Rural round-up

January 14, 2019

The answer is in the soil – Annette Scott:

Regenerative agriculture flies in the face of conventional farming wisdom with soil management the key to profiting from nature, Canterbury cropping farmer Simon Osborne says. Annette Scottvisited him onfarm to learn what it’s about.

Farming for yield is not farming for profit, Simon Osborne, who is passionate about his stewardship of the land, says.

He has a clear focus on farming for profit from natural resources and biodiversity with the firm belief that a paradigm shift in agriculture can hugely boost farmer profits and crop diversity, curb pests and eliminate the need for tilling, pesticides and herbicides. . .

Report shows dairy’s role in economy – Hugh Stringleman:

The dairy industry has commissioned and released a valuable report on its scale and importance that should be widely used by dairy leaders, Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis says.

Facts and figures from the wide-ranging report by NZIER would be used for making submissions to local and national government.

“Dairy farmers know just how inter-dependent we are with local suppliers, tradespeople, and employees, and this report highlights that,” Lewis said. . . 

Fewer herds but more milk – Sudesh Kissun:

New Zealand’s dairy sector is evolving, with the latest data showing a shift to fewer herds and a greater focus on their performance.

According to the New Zealand Dairy Statistics 2017-18 report, published by DairyNZ and LIC, there were 11,590 dairy herds last season – 158 fewer than the previous season. This was the third year of decreasing herd numbers, but the average herd size increased by 17 cows to 431.

The total 2017-18 cow population was 4.99 million, an increase of 2.7% from the previous season but still below the peak population of at least 5.01m cows in the 2014-15 season. . .

Dairy expanison over as farmers look to other sectors – Gerald Piddock:

The days of endless dairy growth fuelled by farm sales appear to be over as farmers look to elsewhere instead of chasing the white gold.

Dairy expansion, whether it’s from land conversions or farmers buying existing farms appears to have slowed from the heady days of 2014’s dairy land price boom.

Instead, latest figures show an easing of land values and large numbers or properties remaining unsold throughout the spring and summer – traditionally the busiest period of the year for farm sales. . . 

Female ranchers are reclaiming the American west – Amy Chozick:

As men leave animal agriculture for less gritty work, more ranches are being led by women — with new ideas about technology, ecology and the land.

Hundreds of years before John Wayne and Gary Cooper gave us a Hollywood version of the American West, with men as the brute, weather-beaten stewards of the land, female ranchers roamed the frontier. They were the indigenous, Navajo, Cheyenne and other tribes, and Spanish-Mexican rancheras, who tended and tamed vast fields, traversed rugged landscapes with their dogs, hunted, and raised livestock. 

The descendants of European settlers brought with them ideas about the roles of men and women, and for decades, family farms and ranches were handed down to men. Now, as mechanization and technology transform the ranching industry, making the job of cowboy less about physical strength — though female ranchers have that in spades — and more about business, animal husbandry and the environment, women have reclaimed their connection to the land. . .

Big tomo in the ground attracts tourists – Benn Bathgate:

First came the tomo – then the tourists.

Speaking eight months after a huge tomo developed on the Tumunui South farm he manages outside Rotorua, manager Colin Tremain said he didn’t regret posting on social media about the huge hole, even though the reaction took him by surprise.

Shortly after posting photos of the sinkhole Tremain said the media arrived, then the scientists, then the locals, then the tourists. . .

 


Rural round-up

November 23, 2018

P kicking out dope in the provinces – Richard Rennie:

Rural New Zealand is playing host to a wave of methamphetamine (P) lab production and consumption that has knocked cannabis off its pedestal as the recreational drug of choice in the provinces.

Research by Massey University associate professor Chris Wilkins has highlighted that contrary to popular belief it is rural New Zealand, not large metropolitan centres, where P’s availability has resoundingly surged.

His research work has revealed small towns and rural areas where gang influence predominates are targeted specifically for P use to maximise gang drug revenue. . . 

Heading for a TB-free future – Barry Harris:

Ospri Chairman Barry Harris says New Zealand farmers can be proud of the progress of the TB Plan towards eradicating the infectious livestock disease bovine tuberculosis.

