Rural round-up

October 9, 2012

Rabobank Australia and New Zealand Agribusiness review October:

Key highlights:

• A warm end to spring is on the cards for most of Australia according to the Bureau of Meteorology. Climate models surveyed by the Bureau suggest sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean will maintain values around typical El Niño thresholds for the remainder of 2012.

• The US Federal Reserve announced the third stage of its quantitative easing program to help boost investment and spending in the economy. On a negative note, the World Trade Organisation downgraded its forecasts for growth in global trade in 2012 and 2013 by over one percentage point in response to slowing global economic activity.

• The New Zealand dollar has held firm over the course of the past month following the announcement of further liquidity measures in key global economies. The Australian dollar found some relief on the news of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s decision and softer external trade numbers and is currently trading around the USD1.025 level. . .

The full report is here.

A Successful Year for Agresearch:

On-farm pest control, new value-added products and improved environmental performance are three of the significant contributions made by AgResearch scientists to New Zealand’s agricultural economy over the past year, according to its 2012 annual report.

At the same time, the country’s largest scientific organisation has sought to realign itself more closely with its farmer, government, industry sector and other stakeholders, says Chief Executive Dr Tom Richardson.

“There is still much to do and we have valued the willingness of our sector partners to engage with us,” he says. . .

If you stand for nothing; does that mean anything is acceptable….or not?

This is the dilemma for NZ Inc agriculture as AgResearch announces the recent success of ‘Daisy’ a cow genetically modified to produce milk with much less beta-lactoglobulin (BLG). This is a milk whey protein known to be allergenic to some people. See the NZ Herald version of the story here.

I’m not commenting on the clever science behind GM Daisy – essentially using two microRNAs and RNA interference to knock down the expression of BLG. AgResearch next want to normally breed from Daisy and see if the same non-BLG milk is produced by her daughters – a several year exercise. . .

Free database will open access to best tree information

Farmers looking for information about any aspect of planting and managing trees in the working landscape will soon be able to access a new online – and free – database listing the most useful and credible information resources available. This database will range from practical aspects of growing and harvesting trees for timber through to establishing riparian plantings and management information such as budgeting and forest ownership options.

As a vital first step the project organisers are looking for input from farmers, via a short online survey as to how they prefer to receive this type of information. This survey can be found at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Trees_on_Farms. . .

Below-ground protection from new grass endophyte

A Canterbury pasture plant breeding company is set to release a major advance in the fight against a multi-million dollar farming problem, insect pests.

Cropmark Seeds Ltd has managed to endow its pasture varieties with an endophyte “GrubOUT® U2” that gives grass grasses greater persistence under insect attack, above and below ground.

“It’s perhaps the greatest advance in plant breeding in 20 years, and it will have a dramatic effect on our farming systems and production” said Cropmark Seeds Marketing Manager Garry Begley.

The key to this breakthrough is the phrase “below ground”.

Livestock Farm Winners Inspire Other Farmers to Enter 2013 Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Winning the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Farm Award in the 2012 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards was welcome recognition for Okahu farmers John and Lurline Blackwell and their son Peter.

But it wasn’t the main reason they entered.

“We weren’t looking for glory,” John says.

“We just wanted to support the competition and learn more about sustainability.”

The Blackwells farm a 345ha sheep and beef property, southeast of Dargaville. ‘Summer Hill Farm’ runs a small but highly productive sheep flock and finishes around 400 bulls a year. The farm also runs Wagyu-cross steers and heifers on contract. . .

Mind-bending video of a sheep with an upside down HEAD… and man who filmed it insists it was no fake – Alex Ward:

Look a bit closer and you will notice something very odd about this sheep.

Seemingly defying nature quite happily as it nibbles grass, it is indeed a sheep with an upside down head – but is it real?

The owner of the YouTube video of the weird animal insists it was no fake as the clip sparked the curiosity among thousands, becoming an internet hit with almost 50,000 views in five days. . .

(Hat tip CoNZervative)


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