Rural round-up

June 1, 2019

Treedom in Taranaki – Peter Burke:

Dairy industry critics – in fact every Kiwi – should look at the dairy farm run by Damian and Jane Roper on a small rural road near Patea, Taranaki.

There, with their children Jack, Harriet and Adelaide, the Ropers have created a model dairy farm — a haven for themselves and for their livestock, native birds and other creatures. Peter Burke reports on this remarkable yet unassuming family.

A few weeks ago Damian and Jane Roper won the Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award and received the John Wilson Memorial Trophy.  . . 

Support group wanted – Yvonne O’Hara:

Federated Farmers Otago president Simon Davies would like to see a support and advocacy group, similar to that established in Ashburton last month, rolled out for Otago and Southland and other regions affected by Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis).

A group of representatives from the Ashburton District Council, agricultural industries and health industries has been formed to help address potential and ongoing concerns about the disease in the district to improve communication between the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and relevant organisations. . . 

Fashioning a future for NZ’s natural fibres – Anna Campbell:

I have always found the fashion industry somewhat intimidating – fabulously creative designers, models who seem to walk on air and daunting trends which only emphasise how very un-funky I am.

As with many industries, the sustainability of the fashion industry is increasingly being called into question.

Designers and fashion houses are rated annually by TearFund according to their “ethics”, which incorporate environmental practices and how workers are treated (often in parts of Asia where labour is cheap).

The industry is also coming under criticism for synthetic fibres hitting our oceans via washing machine waste and the fact the average garment is worn a mere seven times (if you are a British female). . . 

Keeping an open mind – Dan Burdett:

Dan Burdett is back from his recent travels to the USA with an update on his Nuffield experience so far..

As I sit here in early May, my time in the USA seems like a world away. Looking out of the window I see green trees, glowing sunshine and the familiar black and white cows making the most of the verdant grass on offer at this time of year. For much of my time in Iowa and Nebraska all I could see as far as the eye could see was snow, grey skies and seemingly eternal miles of the great nothing that is the Midwest in winter. Even now on social media I’m seeing pictures of corn being planted as the snow falls once again.

Like all farmers across the globe, farmers in the mid west are suffering from extremes of climate that are stretching them to an occasional breaking point. After a late harvest in 2018, they had a very wet autumn followed by a much longer winter than normal. With margins being so tight there is little room for error during the farming year. . . 

Mush ado: Gore farmer swaps sheep for huskies in frozen Canada:

Six Alaskan huskies pant excitedly as they haul a red sled carrying Russell MacKay across a vast frozen lake in Canada.

The dogs’ paw prints dent fresh white snow coating two foot of ice. Their breath rises into the frigid minus 20 degree air.

The jagged, ice-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains tower above the lake, their slopes hidden beneath pine trees.

MacKay stands, steering the sled – while an excited tourist sits in front of him, shielded from the elements by a canvas cover. . . 

YFOTY: Formalising health and safety processes at Eilean Donan:

This profile is part of a seven-part series from WorkSafe sharing the health and safety approaches taken by the grand finalists in the 2019 FMG Young Farmer of the Year competition. 

During the next seven weeks we will be sharing a profile and short video about each of the finalists and how they incorporate health and safety into their work from managing a dairy farming to veterinary practice.

Brothers Matt and Joe McRae are in the process of formalising the health and safety processes for their family farm, Eilean Donan, in the Redan Valley in Southland and they’re finding they’ve already been doing a lot of what is required.  . . 


Rural round-up

November 11, 2017

Young sheep and beef farmers lift their performance with small tweaks – Brittany Pickett:

For Matt and Joe McRae, getting their ewes to perform at a consistently high level is their number one goal.

The young Southland brothers – who farm their 575 hectare effective rolling hill country farm Eilean Donan in partnership – are aiming to have their ewes lambing more than 150 per cent every year and, more importantly, grow the lambs to maximise every kilogram produced per hectare.

“The lambing percentage is only one part of it, it’s the product out the gate that pays the bills,” Matt says. . . 

Let’s get the facts, not fiction, on M.bovis – Geoff Gwyn:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) wishes to set the record straight regarding the article titled ‘Imported semen fingered for M.bovis outbreak’ in Rural News October 24.

