Rural round-up

October 11, 2016

NZ lamb prices lift; weak demand likely to weigh on future returns – Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand lamb meat prices advanced last month on lower supplies but analysts expect the uplift will be temporary due to weak demand in the UK market, where around two thirds of the country’s lamb legs are exported.

The benchmark CKT price for a leg of lamb in the UK rose to 4.20 British pounds per kilogram in September, from 4.10 pounds/kg in August and 3.40 pounds/kg in September last year, according to AgriHQ data. In New Zealand dollar terms, returns were $7.51/kg in September, from $7.41/kg in August, and compared with $8.04/kg a year earlier.

In New Zealand, the average price from local meat processors lifted to $5.80/kg, from $5.68/kg in August,and compared with $6.05/kg a year earlier, AgriHQ said. . . 

NZ Hereford beef a hit in Germany – Gerald Piddock:

German consumers are taking a liking to New Zealand hereford beef, with demand growing in a market traditionally dominated by pork and poultry.

Fuelling that demand is the cattle’s grass fed diet and New Zealand’s outdoor farming style, importer Christian Klughardt says.

Klughardt and his brother, Oliver, run HP Klughardt, a family business started by their father in 1968. They have bought lamb and venison from Silver Fern Farms (SFF) and its predecessor PPCS for about 30 years. . . 

New app helps farmers manage mastitis:

A new app for farmers has been launched by LIC Automation to help those with CellSense in-line sensors to more easily manage mastitis in their herd.

CellSense is an automated in-line sensor providing farmers with a live somatic cell count (SCC) resultwithin two minutes of cupping the cow. The new CellSense Connected app sends the SCC results straight to farmers’ smart devices. Data is presented in an easy-to-use format on the farmers’ devices (phones and tablets), allowing them to assign a SCC result to a cow during milking.

This means farmers can view reports at their convenience and use them to aid dry off decisions. A flashing light system in the milking shed is an optional extra that alerts farmers to which cows in the herd have a high SCC. . . 

Freshwater management to benefit from new institute:

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce has today announced the creation of a new freshwater institute between NIWA and the University of Waikato.

Te Waiora, Joint Institute for Freshwater Management (NIWA and the University of Waikato) will be on the university’s Hamilton campus and involve iwi, national and international partners.

“This is a significant step forward in freshwater management in New Zealand, and will enhance our research capabilities and facilities to address future management of our freshwater resources and environments,” Mr Joyce says.

“The Joint Institute will be a world-leading centre for interdisciplinary freshwater research and teaching. It will build capability and capacity across the sciences, engineering, management, law, economics policy, mātauranga Māori and education, with the aim of delivering greater economic, social, cultural and environmental benefits from and for freshwater. . . 

Cycle trail a $37 million boost for regions:

More than a million people used the New Zealand Cycle Trail last year, generating around $37 million in economic benefits for local communities, according to a new report released today by Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism John Key.

The evaluation the New Zealand Cycle Trail, includes an independent cost benefit analysis showing that for every dollar attributable to construction and maintenance of the trails, approximately $3.55 of benefits was generated.

“The New Zealand Cycle Trail has been very effective in attracting high-value visitors to our regions,” says Mr Key. . . 

Parasite-resistant deer on the horizon?:

Deer breeders who want to select deer with natural resistance to internal parasites may now do so. However, they’re taking a punt, as research to find out whether – or how – resistance is linked to growth rates and parasite levels in deer won’t be completed until late next year.

Resistance levels are scored using a saliva test that measures the antibodies triggered when animals ingest internal parasites.

Dubbed CARLA, short for carbohydrate larval antigens, the test was developed by AgResearch scientists for the sheep industry, where CARLA breeding values (BVs) are now a routine part of genetic selection. . . 

Improved road access for farmers:

Farmer Rayawa (on horseback) observes as his road is upgraded.

Small to medium scale crop farmers living along Lutukina Road in the Macuata Province are now able to get their produce to markets faster and with their crops undamaged since their road was recently repaired by Fulton Hogan Hiways.

FHH is contracted by Fiji Roads Authority to maintain the unsealed and sealed road networks in the Northern division.

Running through green terrain, Lutukina Road is located off the Labasa/Nabouwalu highway. It is 45 kilometres from Labasa Town and six kilometres from Dreketi. . . 

