Rural round-up

02/04/2022

Call for transparency over Māori data – Nigel Stirling:

THE dairy industry wants the Government to come clean over its plans to demand special protections for Māori data in trade agreements.

The industry says it is in the dark about the Government’s new negotiating strategy and is worried if the demands go too far they could undermine New Zealand’s claims to greater access to trading partners’ dairy markets.

Dairy Companies Association chair Malcolm Bailey says talks for a trade deal with the European Union are already slow-going.

“We are conscious that if we are making a new demand of the Europeans in these negotiations we need to have a good understanding of what it is we are actually asking for and the value of that,” Bailey said. . .

NZ’s high melanoma death rates ‘no surprise’ – Gerald Piddock:

New research showing that New Zealand has the highest death rate of melanoma in the world is of little surprise, a health researcher says.

The disease causes the death of 350 people annually, with the cost of diagnosing and treating melanoma in NZ is estimated to be in excess of $51 million annually.

If 2020 rates remain stable, the global burden from melanoma is estimated to increase to 510 000 new cases and 96 000 deaths – a 68% increase – by 2040, the research by international scientists showed.

The rates were highest in Australia and NZ, followed by Western Europe, North America and Northern Europe. . . 

Rabobank’s performance points to our farm sector being in good shape – Point of Order:

Reflecting  the  surging prosperity in NZ’s  rural  heartlands, Rabobank  has  reported  an  after-tax   profit  of  $209m,  up $88m or  73%.

Rabobank NZ,  which is  owned in  the  Netherlands,  has  gained  ground  in  the  banking industry since  it  arrived  here in the  1990s by specialising in  lending to farmers  and  businesses in the food  and  agribusiness supply chain.

CEO  Todd  Charteris  says the strong commodity pricing over the course of 2021 enabled a number of clients to pay down debt which improved the risk profile of the portfolio and enabled the  bank to unwind loan impairments from the previous year.

“We remain positive about the long-term prospects for the [rural] sector and our intention is to further expand our agri-lending portfolio through new lending to farmers and other businesses across NZ’s food and agribusiness supply chain,” Charteris says. . . 

 

Overseas Investment Office approves Austrian aristocrat’s farm purchase for forestry conversion

An Austrian aristocrat has been given approval to buy another farm in Aotearoa and plant pine trees in it.

The latest round of Overseas Investment Office (OIO) consents show Johannes Trauttmansdorff-Weinsberg has been given the green light to purchase the 445 hectare Te Maire Farm near Masterton.

Just over 300 hectares of the farm will be planted in pine trees which will be harvested in 2048, before a second rotation is planted.

Described as an experienced forestry investor by the OIO, Trauttmansdorff-Weinsberg purchased three farms in 2019 for conversion to forestry. . .

Synlait first-half revenue and sales volume largest on record :

Dairy company Synlait has posted a strong first-half result driven by ingredients sales volumes, commodity price increases, and a one-time gain of $11.9 million from the sale and leaseback of property in Auckland.

Key numbers for the six months ended January 2022 compared to a year ago:

  • Net profit $27.9m vs $6.4m
  • Revenue $790.6m vs $664.2m
  • Other income including one-time gain $15.4m vs $1.6m
  • Underlying profit $68.4m vs $47.7m
  • Forecast base milk price $9.60 per kilo of milk solids . . .

NZ packhouse technology notches up firsts with asparagus producer :

New Zealand fresh produce software provider Radford Software has onboarded leading Australian asparagus producer and distributor Raffa Fields to implement a packhouse system entirely remotely.

Customer success manager Royce Sharplin said the partnership represented two key firsts for Radfords – a move into the asparagus sector and the first remote implementation of its packhouse solutions, due to the global pandemic.

“This reaffirms that our strategy to diversify into wider fresh produce sectors to complement our traditional kiwifruit, apple, citrus and avocado markets is on the right track,” Mr Sharplin said.

“It would have taken a lot of trust to implement our systems from afar. Go-live last August followed a condensed timeframe from scope to delivery, achieved by a strong partnership with an enthusiastic and proactive team from Raffa Fields.” . . 

 

Sustainable vision wins at 2022 Hawkes Bay-Wairarapa Dairy Industry Awards:

The 2022 Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners say everything they do is to a high standard, for the good of the industry and themselves.

Jono and Kerri Robson were named the 2022 Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa Share Farmers of the Year at the region’s annual awards last night in Masterton. Other major winners were Amarjeet Kamboj, the 2022 Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Manager of the Year, and Jacob Stolte, the 2022 Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa Dairy Trainee of the Year.

The Robson’s are 50/50 herd-owning sharemilkers on Dean Nikora and Alexandra Stewart’s 119ha, 350-cow Waipukurau property. They won $10.586 in prizes and six merit awards.

Jono and Kerri have entered the Share Farmer category twice previously, while Jono is also a past entrant in the Dairy Manager category. . .

 


Rural round-up

25/03/2022

RUC reduction brings no relief for farm machinery users – Gerald Piddock:

The Government’s decision to cut road user charges (RUC) by 36% for three months is cold comfort for contractors and farmers using off-road vehicles that will not qualify for the exemption, Federated Farmers says.

The cut, which will take place from late April to late July, is in response to the spike in global fuel prices. Transport Minister Michael Wood said the change was to support the road transport industry.

For the arable industry, the reduction in charges is too late for this season, with much of the harvest already completed apart from harvesting maize grain, Federated Farmers transport spokesperson Karen Williams said.

On Williams’ own farm, fuel costs for the three months during peak harvest had almost doubled from $4000-$7000 a month in 2020 to $8000-$9500 a month this year. . . 

Omicron: ‘major impact’ on staff shortages as apple picking peaks  – Tom Kitchin:

Some orchardists say Covid-19 is running rampant through their harvest fields.

It is peak apple harvest time across the country – and Omicron is not showing any signs of slowing down in the two busiest apple harvest regions – Hawke’s Bay and Nelson-Tasman.

Hawke’s Bay grows over 4700 hectares of apples and Nelson-Tasman is second with about 2400.

Hawke’s Bay Fruitgrower’s Association chair Brydon Nisbett also runs his own 16-hectare two-orchard apple operation. . . 

Bacteria corralled for quality food outcomes – Richard Rennie:

AgResearch principal scientist Dr Eric Altermann admits he has a dream to see a charcuterie of uniquely New Zealand meats and salamis, along with fermented dairy and plant products on the market someday soon. Richard Rennie spoke to him on how his and his team’s work on fermented foods will make that a reality.

Over the past four and a half years AgResearch’s Fermented Foods research team has managed to slice through tens of thousands of evolved bacterial strains to find those with traits most suited to enhancing the flavour and texture of meat, dairy, and plant fermented food types.

The tool that has enabled them to accelerate the natural process of genetic change, which would otherwise have been an almost impossibly time-consuming and frustrating process, has been a high-throughput robotics handling and assaying (screening) platform, developed by AgResearch principal scientist Dr Eric Altermann and his team. 

“The platform’s technology allows us to take bacteria, subject them to rapid genetic evolution using sources such as UV light and then identify those evolved variants which exhibit a positive change towards the desired traits,” Altermann said.  . . 

Awakiki Ridges owners clearing out for retirement – Shawn McAvinue:

A couple of teenage sweethearts are looking forward to retirement on their sheep and beef farm in South Otago.

Howie and Marion Gardner (both 66) will hold a clearing sale on their farm Awakiki Ridges in Puerua Valley tomorrow.

Awakiki Ridges has come a long way since his parents, Clyde (now 93) and his late mother, Beth, bought the land and started developing it in the mid-1960s.

The property was once considered “the worst bit of dirt in South Otago,” Mr Gardner said. . . 

Sharing enthusiasm for red meat sector – Shawn McAvinue:

Maniototo man Dean Sinnamon’s new job allows him to pursue his passion for the red meat sector.

Mr Sinnamon, of Oturehua, started in a new role at Beef + Lamb New Zealand in January this year.

His job title is Central South Island South extension manager.

“It’s a bit of a mouthful, isn’t it?” . . 

China tariffs causes Victorian harvest to tank Annabelle Cleeland:

The 2.1-billion litres of unsold Australian wine sitting in storage is wreaking havoc on Victoria’s grape harvest this season, as a storage shortage forces growers to leave grapes on vines.

Last year the nation’s wine exports plummeted $860 million, or 30 per cent, due to China’s crippling tariffs on bottled Australian wine.

China’s anti-dumping duty introduced the last march of up to 218pc for containers of two litres or less, and is set to remain in place for five years.

It has been a blow for the industry with Australia’s wine exports the lowest in nearly two decades, as the volume of wine sent overseas dropped 17pc to 619-million litres in 2021. . . 


Rural round-up

16/03/2022

Concern over freshwater rules implementation – Neal Wallace:

The NZ dairy herd increased 82% between 1990 and 2019, with some of the largest increases in Canterbury and Southland. Neal Wallace investigates the future of dairying in those regions and talks to some innovators who are confident that with the use of technology and management changes, dairying has a future.

The impact of the Government’s new freshwater regulations could invariably end dairying in Southland or result in a 20% decline over 20 years, depending on who you talk to.

Similarly, there are forecasts the number of dairy cows in Canterbury could decline by up to 20% over that period, depending on how regional councils implement National Policy Statement on Freshwater (NPS-FW) limits on the use of synthetic nitrogen and controls on leaching.

New regulations limiting nitrogen use will require changes, worrying farmers, especially in Canterbury and Southland, where dairy expansion has made nutrient loss to waterways an issue. . . .

Telling our carbon footprint story :

AgResearch’s world-class Life Cycle Assessment team provides an evidence base to help maintain NZ’s export market edge.

