Rural round-up

November 9, 2018

Fonterra board gets controversial voice back – Sally Rae:

Fairlie farmer Leonie Guiney has returned to the Fonterra board, vowing to solve the co-operative’s ”reputational issues”.

Shareholders voted to elect Mrs Guiney and Zespri chairman Peter McBride to the board and they will take office at the close of today’s annual meeting at Fonterra’s Lichfield plant in the Waikato.

Sitting director Ashley Waugh, Maori Television chairman Jamie Tuuta, and John Nicholls were unsuccessful.

Mrs Guiney, who farms near Fairlie and is director of four dairy farming companies, served on the board from 2014 until last year. . . 

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council report questions value-add strategy – Gerard Hutching:

Fonterra has failed to deliver “meaningful returns” on shareholders’ capital since inception in 2001, a new Shareholders Council report says, which questions the value-add strategy.

The much vaunted value-add business has returned only 0.2 per cent a year more than ingredients or commodities, “significantly below the 1.3 per cent a year premium needed to justify the increased risk”.

“This is important because the value-add business units are now using an increasing share of Fonterra’s capital. For the first five years since inception – 2002-06 – the value-add business accounted for 36 per cent of Fonterra’s capital. This has increased to 50 per cent of Fonterra’s capital over the last five years.” . . 

Reducing sediment loss explored at field days – Ella Stokes:

Sediment mitigation was a hot topic at the field days hosted by the Pomahaka Water Care Group last week.

The farmer-led group has an overall target of improving water health – first on farm and also in the Pomahaka River.

Last week, there were three field days held in the West Otago area to explore solutions to reduce sediment loss, which is a major issue in the area.

Landcare Research environmental scientist and Pomahaka Water Care Group (PWCG) co-ordinator Craig Simpson said they had up to 70 people at one of the events. . . 

Youngsters keep old-timers happy – Neal Wallace:

Transforming a run-down farm into a high performance stock unit was satisfying for Ron Davis and Roger Chittock but their greatest pleasure came from seeing youngsters trained on it go on to successful farming careers.

Chittock has spent 37 years and Davis 29 years on the management board of the Salvation Army’s Jeff Farm, a 2630ha sheep, beef and deer property between Clinton and Gore in eastern Southland.

But overseeing the development of the 30,000 stock units farm was only part of their enjoyment.

Jeff Farm’s primary role is to train youth for agricultural careers and the two retiring board members say seeing young people grow and move into industry jobs was immensely satisfying. . . 

Goats ready to earn their keep – Neal Wallace:

Three years ago David Shaw questioned why he was still farming Cashmere goats.

This month garments made from fibre harvested from goats on his south Otago farm will be on sale in a new Untouched World retail store opening in Wanaka.

Potentially, the resurrected cashmere market could take several tonnes of fibre and he believes having about 25,000 Cashmere goats is achievable.

He has 1000 goats on his farm and has readily identified 5000 on other farms that could be crossed with Cashmere bucks. . . 

The apparel industry has rediscovered the wool from corriedale sheep – Heather Chalmers:

Demand from sportswear and fashion companies is sending the price of a previously written-off type of wool to record levels.

This has led the dual-purpose corriedale sheep breed to make a comeback, after many farmers chose to shift to more meat breeds.    

Corriedale wool is in the mid-micron range, coarser than most merino fibre, but far finer than crossbred wool that comprises most of the New Zealand clip. . . 

Five new Nuffield scholars named :

Five Nuffield scholarships have been awarded for 2019. They have gone to two dairy farmers, a sheep and beef farmer, an arable farmer and an analyst.

Ben Hancock was raised on his family’s Wairarapa hill country sheep and beef cattle farm. He now works in Wellington for Beef + Lamb New Zealand as a senior analyst, still near the farm he often returns to.

After working in research and conservation roles in NZ, the United States and Panama Hancock did a doctorate investigating ecosystem services. . . 

