Rural round-up

July 31, 2011

Owen Glenn: use science to be innovative:

In the second of a series leading up to the election, Owen Glenn says exporters’ form matters even more than the All Blacks’.

Every four years, rugby puts New Zealand on the world stage. Our exporters do the same every day.

Unlike the All Blacks, when exporters aren’t playing to their full potential, the whole country loses.

With two out of three jobs dependent on it and $4 of every $10 our economy produces generated by it, exporting matters. . .

Lonely bull still waiting for rescue – Kathy Marks:

When Victoria was hit by catastrophic floods in January, a bull named Bernard sought refuge on an island in the middle of a lake.

Six months later, he’s still stranded and his owner is appealing for help to reunite the increasingly bad-tempered animal with his herd. . .

8% rise in lamb numbers forecast – Sally Rae:

Reasonable conditions this lambing should see a rise in the total number of lambs by 2 million – up 8% – pushing export lamb production back towards 20.5 million head in 2011-12.

Export lamb production in 2010-11 was expected to finish at about 19 million head, down 11% on the previous season, according to the ANZ Agri-Focus report for July . . .

Researcher seeks tonic in pasture – Sally Rae:

It is a long way from managing a farm in the UK to being a research fellow in Dunedin – but Dr Marion Johnson has led an interesting life.

Dr Johnson, who grew up in Zambia, the UK and New Zealand, initially studied agriculture at Massey University.

She worked as a shepherd around the Wairarapa before shepherding on hill farms in Wales and Scotland . . .

Feeding out made easier – Sally Rae:

Dave McCabe, a North Otago contractor and farmer, has devised a method of pulling strings from bales on feed-out wagons that saves time and machinery.

Previously, he used a loader to pull out the strings. . .

Collaboration succeeding – John Aspinall:

Prior to 1987, most Crown-owned land in New Zealand was managed by the Lands and Survey Department (L&S).

In 1987, L&S was restructured into the Department of Conservation (Doc), Landcorp and Forestcorp. Most of the commercial-minded senior management people went to Landcorp and Forestcorp.

Doc gained practical hands-on field staff, but many of their management people took a very idealistic view that they would save the environment and could do it alone . . .

Farmers’ web portal winner:

AG-HUB, an agriculture web portal for farmers, has been awarded the Telecommunications Users’ Association of New Zealand (Tuanz) “best of the best” prize at its 2011 innovations awards.

Ag-Hub captured information from on-farm recording devices such as feed readers, effluent irrigators, moisture tapes and weather stations. . .

Fascinating new pastures for dairy cows thanks to innovative farmers – Pasture to Profit:

Many pasture based dairy farmers in both France & the UK are experimenting with mixed pasture swards. These “New Pastures” always include an abundance of clovers & increasingly include herbs such as Chicory & Plantain. The inclusion of the deep rooting herbs adds a completely new dimension to pastures for grazing dairy cows.

These pastures are very different from conventional pastures in many ways. Nitrogen fed pastures tend to be monocultures of ryegrasses. Well managed ryegrass clover pastures are highly productive. The clover content is related to the grazing intensity & the amount of nitrogen used. The mixed pastures offer considerable biodiversity, interesting possible changes to the cows diet, generally higher protein levels but more complex grazing properties. In mixed species pastures some plants are grazed out & its difficult to graze according to every plant’s requirements. However these new pastures might well enhance the health benefits of grass fed milk . . .

Alpaca breeders get serious about business – Jon Morgan:

Peter McKay gives a demonstration of the mating ritual of the alpaca. It’s not what you think. The Hawke’s Bay farmer tilts back his head, opens his throat and goes “orgleorgleorgleorgle”.

This rumbling gargle is the male alpaca’s foreplay. It starts the female ovulating. Mr McKay and wife Tessa have 160 alpacas on their 235-hectare sheep and beef farm at Maraekakaho.

Mrs McKay tells what happens next. “They mate sitting down. It’s called a cush,” she says. “Then we wait two weeks to see if she is pregnant. If she goes into the cush for him, it didn’t work the first time. If she spits at him, it did.” . . .

Wine moguls thrive in hard year – Michael Berry:

Most Marlborough-linked wine magnates listed in this year’s National Business Review Rich List managed to increase their wealth in a tough year for the wine industry.

