Rural round-up

October 23, 2017

Red meat halves risk of depression:

Women who reduce lamb and beef in their diets are more likely to suffer depression, according to the new study.

Experts admitted surprise at the findings because so many other studies have linked red meat to physical health risks.

The team made the link after a study of 1000 Australian women.
Professor Felice Jacka, who led the research by Deakin University, Victoria, said: “We had originally thought that red meat might not be good for mental health but it turns out that it actually may be quite important. . . 

Tech means go slow to speed up – Richard Rennie:

A warts and all insight to precision agriculture’s impact on those at the sharp end includes frustrations over data quantities it generate but also the rewards of sticking with it and saving significant sums along the way.

At this year’s precision agriculture conference in Hamilton delegates had the chance to learn about hands-on farmer experiences with the many different versions of the technology and pick up some lessons on how to get the most from it. . .

Farmers should benefit from calls for greater transparency around food production – Gerald Piddock:

Consumer demands for more transparency in food production are expected to bring greater rewards for New Zealand farmers demonstrating good environmental stewardship.

The push for more transparency came from a growing interest in how food was produced, Ministry for Primary Industries’ director general Martyn Dunne told delegates at the International Tri-Conference for Precision Agriculture in Hamilton on October 16. . .

Concern for farmers involved in outbreak – Sally Rae:

South Canterbury Rural Support Trust trustee Sarah Barr says she is very concerned for the farmers involved with the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak, describing it as an “excruciating experience” for them.

Mrs Barr, who has been working closely with the farmers, urged the community to support them.

“Keep in mind how terrible it is for these guys losing their animals,” she told about 50 people attending a public meeting in Waimate this week.

Ministry for Primary Industries technical liaison officer Victoria Barrell said Mycoplasma bovis was a “terrible disease“. . .

NAIT disease response fell short – Annette Scott:

National Animal Identification and Tracing fell short of expectation in the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis response, Ministry for Primary Industries readiness and response director Geoff Gwyn says.

He told a farmer meeting in Waimate on Thursday that NAIT animal declaration had played a key part in the response.

“But we have learnt a lot. It has fallen short of expectation, been disappointing,” Gwyn said.

“If this had been a fast moving disease we could well be in a different situation. . . 

Orchard buyers set new kiwifruit gold standard as Zespri expands plantings – Gerard Hutching:

Prices for kiwifruit orchards have hit new highs, with a handful of sales this week in Bay of Plenty over the $1 million per hectare mark.

Stan Robb of PGG Wrightson Real Estate in Te Puke said properties were in such demand they were snapped up in days.

In June the region was abuzz with news of the first orchards to break through the $1m per ha ceiling. Those orchards had a full crop on them, so the new owners could make an immediate income, unlike the recent ones. . .

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Ag journalists recognised with awards

October 16, 2017

The role of agricultural and rural journalists is even more important now that fewer people have links to farming and rural New Zealand.

The best have been recognised in the annual Guild of Agricultural Journalists’ Awards.

Wellington-based Radio New Zealand Radio Rurals journalist took out the top award for agricultural journalists at the 2017 awards night for the New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists and Communicators.

Alexa Cook won the supreme award, the Ministry for Primary Industries Rongo Award, which recognises excellence in agricultural journalism. She won the award for coverage of a week-long mustering in Muzzle Station, the first after the Kaikoura earthquake. Her items were featured on Morning Report, Checkpoint, and Insight programmes and on the Radio NZ website. 

Rural New Zealand is very well served by specialist rural and farming publications but many of these are delivered free only to those on rural delivery postal routes.

Radio NZ, is broadcast nationwide with a big urban audience which means Alexa’s work has a broader reach in both town and country.

Runner-up in the MPI Rongo Award was The Dairy Exporter team of NZ Farm Life Media, for several features, particularly the Team Building feature.

