Rural round-up

May 4, 2014

Get on the front foot over environment critiques:

FARMERS ARE too defensive in their responses to the issue of the environmental impact of farming.

So says Tihoi, Lake Taupo, farmer Mike Barton, who with his wife Sharon this year won the top award in Waikato in the Ballance Agri-Nutrients awards contest. 

They have taken a leadership role in dealing with Environment Waikato’s controversial Variation 5 that severely limits the amount of nitrogen a farm can leach. . .

Treat farms as cluster of small units:

COLE AND Tania Simmons’ property 20 minutes drive east of Dannevirke can get cold and wet during winter, risking soil damage by stock. Simmons have made provision for this by building a feed pad and by planting shelter trees. 

Dr Alec Mackay, AgResearch, told farmers attending the field day to look at their properties as “assemblages of a diversity of landscape units,” rather than just one big farm.  In the past, people have talked more about average numbers but McKay says this fails to address the reality that parts of a farm differ from each other and need to be treated or managed differently. Better to see a farm as smaller units and see what ‘contribution’ each makes to the business.

“There are opportunities to increase the profitability and performance of a farm by moving away from making average decisions on an average basis across the farm and going out and interrogating the land that makes up the farm.  . .

Hawke’s Bay TB control benefiting native wildlife:

Farmers and environmentalists alike are touting the benefits of planned aerial bovine tuberculosis (TB) control operations this winter in Waipunga near the Taupo to Napier highway. Dennis Ward, of Ngatapu Station, fits into both groups and is also a keen recreational hunter.

“When you look at the practicalities of 1080 in improving the quality of life of our native species, it’s a no brainer. People don’t appreciate that possums, stoats, ferrets and rats do more to decimate our native bird populations than anything else,” said Mr Ward.

He said scientific research has shown the positive effects of 1080 on native birds and forests. “The evidence has convinced me that it is the best method for use, particularly in rugged terrain like the Waipunga area, where ground control is impractical.” . . .

Goodhew visits damaged forests on West Coast:

Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew has visited the wind ravaged West Coast today to experience first-hand the impact on local communities.

“The severe winds on last Thursday have affected the indigenous and plantation forests, as well as the wider agriculture sector from Karamea to Haast,” says Ms Goodhew.

During the storm the strongest gust recorded was 130km/hr at Westport, although the level of damage suggests the winds were even stronger in some areas. The Insurance Council of New Zealand is still assessing the damage.

“In true West Coast style the community has rallied around and demonstrated extraordinary resilience,” says Mrs Goodhew. . .

Wool price focus welcome – Cara Jeffery:

MERINO wool has been their lifelong passion on the land but Rick and Pam Martin know their enthusiasm for fine wools can only stretch so far if something isn’t done soon to improve prices.

The Martins run 1700 breeders and 900 Merino wethers on their property “Burnbank”, at Borambola near Wagga Wagga, and say any ideas that could improve the current situation for woolgrowers should be explored.

Their comments come after it was revealed last week that Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) chairman Wally Merriman had floated an idea with the AWI board to regulate the supply of wool into the auction markets to help stabilise price fluctuations in the market. . . .

Final judging underway:

The final judging is underway to determine the winners in the 2014 New Zealand dairy award winners.

The winners will be announced at a sold-out black tie event attended by 650 people at Auckland’s Sky City Hotel on May 9. About $170,000 in prizes are up for grabs in the New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions.

Judging started on Monday (April 28) for the 11 sharemilker/equity farmer and 11 farm manager regional finalists. A team of three judges – a farmer, banker and farm adviser – spend two hours on each finalist’s farm to critique the finalist and their farm business. The task takes the sharemilker/equity farmer judges from Winton, in Southland, to Whataroa, on the West Coast, and to Ohaewai, in Northland. The last of the regional finalists, the Auckland/Hauraki representatives, are judged on Tuesday (May 7). . .

