Rural round-up

November 2, 2019

Ringing up in tears’ : Canterbury farmers doing it tough – Jo Moir:

Canterbury farmers say they’re at breaking point. A recent Ministry of Health report presented to MPs showed suicide was up 20 percent in rural areas compared to a drop of 10 percent in cities and towns.

Droughts, floods, earthquakes, farm debt, M bovis, looming water quality reforms and climate change legislation have Canterbury farmers feeling under the pump.

Ashburton farmer and Federated Farmers’ board member, Chris Allen, said nothing brought home just how many farmers were battling depression than a funeral. . .

Researchers did deeper in fight against climate change – Rebecca Black:

Researchers have found deep soil holds potential to off-set greenhouse gas emissions and improve production for farmers.

Dr Mike Beare and his colleagues at Plant and Food Research have been studying how soils differ in their potential to store carbon, and the risk for carbon loss.

Beare said many of New Zealand’s long-term pasture top soils are approaching saturation and don’t have the potential to store carbon near the surface.

Many continuous pasture soils in New Zealand are stratified, with carbon levels declining rapidly with depth. “Where there is much greater potential to store additional carbon is below the surface soil,” Beare said. . . .

Give farmers the tools and they will respond – Todd Muller:

The Government should let farmers focus on continuing to produce world class food, not trying to negotiate complex tax systems, writes National’s spokesman for Primary Industries, Todd Muller.

Last week the Government announced a broad agreement had been reached with the agriculture sector on how to approach the very complex challenge of reducing our emissions from sheep and cattle animals in New Zealand.

Unlike our CO2 emissions, which we’re all exposed to whether we’re a farmer or city dweller via the carbon price, natural emissions from belching and urinating cows and sheep currently sit outside a pricing regime. . .

Biosecurity business pledge signed by 50 companies:

A group of 50 New Zealand companies have signed a first-of-its-kind pledge to protect New Zealand from pests and diseases.

The Biosecurity Business Pledge – which includes some of New Zealand’s biggest businesses, including Fonterra, Auckland Airport, Goodman Fielder, Countdown and Mainfreight – was launched today by participating businesses and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor. . .

Feds urges going the extra mile with biosecurity pledge :

Businesses which sign up to the Biosecurity Pledge 2019 are underlining a commitment to go the extra mile to protect our environment and economy from diseases, pests and hazardous organisms. 

“It’s one thing to tick all the boxes in terms of meeting all the regulatory requirements.  That should by now be standard practice,” Federated Farmers biosecurity spokesperson Karen Williams says.

“The Pledge campaign, supported by Federated Farmers and 10 other farmer and grower organisations, is about businesses actively looking for ways to cut out potential risks to protect not just their own interests, but those of their peers, the wider community and our little slice of paradise at the bottom of the world. . .

 

Filipino farmer grows new life in New Zealand after rough beginning – Emma Dangerfield:

Bob Bolanos had a good life in the Philippines but political corruption prompted him to move his young family to New Zealand and start at the bottom again. Emma Dangerfield reports.

When a Philippines Government official offered Bob Bolanos a top electrical contract, he knew he had to leave.

The farmer was well connected, so he and his young family were well looked after, and he was regularly awarded good contracts because of who he knew. But it did not sit well.

Something about it made me sick to my stomach,” he says. “I didn’t want my children being brought up in that environment.” . .


Rural round-up

October 11, 2019

Anger at slow compensation process –  Sally Rae:

”I think I would rather have cancer than Mycoplasma bovis.”

That was the hard-hitting opening line in a letter from North Otago farmer Kerry Dwyer, to Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor last month.

Mr Dwyer and his wife Rosie were among the first farmers affected by Mycoplasma bovis when their property was confirmed as having the bacterial cattle disease in August 2017.

It was in March last year that Mr Dwyer first publicly expressed fears over the compensation process.

Now, more than two years after having all their cattle slaughtered due to the disease, and a year after lodging their last compensation claim, they were still waiting for settlement.

But after the Otago Daily Times contacted MPI yesterday, a spokesman said director-general Ray Smith had requested an urgent review of the Dwyers’ claims and MPI would pay what was owing by the end of the week. . . 

Hurunui mayor blames public opinion for ‘unattainable’ water targets – Emma Dangerfield:

An outgoing North Canterbury mayor says “public opinion and impatience” are driving proposed water quality targets that will be impossible to meet.

