Rural round-up

06/07/2021

Farmers to make some noise throughout New Zealand – Shawn McAvinue:

Downtown Gore is set to come alive with the sound of chugging tractors, buzzing planes and howling dogs as part of a nationwide protest against government regulations.

Groundswell NZ co-founder Bryce McKenzie, of West Otago, is inviting everyone to take their tractors, utes, topdressing planes and dogs to towns across New Zealand at noon next Friday to protest a range of new and proposed regulations.

The regulations included freshwater and winter grazing, significant natural areas, indigenous biodiversity and the “ute tax” — a new rebate scheme, which would place a fee on higher-emission vehicles, he said.

Events had so far been arranged in about 20 towns across New Zealand, including Alexandra, Gore, Invercargill, Mosgiel and Oamaru, and the northernmost protest site was Kerikeri. . . 

First time competitor wins Young Farmer competition :

Jake Jarman has been crowned FMG Young Farmer of the Year 2021, winning the competition on his first attempt.

Jarman, 24, beat six other competitors in the grand final, which was held in Christchurch from July 1-3.

The ANZ relationship associate, who represented the Taranaki-Manawatū region, said after winning the title he felt overwhelmed, excited and relieved that it was over.

He initially entered the contest just to give it a go but after reaching the final was determined to give it his best shot. . . 

Global dairy price pushing up price of cheese:

Fonterra says sustained increases in global dairy prices are behind the higher cost of cheese.

A 1kg block of Tasty cheese is now selling for between $16 and $18 at the main supermarket chains.

Fonterra said since the pandemic, there had been a significant increase in demand for cheese in New Zealand and globally.

It said global cheese prices have jumped 15 percent over the last year. . .

Top award for farmers’ saviour – Samantha Tennent:

Clever Kiwis have come up with brilliant solutions to simple problems faced by the agricultural industry for this year’s Fieldays Innovations Awards.

Farmers have always faced water supply issues, not least from cows who have always been too rough with trough ballcocks, snapping arms left, right and centre as they nudge them around while drinking.

And as Ric Awburn watched cows at an empty trough break an arm one evening, he thought it needed some give to withstand the rough treatment, so he put his thinking cap on and went to work.

Two years later, Springarm Products Limited developed a durable and reliable ballcock arm that is durable, reliable and easy to install. It was named the winner of the Prototype award at the 2021 Fieldays Innovations Awards. . . 

First-time beekeeper buzzing with enthusiasm – Sally Rae:

A South American forestry engineer, who inadvertently ended up in Central Otago, has been stung with the beekeeping bug. He talks to business and rural editor Sally Rae.

He quips he is “a sea-level guy”.

So just how did Rio de Janeiro-apartment dweller Adriano Lopes de Melo trade big-city Brazilian life for the mountain vistas of the Maniototo and the arguably quieter pace of life in Wedderburn?

Reflecting on this week’s cold snap, which he laughed was “not OK” — “I’m from a hot place, I’m suffering a bit” — and his discovery of hot-water bottles, as his surfboard sat optimistically redundant in his vehicle, you would have to wonder. . . 

Outrage as ‘flick of a pen’ cuts backpacker workforce for farmers – Jamieson Murphy:

Farming groups are outraged the “flick of a pen” has drastically reduced the seasonal workforce in northern and remote Australia, after the working holiday visa rules were changed “without consultation”.

However, the government says the ag sector – along with the tourism and hospitality industries – were widely consulted and the change is a recommendation made by a parliamentary committee investigation into the Working Holiday Visa Program.

The requirement for backpackers to extend their stay by completing 88 days of farm work has been opened up to include the tourism and hospitality sectors in northern and remote Australia. . . 


Rural round-up

26/06/2021

Farmer lobby groups defend teaching resource on climate change – Catherine Harris and Kate Green:

A teaching resource on climate change produced by meat and dairy interests is being criticised as targetting schools with a one-sided view on farm emissions.

The information focuses on the “important role of New Zealand dairy and red meat in feeding a growing global population”.

Co-authored by Beef and Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers, it explores “the complex relationship between environmental, economic, nutritional, social and global food security outcomes in New Zealand’s food system”. . . 

Growing farming wellbeing awareness :

Working in the agri-nutrient sector, Calvin Ball says he has seen a significant change in farmers’ attitudes to health and safety in recent years.

Ball, the Northern 2021 FMG Young Farmer of the Year, grew up on a Northland dairy farm, studied agriscience at Massey and began his career with an agri-nutrient company in 2013. After his OE in London, he returned to the company and is now Northern North Island regional sales manager, heading a team of nutrient specialists.

“Going out on farms, I have seen farmers’ attitudes change significantly since 2013,” Ball said.

“Back then, many could be pretty dismissive in their response to conversations about health and safety, but now they are much more on board with the requirements and attitudes are very different.” . .

Being green and profitable – Peter Burke:

A major, three-year research project is underway in Taranaki to see what can be done to practically reduce the environmental footprint of dairy farmers and, above all, ensure that farms remain profitable. Reporter Peter Burke looks at the initiative and how it’s progressing.

The project is led by Dairy Trust Taranaki in conjunction with Mark Laurence – DairyNZ’s regional leader in the province.

He heard about the trust working on a project called ‘Future Farming’, which was designed to see what farming might look like in the future with greenhouse gas and nitrate restrictions, as well as new animal welfare requirements, and still be profitable. . .

Icebreaker chief makes switch to carpet and wool company Cavalier :

The former chief executive of merino clothing company Icebreaker is heading to the strong wool sector.

Greg Smith will take up a new role as chief executive of the New Zealand carpet and wool company Cavalier in July.

The listed company last year announced it would stop producing synthetic carpets and would shift to wool-only.

Cavalier chair George Adams said Smith had extensive international business experience, running iconic New Zealand companies and helping them to scale on the world stage. . .

Focus turned to non-mānuka honeys at beekeepers’ conference :

Beekeepers from around the country have gathered in Rotorua to discuss challenges facing the industry.

The annual Apiculture Conference is being held over the next three days and is expected to attract about 900 people from the sector.

Apiculture New Zealand chief executive Karin Kos said one topic of discussion would be finding ways to add value for non-mānuka varieties – to solve the issue of low prices and an oversupply.

“The mānuka story has been very, very successful and has been a great platform to leverage New Zealand honey on the global market and what we’re saying is, it’s time for the other honeys to shine as well. . .

Defra unveils new green fund for farmers in National Parks:

Farmers in National Parks will receive more funding to help them make improvements to the environment, the government has today confirmed.

Land managers based in England’s National Parks or AONBs will also be able to use the funds to improve public access on their land.

The Farming in Protected Landscapes programme is open to all farmers and land managers based in these areas.

The government, announcing the programme on Thursday (24 June), encouraged those interested to apply from 1 July. . . 


Rural round-up

21/06/2021

Changing look for NZ lamb? – Nigel Malthus:

New Zealand meat producers will have to change their breeding priorities to take a full advantage of a new optical meat quality monitoring system being developed by AgResearch.

Clarospec system is designed to analyse meat cuts in real time as they go through a meat processing plant, using hyperspectral imaging to provide objective measures of meat quality.

AgResearch says the technology can provide information on key aspects such as structure and composition that influence flavour and texture.

“This technology will support a shift from volume to value and allow lamb producers to tailor production to meet the needs of global consumers,” project leader, Dr Cameron Craigie told Rural News. . .

Falling harvests nip NZ wine’s worldwide growth in the bud – Bevan Hurley:

New Zealand’s winemakers have enjoyed a $1.9 billion bumper year on the export markets, but now it’s the end of the golden weather.