As New Zealand seeks to maintain its position as a leading food producer to the world, measuring and reporting the environmental impact of its products has never been more critical.

This is where AgResearch’s world-class Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) team plays a pivotal role: by delivering research to prove the efficiency and sustainability of food production in New Zealand, and how it stacks up against the rest of the world.

“I use the analogy of writing a story,” explains AgResearch scientist and LCA team member, Dr Andre Mazzetto. . .

Let the good times roll! – Rural News:

Last week New Zealand dairy farmers woke up to fantastic news on two consecutive days.

The first was the early morning signing of a free trade deal between New Zealand and the United Kingdom in London.

The second was the Global Dairy Trade (GDT) price index rising for the fifth straight time; more importantly whole milk powder and skim milk powder, used by processors to set the milk price, posted solid gains.

The two doses of good news come as farmers grapple with issues including rising costs, a pandemic and a looming levy/tax on greenhouse gas emissions. . . 

Chasing a perfect shearing day – Gerald Piddock:

An award-winning shearing couple, who spent their careers chasing the perfect shearing day, say there’s no greater feeling than finding your rhythm and getting into the ‘zone’, because that’s when the tallies start to happen. They spoke to Gerald Piddock.

Being a top shearer means chasing perfection.

It’s about having a perfect day in the shearing shed where the wool flows off the sheep from the shearer’s blade.

Chasing that perfection has elevated Emily and Sam Welch to be regarded among the best in the industry. For Emily, it has seen her become a world record holder and industry role model for female shearers. . . .

New Zealand’s borders open for kiwifruit workers :

Ever fancied being paid to work outdoors amongst New Zealand’s beautiful landscape with the nation’s iconic fruit?

New Zealand’s borders have just opened to backpackers again and the country’s kiwifruit industry is crying out for help to pick and pack it’s small, fuzzy fruit.

If you’ve ever wanted to visit New Zealand, Working Holiday Visas are available from today and the kiwifruit industry has lots of jobs up for grabs.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) are leading the call for people to visit their beautiful country. “I strongly encourage everyone to roll up their sleeves and join the team”, says NZKGI CEO Colin Bond. “Picking is a great opportunity for those who like to be in the outdoors, while the packhouse is suited to those who like to have fun in larger teams indoors”. . . 

Farm housing in short supply – Shan Goodwin:

DONGAS and relocatable homes in strong demand on farms are now in very short supply on the back of the same shortages of building materials and labour that has wreaked havoc in the construction business.

Waits on new relocatable homes have pushed out to 18 months, prices of second-hand dongas have tripled and some manufacturers have even shut up shop until supplies come back on line.

Ironically, the supply challenges have coincided with ramped up demand for both farmhouse replacements and additional dwellings on agriculture properties on the back of strong commodity prices.

David Rowe, from Victoria’s Bond Homes, which has been building relocatable homes at Ballarat for more than three decades and has strong custom in replacing old farmhouses and installing new dwellings for farm workers, says pandemic material supply issues are now being amplified by the Ukraine war. . .


Rural round-up

27/11/2021

Close call highlights necessity for on-farm covid plan – Gerald Piddock:

A sharemilking couple whose staff member become a close covid-19 contact are backing calls for farmers to create a plan in case they get a positive case in their bubble.

That checklist needs to be a living, moving document because of the variables that can occur during a close contact or covid positive situation on a farm when there are the needs of staff and animals to be taken into consideration.

The employee, Sarah*, became a close contact after they visited a family member while observing distance protocols.

One of the members of that household tested positive after they had met, which made that worker a close contact. . . 

‘Tomorrow’s too late’ – Borders open not fast enough for labour shortage :

Rural contractors struggling with a labour shortage are relieved the borders opening next year, but say they need workers sooner.

The government yesterday announced fully vaccinated foreign nationals would be allowed into the country from 30 April 2022, without needing to go through managed isolation.

Rural Contractors New Zealand chief executive Andrew Olsen said the border announcement was amazing news, but it had come too late for this summer’s harvest.

Andrew Olsen said the sector urgently needed 200 workers, but efforts to bring in skilled overseas workers through the MIQ system had proved extremely challenging. . . 

Wānaka A&P show to go ahead :

One of the South Island’s biggest agricultural shows will go ahead next year, bucking the trend of widespread cancellations of A&P shows around the country.

Organisers of the Wanaka A&P show have confirmed to RNZ that the show will return in March, despite a spate of show cancellations across the country in the past six months due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Gore was the latest show to be cancelled earlier this week, following the cancellation of the national A&P show in Canterbury at the beginning of November.

Wānaka event manager Jane Stalker said the show is a community event and a highlight on the town’s calendar. . . 

Share concentration risk allayed – Hugh Stringleman:

The risk of ownership concentration in Fonterra arising from proposed changes in the share standard will not adversely affect the co-operative, according to investment bankers and corporate advisors Northington Partners.

The firm was commissioned by Fonterra Co-operative Council to assess the proposed capital restructure, which includes much smaller minimum shareholding requirement and much larger permitted excess share ownership.

Within what Fonterra now calls the new flexible shareholding the historical one-for-one share-backed supply rule would be considerably changed.

The minimum requirement would be one share for three kilograms of milksolids and farmers would be permitted to own shares up to four times their annual milksolids production. . . 

Delving into diversification – Ben Speedy:

The future of farming is reliant on good people making good decisions – successfully managing risk today to ensure the farm is fit for tomorrow. We know from conversations with our customers those decisions weigh heavily on the minds of farmers.

Recent Kantar research conducted by ASB Rural told us 57% of farmers surveyed have succession planning on their minds. We know that for some owners of inter-generational businesses there can be added pressure when it comes to the business succeeding both today and into the future; it’s appeared to work up until this point so there is an expectation that it must continue to be successful.

Owning and running a business has never been easy, but inter-generational business owners often carry an extra burden with extra considerations, and at ASB Rural we work with our customers to support them as they make these decisions. . .

Don Agro International achieves 8.9 thousand tonnes growth in crops harvested :

Don Agro International Limited (the “Company” or “Don Agro”) and its subsidiaries (collectively the “Group”), one of the largest agricultural companies based in the Rostov region of Russia is pleased to announce that it has achieved a 8.9 thousand tonne growth in total crops harvested, with 72.3 thousand tonnes of winter wheat and 19.0 thousand tonnes of sunflower harvested till date.

A key driving force which has enabled Don Agro to sustain this growth has been the expansion of the Group’s totalled controlled land bank via new strategic acquisitions.

Following its initial public offering in February 2020, the Group made its maiden post-listing acquisition at the end of 2020 of Volgo-Agro LLC, an agricultural company based in the Volgograd region of Russia operating a controlled land bank of approximately 10,040 hectares. Subsequently in July 2021, the Group acquired a neighbouring agribusiness, Rav Agro Rost LLC (“Rav Agro Rost”), located in the Millerovo District, Rostov Region of Russia. With an arable land bank of approximately 3,200 hectares, Rav Agro Rost alone contributed up to 3.1 thousand tonnes of winter wheat and 1.54 thousand tonnes of sunflower. . . 


Rural round-up

01/11/2021

Feds remain opposed to ‘Three waters’ reform – Sudesh Kissun:

The Government’s decision to push through its ‘Three Waters’ reforms despite widespread opposition is being slammed by farmers and politicians.

Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard says the government’s announcement that Three Waters will be mandatory is a huge call.

“Federated Farmers, a majority of local authorities and many New Zealanders have voiced serious misgivings over the government’s plans for council three waters assets to be transferred to four new mega entities,” says Hoggard. 

“We remain opposed to this plan.” . . .

Blue River Dairy ranked number one in business growth :

Southland-based nutritional products manufacturer Blue River Dairy has taken out the top spot on Deloitte’s 2021 Master of Growth Index.

The rankings for the Deloitte Fast 50 and Master of Growth Index were released on October 28. The accolades recognise businesses that have shown significant growth over the past either three (Fast 50) or five years (Master of Growth). The Master of Growth Index, made up of the 20 fastest growing established businesses, is determined by revenue growth percentage.

Blue River Dairy has reached a staggering 1502% growth since 2017 – the highest percentage in the Index’s history and more than twice the growth of previous winners.

Blue River Dairy developed the world’s first sheep milk nutrition products using exclusively sheep milk protein and today manufactures nutritional products using milks from three different species—sheep, goat and cow. . .

Entrepreneurial farmers use own wool to make blankets, yarn – Country Life:

Angus cattle and merino sheep graze happily at The Grampians, a scenic 3100 hectare station near Culverden that goes from 300 to 1500 metres above sea level.

Third generation farmer Jono Reed has always had a fascination with bulls and cattle. He was only 14 when he started an Angus stud on the property.

“They’re an efficient animal that’s gutsy and can handle the hard times,” he says.

Now known as Grampians Angus, the stud now sells 40 to 50 bulls a year.  In the last on-farm sale the bulls averaged $11,000 each. . . 

Start-stop beginning as contracting season gets under way – Gerald Piddock:

Wet unpredictable weather has meant a sluggish start to the season for the country’s rural contractors.

Spring is one of the busiest times of the year for the industry as they cut pasture for silage and plant summer crops.

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) president Helen Slattery says heavy rain in parts of Northland had delayed work to get maize in the ground.

“They have had very intermittent and small windows where they have been able to do harvesting and planting,” Slattery said.

Northern Waikato had also been wet, while eastern parts of the region were dry and cold, which she says had delayed pasture growth for cutting grass silage. . . 

Pastoral opportunity assured with Lagoon Hill:

Sheep and beef farmers keen to invest in a quality pastoral property without the intense price competition from foresters have that opportunity in the Wairarapa this spring.