Siblings Jim and Rosmari Delegat, owners of Oyster Bay Vineyards Marlborough and who own much of the NZX-listed Delegat’s Wine Estate dropped to 39th this year, while increasing their net worth by $35 million to $150m . . .

Record rebate for Ballance Farmers:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients will pay shareholders a record rebate and dividend of $50.29 per tonne after achieving an $85.9 million operating profit for the 2010/11 financial year, more than four times the $20.7 million achieved in the prior year.

The total average payment to shareholders of $50.29 per tonne includes a rebate of $46 per tonne on fertiliser purchased and an imputed dividend of $0.10 per share, resulting in a total distribution to shareholders of $49 million. Ballance’s rebate payment is calculated based on both the quantity and the value of the product purchased. This means that farmers who have purchased higher-value products such as DAP, triple superphosphate or potash will receive a rebate and dividend in excess of $62 per tonne, with urea returning a rebate of over $54 per tonne. . .

Sheep: barnyard brainiacs

It turns out that sheep are far more intelligent than their reputation for barnyard slowness would lead one to believe. In recent research published in PLoS ONE1, Professor Jenny Morton of the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Cambridge and her colleague Laura Avanzo reported that domestic sheep can perform extremely well on tests of designed to measure cognitive abilities, possibly as well as any animal other than primates.

Professor Morton, who had been studying Huntington’s disease, wanted to find out whether transgenic sheep with a specific genetic defect might be useful in preclinical research regarding potential treatments for this neurodegenerative disease. Because Huntington’s is characterized by cognitive deterioration, Morton was particularly interested in seeing how well sheep would perform cognitively, since suitable research subjects for neurologic disorders like Huntington’s inevitably must undergo systematic cognitive testing relevant to the disease. . .

Hat Tip: Tim Worstall


Rural round-up

July 17, 2011

Farming couple move south to live dream – Collette Devlin:

Hannes and Lyzanne Du Plessis travelled to New Zealand from South Africa eight years ago with their child, a suitcase and only $20 in a bank account.

Six weeks ago, they moved to Southland with their three children to contract milk on a dairy syndicate managed by MyFarm at Edendale.

“We had no idea our lives would go in this direction,” Mrs Du Plessis said. “We want our story to inspire others. You do not need a lot of money or experience, because the opportunities to live your dream are all here within the New Zealand dairy industry.” . . .

Self-shedding dorper sheep a growing breed – Collette Devlin:

The dorper sheep, a common sight in most parts of the country, was introduced to New Zealand by a Southland breeder, but it remains a rare breed in the region.

There are 45 registered breeders in New Zealand but only four of these are registered in Southland, the New Zealand Sheep Breeders Association reports. Two are in Gore, one in Balclutha and one in South Otago . . .

Problems facing new grain and seed head – Gerald Piddock:

Ian Mackenzie has taken up the chair of Federated Farmers Grain and Seed at a tumultuous time.

He comes into the role after a tough few years for grain farmers with a grain surplus keeping returns low for many of them . . .

June farm sales up year on year but median price per hectare at 7 year low says REINZ – Gareth Vaughan:

A total of 111 farms changed hands last month, 30 more than in June
last year, according to the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand
(REINZ), with nearly half the sales coming in Canterbury, Otago and
Southland. However, REINZ says the median price per hectare is now at
its lowest level since July 2004.

The June sales included 13 dairy farms and 59 grazing properties and
compares with the 81 farms that changed hands in June 2010, 80 in June
2009, 216 in June 2008, 212 in June 2007 and 158 in June 2006. . .

Radicalsim from the far right – Tony Chaston:

Don Nicolsons foray into politics from a Federated Farmers background
is not new, as many well known politicans have started their political
career via this way.

Just how successful he will be only time will tell, but it is
interesting to note that Bruce Wills the new president has already
stated that his style will be less divisive. Is the political following
by farmers changing, and are they moving further to the right and away
from ther traditional National Party roots? . .

Nestle takes slice of Vital Foods:

A subsidiary of global food giant Nestle says it is taking a minority stake in Vital Foods, a New Zealand company that specialises in developing kiwifruit-based “functional foods” solutions for gastrointestinal conditions.

Terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but Nestle Health Science said in a statement that it would take a seat on the board of Vital Foods “to help steer future product development as well as commercial strategy”. . .

It’s time for some friendly persuasion – Jon Morgan:

Bruce Wills has the creased features of an outdoorsman and the dirty fingernails of a farmer who just a few hours before was dagging lambs in the Hawke’s Bay hills. But seated in the Wellington head office of Federated Farmers he looks at home in a suit and tie.

He is a model of the modern farmer – university educated, highly numerate, literate, articulate and computerate, and an agricultural jack-of-all-trades, handy with hammer, fencing pliers, shearer’s handpiece, drenching gun and team of dogs.

Now he wants to add political lobbying to his skillset – the tramping of corridors, handshaking, backslapping, joshing, hard talk, soft persuasion and smiling through clenched teeth . . .

I’ve got farming in my blood –  Eleanor Ainge Roy:

Bruce Wills, the new head of Federated Farmers, talks about a childhood spent taming the wilderness, and the price he paid for returning to the family land.

When the Wills family moved onto Trellinoe Farm in the late 1950s, 45km north of Napier, the only accommodation was a tiny rabbiter’s cottage, stuck on the knob of a hill. There were no gardens, no fences, and no grass. Just acres and acres of blackberry scrub, wild pigs and goats.

After more than 50 years of hard yakka turning the land into an 1100ha sheep and cattle station, Bruce Wills says the family is still in the “breaking in” phase.

Wills, 50, is the new president of Federated Farmers, and spent his first week in the job travelling between Rotorua, Wellington, Trellinoe and Hamilton. It was a hectic mix of attending meetings, talking to the media – and sheep crutching on his farm.

Prime lambs return record sale prices – Sally Rae:

Record prices for prime lambs at southern stock sales are      giving farmers something to smile about after last year’s      shocking season when up to a million lambs died in freezing      conditions.   

A pen of about 20 Dorset Down ram lambs sold for $223.50 each      at a recent Charlton stock sale in Gore. The price was      believed to be a record for the saleyards, PGG Wrightson Gore      livestock manager Mark Cuttance said .  . .

Growth rates beefed up in simple herd home – Sally Rae:

When Mike Elliot could not get the growth rates he    desired through winter to finish beef cattle – despite feeding    as much as they wanted to eat – he looked for an alternative.   

With an 88ha farm in South Otago, although about 11ha of that  was in trees, it was a fairly small property and he needed to   farm intensively.

But he had a “phobia” about making mud and there were also      the increasing costs of planting crops and the amount of time      and effort to feed cattle on those crops . . .   

Support, direction required for rural sector – Dr Marion Johnson:

Sometimes I completely fail to understand New Zealand. As a     nation we trade on a clean green image yet encourage the  desecration of our resources at every turn.   

 We espouse a No 8 wire mentality; yet I wonder how many   citizens even know what No 8 wire is? We no longer support  innovation, unless it is within a prescribed field and then I      would debate the legitimacy of calling such developments innovation . . .   

Bee roads and wildflowers can help save bees in the UK – pasture farmers  are key players  – Pasture to Profit:

Do you know what a “Bee Road” is?
It’s a wild flower planting on farms to attract & protect Bees. I’ve started my own “Bee Road” sowing a wild flower strip of about 40metres x 10m along a roadside on a pasture based dairy farm.  https://www.cotswoldseeds.com/seedmix/wild-flowers-1 

It was sown this spring & is now in glorious techno colour. The bees &
insects love it but there have been some problems like the dry weather &
weed infestation. I am justly proud of my efforts but there are frustrations .  . .

Farmsafe and AgITO launch Quad Bike Farm Licence:

Farmsafe, in association with Agriculture ITO (AgITO), has launched the Quad Bike Farm
Licence.

“On average 35 farmers come off their quad bikes every day,” Grant Hadfield, FarmSafe national manager, says.

“FarmSafe and AgITO are committed to reducing accidents and changing attitudes through training on safe quad bike riding practices.”

The Quad Bike Farm Licence is gained through a practical on job training package that covers safe quad bike riding practices as well as teaching participants to effectively identify, minimise and isolate potential bike riding hazards and make safe riding decisions. . .


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