Rural round-up

October 6, 2015

Farm skills for youth _ Sally Rae:

The prospect of getting out of bed at 5am to gain work experience on a dairy farm does not bother Caleb Unahi.

The 19-year-old is enjoying keeping busy as part of the Farmhand training programme, which aims to expose Dunedin’s disengaged youth to rural opportunities.

Before starting the 13-week course, Caleb was doing ”nothing much really”, he said.

A family friend encouraged him to apply for the course, which was first held last year.

”I enjoy it. It’s a good opportunity for me to get up off my …”

he said, while learning about fencing at Invermay recently. . . 

Merino industry stalwarts honoured –  Lynda van Kempen:

A couple described as vital cogs in the fine wool industry had their efforts recognised at the weekend.

Peter and Elsie Lyon, of Alexandra, received life membership to the New Zealand Merino Shearing Society. The award – a surprise to the couple – was made during the national merino shearing championships in Alexandra on Saturday night.

The couple run Peter Lyon Shearing, which had a turnover of more than $10 million last year. . . 

The story behind merino wool – Camilla Rutherford:

I am very lucky to live on a high country Merino sheep station here in Tarras, New Zealand. This farm belongs to my husbands family and they have farmed here for over 100 years, which is a long time in NZ! Every year in the first week of September a big muster happens and the sheep are brought down off the hill and into the woolshed to get their yearly hair cut in time for the hot Central Otago summer. This wool is very carefully removed by highly skilled shearers, who have the very tricky task of removing the precious fibres without harming the wrinkly sheep.

Walking into the woolshed can be a little intimidating, with drum and bass blasting over the sound of the clippers, and a multitude of men and women working tirelessly, each with their own roll making the operation of shearing a sheep like a well oiled machine. This precious wool is sent to Merino New Zealand which is spun and made into Icebreaker clothing, which we all know and love. Merino wool is an incredible fibre; sustainable, warm when wet, cooling when you are too hot and keeps the stink off you. What better fibre to wear against your skin? My wardrobe is nearly 100% merino, from underwear, thermals, summer singlets, technical ski wear and awesome hoodies! . .  [whether or not you want to read more, it’s worth clicking the link for the photos]

Ballance Farm Environment Awards application period extended for Canterbury farmers:

Canterbury farmers have been given another three weeks to enter this year’s Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The entry deadline has been extended to Friday October 30 to allow farmers more time to get their entries in before judging commences in November.

The Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards Judging Coordinator Sandra Taylor acknowledged that drought and a low dairy pay-out have made for a tough start to spring and for many farmers entering the Awards has been low on the priority list.

“Recent rain and warmer temperatures will hopefully take the pressure off and give farmers a chance to think about getting their entries in.”

She points out the judging process gives farmers the opportunity to benchmark their businesses and get feedback from a team of experienced and knowledgeable judges. . . 

Life-changing win for Young Auctioneer:

With entries now open for the 2015 Heartland Bank Young Auctioneer of the Year Competition, the 2014 winner is urging other young auctioneers to enter the “life-changing competition.”

Cam Bray of PGG Wrightson won the 2014 Competition after entering all three years of the competition. The win enabled him to travel to the 2015 Sydney Royal Show to attend the Australian Livestock & Property Agents Association (ALPA) Young Auctioneers National Final.

Mr Bray said that the trip to Australia resulted in some life-changing experiences.

“The trip to Australia was great – not only for the fact that I was representing New Zealand but to be able to rub shoulders with Australia’s best was an invaluable experience.” . . .

A big win for Rural Contractors NZ:

Agricultural contractors around New Zealand will soon be able to bring in overseas workers much easier than in the past – following a deal struck between its national body and Immigration NZ.

Rural Contractors NZ (RCNZ) president Steve Levet says his organisation has been working with Immigration New Zealand for a long time in an effort to resolve the problems around contractors bringing in overseas workers for the harvest season.