At Trader Joe’s flagship wine store in New York’s Union Square, queues of shoppers stretched along East 14th St during the early months of 2021.

With restaurants closed to indoor dining, Manhattanites would often wait 30 minutes in the sub-zero temperatures during the depth of the Covid winter, eager to restock their depleted wine racks.

Once inside, the popular US supermarket chain’s chatty, knowledgeable staff were happy to share their thoughts on the Oyster Bay and Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blancs displayed prominently on their shelves. . . 

Rising Star: Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Quinn Morgan

Quinn Morgan laughs when you ask if he always wanted to be a dairy farmer as a kid.

“Growing up I was more in love with my Playstation. My stepdad was a dairy farmer for a few seasons but I was more a city-slicker type kid, rather than going out there and doing everything,” he told Country Life.

But after just one season as a dairy farmer, Quinn has won the prestigious Ahuwhenua Young Māori Farmer Award. Just as impressive; he’s only 26. . . 

Luxury eco-holiday in a dome at Lake Hawea, Wanaka – Isabel Ewing:

Jet boating, heli-skiing, skydiving, bungee – much of the tourism in the Southern Lakes region revolves around speed and adrenaline, but a family-owned business on the shores of Lake Hawea is all about allowing their visitors to slow down.

“People who come here live such busy lives, and it’s about getting them to unwind and just relax,” says Richard Burdon, owner of The Camp and Cross Hill Lodge & Domes.

“A lot of the American clients have pot plants on top of their ovens, and they don’t find that family time to slow down.”

Burdon and wife Sarah have owned the lakeside campground for 10 years, and they’re also third-generation owners of Glen Dene and Mt Isthmus Station, a working farm set in the jagged country framed by lakes Hawea and Wanaka. . . 

Time and place:

Working in a rural but desk-based role has really made Waikato/Bay of Plenty FMG Young Farmer of the Year Kieran McCahon reflect on the very different health and safety challenges of being “hands-on on farm”. 

McCahon grew up on his family’s 1000-cow dairy farm on Northland’s Pouto Peninsula, near Dargaville.

He gained a Bachelor of Agricultural Science and a Master of Management, majoring in Agribusiness, as a DairyNZ scholar, and joined DairyNZ full-time 18 months ago as a solutions and development specialist.

“I recently moved back to Northland to continue my role with DairyNZ, which also means getting more time on the farm,” McCahon said. . . 

Can dairy be sustainable? Yes and here’s why :

Frank Konyn figures there are about 150 breweries within a reasonable drive from his dairy farm in the County of San Diego, Calif.

He frequents 19 of them but it has nothing to do with grabbing a cold one after a long day of milking cows. Instead, he makes weekly stops to pick up something the brewers no longer want: spent grains that remain from creating some of the area’s trendiest microbrews.

On an average week, Konyn collects about 225 tons of the grain that serves as protein-rich feed for his nearly 900 milking cows. He has plenty left over for a nearby dairy farmer’s herd.

Konyn began hauling the unwanted byproduct in 2009 with a pickup truck. Today, he owns five semi-trucks and 40 “roll-off” containers that are 18 feet long and are left at each brewery to be filled. . . .


Rural round-up

15/06/2021

Rural roads may suffer as transport funding hole opens – Chloe Ranford:

Councils are scrambling to deal with holes in their roading budgets, which they fear could lead to deteriorating roads, particularly in rural areas.

Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency has told councils not to expect as much road funding as they had sought, although most would still receive more than they had in the last funding round.

The news from the government’s transport agency has left Marlborough District Council “scrambling” to deal with a $10 million hole in its road funding, which could cause “failures across the network”.

The lower funding indication came as the council was hearing feedback on its long-term plan, used to benchmark what the council would do and spend in the coming decade, including $53.6m on its roads. . . 

SNAs – the green movement that cuts farmers deep:

Katie Milne looks over eight hectares of precious native forest from her lounge room on the West Coast dairy farm she runs with her husband Ian Whitmore.

Just metres from her doorstep are kahikatea, mountain cedar and manuka and species of drachafilums which are normally only found higher up.

When it was designated a Significant Natural Area 20 years ago it was contentious but the debate is even more controversial now.

Today The Detail visits Milne at her farm and finds out why West Coast landowners are so angry at latest moves to identify and protect SNAs. . . 

Safety profile – the job’s always going to be there, getting home safely is the main thing :

This profile is part of a seven-part series from WorkSafe New Zealand sharing the health and safety approaches taken by the grand finalists of the 2021 FMG Young Farmer of the Year competition. For the next seven weeks, we will be sharing a profile and short video about each of the finalists and how they incorporate health and safety into their work, from a dairy farm manager to an agribusiness banker.

Working with ANZ’s rural lending team, Taranaki/Manawatu 2021 Young Farmer of the Year Jake Jarman sees real value in good health and safety practices.

“In my experience, a farm that makes health and safety a priority is a productive and profitable farm,” he says.

Jake’s own health and safety focus began with a solid grounding on his family’s dairy farm and continued through his studies at Lincoln and Massey universities and practical farm placements. . . 

NZ on track for predator-free targets – Ben Leonard:

A new report is giving hope to conservationists hoping to stem New Zealand’s biodiversity crisis

It’s been five years since the Government launched its ambitious goal of ridding the country of rats, possums, and mustelids by 2050. 

The programme aimed to move from piecemeal local projects to a strategic nationwide approach for eradicating the three worst offenders to our biodiversity.

Five years on, the programme is taking stock and reflecting in its first progress report, released at a summit in Wellington last week. . . 

Avocado industry smashes records with 40% sales value rise – Maja Burry:

The season just ended was a record breaker for the avocado industry, with the value of sales lifting more than percent 40 on the year prior.

New figures from New Zealand Avocado show the industry’s revenue from the 2020-21 season totalled $227 million compared to $155 million the season prior.

Overseas markets accounted for $167 million dollars worth of sales, with export volumes up 10 percent.

Industry group chief executive Jen Scoular said the result had been achieved against the odds, with Covid-19 lockdowns and significant freight disruption presenting major hurdles. . . 

Buyers aim high as treetop walkway business goes up for sale:

A leading adventure tourism business which operates a world-class treetop walk has been put up for sale.

Located just south of Hokitika, West Coast Treetop Walk & Café is one of the West Coast’s top visitor attractions.

It attracted more than 45,000 visitors last year with the chance to roam its 450-metre aerial walkway and 45-metre-high viewing tower overlooking stunning native rainforest, or to enjoy a unique food-and-beverage experience in a wild setting.

The business also has approval to install New Zealand’s longest and highest rainforest canopy zipline at the site, which is forecast to boost annual visitor numbers by a further 5,000 to 10,000. . . 


Rural round-up

11/06/2021

West Coast mayors call for halt to all SNA work in wake of Far North protests – Lois Williams:

West Coast mayors are calling for a halt to identifying significant natural areas (SNAs) on private land, after suggestions that the process could be paused in the Far North.

An item on TV One news on Friday night cited a leaked e-mail from the office of Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis, indicating that councils which had not already mapped SNAs could hold off until the relevant government policy was finalised later this year.

As recently as 31 May, James Shaw’s office told the Greymouth Star in response to a query that there would be no ‘outs’ for councils when it came to identifying SNAs in their districts.

Since then, there have been strong protests from Māori landowners in the Far North who had received council letters alerting them to potential SNAs on their land. . . 

