Rural round-up

July 4, 2019

FARMSTRONG: Sticking to the game plan:

The link between mental skills and performance is well-established in sport. Now those ideas are gaining traction in farming. Recent finalists in the Young Farmer of the Year competition have received sports psychology training to cope with pressure. Farmstrong caught up with three to see how it helped.

The Young Farmer of Year competition is one of the flagship events on the rural calendar.

By grand final week more than 300 contestants have been whittled down to just a handful. Over several days they compete over a range of practical and technical tasks, an HR challenge, a speech and a fast-paced quiz of agricultural and general knowledge questions. . . .

Farmers honour vet who found Mycoplasma Bovis in NZ :

A vet whose determination led to the identification of the cattle disease Mycoplasma Bovis in New Zealand has been recognised for her contribution to the farming sector.

More than 300 people attended the Primary Industries Summit gala dinner in Wellington last night, where Ōamaru vet Merlyn Hay received the Outstanding Contribution to the Primary Industries Award.

The audience heard Dr Hay was not satisfied she had found the root cause of the unusual and distressing symptoms she had observed in cows and calves on a South Canterbury property and left no stone unturned until the cause was diagnosed. . .

Forestry hurts rural communities – Tracey Collis:

He Tangata, He Tangata, He Tangata. Our communities are going through change and it seems like it is happening so fast we may not feel the full impact until it has already happened.

Change is good but only if there are clear outcomes sought for all involved.

The rapid expansion of forestry throughout the Tararua is causing much angst and stress for our communities and it concerns me to watch our people genuinely hurting in so many ways.

This is hurt at a local level, far removed from Government politicians and policymakers, and there are few levers to pull as we see our local democracy eroded by central government aspirations. . . .

Demand drives need for finishers – Colin WIlliscroft:

A 30% increase in demand for First Light Wagyu beef has led the Hawke’s Bay company to look for more farmers to finish its cattle.

It will have 25,000 Wagyu-cross weaners available for farmers to buy this spring, an increase of 5000, so it’s looking for 20 to 30 extra farmers.

General manager Wagyu Matt Crowther said those farmers will benefit from a short, transparent supply chain and income stability. . .

 

Representing NZ beef on the world stage – Brent Melville:

Jess Cairns is fizzing about where New Zealand beef is going.

Having just spent six days in Brazil at the International Beef Alliance (IBA) the 24-year-old Southlander is back working as a stock manager at Coalbrook Farm, a 500ha sheep and beef operation just outside Gore.

And while she loves her job, she reckons the trip to Brazil will be a tough one to beat, describing it as ”hands down the best thing I’ve ever done in my professional life.”

That’s saying a lot. Ms Cairns started with Coalbrook as a shepherd a little over a year ago, on the strength of a bachelor of agricultural science with first class honours. . . .

Apocalypse Cow – Michael Reddell:

That was the title of Wellington economist Peter Fraser’s talk at Victoria University last Friday lunchtime on why Fonterra has failed (it is apparently also a term in use in various bits of popular culture, all of which had passed me by until a few moments ago –  and a Google search).    Peter is a former public servant –  we did some work together, the last time Fonterra risks were in focus, a decade ago –  who now operates as a consultant to various participants in the dairy industry (not Fonterra).   He has a great stock of one-liners, and listening to him reminds me of listening to Gareth Morgan when, whatever value one got from purchasing his firm’s economic forecasts, the bonus was the entertainment value of his presentation.       The style perhaps won’t appeal to everyone, but the substance of his talk poses some very serious questions and challenges.

The bulk of Peter’s diagnosis has already appeared in the mainstream media, in a substantial Herald  op-ed a few weeks ago and then in a Stuff article yesterday.  And Peter was kind enough to send me a copy of his presentation, with permission to quote from it. . .

Birds at risk of local extinction – Elena McPhee:

Native birds in beech forests in Otago could face local extinction in some valleys without aerial control, the Department of Conservation says.