“After many meetings and a lot of hard work by RCNZ – together with Immigration NZ – we believe have come up with a solution that will solve many of the problems that rural contractors currently experience every year and make it much easier to bring in overseas workers,” Mr Levet says. . .

Forest grower poll open:

Voting is now open for the person who will represent owners of smaller forests on the Forest Growers Levy Trust board.

The two candidates are Guy Farman, managing director of Farman Turkington Forestry and Steve Wilton, managing director of Forest Enterprises. Both have strong forestry credentials and are based in the Wairarapa.

Anyone who owns a ‘qualifying forest’ of between 4 and 1000 hectares, planted before 1 October 2003, may vote in the election that opened on Monday 5 October and closes on Friday 16 October. . . .

DataCol Group extends their reach into the rural market with acquisition of pioneering water measurement company Watermetrics:

Data collection and data integrator specialist business DataCol Group, today announced it had fully acquired Canterbury-based Watermetrics, a provider of integrated water flow monitoring, recording and analysis services.

“Watermetrics were pioneers in providing water measurement technology and services to the rural sector, have built a strong brand and significant customer base predominantly in the Canterbury region off the back of that,” says DataCol CEO Bruce Franks.

“Using data collection and measurement technology has become a critical tool for farmers in terms of enhancing productivity, reducing cost and complying with national regulations like water consents. . . 

Queenstown’s Ziptrek Ecotours wins environmental tourism award:

A successful business driven by the ethos of ‘inspiration through adventure’ is how judges described Queenstown’s Ziptrek Ecotours in announcing it as the winner of the Environmental Tourism Award at this year’s Tourism Industry Awards.

After almost six years in business – and a consistent winner of many sustainable practice awards over the years – Ziptrek received the award on Friday night, helping set a benchmark of excellence within the New Zealand tourism industry.

Judges were hugely impressed with the business, describing it as a “wonderful example” of a highly successful tourism business embracing and promoting sustainability in everything it does. . . 

Coronet Peak caps off ‘stellar’ season with visitor experience award:

Capping off a stellar season, Queenstown’s Coronet Peak fought off stiff competition to win the Visitor Experience Award at the New Zealand Tourism Industry Awards this weekend.

The ski area celebrated its final ‘hurrah’ on the snow this weekend with a Rugby World Cup-themed day in support of the AB’s on Saturday. On Sunday, all best efforts to host a Beach Party were somewhat thwarted by wet and wild weather, but a few brave souls managed the Pond Skim to cap off an amazing season.

The final weekend of 2015 winter started well, with Coronet Peak ski area manager Ross Copland accepting the honour in Auckland on Friday night. . . 


Rural round-up

May 27, 2015

Olive harvest underway:

The olive industry is welcoming a new processing plant opened in Wairarapa over the weekend.

The Olive Press in Greytown was opened by Primary Industries minister Nathan Guy yesterday, and was expected to be busy over the coming months as growers in Wairarapa and Hawke’s Bay prepared to begin the olive harvest.

When we spoke to Olive New Zealand’s president Andrew Taylor he was overlooking snow in Napier this morning, which he said was unlikely to affect the trees. . .

Border clearance levy welcomed:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association are welcoming a border clearance levy, signalled in the Budget 2015 announcement by the Government.

From the start of next year, passengers coming in and out of New Zealand will pay around $16 (inwards) and $6 (outwards) for those departing New Zealand.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Chief Executive, Dr Scott Champion said this was an action the organisation had been asking government to consider for some time and so it was good to see some form of user pays applied to those who pose a potential biosecurity risk to New Zealand’s agriculture sector. . . .

MPI risks loss of focus on food safety and biosecurity – Allan Barber:

Most people would almost certainly see the primary role of Ministry for Primary Industries as the protection of New Zealand’s biosecurity, food safety and primary production. The creation of MPI was designed to meet a number of objectives, one of which, probably the most important, must surely have been to ensure a world class agency to deliver this priority.

