Rural round-up

May 18, 2020

Tears as convoy of trucks deliver donated bales to drought-stricken Hawke’s Bay farmers -Aroha Treacher:

More than 600 bales have been donated to drought-stricken farmers in the Hawke’s Bay as they struggle through one of the worst droughts the region has seen in decades. A convoy of trucks made the journey to Hawke’s Bay to drop off some much-needed relief.

“It’s so good to be here with this fantastic contribution of feed that’s come all the way to the Hawke’s Bay from farmers right throughout the Wairarapa,” says David Todd of the Rural Support Trust in Hawke’s Bay.

“There were tears we’ll say, and from big truckies. There was tears, so it’s quite a big deal,” says Poppy Renton of the Hawke’s Bay Drought Facebook page.

From here, the feed will be distributed out to needy farmers through the rural support trust. . . 

12 year-old photographer brings drought struggles home:

The Jowsey family are among many Hawke’s Bay farmers struggling with drought. The daily grind of feeding and watering stock on the parched paddocks is being documented on camera by the youngest in the family, 12-year-old Selby.

A rust-coloured paddock, a trail of sheep mid-trot, rolling grey hills and and a steely grey sky.

It catches your eye, this slightly tilted image of feeding out time on a drought-stricken farm in Hawke’s Bay.

Selby Jowsey, 12, says he’s tried to capture the moment. . .

Creativity in dealing with drought  –  Peter Burke:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand is taking some creative initiatives to help farmers deal with the drought gripping large parts of the country.

Promoting alternative stock feeds, staging webinars and arranging feed coordinators are just some of the initiatives.

BLNZ North Island regional manager Matt Ward told Rural News that farmers are not only concerned with the immediate problem of the drought, but how they will be in spring.

He says supplies of baleage are very limited and his team of extension officers have been working to get what feed is available to the farmers that need it most.

Budget misses the boat on water – Annette Scott:

The Budget is missed opportunity for water, Irrigation New Zealand chief executive Elizabeth Soal says.

While the covid-19 recovery fund has $3 billion set aside for infrastructure Soal is not confident water storage and reticulation will fit the Government’s bill.

“We were really excited about the opportunity unfolding for water as we face huge economic challenges.”

But the Budget failed to deliver.

“This is missed opportunity,” Soal said.  . . 

Benefit uncertain in tense times – Hugh Stringleman:

Kiwi beef producers might not benefit from a significantly reduced Australian cattle kill this year, AgriHQ analyst Mel Croad says.

“Too many other factors are working in world protein markets to be sure that Australia’s expected shortfall will flow on to greater demand for our beef exports,” she said.

A predicted 17% reduction in Australian beef exports in 2020 might help stabilise world prices rather than increase them for other supplying countries.

Australia is going to do what it would in a normal year, without covid-19, and that is rebuild its herd after widespread rain. . . 

ProductionWise® and OverseerFM can “talk”:

FAR’s ProductionWise® farm recording package is now able to interface directly with OverseerFM, a development which will make nutrient management reporting a lot faster and cheaper for most ProductionWise users.

FAR ProductionWise Manager, Melanie Bates, says that enabling the two systems to ‘talk to each other’ was always a goal, and although it’s taken a while, testing shows that the benefits will be huge.

“Formal discussions with Overseer about the project began in January 2019, and late last year, the ProductionWise technical team, headed by Chris Day from Flurosat, and the OverseerFM technical team started working together to plan out the integration process via computer ‘json’ files. Chris has developed a very simple and visual way to build up the json file from recorded data in PW into OverseerFM. In simple terms, you can extract your ProductionWise data to a file that can be imported into the OverseerFM platform, allowing you to create your year-end analysis easily.” . . 


Rural round-up

May 15, 2020

IrrigationNZ believes Budget 2020 missed opportunity for water investment to aid Covid recovery:

IrrigationNZ believes that strategic water storage in key regions could aid a post-Covid recovery which focuses on protecting jobs, creating new ones, achieving positive environmental outcomes, and contributing to climate change targets.

“But Budget 2020 has missed the opportunity for water storage to be part of the solution,” says IrrigationNZ chief executive Elizabeth Soal.

“IrrigationNZ understands the exceptional circumstances of COVID-19 but believes that strategic management of this essential resource remains important, and that a water strategy to guide spending would be beneficial,’’ Ms Soal says.

“We will continue to talk to the Government about how this can be done utilising the $20 billion unallocated funding, and the $3.2 billion infrastructure contingency fund.” . .

Workers not leaving quarters a problem – Sally Rae:

Farm workers refusing to leave their accommodation are causing headaches for farmers preparing for the start of the new dairy season.

A large number of dairy farming families, sharemilkers, contract milkers and employees move to new farms to begin new employment and milking contracts on June 1, known as Moving Day.

But Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker said changes to tenancy law passed through the Covid-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Amendment Act, which placed general restrictions on all landlords, had left some farmers without employee accommodation.

Mr Walker had been contacted by more than 10 farmers with issues about former employees not moving out of the accommodation provided for working on the farm. . .

’Together We Grow NZ’ initiative launched to celebrate Kiwi farmers :

Some of New Zealand’s leading women in agriculture have launched “Together we Grow NZ”, a new initiative with a goal to connect urban and rural communities.