Mast years occur every two to four years, when trees produce high amounts of seed that drop to the ground.

This is the biggest beech mast in four decades, and populations of rats, mice and stoats are expected to increase due to the abundance of food.

Doc operations lead Colin Bishop said there was variability across Otago sites, but Doc was still projecting rodent numbers to reach levels requiring aerial predator control. . .

Aust producers gain insight into Argentina’s feedlot challenge – Mark Phelps:

AUSTRALIAN beef producers gained an invaluable insight into the South American feedlot sector during a visit to the Conecar Feedlot in Argentina’s famed Panpas region.

The 10,000 head showcase feedlot is located at Carcara in the Santa Fe Province, about 350km north west of Buenos Aires. The yard was visited during the recent Alltech Lienert beef tour to Argentina.

Conecar is predominantly a custom feed yard servicing 12 customers who supply beef into both domestic and export markets. Any spare capacity in the facility is usually taken up by the owners of the yard, who also operate a premix and stockfeed plant supplying other feedlot operators. . . 

Farmland management changes can boost carbon sequestration rates – J. Merritt Melancon:

Well-maintained pastures prevent erosion, protect water and, as it turns out, can restore the soil’s organic matter much more quickly than previously thought, according to a team of researchers from the University of Georgia and the University of Florida.

Soil contains the largest terrestrial reservoir of carbon. Tilling fields every year to plant crops releases carbon into the atmosphere. It’s been known for a long time that transitioning cropland to pastureland where livestock grazes replenishes the soil’s carbon, but their study showed that the process can be much more rapid than scientists previously thought.

“What is really striking is just how fast these farms gain soil organic matter,” said Aaron Thompson, associate professor of environmental soil chemistry and senior author on the study. . .


Rural round-up

January 18, 2019

‘M. Bovis’ effects study welcomed to help with impact on farmers – John Gibb:

Federated Farmers Otago president Simon Davies has welcomed a planned University of Otago study on the human impact of Mycoplasma bovis on farmers and their communities in Otago and Southland.

At the human level, some Otago farmers and their families at infected farms had taken a ”massive strike”, and there could be serious long-term effects, including on business viability, in some parts of the country, he said.

Some people who had received ”notices of direction” from MPI, but were later ultimately cleared of infection, had in some cases also experienced stressful disruption to normal farming activities over several months. . . 

Dairy cattle numbers dip again:

The number of dairy cattle has dipped for the second year, while beef cattle numbers increased strongly in 2018, Stats NZ said today.

Provisional figures from the 2018 agricultural production census showed dairy cattle numbers fell 1 percent, to 6.4 million in June 2018.

“This followed a similar small dip in 2017, though overall dairy cattle numbers have been relatively steady since 2012,” agricultural production statistics manager Stuart Pitts said. . . 

Nursery owner finds use for problem baleage – Elena McPhee:

In a win-win situation for both the council and a local nursery owner, baleage swept along by November’s flood and strewn over a rural road for months is being turned into compost.

Trees of the World nursery owner Rodney Hogg said the baleage had been on Riverside Rd, near Allanton on the outskirts of Dunedin, for about two months.

It was ”extremely dangerous” driving along the road, particularly at night, Mr Hogg said . . 

Brexit: Theresa May survives no-confidence vote but what does that mean for NZ trade?:

Market access under a hard Brexit is the major implication New Zealand must watch for after the failure of Theresa May’s deal and the vote against her, former NZ trade negotiation Charles Finny says.

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government has won a no-confidence vote against it today, called by UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, with 325 votes to 306.

It may come as some solace to Mrs May after MPs crushed her proposed exit deal with the EU by a 230-vote majority yesterday, the biggest defeat the UK government has faced in the House of Commons since the 1920s. 

Former New Zealand trade deal negotiator Charles Finny however says the no-confidence vote has ultimately been a bit of a distraction: it’s the next steps regarding Brexit that are important. . . 