Can we produce high natural value? Conservation and livestock farming co-existing Prof Iain Gordon – Sarah’s Country:

In this week’s Sarah’s Country’s Opinion Maker we break-down the concept of ‘rewilding’ in a New Zealand concept and the value-add product opportunity with Prof. Iain Gordon, Lincoln University & Australian National University. Iain explains:

  • In Southern Europe, desertification of the land saw farming not financially viable and the farmers moved to the cities. Then there was a build up of biomass, vegetation and large wildfires broke out so the government is paying for farmers to go back and manage the land through grazing livestock!

  • If rewilding approach is adopted, then larger areas can be given over to conservation, because of the potential broader benefits to society from these spaces and the engagement of farmers in practises that are closer to their traditions.

  • In the UK rewilding or conservation grazing is seen as ‘public good’ and good environmental management commanding a premium in restaurants. . .

Orchardist to enjoy weekend sleep-ins – Sally Rae:

Wes Reichel will be entitled to a sleep-in this weekend.

For more than 18 years, Mr Reichel (73) has left his bed at 3.30am on a Saturday, had a coffee and climbed into his produce-laden vehicle and headed to the Otago Farmers Market in Dunedin.

But this past Saturday marked the end of an era, as the Teviot Valley orchardist retired from the market.

While he would continue to grow fruit and vegetables at Te Mahanga Orchard, south of Ettrick, which has been in his family since 1919, he rued he was ‘‘getting too bloody old’’ to continue travelling to Dunedin. . .

Growing professionalism driving awareness of health and safety in shearing industry:

This profile is part of a seven-part series from WorkSafe New Zealand sharing the health and safety approaches taken by the grand finalists of the 2021 FMG Young Farmer of the Year competition. For the next seven weeks, we will be sharing a profile and short video about each of the finalists and how they incorporate health and safety into their work, from a dairy farm manager to an agribusiness banker.

Industry campaigns and growing professionalism are driving awareness of health and safety among shearers,” says national FMG Young Farmer of the Year finalist Joseph Watts. Yet, he still sees plenty of room for improvement.

Joseph, from Waipukurau, will represent East Coast in the national competition. He began his rural career as a shearer, having completed a Bachelor of Sport and Exercise degree and then played squash professionally for several years.

He went on to gain a Graduate Diploma in Rural Studies from Massey University and is now a Technical Field Representative for PGG Wrightson as well as farming some beef cattle on a 30 acre site at Waipukurau, with his partner, vet Lucy Dowsett. . . 

The Co-operative spirit helps Temuka farmer:

When Temuka-based farmer Hamish Pearse suffered a devastating fire in his milking shed in February he witnessed first-hand the benefits of the co-operative spirit of his neighbours, friends and Fonterra.

The fire was discovered around eight o’clock at night and also burnt through the adjoining office and wash room.

“The staff were pretty shaken by the whole thing,” says Hamish. “My dad was emotional about it too, because he built that milking shed himself 30 years ago.”

“The staff were pretty shaken by the whole thing,” says Hamish. “My dad was emotional about it too, because he built that milking shed himself 30 years ago.” . . 

NZ Apples and Pears chief executive to step down:

NZ Apples and Pears Inc. (NZAPI) chairman, Richard Punter, has announced that the organisation’s chief executive Alan Pollard will step down from his role later this year.

Pollard has been in his role for just over nine years. The industry realised about $340m in export earnings when he started as chief executive in March 2012, and about $920m last year, close to the $1billion by 2022 target that was set in 2013.

“As NZAPI defines what business as usual might look like post-COVID, Alan feels that this is the right time for a new leader to bring their own skills, experience and style to the organisation”, Punter said. “We are deeply appreciative of the contribution that Alan has made to the successful growth of the industry and the grower organisation”. . .


Rural round-up

01/06/2021

Evacuated farmer took no risks after losing 100 cows to flooding in 2009:

A North Canterbury farmer who had to evacuate today says the intense deluge has brought back memories of floods which washed away nearly 100 of his cows 12 years ago.

More than 240 residents in Waimakariri district have been told to evacuate. They include 102 housesholds in the Ashley River area, eight near Kairaki Beach and 133 near Eyre River – including Peter Schouten’s farm.

Schouten’s farm is 800m from the river, and some of his properties share their boundary with the river.

He recorded 150mm of rain up until 7pm on Sunday evening, shortly before he received an alert telling him to evacuate. They were in the process of packing up and leaving, when the police knocked on the door. Schouten has headed to his parent’s place “just around the corner”. . . 

Zespri profit soars to $290m despite ‘incredibly difficult conditions’ :

Kiwifruit giant Zespri has reported record returns for the 2020-21 season.

The company has reported a net profit after tax of $290.5 million – up $90m on the previous year.

Total global fruit sales revenue also grew to $3.58 billion – up 14 percent – and global sale volumes were up 10 percent on last season to 181.5 million trays.

The company said increased sales, the ongoing expansion of Zespri SunGold kiwifruit production and great quality fruit underpinned the strong returns. . .

Chuffed to hand over wool reins – Sally Rae:

Change is in the air at long-established wool business Brian Redding Ltd which has been operating in Gore since the early 1960s, as business and rural editor Sally Rae reports.

When it came to being in business, Jim Paterson’s parents gave him some good advice.

They drilled into him the importance of being “dead straight” in a community like Gore, saying reputation was everything.

And it was advice he heeded during more than four decades in the wool industry . . . 

Feed wheat and barley going strong but uncertainty remains around milling wheat:

Below average rainfall across many regions was a factor in the average 3% drop in yields for the six main arable crops in the 2020/21 season.

The latest Arable Industry Marketing Initiative (AIMI) report, based on 1 April survey results, also found that the number of hectares harvested was down 3% (-3183ha), with the net result being a 6% decrease in total tonnage compared to the previous season.

Particularly marked drops in tonnages were seen with feed wheat (down 9%) and malting barley (down 21%) while tonnages of milling oats and feed oats jumped 31% and 60% respectively. . . 

Safety profile – ensure people are well trained for all the tasks they need to do:

This profile is part of a seven-part series from WorkSafe New Zealand sharing the health and safety approaches taken by the grand finalists of the 2021 FMG Young Farmer of the Year competition. For the next seven weeks we will be sharing a profile and short video about each of the finalists and how they incorporate health and safety into their work, from a dairy farm manager to an agribusiness banker.

Working on massive farming operations in the United States highlighted the importance of New Zealand’s focus on health and safety for Dale McAlwee.

Dale, Aorangi FMG Young Farmer of the Year, grew up near Timaru on the farm that’s been in his family for over a century. After gaining a Bachelor of Agricultural Science, he headed to the US for a year. He is now assistant manager at Singletree Dairies, a 2500 cow farm five minutes north east of Ashburton.

“In the US, I was working in massive farming operations for the wheat harvest. There were very large staff teams and the main focus was on employing experienced people who were expected to already have the knowledge to work safely with heavy machinery.

Nelson’s Seifried Estate takes top honours for sauvignon blanc:

Nelson’s Seifried Estate family winery has taken top honours for its 2020 Sauvignon Blanc at the prestigious Royal Easter Show Wine Awards 2021, winning the title of Guala Closures Champion Sauvignon Blanc.

This newest accolade from the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards adds to the impressive medal tally for Seifried Nelson Sauvignon Blanc 2020, which has already been awarded ‘Best of Show New Zealand’ at the Mundus Vini Tasting in Germany 2020, Gold in the AWC Vienna 2020 International Wine Challenge, Gold in the Melbourne International Wine Competition 2020, and was rated 95/100 by Oz Clarke of Three Wine Men in the UK – his highest scoring wine of the New Zealand tasting!