Martinborough property Lagoon Hill at Tutirimuri offers the opportunity to enter or expand a holding in a pastoral breeding unit at a realistic price level, thanks to its covenanted title.

Originally part of the much larger Lagoon Hill station that totalled 4,200ha, today’s title represents the portion of the property remaining in pasture after the rest underwent forestry conversion by its new owners in 2019.

The remaining 654ha includes the property’s original and substantial infrastructure assets. Conditions of its subdivision from the original title are that it remain in pasture and livestock farming for 25 years. . . 

Kaipara block offers potential with lifestyle:

A bare block presenting a blank canvas for home building and horticulture while offering a coastal lifestyle near Dargaville is attracting strong interest in a buoyant rural Northland property market.

The 7ha Redhill Road property at Te Kopuru offers purchasers the potential to capitalise on the district’s developing water reservoir scheme for high value horticultural production.

The easy contour property is presently run as a grazing block. But vendor Sam Biddles says the potential for horticultural development has been heightened, thanks to the nearby Kaipara Water Scheme which is part of the larger Te Tai Tokerau reservoir scheme that includes four major dam sites around Northland. . . 


Rural round-up

26/10/2021

Costs wave to break over farming – Hugh Stringleman:

A one-and-a-half percent rise in interest rates over the next year will be a large component of rapidly rising on-farm inflation.

After a decade of low interest rates, the forecast increase in the Official Cash Rate (OCR) from 0.5% to 2% looks set to increase the interest portion of debt servicing by as much as one-third.

For individual farmers, the added interest cost will be dependent on total indebtedness and their mixture of fixed and floating rates.

The most recent Federated Farmers banking survey said the average farm mortgage rate was 3.8% and the average farm debt, across all types, was $4.3 million. . .

Peak milk underway in second Covid-affected season – Gerald Piddock:

Fonterra is facing its second consecutive season where peak milk collection is affected by covid-19.

The co-operative is expecting to process 80 million litres a day over the next few months, while at the same time keeping its 12,000 staff nationwide safe from the virus.

Fonterra chief operating officer Fraser Whineray says the co-operative had been working through a lot of management and business continuity plans to deal with covid while ensuring it was able to process the volumes coming through the factory.

“They are dynamic and they change because the environment changes,” Whineray said. . .

Shearing  his passion for six decades – Shannon Thomson:

Shearing — both the industry and the sport — has been a lifetime love for New Zealand Merino Shearing Society life member Graeme Bell.

A wool classer and master woolhandler, Mr Bell has been involved with shearing since the Merino Shears began in Alexandra in 1961.

He was 10.

Growing up in the centre of Alexandra, he did not come from farming stock, but as a young boy the lifesyle of the local shearers caught his eye. . .

Getting broadband to everyone – Mike Smith:

Recent episodes of Fair Go have highlighted the difficulties a number of rural people have in getting access to quality, reliable broadband and how tough this makes their lives.

Businesses can’t operate without a solid connection, kids can’t be educated from home when required, and life is just harder for everyone.

As chair of WISPA-NZ, which represents specialist internet providers who look after many rural users, I understand why having access to the Internet is now a vital part of everyday life.

The 37 companies that make up our group are all specialists in using wireless internet technology to get to the places phone cable and fibre don’t reach. . . 

Farmers urged to plan for dry summer – Shawn McAvine:

Farmers are being encouraged to plan ahead in the event of another dry summer.

Otago Rural Support Trust trustee and Otago Drought Recovery Committee member Amy Francis said the trust formed the committee after a drought was declared in Otago in April this year.

Her sheep and beef farm in Five Forks had been dry.

Recent rain had been ‘‘amazing’’ but the soil lacked moisture. . .

Country diary: My first sheep auction since Covid is an emotional one – Andrea Meanwell:

In my quest to buy some Swaledale gimmer lambs, I’m reminded that farmers in their 50s are considered youngsters.

As I walk through the double doors and into the auction, the smell of sheep and sawdust makes me feel suddenly emotional. During Covid I missed going to sales, missed chatting to other farmers and just being in a busy place with other people.

Today is one of the biggest sales of the year, the Swaledale and Rough Fell draft ewe sale at Kendal auction. Traditionally sheep were “drafted” off the fells after about four lambings, and sold to other farmers with better land for the remainder of their lives. While there are plenty of draft ewes here, there are also sheep of all ages from all over the Lake District.

I don’t really need to buy any sheep, but I have agreed with my son, whom I farm in partnership with, that should I see some Swaledale gimmer lambs I like, we can pay up to £70 each for them. We have calculated that at £70 they are affordable. Some people like to go to shopping centres for their retail therapy; I go to sheep auctions. . .

 


Rural round-up

11/10/2021

Pomahaka river project hits half-way mark – Neal Wallace,

A three-year project to plant 230,000 native trees and shrubs and build 100km of riparian fencing on Otago’s Pomahaka River, is officially halfway completed.

The milestone for the Pomahaka Watercare Corridor Planting Project was marked with a function at the Leithen Picnic Area this week.

The $3.7 million project between the Primary Growth Fund, One Billion Trees Fund, 105 local farmers and the Pomahaka Water Care Group is designed to protect the Pomahaka River and its tributaries and offer employment opportunities post-covid-19. . . 

Farmers urged to have a Covid plan – Gerald Piddock:

Dairy farmers have been told to make an on-farm plan in case themselves or one of their staff tests positive for covid-19.

That plan had to be easily accessible and documented and communicated to all staff members, DairyNZ covid project manager Hamish Hodgson said in a webinar.

This plan was crucial for the farmer to be ready for covid.

He said he knew of one farmer organising campervans to be brought on-farm if they needed to be able to isolate people. . .

New Johne’s test based on Covid technology :

The same technology used to detect Covid-19 in wastewater is now being used to help dairy farmers manage Johne’s disease in their herd.

Johne’s disease is a contagious infection estimated to cost New Zealand more than $40 million in lost production each year.

It is caused by a bacterium which infects the gut of dairy cows and other ruminant animals. Common side effects include lower milk production, difficulty reproducing and rapid weight loss.

Herd improvement co-operative LIC has developed a new test which detects whether the bacteria responsible for Johne’s disease is present in a farm’s effluent wastewater. . .

Hemp industry builds infrastructure to secure its future – Country Life:

New Zealand’s largest hemp grower says farmers around the country want to start growing hemp but, before more come on board, markets need to be developed and infrastructure secured.

Hemp New Zealand’s Dave Jordan says it’s a ‘chicken and egg’ situation.

“There are a lot of ideas around and it’s all very well to have the ideas but you have got to actually have action on the ground and show people the benefit of it (hemp) and get customers to buy it.”

The company is working with 100 growers who grow 1000 hectares of hemp.

NZ shearer with 100 wins to pick up clippers again this year – Sally Murphy:

A farmer who was first in the world to win 100 blade-shearing finals isn’t ready to stop competing just yet.

Tony Dobbs from Fairlie won his 100th title at the Waimate Shears Spring Championships last year and considered retiring after being diagnosed with cancer.

This year’s Waimate Shears starts today with some of the country’s top shearers and wool handlers going head to head.

Dobbs was set down to judge the competition so thought he might as well compete too. . . 

On-farm quarantine the next step for ag workers – James Jackson:

After years of drought, farmers are finally facing an opportunity to reap the rewards of their hard work as bumper crops loom on the horizon. But labour shortages remain a significant and stubborn hurdle to reaching record-breaking harvests, and primary producers cannot afford to wait for the state to reopen to muster enough workers in time for their summer harvests.

NSW Farmers has joined forces with the National Farmers Federation to call for an immediate solution to get more workers to farms as quickly as possible. We propose a limited pilot of on-farm quarantine for 200 agricultural workers from low-risk countries, commencing when 70 per cent of adults in NSW are fully vaccinated.

A transition to on-farm quarantine arrangements in NSW as vaccination rates rise would alleviate a number of challenges the agriculture sector has faced in the hotel-quarantine model. The availability of hotel quarantine places in NSW is limited and further constrained by Sydney’s disproportionately high intake of returning residents, increasing the likelihood agricultural workers will miss out on a place. . . 


Rural round-up

05/09/2021

MIQ freeze adds to staff woes – Gerald Piddock:

The Government’s decision to freeze managed isolation (MIQ) bookings has furthered the frustration of short-staffed dairy farmers desperate for more workers, DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says.

The freeze means a further delay for farmers getting migrant staff into New Zealand granted under the exemption for 200 foreign dairy workers announced earlier this year. The industry estimates it is short of at least 2000 staff.

Mackle says it was unlikely these staff would be now cleared of MIQ before the new year. Any people who are brought in to work in the dairy industry will now be targeted for next season.

“This pause, this further delay is going to push that out even further,” Mackle said. . . 

Red meat and co-products exports reach $870 million :

New Zealand exported red meat and co-products worth $870 million during July 2021 – marking a 29% increase year-on-year, according to analysis from the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

More than 25,300 tonnes of sheepmeat and almost 50,000 tonnes of beef were exported with increases in the value of exports to all major North American and Asian markets.

This included a 1,425% increase in beef exports to Thailand compared to July 2020. Thailand was New Zealand’s tenth largest market for beef by volume during the month, at 347 tonnes.

MIA chief executive Sirma Karapeeva says the main reason for the growth in exports to Thailand was the removal of beef safeguards that were put in place when the NZ-Thailand Closer Economic Partnership (CEP) was negotiated 15 years ago. . . 

A stirring idea – Samantha Tennent:

Keeping colostrum stirred was a challenge for a Southland calf rearer until he came with an innovative idea.

Frustrated after running around with a drill and paint stirrer trying to stop stored colostrum from separating, Rex Affleck was looking for an easier solution. He found a pricey food industry mixer in Europe, but the paddle was tiny and the revs were too quick so he started thinking about what he really needed.

