Woolly words

May 26, 2015

Drought is no laughing matter but a North Canterbury has found an opportunity for humour while feeding out:

. . .Parnassus sheep farmer Mike Bowler has been hit hard by the drought, which has crippled farming operations throughout North Canterbury.

The harsh conditions have scorched his fields, requiring Bowler to drop thousands of dollars of feed each day for his stock.

To vent his frustration, each day he scatters the feed into a different pattern, manipulating his sheep into a giant roadside billboard.

One day it was the shape of a kiwi; other days it has been the names of his grandchildren.

Bowler’s most popular design expressed in simple terms what many of his fellow farmers are thinking – “bugger”.

His sheep art had been a useful way for dealing with his frustration, he said.

“I feel that if I’m pouring that much money into the ground I might as well get some benefit from it, even if it is just a smile from somebody going along the road.” . . .


Snow good but . . .

May 26, 2015

Ski fields didn’t have as much snow as they’d like last year and it wasn’t just the ski season that was affected.

Less snow on the mountains meant less snow melt to feed rivers and underground aquifers.

That combined with drought over summer and into autumn to put a lot of farms under severe pressure.

Good dumpings of snow a couple of weeks ago and the follow up in the last two days is good for ski fields, aquifers, rivers and farming.

But it’s not all good news. Met Service is forecasting the return of El Niño that could dent agricultural production:

. . .The El Nino weather pattern that meteorological forecasters are predicting this year is likely to reduce New Zealand’s agricultural output, based on historic data, economists at Bank of New Zealand say.

Historic data compiled by BNZ suggests a positive co-relation between New Zealand’s agricultural growth and the Southern Oscillation Index, a standardised index of sea level pressure differences between Tahiti and Darwin that is used to determine whether El Nino or La Nina is present.

The index dropped below 15 in May, a level that indicates the coming of El Nino. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology confirmed this month that the Pacific Ocean has officially entered into an El Nino pattern that has a 70 percent chance to last through the southern winter and spring.

El Nino typically increases the likelihood of drought in the east of New Zealand as a result of the strong frequent winds it brings from the west and south west, BNZ said. . .

Winters are supposed to be cold but cold weather continuing into spring holds back growth and  a continuation of drought will hit farms and those who depend on them hard.

Most farms and businesses can get through one season of drought but a second one or a continuation of the first puts even the best under a lot of pressure.

 

 


Rural round-up

May 21, 2015

Extra support for drought affected North Canterbury:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has met with drought-affected farmers in Cheviot, North Canterbury today and says they’re still feeling the impacts of drought.

“North Canterbury – and the Cheviot area in particular – has missed most of the recent rainfall, and continues to face severe drought conditions,” says Mr Guy.

“Because of this, an additional $20,000 is being allocated to the North Canterbury Rural Support Trust. This will help them with more intensive activities, including individual visits and community events. . .

Livestock moved out of Canterbury drought – Hamish Clark:

Farmers have shipped tens of thousands of sheep and cattle out of north Canterbury and hundreds of tonnes of feed in as the drought there deepens.

The worst-hit area is around Cheviot, which is north of Christchurch, and the locals are desperate for rain.

The ewes are sniffing and searching the parched earth for a single blade of green grass, but there is none.

Cheviot farmer and local Chris Jefferies says farmers in the area are really struggling. . .

Supreme winners open their gates:

Environmental farm award winners for the Horizons Region opened their gates and shared their secrets with other farmers last week.

William Akers, Laura Oughton, Hugh and Judy Akers from Broadlands Station in Ashhurst were announced as the 2015 Ballance Farm Environment Awards supreme winners in March. As part of winning the award, recipients are asked to host other farmers on farm in order to share ideas and inspire others.

Horizons Regional Council environmental manager for land Grant Cooper was on the judging panel for the final round and says Broadlands is a straightforward, efficiently run station. . .

Ministers request report on dairy competition:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Paul Goldsmith announced today they will request a report on the state of competition in New Zealand’s dairy industry from the Commerce Commission.

The report is required under the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act, which allowed for the merger of our largest dairy co-operatives to form Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited.

The DIRA contains provisions to ensure contestability in New Zealand’s farm gate and factory gate markets. These provisions are intended to expire when there is workable competition in the domestic dairy market. . .

$5m new funding for forestry research partnership:

The Government will invest $5 million over seven years in a research partnership to increase the competitiveness of the forestry sector, Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce announced today.