Since 2012 there has been an increased focus on a series of policy initiatives which appear to the outside observer to be in danger of taking precedence over the core function on which our agricultural sector’s prosperity and survival depend. A reading of the 2013 and 2014 Annual Reports confirms the importance the department attributes to the protection role, but it is only one of a number of business areas which receive equal precedence. . .

Passion2Profit officially joins Primary Growth Partnership:

Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) have announced today that a new Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme, Passion2Profit, will officially begin.

The contract has just been signed for the $16 million, seven-year programme, which is intended to be a game-changer in the production and marketing of venison, delivering $56 million in extra revenues a year from the end of the programme.

Speaking from the Deer Industry annual conference today, DINZ Chief Executive Dan Coup says it’s exciting to be able to begin work on this venture. . .

Minister welcomes new venison PGP programme:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the formal start of a new Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme involving the deer industry.

“’Passion2Profit’ is a seven year programme which aims to deliver economic benefits of $56 million per year in additional industry revenue by the end of the programme,” says Mr Guy.

“The partnership between Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) and the Ministry for Primary Industries will set the groundwork for major improvements in the production and marketing of New Zealand venison. . .

UC Forestry part of new multi-million forestry industry research:

The University of Canterbury is part of a new $14 million, seven year collaborative research effort aimed at maximising the value and export earnings of the forestry industry.

The Government recently announced it will invest the research funding in the effort, to be matched dollar for dollar by the forestry industry. The programme will be led by industry-operated entity Future Forests Research, in collaboration with Scion, UC, and the New Zealand Dryland Forests Initiative. The Government funding is provided through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Research Partnerships Programme. Industry fiunding is being provided by Forest Growers Levy Trust and a number of leading forestry companies and Farm Forestry Association. . .

Trust provides funding for two initiatives to benefit New Zealand wine industry

The Cresswell Jackson New Zealand Wine Trust has awarded funding for two University of Otago projects, both designed to benefit the country’s wine industry.
 
The first was awarded to Associate Professor David J Burritt of the Department of Botany to undertake research concerning the process of extracting phenolics during the winemaking process. Professor Burritt said, “The wine industry is incredibly important to the New Zealand economy. We are very grateful to receive this grant, which will be used to support our research investigating the potential for pulsed electric fields (PEF) technology to be used in the New Zealand wine industry.” . . .

SSanford Reports Satisfactory Result and Marks Shift in Customer Focus in Six Month Result:

. . . Sanford Limited, New Zealand’s largest commercial fishing and aquaculture company, has recorded an 18.1% rise in its EBITDA in its interim report for the six months ending 31 March 2015. EBITDA increased to $33.9m from $28.7m for the same period last year. Profitability was affected by one-off impairment charges with respect to Sanford’s fleet and plant and equipment at the Christchurch mussel processing plant. Net profit after tax for the six months was down 18.3% from $11.7m in 2014 to $9.6m for the current half year.

Sanford CEO Volker Kuntzsch says the result is satisfactory, given the challenging conditions faced in international markets. “In particular, in the last three months of the period, we have seen improving results. The team has worked really hard to lift our revenue. Initially, the period was marked by lacklustre sales for a few months, primarily due to weak currencies and political upheaval in some of our important export markets.” . .

2013 vintage wines “amongst the greatest red wines produced in New Zealand”:

GIMBLETT GRAVELS® 2013 Annual Vintage Selection revealed

The sixth year of this initiative from the Gimblett Gravels Winegrowers Association (GGWA), the Annual Vintage Selection serves as a unique snapshot of a particular vintage and helps to chart the evolution of GIMBLETT GRAVELS® wines on a vintage by vintage basis.

The highly acclaimed palate of Sydney based Master of Wine Andrew Caillard MW has been the independent selector for all six vintages, 2008-2013, inclusive. The 2013 selection was the most comprehensive yet, with a record 46 GGWA members’ wines submitted for selection. . .