“I found a supplier in China that made engine gearboxes and they agreed to sell me a sample,” Affleck explains.

“Two turned up on my doorstep but I didn’t know what to do next. So, I started thinking and mucking around with bits of cardboard and worked out how it could sit on top of a pod, but the next issue was the paddles.” . . 

FMG Young Farmer of the Year kicks off for season 54:

The coveted FMG Young Farmer of the Year 2022 contest will be kicking off with a roar on the 9th of October 2021 for season 54’s first qualifying rounds.

This year, all New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF) Club members are being challenged to enter to support their region’s volunteers, have a bit of fun and show their fellow Club members what they’re made of.

16 district contests will be held across the country over October and November to select eight of the best competitors in each of NZYF’s seven regions.

Seven Regional Finals will be held early next year, where the winner from each will proceed to the Grand Final to battle it out for the 2022 FMG Young Farmer of the Year title in Whangarei, in July. . . 

Totara Estate stonework repairs underway:

At Totara Estate and Clark’s Mill in Ōamaru, Allan Ward is the man behind the stonework, who keeps the buildings in good trim. He is currently working at Totara Estate repairing and replacing cracked and damaged limestone in the old men’s quarters.

Allan began working with stone aged 15, during his apprenticeship with Dunhouse Quarry, United Kingdom in the 1960s. He worked in the Orkney Islands, Germany, Canada and Scotland before emigrating to New Zealand in 1995.  

Allan notes that with stonework very little has changed in the tools or the techniques for centuries. “A craftsman who worked on the great cathedrals in Europe could walk onto a job now and the tools would be virtually the same,” he says.

Allan has a long history of keeping Totara Estate and Clark’s Mill in good repair. He repointed all of the Totara Estate buildings with traditional lime mortar in 2012 and gives Smokey Joes a traditional whitewash regularly. This year he repaired a stone garden wall at Clark’s Mill following the January floods. . . 

Growing push for national pet food laws – Chris McLennan:

Calls have intensified for Australia’s pet food industry to be regulated.

There are claims locally produced pet food has become a dumping ground for unwanted or suspect meats.

Consumer advocacy group CHOICE has joined the campaign sparked by the death of more than 20 Victorian dogs who died after being fed toxic horse meat.

Australia’s vets have already teamed up with the RSPCA to push for action to regulate the industry. . . 


Rural round-up

28/07/2021

Dairy exports could hit 22b – Gerald Piddock:

NZX is forecasting New Zealand dairy exports to reach $22 billion by 2030 as companies shift NZ’s milk to higher-value products.

Last year, NZ’s dairy exports were worth $19b.

NZX head of insight Julia Jones emphasised the forecast in NZX’s 2021 Dairy Outlook is contingent on a number of factors lining up.

“It’s a point in time with what we know today, this is what we believe it will look like in the future,” Jones said. . . 

Methane vaccine for cows could be ‘game changer’ for global emissions – Tina Morrison:

A methane vaccine for cows being developed in New Zealand could be a big game changer for animal emissions globally, according to the chairman of the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium, Professor Jeremy Hill.

Hill, who is Fonterra’s chief science and technology officer, says the methane vaccine it is working on aims to introduce antibodies into a cow’s saliva which then pass to the animal’s rumen, or stomach, and bind with the methanogens which convert hydrogen into methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

“That would be the big breakthrough because in theory a vaccine could be implemented in any animal production system,” Hill told reporters at Fonterra’s research and development facility in Palmerston North earlier this month.

“This would make a real game changing difference to the world.” . . 

The organics myth – Jacqueline Rowarth:

The ongoing push that “organic is better” is frustrating when the facts, evidence and data don’t support the case, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth writes.

With all the research and information available it is extraordinary that the myth of organics – that the food is safer, healthier for them and kinder to the environment which means that people will pay more for it – persists.

It isn’t and they don’t. Not enough to cover the costs.

Of course this is “usually”, and people will always be able to show that they make it work in terms of the economics, at least in some operations in some years. . . 

Tarata Honey wins national gold medal for creamed manuka honey :

A Taranaki honey packing factory has won a national gold medal for its creamed manuka honey.

Tarata Honey owners Raul and his wife Eniko Mateas-Orban attended the Apiculture New Zealand  in Rotorua last month.

Raul says they entered the company’s Manuka Honey MG0 300+ in the creamed honey medium colour category.

“We’re very pleased to have won the gold medal in this category. We think it is a great recognition of our hard work and high quality standards in terms of manuka honey. Nevertheless it just goes to show that people really like our honey.” . . 

Calf rearers dropping their numbers – Hugh Stirngleman:

High beef schedules and store cattle prices are not feeding through into four-day calf values and calf rearing margins, which march to the beat of different drums.

Major calf rearers say their businesses are dependent on calf supply numbers in sale yards, input and labour costs, seasonal weather and demand down the track from beef farmers for 100kg weaners.

The numbers of calves being reared are going down, which is counter-productive for the industry, despite good markets for beef and the availability of better beef genetics over dairy cows.

The biggest operators are hanging in, but not expanding, while low margins and uncertain outcomes have decimated the ranks of smaller businesses. . . 

UK lamb exports plummet by a a quarter in May:

Lamb exports from the UK continue to be under pressure as new figures show exports declined by nearly a quarter last month.

UK sheep meat exports declined 23 percent year-on-year in May to stand at 4,850 tonnes, data by HMRC shows. The vast majority – 95 percent – were to the EU.

Volumes of fresh carcase exports only recorded a modest 2% on the year with most of the reduction being in cuts of sheep meat.

Looking at the figures, AHDB said there had been continuing trade friction between the UK and the EU which had ‘no doubt put volumes under pressure’. . . 


Rural round-up

22/07/2021

Groundswell staying mum on future – Gerald Piddock:

Groundswell will keep its word and take no further action until August 16 to give the Government time to respond to its concerns that its farming regulations are unworkable.

The protests on July 16 saw thousands of farmers and their vehicles head to 57 towns and cities across the country to protest policies around freshwater, climate change and biodiversity.

“There’s definitely nothing to add to the protest because we have to wait until August 16 and we’ve given the Government until then to make a response,” Groundswell co-founder Bryce McKenzie said.

“But we have got other irons in the fire. There are other subjects we will be commenting on or putting stuff out on for people to look at separate to the protest,” he said. . . 

Backlash over protest advice to staff – Sally Rae:

Farmer-owned co-operatives have come under fire from the farming community for telling staff they were not allowed to represent their company’s brand at last Friday’s Groundswell New Zealand protest.

Some farmers have indicated shifting their support from co-operatives that took such a stance ahead of the Howl of a Protest, which drew thousands of people from throughout the country.

Clarks Junction farmer Jim Macdonald wrote to Farmlands chairman Rob Hewett before the event saying he was concerned and angered by the decision, and urged a change of heart.

Staff were told if they wanted to support Groundswell the company asked that it was done independently of Farmlands “to protect the Farmlands brand”. It is understood some other rural companies made similar requests to staff. . . 

Farmstrong: discovering my own values :

High country sheep and beef farmer Hamish Murray spent a year on a Nuffield scholarship studying businesses with high-performance team cultures. What he discovered was that before you can work on your team, you need to work on yourself.

HAMISH Murray has an impressive CV. He’s played top-level sport, studied overseas and now works with a team of seven full-time staff, running Bluff Station in the Clarence River Valley. The diversified operation includes 5500 Merino ewes, 950 Angus and Hereford breeding cows and 750 beehives.

“I love the variety of farming. The particular valley and property where we are just gets into your blood. It’s isolated and beautiful. I love being outdoors with our animals, I’m happiest when I’m out riding a horse and shifting stock,” Murray said.

“I spent the earlier part of my life getting an education and learning to do things other than farming, but for me coming back to farming was about giving my children the opportunity to grow up the same way I had. . . 

https://twitter.com/AniekaNick/status/141775380919178445

Grain sense: couple develop on-farm distillery – Sally Rae:

Southland sheep and cropping farmers Rob and Toni Auld are in high spirits.

The entrepreneurial couple operate Auld Farm Distillery, believed to be the southernmost on-farm distillery in the world, on their 200ha Scotts Gap property.

Being primary producers, they were previously used to watching the produce they grew heading out the driveway never to be seen again.

Being able to grow the grain to produce their own whisky was “next-level cool”, Mr Auld said. . . 

The big picture with sheep – Keith Woodford:

The sheep-farming retreat will continue despite excellent meat prices, with carbon farming the mega-force.

In recent months, I have written four articles focusing on the sheep and beef industries across New Zealand. My main focus has been to identify the current situation and to document how the situation varies for different classes of land across the country. Here I return to the overall big question: what is the future of the sheep industry?

There are two parts to that question. The first is the market opportunities. The second is about competing land-uses. . . 

Market opportunities

Apart from some dry hill and high-country farms lying east of the South Island Main Divide, wool is largely irrelevant. Fine-wool merinos are big contributors on low rainfall South Island farms and I expect that to continue. But elsewhere, wool no longer makes a worthwhile contribution to farm income. We can always live in hope, but that is not the basis on which to make land-use decisions. . . 

Productive avocado orchard with commercially run tourist operation placed on the market for sale:

A productive avocado orchard in the heart of Northland’s premier avocado growing district has been placed on the market for sale – with capacity to substantially increase its production scale.

The 15-hectare property is located at Waiharara near 90-Mile Beach in the Far North – which is fast becoming a regional production hub for avocados due to its climate, contour, and free-draining soils.

Located some 40 kilometres north of Kaitaia, the generally rectangular-shaped orchard for sale at 101 Turk Valley Road features nine sheltered and contoured blocks – three of which are now in full production.