Environment Minister David Parker last week released the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater Management and the Government’s rewritten National Policy Statement, which aims to improve New Zealand’s waterways, crack down on farming practices and increase regulation. The plan includes a mandate for councils to have freshwater plans in place by 2025.

In a statement published on the Hurunui District Council’s website, mayor and farmer Winton Dalley said the Government was responding to the “huge pressure of public opinion and impatience with what in their view is … [a] lack of progress to return all water to a quality, which – in many cases – is unattainable.”

Water quality issues in the district were not only caused by rural and urban pollution, he said. . . 

Irrigation achievement celebrated:

The prosperity of the Mid Canterbury district stems from the 67km-long Rangitata diversion race (RDR), which started from humble beginnings with workers using picks, shovels and wooden wheelbarrows in its development at Klondyke, Mid Canterbury in 1937.

It has gone on to supply water to the district’s plains and helping to generate social and economic benefits to Mid Cantabrians, from the people on the land, to those in its towns and villages.

The engineering feat required for its development was celebrated with new signage provided by the Mid Canterbury RDR community and those connected to the system.

They included farmer and RDR Management Ltd (RDRML) chairman Richard Wilson, irrigation scheme representatives, members of the engineering fraternity and other invited guests such as ”RDR Kid” Viv Barrett (87), who, at age 5, lived with his family in the RDR camp at Ealing as his father Jim was the first RDR raceman. . . 

Teenager creates company to get high-speed network to rural communities – Rebecca Black:

A Whanganui teenager has big plans to get fibre internet speeds to rural customers.

Alex Stewart, 14, says rural communities are paying fibre prices for copper speeds and face a huge bill to get access to faster internet.

Stewart was staying at Turakina Beach, 20 minutes south of Whanganui, when he got talking to frustrated locals who had been in touch with a telecommunications company about getting cell phone coverage and better internet. . . 

Painting cows like zebras keep flies at bay – study – Angie Skerrett:

A new study suggests painting cows with zebra stripes could be the answer to the age-old problem of fly attacks on livestock, and bring economic and environmental benefits.

Biting flies are serious pests for livestock, which cause economic losses in animal production. 

However a new study by Japanese researchers and published in PLOS One found that black cows painted with zebra stripes are nearly 50 percent less likely to suffer from the bites.

Researchers used six Japanese Black cows with different paint designs in the study. . . 

African Swine Flu just a stone’s throw from Australia :

The deadly virus which has claimed one quarter of the world’s pig population is now perilously close to our northern border.

A disease that has wreaked havoc and caused mass devastation to the global pig population, has now spread from China to other parts of Asia, including the Philippines, North and South Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and now Timor-Leste.

Outbreaks of African Swine Fever also continue to be reported in eastern Europe as the deadly spread shows no signs of slowing. ASF is reported to have already wiped out a quarter of the world’s pigs, and the risk of it infecting pigs in other countries in Asia and elsewhere remains a serious threat. The disease is known to kill about 80 percent of animals which become infected. . . 

 


Rural round-up

May 8, 2019

Chinese demand still strong – Hugh Stringleman:

China’s dairy demand is steady and the feedback from customers there is strong, Miraka chief executive Richard Wyeth says.

After talking to Chinese customers and Miraka’s sales representatives through Global Dairy Network, Wyeth doesn’t expect big commodity price increases for the season ahead but neither will there be big decreases.

“I think it will be steady as it goes, which is a nice situation to be in.”

All of Miraka’s UHT liquid milk output and about half of its milk powder volume go to China. . . 

Artist and actor riding high in a bull market – Sally Rae:

“You’re the chick who paints cows. You’re the bull painter.”

Amelia Guild gets used to hearing such comments from those familiar with her bold and bright paintings of animals, particularly cattle.

The Canterbury-based artist and actor is excited about her upcoming exhibition, “Mustering the Muscle”, which opens at The Artist’s Room Fine Art Gallery in Dunedin on May 11.

Life is busy – “on the cusp of getting chaotic” – for the mother of 4-year-old Willa and 16-month-old Rollo.

But she is also living the dream, being able to reside in her “happy place” on High Peak Station, the high country property she grew up on, inland from Windwhistle, near the Rakaia Gorge. . . 

Farmer-led group lobbying for changes to Waimakariri water plan – Emma Dangerfield:

A group of young North Canterbury farmers are challenging proposed environmental rules they say are “unachievable”.

The farmers had established the Waimakariri Next Generation Farmers Trust in response to planned changes and rules affecting farmers in the district.

They hope to collaborate with industry and local authorities to address environmental concerns, particularly relating to water quality and management issues. . . 