“We are really quite blown away by this latest recognition of our 2020 Sauvignon Blanc,” says co-winemaker Heidi Seifried-Houghton. “With Sauvignon Blanc making up 63% of New Zealand’s total wine production, our competition was fierce!” . . 


Rural round-up

17/02/2021

Cows, coal and carbon – Elbow Deep:

I was once told by someone much smarter than me that the Green Party policy of today will be Labour Party policy in 10 years’ time. Even without that level of insight, nobody who has been paying attention to the political discourse for the past decade will be very surprised at the Climate Change Commission’s recent report, though there do seem to be large numbers of people shaking their heads in dazed bewilderment.

The Commission’s report largely reflects the findings and recommendations of the Royal Society’s 2016 one, Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy for New Zealand. That report was essentially ignored by the government of the day, but it is extremely unlikely the current government will treat the latest version in the same manner.

The report calls for, among other things, an immediate end to the construction of coal fired boilers, an end to the burning of coal for process heat by 2037 and a reduction in the national dairy, beef and sheep numbers of 15% each by 2030.

No matter how climate hesitant you might be or how little New Zealand has contributed to global warming since pre-industrial times, the Commission estimates that figure to be 0.0028 degrees C, the fact remains our share of global warming is 4 times greater than our share of the total population and 1.5 times greater than our share of landmass. . . 

Waterways benefit from farmer’s ‘dream’ :

A Southland dairy farmer has invested $200,000 over the last 10 years in planting and fencing around a river and creeks on his property – an outcome of a dream he had back in his native Zimbabwe.

Edwin Mabonga, who together with his wife Fungai milk 850 cows on a 270ha farm bordering the Aparima River at Otautau near Invercargill, used to spend time in Zimbabwe reading books about New Zealand.

“It was always a big goal of mine to come to New Zealand because I saw it as being the world benchmark for dairy farming,” he says. “We used to read books to learn as much as we could and eventually decided to move to find out what the big deal was.” . . .

Agribusiness icon helping to change dairying :

Project to reduce nitrate run-off from farms attracts critical corporate clout.

A key environmental project on lower North Island dairy farms has attracted renewed corporate backing – and a grandmother is helping bring it about.

Two of New Zealand’s biggest business players, Fonterra and Nestle, have joined a DairyNZ-led project in the Tararua district in which a blend of the herb plantain is being sown in pastures with the aim of both reducing nitrate run-off into waterways and lowering on-farm greenhouse gas emissions.

The two companies are bringing their muscle to the project by providing additional funding to enable the 50 farms taking part to increase the amount of plantain they grow. . . 

Lasers used as bird deterrent – Jared Morgan:

Using lasers to control birds might sound like science fiction but Ewing Stevens hopes the technology will save his grapes from the peckish pests.

At age 94, Mr Stevens believes he is New Zealand’s oldest vintner but his age is no barrier to being at the cutting edge of technology when it comes to managing his crop at Anthony James Vineyard near Alexandra.

This week three lasers were installed at his Hillview Rd vineyard to replace labour intensive and expensive bird netting.

Mr Stevens said the idea was born out of a conversation with Viticultura co-owner Timbo Deaker, whose Cromwell-based company manages Mr Stevens’ grapes through its vineyard management service, about three years ago. . . 

FMG Young Farmer of the Year Northern Regional Final postponed :

Following Auckland’s move to Alert Level 3 and the rest of the country to Alert Level 2, we have made the decision to postpone the Northern FMG Young Farmer of the Year Regional Final based on Government recommendations.

Given the uncertainty around the latest COVID-19 community cases, postponement of the event is the safest and most cautious option despite contingency plans we have in place to run events during an alert level two.

Like other businesses, organisations and events, we need to respond and do our part to limit the potential spread of this virus.

The safety of our competitors, staff, sponsors and spectators is our main priority. It is imperative that we protect our people and do not put anyone at risk. . .

 

Grange visit a flashback for ‘Birley girls’ – Shawn McAvinue:

A former Taieri farm girl got her dying wish to say goodbye to the homestead she was raised in.

Joan King (83) and her sister Patricia Snell (75) were young girls when their family moved on to The Grange farm in East Taieri.

Their parents, Percy and Rita Birley, managed the nearly 300ha sheep, beef and dairy farm.

The women, from Motueka and Auckland respectively, visited the homestead recently to celebrate Mrs King’s birthday. . .


Rural round-up

27/01/2021

Pledge to end child labour in agriculture:

The director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), Qu Dongyu, has pledged to intensify efforts toward addressing child labour in agriculture through a dedicated work programme.

“This year, we will step up our efforts to strengthen the capacities of a wide range of agricultural actors to include child labour prevention and youth employment in their work,” he said during the virtual event launch of the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour 2021.

“Policies, programmes, and investments related to agri-food systems need to address the root causes of child labour, including household poverty,” he added. . . 

Crunch time for struggling Otago orchards – Tess Brunton:

Some Central Otago orchards say this season’s crop is a write off, while others are struggling to find enough workers.

It has been a tough season for the growers, with Covid-19 border restrictions cutting the crucial supply of overseas workers.

To make matters worse, a deluge hit during the peak cherry harvest.

Ettrick Gardens co-owner John Preedy has been growing fruit, berries and vegetables in the small Central Otago town of Ettrick for decades. . . 

‘Tough situation’: Government aid sought after hail damaged Tasman crop – Susan Murray:

Tasman orchardists are calling on the government to provide financial help following severe hail on Boxing Day.

The devastating Boxing Day hail event which hit most of the Tasman district could cost it more than $100 million and locals say the government’s been silent about coming up with support.

Some apple, kiwifruit, and hop growers lost their entire production and they describe the event as the worst in living memory.

Insurance will not cover all the losses and the impact will be felt well beyond this season. . . 

First time competitor cleans up :

A first time competitor has won the Taranaki Manawatu FMG Young Farmer of the Year Regional Final.

Jake Jarman, 23, not only took out the regional title and became the first competitor of the season named for the grand final, he also won the most points in all four contest strainers. 

Jarman beat two-time regional winner and two-time previous grand final qualifier James Lawn, who came in second place.

Taranaki Manawatu New Zealand Young Farmers chair Kate Stewart, 24, was awarded third place. . . 

Birthplace of the Hamilton Jet, Irishman Creek Station on market – Kylie Klein-Nixon:

A stunning high country farm that once belonged to farming and engineering legend Sir William Hamilton is seeking a new shepherd.

Irishman Creek station, the birthplace of the Hamilton jet engine – which allows boats to skim across shallow water – has come on the market.

Comprised of pristine Mackenzie country tussock and farmland bordering Lake Pukaki, with views of Aoraki-Mt Cook, the 8642ha farm is more than 100 years old. The property even includes the original homestead, a two-storey prairie-style villa. . . 

Mouse plague wreaks havoc across two states, destroying crops in Qld, blanketing parts of NSW – Maddelin McCosker and Vicki Thompson:

A mouse plague is wreaking havoc across multiple Australian states, as people in the town and country pull out all stops to try to control the outbreak.

A “carpet” of mice has blanketed parts of New South Wales, from Merriwa in the Upper Hunter region to Tamworth and Moree in New England.

WARNING: Some people may find images in this article distressing.

In Queensland, a plague that began seven months ago is leaving a trail of destruction that has cost tens of thousands of dollars in lost crops and property damage.

From southern Queensland to the south-west and up into central Queensland, farmers, graziers, business owners and residents are doing all they can to control the mice, but the rodents seem unstoppable. . . 