Production records from the orchard show that the orchard has been relatively consistent with 12,000 trays being averaged over the past four seasons. The mature trees are Hass on Zutano rootstock, while the younger trees are Hass on Dusa and Hass on Bounty clonal rootstocks. . . 


Rural round-up

13/07/2021

State likely to mismanage nature – Gerry Eckhoff:

Should the people be protecting New Zealand from the Government, asks Gerrard Eckhoff.

“The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown. It may be frail, its roof may shake, the wind may enter, the rain may enter but the King of England cannot enter — nor all his forces dare cross the threshold of the ruined tenement.” — William Pitt the elder, 1763.

Two hundred and fifty years later we still have people in New Zealand (politicians and the botanical puritans) who simply do not understand the importance of that statement on the rights of the common man or women to hold property against the Crown and all its forces.

The recent controversy over significant natural areas has erupted over the identification of unmodified Maori land in Northland. The use rights to vast areas of private land have been identified for political seizure and effectively removed from private control. Most reasonable people assumed that Maori land rights were finally recognised as belonging to, and the property of, various iwi and individuals who wish little more than to exercise their rights to their land just as the rest of us do, or thought we could do. . .

Australia lures NZ”s migrant dairy staff – Gerald Piddock:

Migrant dairy workers are being lured from New Zealand to Australia by promises of residency for themselves and their families.

Southland Federated Farmers sharemilkers chair Jason Herrick says his Filipino staff told him it was occurring among the migrant community.

It was also confirmed to him by farm owners he had contacted who had placed new advertisements over the past week wanting staff.

Four out of 15 of these new advertisements were due to workers leaving for Australia. The rest were because the staff had been poached by other farmers. . .

Lack of skilled staff at meat processors – Neal Wallace:

Meat processors will have to forgo further processing cuts due to a lack of skilled labour following Government changes to immigration rules, industry leaders warn.

Meat Industry Association (MIA) chief executive Sirma Karapeeva says the industry is already short about 2500 people, including halal slaughtermen, skilled boners and butchers who have previously been recruited from overseas.

The staffing issue meant plants could not run at full capacity last season.

“What is new now is that it’s been made worse because of covid-19 and the borders being shut, meaning we can’t supplement the workforce with skilled migrant workers as we have previously been able to do,” Karapeeva said. . .

US buying up our primary industries – Farrah Hancock:

United States citizens and companies are buying up New Zealand land for farming, forestry and wine-making, an RNZ analysis reveals.

Almost 180,000 hectares of farming land was purchased or leased by foreign interests between 2010 and 2021.

During the 11-year period almost 460,000ha – a little under the size of the Auckland region – shifted out of New Zealand control through purchases, leases or rights to take forestry. For simplicity’s sake, this is referred to as bought land throughout this article.

More than 70,000ha of land was bought for dairying operations and more than 100,000 for farming other types of animals, such as beef, sheep or deer. . .

Will going meat-free really save the planet? :

Independent research by some of the world’s leading scientists shows the climate change benefits of substituting meat from the average New Zealander’s diet would only lead to a 3–4 percent decrease in an individual’s lifetime global warming impact from all activities, and could risk individuals missing out on key essential nutrients, such as iron.

The peer-reviewed research paper was developed by climate, nutrition and environmental scientists from the University of Oxford, Massey University, University of Auckland, the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, the Riddet Institute, Victoria University of Wellington Te Herenga Waka and the Ministry for Primary Industries. It has been published by the Switzerland-based Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI) in the Sustainability Journal.

Reducing or eliminating meat consumption is often billed as one of the most effective ways for an individual to lower the climate impact of their lifestyle.

However, methane is a short-lived gas, whereas carbon dioxide is long-lived and, therefore, accumulates in the atmosphere. . .

Farmer to donate crop profit to mental health charities after mate’s death – John Dobson:

A Western Australian farmer touched by suicide will donate the profits from 60 hectares of his crop for the rest of his farming life to help mental health charities.

Sam Burgess, who farms near Arthur River — about 200km south-east of Perth — lost a friend to suicide last week and has dealt with his own mental health struggles in recent years.

Following his friend’s death, Mr Burgess decided to donate all profits from his 52 hectare crop to two mental health charities.

“I just want to do something,” he told ABC Great Southern. . .

 


Rural round-up

08/07/2021

More than 100 ewes and lambs killed by feral dogs on Far North farm – Maja Burry:

A Far North farming family say they are living a nightmare due to feral dogs killing more than 100 of their livestock in the last week.

The Nilsson family run sheep and beef on Shenstone Farm, just south of Cape Rēinga.

Anne-Marie Nilsson said since last Monday more than 60 lambs and 40 ewes had been killed, while her 15-year-old daughter had lost about 36 angora goats.

“That’s pretty harrowing for a young person to deal with… it’s a gut wrenching thing to tidy up after that, dogs don’t kill cleanly. . .

Staff are the heart of Waikato farm – Gerald Piddock:

A Waikato farming couple have adopted a people-first culture in their farming business, rather than focusing on how much milk they can produce.

The measure of a dairy farm’s success isn’t in the litres of milk in the vat or the number of cows in the paddock.

It’s about maintaining the wellbeing of the people who work there because when they thrive, everyone succeeds.

It’s a philosophy David and Sue Fish have adopted in every facet of their farming business on the three farms they own near Waitoa in Waikato, where they milk 1300 cows on 340ha. . .

Quad bike maintenance a non-negotiable:

Checking tyre pressure on quad bikes should be a fundamental health and safety process, says WorkSafe New Zealand.

Harm resulting from quad bikes continues to be a serious issue in New Zealand. There have been 75 fatalities across the country since 2006. A further 614 people have been seriously injured.

The reminder comes after a fatality on Tui Glen Farms in Wharepuhunga in the Waikato in January 2020. . . 

 Deep in the valley – Lisa Scott:

Into the hills I go, to lose my mind and find my soul… Lisa Scott spends a day in the ‘‘Haka’’.

I’ve seen some stuff. The pyramids of Giza, the Mona Lisa. But nothing comes close to the sights that gladdened my eyeballs in the Hakataramea last Sunday.

Haka tara mea: the name means “a dance beside the river”. This little-known valley lies on the north side of the Waitaki River. The Hakataramea River winds through it, an arterial sister to the dammed.

First up, a guided walk with wellness company Sole to Soul’s Juliet and Sally. Their clients enjoy the benefits of ecotherapy (letting Nature “sshhh” the everyday stresses that leave you feeling squashed) while sharing a walk the girls love to do themselves on Collie Hills farm, which has been in Sally’s family for four generations . .

Grape fungicide submissions open:

The Environmental Protection Authority is seeking views on an application to import or manufacture Kenja, a fungicide to control bunch rot and powdery mildew in grapes.

Kenja contains the active ingredient isofetamid, which is not currently approved in New Zealand but is in use in Australia, Europe, the USA, Canada and Japan.

The applicant, ISK New Zealand, wants to import Kenja as a concentrate to be applied to grapes using ground-based methods. . .

Equity partnership a pathway to land ownership:

The New Zealand primary sector’s continued dilemma to secure capital for future expansion has prompted Bayleys rural real estate to take the initiative to be proactive and part of the solution. An upcoming seminar aims to introduce investors with capital to those young farmers who are keen to get a piece of their own property.

Bayleys Country has organised a farm equity partnership seminar in Hastings on August 3rd and invite those interested in learning more to RSVP their attendance to moana.panapa@bayleys.co.nz by 5pm, 20th July.

Bayleys national director rural Nick Hawken said that sourcing bank funding can be challenging for those entering the rural property market, and private capital placement provides an opportunity for those with capital to back operators unable to access funding as they are getting established or wanting to grow. . .

 


Rural round-up

22/05/2021

Feds slam Govt’s immigration plans –  Gerald Piddock:

Federated Farmers are urging farmers with staffing shortages to write to the Government to outline the effect it was having on their businesses.

The move comes after two announcements from the Government over the past few weeks concerning immigration.

It firstly denied an application by Federated Farmers and DairyNZ to bring in 500 skilled migrants to work on dairy farms.

Instead, it approved 125 agricultural machinery operators, below the 400 that is needed. . . 

Treasury to review forestry policy – Neal Wallace:

The Government has approved the sale of 32,644ha of farmland to foreign buyers since 2018 for conversion to forestry under its special policy that encourages overseas investment into the sector.

Information provided by the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) reveals it approved through the forestry test the purchase by foreign investors of 30 livestock farms for conversion to forestry, and a further 35 existing forestry blocks covering 111,517ha.

The special forestry test was introduced in 2018 as part of the Labour-NZ First coalition agreement, which effectively streamlines the OIO process for foreign entities wanting to invest in forestry.

The policy is about to be reviewed by the Treasury, says an OIO spokesperson. . . 

South coping with the long dry – Sally Blundell :

The parched paddocks of farms on Canterbury’s Banks Peninsula have run out of moisture – nothing is growing. Farmers fear climate change has arrived and have begun adapting the way they work the land.

Tim Davie, director of science at Environment Canterbury, pauses in a stony gulley, a narrow trough between banks of browning grass. It was not what he expected to see.

“I was hoping to show you some water on the Port Hills of Banks Peninsula,” he tells Frank Film. “But there’s nothing here. Normally this pond would be full of water, up to my waist. On the western flank of Pigeon Bay, Edward Aitken of Craigforth farm walks across the parched ground of his sheep and cattle farm. The scenery is dramatic, the hills a uniform brown against a relentlessly blue sky. “These paddocks would normally have new grass and established greenfield crops. They’ve been fallow now since last November. There is absolutely no moisture in the sub-soil.” . .