 


Rural round-up

October 12, 2018

Experience big advantage in lamb rearing – Ella Stokes:

Having a pet lamb in the backyard tends to be common at this time of the year; but Kelly Liggett has more than a few at her Clifton farm; in fact this year she has over 90. Reporter Ella Stokes caught up with her and all her pets.

Kelly and Alex Liggett farm in Clifton where they have 2100 ewes, 60 beef calves and 50 yearling bulls. The pair have been farming there for more than 15 years and Mrs Liggett said every year she got more involved.

Over the years she had always reared both calves and lambs but over the past three years has had more of a focus on the lambs. . .

Massey archery champion takes aim at FMG Young Farmer of the Year title:

A two-time world archery champion has joined the race to be the next FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

Ben Orchard, 19, has qualified for the Taranaki/Manawatu Regional Final after finishing second in a district contest in Palmerston North.

“I’m stoked. I only entered because I thought it would be a bit of fun and I like a challenge. I’m really excited,” said Ben. . .

Irrigation company makes offer for Hurunui project’s water consents:

Resource consents for the large-scale Hurunui Water Project might now be sold after the scheme failed to attract the support needed to move forward.

The 25-year-old plan to increase water availability around Hawarden suffered a big setback in April when the government blocked assistance from the state agency, Crown Irrigation Limited.

In another blow, the $200 million scheme which aims to irrigate 21ha of land failed to get enough local farmers to back it. . .

Shifting from commodity production styles to meeting targeted consumer demand will require big shifts and a wider view of what the market really is – Guy Trafford:

Farming has provided a great life style and an adequate living for hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders for many generations. Over time the products on farms have transitioned from subsistence in the very early years to commodity production to in recent years aiming to produce to meet certain market specifics to gain premiums from consumers.

The move to meet what consumers want is still only in its infancy and by and large most farmers focus on producing the most product at least cost and rely upon processors to find markets for these products. . .

Farmed fish search centre opens at Nelson’s Cawthron Institute – Tracy Neal:

A new research centre at Nelson’s Cawthron Institute aims to improve the resilience and productivity of farmed fish.

The $8 million addition to the Cawthron’s aquaculture park was launched yesterday.

The Finfish Research Centre will focus on selective breeding and how fish might adapt to changing environmental conditions. . . 

Pāmu donates $10,000 to IHC:

Pāmu has made a ten thousand dollar donation to IHC to support its Calf and Rural Scheme.

Pāmu has been a regular donator to the IHC, which picks up weaned calves from Pāmu farms, and sells them at sales yards, with all proceeds going to support IHC programmes.

For the first time in 33 years, IHC have suspended aspects of the Calf and Rural Scheme due to the risk posed by Mycoplasma Bovis (M. Bovis). . . 

 

International study uses new protocol for estimating water productivity:

Calculating gaps between potential and actual water productivity at local to regional scales can help agricultural producers improve crop production. In June, the international Journal of Agricultural and Forest Meteorology published a multi-country study that establishes a first-of-its-kind protocol for estimating water productivity gaps across these spatial scales. In addition, the study confirmed water productivity variations among regions with different soils and climates, and it revealed that non-water-related factors, such as nutrient deficiencies, pests and diseases often limit crop yield more than water supply. . .


Rural round-up

September 3, 2018

Beef + Lamb steps up farm plans push – Yvonne O’Hara:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (BLNZ) is ”on a mission” to continuously improve its Land and Environment Plan (LEP) programme as a key part of implementing its environment strategy, which was released in May.

Environment capability manager South Island Matt Harcombe said a survey of LEP workshop participants was carried out from October 2017 to March this year, and the findings would help improve the LEP resources and how they were delivered to farmers.

”We want to continue to build farmers’ confidence in the process of developing farm plans and understand how we can work with others to co-ordinate better support for farmers as well as encourage them to work together at a larger catchment-scale,” Mr Harcombe said. . . 

Getting behind New Zealand’s waterway restoration movement:

 This week is World Water Week and 3,000 decision-makers, scientists and experts from over 130 countries are converging on Stockholm, Sweden to develop plans to preserve this precious natural resource. In New Zealand, the health of our waterways is receiving similar levels of attention.