$36 million investment approved to tackle regional erosion:

Te Uru Rākau (Forestry New Zealand) has announced funding of almost $36 million through the Hill Country Erosion Fund (HCEF) to enable much-needed erosion control in the regions.

The HCEF supports proposals to protect our most vulnerable hill country landscapes, where the main treatment is tree planting.

“We’re pleased by the level of interest from councils, with 12 applications received in this latest round – four of which were from regions that had not previously applied,” says Julie Collins, Deputy Director-General Forestry and Head of Te Uru Rākau.

“It shows the importance they are placing on sustainable land management and treating erosion in their regions.” . . 

A win for Win and the Buller show:

When veteran West Coast shearer Sam Win won his latest competition, at the age of 63, it helped solve a little mystery of the whereabouts of the trophy.

“I think I’ve got it at home,” he said.

Thus Saturday’s win at the Buller A and P Show at Patterson Park in Westport was followed by Sunday polishing the trophy, his name engraved as the last winner – in 1997. . . 

Could Wagyu beef protect against heart disease?:

As barbeque season gets into full swing, New Zealand researchers are investigating whether certain kinds of red meat could actually protect against heart disease.

Researchers have recruited men aged 35-55 willing to eat free meat three times a week for eight weeks in the name of science. Participants are supplied with either grass-fed Wagyu beef, grain-finished beef or soy-based meat alternative (they can’t choose which).

The study is looking at how the complex lipids (fats) in high quality, unprocessed red meat affect heart health, using the vegetarian protein group as a control. It follows earlier evidence that eating Wagyu beef in moderation may help protect against heart disease. The beef, from specially bred and fed cows, is rich in a fat called conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, and several other so-called ‘good fats’. . . 


Rural round-up

March 21, 2018

New strain of calicivirus released on the Taieri – Elena McPhee:

An important moment for farming in the Taieri area occurred last night, when the Otago Regional Council released the new strain of rabbit-killing calicivirus.

Clad in overalls and armed with a bucketful of contaminated carrots, council environmental officer for biosecurity Kirk Robertson released the virus RHDV1 K5 in the hills near Outram.

He had nine other sites to visit, and across the wider Otago region a team of six or seven people had been laying poisoned carrots in about 100 locations. . .

Struggle to find enough homes for Kaimanawa horses – Alexa Cook:

More than 200 Kaimanawa horses could be sent to slaughter following this year’s muster.

This year is expected to be one of the largest wild horse culls on record, with about 300 animals being mustered from the Waiouru Military Training Area.

The muster is carried out every two years, organised by the Department of Conservation and Kaimanawa Heritage Horses. . . 

Rodeo rider’s success dedicated to mother – Sally Rae:

When Jenny Atkinson won her record sixth national barrel racing title this month, it was a poignant moment.

Mrs Atkinson (44) dedicated the win at the national rodeo finals to her mother, Ann, Ashford, who died in July last year.

And she was delighted to have her father, Ron, in the crowd at Wanaka to watch her ride to victory. . . 

Software softens blow of M. bovis hit:

Good farm records have helped to relieve a South Island farming business of some of the effects of getting through a Mycoplasma bovis infection, reports FarmIQ Systems Ltd, a software company.

MPI placed a restricted place notice on two properties owned by Lone Star Farms in mid-January because they had infected calves. Lone Star was among the first non-dairy businesses identified with the disease.

“We brought in about 400 calves for rearing — 200 of them from a Southland property later found to have M. Bovis,” says Lone Star general manager Boyd Macdonald. “So we know exactly how it’s got here.” . . 

Dairying not all bad tourism not all good – Alistair Frizzell:

Is it fair that the New Zealand dairy industry is criticised while tourism is lauded?

Overseas income from tourism is now claimed to exceed the dairy industry’s export income.

Dairy farmers are accused of polluting not only our waterways but now also our air as a result of burning farm waste. Tourism is said to be ‘clean and green’, rapidly growing and promoting the best of NZ to the rest of the world.