Farmers warned not to plant left-over contaminated fodder beet seed:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is cautioning farmers not to plant left-over seed from any of the six lines of fodder beet seed imported last year and known to be contaminated with velvetleaf.

MPI is working with industry players and regional councils to manage the incursion of the pest weed resulting from the importation of the contaminated seed.

Response Incident Controller David Yard says there are hundreds of properties around New Zealand that have velvetleaf on them and we don’t want any more.

“MPI has banned the importation of any of the affected lines, but we believe there are likely to be farmers out there who bought contaminated seed lines last year and could have left-over seed in their sheds. . . 

Continued investment in facilities and infrastructure has led to the most successful winter season on record for Cardrona Alpine Resort:

Continued investment in facilities and infrastructure has led to the most successful winter season on record for Cardrona Alpine Resort this year. Cardrona’s previous skier day record has been smashed by over 30,000 visits this year – a sign of growth in both the snow sports and local tourism industries.

Investing in key areas such as carparking and the Valley View base area, along with a focus on minimising pinch points, has created a more even spread of capacity. Continual investment in terrain management including the SnowSat system, snowmaking capacity and grooming fleet has created a more stable, season-long product.

The entire resort was open top to bottom on Opening Day June 11, including Valley View Quad for the first time in the lift’s history. Early snowfall, increased snowmaking capacity and tactical terrain management saw the resort fully operational from day one. . . 

Rural round-up

August 10, 2016

Dairy downturn has a $1.3b impact on Waikato/Bay of Plenty farmers – Gerald Piddock:

The dairy slump has ripped more than a billion out of Waikato and Bay of Plenty farmers’ pockets, new figures show.

Farm consultancy group AgFirst’s 2016 Financial Survey shows the average dairy farmer’s net cash income was down $273,000 last season.

When multiplied by the region’s 4800 dairy farms, that’s $1.3b in lost income.

The big question was how much longer farmers could maintain the current situation where they had drastically reduced expenditure, AgFirst consultant Phil Journeaux said. . . 

Wintry blast hits farmers hard – Matt Shand:

The milking shed has frozen shut at Taharua Valley Farm as 200 dairy cows huddle together waiting for the problem to be fixed.

At 783 metres above sea level, the 2000-cow PenXing Group Milk New Zealand farm is one of the hardest hit by the recent snowstorm. Just over 100 metres lower in Taupo, the snow was a fun novelty. But here it is causing serious challenges. 

There is no such thing as time off for farmers and farmhands. Hot water and heaters are used to help thaw the shed out so it can hopefully milk animals tonight.  . . 

The snow has come again – Keith Woodford:

Every year we all talk about the weather and how fickle it is.  This year is no different. In most parts of the country, June and July were unseasonably warm.  Where I am in Canterbury, winter grass growth has possibly been higher than ever before.  Grass covers at the start of August were excellent.

In contrast, last year was one of the coldest winters on record, with many South Island farms getting no net growth in June and July.   That year, there was a string of southerlies, whereas this year warm winds were blowing over the Alps. . . 

MPI investigators target alleged unregulated meat sales:

A team of Ministry for Primary Industries investigators today executed a search warrant at an alleged unregulated meat premises in Turangi.

This was the culmination of a six month undercover operation involving the purchase of considerable quantities of venison, lamb and pork products from a local Turangi man.

The man is now being spoken to by MPI investigators in relation to the alleged sale of meat from an unregulated premises.

MPI Compliance Operations Manager, Gary Orr, says a decision will be made shortly as to whether charges will be laid under the Animal Products Act. . . 

Profit jumps for New Zealand’s leading fresh produce exporter :

Turners & Growers Global has posted an 89 percent gain in first-half profit driven by sales from new and existing businesses and a one-time gain from the sale of its crate hire unit.

The fruit marketer is controlled by Germany’s BayWa but is Auckland based. Their product base includes apples, pears, mandarins, coconuts and kiwifruit.

T&G profit rose to $22.7 million, or 18.2 cents a share in the six months ended June 30, from $12m, or 9.8 cents, a year earlier. Sales rose 14 percent to $423m. . . 

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council to get clearer mandate – Paul McBeth

(BusinessDesk) – The Fonterra Shareholders’ Council, which represents farmer interests in the world’s biggest dairy exporter, is poised for a refreshed mandate with clearer guidelines on how it interacts with the milk processor.