Read the article here

In the article, Chris Morley, DairyNZ biosecurity manager stated that, in his opinion, he would bet on semen as the most likely source of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak. Of course, Mr Morley is entitled to his opinion, but the fact of that matter is that MPI does not know how or when Mycoplasma bovis entered NZ, although significant efforts are being made to find out.

A full investigation is looking at six possible means of entry: live animals, imported semen, embryos, contaminated equipment, biological material (such as vaccines) and feed. While this is underway, we are not going to speculate on the origin of the disease in NZ. . .

Saltwater intrusion – Waimea Water:

What is saltwater intrusion

In the 2001 drought, saltwater intrusion occurred in the lower reaches of the Waimea River and was threatening to migrate further inland. In March Tasman District Council opened talks to consider options to protect the dry riverbed. Because the river had no flows, no river water was flushing the saltwater out and it was instead accumulating on the estuary. The Council discussed building a bund across the river and drilling monitoring bores to better monitor how the saltwater contamination was migrating inland, including to the urban supply bores. Ultimately, three urban supply wells were shut down over this period and two were decommissioned at the end of the drought.

Saltwater intrusion is a threat to coastal communities. Once saltwater has entered an underground freshwater system (aquifer) and contaminates it, it can cost much more to treat it for consumption or simply render the supply unusable. For people along the Waimea Plains who rely on bores for their water supply, saltwater intrusion is a real issue. . . 

Why blaming farmers doesn’t hold water – Vaughan Jones:

Water is being discussed across the country, but without solutions. Farmers are blamed, never townies, but look at this photo of polluted water entering the Waikato River just upstream of Fairfield Bridge, in September 2016. If a farmer did the same, they would be fined up to $50,000 and closed down until fixed. I’ve been told by a person that what looked like toilet paper was in some of it.

Environment Waikato told me in 1995 that Hamilton needed four sediment ponds. There are still none while thousands have been built on farms at high cost. This is another example showing that rules for farmers are stricter than for townies.

Waikato Regional Council has forced some farmers to build sediment ponds, but they are negatives because of high costs, and because fresh effluent is of more value and causes less polluting when spread fresh, not months later during which time much has been lost into the air, polluting it, and reduced its fertilising value. . . 

Bay of Islands P&I Show runs in the family:

Sam and Christine Ludbrook will be at the Bay of Islands Pastoral and Industrial Show at Waimate North this weekend, as they have been every year for decades. And they won’t be the only Ludbrooks there by any means.

The show was first staged, as an agricultural demonstration, at the Waimate North mission in 1842. It’s still going strong 175 years later, making it the oldest show of its kind in the country.

And Ludbrooks have been there from the start.

Sam’s grandfather was there in the early days, exhibiting stock, and his brother was on the committee. And while no one can be absolutely sure, it is almost certain that his great-grandfather, Samuel Blomfield Ludbrook, was there in 1842. . . 

Which NZ university has the best employment rates?

As we get older what we talk about with friends changes. This is because of the challenges faced and experiences shared. So when Megan Hands’ friends from her hometown started talking about the choices they had to make when they finished studying, she found she couldn’t join in.

After finishing school, Hands left home in the Manawatu and moved south because she wanted to study both environmental management and agriculture, and Lincoln University offered exactly what she was looking for. Fast forward to graduation and she found some of her contemporaries were having conversations completely outside what she had experienced.

Hands is now running her own farming sustainability company as an environmental consultant.

The experience of Hands and others in her year group are typical for Lincoln University graduates. In Ministry of Education statistics released recently, Lincoln University Bachelor’s Degree graduate employment rates are consistently the highest among New Zealand universities. A survey of graduates from the Lincoln class of 2016 found that 93 percent of those employed were in career-related positions. . . 

#My60acres: soybean harvest – Uptown farms:

#My60Acres is harvested again!  This was the second year Matt let me play a leading role in the management of a sixty acre field on our home farm, and my first soybean crop. 
 
I didn’t get to start the morning with him because my work schedule has been a little hectic, so I didn’t join until late afternoon.  But as soon as I got there, he slid over and let me take the wheel.
 
It might sound odd that he couldn’t wait a day or two for my schedule to be better, but soybean harvest is very time sensitive.  We have to wait long enough the plants are dry, but not too long. . . 


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