“Together We Grow NZ” will showcase the importance of both communities working together by sharing stories, collaborating, and creating opportunities to highlight New Zealand’s farming background to the next generation.

The project was created by 15 women, who met while completing the Agri-Women’s Development Trust’s leadership and governance programme “Escalator”.

The group continued working together during the Covid-19 lockdown and saw an opportunity to bring to light some of the stories of Kiwi food producers. . . 

 

Groups set up to help the helpers – Annette Scott:

A red meat industry initiative to upskill rural professionals is focused on building capability to help enable a sustainable future for farming.

Launched in Canterbury as part of the Red Meat Profit Partnership Action Network Group, the initiative is bringing together small groups of rural professionals to work towards a shared focus and goals.

The group of 12 rural professionals has joined forces to develop their skills in helping farmers make positive changes.

RMPP group facilitator Richard Brown said the action group model lets young professionals achieve their goals as facilitators and experts. . .

Fonterra council future in the air:

Fonterra has asked its shareholders and sharemilkers to help determine the future of its 25-strong shareholders’ council, seven months after initiating a review of the council’s relevance and cost.

The dairy co-operative billed an initial farmer survey as the first stage of consultation to review the council’s role and functions and acknowledged that came only after criticism of the council’s performance by some farmers. 

The functions of the council, set up to act as a farmer-run watchdog for the co-operative, have not been amended since it was founded in 2001. . .

Helius secures major grant for $2.4m R&D project:

Helius Therapeutics has confirmed it’s the recipient of a substantial grant for its New Zealand-based cultivation, plant breeding and medicines research programme.

The $2.4 million research and development project has been approved for co-funding of up to 28% by New Zealand’s innovation agency, Callaghan Innovation. Supporting innovative and high-performing R&D businesses, the agency has committed to contributing up to nearly $600,000 (excluding GST) to Kiwi-owned Helius Therapeutics over the next three years.

Chief Science Officer at Helius, Dr Jim Polston, says Callaghan Innovation’s co-funding will help Helius advance unique cannabis genetics and develop safe, consistent, and high-quality, novel cannabis medications for clinical trials. . . 


Rural round-up

April 18, 2020

Northland drought: No feed, no water and coronavirus increases farmers’ stress – Denise Piper:

“Extreme” drought conditions in Northland are being called the worst for decades and have left farms with no stock food and with their water sources drying up.

In Northland, where little rain has fallen, more farmers are asking for help, said Julie Jonker, co-ordinator of Northland Rural Support Trust. 

“There is quite a lot of stress out there,” she said.

Many Northland farmers have already used all of their winter supplementary feed and alternatives, like palm kernel, are expensive and hard to source. . . 

Dairy farmers dry cows off early as tough winter nears :

Tight feed supplies and ongoing drought are forcing some dairy farmers across the country to dry off earlier than usual.

Fonterra Farm Source director Richard Allen estimates that about 13 percent of farmers have dried off by mid-April compared to 8 percent at the same time last season.

Last month, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor declared a large-scale adverse event in the North Island, parts of the South Island and the Chathams. The worst-hit region, Northland is still holding out for decent rainfall. . . 

Freshwater 2020 – working towards improved outcomes balancing the environment with community and economic needs:

IrrigationNZ commends the work that has gone into the Freshwater 2020 report released today, and recognises this data helps towards providing certainty of where we need to head.

IrrigationNZ chief executive Elizabeth Soal says, “Freshwater and related ecosystems are very complex, and as the report says, data gaps do remain. However, it is helpful for farmers to see where their improvements are working, and where further work is required.”

IrrigationNZ notes some positive trends emerging from the report for example: . . 

Puketoro Station — village in a bubble – Leigh McNeil:

Puketoro Station, inland from Tokomaru Bay, has been in lockdown for three weeks now under the Covid-19 rules, and it’s the same as every other farm in New Zealand — business as usual.

But what makes Puketoro slightly different from most farms is that there are 19 people in the station “bubble”.

So the McNeil Farming operation is a tiny village on its own, and in typical village fashion, the residents range in age from four months to Goldcard-holders.

The bulk of the shepherds are under 25 years old, so it’s been somewhat of a tough call for them to stay put for four weekends in a row. . . 

 

California farmer ploughs under lettuce after coronavirus shutters restaurant market – Mike Blake and Christopher Walljasper:

HOLTVILLE, Calif. (Reuters) – There should be tractors rumbling across Jack Vessey’s ranch, pulling wagons full of fresh-cut romaine lettuce to be packed and shipped to restaurants and grocery stores across the United States.

Instead, as the coronavirus outbreak upends the nation’s food distribution network, a tractor and plow destroyed rows and rows of green produce on Wednesday.

“You put your blood, sweat and tears into a crop,” said Vessey, president of Holtville, California-based Vessey and Company, Inc. “To just disc it into the ground: It’s painful.” . .

Digital initiative keeps Northland farmers connected during lockdown:

Northland farmers are embracing the digital age as they respond to the dual challenge of the Covid-19 lockdown and the region’s severe drought conditions.

Extension 350 (E350), Northland Inc’s award-winning farmer-led and farmer-focused programme, is driving a digital initiative, which includes pilot video interviews with farmers, called “What’s on your mind?”, accessible via the programme’s YouTube channel.