The council and Fonterra Cooperative Group are seeking feedback from farmers on a series of proposals to update the group’s governance to make the council’s role clearer, explain how it works with Fonterra’s board and management, and improve communication with farmer shareholders. Farmers are expected to vote on any changes to the council’s governance at a special meeting in mid-October. . . 

One of the worlds’ most respected wine consultants appointed to NZ’s boutique vineyard Chateau Waimarama:

After an extensive international search, award winning boutique vineyard Chateau Waimarama, has lured leading Bordeaux wine consultant Ludwig Vanneron half way across the world to be its wine specialist.

Ludwig Vannerons’ stellar career has seen him work in prestigious and major wine areas of Bordeaux, managing the winemaking process in estates from small chateau Bordeaux appellation properties to great classified growths. . . 

Rural round-up

July 18, 2016

Market monopolies a bigger threat to agricultural markets than subsidies – Gerald Piddock:

Market monopolies and not subsidies are the biggest threat to economic sustainability in world agricultural markets, says an international expert.

Belgium-based AgriCord managing director Ignance Coussement said the existence of the monopolies made it difficult for smaller farmers around the world to compete against larger scale “industrialised’ farmers within a nation’s domestic market.

How smaller family farming enterprises competed against these larger scale farms in the market was a tricky issue, he said. . . 

John Key to push for Indonesia to lift beef trade restrictions for Kiwi exporters – Sam Sachdeva:

Prime Minister John Key hopes rising beef prices, as well as a global trade case, will encourage Indonesia to lift restrictions on Kiwi beef imports.

Key has promised to raise concerns with Indonesian president Joko Widodo when the pair meet in Jakarta on Tuesday evening (NZ time).

New Zealand has joined 14 other countries in taking action against Indonesia through the World Trade Organisation over its beef import restrictions and quotas. . . 

When computers became part of NZ farming:

Lincoln University’s role in making the computer one of the essential tools on the farm is told in a new book by Dr Peter Nuthall, an Honorary Associate Professor in Lincoln’s Department of Land Management and Systems.

‘Dare to compute. The early years in the development and uptake of farm computer systems’ is written about the Kellogg Farm Management Unit (KFMU) at Lincoln, which Dr Nuthall founded and was head of for all but two years of its existence, from 1980 to 1995.  

The unit was initially funded by the Kellogg Foundation in the United States, a philanthropic fund. KFMU aimed to develop computer software for farm and horticultural property managers, and train them in its use.  

Dr Nuthall says the history of the unit needs to be told as it played an important part in introducing computer technology and software to primary producers in New Zealand and Australia. . . 

Quarterly tractor sales buoyant despite dairy payout:

“New Zealand Tractor sales are relatively buoyant, despite the current dairy payout,” says NZ Tractor and Machinery Association President, Mark Hamilton-Manns.

The second quarter results of New Zealand tractor sales, compiled by the NZ Tractor and Machinery Association, show tractor sales declined slightly, by 8.5%, compared to the same quarter last year. Several segments saw an increase, however, including the consumer segment which grew by 15%, as more Kiwis bought smaller 20–60hp compact tractors for their lifestyle blocks, hire fleets and some commercial applications. . . 

Early Winter Sees Prices Ease:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were seven fewer farm sales (-1.5%) for the three months ended June 2016 than for the three months ended June 2015. Overall, there were 472 farm sales in the three months ended June 2016, compared to 489 farm sales for the three months ended May 2016 (-3.5%), and 479 farm sales for the three months ended June 2015. . . 

Manuka honey buzz boosts farmland prices Alexa Cook:

Demand for manuka honey has boosted the value of farmland, with many properties doubling price over the past couple of years, a real estate firm says.

The manuka honey industry has surged, with exports growing by 45 percent last year to $281 million. New Zealand is now the third largest exporter of honey by value.

Bayleys Real Estate rural agent Mark Monckton, who is based in Taranaki, said the growth was good news for some of his region’s more remote farming businesses. . . 

 Landmark merger a win-win for organic sector:

The organic community celebrated the landmark merger of two long-established charitable organisations yesterday. Members of the Soil & Health Association of NZ Inc and the New Zealand Biological Producers and Consumers Society Inc (BioGro Society) voted in favour of the proposal. This means that the Society will transfer its assets to Soil & Health, on winding up on 30 September.

The merger brings together the skills and resources of the two charities into one strong, unified organic sector body.

