Rural round-up

June 13, 2018

New faces take on arable roles – Annette Scott:

Wairarapa cropping farmer Karen Williams made history as she took up the reins of the Federated Farmers arable section at its annual conference.

The first woman to head the section, the 2017 biosecurity farmer of the year and former Ballance Farm Environment Award winner takes on the job with a bundle of enthusiasm.

“I am excited about the opportunity. 

“For me this role gives me the opportunity to continue to work in biosecurity and engage in that space in Wellington. . . 

Drones prove worth on farms – Richard Rennie:

Drones initially welcomed as great novelties are now fixtures as business tools and on farms they can have multiple uses. Richard Rennie talked to farmers who have used them and found a new drone firm setting up shop here as their use becomes more widely accepted.

IN THE heady early days of drone deployment many promises were made about how they would revolutionise some of the grinding daily farm jobs, often all from the comfort of the farm kitchen table. 

A few years on they have proved to be more than a flash in the pan. 

For some farmers they are now an established tool but still as dependent on the technology they take into the sky as the inventiveness of farmers using them. . . 

Meat company results only average for 2017 – will 2018 be any better?  – Allan Barber:

ANZCO’s lacklustre result for 2017, posted last month, concludes the financial reporting for last year by the three major processors which publish their results. ANZCO’s pre-tax profit was $1.8 million which compares disappointingly with Alliance Group’s $16.7 million profit and Silver Fern Farms Cooperative’s 15 month profit of $7.8 million.

None of the three companies achieved a particularly good return on their investment in the business, but both Alliance and SFF showed improvement on the previous year which was in each case the result of substantial changes in the business structure and balance sheet. The $261 million investment by Shanghai Maling in acquiring 50% of SFF had an immediately positive impact on the company’s balance sheet strength and interest bill. During its year to September Alliance was able to reduce debt and make increased investment in plant upgrades at the same time. . . 

Danone adds to investment in NZ infant formula with proposal to buy up to 49% of Yashili New Zealand – Jonathan Underhill

(BusinessDesk) – Danone plans to increase its investment in New Zealand infant formula manufacturing by acquiring up to 49 percent of Yashili New Zealand Dairy Co, the local unit of China Mengniu Dairy, according to a filing in Hong Kong.

Terms of the transaction haven’t been finalised, including the price and method of payment, Yashili International said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange. “The consideration, the payment method and the payment schedule shall be determined after arm’s length negotiations and mutual agreement between the parties,” it said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange. . .

Changes on board of Young farmers – Sally Rae:

Experienced Dunedin marketer Sharon Angus has joined the board of New Zealand Young Farmers as an appointed director.

Ms Angus (54), who is former general manager of marketing at Silver Fern Farms, has extensive experience with food brands.

The marketing consultant was excited about joining the board as she felt New Zealand Young Farmers “represents the future”. . . 

Process vegetables industry signs up to GIA:

Today, Horticulture New Zealand signed a Government Industry Agreement (GIA) for Biosecurity Readiness and Response on behalf of Process Vegetables New Zealand (PVNZ).

PVNZ chair David Hadfield says robust biosecurity should be seen as an investment for growers.

“Committing to the GIA enables us to have closer, more informed interactions with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and other GIA industry partners around biosecurity. This includes planning for potential incursions and taking a leading role in collective biosecurity management where it impacts our members,” Hadfield says. . . 

Knitted with love:

How Fonterra is helping keep Gore’s newest residents warm and cosy this winter.

It’s a rainy Wednesday afternoon in Gore and Lois Shallard’s knitting needles are working over-time. Beside her on the table is a pile of tiny knitted baby socks, singlets and hats and at her feet are balls of wool – hot pink, lime green, lavender and a “lovely mottled blue”.

Lois is 70 this year and she’s been knitting since her teens. She knitted clothes for all her children back in the day and now she’s moved on to knitting for her town’s new mums.

“I love knitting the little socks the best, they are just so tiny and cute.” . . 