Budget 2021: Federated Farmers welcome funding, Dairy NZ says it missed the mark:

Biosecurity, agricultural emissions research and farm planning were areas that received a funding boost in yesterday’s Budget.

On the agricultural emissions front, $24 million was committed to research and mitigation technology development, which could include things like methane inhibitors and the breeding of low emission animals.

Meanwhile, $37m would go towards a national farm planning system for farmers and growers, in line with the government’s plan for all farms to have written plans to measure and manage emissions by the end of 2024.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said in order to meet its climate and environmental goals, there needed to be a single, easy to use framework. . . 

Women in seed forum :

A recent turn out of women engaged in employment within the Seed Industry shows the future of diversity within the sector is looking good.

The second NZGSTA Women in Seed Forum was held at Riccarton Park Function Centre on the 19th of May and attended by 108 women from the Seed Industry. The roles of these women varied from agronomists, lab technicians, logistics roles, administrative roles, account managers, research technicians, grain traders, farmers and those passionate about the grain and seed industries.

Developed and hosted by the New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association, Executive Councillor Charlotte Connoley said “the purpose of the forum was to provide more opportunities for networking amongst women within the industry in addition to providing a platform for further discussion and collaboration around key challenges and opportunities that face the grain and seed industries.” . . 

Here Come The Girls: Cork students clinch 2021 Certified Irish Angus Schools Competition title

Five teenage girls at St Aloysius College, Carrigtwohill – who come from non-farming backgrounds – have just been crowned overall winners of the 2021 Certified Irish Angus Schools Competition.

Emily O’Donovan, Kelsey Hourigan, Helen Savage, Leah Buckley, and Rachel O’Gorman explored the topic ‘Communicating with the Consumer & Producer’ throughout the course of their 18-month project for the competition.

And, in an effort to educate consumers on the beef process, they created an App called ‘Angus Adventures’ which is available to download from Google Play.

The App focuses on the daily tasks of a farmer in an effort to inform consumers of the work and dedication required to produce Certified Irish Angus beef from farm to fork. . . 


Rural round-up

02/05/2021

Lack of skill costs contractors – Gerald Piddock:

Inexperienced Kiwi farm machinery operators are costing the industry stress, accidents and insurance claims, a new survey of Rural Contractor NZ (RCNZ) members has revealed.

While the industry will continue to train and recruit more New Zealand staff to meet demand, it was fortunate there had been no serious accidents this season, RCNZ chief executive Roger Parton said.

Many rural contractors were only barely able to meet farmer demand this season by working unacceptably long hours in machinery, as well as trying to supervise inexperienced staff.

“We appear to have been extremely lucky that there have not been any serious accidents, but health and safety cannot rely on luck,” Parton said. . . 

Why we should care more about wool – Nadia Lim:

 I find it intriguing that, in a world where we are so keen on being more environmentally friendly and sustainable, the industry for one of the most sustainable, durable and biodegradable materials is in dire straits, and at an all-time low.

I’m talking about wool. Strong wool – produced by the majority of New Zealand sheep breeds – can be used in clothing, carpets, curtains and insulation, not to mention furniture, bedding, weed mat, fertiliser and more. It has a higher micron count than merino wool, so it is thicker and stronger; merino is finer and softer, which is why it’s ideal for clothes worn close to the skin.

We run about 2000 Perendale ewes on our mixed cropping and sheep farm in Central Otago. We reduced the stock numbers significantly when we came here, to give the land a rest but also because there is so little demand for wool these days.

That’s the sad, and ironic, thing. There’s so little demand for wool that we literally have tonnes of it sitting in our shed in bales. It must be an education and awareness thing, because if everyone was actually serious about wanting to be more sustainable, do you think as many of us would be wearing (synthetic, petroleum-based) acrylic jumpers and polar fleece, or that we’d put synthetic insulation and carpets in our homes? . . 

Forage may unlock low gas options – Richard Rennie:

Leafy turnips and winter forage rape crops may yet provide a means for farmers to ensure their livestock emit less methane, without compromising productivity.

AgResearch forage scientist Arjan Jonker acknowledges finding lower methane-emitting feeds is one of agriculture’s “wicked problems”, but says the AgResearch team is well-advanced in understanding what feeds can produce less ruminant methane.

AgResearch forage scientists are working alongside their livestock research colleagues on potential pasture types that may play a key role in helping the sector lower its methane emissions.

With both crops comprising most of the sheep’s diet, the researchers have achieved methane emission reductions of 20-30%. . .

Geoff Ross on New Zealand’s first certified carbon positive farm :

If farmers want to increase profits they need to “look beyond the gate” at the big picture, Geoff Ross says.

Ross and his wife Justine run Lake Hawea Station, the first farm in New Zealand to have its carbon footprint certified.

The Rosses used certifications provider Toitū Envirocare, which found that the 6500-hectare station was actually carbon positive.

This was a “big deal” for Lake Hawea Station, and for its offshore customers, Ross told The Country’s Jamie Mackay. . . 

What lessons can we learn from European glyphosate review? – Mark Ross:

The prospect of a ban on glyphosate is placing enormous pressure on European farmers and Kiwis should be taking notice, Agcarm chief executive Mark Ross says.

Glyphosate use in Europe has resulted in reassessments, reviews and bans in some countries, causing a backlash by farmers.

The controversial herbicide is touted by New Zealand Professor of Toxicology Ian Shaw as a victim of its own success.

It’s successful because it is the most widely used herbicide in the world, it is versatile, and its use can benefit the environment. . . 

 

Summerfruit industry looking forward to growing strong conference in Hawkes Bay:

Summerfruit NZ has just opened registration for the Growing strong – Success in a changing world conference. The industry event is being held at various venues in Hawke’s Bay, including the War Memorial Centre in Napier, where trade exhibits will be on display and speaker presentations will be made.

The Growing strong theme indicates an industry that has experienced tough times but has come through 2020-21 and is ready to reflect, build resilience and celebrate the end of a season like no other.

‘Unfortunately, last year’s conference had to be cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions,’ says Summerfruit NZ chief executive Kate Hellstrom. ‘Growers and other members of the summerfruit industry are really looking forward to meeting with friends and colleagues they may not have seen for well over a year. . . 


Rural round-up

12/04/2021

A victory for common sense – Alan Emmerson:

My views on the original wintering rules are well known. Basically, the original system, the Essential Freshwater Rules on winter grazing, were unworkable and promulgated by a bureaucracy without any knowledge of rural issues.

It was obvious at the start that the rules wouldn’t work, but the civil servants continued at pace.

The Southland farmers protested, backed by the local council.

Then Environment Minister and Green MP Eugenie Sage labelled them irresponsible. I’d have called them realistic. I remain unconvinced that Sage has any idea of the practicalities of farming despite the nation relying on the ag sector for its prosperity. I’d have said the same for her department. . . 

Native forestry good for environment and climate – Paul Quinlan:

The Climate Change Commission says NZ should plant 300,000ha of new permanent native forests by 2035, but indigenous forestry advocates argue we should go much further in harvesting indigenous timber.

Nature-based forestry is ‘a blend between art, culture, and science’, where forests are managed on a continuous cover basis and allowed to reach their full potential in terms of the holistic services they can provide, including timber. Harnessing the power of markets is suggested as an effective way to shift land-use towards more natural forest management.

Last year, Dame Anne Salmond articulated an aspirational vision for “intelligent forestry” in Aotearoa. She has clearly been inspired by models of continuous cover forestry – specifically, ‘close-to-nature forestry’ practices, where the emphasis is on management of a whole and healthy natural ecosystem and where timber production is only one objective to be managed in a compatible way with the many other cultural, environmental and recreational values in each part of the forest. . . 

Environmental impact of forestry taking a toll on East Coast communities – Tom Kitchin:

East Coast locals are disheartened by the prospect of more forestry in the area as the industry grows.

The Climate Change Commission is encouraging the planting of thousands of hectares of forestry in decades to come.

But many people in Gisborne and Wairoa say the industry is damaging their pristine environment and ruining communities.

In Tolaga Bay, a small town of about 800 people nearly an hour north of Gisborne, one end of the beach near the famous wharf is almost clear and sandy, with only a touch of wood nearby. . . 

Team of 5 million – Gerald Piddock:

The new DairyNZ Climate Change Ambassador chair says New Zealand as a whole needs to work together to achieve climate goals.

Getting the dairy industry to achieve tough new climate goals is like running an ultramarathon, recently appointed DairyNZ Climate Change Ambassador chair Fraser McGougan says.

Both require small steps to get to the finish line and both are huge undertakings.

McGougan has already accomplished one of these milestones, having completed an ultramarathon in February. . . 

Trusty tractor at farmer’s side over decades, across world – Mary-Jo Tohill:

A tractor, is a tractor, is a tractor … but then there’s Ian Begg’s tractor. The former Wyndham Station owner talks about how this humble piece of farm machinery shaped his life. Mary-Jo Tohill reports.

People ask him: “What are you?”

He answers: “I’m still a farmer, cos I’m nothing else.”

Ian Begg, the former owner of Wyndham Station in Southland has been many other things — orchardist, importer, real estate agent and developer. But the farm boy remains.

The 75-year-old was reminded of his roots when he attended Wheels at Wanaka at Easter, and was reunited with the tractor that took him 27,000km across the globe, and set a world record for the longest journey by a tractor in 1993-94. . . 

New chief at VFF eyes closer links with consumers – Gregor Heard:

NEW VICTORIAN Farmers Federation chief executive Jane Lovell believes agriculture has an excellent story to tell, but it needs stronger links to consumers and the community to do so.

Ms Lovell, who has a background in areas as diverse as plant pathology, politics and quality assurance, said providing a solid platform for agriculture to be able to demonstrate its credentials was a key goal in her new role.