Soil & Health will become the proud new owner of BioGro NZ Ltd, New Zealand’s largest organic certification agency. This will empower Soil & Health to carry out its vital education and advocacy work for healthy soil, healthy food and healthy people. . . 

Synlait GM Accepts next international role:

Michael Stein, Synlait’s General Manager Quality and Regulatory, has accepted the role of Quality and Food Safety Director, Asia Pacific, with Danone Nutricia Early Life Nutrition.

“This is a great personal and professional opportunity for Michael and a clear milestone in his international career,” said John Penno, Synlait’s CEO and Managing Director.

Mr Penno was disappointed to learn Mr Stein will depart Synlait at the end of September 2016, but fully supports his decision. . . 

Rural round-up

July 13, 2016

Waikato farmer spearheads wireless farming for the future of dairying – Gerald Piddock:

Tony Walters is farming’s ambassador of technology, writes Gerald Piddock.

Dairy farmers could soon be using wireless technology as proof that they are operating an environmentally sustainable operation.

The wireless connection could help sell the New Zealand story to overseas customers resulting in better prices for their products in the market. For farmers, that would mean they get paid better for their milk. 

Tony Walters is convinced the day will come soon when this works and is piloting the technology on his 95 hectare dairy farm at Waiuku in North Waikato. . .

Dairy – It’s Not Rocket Science. Or is It? Innovation the key to shaping the global dairy sector:

Using charged iron to capture tiny particles worth hundreds of dollars a kilo, creating technology to speed up nature more than 300 fold and real-time composition analysis with the potential to revolutionise a multi-billion dollar industry.

These may sound like scenarios borne out of a NASA testing facility, but in fact these space-age innovations have origins right here in New Zealand – part of Fonterra’s asset optimisation programme that’s helped position the Co-operative as a global leader in dairy R&D.

Fonterra Chief Operating Officer Global Operations Robert Spurway says R&D is one of the most important factors shaping the dairy industry today, particularly when it comes to selling our capabilities with new and existing customers around the world. . . 

NZ groundspreaders celebrate 60 years of helping farmers:

Nearly 200 groundspreaders from across the country will, next week, gather in Nelson for the 60th Annual Conference of long-standing trade organisation – the New Zealand Groundspread Fertilisers’ Association (NZGFA).

Conference attendees – ground spreaders, suppliers, trainers, auditors and testers – will hear from key speakers including Hon. Damien O’Connor (West Coast MP and Labour’s Spokesperson for Primary Industries), Mark Wynne, CEO of Ballance Agri- Nutrients, Mike Whitty, General Manager Marketing of Ravensdown Fertiliser Cooperative and Nelson forestry contractor and health and safety pioneer, Dale Ewers.

“Health and safety and accident prevention are high on our agenda this year,” explains Brent Scully, NZGFA President. “Fertiliser spreading is a demanding job involving heavy plant, complex equipment and often steep terrain. Machine operators and spreader drivers undergo intense training; however, errors do occur and accidents do happen. We want to do everything we can to minimise risk for the men and women in this industry.” . .

New fisheries decisions bring closures and increases:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has decided for sustainability reasons to close part of the Southern Scallop Fishery (SCA7), which covers the top and northwest coast of the South Island, for the coming season.

The measures will prohibit commercial and recreational fishing for scallops in all of the Marlborough Sounds and part of Eastern Tasman Bay for the coming season, ending on 14 February 2017.

“This decision follows the latest scientific survey in 2015 which shows a continued and significant decline in the fishery, despite commercial catch reductions over the past three seasons,” says Mr Guy

“The strong message from the scientific evidence, as well as public submissions is the need to take the next step and close parts of the fishery to let it recover. . . 

Turn your best bull calf into cash:

Dairy farmers in the thick of calving are being offered thousands of dollars for their best bull calves by CRV Ambreed.

The company is offering farmers who breed the best bull calves $4,000 if their bull calves are selected for the CRV Progeny Test program. That $4,000 could turn into $11,000 from graduation payments or more if royalty options are taken.

CRV Breeding Program Manager Aaron Parker said with calving now underway, a lucrative source of extra income could be dropping in farm paddocks across the country right now.

As well as being welcome income for dairy farmers, delivering their best bulls to CRV Ambreed will contribute to genetic diversity, and thus advancement, across the national herd. . . 