Among the most important challenges facing New Zealand agriculture is managing and eradicating diseases that threaten our dairy and meat exports. 

While Mycoplasma bovis has hogged the headlines recently, the progress of the TBfree programme to eradicate bovine tuberculosis has been quietly progressing as planned.

TB, caused by the similar-sounding Mycobacterium bovis, has been a problem for farmed livestock since they arrived in the 19th century.  . . 

Push for authorities to subsidise farmers’ use of dung beetles to help reduce environmental impacts – Gerald Piddock:

A company that grows and supplies dung beetles to farmers wants to partner up with local government to lift the insect’s uptake across New Zealand.

The insects are another tool to help pastoral farmers mitigate their environmental impact, according to Dung Beetle Innovations director Shaun Forgie​.

Forgie, along with business partner Andrew Barber and Peter Buckley, outlined to Waikato Regional Councillors at a recent committee meeting why it would be economically and environmentally beneficial for landowners and local government to include the beetles in steps for improving water quality and soil health. . . 

Stud stock agent judge of qualities – Sally Rae:

Among the hordes of exhibitors and visitors through the sheep pavilion at the New Zealand Agricultural Show in Christchurch last week, there was a familiar face.

Stud stock agent Roger Keach is a well-known figure within the New Zealand stud stock industry and  regular show attendee for many years.

This year, he was tasked with judging the Hampshire sheep section and  all-breeds wool ram hogget class. . . 

Getting in behind – Rebecca Harper:

A lack of practical experience made it hard for Ashley Greer to get a foot on the career ladder in the sheep and beef industry, but she refused to take no for an answer. After years of trying, she has landed her dream job shepherding on a progressive sheep and beef farm near Masterton. Rebecca Harper went to visit her.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again. It’s an old proverb, but one that is particularly relevant for 28-year-old Ashley Greer.

Ashley set her heart on a career in the sheep and beef sector and began studying towards her Bachelor of Science, majoring in agricultural science and minoring in animal science, at Massey University. In her holidays, she needed to obtain placements on farm. . .

North Otago meat plants ‘flat out’ – Sally Brooker:

North Otago’s two major meat processing plants are working flat out.

Alliance Group Pukeuri plant manager Phil Shuker said the site just north of Oamaru was operating three chains, processing both beef and sheep.

”Lamb is continuing to come through strongly, with the plant having just completed a very busy period processing chilled Christmas orders for the important United Kingdom market. . . 

Thriving horticulture sector behind new degree at Massey University – Angie Skerrett:

A booming horticulture industry has prompted the introduction of a new degree course at Massey University.

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) quarterly outlook figures for New Zealand’s primary sector estimates growth in the horticulture sector for the coming year will be 13.1 percent, a $0.7 billion increase on the previous year.

A three-year Bachelor of Horticultural Science degree is set to begin in February to cope with the expected growth. . . 


Rural round-up

October 16, 2018

Farming with depression a daily battle for young Waikato Farmer – Gerald Piddock:

Paige Hocking takes it one day at a time in battling depression while working on a dairy farm.

She seldom makes long-term plans because she never knows when the black dog might wander in.

It all starts in the morning when she wakes up on the 125-hectare farm she works as a dairy assistant near Waiterimu in Waikato.

The 21-year-old was diagnosed with depression three years ago. She describes its effects as like shaking up a bottle of soft drink. . .

Scheme’s success testament to conscience of rural community – Richard Davison:

Water quality in New Zealand’s creeks and rivers has become a hot-button issue during recent years, and much has been made of the failure to live up to the nation’s “100% Pure” branding.

Given recent headlines declaring Otago’s waterways to be “horrific”, and with only 60% considered better than “fair” over the course of a 10-year analysis, it would be easy to believe the message has not been getting through to where — and to whom — it matters.

Those often bearing the brunt of blame for deteriorating water quality have been farmers, but their characterisation as wilfully ignorant, environment-wrecking profiteers could not be further from the truth, according to Landcare Research environmental scientist Craig Simpson. . . 

Bees taking farmer on busy journey – Sally Rae:

Julie Kearney is getting a buzz out of bees.