Rural round-up

May 9, 2018

Natural Fibre Exchange aimed at providing greater efficiency :

In a significant step forward for the wool sector, industry participants have come together to develop and launch an independent online trading platform.

Modelled on the Global Dairy Trade Events (GDT) platform, the Natural Fibre Exchange (NFX) is scheduled to go live with its first trading event on 22 May 2018.

NFX Ltd shareholders Wools of New Zealand Ltd (WNZ) and Alliance Group have teamed with CRA International (CRA), an acknowledged leader in online trading platforms. CRA, which also designed and manages the GDT platform, has developed and will manage the NFX platform. . . 

Short and long-lived gases need separate regulatory baskets – Keith Woodford:

A key issue for New Zealand is how to meet the Paris commitments for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Fundamental to any analysis is the different attributes of long-lived and short-lived gases.  In particular, how should methane be accounted for, and how should it be brought into any emission trading scheme?

Back in 2016, current Commissioner of the Environment Simon Upton raised the importance of placing short-lived gases in a different regulatory ‘basket’ from long-lived gases. Remarkably, our rural leaders appear to have failed to pick up on the importance of this issue.  

More than any other country in the world, NZ’s gross emissions are influenced by methane-producing ruminant animals. No other developed country has a comparable emission profile, with the arguable exception of Uruguay. . . 

Cheaper lab meat to put pressure on farmers by vying with mince and other red meat cuts – Jill Galloway:

New Zealand farmers are in danger of becoming redundant as synthetic meat took consumers away from red meat, says a strategic science expert.

Dr Anna Campbell, managing director of agribusiness consulting company AbacusBio, said synthetic meats would get cheaper and global consumers would choose them because of their light environmental impact and zero animal treatment.

Campbell was a key speaker talking to about 180 farmers and agribusiness people at the AgInnovation conference in Palmerston North on Wednesday.

“At the moment, synthetic meat-makers take some cells, some blood and other things, spin it around, and get mince.  It’s mince for hamburger patties that is spat out. It is expensive at the moment, but the companies will scale it up and make it cheap.”  . . 

Age not wearing this farmer – Peter Burke:

Moyra Bramley was born in 1933, the year Sir Apirana Ngata and Lord Bledisloe inaugurated the Ahuwhenua Trophy to recognise excellence in Maori farming — now Ms Bramley has at least a 50/50 chance of winning that trophy.

Bramley is in the running for her role as chairwoman of the Onuku Maori Lands Trust, one of two finalists in the competition. 

Onuku’s entry in the competition is its 72ha Boundary Road dairy unit is near Lake Rotomahana, 30km south of Rotorua. It is one of four farms run by the trust.  . . 

Looking into using drones differently – Mark Price:

Wanaka beekeeper Daniel Schweizer is investigating a use for drones that is yet to catch on in New Zealand.

He can see potential for “spray drones” that target weeds in difficult-to-get-to places in the high country.

The weeds would include gorse, broom and wilding pines.

“The only options at the moment are a helicopter and a man with a knapsack, and one is $20 an hour and one is $2000 an hour,” he said. . . 

Drought will bring more crop disease scientists warn:

New Zealand’s land-based primary industries need to get ready for more, and more serious, crop disease as climate change causes more and longer droughts, according to new research.

In the journal Australasian Plant Pathology, the authors say that climate change is expected to bring more droughts in many parts of New Zealand, and more droughts are “likely to increase the severity of a wide range of diseases affecting the plant-based productive sectors”.

Scientists from the Bio-Protection Research Centre, Scion, Lincoln University, AUT University, Landcare Research, and the University of Auckland analysed the potential impact of climate-change-induced drought on several commercial plants and their diseases. . . 


Rural round-up

May 3, 2018

Some immunity to virus confirmed – Pam Jones:

Central Otago farmers are still being encouraged to remain patient while the K5 variant continues to takes hold among the rabbit population, even though it has been confirmed some rabbits will be immune to the virus.