Our streams, lakes, wetlands and rivers have suffered over the last 150 years because of the effects of rural and urban development. While efforts to improve freshwater have mainly focussed on limit setting and development rules, we’re now seeing a rapidly growing grass-roots movement driving waterway restoration initiatives. These community efforts have developed because New Zealanders know the task of reversing the impacts is too big for a single owner or sector, so working together is the only way forward. . .

Change of dairy chairman for Federated Farmers – Ella Stokes:

If you have a passion about something get involved with it, says the newly appointed Federated Farmers Otago dairy chairman.

Dairy farmer Mathew Korteweg recently took up the role after previously being the sharemilker chairman for two years.

Mr Korteweg and wife Catherine, along with son Beau (1), have been 30% sharemilkers on Mr Korteweg’s family farm which has had a herd of 550 cows for the past five seasons.

For the past two seasons, they have taken on a neighbouring farm where they were contract-milking a herd of 550 cows. . . 

Synthetic wine and whisky soon to go on sale – Gerard Hutching:

First it was fake meat, cheese and milk. Now it’s pretend wine and whisky.

Forget about terroir, centuries old grape vines and peat-infused single malts from the famed island of Islay. San Francisco-based Ava Winery has shown it’s possible to create sauvignon wine and whisky in a laboratory.

At the Bragato wine conference in Wellington this week, winegrowers sniffed and sipped a molecular whisky and sauvignon blanc and handed out their verdicts. . . 

Why lamb is the most ethical meat to eat – Lizzie Rivera:

Forget Easter, now is the best time to eat British lamb, which is one of the most naturally reared animals, says Lizzie Rivera in the final instalment of our series investigating the myths and realities of meat production.

The importance of us knowing where our food really comes from has been highlighted by yet another food scandal, with the country’s largest supplier of supermarket chicken allegedly tampering with use-by dates.

This suggests it’s time for us to eat less meat or at the very least spread the load of our carnivorous diets by buying from smaller producers and varying our choices, perhaps even by rediscovering our love of lamb – and now couldn’t be a better time.

“The time to eat lamb at it’s absolute best – the highest quality eating, beautiful, flavoursome lamb – is in the autumn of the year. It’s just fantastic,” says Richard Smith, senior farms manager at Daylesford.

IFMA22 Congress opens $2500 bursary for ‘next gen’ farm managers – Johanna Baker-Dowdell:

Tasmania’s two major industries – agriculture and tourism – intersect at the next International Farm Management Association Congress.

Organisers are expecting a switched-on audience full of up to 400 farmers, educators, researchers, consultants, government staff and businesses, but they are particularly interested in the agricultural industry’s next generation.

The 2019 congress will be held at Launceston in March and the theme is Growing Agriculture @ 41 Degrees South. . .


Rural round-up

August 30, 2018

Farmer gets back on feet after cattle disease Mycoplasma strikes – Gerard Hutching:

Ashburton dairy farmer Frank Peters is feeling more optimistic than in May when he tearfully watched 300 of his “beautiful” calves being sent off to slaughter.

They had no signs of the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis but the fact others in the 1400-strong herd were infected was enough for the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) to pronounce the death sentence.

So far he has been compensated “about $2 million” for the replacement of his cattle. Nationwide $18.9m worth of claims have been paid out, from $25.3m received. . .

Mycoplasma bovis confirmed in Northland district:

Biosecurity New Zealand today confirmed a property in Northland has tested positive for the bacterial cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis. It’s the first time the disease has been found in this region. 

The infected property is a dry stock beef farm. The farm, as with all other infected properties, was identified through the tracing of animals movements from known infected farms and is under a Restricted Place legal notice under the Biosecurity Act 1993.

This effectively places them in quarantine lockdown – restricting the movement of animals and other risk goods on and off the farm. . .