Mrs Kearney and husband Tony farm sheep and beef cattle on Shingly Creek Station, a 2000ha property on the Pig Root.

Nearly three years ago, the fifth-generation farmers were discussing how they did not see many bees on the farm.

So Mrs Kearney completed a certificate in apiculture through Taratahi and she now has 14 established hives. . . 

Mycoplasma bovis compensation mired in delays as plot thickens – Keith Woodford:

The messages coming from MPI, and also mirrored by Prime Minister Jacinda Adern’s recent comments, are that good progress is being made with Mycoplasma bovis eradication and that MPI is getting on top of its problems. The reality from where I stand is somewhat different.

As of 12 October, official data shows there have been 400 claims lodged for compensation, starting back in the late 2017. Of these, 183 have been either partially or totally paid, leaving 217 waiting in the system. Of those that have been paid, MPI provides no data as to how many are partially paid and how many are total.

In the last four weeks, MPI has averaged 14 payments per week, with an average total weekly payment of around $1.1 million.   At that rate, it will take about four months to clear the existing backlog to get even partial payments. . . 

Massive leap forward for New Zealand sheep genetics:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Genetics has just launched a new $5 million genetic evaluation system – a transformative step for the country’s sheep industry.

B+LNZ Genetics General Manager Graham Alder says the new evaluation is the result of four years of research, developing new cloud-based computing systems and testing.

“It is based on Single Step technology, whereby genomic information is incorporated into the evaluation, alongside traditional genetic measures. The result is a faster, more accurate evaluation, which allows New Zealand ram breeders to make better, more-timely decisions around the selection and dissemination of profitable and consumer-focused genetics. . .

New NZ Young Farmers CEO plans North Island road trip to visit members:

NZ Young Farmers’ new chief executive will “couch surf” her way around the North Island next month.

Lynda Coppersmith has announced plans for a road trip to meet members in Hawke’s Bay, Taranaki and the Waikato.

She will also join 40 teachers on a Teachers’ Day Out event in Hawke’s Bay on November 6th. . . 

’Jaw dropping’ : New Zealand offers lessons in tackling climate change – Peter Hannam:

Scott Simpson, New Zealand’s National Party environment spokesman, stunned a trans-Tasman investment meeting last week by stating that climate action was “too important to be playing politics with”.

Or rather, it was the Australian delegates who were shocked, so used are they to the toxic debates in Canberra.

“It made my jaw drop, that’s for sure,” said Emma Herd, chief executive of the Investor Group on Climate Change. . .


Rural round-up

September 2, 2018

Proving consultants were wrong – Neal Wallace:

Sheep farmers are enjoying a golden patch but it would be a challenge to find a more profitable breed than Merino-Romney halfbreds. That is a contrast to the last rites that were read to the mid micron sector by consultants 18 years ago. Neal Wallace meets some farmers who ignored those forecasts of impending doom and stayed loyal to halfbred sheep.

John Duncan confesses to never being a great meeting goer. 

One the Otago sheep and beef farmer recalls attending was in Ranfurly in about 2000 at which he was told there was no future for mid micron wool.

International consultants McKinsey had just released a report on how to improve wool grower profitability. Recommendations included dissolving the Wool Board and, alarmingly to owners of mid micron sheep such as Duncan, warning the fibre did not have a future. . . 

Westland weighs options – Hugh Stringleman:

Westland Milk Company’s 420 farmer-shareholders will have some options for capital structure to chew on at the co-operative’s annual meeting on December 5.

Chairman Pete Morrison said a report from a strategic review of the company being done by Macquarie Capital and DG Advisory will be available for shareholders.

The quest is to find a sustainable capital structure and competitive milk price. . . 

Virtual reality experiments in Rotorua could replace forestry field work – Samantha Olley:

The forestry industry has been experimenting with virtual reality in Rotorua this week to develop new ways of measuring tree growth.

The University of Tasmania and Interpine are carrying out the research, which is partially funded by Forest and Wood Products Australia.

The university’s Human Interface Technology Lab leader, Dr Winyu Chinthammit, said the experiments aimed to give skilled workers a safer and more efficient way to measure forests, using data from aerial LiDar scanners, rather than field work. . . 