Rural round-up

29/02/2020

Attacking the noblest profession – Hamish Marr:

In this, the second in a series written by the latest crop of Nuffield Scholars farmer Hamish Marr says farmers are down because they are constantly being attacked while at the same time being denied access to the tools that can help them feed the world while addressing critics’ concerns.

After almost half of this year travelling the world there are a lot of thoughts in my head regarding agriculture and farming.

The biggest take-home for me is the universal problem of people wanting what they haven’t got simply through believing the grass is always greener over the fence and genuinely not understanding agriculture and what is involved in food production. . .

Country Calendar: busy life for Young Farmer Of The Year contestant – Melenie Parkes:

Lisa Kendall is a farmer with a full plate. As well as running her own business, she also works at a rural supply store and volunteers with Riding For The Disabled. 

She also won the Northern Regional final of Young Farmer Of The Year competition and is in the running for the Grand Final in July. As if that’s not enough, she is also pregnant with her first baby.

“The baby will be a farming baby,” says Kendall emphatically. “It will have to be,” she laughs. . . 

Energy the next ag evolution? – Cameron Henderson:

This is the first in a series of articles written by the latest crop of Nuffield Scholars. This week Canterbury farmer Cam Henderson looks at the possibility of farmers generating energy while combatting climate change and being easier on the environment.

Prices are good and interest rates are low but farmers’ moods are down because the regulatory pressure gives them little hope for the future. 

Researchers are furiously searching for more sustainable ways of farming food and fibre but what if there was a whole new sector that could provide a light at the end of the tunnel? . . 

Fonterra reaffirms forecast farmgate milk price and earnings guidance, and revises milk collections:

Fonterra Co-operative has reaffirmed its forecast Farmgate Milk Price range at $7.00-7.60 per kgMS and its forecast full-year underlying earnings guidance of 15-25 cents per share. It has also revised its forecast milk collections for the 2020 season down from 1,530 million kgMS to 1,515 million kgMS.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell says the Co-operative remains confident in its forecast Farmgate Milk Price range and it is also maintaining its underlying earnings guidance of 15-25 cents per share despite current market conditions as a result of coronavirus. . . 

A2 Milk profit rises as infant formula sales increase:

A2 Milk has delivered a strong financial result, with increased sales in its infant nutrition business and with better than expected profit margins.

The specialty milk company’s net profit rose 21 percent in the six months to December to $184.9m, with an underlying sales margin of 32.6 percent.

Sales rose 32 percent to $806.7m, with a 33 percent gain in the infant nutrition business. . . 

West Coast DHB recruiting ‘rural generalists’ to solve doctor shortage – Lois WIlliams:

The West Coast District Health Board is planning to tackle a shortage of hospital doctors with a new breed of medics: rural generalists.

The Association for Salaried Medical Staff (ASMS) released a staffing survey this month, revealing what it called “a whopping 43 percent shortfall of senior doctors” at the DHB.

Five out of eight heads of department at the West Coast DHB said they did not have enough specialists for their services and estimated they were eight doctors short. . .

NFU tells government to honour UK farm standards pledge :

The government has been urged by the NFU to honour its manifesto commitment in the Agriculture Bill to safeguard UK food and farming standards.

The government has published its future farming policy updates, as the Agriculture Bill goes through the Committee Stage in the House of Commons.

And at the same time, new details on the future post-Brexit Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELM) has been unveiled.

This will see farmers paid for work that enhances the environment, such as tree or hedge planting, river management to mitigate flooding, or creating or restoring habitats for wildlife . . 

 

 


James Robertson FMG Young Farmer of the Year

07/07/2019

James Robertson is the 51st FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

. . . The 22-year-old is the youngest contestant ever to win the grand final. . .

He’s proof you don’t have to milk cows to have a career in New Zealand’s multi-billion dollar dairy sector.

“The opportunities in the agri-food sector are endless, even if you live in the city. You just have to be passionate,” he said. . .

He also took out the FMG People’s Choice Award, winning $1000 for his Auckland Young Farmers club.

Central Hawke’s Bay technical field representative Joseph Watts, 28, was runnerup while Waikato vet Emma Dangen, 24, came third. .

You can read more about James here.


Rural round-up

04/07/2019

FARMSTRONG: Sticking to the game plan:

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

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

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

Farmers honour vet who found Mycoplasma Bovis in NZ :

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

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

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

Forestry hurts rural communities – Tracey Collis:

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

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

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

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

Demand drives need for finishers – Colin WIlliscroft:

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

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

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

 

Representing NZ beef on the world stage – Brent Melville:

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

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

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

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

Apocalypse Cow – Michael Reddell:

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

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

Birds at risk of local extinction – Elena McPhee:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rural round-up

11/06/2019

An open letter to the Minister of Regional Development Shane Jones – Richard Alspach:

Dear Mr Jones;

Your plan to plant billions of trees has certainly raised a lot of interest, and not a little concern. I read today of a new lobby group, calling itself 50 shades of Green, which has as its motivation a growing concern about the continued viability of rural communities.

Here in Kaipara we’ve seen it all before. Back in the early eighties the then Government (Prime Minister at the time Rob Muldoon) of the day gave consent for a joint venture to be formed between Shell Oil, an overseas company, and New Zealand Forest Products, at that time New Zealand Owned. The joint venture was called Mangakahia Forests, and its stated intention was to establish a forest of 25,000 hectares, largely in the North of the old Hobson County, since 1989 a part of Kaipara District.

They managed to secure 22,000 hectares. In doing so they displaced a quarter of a million stock units, and brought up 83 separate farms. In a very short time it caused a transformation of the District and its economy. There used to be three top dressing aircraft based in Dargaville, almost overnight it dropped to one. There used to be regular ewe fairs, within two years there were none, the number of shearers dropped off; some country schools closed and others were seriously down sized. The loss of that number of Stock units so quickly was a causal factor in the downsizing of the Moerewa Freezing works. The rate take from that 22,000 hectares dropped significantly, once the land became rateable as exotic forestry. . . 

Austrian aristocrat buys second farm to convert to forest – Gerard Hutching:

Austrian aristocrat Countess Veronika Leeb-Goess-Saurau has snapped up a sheep and beef farm in Wairarapa, to add to the northern Hawke’s Bay property she bought two years ago.

The latest buy is the 1727 hectare Hadleigh farm near Masterton owned by Nelson-based American businessman Tom Sturgess, for which she has paid $13.4 million.

The sale comes amid concerns that a rash of farms is being sold and converted for forestry in areas like the East Coast and Wairarapa, with a resulting loss of jobs and services. . . . 

A sustainable food production silver bullet under our noses – Dr John Baker:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern sees New Zealand becoming a sustainable food producing nation in a big way. It’s part of the Government’s wellbeing policy.

I applaud that. Yet she’s ignoring the way to achieve it.

One of the silver bullets to sustainable food production is under our noses and will achieve wellbeing, not just in New Zealand, but the world.

The Government continues to overlook a technology, developed here, that addresses climate change by returning carbon to the soil instead of releasing it into the atmosphere. That’s fundamental. . .  . . 

Room to move on mohair – Carl King:

Weaving quality mohair is keeping the door open for angora farmers to get even higher returns, writes Federated Farmers – Mohair New Zealand chairman Carl King.

New Zealand mohair is experiencing a lift in fleece prices.

The main two drivers behind the boost are that overseas demand outstrips supply and Australia and South African angora goats are facing severe drought conditions.