 

Breeders on tour – Sally Rae:

Bruce Robertson describes the fellowship of Dorset Down breeders as being like a family.

Breeders from throughout the country were in Canterbury and North Otago last week for an annual tour.

About 35 people visited studs in the Ashburton area, before heading to Aoraki-Mount Cook for a night, a visit to merino property Benmore Station, and then to Oamaru. It ended with a visit to studs in South Canterbury. . . 

IHC fundraising calf scheme is on again– Annette Scott:

The annual IHC calf and rural fundraising scheme fell short of its target last season with organisers reaching out to farmers to get on board this year.

IHC national fundraising manager Greg Millar said last year was terrible for many farmers and he hopes the scheme can bounce back this year. 

“Farmers still managed to raise $650,000 for people with intellectual disabilities and despite falling short of our $1m target it was great to see the rural community continue to support our cause,” Millar said.

The national advocacy organisation for people with intellectual disabilities has acknowledged the challenging times with the introduction of new processes as the industry grapples with Mycoplasma bovis. . . 

Helping hands needed for animal farm rescue centre in Glenhope – Carly Gooch:

Lisa Grennell did everything she could to save a piglet but when the little porker lost its battle, the decision was made – time to set up an animal farm rescue centre.

Plum Tree Farm in Glenhope, 80km south of Nelson is home to Lisa and her husband, Mal, but it’s also a sanctuary for farm animals including donkeys, alpaca, kunekune, calves, lambs and goats.

The animal farm “gradually happened”, Lisa said, after the couple moved to the 42 acres nearly four years ago.  . . 


Rural round-up

March 23, 2019

Canterbury farmer credits advances in technology with revolutionising farming – Emma Dangerfield:

A North Canterbury farmer says advances in technology will help him pass on a thriving legacy to his daughters.

Mike Smith and his family began their farming partnership in Eyrewell in 2010 and had been able to improve land production by making use of new technology.

It allowed him to make informed decisions and had reduced the farm’s environmental impact, he said. . . 

China will be hungry for NZ meat – Pam tipa:

African swine fever’s huge impact on China’s pork production this year will be a huge opportunity for New Zealand’s meat industry.

Rabobank’s global strategist for animal protein Justin Sherrard believes the market hasn’t yet fully picked up on the impacts the disease will have.

“This has become a major issue in China,” he told Rural News.  . . 

Sunflowers used to regenerate soil – Yvonne O’Hara:

Mark and Madeline Anderson are trialing a pasture mix that includes sunflowers as a method of soil regeneration and as an alternative polyculture forage on their Waiwera Gorge dairy farm.

They are also looking forward to see their first Normande-cross calves on the ground in August.

They have a 580ha (effective) dairy farm and run 750 milking cows, along with another 300 to 400 young stock.

Mr Anderson said he had sown 50ha using a pasture mix of sunflowers, kale, plantain, phacelia, vetch, buckwheat, various clovers including Persian clover, oats, ryecorn, prairie grass and linseed to create a polyculture rather than the monoculture like ryegrass. . . 

Big wetland bush block opens to public after 500,000 crowd-funding effort  – Mike Watson:

An endangered forest wetland in Taranaki, saved from farmland development by a public fundraising drive, is ready to be opened up to the public.

The 134 hectare Mahood-Lowe reserve, near Kaimiro, 20km south east of New Plymouth, included rare kamahi, northern rata, tawa and totara as well as lichens and mosses.

There is also burgeoning populations of kiwi, whio and falcons. . .

Hectic period for pioneer in deer AI – Sally Rae:

Lynne Currie has the distinction of probably artificially inseminating more deer than anyone else in the world.

Mrs Currie, who lives near Wanaka, is in the middle of a short but hectic season as she travels the country helping deer farmers to diversify the genetic base of their herds.

The first farm was programmed for March 15 and the last on April 8 and much work goes into planning the logistics, including coordinating both vets and farmers. . . 

Dollar a litre demise good news for milk’s nutritional appeal – Andrew Marshall:

A significant flow-on benefit from the past month’s 10 cents a litre rise in prices for supermarket labeled two- and three-litre milk lines will be a restoration of milk’s nutritional and value perception in the eyes of consumers.

Dairy Connect chief executive officer, Shaughn Morgan, described the latest announcement by Coles and Aldi as a valuable initiative in what remains a long journey ahead to find structural solutions to the industry.