Sheep-milking gets a hoof-hold in Waikato’s dairying’s heartland – Gerald Piddock:

The burgeoning sheep-milking industry has upped its stake in Waikato’s dairying heartland.

Two new farms will be ready to milk this season. Both are near Cambridge and are owned by Taupō-based Spring Sheep Milking Co, a joint venture between state-owned enterprise Pamu and marketing firm SLC Group.

Spring Sheep announced plans to establish the two farms in December and to grow sheep-milking from a handful of exporters to at least 60 farms by 2030. . . 

On the farm: a guide to rural New Zealand:

Do you know what’s happening on farms and orchards around New Zealand? Each week Country Life reporters talk to people in rural areas across the country to find out.

Northland has had a fantastic winter. While the skies delivered two and a half times the normal amount of rain in June, July and August were extremely mild and farmers didn’t need to put on their wet weather gear nearly as often. Calving is all but finished so farmers are thinking ahead to mating and treating cows that had trouble calving so they’ll be in good shape for the next round. With the threat of Mycoplasma Bovis being transferred from farm to farm, farmers are being advised to lease bulls from credible sources.

In South Auckland, Pukekohe had a fine weekend but heavy rain fell on Wednesday leaving the ground too wet to be worked on. While the free irrigation is normally welcome, too much of a good thing is entirely another matter. Some crops are showing signs of diseases that flourish in wet conditions. Heavy supplies of broccoli continue to be hard to sell. . .

Pāmu lifts operating profits despite challenging climatic conditions

Pāmu (Landcorp Faming Limited) has announced EBITDAR (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, Amortization, and Revaluations) of $48.5 million for the year ended 30 June 2018 (FY18), up $12.9 million (36 percent) from the previous year. Net profit after tax was $34.2 million a reduction of $17.7 million (34 percent) largely due to lower gains from biological assets (forestry and livestock) and a higher tax expense.

Directors have declared a dividend of $5 million which will be paid on 15 October 2018. . . 

 UK could run out of food a year from now with no-deal Brexit, NFU warns – Lisa O’Carroll:

Britain would run out of food on this date next year if it cannot continue to easily import from the EU and elsewhere after Brexit, the National Farmers’ Union has warned.

Minette Batters, the NFU president, urged the government to put food security at the top of the political agenda after the prospect of a no-deal Brexit was talked up this week.

“The UK farming sector has the potential to be one of the most impacted sectors from a bad Brexit – a frictionless free trade deal with the EU and access to a reliable and competent workforce for farm businesses is critical to the future of the sector,” she said. . .

 


Rural round-up

July 8, 2018

Sheep milk gains to be tested by AgResearch:

AgReseach senior scientist Dr Linda Samuelsson says results of the trial to test the benefits of sheep milk for human consumption should be available next year.

In what is believed to be a world first, AgResearch is about to begin a clinical trial to test the benefits of sheep milk for human digestion.

The trial, which will see AgResearch scientists working alongside those at the Auckland University’s Liggins Institute, with support from Spring Sheep Milk Co in the central North Island and Blue River Dairy in Southland, comes at a time of rapid growth for the dairy sheep industry in New Zealand . . 

Portable footwear cleaning station to help stop farm contamination – Gerald Piddock:

A Waikato couple have created what they believe might be the world’s first portable biosecurity system for footwear.

The Jacson Cube, whose name is derived from its creators – husband and wife team Jacqui Humm​ and Russell Knutson​ – is a portable cleaning station that is small enough to fit in the back of a ute.

“It’s a step up from your bucket and brush particularly for those people travelling from farm to farm,” Humm said.

The system took two years to create, and Humm said it was her husband who came up with the idea. . .

Dairy farmer’s passion for goats:

Dunsandel farmer Michael Woodward may be Federated Farmers North Canterbury dairy chairman but his real passion is the angora goats he inherited from his father John.

John Woodward, of Pukekohe, is a pioneer of the mohair industry: he set up its pool marketing system about 1982, is a board member of Mohair Producers NZ and now manages marketing of the North Island mohair clip.

Michael Woodward, meanwhile, is sharemilking on 300ha at Dunsandel with his wife Susie. . .