Top quality angora fleeces are on average being sold at $40 a kilo plus. . . 

Wool bonanza – Annette Scott:

Increased international demand for fine wool is putting Kiwi wool within reach of becoming a $2 billion industry.

New Zealand Merino Company chief executive John Brakenridge said if half NZ’s crossbred wool clip shifts into higher-value fine wool contracts the economic upside will be as high as $2b.

Increased international demand for fine wool could spell profit for sheep farmers with wool giving kiwifruit and wine a real run for their money in terms of exports, he said. . .

Adding value to the farm business through health and safety:

FMG Young Farmer of the Year grand finalist James Robertson gained first-hand experience of the impact an injury can have on a farm business when his father suffered an accident.

“He was kicked by a cow and broke his thumb,” says James, who grew up on his family’s dairy farm near Mystery Creek.

“I think I’d been a bit oblivious to health and safety as a young person but I really saw the implications an injury has on the business. He wasn’t able to work in the cattle shed for a few weeks. Having a key person not able to do that put a lot of pressure on everyone else.” . . 


Rural round-up

22/05/2019

Nats stunned by methane target – David Anderson:

National’s climate change spokesman Todd Muller says the proposed target for methane reduction puts the New Zealand agricultural sector at “real risk”.

Muller has spent the best part of 12 months negotiating with Climate Change Minister James Shaw to get a workable, bi-partisan deal on agricultural emissions. He told Rural News the proposed methane targets are “widely overdone” and set an “unjustifiable target” for the NZ farming sector.

“There is a body of credible advice – such as recently from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE) and Victoria University’s David Frame – that advocates far more sensible targets for methane,” he says. . .

National supports climate change bill but with concerns:

National has decided to support the Climate Change Response Act Amendment Bill through its first reading, but with serious concerns around the proposed methane target and the potential economic impact, Climate Change spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“National is supportive of efforts to reduce emissions, however we must also ensure our approach manages economic impacts and is in line with a global response.

“National supports many elements of the Bill including establishment of an independent Climate Change Commission, a framework for reducing New Zealand’s emissions and a framework for climate change adaptation.

“We have serious concerns about the target level that has been set. . .

 

More than 300 sheep rustled from Waimumu farm – Richard Davison:

Police say a mystery $65,000 stock theft has left the victims “extremely gutted”.

Mataura Police issued a public appeal yesterday, following a lack of leads concerning the rustling of 320 sheep and eight rams from a Waimumu farm, believed to have occurred during Easter.

Mataura Constable Wayne McClelland said a stock theft of this scale was “unusual” in his experience, and had caused considerable distress to the farm owners.

“Obviously a theft of this magnitude, where you’ve lost tens of thousands’ worth of property, would hit anyone pretty hard. It’s a significant loss of assets given the size of the farm in question.” . .

All ‘Barred’-up over M bovis – Nigel Malthus:

South Canterbury rural consultant Sarah Barr says there is a huge degree of anxiety on the ground over the surge in the Mycoplasma bovis eradication effort.

She told Rural News the announcement of the surge, made just before Easter, was worrying for people who had been previously caught up in the effort.

“People who know they’ve got traces, but haven’t yet been followed up. And people who aren’t involved but are concerned that now they may be.” . . .

North Otago farmer fulfills childhood dream to compete :

North Otago farmer Alan Harvey has dreamed of competing in the FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final since he was a child. He’ll finally get the chance in Hawke’s Bay this July.

North Otago farmer Alan Harvey has ambitious plans to double the size of his sheep flock.

The 28-year-old’s family farm in North Otago has 500 Border-Romney cross ewes, 150-200 trading cattle and arable crops.

He’s in the process of farm succession and is set to take over in July. . .

Genesis reimagines with new product for dairy:

For the first time in New Zealand, dairy farmers will be offered an electricity plan created specifically for their unique energy use with the launch of a new Genesis product, For Dairy.

Genesis Executive General Manager, James Magill, says For Dairy recognises that the way dairy farmers use electricity is far from standard and with this product could ultimately result in savings of

between 5 and 25 per cent off their milking shed electricity bill. . .

 


Rural round-up

21/05/2019

Farmers are right to ask questions – Bryan Gibson:

Last week Regional Development Minister Shane Jones called farmers a bunch of moaners for voicing concerns about the billion trees policy and the Zero Carbon Bill.

We’ll put aside the fact that it’s not a great way to engage with a large and important constituency for now. But Jones must realise his policies have consequences that are going to alter rural New Zealand forever.

In last week’s editorial I urged farmers to get on board with the Zero Carbon Bill as a concept because it provides a path to sustainability and can ensure our customers continue to be happy to hear our farming story. That means they’ll also be happy to keep buying our food. The details of it, which are not yet set in stone, can be challenged but the concept is sound. . .

Merit award acknowledges shepherd’s class:

Nic Blanchard’s happy place is running around the hills with her team of dogs.

Ms Blanchard is a shepherd at Long Gully Station, at Tarras, where she also classes the property’s hogget clip.

Earlier this month, her classing prowess was acknowledged when she was presented with a merit award for the mid micron category at the New Zealand Wool Classers Association’s annual awards.

It was PGG Wrightson Wool Central Otago representative Graeme Bell who thought the clip was worthy of nomination for the awards and put it forward. . .

Dairy can protect water gain – TIm Fulton:

Water carried Graeme Sutton’s forebears to a life of freedom in New Zealand and it keeps doing the same for them on land. Tim Fultonreports.

Five generations ago, in 1842 Graeme Sutton’s English family landed in Nelson. 

It was the start of a family partnership that has endured and expanded into several irrigated dairy ventures.

“The reason they came out, I understand, is that New Zealand gave them an opportunity for land ownership. They never had that in England. They just worked for a Lord,” Graeme says. . . .

Exciting journey to Grand Final – Sally Rae:

As Georgie Lindsay prepares for the grand final of the FMG Young Farmer Contest in July, she admits it had been an exciting yet unplanned journey.

Ms Lindsay (24) has been working as a shepherd in North Canterbury. When she “tagged along” with a couple of members of her local Young Farmers Club who were competing in the district final, she never dreamed she would reach the pinnacle of the event.

In the past, she had been playing a lot of sport and she never had a spare weekend to have a crack at the competition. This year was the first time that she could do it justice and she decided to give it a go. . .

Regional population surge puts pressure on rural GPs:

Medical practices around Northland are closing their doors to new patients – as they struggle with a shortage of GPs and a surge in population growth.

It’s a perfect storm of sorts – with many GPs reaching patient capacity just as a wave of retirees cash in on house prices in cities like Auckland – and move north.

In the Far North, medical centres in Kaitaia and Coopers Beach – a popular retirement location – are no longer accepting new patients, and in Whangarei, only two GP practices are taking new enrolments. . .

Warning predator free goal faces ‘conflicts’ and uncertainty – Kate

The goal of becoming predator free in 30 years could be hampered by conflicts, inadequate planning and uncertainty, a report warns

Predator Free 2050 aims for a coordinated, nationwide eradication of New Zealand’s most damaging introduced predators – rats, stoats and possums – compared to the current piecemeal controlling of limited areas.

A just released report from the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge looks at the predator free target as a large social movement, but said there were gaps that need to be addressed on social, cultural and ethical issues . .


Rural round-up

10/03/2019

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

04/03/2019

EU makes a galling offer – Nigel Stirling:

The European Union is pressing New Zealand to drop the use of some cheese names in free-trade talks but is refusing to open its own dairy markets to increased competition in return.