The interview format encourages the farmers to share their thoughts on issues impacting their businesses, what specifically prompted these thoughts, and the process they expect to follow in developing and implementing responses to protect or enhance their businesses. . .


Recovery requires short cutting consent process

April 2, 2020

The drought that has covered most of the country has reinforced the need for more irrigation and shows the need for  water infrastructure to be part of the  government’s call for infrastructure projects to kick-start the post-Covid-19 recovery:

IrrigationNZ supports the Government’s decision to ready infrastructure projects for construction following a return to normal in New Zealand as part of efforts to boost the economy. IrrigationNZ notes that water infrastructure has been included in this.

The pandemic and the lockdown have demonstrated how important the food and fibre sectors are to our country, to put food on the table and also to support our economy,” Chief Executive of IrrigationNZ Elizabeth Soal says.

Covid-19 has inflicted near-mortal damage on tourism and export-education and highlighted, yet again, the importance of primary production. Farming, horticulture and viticulture would do even more with better water infrastructure.

‘’It is therefore not only a huge relief for the primary industries sector to see water included as essential infrastructure but also extremely prudent.  Not only will investment in water infrastructure projects create jobs during the construction phase, but they will also support the longer-term resilience of our economy.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on everyone and while health and wellbeing are the number one priority, planning ahead for the post-pandemic New Zealand is essential,” Ms Soal says.

The economic and social costs of dealing with the pandemic, the shutdown and the recovery will hold back the country for years.

Primary production and the businesses which service and supply it, and process its produce, will be more important than ever.

“In the last few decades, water infrastructure projects have typically been funded largely by local communities and end users.  As the effects of the pandemic affect regional economies on a scale we have not seen before, increased central government funding will be critical from now on.  High levels of co-funding at the local level will simply no longer be feasible” said Ms Soal.

“We also need to consider how certain processes the Local Government Act and the Resource Management Act will affect the viability of projects” says Ms Soal. “For example, it is currently unclear how annual planning processes will occur or how resource consents can be fast-tracked to get projects ‘shovel-ready’ in a short time frame.  Consenting processes for major projects generally take years, not weeks” said Ms Soal.

If the economy is to get up to speed as quickly We need to create the jobs and earn the export income that will fuel the recovery. New projects, including irrigation, that will do this can’t be hamstrung by the current time consuming and expensive consent process.

After Cyclone Bola, then- Prime Minister David Lange ordered the army to construct a Bailey bridge without resource consent.

The government must find a way to enable short cuts to consent processes to allow infrastructure projects to start in weeks to a very few months not years.

That doesn’t mean ignoring the requirement to maintain high environmental standards. There are enough irrigation schemes that have improved economic, environmental and social sustainability already operating on which the standards for new ones could be based.

When the state of emergency is over and alert levels end, we’ll be faced with a new normal that will leave the country much poorer than it was just weeks ago.

We can’t afford to have repairs to the economic and social damage inflicted by Covid-19  and the response to it, hampered by torturous consent processes that held back development in the old normal.


Rural round-up

February 16, 2020

COVID-19 is a black swan – Keith Woodford:

COVID-19 is the black swan event that no-one saw coming. There is no precedent and so historical models tell us very little as to either the global health implications or the global economic implications. Much of the commentary we are reading is both facile and fallacious, often tailored to fit prior perspectives, and in other cases based on fundamental ignorance.

My own take on events is that the global outcomes are going to be major and that COVID-19 is going to be with us as a global black swan throughout all of this year. Export-focused agri-food will be less affected than most sectors.

For those not familiar with the term ‘black swan’, it is a random event, unable to be given a risk probability in advance, that changes many things. The associated hypothesis is that most of the mega-events that truly change the world are black swans. . .

Blips give trade hiccups – Annette Scott:

Food producers were in a strong position with high expectations of improved global growth heading into 2020 but unexpected disruption has put paid to that, ANZ agribusiness economist Susan Kilsby says.

In a keynote address at the Blinc Innovation 2020 Agri Outlook workshop at Lincoln Kilsby cited coronavirus and its impact on China as the biggest disrupter.

“In 2020 so far we have had missiles in the Middle East, drought, fire, flooding, Trump acquitted of impeachment, Brexit happened and the coronavirus outbreak. . . 

Value in our shared values – Sarah Perriam:

Whose values really matter the most? The food producers’ because they intimately understand the science and challenges the most and should be trusted. Or the consumers who, without the producer, wouldn’t have a business? But then what if we actually share the same values?

This week in Sarah’s Country we hear from Kate Acland, co-owner of Mt Somers Station and a diverse range of value-added products shares her views on the importance of centring our businesses around values.

Sarah Perriam, the host of Sarah’s Country, is this week joined by guest co-host Elizabeth Soal who is the chief executive of Irrigation New Zealand. . . 

Growers want a fair deal – Sudesh Kissun:

It’s been a busy 12 months for Pukekohe Vegetable Growers Association (PVGA) first female president Kylie Faulkner.

Since taking over the reins at PVGA, Faulkner has been involved with two key pieces of legislation proposed by the Government: national policy statements on highly productive land and water. Land and water are the backbone of PGVA’s 230 growers and their operations.