“Talking about and demonstrating our sustainability and environmental stewardship are going to become even more important with consumers,” Ms Lovell said.

“Gone are the days when everyone had a farmer as a close relative and sadly, this means many people don’t have that connection to farming and the land,” she said . . .


Rural round-up

06/04/2021

Mayor calls on government to give MIQ spots to RSE workers

Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan is calling on the government to offer some of the available MIQ spaces to foreign workers.

MIQ authorities are urging people to return to New Zealand to snap up a sudden glut of vacancies for April. There have not been as many vacancies since October.

In an open letter to ministers, Cadogan said Central Otago’s horticulture industry was desperate for workers and bringing in foreigners under the seasonal employment scheme would bring huge relief.

“I am sure I do not need to draw your attention to the labour shortage we have in Central Otago in our horticultural industry and the desperate need for increased numbers of RSE (Recognised Seasonal Employer) scheme workers, but I do need to emphasise that things here are getting worse not better,” Cadogan’s letter said. . . 

Continued threat to NZ from severely impacted global supply chains:

  • As an open market economy, NZ is attractive to dumpers
  • Remedies available to local businesses and industries

Potatoes are not the only industry at risk from disrupted overseas businesses looking to dump cheap products in New Zealand, but the tools are there to ensure a level playing field for local businesses.

The longer the Covid-19 pandemic goes on across the world, the greater the risk to New Zealand markets from products imported and sold here at prices below the market price in their country of origin, according to a specialist advisor working with local interests on current anti-dumping cases.

Simon Crampton is assisting Potato New Zealand with its anti-dumping case and believes that other New Zealand industries and businesses are at risk of destabilisation from dumped products as the result of continuing turmoil in global supply chains, amongst other reasons. . . 

Fonterra to end coal use in factories by 2037 – Gerald Piddock:

Fonterra has backed the Climate Change Commission’s decarbonisation pathway to lower industrial emissions by pledging to replace its coal and natural gas to fuel its processing factories with wood biomass by 2037.

Its submission to the commission’s advice to the Government on how to achieve zero emissions by 2050 acknowledged the difficulties in meeting such a target, calling it “ambitious” and “challenging”.

It pointed out that the nature of New Zealand dairy farmers’ milk supply curve gave it an extremely narrow window in which it can undertake changes to its factories.

“Over a six to eight-week period, we go from collecting around four million litres of milk a day to around 82 million litres a day. All of our sites must be working close to full capacity to cope with this volume,” it said. . . 

Silver Fern Farms responds to dynamic global trading environment with strong performance:

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative has reported a net profit after tax of $32.4m for the 2020 financial year. Its investment, Silver Fern Farms Limited, reported a net profit after tax of $65.4m in the same period.

Silver Fern Farms Co-operative Chairman Richard Young said the financial result achieved by the Co-operative and Silver Fern Farms Limited for the 2020 year is a strong result built off the skill and expertise of its people who navigated the company through a period of considerable uncertainty.

“The performance of the operating company in 2020 was truly commendable across a range of areas. Most important was how they put the health and welfare of their people first. In doing so they set a platform of trust and shared commitment from their staff to stand up as essential workers to service our regional communities, and to service our global consumers.” . . 

Awanui orchard offers step straight into market:

A large scale, well established avocado orchard in the Northland region offers the opportunity for an investor to enjoy immediate returns from the high value sector as demand continues to expand for the fruit.

Awanui orchard near Sweetwater represents 20 years of commitment from its original owner and founder, American-Kiwi Jerry Trussler.

Jerry’s far-sighted vision for the sector had him establish the 36-canopy hectare orchard at a time when the fledgling industry was distinguished by significantly smaller orchards. The entire land area comprises 79ha across an attractive, rolling block. . . .

California relocates mountain lions making a meal of endangered sheep :

Drastic steps taken to protect the Sierra Nevada’s 600 bighorn sheep after another charismatic species developed a taste for them

In order to save one endangered species, California scientists are having to relocate another iconic creature that is, regrettably, eating it.

The California department of fish and wildlife is in the process of moving mountain lions over 100 miles away from struggling populations of bighorn sheep, which are unique to the Sierra Nevada mountains. The herbivores were first listed as endangered in 1999, when their population was estimated at only 125 individuals, according to researchers.

“There’s no expectation that any of the lions we move are going to stay where we put it, regardless of age or sex,” acknowledged Danny Gammons, an environmental scientist for the sheep recovery program. “The goal is to get it away from bighorn sheep.” . . 


Rural round-up

04/03/2021

Inexperienced farm machine operators ‘cause havoc’ – Bonnie Flaws:

Harvest is in full swing across the country, and while rural contractors have managed to get workers in the tractor driving seat, in many cases the work hasn’t been up to the necessary standard, industry commentators say.

Rural Contractors president David Kean said the organisation had done everything Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor had asked to fill the worker shortage left by border closures, but reports of inexperienced workers causing havoc were common.

“If you can imagine that you’ve got a guy on the tractor that doesn’t know how to work that tractor to its full potential, so he leaves it in the wrong gear and he over-revs it, which overheats the machine.

“There was an incident that cost a contractor $60,000 because something went through the bailer. There’s been quite a few issues like from what I’ve heard but contractors don’t want to speak out and run down the workers.” . . 

‘Pretty extraordinary’ – Fonterra on GDT results – Sudesh Kissun:

Fonterra’s reliable supply chain and strong demand from China and South East Asia are helping drive dairy prices up, says co-op chief executive Miles Hurrell.

In an email to farmer suppliers, Hurrell described the overnight Global Dairy Trade (GDT) auction results as “pretty extraordinary”.

The GDT price index jumped 15% compared to the previous auction, its eight consecutive price rise. Whole milk powder prices, used by Fonterra to set its milk payout, rose a whopping 21% to US$4364/MT, a seven-year high. Hurrell says farmers would be keen to know what the latest result means for Fonterra’s farmgate milk price. . .

AgMatch grows wool range – Neal Wallace:

It’s niche and has strict specifications to be met, but a farmer collective buying and selling group is proving that consumers still love crossbred wool.

AgMatch is using member’s wool to make jerseys, socks, carpet and carpet underlay, which is then sold via the members and the AgMatch website, earning growers up to $40/kg net for the wool used.

The group’s newest venture is floor coverings, with suppliers recently taking delivery of 900 lineal metres of carpet manufactured in Australia, enough for more than 40 homes.

Most has already been sold for $300 a lineal metre. . .

Doing the unimaginable – Gerald Piddock:

Despite never having farmed, a Waikato couple who had successful careers in Australia, returned home to milk sheep on the family farm and have had to learn everything from scratch.

Imagine quitting your career to embark on a new profession that is the least likely and most unexpected thing one envisions themselves doing.

That’s exactly what Matthew and Katherine Spataro did when they ditched the city grind by shifting from Melbourne to the outskirts of Te Awamutu to milk sheep. . . 

Thousands enjoy terrier-ific day at show

From highland dancers to livestock competitions, the North Otago A&P Show in Oamaru had it all.

However, the most exciting event was the terrier race on Saturday when 20 or so specimens, of widely varying shapes and sizes, raced to catch a dead rabbit tethered to a four-wheeler.

Taking the win was Thomas, a speedy dog who won for the second year in a row.

His owner, Tomlyn Morrissey, of Southland, was happy to see his name on the cup again. Mrs Morrissey’s pooch was so fast the race had been restarted because he caught the rabbit before getting halfway to the finish. . .

Call goes out for kiwifruit pickers and packers:

The first kiwifruit will be picked off the vines this week and growers across the country anticipate needing around 23,000 workers for the harvest. The harvest runs through till June and is expected to produce even more than last year’s record of 157 million trays of Green and Gold.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. (NZKGI) Chief Executive Officer Nikki Johnson says ongoing COVID-19 overseas travel restrictions mean growers will be looking to offer job opportunities to even more New Zealanders to provide most of the workforce – meeting the shortfall of people on the RSE scheme from the Pacific islands and working holiday visa-holders.

As in previous years, NZKGI has been working for several months to prepare for the season opening and the significant labour requirements. . . 

Farmers apply to Defra to grow genome-edited wheat:

Researchers are preparing an application to the government to run a field trial of a new genome edited wheat, the first such trial to be carried out in Europe.

Scientists from Rothamsted Research have used genome editing to reduce a cancer-causing compound commonly found in toast.

Acrylamide forms during bread baking and is further increased when bread is toasted: the darker the toast, the more of this carcinogenic compound it contains.

Now the team have used genome editing to develop a type of wheat that is less likely to produce acrylamide when baked. . . 


Rural round-up

26/02/2021

Major task ahead for NZ farming – Matthew Reeves:

New modelling from the Climate Change Commission has outlined a major task ahead for the agribusiness industry in New Zealand.

The Government has committed to an extensive emissions reduction plan in order to combat climate change, involving a 10% decline in agricultural emissions by 2030, and a 24% to 47% decline by 2050.

Achieving this target will require major changes across the agricultural sector, including a significant decline in herd sizes and the uptake of new technologies.

The agriculture sector is the largest greenhouse gas emitter in New Zealand, accounting for around 40% of current emissions in the country. The bulk of this comes from livestock methane emissions, including 51% from the country’s 6.1 million dairy cattle, and 47% from the country’s 26.2 million sheep and 4 million beef cattle. . .

Milk packs punch agaisnt flu – Gerald Piddock:

We already know milk is good for the bones, but now research shows that drinking milk could help ward off the flu.

New research has found that a protein-based ingredient from milk is an effective antiviral agent against a common influenza virus species.

The study commissioned by New Zealand company Quantec, and completed by an independent US laboratory, found that Immune Defence Proteins (IDP) was 120% more effective against the virus Influenza A when compared to the protein lactoferrin.