“Forestry is New Zealand’s third largest export earner – behind dairy and meat, contributing around $5 billion to our exports. This investment aims to strengthen the ties between research organisations and the industry to produce excellent research driven by industry needs,” says Mr Joyce.

The new partnership is led by Future Forests Research, an industry-operated entity, in collaboration with Scion, the University of Canterbury, and the NZ Dryland Forests Initiative. . .

NZ export log prices hit 3-year low; may start picking up as demand improves – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand export log prices, which fell to a three-year low this month, may start to pick up as demand improves in China, the country’s largest market.

The average wharf gate price for New Zealand A-grade logs fell to $83 a tonne in May, from $94 a tonne in April, marking the lowest price since May 2012, according to AgriHQ’s monthly survey of exporters, forest owners and sawmillers. The AgriHQ Log Price Indicator, which measures average log prices weighted by grade, dropped to 88.40 from 93.29 in April.

The price for New Zealand A-grade logs delivered to China fell to US$99/JAS from US$111/JAS last month, the lowest level since AgriHQ started collecting the data in 2012. . .

Southern Dairy Hub Case to Be Presented:

Trustees of the Southern Dairy Development Trust are very pleased with the support received for the Southern Dairy Hub, with 516 farmers and businesses pledging $1.306 million in support.

“It’s an absolutely fantastic result and a huge endorsement for the Hub project,” Chair Matthew Richards says. “We are grateful and thankful for the support from our community and are confident we will get a good hearing in front of our industry partners, DairyNZ and AgResearch.”

Mr Richards says the official numbers includes postal pledges that arrived following the April 30 pledge deadline and takes the result to 55% of farmers between Dunedin and Bluff as having pledged their financial support. . .

Rural Business Network Launches Free Mentoring Initiative:

Rural Business Network (RBN) in partnership with Business Mentors New Zealand (BMNZ) has launched a new initiative offering mentoring support to rural businesses throughout New Zealand. The project is called ‘Rural Mentor’ and will provide a tool to enhance on-farm profitability and enable access to skills and knowledge that isn’t commonly known to be available.

The new Rural Mentor initiative sees the BMNZ registration fee waived for a limited number of NZYF and Rural Business Network members

Daile Jones, National Rural Business Network Coordinator says `Farmers in the sheep, beef or dairy sector operating their own business or farm managers that want a fresh perspective, will be matched with a business professional who can offer confidential advice, assistance and support that will help overcome business challenges, set new goals and achieve success. There’s no lack of knowledge out there, just a shortage of knowing what information is available.” . . .

Call OSPRI if you’re moving this Gypsy Day:

Don’t put your livelihood at risk when moving or selling stock over the Gypsy Day period; make sure you call OSPRI to update your NAIT and TBfree details and record all animal movements.

“This will help protect New Zealand’s reputation as a producer of high quality, safe food and maintain access to valuable international markets,” said Dr Stu Hutchings, OSPRI Group Manager.

Up to date NAIT data allows farmers to get back to business sooner in the event of a biosecurity incursion or food safety concern and is already being used to contain existing animal diseases like bovine tuberculosis (TB). . .


Rural round-up

May 14, 2015

Drought conditions remain in South Island:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says farmers throughout the eastern South Island are still feeling the effects of drought, particularly in North Canterbury.

“It’s likely the medium-scale adverse event classification will remain in place until August or September this year, depending on conditions over autumn,” says Mr Guy.

“Despite recent rainfall, farmers and growers are still feeling the impacts of these prolonged dry conditions.

“In particular, the driest area is around Cheviot in North Canterbury which has been largely missed by most of the recent rainfall. . .

 

Drought takes its toll – feed an issue:

Federated Farmers North Canterbury say farmers affected by the drought are facing a tough year ahead and will be struggling with some tough decisions.

“It is not a great time for farmers in North Canterbury, most of us are facing a year of little to no feed, low stocking rates and substantial financial losses,” says Dan Hodgen, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Chair. 

“With the drought leaving us with a significant lack of grass and crop growth, we are either having to sell capital stock at a much lower rate than we usually would or having to buy in supplementary feed. Some farmers are doing both.” . . .

El Niño pattern blow to Canterbury farmers – Susie Nordqvist:

North Canterbury farmers already in the grip of their worst drought in 60 years have been dealt another blow today.

NIWA says we are on the cusp of an El Niño weather pattern, meaning things are about to get even drier in the east and wetter in the west.

Canterbury’s trademark Nor’west winds are exactly what drought-stricken farmers don’t need.

“When you just get the wind likes this it’s stripping out the moisture in it,” says Federated Farmers north Canterbury president Lynda Murchison. . .