They are no minnows when it comes to food production; a recent Deloitte report says while Pukekohe accounts for just 3.8% of the country’s land under fruit and vegetable production, it contributes to 26% of the nation’s value of production of vegetables, and a lesser proportion of fruit. . .

The Garden of Eatin:

Ross Nolly is looking forward to writing ‘maggot farmer’ on forms asking for his occupation.

The former butcher, now writer and photographer, has a small lifestyle block in Taranaki where he tries to live as self-sufficiently as possible.

He hunts for meat, has a food forest, grows his own vegetables, keeps ducks and chickens and farms maggots to feed them. . .

Getting the balance right – Colin Miller:

Many sunsets ago, I learnt from one of the older father figures in my life the ageless truth that, “Balance is the key to life”.

Six simple words easily put together; quick and easy to read, but so much harder to live! I well remember thinking at the time; ‘Huh … whatever is that all about?’ I didn’t get it at all back then. If it sounds a little patronising for you at the moment, then how about this old adage from yesteryear – “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”.

Yep, balance is the key to life; these six simple words are surely packed with wisdom we humans need to hear. I have seen too many examples of exactly this gone wrong; and sometimes up close and personal with good friends and family. The end results have at times been tragic. . .


Rural round-up

August 30, 2019

Dairy farmers have ‘stepped up’ – Yvonne O’Hara:

Dairy farmers are not getting the credit they deserve for stepping up their game to improve their practices, dairy farmer and industry climate change ambassador Dean Alexander believes.

He and wife Suzanne winter 1200 cows on two flat 179ha and 242ha platforms effective near Winton.

”As an industry, we have made huge innovations in the past 10 to 15 years, which has been driven by regulations,” Mr Alexander said.

”Changes needed to happen and we have stepped up our game and ought to get credit for the progress we have made.”

He said the quality of water into waterways and estuaries had improved compared to 20 to 30 years ago. . .

Role of red meat in a healthy diet is globally recognised – Rod Slater:

I was saddened to read the article Hospitals should lead the way by cutting out meat (August 20) by Professor John Potter. He has a huge amount of experience and, unfortunately, he used every ounce of it to produce a thoroughly disingenuous and misleading piece of writing.

Firstly, I would like to address his criticisms of Dietitians NZ (DNZ). DNZ provided a statement in response to the Ministry of Health (MoH) releasing a report which suggested less meat and dairy in the health sector to reduce the impact on the environment, in what seems to be a move by the MoH that is severely deficient in local context. 

DNZ is entirely independent and performs a vital role in representing the nutrition scientists who have made it their life’s work to understand and advise on diet and health matters. For Prof Potter to discredit its response on the basis of Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s “support” of DNZ is ludicrous. . . .

New grass could reduce methane emissions from animals – Maja Burry:

New Zealand scientists trialling a potentially environmentally sustainable grass in the United States hope to study its effects on animals in the next two years.

The genetically modified ryegrass has been developed by the Crown Research Institute, AgResearch, at its grasslands centre in Palmerston North.

Modelling has found it can grow up to 50 percent faster than conventional ryegrass, it is more resistant to drought and could reduce methane emissions from animals.

Trials are now progressing in the mid-west of the US, where genetically modified organisms can be field tested outside of the lab. . . 

 IrrigationNZ responds to Waitangi Tribunal report on national freshwater – changes to New Zealand’s water allocation framework:

IrrigationNZ says that the timing of the Waitangi Tribunal report and recommendations on freshwater and geothermal resources puts Māori rights and interests in freshwater firmly back in the public spotlight, just when the Government is set to release a raft of policy changes under the ‘Essential Freshwater’ package.

“We are in favour of the Waitangi Tribunal report’s recommendation to establish a body to oversee future water governance and management, including whether a Water Act is required to provide a new framework for freshwater,” says Elizabeth Soal, Chief executive of IrrigationNZ.

“We agree, and firmly believe, that New Zealand needs a national water strategy and a body to oversee this strategy so that this precious resource can be used and allocated for the benefit of all,” says Ms Soal. . . 

MPI pair helping farmers through `M. bovis’ process – Toni Williams:

Empowering farmers working through the Mycoplasma bovis process involves Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) regional managers Charlotte Austin and Lydia Pomeroy working long hours.

But, as a way of being prepared to fight for their cases and keeping up to date with the issues, it is something they are only too happy to do.

”We certainly lose sleep, but we also understand that it’s not nearly as big an impact on us.

”That’s why we will quite happily work a 12, 13 or 14-hour day ‘cos we understand that these individuals are living it,” said Ms Austin, speaking to media after the recent Mid Canterbury Mycoplasma bovis Advisory Group meeting in Ashburton. . .

What’s our beef with beef? – Helen Browning:

Red meat is not inherently unsustainable, despite recent headlines – it’s how it is farmed that matters.

A new report by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) called for us to make radical changes to the way we farm and eat to prevent further global warming. But what did the IPPC report actually say on meat eating? Were the NFU and others right to say reporting was misleading?

As ever, the issues are complex, hard to convey accurately in an eye-catching headline or a snappy tweet.

The IPCC is clear that, on a global level, ruminant livestock – that’s cattle and sheep – carry a high greenhouse gas footprint. This leads to the conclusion that if we eat less red meat, we can reduce these emissions. . .