The Otago Regional Council announced the first rabbit deaths from RHDV1 K5 earlier this month, saying it was “excellent news” and patience from landowners had been “paying off”.

Omakau farmer and Federated Farmers high country Central Otago chairman Andrew Paterson said at the time it was important landowners were patient, as the regional council had warned interfering with the release programme could limit the spread of the virus in the long term and allow rabbits to build an immunity to the new strain.

Farmers threaten to shoot drones spooking animals:

Horse riders and farmers fed up with unmanned aerial drones traumatising animals want to start shooting them “out of the sky”.

After a Dannevirke horse-rider posted on social media about being harassed by a drone operated by an unseen person, a host of people suggested drones should, and could, be shot if they flew over a farm and were worrying animals.

When approached by Hawke’s Bay Today to clarify whether a drone could be legally shot at over a farm, the Police said a number of agencies, including CAA and the Privacy Commissioner, had a role to play in relation to the use of drones. . . 

Mangarara Family Farm tackles predators with high-flying support:

When Greg Hart’s family moved to Mangarara Station in Central Hawkes Bay in the mid 1990s, they shot 3 possums on their first night at the property – in a cabbage tree growing at the front door. How times have changed. Greg has now taken over the farm from his parents and his oldest son George, 14 years old, has never seen a possum on the farm.

“The Hawkes Bay Regional Council had a massive campaign to eradicate possums,” Greg explains. “They did an outstanding job. They did the initial knockdown and we do the ongoing control with bait stations. . .

Arable farmers consider their options after tough summer season:

Having come through a tough summer for growing crops and with current market signals muted, it appears arable farmers are pulling back on planned autumn plantings.

“The flat prices of the last few years are now rebounding a bit but growers remain hesitant to plant massive areas,” Federated Farmers Arable executive member Brian Leadley said. . .

Four vie for Horticulture New Zealand Board

Four candidates will vie for two positions on the Horticulture New Zealand Board as elections open today, with voting closing on 28 May 2018.

“We haven’t had such a strong contest for some time and the calibre of candidates is an indication of how well horticulture is doing and the high profile the industry is enjoying on the back of that success,” Horticulture New Zealand President Julian Raine says. . .

‘All we want are fair rules for farmers’ – Scott Kovacevic:

BEEF producer Ivan Naggs fears coastal farmers will find themselves hog-tied by red tape if new draft vegetation legislation becomes a reality under the State Government.

Mr Naggs, who has been a member of the Gympie and District Beef Liaison Group, said these laws had the potential to place severe restrictions on their operations.

Small farmers in particular would be left exposed. . . 


Rural round-up

September 27, 2016

Drones to aid farm work :

Rab Heath grew up on a farm so he knows that grass equals money.

However, keeping an eye on your pasture takes time, and a huge amount of physical effort when checking soil conditions in every paddock.

Rab’s worked out a way to do this remotely, using drones. . . 

Canterbury farmers face bleak irrigation season – Thomas Mead:

Canterbury farmers face a tough spring with several key irrigation rivers already on restriction after a third straight year of low groundwater levels, with some wells, streams and springs to dry up.

Poor rainfall has left alpine rivers well below their long-term averages, with the Ahuriri River in South Canterbury already on a full restriction preventing all kinds of irrigation. Other rivers, including the Rakaia, Waimakariri, Hurunui, and Rangitata, are partially restricted.

Environment Canterbury (ECAN) surface water science manager Tim Davie says the restrictions are designed to protect ecosystems and stream-life. . . 

Technology set to play big part in NZ agriculture:

Ultimately, for New Zealand to diversify its export base, technology will play a critical role in improving value-add in agricultural exports, a leading New Zealand agri-tech expert says.

Craige Mackenzie, chair of Precision Agriculture Association of New Zealand (PAANZ), says precision agriculture has a lot to offer the bright future of the second biggest New Zealand industry sector.