Taranaki-based AgriPeople are your rural recruitment and People Management experts:

Working with agricultural employers and employees, AgriPeople focus on creating lasting relationships by using practical tools and applying a practical approach.

AgriPeople is made up of a stellar group of highly professional consultants and administrators. “Our consultants all continue to grow through professional development,” says Racquel Cleaver, Consultant and Director of AgriPeople. . .


Rural round-up

October 9, 2013

Woman wins in rare shearing feat – Sarah Marquet:

For the first time since 1985, a woman has won the senior shearing title at the New Zealand Merino Shears, held in Alexandra on Saturday.Te Atakura Crawford (26), originally of Te Karaka, near Gisborne, but working in Australia, had only been back in New Zealand a few hours before she picked up the handpiece and took on 28 other shearers from around the country.

She was not the fastest shearer in the field but made up for it in quality points, something women are known for, according to New Zealand Merino Shearing Society president Mervyn Kinaston. . .

How dung beettles will improve NZ farms –  Dan Satherley:

Around 500 dung beetles have been released in the south Wairarapa as part of a plan to improve the soil on dairy farms.

This release will be the second to take place in New Zealand, after a Southland farm introduced dung beetles to its soil last month.

The big question is, what they will actually do for our ecosystem?

Bug expert Ruud Kleinpaste says the species being introduced into the North Island are “master diggers” that will return nutrients in cow manure right back into the soil where they fall.

“Nature knows no waste – whatever you and I may think of as waste, they think is a resource,” he said on Firstline this morning. . .

Silver Fern Farms addresses capacity issues, but no progress on meat industry restructure – Allan Barber:

The only meat industry capacity rationalisation evident so far is beef not sheepmeat related. Silver Fern Farms has announced the closure of the beef chain at its Waitoa plant which it bought 18 months ago from Wallace Corporation in, what CEO Keith Cooper said at the time, was an essential contribution to the meat industry’s sustainability.

The logic behind the purchase was to take out a competitor and to provide cover for the loss of Te Aroha’s capacity from a fire. According to Chief Operating Officer Kevin Winders the plant has fulfilled its purpose, but will be retained specifically for bobby calf processing for 12 weeks of the year. Management and veterinary oversight will be provided from Te Aroha which will not be operating at full capacity during the calf season.

Although Waitoa will be mothballed for the remaining 40 weeks of the year, it can be restarted on beef in the event of a drought. There will be 17 salaried positions made redundant as a result of the transfer of beef processing and management to Te Aroha. . .

Forest growers to elect first board:

The Forest Growers Levy Trust, the new organisation representing the interests of all plantation forest owners, large and small, is calling for nominations for its first elected board.

Chair Geoff Thompson says the referendum board of the Trust has applied to associate minister for primary industries Jo Goodhew for a commodity levy on logs and some other plantation forest products. The levy order, which is expected to be issued shortly, will establish a compulsory levy that will apply from 1 January 2014.

“In anticipation of this, elections are being held for the Trust board that will administer the funds raised by the levy. Nominations will be open from 14-31 October, followed by an on-line election for board members from 5-22 November.” . .

ANZ Young Farmer Contest Launches in Christchurch:

The 46th season of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest officially got underway last Friday 4th October at the Commodore Hotel in Christchurch.

There was ample turnout at the launch from Young Farmers members, volunteers and representatives from sponsors ANZ bank, Lincoln University, Ravensdown, AGMARDT, Silver Fern Farms, Honda, Husqvarna and Vodafone.
The Contest’s compere, Craig ‘Wiggy’ Wiggins, opened the proceedings and was followed by other speakers such as outgoing NZYF CEO Richard Fitzgerald and Graham Turley, Managing Director Commercial and Agri for ANZ. . .

Second National Conference on Biological Farming Systems announced due to popular demand:

A Second national conference on biological farming systems will be held on 13-14 February 2014 in Rotorua. Theme of the conference is “Biological farming under different land uses”.