Negotiators met for the third round of talks in Brussels last week. NZ’s lead negotiator Martin Harvey said the talks had made progress since being launched in July last year and the EU had already tabled an offer on agricultural market access.

“The EU has made us an offer but it is not satisfactory.” . . .

Milk price up but decisions loom – Neal Wallace:

Fonterra decided not to pay an interim dividend because of its debt reduction priorities and steps to improve its operational performance, chairman John Monaghan says.

Fonterra lifted its forecast farmgate milk price range 30c to $6.30-$6.60/kg MS on the back of improved demand from Asia, specifically China, and bad weather slowing production in Australia and Europe.

Countering that, geopolitical pressure in Latin America has made trading conditions difficult in some countries, chief executive Miles Hurrell said. . .

History made as Canterbury woman qualifies for for FMG Young Farmer of the Year final:

A North Canterbury shepherd has made history after qualifying for the prestigious FMG Young Farmer of the Year Grand Final.

Georgie Lindsay, 23, won the fiercely-contested Tasman regional final in Culverden last night, beating seven other contestants.

She’s the first woman from the sprawling region to make it through to the grand final in the contest’s 51-year history. . .

Chance to lower N leaching – Ken Muir:

Southern Dairy Hub business manager Guy Michaels said the key takeaway from last week’s field day at the Hub near Wallacetown was that there is a range opportunities for farmers to save money and reduce nitrate (N) leaching. ”While it is still early days for our research, our monitoring programme being carried out in association with AgResearch is starting to provide a picture of the differences in nitrate leaching in different situations,” he said. . . 

Enterprising family’s team work bears fruit – Sally Brooker:

Usually, it’s the kids who leave home. In the Watt family, it was the parents.

Julie and Justin Watt own Waitaki Orchards, just east of Kurow. Their eight children have become so involved in the business that they have stayed to run different aspects of it.

“Justin and I and the youngest are in Duntroon,” Mrs Watt said when the Oamaru Mail called in last month. “We were the first to leave home.” . . . 

The high school where learning to farm is a graduation requirement – Mary Ann Lieser:

A group of teens gathers quietly in the predawn darkness. Dressed in warm clothing, they meet before breakfast to help capture and pack broiler chickens to be taken to a slaughterhouse. They fed, watered, and watched the birds grow; now they prepare them for their final trip. Eventually, the birds will return as meat and be cooked for the teens to eat.

High school students at Olney Friends School, located on 350 acres near Barnesville, Ohio, witness the cycle of birth and death time and again during their four years on campus. Founded in 1837 to serve the children of Quaker families, Olney has always had a farm program and students have been involved in its operation to varying degrees. . .

 


Rural round-up

03/03/2019

Stemming lifestyle bock growth – Richard Rennie:

 Soaring kiwifruit orchard values have helped take some steam from the lure of subdividing quality land into smaller blocks in Western Bay of Plenty.

However, the Western Bay of Plenty District Council has also had to tighten up on development plans to help prevent the loss to uneconomic lifestyle blocks.

Alongside Tauranga City, Western Bay of Plenty is one of the country’s fastest-growing districts, recording a population increase from 27,000 in 1986 to 46,000 in 2013. . .

Farmingin the city – Luke Chivers:

When New Zealanders think of Auckland few think of farming. But a young Karaka dairying couple are combining their love of the city with their passion for the land. Luke Chivers reports.

IT WAS Gypsy Day 2016.

Traditionally, it is the start of the dairying calendar when accounts are settled, stock is bought and sold or moved to a new farm and new careers are launched. At least that was what Chris and Sally Guy hoped when their sharemilking agreement on a well-nurtured and developed inland slice of rural New Zealand kicked in. The couple are 50:50 sharemilkers with his parents Allan and Wendy who own the 80ha Oakview Farm in South Auckland.

New fertigation trial examines effects on nutrient loss – Pat Deavoll:

A new project to trial the use of fertigation, which could help reduce nitrogen leaching on farms, is underway.

State-owned farmer Pāmu was working with IrrigationNZ and Ballance Agri-Nutrients on the trial which had received funding from the Sustainable Farming Fund.

Fertigation is the application of small quantities of fertiliser through an irrigation system. Fertigation is used overseas but was uncommon in New Zealand. . .

Shearers clip for cancer – Toni Williams:

They came, they shore and they conquered, raising more than $85,000 for charity.

Around 70 vintage shearers from New Zealand and overseas, including current and former world champions, stars of the movie She Shears and All Black greats, appeared on the stands at the Shear For Life event at the Ewing Family property, at Hinds in Mid Canterbury on Saturday.

It was the brainchild of shearing mates Rocky Bull, Alan ”Bimbo” Bramley and Steven ”Dixy” Lynch, who wanted a chance to catch up with a few of the old shearing crowd. . .

Wyndham farmer Matt McRae’s community engagement contributes to Otago/Southland Young Farmer of the Year award  – Blair Jackson:

 Community engagement is something Wyndham farmer Matt McRae values highly.

It’s part of the reason he was recently named Otago/Southland Young Farmer of the Year.

Although his rugby career has taken a hit – he will play in Wyndham’s second string side to focus on his farming study and work – he enjoys what he does. . .

Glass bottles. Make a come-back on Country Calendar – Melenie Parkes:

A Nelson dairy farm is looking to the past to take it into the future. These dairy disruptors are using new technology to reinvent an old-fashioned favourite.

When Julian and Cathy Raine’s winter contract was cancelled by Fonterra in 2012, they had to come up with a plan to generate another source of income.

Their solution was to sell milk direct to the consumer using innovative vending machines, sourced from Europe and dotted throughout Nelson. . .

 


Rural round-up

02/03/2019

Proposed water tax a ‘burden’ on low-water  regions – Stuart Smith:

The proposed new water tax that was announced as part of a swathe of other new taxes potentially facing Kiwis will disproportionally impact on low-rainfall regions like Marlborough.

There are eight new taxes in Michael Cullen’s proposal: the Capital Gains Tax (CGT), tax on vacant residential land, agriculture tax, water tax, fertiliser tax, environmental footprint tax, natural capital tax and a waste tax.

Much has been said about the CGT but the suggested water tax, too, would impact all Kiwis negatively and in particular our farmers, horticulturalists and wine growers in low-rainfall areas. . . 

Partnerships between men and women are critical for farming success – Bonnie Flaws:

With many farms run by married couples, the role of women in farming is a critical one, a female dairy farmer says.

Jessie Chan-Dorman, a former dairy woman of the year, said male farmers could see everyday how women contribute to the business, and they respect that.

“I would say the percentage of women in farming is at least 50 per cent. Nearly every farming business has a partnership that has historically not been seen. But they’ve always been there.” . . 

Studies smoke out fire behaviour – Richard Rennie:

The risk of summer fires is a constant farmers and foresters learn to live with. But the Port Hills fire in 2017 and the Nelson fire last month have brought a human threat to wildfires many Kiwis thought was confined to Australia and North America. With wildfires now affecting rural and urban people Richard Rennie spoke to Scion rural fire researcher Dr Tara Strand about how we are getting smarter at understanding rural fires.

A TEAM of Scion researchers is part of a 27-year history of research into New Zealand’s rural fires, a quiet brigade of climate experts and fire analysts whose job is to help make rural firefighters’ jobs more effective and safer. . .

Grape yield under threat – Joanna Grigg:

Marlborough is experiencing a hydrological drought.

Lack of rain in the mountain catchment has left the Wairau River low, Marlborough District Council hydrologist Val Wadsdworth said.