“There is growing interest in the benefits of precision agriculture for environmental and financial viability of our New Zealand farms but we have a challenge ahead to get greater engagement with more farmers and companies in this sector. . . 

NZ Farming Systems Uruguay to cut ties with NZ, posts biggest loss since Olam took control – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – NZ Farming Systems Uruguay, set up by New Zealand investors in 2006, is to cut ties with the country after delivering its biggest-ever loss to owner Olam International of Singapore.

Olam has retained a New Zealand registration for the South American subsidiary since buying out minority shareholders and delisting it from the NZX in late 2012, with its registered office care of law firm Buddle Findlay in Auckland. But the latest annual report of Farming Systems says the group “has the intention to deregister the parent company from the NZ Companies Office and migrate to Uruguay.”

Farming Systems appears to have been hard hit by the downturn in global prices of dairy products, with its net loss widening to US$74.5 million in the year ended June 30, from US$69.5 million a year earlier. Sales fell 34 percent to US$48.9 million. . . 

NZ dairy farm prices show sharp rise, REINZ figures show – Edwin Mitson:

(BusinessDesk) – The median price per hectare for a New Zealand dairy farm sales has increased by more than 50 percent on a year ago, Real Estate Institute of New Zealand figures show.

In the three months to the end of August 2016, the median sales price per hectare was $40,469, with 14 properties sold. In the same period a year earlier, the median price was $26,906, with 21 properties sold, a rise of 50.4 percent.

The figures cover the winter period, with REINZ noting that the low level of sales can distort statistics. The median size of a dairy farm sold was 100 hectares. . . 

Venison sales set to soar this spring as Kiwis become more adventurous and health conscious in the kitchen:

Duncan Venison has reported a surge in demand from consumers and professional chefs in the run up to spring and summer, indicating that Kiwis are recognising the health and taste benefits, are starting to see it as a year-round option, and are also becoming more adventurous with how they cook it.

The company is selling considerable quantities of venison to restaurants and home cooks per week, with no sign of sales slowing down as the warmer weather approaches. This includes the “Bistro Fillet from Pāmu Farms,” a tender, pan ready cut that was developed earlier this year, and is now on the menu at restaurants such as The Sugar Club, Sails Restaurant, The French Café, Paris Butter, and Clooney.

Since the 1st July launch, sales of Bistro Fillet have exceeded budgeted volumes by over 50%, with a number of restaurants still to change over to their spring menu. . . 

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Because of their connection to the land, farmers do more to protect and preserve our environment than almost anyone else. They are some of the best environmentalists around  – Ike Skelton.


Rural round-up

September 7, 2015

Drones monitor Fiordland’s rainbow trout – Hamish Clark:

Fish & Game is using drones to monitor prized rainbow trout spawning at one of the world’s top fishing spots.

The remote location is the Upper Waiau River, which runs from Lake Te Anau and borders Fiordland National Park.

At the moment fishing is off-limits, as the trout are busy spawning and burying their fertilised eggs. . . 

World-first Kiwi technology can be a big boost to lucrative forestry industry:

A Christchurch company believes it can add tens of millions of dollars to the multi-billion forest industry by cutting-edge hi-tech testing to find out which trees are suitable for the booming housing and building construction markets.

Fibre-gen has produced a world-first harvester head mounted sonic tool, the HITMAN PH330, which measures the strength of trees to see if they are suitable or not for high-end building construction. There are no known direct competitors in the global market as yet.

Fibre-gen is the leader in forest wood segregation sonic technology tools and was a finalist at the 2015 New Zealand Hi-Tech Awards. It has entered the New Zealand Innovators Award, with finalists being named next week on September 10. It is also a finalist in the 2015 Champion Canterbury Business Innovation Awards with winners being named in Christchurch on September 16. . . 

New Chairman leads New Zealand Young Farmers into the future

Jason Te Brake has been elected the new Chairman for New Zealand Young Farmers. Mr Te Brake takes the helm after Cole Groves stepped down after two years in the role.