Biological farming is a holistic approach to modify and improve soil conditions for beneficial microbes to increase soil microbial activity that helps speed-up nutrient cycling, and to re-establish mineral balance in the soil. It is a mix of conventional and organic farming practices involving careful crop and soil monitoring to ensure optimum yields, nutritional density and humus production.

The conference will provide a forum for discussion of a wide range of topics for current and future biological farming systems research. The programme will include two days of technical sessions of oral and poster presentations, panel discussions and scientist-farmer interaction. . .


Rural round-up

July 18, 2013

Big increase in water for irrigation for SC possible – Matthew Littlewood:

The equivalent of nearly 250 Hagley Parks worth of extra land could be freed up for irrigation in the Orari and Opihi catchments, if the right measures are in place.

Environment Canterbury water management scientist Brett Painter told this week’s Orari-Opihi-Pareora water management committee meeting that adjustments to the Rakaia Water Conservation Order could be a “game changer” for sourcing extra water for the South Canterbury Catchment.

Painter said “at the extreme end”, enough water for an extra 42,000ha of irrigation could be made available. . .

Not sure it’s realistic for farmers to own the meat industry – Allan Barber:

There is a lot of noise about the dysfunctional or broken meat industry accompanied by the suggestion it would be solved if farmers owned a bigger slice of it.

The Meat Industry Excellence group has been touring the country since earlier this year, holding farmer meetings and trying to drum up support for fixing the industry’s problems. In total some 3,000 farmers attended meetings from Gore to Gisborne which, even if every attendee was firmly in support, only represents a maximum of 20% of sheep and beef farmers. . .

Farmlets tipped for Glencoe Station – Grant Bryant:

Two huge players in Queenstown’s high finance, development and winery scene are set to carve up a large chunk of Glencoe Station for clusters of two-acre farmlets.

In recent years the area on the Crown Range above Arrowtown has become the home and playground of the mega-rich, with fabulously wealthy and enormously reclusive music producer Robert “Mutt” Lange snapping up 8500ha of the high-country station for an undisclosed amount in 2009.

New Zealand international sailor and prominent America’s Cup captain Russell Coutts is a next-door neighbour to the station, with his holiday home boasting an underground pool and golf course. . .

Forest Levy takes important step:

An application for the introduction of a levy on harvested logs has been lodged with Associate Minister for Primary Industries Hon Jo Goodhew. 

“This is an important step in the process of getting a Levy Order under the Commodity Levies Act and follows a successful forest grower referendum in March,” says Forest Growers Levy Trust chair Geoff Thompson.

“Officials will now take several months to assess the application and all the accompanying detail about levy collection, budgeting and ongoing structure. We are fundamentally on target to introduce the levy from 1 January 2014.” . . 

Bovine bliss in a winter cow house  – Finian Scott:

Numerous South Island farmers have been putting in the hard yards, trekking out into waist deep snow in parts of the Mackenzie Country, firing up bulldozers and snow ploughs in an attempt to set tracks for stock and feed out.

Weather-hardened livestock do their best to hunt out natural shelter belts, prepping for the inevitable mad rush towards the trail of food snaking a path behind the steaming tractor and feed bin.

Meanwhile, as the doors roll up on a Cow House at Studholme, the cows inside look up, lazily, mid-chew, to see who this new “disturber of the peace” may be. . .

Fonterra cuts Anmum-branded product prices in China amid price-fixing probe – Paul McBeth:

Fonterra Cooperative Group, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, cut the price of its Anmum-branded products in China as the local regulator looks at potential price manipulation by major foreign firms selling into the world’s most-populous nation.

The Auckland-based cooperative will trim 9 percent from its Anmum maternal health products in mainland China from next month “to better meet consumer needs in light of recent industry-wide price revisions,” Fonterra president for Greater China and India, Kelvin Wickham, said in an emailed statement. . .