Rural round-up

April 20, 2019

Better data will help us do a better job – Federated Farmers:

The Environment Aotearoa 2019 report released today will help all New Zealanders, not just farmers, identify the priorities for action.

But we can only manage what we have information on, Federated Farmers environment and water spokesperson Chris Allen says.

“Our message during the last central government election campaign, when various candidates and commentators were putting the boot into farmers for environmental impacts, was that all Kiwis were in this together. This new report underlines exactly that. . .

Irrigation sector committed to continuing to improve environmental practices:

IrrigationNZ says the recent Environment Aotearoa report highlights the need for farmers and growers to continue work underway to: improve practices on-farm and upskill farmers; invest in cutting edge technology; and implement Farm Environmental Plans to change the way water is used for production.

“In partnership with national and regional government, it’s essential we continue to research, trial and adopt new practices and technology,” says Ms Soal.

“It is critical that we recognise that water is a precious resource which is essential for primary production and regional resilience in the face of climate change and that we use it in a way that is environmentally responsible,” says IrigationNZ Elizabeth Soal. . .

Dairy committed to a better environment:

DairyNZ says today’s Environment Aotearoa 2019 report gives honest insight into New Zealand’s environment and where the opportunities lie for the dairy sector, particularly for water quality, biodiversity and climate change.

Strategic leader for DairyNZ’s environmental portfolio, Dr David Burger, said while the report shows the dairy sector has work to do, there is no doubt farmers are working hard to look after the environment – with significant work already undertaken over the last 10 years to improve environmental practices across New Zealand. . .

Living affects the environment – Neal Wallace:

Our way of life is putting the environment under pressure.

A report produced by the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand with evidence and trends of what is happening to the environment highlights nine key issues.

It is based on a comparison with previous reports, analysis of more than 60 indicators and new methods.

It found native plants, animals and ecosystems are under threat, changes to land vegetation are degrading soil and water, farming is polluting our waterways and water use affects freshwater ecosystems.

Urban centres create environmental pollution with urban sprawl occupying the best soils and destroying native biodiversity, it said. . .

Water tax decision allows environmental improvements to be targeted:

IrrigationNZ says the government’s decision not to introduce a water tax in the near future is good news for all New Zealanders.

“The Tax Working Group proposed a nationwide tax on all water use including for hydroelectricity, household, business and agricultural use. That would have resulted in higher power and food prices for households and businesses and higher rates bills for everyone,” says IrrigationNZ Chief Executive Elizabeth Soal. . .

Wrightson gets OIO approval to sell seeds unit, still mulling size of return – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – PGG Wrightson has cleared the final hurdle to sell its seeds division to DLF Seeds for $434 million after securing Overseas Investment Office approval, but still hasn’t figured out how much to return to shareholders.

Now the OIO has signed off on the transaction, the rural services company anticipates the deal to settle either this month or May. . .

Whio ducks make a comeback after predator programme :

A nationally vulnerable duck species is making a comeback following a programme to curb predators in Fiordland.

About 64 breeding whio have been found during surveying of a security site for the blue ducks.

Department of Conservation Senior Ranger Andrew Smart said extended trapping efforts and predator control enabled the whio to make a strong comeback. . .


Rural round-up

March 5, 2019

Irrigation issues in Soal charge –  Annette Scott:

Elizabeth Soal started her new role as chief executive of Irrigation New Zealand last week and while a lot of challenges lie ahead there’s also a load of opportunities for the irrigation industry. She talked to Annette Scott.

PUBLIC awareness of water quality and how water is used and is changing the debate around water policy, Irrigation New Zealand’s new chief executive Elizabeth Soal says.

“The wider public is becoming more involved in debates and this trend will continue in the future. . . 

Mycoplasma Bovis risks are much greater than admitted – Keith Woodford:

Taxpayers and farmers are collectively committed to pay more than $800 million for eradication of Mycoplasma bovis. It is therefore reasonable that they are provided with good information as to how eradication is proceeding.

Unfortunately, the current information from MPI is not the full story. At the heart of the problem is the unwillingness of MPI to admit many of the things they do not know or are uncertain about. As one senior MPI person said to me in an unguarded moment, we would come across as clueless. . .

Call surprises agents – Nigel Stirling:

The body representing livestock agents is surprised at renewed calls for regulation after it moved to more strictly police the conduct of members just last September.

The Stock and Station Agents Association for the first time adopted a code of practice for its members and set up a disciplinary body for those failing to uphold the new code. . .

Otago farmers may voluntarily restrict water usage due to dry conditions – Tim Brown:

Farmers in Central Otago may resort to voluntarily restricting their water use in the next week as the prolonged hot and dry weather shows no sign of abating.

There’s plenty of feed locked away after a wet spring but the ground is now brown and dry, and there’s not much rain on the horizon. . .

 

Strength lies in team work for Manawatu Dairy Awardw inners:

The 2019 Manawatu Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners say the strength of their farming business lies in the teams they have created to support their goal of growing their business.

Jemima and Thomas Bebbington say that entering the dairy industry awards has given them a better understanding of their business. “The Dairy Industry Awards gave us the opportunity to look into every nook and cranny of our farming business, and receive feedback from farming professionals,” say the couple, who have entered the Awards twice previously. . . 