South Islander quacks his way to US world champs – Brooke Hobson:

Luggate local Hunter Morrow has quacked his way to the US for the world championships in duck calling after taking out the national competition in Tauranga.

More than 20 duck callers from around New Zealand took part in the quack-off on Saturday, where they had 60 seconds to blow a greeting, pleading and feed call – plus a lonesome hen call.

Mr Morrow, a building apprentice, came 5th in the world champs last year.

Fish & Game says he told reporters duck calling had been a “weird obsession” since he was a young boy. . .

Marlborough Tonnellerie de Mercurey Young Winemaker 2016 Announced:

Congratulations to Jordan Hogg from Seresin for winning Marlborough Young Winemaker 2016. The competition took place on 8 July at MRC in Blenheim where six contestants spent the day battling it out across various activities. Hogg scored very strongly across the board showing a great degree of knowledge and professionalism.

Congratulations also goes to Matt Fox from Hyland Viticulture who placed second and Shelley Young from Delegat who came third. . .

Massive New Plymouth store to benefit farmers:

Farmers of the Central and Western North Island are to benefit from a $30 million Ravensdown investment in a new fertiliser storage and blending facility in New Plymouth.

The 14,000 square metre facility adjacent to Ravensdown’s existing store will allow better customer service and better environmental performance according to the farmer-owned co-operative.

“The agri-sector in the Taranaki is feeling the pinch and service towns like New Plymouth are seeing the impact. This investment has spin-off benefits for local contractors and shows Ravensdown’s commitment to the community and to its North Island customers,” said Mike Davey, Regional Manager. . .

Rural round-up

June 1, 2016

Intergenerational links forge deep connections to the land at Te Nihi Nihi – Gerald Piddock:

Six generations of family farming by the Muirs at Te Nihi Nihi in northern Waikato has led to a deep respect for the land, Gerald Piddock writes.

Farming and land stewardship is more than just about milk in the vat for Stuart Muir and Kim Jobson.

Muir is the fifth generation of his family to farm the land at Aka Aka in North Waikato. He can can trace his family back to when his Scottish ancestor Sandy settled on the land in the 1850s, droving cattle from the East Cape to the Auckland markets. . . 

New rules hit job prospects for Filipino dairy workers – Tess Brunton:

New rules introduced to protect Filipino workers from taking out huge loans to secure work in New Zealand are now being blamed for preventing those very people from landing jobs here.

Filipino Dairy Workers in New Zealand (FDWNZ) chairman Earl Magtiday said the rules, introduced by the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) late last year, could cost Kiwi employers up to $10,000 to recruit a single Filipino worker.

“Employers are not keen to pay out so much money, especially now the payout is low,” Earl Magtiday said. . . 

Close watch on dairy auction – Dene Mackenzie:

The GlobalDairyTrade auction early tomorrow morning takes on more significance than usual because of Fonterra’s first indication of next season’s milk price being lower than the market consensus.

Fonterra last week indicated a milk price of $4.25 per kg of milksolids, lower than the informal market consensus of $4.60 kg/ms and the ASB expectation of $4.80 kg/ms.

“To us, the forecast is conservative as it appears to be based off recent spot dairy price with no future increases in global dairy prices built in,” ASB rural economist Nathan Penny said. . .

Consumers split on market choice – Rebecca Harper

A major change in the values driving consumer decisions means businesses have a choice about which side of the consumer fence they sit on, Massey University Business School’s Dr James Lockhart says.

Speaking at the 2016 Primary Industries Summit, Lockhart cited a Deloitte study, Capitalising on the Shifting Food Value Equation, that showed consumers are now split 50-50 into two groups – a traditional value group and an evolving value group. . . 

Stream work wins unlikely praise:

Bill Wilson smiles as he looks down on the Waikuku Stream: below him is a superb example of a restored lowland Canterbury stream.

The efforts of Wilson and his fellow farmers have recently been recognised with an environmental award from Fish & Game.

The Waikuku Water Management Group is the first recipient of North Canterbury Fish & Game’s ‘Working with Nature Award’ for outstanding efforts to improve local freshwater habitats. . .

ADF: no silver bullet solution to dairy crisis – Colin Bettles:

AUSTRALIAN Dairy Farmers CEO Ben Stapley says milk processors could help ease immediate pressure on dairy farmers by announcing next season’s prices now but has stressed there’s no silver bullet solution to the current crisis.