Relentless drought and El Nino means more water storage needed:

Today it was confirmed that drought conditions in the South Island will likely drag on until September this year, emphasising the risk of dry weather patterns to New Zealand and highlighting the need for regional water storage and irrigation infrastructure,” says Andrew Curtis, IrrigationNZ CEO. “These conditions are only likely to worsen in the long term and spread to other parts of the country as a predicted El Nino weather pattern sets in.”

Concerns about how these warm weather patterns will impact our economy were set out in a recent International Monetary Fund report

(http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2015/wp1589.pdf). As part of its findings, the report recommended further investment in irrigation. . .

Bay of Plenty set for good growth:

The Bay of Plenty region and its industries could grow substantially thanks to its resource, population, location and climate advantages, a newly published report reveals.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy today released the Bay of Plenty Regional Growth Study, which shows that the region has a number of natural advantages and is well placed to attract further investment, raise incomes and increase employment.

“This study provides a detailed summary of the opportunities for the Bay of Plenty’s future,” Mr Joyce says. “It outlines the potential of the primary sector, manufacturing and tourism industries in particular to grow the region. . . .

Kiwifruit industry set for strong growth, thanks Prime Minister for support:

The kiwifruit industry came together to thank the Government for its support with efforts to manage the bacterial disease Psa, when the Prime Minister John Key visited Zespri’s Mt Maunganui office this afternoon.

Zespri chairman Peter McBride says senior representatives of postharvest, growers and industry organisations took the opportunity to show the Prime Minister how far the industry has come since Psa was first discovered in New Zealand in 2010.

“It’s hard to recall now just how uncertain and dark those days were, when we simply did not know how the industry could continue with Psa. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

April 5, 2015

Visitors from overseas join bunny hunt – Lynda van Kempen:

The Great Easter Bunny Hunt has gone global, with four overseas hunters joining the ranks of the 27 teams aiming to decimate the rabbit population.

”If you tried something on this scale back home, with dead rabbits displayed in the park afterwards, you’d have masses of protesters,” Harry Stenton said.

Mr Stenton, of Yorkshire, England, said the New Zealanders he had met were more accepting of hunting as a sport.

”Back home, people would think of rabbits as pets and there would be an absolute outcry about a hunting contest like this,” he said. . .

‘Easter Bunny Hunt’ proves perilous for rabbits – Ceinwen Curtis:

Nearly 8500 rabbits were shot in the annual Easter bunny hunt in Central Otago yesterday in Otago, by over 300 hunters taking part.

 The organisers of the annual Easter Bunny hunt in Otago says it’s a shame the rabbits have to be disposed of rather than made into food and pelts after the event.

The hunt began early on Friday morning in Alexandra with hunters keen to enjoy landscapes they would otherwise not have access to.

The president of Alexandra Lions, John Feron, said one team hunting in the McKenzie country was skinning the last of their rabbits in an experiment to see if the meat can be turned into petfood. . .

Honour and Pari rule the roost at vineyard – Caleb Harris:

Two rare native falcons raised on a Martinborough vineyard are growing up, flexing their powerful wings and terrorising grape thieves.

When three New Zealand bush falcon chicks, or karearea, were moved last year from the Wingspan national bird of prey centre in Rotorua to a specialised nesting box at Escarpment vineyard, outside Martinborough, they were cute little balls of fluff.

Five months on, one has fallen victim to a predator – probably a stoat – emphasising the vulnerability of the species, which has only about 4500 breeding pairs left in the wild. . .

Uplifting award success but future uncertainty lingers – Andrea Fox:

Their financial and production performance officially puts them in the top 5 per cent of New Zealand sheep and beef farmers, but John and Catherine Ford of Rotorua’s Highland Station still feel they are farming on a knife edge.

The couple are the supreme winners of this year’s Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards, a competition they entered partly because they hoped any success might strengthen their case with the local regional council, which holds their farming future in its hands.

The council is developing an “action” plan for Lake Tarawera and Lake Rotokakahi or “Green Lake”, and with 80 per cent of their 1240 hectare (922ha effective) property in the Lake Tarawera catchment and the balance in the other lake’s area, the Fords live daily with uncertainty. . .

Forestry industry to trial drones:

Forestry crown research institute Scion will next month trial the use of drones for use in forestry management and hopes to be an early adopter of imminent rule changes allowing them to be flown beyond line of sight.

Scion has teamed up with Raglan-based Aeronavics to field test unmanned aerial vehicles mounted with interchangeable remote sensing technologies which can transmit vital information on various aspects of forestry management such as tree health and pests.