NZ Honey Comes under Scrutiny in Hong Kong. New Zealand’s Oldest Brand Says Tighter Export Controls Are Needed:

Airborne Honey, New Zealand’s oldest honey brand, believes the quality control of New Zealand honey export needs to be tighter, following recent feedback from the Hong Kong Consumer Council. On 16 July, New Zealand honey came under scrutiny in Hong Kong after the Hong Kong Consumer Council, a statutory body that protects and promotes consumer rights in Hong Kong, tested a number of well-known brands available in the region. The Consumer Council reports that a quarter of the 55 samples tested (from a number of countries, including New Zealand) have been adulterated with sugar, including Manuka. . .


Rural round-up

April 12, 2013

New vehicle rules will reduce cost for rural sector:

New rules for agricultural vehicles will reduce compliance costs while maintaining safety standards, says Associate Transport Minister Michael Woodhouse.

Mr Woodhouse has signed changes to Land Transport (Driver Licensing) Rule 1999 and seven other Land Transport Rules that will offer agricultural vehicle owners improved compliance and greater operational flexibility from 1 June 2013.

“This Government recognises that the primary sector remains the powerhouse of New Zealand’s economy and we want to remove unnecessary costs and red tape,” says Mr Woodhouse.

The Ministry of Transport estimates that changes will result in a net benefit of $51 million over 25 years. . .

Great white butterfly not pretty – RivettingKate Taylor:

Federated Farmers has put out a warning about a significant new pest threat – the great white butterfly.

What is it?

It is a significant pest of brassica vegetable crops. Its caterpillars feed voraciously on host plants reducing them to a skeleton. In New Zealand, it poses a major threat to commercial and animal forage brassica vegetable crops.  It could also have serious consequences for the survival of many of New Zealand’s 79 native cress species. . .

86% vote supports forest levy:

A referendum of forest growers has shown strong support for a levy on harvested forest products.

“We have been given the thumbs-up to introduce a funding system that will provide greater certainty, equity and commitment for activities that benefit all growers, such as research, promotion and forest health,” says Forest Growers Levy Trust chair Geoff Thompson.

“At this stage, we expect the levy to be introduced on 1 January 2014.” . . .

Building innovation into Marlborough’s food and beverage sector:

The untapped potential of Marlborough’s primary sector, if cleverly exploited, could take this region out in front of the field as an export earner according to a report prepared for the Marlborough Research Centre (MRC).

The research, examining the prospects for innovation with existing primary products, suggests that these industries could be transformed, said MRC chief executive Gerald Hope.

“There’s enormous scope for products which are health and performance oriented. It’s about turning smart ideas and clever science into new products and processes which will meet the expectations of the future,” said Mr Hope. . .

After A Hot, Dry Summer Green Beans Up There With Tomatoes And Wine:

Wattie’s Canterbury green bean crop has, like its sister crop of tomatoes in Hastings, relished the benefits of the country’s hot, dry summer, which has also been experienced by the wine industry.

Harvesting and processing of the beans is scheduled to finish this week, and Wattie’s South Island Agricultural Manager Mark Daniels reports excellent yields and blemish-free quality.

“Our bean crop has thrived under the hot dry conditions and we are finishing slightly ahead of schedule compared with recent years. . .

GIMBLETT GRAVELS – the best of both worlds?:

Is it possible to make world class wines from Syrah and Bordeaux varietals grown in the same area?

In France, you would have to drive almost 500km between Bordeaux and the Northern Rhone. Yet in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand, GIMBLETT GRAVELS wines from these grape varieties – growing, literally, side by side in an area less than 800 hectares (2000 acres) – continue to receive acclaim from leading international wine critics.

Each year, the Gimblett Gravels Winegrowers Association (GGWA) releases to key wine influencers a limited number of their Annual Vintage Selection, comprising an independent selection of the members’ red wines that best represent the given vintage. The current 2010 vintage, selected by Andrew Caillard MW, comprises nine blended reds (from Bordeaux varieties) and three Syrah’s. . .


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