Former livestock farm land placed up for sale as upmarket residential  enclave :

A large portion of elevated countryside pasture land previously run as a part of a dry stock farm has been placed on the market for sale for conversion into an upmarket boutique housing subdivision.

The approximate 12.8-hectare site overlooks the Waikato township of Paeroa, and is consented for subdivision into low density residential housing sections. The land is being subdivided off a bigger 302 hectare drystock farm which will remain in primary production use as a grazing block. . .


Rural round-up

December 21, 2018

Taratahi agri training operator in interim liquidation – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – The Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre has been placed into interim liquidation at the request of its board of trustees as declining student numbers saw its funding drop faster than it could cut costs.

The High Court yesterday appointed David Ruscoe and Russell Moore of Grant Thornton as interim liquidators after the board sought to protect the position of its staff, students, creditors and other stakeholders, the accounting firm said.

Taratahi is a private training establishment, employing 250 staff, and educating 2,850 students this year. It owns and manages eight farms across the country. . . 

IrrigationNZ welcomes new chief executive:

IrrigationNZ has appointed Elizabeth Soal as its new Chief Executive.

“IrrigationNZ has recently adopted a new strategy which focuses on creating an environment for the responsible use of water for food production. As part of the strategy we will be focusing on advocacy, encouraging innovation through sharing ideas and adopting new technology, developing a robust information base, bringing the irrigation sector, researchers and decision makers together to make better decisions for our future and creating world‑leading irrigation standards,” says Nicky Hyslop, IrrigationNZ Board Chair.

“Elizabeth has a strong background in water management, law and policy and she will help contribute to all of these goals but she is particularly well qualified to contribute to national discussions as we seek to achieve solutions to complex issues around water allocation which result in good outcomes for both communities and the environment.” . . 

Feds welcome new IrrigationNZ chief executive:

Federated Farmers welcomes Elizabeth Soal as the new chief executive of Irrigation New Zealand.

Federated Farmers maintains an excellent working relationship with Irrigation New Zealand,” Feds water and environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

Elizabeth has the credentials and background, including her strategy and policy work for the Waitaki Irrigators Collective, to help ensure INZ continues its excellent work.” . .

Federated Farmers disputes E Coli claims – Eric Frykberg:

There is no proof that E. Coli found in three Canterbury rivers came from cows, according to Federated Farmers.

Research commissioned by Fish and Game found dangerous pathogens in three Canterbury rivers – the Ashley, Selwyn and Rangitata.

Fish and Game insisted the cause was leaching from dairy farms.

But Federated Farmers water spokesperson Chris Allen said the problem could be caused by wildlife, or human activity, as well as from animals. . . 

Research suggests we should take a harder look at the benefits of organic foods – Point of Order:

The Green Party’s food policy may need revisiting, in the light of research published in the past week.

The policy was introduced in May 2017 by Green Party MP Mojo Mathers, who lost her list place in Parliament at the general election.

How we produce, distribute and consume food is of critical importance to growing resilient healthy communities, minimising our ecological footprint and maintaining a
stable economy, she said.  That’s why food policy lies at the heart of Green policy. . . 

Reflections on the year that was – Allan Barber:

From a New Zealand domestic perspective the attempt to eradicate Mycoplasma Bovis has had the biggest impact on farming, most of it focused on the relatively small number of properties forced to cull their entire herd, some of it directed at those properties under surveillance or Notice of Direction, and some of it on the agricultural service industry, including meat processors, cartage contractors, stock agents and saleyards, as well as calf clubs and A&P shows.

MPI is cautiously optimistic the disease can be eradicated which would be the first time any country has achieved such an outcome. However there is still plenty of water to flow under the bridge before anyone can say with confidence that the hitherto impossible has been achieved. 2019 will almost certainly be the year we know for certain, one way or the other. . . 

Guy Trafford finishes 2018 with a GDT review, news of a new Fish & Game river survey, calling out plant-based-milk, and an update on the MPB eradication – Guy Trafford:

An ever so slight increase in the Global Dairy Trade price for whole milk powder with a +0.3% lift. It may not put much of a smile on farmers faces but at least it is a not a drop.

Overall the GDT went up by +1.7% with both butter and cheddar making gains with lifts of +4.9% and +2.2% respectively so not such a poor result. With this now being the second – be they small – lift in a row and we have to go back almost 12 months before we had a repeat of two consecutive sales lifting. Dairy Futures had predicted a higher 3% lift in WMP for this period and with volumes sold down 0.7% on the previous sale, which was also down, the remainder of the season still looks precarious. The next sale is on the 2nd of January 2019. . . 

New captain for 2019 Meat Blacks:

One of the final jobs of 2018 is to take a look at the 2019 Meat Blacks team that will lead the sector next year.

There haven’t been too many adjustments to make, though the sector has had a couple of big retirements from the leadership, lock Sir Graeme Harrison (ANZCO) and number eight James Parsons (B+LNZ Ltd) have departed this year. Linesman Martyn Dunne also retired from MPI and has been replaced by Ray Smith, fresh from Corrections (Ed: appropriately!).

As a result, we have a new captain Murray Taggart (Alliance), promoted from vice-captain, and new vice-captain Tony Egan (Greenlea Premier Meats) to lead the team. . . 

T&G Global profit dented by cheaper tomatoes, small grape harvest  – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – T&G Global says its annual profit will more than halve this year after cheaper tomatoes and a weather-affected grape harvest in Peru dented earnings.