“We have long argued that part of the great damage done by $1 a litre milk discounting was to undervalue dairy farmers, the dairy industry and the nutritious fresh milk by denigrating its significant nutritional contribution to human health,” he said. . . 

 


Rural round-up

March 10, 2019

Canterbury shepherd a history-maker as Young Farmer of the Year finalist – Emma Dangerfield:

A North Canterbury shepherd has made history by qualifying for the prestigious FMG Young Farmer of the Year grand final.

Georgie Lindsay, 23, won the fiercely-contested Tasman regional final in Culverden on Saturday, beating seven other contestants. It is the first time a woman has made it to the grand final from the Tasman region.

She is also one of only five women in New Zealand to ever qualify for the grand final in the competition’s 51-year history. . . 

Showchanges over to years ‘unbelievable’ – Sally Rae:

Few know their way around the main ring at the Wanaka A&P Show like Tussock Lucas. Mr Lucas (74), who will be in his usual position leading the grand parade today, has attended the show for 57 years.

He competed for many years in jumping events and also exhibited sheep and wool at the show while farming at Timburn Station, near Tarras.

Now semi-retired and living in Wanaka, he is chief steward for round-the-ring jumping at the show and also helps out with the FEI showjumping classes.

Agritech is growing :

Agritech has been buzzing since a large Australian event was held last month. In Melbourne, AgriFutures Australia hosted EvokeAG, an event designed to bring together the agritech community. Over 1,100 attendees, including a strong contingent from New Zealand, were treated to a great overview of where the industry is at, what are the big innovations, key challenges, opportunities and who the principal players are in the agritech space.

The programme covered panel discussions on everything, from field robotics and agriculture 4.0, to alternative protein farming and tech investments. From a New Zealand perspective, one key takeaway came from AgritechNZ executive director, Peter Wren-Hilton.

“The exciting thing for New Zealand is our alignment with addressing many of the big global challenges for feeding the world while not destroying the planet.” . . 

Allbirds is taking its viral fabric tennis shoes to China – Selina Wang:

Allbirds Inc., the wool shoe startup that’s become a staple of Silicon Valley fashion, is opening its first stores in China, aiming to replicate its viral success in the world’s second-largest economy.

San Francisco-based Allbirds plans to announce this week that it will open a brick-and-mortar store in Shanghai in the coming months. By the end of the year, it plans to have stores in Beijing and Chengdu. It will also be rolling out its goods on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s Tmall online shopping website as well as building its presence on Chinese social media services including WeChat and Weibo. . . 

Winter brings a year’s worth of water for 9 million Californians – Peter Chawaga:

California may have a reputation for persistent drought and water scarcity, but already this year the state’s freshwater reserves are worth celebrating.

Storms in the beginning of January brought an influx of snow to the Sierra Nevada and heavy rains elsewhere in the state, boosting its water reservoirs exponentially.

Over the first three weeks of January, “47 key reservoirs that state water officials closely monitor added 580 billion gallons of water — as much as roughly 9 million people use in a year,”  . . 


Rural round-up

January 11, 2019

World-first water quality project improves test stream – Emma Dangerfield:

Nitrate levels have significantly reduced at a North Canterbury stream less than two months into a pilot project to improve its water quality.

The Institute of Environmental and Scientific Research (ESR)-led denitrification wall trial at Silverstream Reserve, near Kaiapoi, has resulted in nitrate levels in groundwater dropping from 7.1mg/l to 0.5 mg/l.

The 25 metre-long wall, installed in November, is a world first, having never been tested in a fast-flowing gravel aquifer system before. . .

Wide ranging quake projects remodelled – Tim Fulton:

The earthquake recovery project for the upper South Island has been shaken up for better relevance and helpfulness to farmers.

The Government and farming and other landcare groups approved new work areas for the Post Quake Farming Project at a meeting on December 3.

“Thank you to everyone for your patience in waiting for things to get to the point they are now,” new project manager Michael Bennett wrote in a project update.

“We have a great project stacked up in front of us which will hopefully pay dividends to the rural community for many months to come.” . . 

 

New deal for Cross Slot – Hugh Stringleman:

Cross Slot No-Tillage Systems of Feilding has agreed to licence a new seed drill manufacturer in the United States to supply all the Americas.

Company principal and agricultural engineer John Baker said Appleton Marine in Wisconsin was the planned manufacturer and marketer.

It would be the first venture into agricultural machinery for the big heavy-duty manufacturer and fabricator of marine and mining equipment.