Like many glib statements, the truth is often more complicated. . .

More digital adoption could fuel rural business boom – Gordon Davidson:

GREATER DIGITAL adoption in rural areas could add £12 to £26 billion a year to the UK economy, according to a new report.

Research by Rural England and Scotland’s Rural College, commissioned by Amazon, concluded that greater use of digital tools and services could deliver 4 to 8.8% of additional Gross Value Added per year for the rural economy, as annual business turnover in rural areas grew by at least £15 billion, with rural microbusiness and small-sized business seeing the greatest returns. . . 


Rural round-up

January 14, 2018

Opuha River ‘flushing’ to control algae, didymo barely noticeable with river in flood, Opuha Ltd says – Elena McPhee:

It may have been barely perceptible to the eye, but releasing water from the Opuha Dam on Friday has hopefully wiped out a large quantity of didymo and other algae in the river, Opuha Water Ltd says.

Operations manager Craig Moore said the dam released a flow peaking about 65 cubic metres per second (cumecs), or 300,000 cubic metres in total during the “flushing” process in the Opuha River on Friday morning.

The river “pulse” stayed within river margins, and the wave was not really noticeable as it made its way downstream, Moore said. . .

Farmers make tracing stock hard -Neal Wallace:

Eradication of Mycoplasma bovis is still the Ministry for Primary Industry’s goal but farmers appear unconvinced it is achievable.

Another case confirmed on an Ashburton farm this week took the total to 14 but some of the more than 800 farmers who attended packed meetings with MPI officials in Methven and Ashburton last Thursday think that while admirable, eradication is unlikely and they might have to learn to live with the disease.

The ministry’s response incident controller David Yard announced plans to test three samples of milk from every dairy farm in the country from February, including milk entering the food chain as well as milk excluded from the vat in a bid to uncover any infection clusters. . . 

Lambs wool in demand – Alan Williams:

Lambs’ wool was in short supply and sold strongly at Thursday’s wool sales in Christchurch and Napier.

Buyers pushed up prices as they worked to fill orders, especially for fleece at 30 microns and lower, PGG Wrightson South Island sales manager Dave Burridge said.

Those wools were up to 8% higher in price with 30 to 32 micron lambs’ wool up to 4% dearer in Christchurch. . . 

Sex on the farm: How gene editing can revolutionize feeding the world – Ed Maixner:

(Editor’s note: Change can be difficult, especially when it comes to adopting new ways of farming and producing food. But there are big innovations underway in labs and universities that analysts describe as “revolutionary,” enabling the creation of new plants and animals in months rather than decades. For the next few weeks, Agri-Pulse will explore “The Breeding Edge” – a seven-part series on how these new precision methods for plant and animal breeding are set to transform global food production and the potential impact for agribusinesses, farmers and consumers around the world.)

The process of producing food, protecting the environment, and improving animal health is advancing at a seemingly breakneck pace.

These advancements are driven in part by new scientific discoveries, genetic research, data science, enhanced computational power, and the availability of new systems for precision breeding like CRISPR—an acronym for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. . . 

C


Rural round-up

August 31, 2017

South Canterbury coastal plan will become operative in September – Elena McPhee:

A change to coastal South Canterbury’s farming rules will come into force next month and despite an initial challenge, farmers say they are now looking forward to helping protect a nationally significant wetland area.

The South Coastal Canterbury Plan Change addresses both water quality and water quantity in the catchment, which includes Wainono Lagoon.

Environment Canterbury councillor Peter Skelton said the schedule set out good farming practices relating to nutrient management, irrigation management, grazing intensively-farmed stock, farm cultivation, and animal effluent. . .

‘Retirement’ is apples for Murray – Yvonne O’Hara:

Former Alexandra retailer Murray Bell has given up heels and soles for Honeycrisp and Jazz.

Mr Bell, 63, retired from his shoe retailing business earlier this year, but relaxing with his feet up has yet to happen.