Net profit will be $8-10 million this calendar year, down from $22.6 million in 2017, it said in a statement.

Lower tomato prices affected T&G’s covered crops unit while its Peru grapes division dealt with a smaller harvest, it said. . .


Drought reinforces need for storage

January 8, 2015

We woke to mizzle – a misty drizzle – on Tuesday morning.

Holiday-makers wouldn’t have been pleased but we were delighted.

However, by mid-morning the sky had cleared and temperatures were rising.

We haven’t had a decent rain since July and it’s got all the signs of the droughts which in North Otago every few years.

Irrigation schemes using water from the Waitaki River have 99% reliability but takes from the Kakanui River are restricted and will stop altogether if the weather doesn’t break soon.

Further north in South Canterbury it’s drier still.

Less snow melt put less water in the Opuha Dam in spring and those irrigating from it are now on restrictions.

Friends near Waimate ran out of stock water weeks ago and the tanker which comes to collect their milk brings water for them.

There is nothing new about drought but the recurrence reinforces the need for more water storage:

Water restrictions for irrigating farmers look set to follow a similar pattern to the 2012-13 summer, says IrrigationNZ, when drought conditions in the North and South Island wiped more than $1billion dollars from the NZ economy.

“This summer once again highlights the need to fast track alpine-fed* water storage infrastructure in both the South and North Islands. Despite the focus upon irrigation development over the past five years, New Zealand has made very limited progress in this space,” says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis. “We have modernised and improved our irrigation distribution systems but have failed to invest in alpine water storage to our detriment.”

(*Alpine-fed water storage refers to dams and water storage lakes that are replenished by rainfall and snowmelt within our alpine environments in contrast to streams and rivers that are fed by foothills rainfall. Alpine rainfall is more consistent and plentiful than foothills and plains rainfall, hence its suitability to provide reliable water supply).

‘We’re losing sight of the prize that reliable alpine-fed irrigation water storage could bring to both the environment and economy. Certainty of water supply allows investment in SMART irrigation technologies that greatly improve nutrient management and production. There are also direct benefits from storage including the augmentation of summer river flows or being able to release flushing flows that cleanse rivers of summer algal growth,” says Mr Curtis.

Irrigation restrictions are now widespread in Canterbury and Otago, with Hawke’s Bay dry but maintaining flows.

One of the worst hit areas is South Canterbury with the Opuha Dam, a foothill-fed river catchment, facing unprecedented water shortages. Opuha’s lake level is of major concern, says Opuha Water Supply Ltd CEO Tony McCormick. “Our situation and outlook have not improved and the lake level continues to drop steadily. Today the lake is at 31% full. We are currently on 25% irrigation restrictions and expect to move to 50% restrictions next week when the lake hits another ‘trigger’ level of 25% full. Our current predictions suggest that the lake could be fully depleted by the end of February.”

Mr McCormick says while the initial problem was a lack of stored water, the situation is now being compounded by very dry conditions being experienced across the South Canterbury region.

The Ashburton River is on full restriction which has forced the Ashburton Lyndhurst Irrigation Company to place shareholders on 85% allocation. However the Rangitata River is currently flowing at a healthy level due to good rainfall in the alps over the New Year, says Jess Dargue, ALIC scheme manager.

While some North Canterbury rivers are on restriction, Amuri Irrigation Limited CEO Andrew Barton says both the Waiau and Hurunui, both alpine rivers, are maintaining flows so scheme restrictions look unlikely in the near future.

While there are no restrictions on major irrigation schemes in the Lower Waitaki at the moment, all fed by the Waitaki River, an alpine river with storages built for hydropower, Elizabeth Soal, Policy Manager of the Waitaki Irrigators Collective says partial restrictions affecting independent irrigators are in effect on hill-fed tributary rivers including the Hakataramea, the Maerewhenua and the Awakino. There are also restrictions (some full restrictions) on some of the South Canterbury Coastal streams and waterways, including parts of the Waihao River, Buchanans Creek and the Sir Charles Creek.

In Otago, supplementary permits off the Kakanui River have ceased with the first minimum flow alert being active, and the river is approaching its absolute minimum flow, which would mean full restrictions kick-in.

Parts of North Otago are extremely dry, with the area receiving a third of the historical average rainfall since August.

“For us down here, it’s much, much drier than in 2012-13. Some are saying it’s the driest it’s been in ten years, so the restrictions will bite even harder,” says Elizabeth Soal.

While the Hawke’s Bay is dry, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Group Manager Resource Management Iain Maxwell, says that’s not unexpected for the region at this time of the year and irrigation water availability is being maintained.

“River flows are holding well and there are no irrigation bans on the main rivers so farmers are still able to irrigate,” he says.

Drought is costly in financial and human terms. It also degrades water quality, threatens water life and can lead to soil erosion.

Drought is a fact of life for farming on the east coast but the consequences of it would be minimised with more storage to capture the excess at times of high flow for use for farming and maintaining minimum flows in water ways during droughts.


Rural round-up

January 19, 2014

Farmers move to prepare properties for fire – Sophie Malcolm:

Farmers near the Grampians in Western Victoria have been moving stock and preparing their properties as a bushfire burns in the area.