And summer storage capacity on the plains has been found wanting as a result. January rain of 18mm was soon sucked up by 30C plus temperatures in February.  . .

Matamata to host FMG Young Farmer of the Year regional final :

A Waharoa dairy farmer is facing fierce competition in her quest to be named the FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

Sophia Clark will take on seven other contestants in the Waikato/Bay of Plenty regional final in Matamata next month.

It will be the 30-year-old’s fourth attempt at clinching a coveted spot in the national final. . .

Scott St John leaves Fonterra Fund manager’s board as units hit record  low – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra director and veteran capital markets executive Scott St John has left the board of the shareholder fund’s manager, the same day the units plunged to a new low.

A notice to the Companies Office last night noted St John ceased being a director of FSF Management Co, the manager of the dual-listed Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund, which gives investors exposure to the cooperative’s earnings stream. He is still a director of Fonterra. . .


Rural roundup

17/02/2019

Hungry cities eat land :

As well as being urged to produce more from less while satisfying environmental critics farmers are also being squeezed by pressure for more land for housing and forestry. This week Farmers Weekly journalists Richard Rennie and Neal Wallace begin taking an in-depth look at how much land has been lost and how much more could still be lost as a billion trees are planted to create a low-carbon economy while another 100,000 homes are built.

As the Government grapples with building another 100,000 homes just to meet shortages, planners and producers are nervously watching continued population growth, much which will be in the country’s key farm produce regions.

Until 2016 New Zealand was losing just over 100,000 hectares a year of growing land, whether to urban development or the proliferation of lifestyle blocks increasing by 5800 a year. . .

Take 5 with Rob Barry  – Tristan Burn:

After an epic adventure around the world, Rob Barry returned to the Central Hawkes Bay four years ago and settled his new family. He is currently working as a Managers Assistant on a 1220 cow dairy farm.

The farm is part of BEL Group, a Family Corporate farming business Rob’s parents built up over the last 30 years. They have nine Dairy farms milking 9500 cows in total and seven dairy support farms (three owned, four leased). Since calving Rob has been block managing Ellingham and 400 cows.

1. In 5-10 words what is your farming philosophy?

Leave it better than you found it – Scouts motto. . .

Seasonal labour shortage in Hawkes Bay declared :

The Ministry of Social Development has declared a seasonal labour shortage across Hawke’s Bay.

Declaring a seasonal labour shortage allows visitor visa holders to apply for a variation of conditions, which will enable them to work on orchards and vineyards in the Hawke’s Bay.

The shortage is for a six-week period between 25 February and 5 April 2019, in response to discussions with pipfruit leaders, industry experts, and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. . .

WorkSafe joins Young Farmer of the Year competition:

WorkSafe New Zealand has today announced a partnership with the FMG Young Farmer of the Year competition.

WorkSafe Chief Executive Nicole Rosie says the partnership will connect New Zealand’s future farming leaders with health and safety in an engaging setting, build rapport with rural communities and help create generational change. . .

Pāmu announces increased profit for half year:

Landcorp Farming Limited (known as Pāmu) has declared a net profit after tax of $29 million for the half year ended 31 December 2018. This compares to $21 million for the half year ended 31 December 2017.

Chief Executive Steven Carden said that the increased half year profit was a pleasing result, reflecting good weather conditions and good trade terms for the company’s main products.

“On an EBITDAR (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and revaluations) basis, which we use as a key measure of performance, the half year represented a loss of $3 million compared to a loss of $6 million in the prior period. The loss is largely due to the seasonality of Pāmu’s operations since the bulk of livestock revenue is earned in the second half of the year.” . .

Federated Farmers and Gallagher forge new business relationship :

Long-standing contributor to New Zealand agriculture Gallagher Ltd and Federated Farmers are joining forces to form a new business partnership.

Feds recognises Gallagher as a leader in its field, having more than 80 years’ experience as a leading technology company in the animal management, security and fuel systems industries. . .

Tropical fruit options bring exciting opportunities :

Bananas, so often associated with warm tropical climates on the equator may prove to be another cropping opportunity for enterprising horticulturalists from Northland to Gisborne.

New Zealanders have an appetite for the yellow fruit, chomping through a whopping 18kg per capita a year, about $140 million worth that puts this country at top of the global list for banana consumption. . . .


Rural round-up

16/02/2019

How this tiny New Zealand company is producing the best beef in the world – Katie Chang:

With wellness on the tips of everyone’s lips, seeking the best ingredients available – turns out, there’s truth to the adage “you are what you eat” – has never been a greater priority. While picking plum produce is fairly straightforward, making educated decisions about beef, unfortunately, isn’t so cut and dry. And here in the United States – where the average American was expected to down over a record-breaking 222 pounds of meat (including beef) in 2018 – it can be downright confusing.

Need proof? Head to the produce aisle of your favorite grocery store, pick up any vegetable or fruit, and look for its sticker. . . 

Are social media influences hurting our Ag industry? – Cheyenne Nicholson:

My guilty pleasure in life is watching mummy vloggers on YouTube. I’m a big fan of mum hacks, cleaning hacks and watching strangers go on lavish holiday. In the days when I first met hubby I could also occasionally be snapped watching a makeup tutorial or two as well.

On Monday morning while the babe was asleep and I was enjoying my morning coffee I clicked onto the latest video of one of my favorite mummy vloggers. All was well. Until she said “I still give my daughter (who is 1) formula because I’ve heard cows milk has pus and blood in it and I’m not sure what to do.” . .

Close calls spur farmer into action – Sean Nugent:

The view from Roys Peak is something special, but it is becoming ”dangerous” for visitors to experience it, the landowner says.

The track’s 100-space car park, barely a year old since being upgraded in late 2017, is bursting at the seams.

Each day it bulges and spills out on to the narrow Mt Aspiring Rd, and even the neighbouring farmland.

Department of Conservation senior ranger Annette Grieve said 83,296 people used the track last year, including an average of 480 daily visitors in December.

While the obvious solution to the parking woes would be to expand, Ms Grieve said there was no public conservation land left next to the car park to do so.

At least not now. . . 

Retiring Young Farmer contest  board members leave impressive legacy :

Two long-serving members of the board overseeing the FMG Young Farmer of the Year are set to retire.

Cole Groves, 32, and Dean Rabbidge, 33, will step down from the NZ Young Farmers Contest Board in July.

The pair first joined the committee in 2014, and both have a long history with the national agri-business contest. . . .

 

America can’t move its cheese – Lauren Justice:

Cheese, which has a limited shelf-life, is less valuable once it spends weeks in cold-storage, and producers are concerned that the glut and price drop that has come with it could eat into profits. Spot market prices for 40-pound blocks of cheddar fell around 25% this year from 2014 prices, while 500-pound barrels typically used for processed cheese declined 28%.

Cheese exports have suffered since Mexico and China, major dairy buyers, instituted retaliatory tariffs on U.S. cheese and whey. Cheese shipments to Mexico in September were down more than 10% annually, according to the U.S. Dairy Export Council trade group, and shipments to China were down 63% annually. . .

Rapid gene cloning technique to transform crop disease protection  :

Researchers have pioneered a new method which allows them to rapidly recruit disease resistance genes from wild plants and transfer them into domestic crops.

The technique called AgRenSeq or speed cloning has been developed by John Innes Centre researchers alongside colleagues in the United States and Australia to speed up the fight against pathogens that threaten food crops worldwide.

It enables researchers to search a genetic “library” of resistance genes discovered in wild relatives of modern crops so they can rapidly identify sequences associated with disease fighting capability. . .


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