Rural round-up

07/04/2021

Horticulture collapse fears unless Pacific Island workers allowed in – Shawn McAvinue:

A group of Teviot Valley orchardists is calling for the Government to allow more Pacific Islanders to return to the region to fill a labour shortage before the horticulture industry “collapses”.

Darlings Fruit owner Stephen Darling, of Ettrick, said the apple harvest season runs from the end of February to mid May.

He had only about 60% of the 65 pickers and packhouse staff required for the season on his family’s about 90ha of orchard blocks in the valley.

Consequently, apples would rot on the ground this season, he said. . .

Plan change mooted to limit carbon farming – Ashley Smyth:

Attempts are being made by the Waitaki District Council to rein in carbon farming, following public concern over a recent farm sale.

A report presented at a council meeting on Tuesday, suggested a district plan change under the Resource Management Act.

This would allow the council to move independently of the tight timeframe set by the release of the draft district plan review.

It is expected some new areas of outstanding natural landscape, significant natural areas, geological sites and visual amenity landscapes will be included in the plan. . .

Native planting project hoped to protect Tolaga Bay from logging debris–  Maja Burry:

Every time heavy rains hits Uawa – Tolaga Bay, a sense of nervousness washes over the community that a fresh delivery of forestry slash could be brought down from the hillsides.

After years of discussions, it’s hoped a native planting project announced by the area’s largest forestry operation will help protect homes, waterways and coastlines.

Aratu Forests, one of New Zealand’s 10 largest freehold forest plantations, has announced a 90-year ‘right to plant’ land management agreement with sustainable land-use company, eLandNZ – with the backing of the Gisborne District Council.

The programme will see permanent native plantings established in parts of the 35,000 hectare estate which are unsuitable for timber plantation. . .

Horticulture industry can help New Zealand reduce emissions and grow the economy:

The horticulture industry is well placed to help New Zealand reduce its emissions while also enabling the economy to grow, Horticulture New Zealand says. 

‘Our fruit and vegetable growing industry is already environmentally responsible as well as being one of the most efficient in the world,’ says HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil. 

‘In our submission to the Climate Change Commission, we pointed out that horticulture is now producing more food from less land, using fewer inputs like fertiliser and water. 

‘Covid has seen demand for healthy food increase, across the world.  This increase puts horticulture in a win/win situation.  Land-use change to horticulture will reduce emissions from the agriculture sector, while the extra production will find ready markets, overseas and locally.’ . . .

Fonterra completes sale of two China farms:

Fonterra has today completed the sale of its two wholly owned China farming hubs in Ying and Yutian

As announced in October 2020, the sale of the farms to Inner Mongolia Youran Dairy Co., Ltd (Youran) was subject to anti-trust clearance and other regulatory approvals in China. These approvals have now been received.

The transaction proceeds comprise the original sale price of NZD $513 million plus NZD $39 million in settlement adjustments, giving cash proceeds of NZD $552 million*.

CEO Miles Hurrell says the completion of the sale is an important milestone for Fonterra following its strategic refresh. . .

Treating soil a little differently could help it store a lot of carbon – Natasha Geiling:

Climate change is a massive problem with the potential to completely reshape the world, both literally (with rising sea levels and melting glaciers) and figuratively (with the way we grow food, or the way that we handle allergies). And while the consequences caused by climate change could be huge, the solutions — transitioning to a completely fossil fuel-free economy, or geoengineering — can often seem equally daunting.

But what if something as simple as the dirt under your feet could help mitigate some of the worst of climate change? The Earth’s soils contain a lot of carbon, and helping to manage and restore them could be a key way to help tackle climate change, according to a recent study in Nature.

Soils are already huge stores of carbon, and improved management can make them even bigger

The study, published by a group of international scientists, suggests that using “soil-smart” techniques for soil management could sequester as much as four-fifths of the annual emissions released by the burning of fossils fuels. These techniques include planting crops with deep roots, which help keep soil intact and encourage the growth of microbial communities that help trap soil carbon, and using charcoal-based composts. The study also calls for a wider adoption of sustainable agriculture techniques — things like no-till farming, which involves growing crops from year to year without disturbing the soil and has been shown to potentially help soil retain carbon, and organic agriculture, which also has shown some promise in restoring and maintaining soil health. . .