Sponsorship for ‘Pioneering’ Lincoln research:

Leading maize, lucerne, forage sorghum, and inoculant producer Pioneer® Brand Products has generously agreed to an annual sponsorship arrangement with Lincoln University to assist with projects aimed at ensuring a sustainable farming future for New Zealand.

The objective behind the sponsorship aligns well with the commitment of both organisations to continually look for ways to increase farm profitability without compromising environmental quality.

This year’s sponsorship will support work investigating the use of plants in an agricultural setting – such as around paddock borders and riparian zones – to reduce the build-up of nitrates in the soil. . .


Rural round-up

March 17, 2014

Wild bee loss bad for breed:

Beekeepers are being warned to check the genetic diversity of their stock following the first stage of a nationwide survey that shows significant in-breeding.

The Sustainable Farming Fund project, administered by University of Otago associate professor Peter Dearden, has studied bees from all over New Zealand.

The early results show New Zealand’s bee population was much more diverse than previously thought but that many beekeepers have serious issues with inbreeding. . .

Farm manager shares love of ‘wicked’ industry

The 2014 Southland Otago Farm Manager of the Year, Jared Crawford, says he was ”shocked” when he heard his name announced during the New Zealand Dairy Industry awards regional final at the MLT Event Centre in Gore on Saturday.

He and wife Sara stood on the podium with the region’s Sharemilker Equity Farmer of the Year winners Steve Henderson and Tracy Heale, of Winton, and Dairy Trainee of the Year winner Josh Lavender, also of Winton. . .

Triallist just wants to get better – Sally Rae:

When Cody Pickles goes to the dog trials, he takes his Gin with him.

The young Otago shepherd also takes Dusty, another member of his eight-strong working dog team. Both dogs are heading dogs.

Mr Pickles (23), who is in his second season of ”having a go” at dog trialling, works at Waipori Station, a 12,000ha Landcorp Farming-owned property on the shores of Lake Mahinerangi. . . .

NZ supports Philippines farmers’ recovery from Typhoon:

Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye today announced that New Zealand will provide $2.5 million to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to help farmers in the Philippines recover from Typhoon Haiyan.

“Typhoon Haiyan was one of the most devastating storms in recent history and it is estimated that almost 6 million workers’ livelihoods were destroyed, lost or disrupted,” Ms Kaye says.

“In the immediate aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan New Zealand made around $5 million available to support the emergency response and relief effort and the New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully indicated that we would consider further support aimed at helping the Philippines recover.

“New Zealand’s contribution will help to restore the livelihoods of 128,000 vulnerable households in rural areas affected by Typhoon Haiyan. . .

Wind-up for the Woolless Wiltshires of Winchmore:

The final act of a 13 year-long AgResearch sheep breeding project designing low-maintenance sheep will take place at the Tinwald General Saleyards on Wednesday 12 March.

​The research project led by AgResearch scientist Dr David Scobie into easy-care and shedding sheep has finished.  As the two flocks, totalling approximately 300 sheep, are now surplus to requirements on the Winchmore Research Farm, AgResearch is holding a dispersal sale.

In 1997, AgResearch predicted that the cost of growing wool would exceed the value of the wool grown in what was then a foreseeable future. 

“We had two challenges,” says Dr Scobie.

“To develop a wool-less sheep and also to develop a low maintenance sheep.”

The Wiltshire flock were selected for decreased fleece weight for a period of 11 years.  . .

Farmer-friendly sheep don’t need sheering –  Annabelle Tukia:

It is the end of an era for AgResearch, who have put their 300 scientifically-bred sheep under the hammer.

For the past 13 years scientists have been experimentally breeding two different types of sheep with some very unique features.

A small but enthusiastic crowd flocked to the Tinwald sale yards. On sale were no stock-standard ewes. For the past 13 years AgResearch has been breeding a line that would appeal to farmers and lifestylers for their low maintenance.