Mr Stapley said the support package announced by the federal government with $555 million in dairy-specific concessional loans and other measures was a “really good starting point”. . .

Indonesian live export scandal revisited – Colin Bettles:

FIVE years ago today, the ABC Four Corners program “A Bloody Business” exploded onto television screens throughout the nation, igniting a cataclysmic chain of events that catapulted Australia’s northern beef cattle industry into its deepest crisis.

The dramatic, emotion charged broadcast showed repeated images of graphic and intolerable animal cruelty, originally captured by animal rights group Animals Australia in mid-March 2011, from deliberately targeted Indonesian abattoirs.

Intertwined with vision also filmed by the ABC’s own investigation a month before, the expose zoomed-in on the gore and violence, to portray the live animal export trade as being systematically cruel and desperately needing government intervention to enact urgent reforms. . . 

Rural round-up

February 22, 2016

‘Dryland specialists — not victims’ – Sally  Rae:

Coping with dry conditions on Otago farms and the ongoing implications is about taking action, as agribusiness reporter Sally Rae reports.

Soul-destroying. That is how Otago Rural Support Trust co-ordinator Pat Macaulay describes living through drought.

Mrs Macaulay, of North Taieri, knows first-hand exactly what it feels like, having farmed in the Strath Taieri where drought was a regular occurrence. . .

Bank on bright side but farmers sombre – Sally Rae:

Dairy farmers are facing another tough year but a ‘‘generally strong year” is being picked by Rabobank for most other sectors.

Solid demand in key offshore markets, recent progress in export development and generally tight global supply was likely to bring another good year for producers of beef, wool and horticultural products, food and agribusiness research general manager Tim Hunt said.

While beef prices had lost some ground in recent months, they remained well above multi-year average levels and were expected to receive support from a generally tight global market. .  .

Farmers look for exit as prices crunch – Gerald Piddock & Aaron Leaman:

More dairy farmers are looking to shut the family farm gate, some after generations on the land, as the milk price slump pushes rural households to breaking point.

A DairyNZ and AgFirst report on farm ownership pathways out in April is expected to show farm ownership stretching further out of reach of many  as growing numbers look for a managed exit from an increasingly unprofitable and stressful industry.

The looming dairy exodus has prompted a warning that some of the country’s best and brightest will be lost to a sector once considered the backbone of the New Zealand economy.  . . 

Lamb prices better than expected – Sally Rae:

Prices at last week’s Omarama lamb sale were stronger than anticipated, considering schedule pricing, agents say.

More than 70 buyers from throughout the South Island registered for the sale, which comprised a total yarding of just over 12,000 lambs.

The average price for PGG Wrightson’s offering of 7000 lambs was $54, up $8 or $9 on last year’s sale.

Tara Hills achieved the top price for merino wethers at $68, while prices ranged from $66-$31.50. Tara Hills also topped the merino ewe lambs, at $58.50, with prices ranging from $52-$24. . . 

Taranaki avocado shortage blamed on freak weather – Christopher Reive:

Freak storms caused by climate change are being blamed for a poor avocado harvest causing shortages around the country.

Taranaki avocado grower Steve Wright has an orchard of 230 avocado trees near Urenui, north of New Plymouth, and said while the fruit generally ran in a cycle of good crop-bad crop, this season had been particularly bad.

“It’s not just a mild wind that comes through, they come through and they just hammer your place and what happens is, because the avos hang on a stem, they just twist around and break,” Wright said. . . 

First Grand Finalist Confirmed In FMG Young Farmer of the Year:

Jake Thomson is the first Grand Finalist to be named in the 2016 FMG Young Farmer of the Year.

The 27 year old from Whangarei who manages a Dairy Farm took first place at the Northern Regional Final in Pukekohe on Saturday 20 February.

Mr Thomson went home with a prize pack worth over $10,000 including cash, scholarships and products and services from FMG, Massey University, Ravensdown, Median Energy, AGMARDT, Silver Fern Farms, Honda, STIHL and Vodafone. He also won the AGMARDT Agri-Business Challenge, Meridian Energy Agri-Knowledge Challenge and the Ravensdown Agri-Skills Challenge . . .