Rural round-up

03/04/2021

See how we’re making meat better:

Knowing how our food is produced, and the implications for our health and the health of the planet, is more important now than ever before.

With growing public concern around the impact of farming, chemicals and additives, there’s a lot to look out for – and a lot of info to chew on!

So get more facts in your diet – and see how New Zealand’s natural production systems make a real difference to the things we all care about.  . .

Why we need agrichemicals – Jacqueline Rowarth:

While it can be seen as “environmentally friendly,” removing agrichemicals and moving to organic farming would have a significant impact on food supply, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth writes.

Tomatoes at 8c a kg have become a distant memory and concerns about food insecurity and costs are increasing again. Food banks are reporting ever greater demand and shelves are empty.

Around the world, the Global Food Insecurity Index has indicated that most countries are worse off than New Zealand, yet despite the obvious need for food, environmentalists are arguing for a dramatic change in agriculture – removing agrichemicals, such as nitrogen fertiliser and the “cides” that kill weeds, insects and the micro-organisms.

These are the chemicals that boost yields by overcoming nutrient limitations in plants, or controlling the weeds and bugs that reduce yields through competition for resources, or simply by consumption of the food before humans have access. . . 

West Coast sharemilker’s director skills recognised:

Hokitika sharemilker Siobhan O’Malley has received an Emerging Director Award from the Institute of Directors (IoD) Canterbury Branch.  

The IoD presents its Emerging Director Awards annually to people who show leadership, integrity and enterprise in their careers. Along with a year’s complimentary membership of the IoD and funding towards IoD governance development courses, each recipient receives a board internship and mentoring from an experienced director. Siobhan will intern on the board of civil contracting and construction firm Westroads Ltd.  

Siobhan and her husband operate a 400-cow herd-owning sharemilking contract in Kokatahi. They have previously worked on farms in North Canterbury, North Otago, Tasman and Mid Canterbury. In 2017 the couple won the New Zealand Sharefarmer of the Year award at the NZ Dairy Awards. . .

Changing careers fuels passion for dairy:

An aspiring beauty therapist has made the switch to dairy farming, where Waikato woman Tyla Ireland has found her calling.

After finishing high school, Tyla pursued a career in beauty therapy, becoming a qualified therapist two years ago. She was excited to turn her passion into what she thought would be a lifelong career.

“At school I enjoyed having my nails done and doing my makeup, but what really sparked my interest was the opportunity to make others more confident in their appearance,” said Tyla.

“I was excited to start my first job but found there weren’t many opportunities for new graduates. I decided to look at short-term calf rearing opportunities, which was when I was lucky to be approached for a full-time position on farm.” . . 

Aratu Forests announces 90-year riparian forestry scheme with ELandNZ:

Aratu Forests, one of New Zealand’s ten largest freehold forest plantations, has today announced an industry-first, 90-year ‘right to plant’ land management agreement with sustainable land-use company, eLandNZ – with the backing of the Gisborne District Council.

The scheme has been under development for two years and is set to create a permanent native forest buffer alongside waterways within Aratu Forests. In May ground will be broken as part of a community launch event involving Iwi, community groups and the Gisborne District Council.

eLandNZ’s Managing Director, Sheldon Drummond, says: “The 90-year agreement for mixed land use within Aratu Forests will see eLandNZ progressively manage revegetation of streamside buffers within the Aratu Forests estate that are unsuitable for timber plantation. . . 

Plans underway for UK”s first school of sustainable farming :

Plans are underway to develop the UK’s first school centred on sustainable food and farming to help the industry reduce its environmental impact.

The school, to be located on Harper Adams University grounds in Shropshire, will research production systems geared towards more sustainable farming.

It will also draw on expertise to develop knowledge and skills for farmers who are committed to sustainable food production.

Research topics initially will include livestock breed choice, diet composition, yield improvement, agricultural building design and on-farm renewable energy. . . 


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