The first is a breed that sheds its own wool and requires no shearing and the second a composite breed that does not need its tail docked and has far less wool in areas that would normally create dags. . . .

Taranaki Dairy Awards Winners Back on National Stage:

Experience counts and for two of the major winners in the 2014 Taranaki Dairy Industry Awards they have that in spades.

Both 2014 Taranaki Sharemilker/Equity Farmers of the Year, Charlie and Johanna McCaig, and 2014 Taranaki Farm Manager of the Year, Michael Shearer, have won regional dairy industry awards titles previously.

In 2011 the McCaigs placed second in the New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year competition, after winning the Taranaki regional title while in 2012 Mr Shearer placed third in the New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year competition after winning the West Coast Top of the South regional title. . .


Dairy Award finalists

April 6, 2012

The 36 finalists in the 2012 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards will compete for more than $140,000 in cash and prizes at the national awards.

The national winners will take home some excellent prizes and, while they are pleased to win these, most of our finalists are motivated to enter and do well in the awards to boost their confidence and farm business performance,” national convenor Chris Keeping says.

“A key outcome from participating in the awards is the opportunities presented to progress in the industry. Our entrants are able to take the next step in their career through the feedback they receive from judges, people they meet at the awards dinners, from raising their profile and reputation, and from gaining increased confidence in their ability.”

Mrs Keeping says the final of 12 regional awards contests was held in Southland last weekend to confirm the 12 finalists in each of the New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions.

She says many of the finalists will be hosting field days in the next two weeks and preparing for national judges visits. The judges spend two hours on the farm of the sharemilker/equity farmer and farm manager finalists. An interview will be held once the finalists have gathered in Auckland for the awards dinner on May 12, and is the final judging aspect used to determine the winner.

The dairy trainee finalists will go on a study tour containing judging components. The New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors Westpac, DairyNZ, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Honda Motorcycles NZ, LIC, Meridian Energy, Ravensdown and RD1, along with industry partner AgITO.

The 2012 New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year finalists:•         Auckland Hauraki –Scott & Alicia Paterson, •         Bay of Plenty –Richard & Amy Fowler •         Canterbury North Otago– Edna & Sarah Hawe •         Central Plateau –John Butterworth •         Hawkes Bay Wairarapa –William & Sally Bosch •         Manawatu Rangitikei Horowhenua – Shaun & Liza Connor •         Northland– Miles Harrison & Lucy Heffernan •         Otago –James & Helen Hartshorne •         Southland – Billy& Sharn Roskam •         Taranaki – Rebecca & James Van Den Brand •         Waikato – Barry & Nicky McTamney •         West Coast Top of The South – Paul& Debra Magner

The 2012 New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year finalists:•         Auckland Hauraki– Paul & Amy Koppens •         Bay of Plenty –Grant Clark •         Canterbury North Otago – Mick O’Connor •         Central Plateau – Ian Nelson •         Hawkes Bay Wairarapa – Dean & Rochelle Jones •         Manawatu Rangitikei Horowhenua– Matt Johnson •         Northland – Steve & Donna Griggs •         Otago – Gareth & Angela Dawson •         Southland – Hannes & Lyzanne du Plessis •         Taranaki – Thomas Higgins •   Waikato – Thomas White •         West Coast Top of The South – James Deans

The 2012 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year finalists: •        Auckland Hauraki – Kylie Dunlop •         Bay of Plenty – Brandon Law •         Canterbury North Otago– Nathan Christian •         Central Plateau –Emily Fiddis •         Hawkes Bay Wairarapa – Dyana Barnes •         Manawatu Rangitikei Horowhenua –Shane True •         Northland – Benson Horsford •         Otago – Richard Lang •       Southland – William Mehrtens •         Taranaki –Mark Duynhoven •         Waikato – Mark Jacobs •West Coast Top of The South – Michael Shearer.

Past entrants say while the kudos of winning and prizes are appreciated, what they learn in the process is also very valuable.


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