Micro-credentials give biosecurity industry edge – Yvonne O’Hara:

Biosecurity-focused micro-credentials (MC) will be the one of the first bite-sized qualifications available from Primary ITO, once the relevant rules and paperwork are signed off.

The industry training organisation is also planning micro-credentials for dairy and horticulture.

Primary ITO chief executive Dr Linda Sissons said the relevant legislation had been passed earlier this year, which allowed training organisations to offer the micro-credentials to their workplace-based students. . .

 Guy Trafford confronts the challenges of extensive milk regulations, and relates that to the incidence of Listeriosis and its fatal outcomes:

Just when the M Bovis story appeared to have had quietened down another twist has appeared, although this may not be what the headlines intimate.

Earlier this week, it was reportedAlfons Zeestraten, the farmer MPI appeared to consider to be at the centre of where M Bovis got started, was to appear at the Invercargill District Court. The charges relate to the importation of machinery; Zeestraten has stated that he is innocent of the charges. MPI have refused to comment on the case. If the charges are indeed unrelated to the M Bovis outbreak MPI would be doing everybody a service in stating that, given the emotions and interest surrounding the disease, and stop a lot of speculation.

On to more normality, the price of milk to consumers has reared its head again, this time with Chris Lewis Federated Farmers Dairy Chair leading the calls to boycott supermarkets and support corner dairies who he finds sell it far cheaper. New Zealand has the third highest milk consumption per head of capita, however, our milk prices appear to be driven by the highest price able to be gained on the international markets. Consumers point to other countries that can sell milk at a considerable discount to what is charged in New Zealand. . .

Farmers are now ‘up to their elbows’ in calves – Ella Stokes:

Calving season is in full swing for many dairy farmers around the region. This week Southern Rural Life reporter Ella Stokes  caught up with Clydevale farmer and calf rearer Phillippa Foster.Polaris

At this time of year Phillippa Foster said she was always ”up to her elbows in calves” but said she loved the job.

She and husband Greg originally farmed in Taranaki before moving south five years ago.

They were now 50/50 sharemilkers on their Clydevale farm near Balclutha. Their children Greer (10) and Preston (12) attended Clutha Valley School . .

 

LUV training hits the spot – Mark Daniel:

Quads and light utility vehicles (LUV) get a bad rap because operators’ poor skills and riding judgement cause crashes. Quality training can reduce such incidents.

Jacks Farm Machinery, Whakatane, a forward-thinking machinery dealer in the Bay of Plenty region known for horticulture, decided to act.

This supplier of Polaris quads and LUVs was already in the business of certified modifying Ranger and Ace models to allow them to work under pergolas in kiwifruit orchards; this also allowed orchardists to switch from quads to LUVs. . . 

Not a bad apple – Gala passes Red Delicious as America’s favourite – Nathan Bomey:

At their core, Americans have changed – at least when it comes to their apple preferences.

The Red Delicious apple is expected to lose its title as the most popular apple in the US this year, a perch it held for more than half a century.

The US Apple Association is projecting that the gala apple will usurp the red delicious for the top spot.

The group, which advocates on behalf of 7500 US apple growers and 400 companies in the apple business, predicted that the US would grow 52.4 million Gala apples in 2018, up 5.9 per cent from a year earlier. . .

 

Environment water for sale in drought-hit Victoria

The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder has announced a sale of 20 gigalitres of water from the Goulburn Valley in Victoria.

The water will be sold udner a competitive tender which opens at 10:00am Monday September 3 2018 and will close at 2:00pm Wednesday September 5.

There will be a minimum bid size of 5 megalitres and a maximum bid size of 500ML, which the CEWH said would balance the access of small and large irrigators to the trade.


Rural round-up

May 15, 2018

Farmer urges quad rollover protection – Richard Davison:

Hillend farmer Douglas Jack says a $600 quad bike rollover bar saved his life last month, and wants to see more people follow his lead by installing one.

Mr Jack was putting up a break fence adjoining a field of swedes on his 400ha sheep and beef farm near Balclutha on April 5 when disaster nearly struck.