Mr Te Brake has served on the Board as an elected member since May 2013, in this time he has taken on the role of Vice-Chairman and the Chairman of the National Committee of New Zealand Young Farmers. Mr Te Brake joined Young Farmers in 2010, and while he first joined with social intentions, Jason quickly found his way into governance. . . 

Community groups receive $918,000 in War on Weeds funding:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has announced a $918,000 commitment to the War on Weeds through this year’s round of Community Conservation Partnerships Fund grants.

$500,000 will go to a significant joint programme run by Weedbusters NZ and the QEII National Trust, and will be used to fund voluntary weedbusting efforts by community groups, alongside regional and local councils.

An additional $418,000 will go to other projects tackling problem plants such as old man’s beard, banana passionfruit and other members of the Dirty Dozen weeds launched on August 27. . .

‘Young Hort’ winner calls for more primary industry diversification:

The downturn in prices confronting dairy farmers is a timely reminder to those in horticulture to consider crop diversification now, while kiwifruit, pipfruit and wine exports are booming.

Outgoing New Zealand Young Horticulturist of the Year (YHOY) title holder and Whangarei kiwifruit grower, Patrick Malley, believes local farmers can learn from the diversification practices of their Californian counterparts.

Malley was speaking after just having returned from a fact finding travel scholarship to the United States, which was part of his prize for winning the NZ Young Horticulturist of the Year 2014 competition.

While the dairy industry is at the bottom of its commodity cycle, the kiwifruit and pipfruit industries arebooming, making it a good time to think about diversifying crop types to spread risk and create stability through commodity cycles. . . 

Let Ballance get your career started:

Soil scientists, engineers and farmers to vets, bankers and regulators, there are a wide range of careers which Ballance Agri-Nutrients is proud to support with its annual scholarship programme.

Warwick Catto, Science Strategy Manager at Ballance said the co-operative was always excited to see student talent interested in primary industry careers.

“The recent unprecedented interest in our dairy and red meat sectors sets the backdrop for the importance the sector has on New Zealand’s future growth and our place in the world.” . . 

Zespri launches new $15,000 scholarships:

Zespri has announced two new $15,000 scholarships to encourage New Zealand’s top secondary students to pursue a career in New Zealand’s fast-growing kiwifruit industry.

Zespri General Manager Grower & External Relations Dave Courtney explains that Zespri is looking to support and encourage tomorrow’sleaders into the horticulture sector.

“Kiwifruit is a global business; our industry earned $1.6 billion in sales revenue last year and we’re set to grow strongly over coming years. . . 

Canterbury Dairy Farmers Thrive On Environment Competition Experience:

Ashburton sharemilkers Sara and Stuart Russell have always strived to make their dairy operation as sustainable as possible. Entering the Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards helped them confirm they were on the right track.

“We wanted to see how our business compared with others, and we wanted to find out what we could do to improve in future,” says Sara.

She and Stuart, a former builder, 50:50 sharemilk 700 cows on 252ha (effective), south of Ashburton. The farm is owned by Sara’s parents Rick and Diana Bourke via the Bourke Family Trust.

The Russells entered the 2015 Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) and won the LIC Dairy Farm Award in their first time in the competition. . . 

Free service boosts feed efficiency for dairy farmers:

In a bid to help dairy farmers in tight times, GrainCorp Feeds has announced that 150 clients nationwide will receive free access to a feed forecasting, tracking and monitoring service.

GrainCorp Feeds is working with technical specialists DairyClub to provide additional on-farm assessment, monitoring and technical support alongside Tracker™, an online tool which measures current milk production and shows how the farmer can use supplementary feed to achieve maximum return.

GrainCorp Feeds general manager Daniel Calcinai says to increase income from milk production, farmers have to feed strategically, which means the right feed at the right time. . . 


