodity supplier of agricultural products by developing higher value products, inking long-term contracts with customers, and investing in branding to boost the value of its products. . . 


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