“I was on the quad bike on a wee slope, nothing dramatic, when my rear wheel hit a large swede and boompha, I was over,” he said.

Fortunately, after seeing his uncle saved by a raised deck board on his Bedford truck during a similar incident as a boy, Mr Jack had long been a believer in rollover protection on his quad. . . 

Soil health main focus of field day – Ella Stokes:

More than 200 people gathered at the Clinton Community Centre on Tuesday in a bid to learn about farming for the future.

The ”Regenerative Farming Field Day” was hosted by Beef and Lamb New Zealand.

It began with talks from researcher Dr Christine Jones and senior researcher at AgResearch New Zealand Dr David Stevens.

They both discussed regenerative farming ideas, minimising bare soil, plant growing, diverse forages and rotational grazing.

Dr Jones has a PhD in soil biochemistry and spoke on the fundamentals of soil. . . 

The right way to protect rare plants on private land –  Jamie McFadden:

To most people, wiggy-wig is an unappealing, non-descript shrub. But to those of us that know wiggy-wig, it is a New Zealand native biodiversity gem. This plant is commonly known as Muehlenbeckia astonii or shrubby tororaro and naturally occurs on the drier east from Wellington to Banks Peninsula.

Wiggy-wig made headlines last week when Forest & Bird claimed that a Banks Peninsula farmer had cleared 1000 of these rare plants. To be fair to the farmer it is the sort of scruffy shrub that you might set alight or spray and it wasn’t that long ago the Government paid farmers to clear this shrub.

The Hurunui district is home to remnant pockets of wiggy-wig. Fifteen years ago a Hurunui farmer approached me about an unusual shrub on his farm. I identified it as a very healthy population of wiggy-wig. I asked the farmer if I could collect seed so we could grow and re-establish more of these rare plants throughout the district. . . 

How to find the best bull for your operation :

The decision you make about which bull to buy this season will still affect your business in four cow generations’ time – that’s 15 years from today. So taking the time to research your bull purchase now yields an exceptional return.

Here are B+LNZ Genetics’ five steps to find the best bull for your operation.

1) What do you want to achieve on your farm?

Where are you right now in your cattle performance and where do you want to be? Use these questions to create your breeding objective or genetic plan. For instance, you might be happy with your 95% scanning, but keen to see heavier weaners.

2) How do you choose a breeder?

Once you’ve set clear objectives for your herd, identify a bull breeder with similar objectives. Ask the breeder for genetic trend graphs. The graphs should show a positive upward trend for the traits that impact on your goals. If not, look for another breeder. . . 

Q and A Lesley Wilson –  Andrew Ashton:

Following the end of a busy fruit-picking season, Hawke’s Bay Today reporter Andrew Ashton talks to project management and event management expert and current Hawke’s Bay Fruitgrowers’ Association president Lesley Wilson – the woman who led the Australian Access Action Group campaign that ended with the Government taking Australia all the way to the World Trade Organisation and gaining meaningful access for New Zealand apples into Australia.

What will be the key things for horticulture and ag-based businesses to come to grips with to be successful in the future?

Doing more with less is the key to providing food for the world’s ever increasing population. The recent wholesale acknowledgement that there are limited resources (land, water and people), is driving positive change in the efficient use of natural resources and the training and retention of our people. . .

Cattle industry looks to defend ‘meat’ label from lab-grown and plant-based products –  Marty McCarthy, Matt Brann:

The peak body for Australia’s cattle industry says it is considering calling for reforms to prevent lab-grown meat from being labelled “meat”.

Experts think a commercial industry to supply meat grown from stem cells in a laboratory is achievable within the next decade and there is also rising demand for plant-based meat alternatives.

France recently banned the use of the words “meat” and “dairy” on vegan and vegetarian food labels, while farm lobby groups in the United States are calling for cell-grown and plant-based replicas to be labelled as such.

Cattle Council of Australia chief executive, Margo Andrae, said her organisation did not want to see a repeat of the dairy industry’s battle over the term “milk” and “dairy” and was considering its own defensive options.


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