Rural round-up

September 8, 2014

Ballance Farm Environment Awards Show Farmers Care:

Bay of Plenty dairy farmer Trevor Hamilton entered the Ballance Farm Environment Awards because he had a point to prove.

Trevor and his wife Harriet run a large-scale family business that spans ten farms – five in Canterbury, four in Bay of Plenty and one in Hawke’s Bay. The operation is on track to produce three million kilograms of Milksolids this season, with four million targeted for 2015/16.

Starting from scratch as a sharemilker in 1980, Trevor says his aim is to create an intergenerational dairy farming business. But he is acutely aware that the scale of the operation opens it up to claims that its growth has come at the expense of the environment.

Entering the Ballance Farm Environment Awards gave him the opportunity to prove this wasn’t the case. . . .

NZ possum hits fashion catwalk –  Sally Rae:

With apologies to Dame Edna, it’s Goodbye Possums.

New Zealand’s possum fur industry is estimated to be worth $130 million annually to the country’s economy.

Perino, a blend of possum fur and cashmere or merino yarn, recently featured on the catwalk in garments from the latest collections from Zambesi and The Noble Savage. . .

Lavender: The sweet smell of success – Sally Rae:

Two novice lavender growers from Central Otago nearly stole the show at this year’s New Zealand Lavender Growers Association awards.

In the oil competition, Joth Hankinson and Tony Culshaw, from Central Otago Produce, won two of the three trophies on offer – the Eoin Johnson Memorial Trophy for best lavandin oil, and the Ken Wilson Memorial Trophy, for best grosso.

Two particular types of lavender were grown commercially for oil – angustifolia or English lavender, and intermedia lavender – also called lavandin – a hybrid cross between an angustifolia and a latafolia, which grows in the wild at higher altitudes in the Mediterranean. . .

Drone big success on and off the farm – Rob Tipa:

A Southland family pioneering the use of drones on New Zealand farms believes there is a massive gap between the science, research and technology available today and its application on farms.

Neil Gardyne and his 14-yearold son Mark made television and news headlines internationally last year when they started flying drones over their 466ha hillcountry farms in the Otama Valley in Eastern Southland.

Instead of climbing on a quad bike twice a day to check on hogget lambing, the Gardynes programmed a drone to cover the same ground from the air. What took them two hours on a bike opening and closing 120 farm gates, took 20 minutes flight time for the drone. . .

No growth benefits shown with docking – Sally Brooker:

Docking lambs’ tails has no long-term beneficial or detrimental effect on lamb growth rates from docking to slaughter, a new study has found.

Alliance Group Ltd, one of New Zealand’s largest meat processing companies, Beef and Lamb New Zealand and the Ministry for Primary Industries Sustainable Farming Fund commissioned the research after farmers wondered if leaving tails intact improved lamb growth rates from docking to slaughter and British retailers had started asking about tail length.

AbacusBio consultant Jo Kerslake presented the results at a Beef and Lamb field day in South Canterbury last week. . . .

 Rustling must be stopped – but how?  – Jon Morgan:

    I suppose running sheep in a park in central Auckland is asking for trouble. The temptation of a week’s meals there for the taking is too much to expect the big city’s criminal element to ignore.

In the latest of a string of incidents, rustlers using dogs and traps targeted the 600-ewe flock in Cornwall Park.

Members of the public disturbed three men and three large dogs capturing new-born lambs. And last month rustlers stole at least six sheep – including two pregnant ewes and a large ram – from the park’s farm.

A heavily pregnant ewe was caught in a leg-hold trap but spotted by a member of the public before it could be taken.

Another ewe that was due to give birth to triplets disappeared two days earlier and three more ewes and a 110kg ram were taken a few months earlier. . .


Rural round-up

August 16, 2014

 Not celebrating yet – Andrea Fox:

Bay of Plenty farmer David Jensen’s commitment of nearly a third of his milk production this season to Fonterra’s June guaranteed milk price (GMP) of $7 a kilogram of milksolids (MS) looks set to boost his coffers by at least $80,000 but he’s not crowing.