It’s thought the technologies may also prove useful in biosecurity surveillance and eradication operations, along with fire management. . .

Drought a war of attrition – Barry O’Sullivan:

DROUGHT forces the landholder to examine even their most basic order of beliefs: that the family should be on the land; that a simple focus on good laws and good luck will lead to progress and prosperity; that years of research and billions of dollars to improve Australia’s land-use strategies are benefiting agriculture.

Drought throws once-tightly held beliefs and turns them into questions.

When driving through most parts of Central Western Queensland these days you could be forgiven for mistaking it for a moon landscape.

A flat and barren land covered with black dirt and red rocks scattered as far as the eye can see. . .

How to tell if your pig is pregnant – THEKITCHENSGARDEN:

Our pig is pregnant? Isn’t that exciting. Poppy the Hereford gilt (a gilt is a female pig who has not had piglets yet) wishes to announce (though she would prefer NOT to discuss her insides) that she has missed her first heat since being bred.  We have had such a long run of missed breedings, both bovine and porcine, that I am still hedging my bets and in fact my Mentor of all things Pig said she would NOT have bet on it. But the signs are there.  No returning heat and extreme laziness and gentleness. She has not bashed at the gate once! She is a very laid back pig all of a sudden. . . .


Rural round-up

March 5, 2015

What drought really means for New Zealand: Jacqueline Rowarth:

As we head into another drier-than-normal season, New Zealand needs to put more thought into water management.

Urban rain and rural rain are different. The quality is the same – drops of water that, in New Zealand, fall out of the sky relatively pure – but interpretation of the quantity is very different.

Urban rain stops barbecues, dampens the washing on the line, and slows the traffic as though rain had never been experienced before. It interrupts activities for humans, but makes little difference to the ability of plants to grow, rivers to flow or dams to fill.

Rural rain does all three. Rural rain soaks into the ground. It reaches roots and allows the micro-organisms to function. When there is rain in sufficient quantity, primary production, and hence the export economy, flourishes. . .

Stead’s mission to help farmers – Sally Rae:

Angela Stead knows how to cook a good lamb roast.

Beef and Lamb New Zealand’s new extension manager for the central South Island not only has a passion for farming, she is also a trained chef.

Miss Stead started work last month, having returned from Australia where she had been working in the dairy industry and was looking forward to a new challenge. . .

ANZCO share sale bid:

ANZCO Foods founder and chairman Sir Graeme Harrison aims to reduce his shareholding in the company, while Japan’s Itoham Foods is looking to increase its stake.

Itoham Foods would increase its shareholding from 48.3% to 65% if its purchase offer was accepted by other shareholders and approved by the Overseas Investment Office.

In issuing notice to the Tokyo Stock Exchange, Itoham said it would buy 9,882,113 shares of ANZCO stock in cash transactions of just over $40 million. ANZCO has annual sales revenue of $1.3 billion. . .

Try the Dutch approach to dairy and use barns – Aalt Dijkhuizen:

New Zealand and the Netherlands are world leaders in dairy.

New Zealand has developed a unique, extensive dairy system with a low cost price. The Netherlands has gained a reputation for highly productive and efficient dairy farming using the latest technologies. Can the two countries develop systems that will satisfy growing demand while being more environmentally sustainable?

The global context of agriculture and food is changing dramatically.

Demand from fast-growing economies in Asia is expected to double over the next decades and there will be increasing scarcity of raw materials and land. To be leaders in green dairy New Zealand and the Netherlands should work together and learn from each other – and make the boat go much faster. . .

Culverden farmer elected to Beef +Lamb NZ board:

Culverden farmer Phil Smith has been elected as the farmer director to represent sheep and beef farmers in the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Northern South Island electorate.

Smith received 6916 weighted votes and Nigel Harwood of Takaka received 5749 weighted votes in the recent election.

Beef + Lamb NZ returning officer Warwick Lampp said the voting return percentage for Northern South Island was 25.88%, being 795 returned voting papers. . .

Farmers disappointed by restrictions in proposed drone rules – Karl Plume and P.J. Huffstutter:

U.S. farmers hoping to use drones to locate lost livestock or monitor trouble spots in their fields were disappointed by what they say are overly restrictive commercial drone rules proposed Sunday by the Federal Aviation Administration. 

Two of the long-awaited draft rules were singled out for particular criticism: a requirement that pilots remain in visual contact with their drones at all times and a height restriction that limits the crafts to flying no more than 500 feet above ground.  These constraints, farmers and drone operators say, would limit a drone’s range – and consequently its usefulness.