He and partner Rachel Samuel have Crag-an-oir Orchard, which is 15ha of apple trees on the outskirts of Alexandra.

They originally grew some apricots, but they now focus solely on growing several apple varieties, using organic principles. The orchard is certified under BioGro as part of the Springvale Apple Growers Partnership. . .

TracMap gets room to expand:

TracMap founder Colin Brown addresses the crowd at the opening of the company’s new offices in Dukes Rd, Mosgiel, last week.

The company supplies precision guidance systems to the primary food production industries with the cloud-based system allowing accurate task management and placement reporting for products, people and vehicles in-field. . .

Agrifood sector is tech-savvy but not ready for major disruption:

A new agrifood sector report has found that New Zealand farmers have been quick to adopt smart farming techniques, but few are preparing for major technological disruption.

The report, funded through Microsoft’s Academic Programs initiative and prepared by researchers from the Massey Business School, examined the impact of cloud computing and other potentially disruptive technologies on the sector.

Researchers interviewed both technologists and members of the agrifood industry – and found there was a gap between how the two groups perceive the future. . . 

Red Stag Timber plans to lift production from its Waipa ‘super mill’ to meet demand – Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – Red Stag Timber, which developed New Zealand’s first ‘super mill’ a year ago, plans to step up production next year to meet demand in its local and overseas markets.

The Rotorua-based Waipa Mill increased its production of sawn timber to an annual 550,000 cubic metres from 450,000 cubic metres after investing over $100 million in more efficient machinery, transforming the mill, and plans to lift production further to 600,000 cubic metres from next year, general manager Tim Rigter told BusinessDesk in an interview at the Waipa State Mill Road site. . . 

Telco minnow joins giants by winning rural broadband contract:

A no-frills approach has seen Hawke’s Bay-based rural wireless broadband company AoNet Broadband successfully compete with the giants of the industry to win a slice of the Government’s latest rural broadband funding package.

Telecommunications Minister Simon Bridges today announced AoNet Broadband as the Wireless Internet Service Provider for the King Country, making it responsible for connecting homes over an area that includes remote and mountainous terrain.

The appointment is part of a $150 million funding package for telco companies to partner with the Government through Crown Fibre Holdings Limited (CFH) to bring better broadband and mobile services to an increased number of under-served rural areas, state highways, businesses, residents and tourists in New Zealand. . . 

First chilled meat shipments to China – Allan Barber:

According to a press release from SFF the company’s first sea container leaves this week for arrival early next month, claimed by the company to be the first sea freight consignment of chilled product to the Chinese market which has only recently opened up to New Zealand meat exporters. However, I have since been informed that the first shipment from Greenlea arrived on 18th August and a chilled container of AFFCO product is already on the water, arriving on Friday 1st September, with a container of chilled mutton being shipped next week.

According to SFF’s press release the company has already trialled small quantities of chilled beef cuts to food service distributors for high end restaurants and lamb cuts to a multinational supermarket chain. But the sea shipment is planned to test the port and supply chain protocols for large scale consignments of chilled product. . . 

Swiss meat is expensive in dollars, cheap in minutes – Catherine Bosley:

Swiss meat prices are pretty hard to stomach at first glance.

At $49.68, Switzerland tops the ranking for a kilogram of beef leg round. Yet that seemingly eye-watering sum – around 150 percent higher than the world average – gets more reasonable when you factor in what locals get paid: An unskilled worker needs just 3.1 hours to afford it.

The 2017 Meat Price Index is a foray into the study of relative price levels of goods and labor. According to publisher Caterwings, the cost of beef, fish, chicken, pork and lamb in each country’s biggest cities were compared to the minimum wage and then calculations were run for affordability. In those where there is no federal statutory minimum, it used the average pay for unskilled labor. . . 