He knows that would be foolhardy, given the roller-coaster ride of the milk price this year and the long stretch of the season ahead.

This is Jensen’s second round on Fonterra’s new fixed milk price programme. In last year’s pilot scheme his business posted a $45,000 opportunity cost after he committed milk at $7/kg MS in what is set to be a record $8-plus payout season. . .

Pipfruit sector’s future ‘very bright’ – Pam Jones:

Good returns are expected in the pipfruit industry this year following a record season last year, Pipfruit New Zealand chief executive officer Alan Pollard says.

Mr Pollard was one of the keynote speakers at the two-day Pipfruit New Zealand conference in Queenstown last week, and visited three Central Otago orchards and one winery with delegates during a field day after the conference.

The conference built on the Pipfruit New Zealand strategic plan, which was released at last year’s conference and outlined how to achieve a goal of developing the pipfruit industry into a $1 billion export industry by 2022, Mr Pollard said. . .

Innovative sheep farmers winners

Southland and Otago did well in the third annual Beef and Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards in Napier last week.

AbacusBio managing director Neville Jopson, of Dunedin, received the Focus Genetics sheep industry science award in recognition of his work in the industry, while Mount Linton Station, in Southland, won the Alliance Group terminal sire award for lamb growth and meat yield and the SIL-ACE award for terminal sire for lamb growth.

Andy Ramsden, of Wanaka, was awarded the Allflex sheep industry innovation award for his input to increasing the productivity of New Zealand sheep during the past 20 years, and Riverton’s Blackdale Coopworth stud won the Telford dual purpose award for reproduction, lamb growth plus adult size and wool production. . .

Agricultural drones taking off on farms:

Robots are not only taking their place in milking sheds or on vineyards and orchards – aerial drones are increasingly being used to extend the reach and view of human farmers.

Unmanned aerial vehicles or aerial robots – known in the military world as drones – are increasingly being used for a range of activities on farms, including checking fences and water systems, and monitoring and even moving stock.

Linda Bulk of the Aeronavics company, said farmers were surprised at how easy they were to use.

“It’s so practical,” she said. “There’s that eye in the sky, what you see from above is so much more informative than when you’re on eye level to start with and it gets into those hard to reach areas that are often a hazard for quad bikes. . . .

Improved Returns See Rise in Cattle Numbers:

Dry conditions in the northern North Island and continued land use change in the South Island saw New Zealand’s sheep numbers decrease 3.2 per cent over the 2013-14 season, while beef cattle numbers increased 1.6 per cent.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Economic Service carries out a stock number survey annually. Its latest survey shows sheep numbers dropped to 29.8 million in the year to 30 June 2014.

B+LNZ Economic Service Chief Economist Andrew Burtt says strong mutton prices, driven by rising demand from North Asia, encouraged a high level of cull ewe processing for the second year in a row.

Breeding ewe numbers, at 19.96 million, were slightly down (-1.4%) on the previous June. The largest contributor to the overall decline was the South Island, reflecting the continued land use trend towards dairy and dairy support activities.

 

Meadow Mushrooms Opens Second Stage Of $120 Million Redevelopment:

The second stage of a $120 million redevelopment and expansion project at one of New Zealand’s largest agricultural enterprises will be opened this week.

The $12 million investment into the extension of Meadow Mushrooms’ Christchurch farm will add a further 60 jobs and increase production by 37,000 kilograms of fresh white mushrooms a week.

This project follows the $45 million expansion undertaken by the company on site in 2011 and is the second of three stages to completely reconfigure the company’s infrastructure in New Zealand. A new office administration and headquarters construction project will commence before the end of the year and will be followed by an expansion of the compost facilities and growing shed conversions.

“This development demonstrates Meadow Mushrooms’ confidence in the future market and our commitment to the industry,” said John Barnes, CEO of Meadow Mushrooms. . . .

 

 

 


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