Hemp is not marijuana, it is a formidable vegetable, says social entrepreneur:

Social entrepreneur Michael Mayell is speaking out about the beneficial properties of hemp to help inform and inspire Kiwis to embrace new business opportunities around what he calls a ‘formidable vegetable’.

“Hemp is food, fibre and medicine. Hemp is cannabis without any of the psychoactive properties of its cousin marijuana and is fuelling an emerging market which is an exciting opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors,” says Mayell, who started his food journey as founder of Cookie Time in 1983 and went on to found Nutrient Rescue, a social enterprise, in 2016 and the Drinkable Rivers in our Lifetime campaign. . .

Farmers encouraged to plan ahead by looking at green projects :

Farmers have been encouraged to plan ahead and look at green projects as the future of UK farming looks set to change.

Various grants and funding are on offer for farmers to encourage green growth, coupled with future government subsidies post-Brexit leaning towards environmental stewardship.

In recent debates regarding the future of farming subsidies, the government has strongly indicated that any future funding is likely to be based on farming practices that provide ‘public goods’. . . 

 

It’s time to “Join the Ag Revolution’ –

Agriculture is on the cusp of a revolution, with renewed enthusiasm fueling a transformation. 

Precision ag, increased production capabilities, and water-saving innovations are all reflective of an industry brimming with opportunity.

And now one of Australia’s rural heartlands is calling forth an agricultural army – a vibrant, skilled workforce to lead into the new age. 

‘Join the Ag Revolution’ is an initiative of Gwydir Valley Irrigators Association (GVIA), created to showcase and promote rural industries, and the passionate people behind them. . .


Rural round-up

May 28, 2018

Dairy farmers are an easy target and not alone in environmental guilt– Lyn Webster:

 As a dairy farmer I hear a lot of criticism about the perceived environmental impact of farming animals on land, and this has made me extremely environmentally aware.

Everywhere I look I see the environmental impact of humans: people just moving around, eating, breathing and living their lives.

Every buying decision we make has an impact – whether it be food, clothes off the internet from China or an overseas trip. TV advertising incessantly tells us to buy more and more things to make us happy, to make our children happy and to tick off our bucket list.  

Big shops bring us zillions of dollar’s worth of colourful plastic shaped into seemingly desirable objects, many of which are discarded quickly in the shape of broken toys, cracked garden gnomes and punctured plastic swimming pools. . . 

Sharemilker protects his herd ahead of Gypsy Day – Gerald Piddock:

A nervous Calvin Lauridsen​ has done all he can to protect his prized dairy herd from Mycoplasma bovis ahead of next week’s Gypsy Day.

The Arapuni farmer is in the final stages of packing up and leaving the 138 hectare farm he and wife Nadine have 50:50 share milked with 440 cows for the past eight years.

All that is left on the farm are a few items of machinery and his dairy herd, which is being picked up on Monday , the same day Cabinet will make a final decision whether to try and eradicate the disease or shift to a management regime.

So far, the cattle disease has spread to 39 farms since July last year, including the latest addition of a dairy farm near Cambridge.  . .

There’s more risk on moving day – Hugh Stringleman:

Several hundred sharemilkers and their cows will move farms on Gypsy Day with extra time-consuming and costly animal health precautions because of Mycoplasma bovis.

The spread of at-risk properties shows precautions must be taken for cattle movements in all dairying regions of the country, DairyNZ extension general manager Andrew Reid said.

About 3000 of the nation’s 12,000 dairy farms have sharemilkers and the standard contract length is three years.

Therefore up to 1000 herds could move at the end of the season though more likely several hundred will move on June 1, Reid said. . .

Former Fonterra director calls for chair Wilson to resign – Jamiie  Grey:

A former director of Fonterra has called on chairman John Wilson to “move on” after what he said was the co-operative’s ongoing underperformance.

Fonterra this week issued its nine-month business update which featured a strong farmgate milk price but which also highlighted a downward pressure on the company’s earnings.

Taranaki-based Harry Bayliss, a founding director who served on the board from 2001 to 2006, sent an email to existing board members on March 31 calling for Wilson to step down. A spokesman for Fonterra said it had no comment to make. . . 