Farm Takeover!  The dirt on raising GMO corn: The Land – Uptown Farms:

“Tell your story!”  Anyone in the agriculture industry has been hearing it!  It is important and I’m the first to boast how much I love to tell my story.
But, if I am honest, I’m usually telling my husband’s story. He’s the farmer.
Well not this year!  Matt is sliding over into the buddy seat and turning me loose on my very own 60 acres!  And I’m taking you along for the ride by detailing the entire process of raising corn right here, all season long!

When it comes to land, farmers generally talk in acres.  One acre is 43,560 square feet – roughly the size of a football field. 
The first step for any crop farmer is the most obvious (and most expensive) one – find some land. . .

Rural round-up

February 19, 2016

600 apple pickers wanted now – Ryan Bridge:

Are you looking for a job? Or do you know anyone who is?

There are 600 vacancies for apple pickers in one orchard in the Hawke’s Bay right now.

It’s a three-month picking season and this is only one orchard.

Another orchard down the road needs another 120 workers in the next two weeks and it even offers to give you a ride to work. . . 

Spot-on breakthrough – Karen Bailey:

IMAGINE if you could cut your herbicide, insecticide and fungicide bill by using as much as 99 per cent less chemical. 

That’s the claim by an English research company working on the development of an intelligent sprayer that can recognise specific weeds, insects and diseases in agricultural crops.

There are already a few targeted droplet dispensing systems on the Australian market that can do this with varying success, but Cambridge Consultants claims its sprayer features new generation technology that has been transferred across from its medical product development team.  . . 

Creating a new blueprint for hill country farming – Gerald Piddock:

Dan Steele has a vision for New Zealand agriculture. 

It’s a vision where farmers produce high-valued goods that sell the country’s environmental image to the world.

But to succeed, it means a radical shift from the traditional production-per-hectare model that has been New Zealand’s mainstay for the past 100 years. . . 

Big station aims for shepherd Lexie – Amanda Saxton:

Cambridge-raised Alexia Phillips – known as Lexie – came to Otiwhiti a skilled horsewoman but with little else in the way of farming nous. Last year she graduated as both top academic and top cadet from Otiwhiti’s agricultural training school.

A buddy going shepherding while Lexie was still at Hamilton’s Hillcrest High spurred her to sign up at the 3250 hectare station near Hunterville.

“Hearing about my friend’s experiences made me think ‘oh, that could be a bit of me’,” the 18-year-old said. . . 

Ahuwhenua Trophy finalists announced:

Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have congratulated this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy competition finalists, celebrating excellence in Māori farming.

The three finalists are Tahu a Tao farm in Rakaia near Ashburton, Te Ahu Pātiki and Maukatere near Oxford in Canterbury and Tewi Trust in Okoroire near Tirau.

“I commend these finalists for their sheer hard work and fulfilling a legacy left by Sir Apirana Ngata, who helped introduce the competition which encourages proficiency and skills in Māori farming,” says Mr Flavell. . . 

Major Events Fund invests in the World Shearing and Wool Handling Championships 2017:

The Government is investing $260,000 through the Major Events Development Fund in the Golden Shears World Shearing and Wool Handling Championships to be held in Invercargill from 9 – 11 February 2017.

Participants and spectators from over 30 countries are expected to attend the iconic event, with competitors travelling from as far as the Falkland Islands and Isle of Man to compete.

Devorah Blumberg, Manager of New Zealand Major Events, says New Zealand is known worldwide for its thriving agricultural sector. . . 

Farmer leaders sought for DairyNZ board:

Aspiring directors are being sought for DairyNZ’s Board of Directors.

Farmer leaders are encouraged to apply for two associate director roles which provide an invaluable opportunity to see governance in action.

DairyNZ chair Michael Spaans says the associate directors must be dairy farmers who want to move beyond their farm and into industry leadership.

“We will be looking for candidates who can demonstrate a commitment to their personal and governance development,” says Michael. . . 

Owl Farm focus day a valuable resource:

How will changing health and safety legislation affect your farm? Are empty rates higher than normal this season on dairy farms? And what alternatives are there to chicory for summer cropping? These key dairy industry topics and more will be discussed on Wednesday 2 March at Owl Farm’s first farm focus day for 2016.

Owl Farm, the St Peter’s School and Lincoln University Demonstration Dairy Farm, will host guest speakers from Fegan & Co, LIC and PGG Wrightson Seeds. Owl Farm Manager Tom Buckley will give an update on the season so far and give examples from Owl Farm to illustrate the issues at hand. . . 

Hat tip: Utopia

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