Testing on the herpes simplex virus netted a similar result. . . 

‘RA 20 virus’ a danger to New Zealand farming – Doug Edmeades:

There is another pandemic sweeping the nation.

It is a new, exceedingly virulent virus which is likely to do more damage to the New Zealand economy in the long term than Covid-19, if left unchecked.

I am calling for an immediate lockdown – total elimination is essential to prevent New Zealand agriculture slipping back to the dark ages.

It is coded RA20 but the full medical name is “Regenerative Agriculture 2020”. . . 

Better connection now – Rural News:

We may now be into the third decade of the 21st century, but unfortunately much of NZ’s rural broadband and mobile coverage remains at third world levels.

That is unacceptable in a modern, first-world country like New Zealand. How is it still the case that many farmers and rural businesses around the country have to buy costly equipment to get broadband, while many others cannot even get mobile phone coverage at all?

As the Technology Users Association of NZ (TUANZ) chief executive Craig Young says, rural people should be getting the same level of connectivity in terms of broadband and mobile coverage as the people who live in urban areas.

It is even more important for rural people to have high quality connectivity, given their often remote locations and the fact that they are running significant businesses – not only farming, but other service related enterprises. . . 

Manuka saving honey’s buzz – Richard Rennie:

While demand for Manuka honey continues to surge, other honey varieties remain moribund, with low prices starting to pressure beekeepers out of the industry.

The latest Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) 2020 Apiculture Monitoring report has highlighted how a good harvest season last summer translated into a surge in volumes of all honey produced, with per hive yield of manuka up 39% on the year before in the North Island.

Overall however, the sector experienced a slide of 6% in average export prices despite a weaker NZ dollar, with a significant 28% export volume increase driving the overall 20% increase in total export value.

The report has highlighted the growing gap between high-value manuka and all other multi-floral manuka/non-manuka honeys. . . 

Helping emerging industries is growing Australian agriculture – John Harvey:

Opportunities within the agricultural sector are constantly evolving.

We see consumers hungry for new products and changing requirements and expectations for food production.

You only have to look at shifting attitudes about eating meat to see how quickly things evolve.

And that is one of the reasons I think it is vital that Australia continues to invest in our emerging agricultural and food production industries. . . 


Rural round-up

08/02/2021

Climate focus highlights need for water storage – Vanessa Winning :

We should no longer be afraid of the conversation about water storage, dams, and reservoirs in the right places, as they are necessary for a sustainable, inclusive, productive and decarbonised economy, chief executive of Irrigation NZ Vanessa Winning writes.

It has been hot, very hot, especially in the central north island, Canterbury, Nelson, and Otago areas.

Then it was cool – still dry for most of us, but temperatures dropped a minimum of 10 degrees in the space of 24 hours in the height of summer.

Southerlies have settled into the lower North Island and we may get a storm next week in the South. Climate scientists tell us that these swings are expected to get more extreme all year round. . . 

Climate hurdle a high bar for farmers – Tom O’Connor:

Farmers in Waikato and across the country are to be commended for their courage in facing up to what they rightly say are the daunting changes ahead them following a report by the Climate Change Commission.

The 800-page report is wide-sweeping, thorough, challenging, hugely ambitious and more than a little frightening for those locked into our extensive agricultural industry and those in wide-spread supporting industries.

In a first draft of the report, dealing with carbon budgets, released last week, the commission has suggested that dairy, sheep and beef cattle numbers must be reduced by 15 per cent by the end of the decade. That is a very short time frame for such a major change and some probably won’t make it.

Fortunately, we seemed to have passed through the phase of blind opposition to the concept of climate change. For about thirty years a number of sceptics challenged almost every scientist who presented evidence of climate change or predicted what climate change would do. . . 

Exports remain strong – Neal Wallace and Gerald PIddock:

Farm gate prices for New Zealand dairy and meat exports have defied economic fallout from the global pandemic and are trading at above long-term averages.

Demand from China and Asian economies emerging from the covid-19 pandemic are underpinning the buoyant prices, but there are warnings a strengthening exchange rate and prolonged supply chain disruption will put pressure on returns.

Fonterra this week lifted its farm gate milk price guidance range from $6.90 to $7.50kg/MS, up from $5.90 to $6.90 at the start of the season, potentially making this the second consecutive year of a $7-plus milk price. . . 

The dream team: Jess, David and Bronwyn Hill :

A Raglan dairy farming family set up a wee milk bottling plant three years ago.

Then, the Hill family produced 30 litres of drinking milk a week and delivered it to local customers. Now they bottle and deliver 5000 litres – in one-litre bottles – from the west coast to the east coast.

Their website has a rolling tally of the number of plastic milk bottles they’ve saved from re-cycling or landfill – over 150,000  and counting.

Jess Hill says customers are loving the glass bottles and the fact they’re supporting a local enterprise.   . . 

Mustering at Molesworth – Sally Round:

It’s an early start for the musterers at Molesworth Station. The bulls are out with the cows for the mating season and the stockmen need to beat the heat. Country Life producer Sally Round spent a day with the musterers, the farmer and the cook, peeling back some of the mystique of New Zealand’s most famous farm.

Duncan, Connell, Josh and Liam  are up before the birds.

Head torches on, they catch their horses before tucking into a pile of bacon and eggs in the kitchen at Tarndale.

The homestead there is one of Molesworth Station’s far-flung camps where the musterers can have a feed and bed down for the night while working on the furthest reaches of the 180,470-hectare property.

Molesworth, in the backcountry of Marlborough, has a mystique and mana which few other high country farms can match. . . 

 

Are cows accelerating climate change? – Stu McNish:

Cows have rapidly moved into the crosshairs of climate change and diet. But Frank M. Mitloehner of University of California, Davis says much – if not most – of what you think you know about ruminants and climate change is inaccurate.

His findings align with those of climate scientist Myles Allen, an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change contributor and Oxford professor who says the global warming carbon equivalency formula commonly applied to livestock is incorrect.

Both Mitloehner and Allen point to the impact a stable or declining herd has on methane production. Add in improving dietary and animal husbandry practices, along with methane-capturing systems, and the picture for livestock farms in northern hemisphere countries is positive. . . 


Rural round-up

26/01/2021

Urban issues starting to affect Wanaka :

Environmental group says urban growth a threat to lake’s natural beauty.

The popularity of Wanaka’s pristine natural beauty could prove to be the lake’s downfall — but not if a group of environmentally-minded citizens has something to do with it.

Environmental consultant Chris Arbuckle, along with agribusiness expert Erica Van Reenen and keen local lake swimmer Eddie Spearing, have initiated the Touchstone project, bringing together local people concerned about the Lake Wanaka catchment, raise awareness of water quality issues, and encourage positive action.

While the vast majority of the lake’s catchment is rural, Arbuckle says urban issues are just as significant, if not more so, as Wanaka grows in size and popularity. The district’s population has doubled in the past 10 years, and is estimated to reach 50,000 by 2040. . . .

FE spore counts hit 1.2m in Matamata – Gerald Piddock:

Farmers are being warned to make sure they have an adequate facial eczema (FE) management plan in place after the first spore counts of the year topped nearly 1.2 million from one grass sample in Matamata.

The maximum spore counts analysed by Hamilton-based Gribbles Veterinary on January 14 also reached 30,000 in Franklin and Tauranga, 120,000 in Waikato, 35,0000 in Waitomo and 150,000 on the East Coast.

In the second week of monitoring, samples collected from farms in Waihi, Franklin, Hauraki, Whitianga, Rotorua, Whakatane, Tauranga, Hamilton, Morrinsville, Waipa, Waitomo, New Plymouth and Gisborne were all higher than the 30,000 spores/gram threshold at which veterinarians recommend farmers take action against facial eczema. . . 

Trees are our great weapons against climate change. But what if they stop soaking? – Mirjam Guesgen :

A new study suggests that trees’ ability to soak up carbon could expire. Mirjam Guesgen explains.

Trees have long been held as the saviour for climate change. Plant enough trees and we might be able to balance out some of that carbon-emmitting flying or driving. But a new scientific study says that trees only buy us a certain amount of time. Push a tree too far and it’ll turn on you.

How do trees fight climate change?

The reason trees make such excellent climate fighting machines has to do with chemistry. They suck up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and use it as one of the ingredients to make sugar, their form of fuel. That’s the basics of photosynthesis. . . 

M. Boris numbers falling – MPI :

The Ministry of Primary Industries says New Zealand is getting closer to the eradication of Mycoplasma Bovis.

Ten properties in Canterbury are currently infected with the cattle disease, including two Lincoln University research farms.

The Ministry is working through depopulation plans with the two research farms, but final cull numbers haven’t been determined. . .

Rain secures feed surplus – Gerald Piddock:

Warm temperatures and frequent summer rain have led to a bumper season for summer feed crops and pasture covers for livestock farmers in most regions up and down the country.

It’s been a remarkable turnaround compared to 12 months ago, where severe drought had written off feed crops and farmers around the North Island were burning through their feed reserves to keep their stock healthy.

DairyNZ general manager of farm performance Sharon Morrell says while it has been a good year for many, regions such as Northland was getting dry and areas of the Hauraki Plains also had declining pasture growth rates. . .

Farmers to showcase farmland bird conservation work :

Farmers are being encouraged to get behind this year’s Big Farmland Bird Count to showcase the conservation work being done on farms across the country.

The Big Farmland Bird Count returns in 2021, and organisers are asking farmers and land managers – who look after 71% of Britain’s countryside – to join in.

The project helps show which farmland birds are benefitting from conservation efforts while identifying the species most in need of help.

The annual count, run by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), is scheduled for the 5 – 14 February 2021. . . 


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