Allied Farmers posts 60% lift in full-year profit as livestock division outperforms – Rebecca Howard:

 (BusinessDesk) – Rural services firm Allied Farmers reported a 60 percent lift in net profit on an improved result from its livestock division, particularly in the second half, and further cost reduction.

The Hawera-based company said net profit was $2.2 million in the year ended June 30 versus $1.4 million in the prior year. Pretax earnings were up 52 percent to $2.4 million, which was ahead of the guidance it gave in June when it forecast a 40 percent gain. . . 

 


Rural round-up

August 27, 2017

Deafening silence over water tax disappointing – Lyn Webster:

 As a small time dairy farmer in the far flung Far North I would possibly not be directly affected by the Labour Party’s proposed water tax. However since the idea was mooted, I feel physically and mentally badly affected by it.

It’s very strange indeed, I am actually finding this difficult to write as my feelings against the suggested policy and the potential ramifications of it are so abhorrent to me.

The deafening silence in the wake of Jacinda Adern’s proposal is also scaring me. There should be an outpouring of national outrage against the ideology of charging food producers taxes on natural inputs – whether the charges are called royalties, taxes or fees. . . 

Who will decide who will pay for water? – Ewan McGregor:

Charles Dickens’ Mr Micawber’s oft-quoted law defining the recipe for happiness states: “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds, nineteen shillings and six pence, result happiness.

“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds and six pence, result misery.”

The point is that the margin between happiness and misery is just a shilling. Such a small difference can have serious consequences to one’s spirit – and to the politics.

This is what has happened in this country, especially Hawke’s Bay, with water. Within a relatively short time available water (income) has moved from abundance, or at least the perception of such, (happiness), to scarcity (misery). . . 

Federated Farmers: chasing hard data on irrigation effects:

Based on their on-farm experience and observations, lots of farmers believe irrigation can boost soil carbon and soil water holding capacity.

Former South Canterbury Federated Farmers president Ivon Hurst is chairman of a research project that over the next three years will look to nail those understandings down with hard science and peer-reviewed data.

“Anecdotal evidence is not enough,” Ivon says. “It has to be scientifically validated and that’s the way forward for all future land management practices.”

Project research will be led by Landcare Research’s Dr Sam Carrick, and a range of extension activities led by Katherine McCusker, of the AgriBusiness Group. It will support improvements in the management of soils to reduce environmental impacts and enable more accurate estimation of nutrient loss. . . 

Dairy payout boosts Timaru’s $2.3 billion year – Elena McPhee:

Timaru District generated more than $2.3 billion as it continued its drive away from the brink of recession on the back of a more-than $150 million dairy payout, a new report reveals.

An economy that ended the year last year close to recession was firmly in growth in the second half of the year to June, the Infometrics quarterly economic monitor found.

Timaru’s economy stabilised in the June quarter and the provisional estimate of its gross domestic product suggested it was 1.3 per cent healthier than the year before. . .

On stressed out women: just hold on tight – Louise Giltrap:

A few months back, I was invited to join a newly formed group on Facebook.

It was formed in the hope that some of us within the dairy industry could get back to talking about what was important without feeling someone was waiting to judge us.

The other day a lady posted about getting to her breaking point during calving. The tears, the swearing, not getting the kids off to school on time and instead giving them the day off to avoid more angst and more chaos.

It opened the floodgates for a lot of us, including myself, to tell of our own falls from grace over the last week or so of calving. . .

Blue-sky thinking drives Tibet’s organic industries

(Xinhua) — “While one kilogram of ordinary peaches only sells for about 30 yuan (4.5 U.S.dollars), the peaches here might make 100 yuan each,” village official Sonam Yangkyi tells surprised visitors to Lhasa’s Pure Land Industry demonstration zone.

The reason for such a high price for the winter peach is simply that Tibet Autonomous Region’s high altitude and clean environment mean the peach is tastier and better than its competitors.

The winter peach is just one of the many varieties of fruit and other Pure Land Industry produce with premium quality and unique properties thanks to the pure water, soil and air there. . .

 


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