Getting the good oil in Central – Yvonne O’Hara:

This season’s long summer has resulted in a bumper harvest for olive growers in Central Otago.

Lowburn’s Stephen Morris, his wife Olivia and his in-laws Alistair and Sue Stark own Olive Press Central Otago (Opco) on the family’s vineyard, St Bathans Range, near Cromwell.

Mr Morris has been busy during the past three weeks cold-processing olives to produce extra virgin olive oil,

The good summer has meant the fruit produces more oil with a better flavour, and promises to be one of the best they have had. . . 

Droving journey highlights ongoing drought in Queensland – Sally Cripps:

When Jodie Muntelwit and PJ Elliott decided to put 1200 head of their cattle on the road last October, they imagined it would only be for a month or two.

Eight months later, the mob of mostly weaners, under the care of Ned Elmy, an offsider and Ned’s 18 dogs, is trudging towards home at Corfield, living on hope and whatever Queensland’s stock routes can offer.

The season didn’t give PJ and Jodie the break they’d hoped for on their country north of Winton last summer, and the 150mm single fall in March at Weeba and Enryb Downs brought a half-hearted pasture response from most of their paddocks. . . 


Rural round-up

May 26, 2018

Waikato farmer reveals his farm first in the region to get Mycoplasma bovis cattle disease – Gerald Piddock:

Henk Smit has come forward as the Waikato dairy farmer whose herd has tested positive for Mycoplasma bovis.

Smit walked up to the stage and put his hand up during a meeting attended by close to 600 farmers at the Sir Don Rowlands Centre near Cambridge.

He outlined how the cattle disease arrived on his farm and his frustrations with dealing with the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Smit has farming interests in three properties around Waikato including the dairy farm that tested positive for M bovis. . .

Good clearance at online sale – Alan Williams:

About 96% of the wool offered in the first Natural Fibre Exchange (NFX) online auction was sold.

Indications are the sale was in line with the improving tone in wool prices at the latest open-cry auctions.

Six sellers provided lots for sale and a good cross-section of New Zealand’s major wool buyers were bidding online for the 1525 bales offered on May 22, Wools of NZ chief executive Rosstan Mazey said. . .

Performing as a co-op should – Neal Wallace:

Fonterra gets a pass mark from industry observers for its performance as a co-operatively-owned business.

But they warn it cannot rest on its laurels given challenges connecting with 10,500 owners and plans for further investment in added-value and consumer products.

Fonterra Shareholder’s Council chairman Duncan Coull said Fonterra has performed as a co-operative should. It is owned and democratically controlled by members, it serves its members, returns surpluses to members and strives to operate profitably. . .

Fonterra approach farmes to switch from WMP – Brendon McMahon:

Fonterra has again approached Westland Milk Products suppliers to switch loyalties with the promise of better returns.

The West Coast Federated Farmers annual general meeting in Greymouth this week heard that Westland suppliers from Inchbonnie and Rotomanu in the south and Springs Junction in the north, were being courted by the country’s largest dairy co-operative, which has a massive milk powder factory at Darfield.

Fonterra scouts were on the West Coast several years ago, but at that time few local farmers were tempted. . . 

STRESS removes headache for hill country farmers:

Taranaki farmer Roger Pearce is confident he’s hit a good formula allowing him to make a successful living in the eastern Taranaki hillcountry without bringing nature’s wrath on himself.

…or indeed a wrath on the communities and farms all the way down to the sea.

He’s tapped into the South Taranaki and Regional Erosion Support Scheme (STRESS) to allow him to reap more of the potential of his 2000ha Waitōtara Valley property – while ensuring its soil does not erode into waterways where it degrades water quality and heightens the risk of downstream flooding. . .

Australian milk production up 3.5%

Australian milk production to the end of April is up 3.5 per cent on the same time last year, according to the latest figures from Dairy Australia.

The figures reveal April production was up 4.5 per cent compared with last year, with increases in all states except Queensland.

Tasmania led the growth with production up 19.6 per cent for April, followed by South Australia, where production was up 8.6 per cent. . .


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