Baker said the agreement had not yet been signed but a US no-tillage website had publicised the deal, including a mistaken claim that intellectual property had been sold. . . 

British farmers demand ‘mutual respect’ from NZ trade negotiators:

United Kingdom sheep farming leaders have warned that British producers could lose out badly under a post-Brexit free trade deal struck between the New Zealand and the UK.

In an official response to the NZ Government’s consultation on free trade deal proposals with Britain, the UK National Sheep Association (NSA) has appealed for ‘mutual respect’ for UK sheep farmers from NZ.

“Any new UK/NZ trade deal will cover all products, industries and services and it is crucial to recognise that for sheepmeat it is an entirely one-way trade,” NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said. . . 

 

Honey price tumble hurts producers – Richard Rennie:

Beekeepers are smarting at lower returns on all honey types, including the much touted manuka variety, despite reports it continues to sell strongly in overseas markets.

Downunder Honey owner Jason Prior, of Cheltenham, said honey producers face the prospect of being paid 20-25% less than 2017 by processors as the market reshapes after a shakedown in numbers over the past two years.

“The smaller, second-tier honey buyers have disappeared and then the next tier down, the fly-by-night operators, have gone too. Between these guys they would account for 30% of the market. They were often small individually but combined were quite a portion of that buying market.” . . 

Tasman apple growers expect bumper crop, hope for enough workers to pick them – Cherie Sivignon and Hannah Ellis,:

Some apple growers in Tasman district worry there may be a repeat of the 2018 labour shortage as a bumper crop is tipped for the coming season. 

“I think, we’ve got a very, very good crop,” said long-time grower David Easton.

Fellow grower and New Zealand Apples & Pears board member Matthew Hoddy said crop projections were up 9 per cent on 2018. . .  


Rural round-up

September 30, 2018

Promising results from biodiversity stocktake of North Canterbury irrigation scheme – Emma Dangerfield:

Freshwater mussels have been found during a stocktake of land and waterways within the Waimakariri Irrigation Limited (WIL) scheme. 

More than 200 sites of biodiversity interest were discovered, and CEO Brent Walton said the stocktake had provided WIL with an overview of sites which could be further developed to enhance Waimakariri’s biodiversity values.

“WIL shareholders are committed to improving the environment and this process has provided us with some key areas of potential for further development.” . .

Rogue cattle and local officials create biosecurity risk:

A ho-hum attitude to wandering stock in Northland highlights continuing ignorance around biosecurity, says Federated Farmers Northland provincial president John Blackwell.

This week in Northland local council officers found wandering cows and placed them in a nearby paddock without telling the farmer who owned the property, John says.

The farmer found his own heifers the next day socialising with the lost stock. . .

Sustainable Whanganui celebrates 10 years with talk by farmer and conservationist Dan Steele

Floods, river rescues, evacuations by helicopter and honey extraction are all part of the working life of Blue Duck Station owner and manager Dan Steele.

He’s the guest speaker as Sustainable Whanganui Trust celebrates its 10th anniversary on October 14. The talk is open to the public and starts at 2pm in the Harakeke/Education Room at the Whanganui Resource Recovery Centre in Maria Pl, next door to the Fire Station.

Blue Duck Station had two major events in close succession this year. In February 14 young whio (rare and endangered blue ducks) were released there . .

New resource launched to help measure farm abusiness performance:

A new resource designed to help farmers measure their farm business performance has been launched by the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP).

The Key Performance Indicators (KPI) booklet includes detailed descriptions of 16 core KPIs, some example calculations and resources for farmers who are considering how improvements can be made to their farm business.

The KPIs, which were developed in conjunction with a group of industry professionals and farmers, include lambing percentage, ewe flock efficiency, calving percentage, fawn weaning percentage, gross farm revenue per effective hectare and live weight gain. . .

NZ merino prices jump as Australian drought dents supply of luxury fibre – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand merino wool prices are being pushed up as drought in Australia prompt farmers across the Tasman to cull stock, reducing the amount of the fine premium wool available for sale.

Eighteen-micron Merino wool, considered a benchmark for the fibre, sold at $28.90/kg at this week’s South Island auction. That was up from $22.40/kg at the same time last year and the five-year average of $16.70/kg for this time of year, according to AgriHQ. . .

Wool surfboard is ‘a drop in the ocean’ of potential composite product uses – Terry Sim:

WOOL will replace fibreglass in revolutionary surfboards to hit the Australian market next year. The boards will be released in Australia in February next year under the Firewire Surfboards brand ‘Woolight’. . .


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