    Leading drone makers PrecisionHawk and Trimble Navigation Limited (TRMB.O), farm data services firms, including ones run by Monsanto (MON.N) and FarmLogs, and even some federal lawmakers are saying the proposed rules could delay the development of drone-assisted agriculture in the United States if they are finalized as currently written.

The FAA said farmers can address the line-of-sight limitation by placing spotters to track a drone’s pilot. . .


Rural round-up

February 25, 2015

Dealing with drought stress – Sally Rae:

Drought affects the whole family – not just the farmer.

That is the message from a rural woman who has first hand experience of depression, following the recent declaration of drought for large swathes of the South Island.

The woman, who did not want to be named, said there would be hidden stress in partners and children, along with an impact on staff. . .

Vanuatu RSE workers grow business:

A New Zealand viticulturalist says support for workers from the Recognised Seasonal Employers scheme is reaping rewards in Vanuatu as they are now producing coconut oil on the island of Tanna.

A director of Vinepower in Blenheim, Jono Bushell, says two years ago he followed his workers who were returning home to see how they spent their earnings and saw the potential to make better use of coconuts growing on Tanna. . .

Craigieburn Station on the market – Jamie Gray:

The historic Craigieburn Station, in the central Canterbury foothills, has come up for sale for the first time in 98 years.

The station includes five lakes, several hills, peaks, valleys, dales and various rivers, including the upper reaches of the Waimakariri, which forms the property’s northern boundary, and the Cass River, which forms part of Craigieburn’s western boundary.

It has historically been used to graze and breed merino sheep and horned Hereford cattle. . .

Choice is key in GM debate –  Daniel Kruithoff:

 AGRICULTURE is once again at the forefront of the national conversation about Australia’s future prosperity. Having ridden the mining boom all the way to shore, sectors such as agriculture are being viewed as the next wave of economic growth.

Improved market access through free trade agreements will undoubtedly help drive demand for Australia’s high quality food and fibre, particularly among the booming middle class of Asia.

What is less certain though is the capacity of Australian agriculture to sustainably increase productivity fast enough to capitalise on the opportunity of becoming a food bowl for Asia. . .

 

Shear success: 10-year record tumbles – Rebecca Sharpe:

BATHURST shearer Stacey Te Huia has smashed the world record, shearing 530 Merino ewes in nine hours at Parkdale Merino stud, Dubbo, NSW, on Friday.

New Zealand-born Te Huia broke the previous record of 513, set by fellow Kiwi Dwayne Black near Kojonup, Western Australia, in 2005.

Shearing Industry Promotions committee treasurer Michael Pora said Te Huia looked flawless as he made his way through the flock.

“Te Huia did a sensational job to shear 530 sheep. Everything went right for him,” Mr Pora said. . .

Manuka Health to launch groundbreaking bioactive supplement at world’s largest natural health products show:

Manuka Health, one of New Zealand’s most succesful and fastest growing honey brands, is preparing to unveil MGO™ Manuka Honey with CycloPower™, an advanced natural bioactive supplement, at Expo West in California, the world’s largest tradeshow for the natural, organic and health products industry.

In what is a pioneering move for the Manuka Honey industry, Manuka Health is the first to have combined all natural CycloPower technology with the proven health benefits of genuine New Zealand Manuka Honey. When combined with active ingredients (such as the methylglyoxal molecules found in Manuka Honey), the naturally fibrous cyclodextrin molecules in CycloPower substantially elevate the beneficial activity of Manuka Honey, making it tens of times more potent against certain bacteria then the Manuka Honey of the same strength. MGO Manuka Honey with CycloPower is more stable, soluble and bioavailable for more efficient delivery over a longer period of time. . .

NZ Organic Wine Awards 15:

After a successful inaugural awards in 2014, The awards return for the ‘2015 NZ Organic Wine Awards’. Created to find, promote and showcase New Zealand’s best organic wines the second annual NZ Organic Wine Awards.

The ‘New Zealand Organic Wine Awards’ is a ‘exclusively organic’ wine competition. In order to be judged, wine’s must be created using 100% certified organic grapes. Vineyards may be certified by any of the following certification authorities; Biogro, Demeter, Asure Quality or Organic Farm NZ. Organic wine is a fast market growth area, with consumer demand growing exponentially. Organic Wine doesn’t just offer health benefits such as being pesticide free, and lower in sulphites; we believe using organic techniques can help to create a superior wine. . .

 


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