Some farmers say the fire has already damaged their properties, with fencing and some pasture lost.

Green Lake farmer Glenn Mibus has been working at this brother’s farm since late Thursday night.

“A few hours sleep and I was back out here at half past five this morning, just the same stuff, blacking out and trying to get some edges done, so it doesn’t flare up again,” Mr Mibus said on Friday morning. . .

Rural contractors want school leavers:

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) is taking the task of recruiting school leavers into their own hands.

The group that represents the interests of rural contractors is looking at the possibility of establishing several three-day or four-day training courses throughout the country this winter.

This would enable more local people to develop the necessary skills to work in the contracting industry and meet contractors’ staffing needs.

This comes after Southland RCNZ members held a field day near Invercargill last year, which attracted over 100 people. . .

Nature’s free irrigation helps – Andrew Ashton:

Farmers using North Otago irrigation schemes are well placed to work through any future dry spells this year, after some parts of the region received almost double the usual amount of rain last month.

In December, 114mm was recorded at Kauru, 22% above average for the month, Waikoura, near Duntroon, received 111.2mm, 91% above average, while the 111.2mm recorded in Oamaru was 102% above average.

Waitaki Irrigators Collective policy manager Elizabeth Soal said the wet start to the summer had resulted in irrigation schemes across North Otago and lower South Canterbury reporting a reduced demand for water. . .

A youthful lift for the face of Saskatchewan farming –  Morgan Modjeski:

The face of Saskatchewan farming could be getting younger.

Organizers of the Western Canadian Crop Production Show say they’ve seen more young people at the 2014 event than in the past, and believe it’s a result of a changing climate in agriculture.

“Agriculture is thriving in Saskatchewan and family farms are getting larger,” said trade show manager Lori Cates, who has been with the Saskatoon event for 10 years. . .

Youth in Agriculture:

And from Grammarly:

>Hay! Now that’s punny!


Rural round-up

November 25, 2013

Lenders suggest farmers get better governance in place:

Farmers are being asked by rural lenders to take a board approach to their operations and stop making important decisions around the kitchen table.

Fraser Farm rural financial advisor Don Fraser says banks are asking farmers to get better governance and structures in place.

He says the banks are wanting a board approach and it’s best practice for everybody including the lender.

Mr Fraser says while he can’t provide specific details of the banks asking farmers to take this approach he knows it is happening under the radar.

He says in the past farmers have often made decisions and then gone to the banks asking them to fund it. . .

Export tax proposal won’t fix forestry – Alan Emmerson:

The loss of jobs at Rotorua as the result of yet another sawmill closure is a tragedy.

The problem is the Chinese are prepared to pay a high price for logs and, speaking as a forester, I’ll take the best price I can get.

Ultimately I’m not concerned where my logs are processed, just that I can make the most money from my long-term investment.

The issue for sawmills is they have to pay a high price for logs and the New Zealand dollar is high. The combination of the two factors makes many export sawmills uneconomic.

Like it or not, that is the way of the market. . .

NZ faces massive pest explosion:

New Zealand faces one of its biggest pest population explosions in decades.

This year is a mast year for the South Island’s beech forests, which means the trees are going through their heaviest seeding in nearly a decade. That means a feeding frenzy for mice and rats which leads to an explosion in stoats and weasels.

And to make matters worse, DOC Director General Lou Sanson says possum control hasn’t been operating at full capacity over the last year. . .

Rabbit control at Earnscleugh’s heart – Sally Rae:

If it were not for rabbiters, the Campbell family would not still be on Earnscleugh Station.

From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, the future of the vast Central Otago high country property hung in the balance.

Plagued by rabbits, they were in ”serious strife” and it was an ”absolute nightmare”, Alistair Campbell told about 300 people attending a field day at the property on Friday.

Today, 21,000ha Earnscleugh Station is a far cry from the barren landscape of those rabbit-plagued years when some areas resembled a desert, without a blade of grass. . .

Visiting Canada to study water issues – Sally Rae:

Waitaki Irrigators Collective policy manager Elizabeth Soal will travel to Canada next year to study water management and beneficial farming practices.

Ms Soal, who is also a director of Irrigation New Zealand, has been named a 2014 Churchill Fellow, receiving a travel grant from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.

The Oamaru woman will head overseas in July next year and spend four weeks travelling in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Manitoba and New Brunswick, meeting government representatives, academics, water managers, farmers and members of the irrigation community. . .

Wine wins proof of Central’s strength – Timothy Brown:

The performance of Central Otago wines at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards has shown the area has matured as a wine growing region.

Central Otago wines won 18 gold medals in the initial judging process and dominated the pinot noir category.

The elite gold medal and trophy winners will be announced at the awards dinner on November 23 in Queenstown.

Akarua Winery won three golds. Winemaker Matt Connell said he was ”thrilled” with the results. . .

 Quad safety heading in the right direction – Jeannete Maxwell:

Quad bikes have been in the news again following coroner Brandt Shortland’s well-constructed findings into five deaths in 2010-11.

Given the families involved will be grieving anew it is something we need to be sensitive about.

Yet any mention of a quad bike these days seems to attract almost irrational media attention.

Quad bikes are bikes and are not all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), though Federated Farmers is seeking to get them reclassified as an agricultural vehicle. . .


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