Other award winners were:

  • The AgResearch Science Writers Award, established to enhance standards of science writing, especially about pastoral agriculture, was won by Alexa Cook and Carol Stiles
  • The Rural Women New Zealand Journalism Award was won by Sally Rae of Oamaru, for articles which appeared in the Otago Daily Times
  • The Federated Farmers Broadcast Journalism Award was won jointly by Carol Stiles and Alexa Cook
  • The DairyNZ Dairy Industry Journalism Award which recognises the ability to communicate the complexities of the dairy industry, was won by Jackie Harrigan for articles in The Dairy Exporter.
  • The inaugural Zespri Export Journalism Award, which recognises the vital importance of exports to the New Zealand economy, was won by Fairfax Media’s Gerard Hutching.
  • The Alliance Group Ltd Red Meat Industry Journalism Award, which focuses on all aspects of the red meat industry was won by Alexa Cook, of RNZ Rural News
  • The Beef + Lamb New Zealand News Award, which recognises excellence in hard news journalism, focusing on any aspect of the beef and sheep industry, was won by Nigel Stirling for articles in Farmers Weekly and NZX Agri’s Pulse, both on trade talks.
  • The Federated Farmers Rural Photography Award was won by Des Williams, for a photo which appeared in Shearing magazine.
  • The inaugural Rural Women New Zealand Rural Connectivity Award, recognising the importance of connectivity to rural communities and agri-businesses in rural areas, was won by Alexa Cook.
  • The Guild’s own award – the Agricultural Journalism Encouragement Award – is designed to encourage and recognise excellence among journalists with three or less years reporting on agricultural issues. This year, it was won by Brittany Pickett, of Invercargill, for articles which appeared in the NZ Farmer.

 

The ODT covers Sally’s Rae award here.


Rural round-up

October 13, 2017

Irrigation: what politicians need to know – Sam Robinson:

These are my reflections on irrigation projects, including the retention of Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd, for the policymakers and politicians who are going to be running the country for the next three years. The intention is to balance the multiple one-liners, 10-second soundbites and vitriolic comments that sprang out of the water debate during the election.

Ø Food is New Zealand’s largest export by value. Growing food depends on water. Irrigation allows water to be applied at precisely the right time to optimise quality food production.

Ø There is a strong correlation between irrigation and regional economic development . . 

Wool fights back in global campaign to combat synthetics – Gerard Hutching:

One of Europe’s leading carpet makers is preparing to launch a campaign promoting the virtues of New Zealand wool.

Dutch company Best Wool Carpets wants to fight back against the dominance of synthetic products which dominate the global carpet market with a whopping 96 per cent share.

It aims to counter some of the falsehoods propagated by the synthetic industry, such as that wool carpet fades in UV light. . . 

Farm looks like a duck pond – Alexa Cook:

A Bay of Plenty farmer says this has been the toughest year of farming in his 35 years on the land.

Kevin Clark is a dairy farmer on the banks of the Waimana River near Whakatane, and lost large chunks of land, fences, and farm races when the river burst its banks earlier this year during Cyclones Debbie and Cook.

The family’s farms on both sides of the river were left with thick layers of silt and debris, and dairy cows had to be culled or sent away for grazing. . . 

Lincoln brings New Zealand’s national park legacy to China:

A major exhibition on the development of New Zealand’s National Parks has just opened in Beijing.

Produced by Lincoln University, the exhibition showcases New Zealand’s protected areas and encompasses a range of exhibits, including a three-metre tall giant moa skeleton, outdoor equipment, signs, books, and historic documents.

The project is part of Lincoln’s five-year collaboration with leading Chinese Universities and links with the Chinese Government’s push to establish a national agency to manage its protected areas. . . 

Farmers Fast Five: Matt Wyeth – Claire Inkson:

Proud to Be a Farmer NZ Farmers Fast Five : Where we ask a Farmer Five Quick Questions about Farming, and what Agriculture means to them.
Today we talk to Kaituna Valley Proud farmer Matt Wyeth.

1. How long have you been farming?

The best thing I knew right from a young age was I wanted to be a farmer. So it was easy to leave school and follow my dreams – Shepherding, Lincoln University, shearing, rearing calves, farm management, share farming, ownership, now 17 years of living the dream. . .

 

2018 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards entries open soon:

With just over a week to go until entries open in the 2018 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, organisers of the regional competitions are ready to host launch events.

General Manager Chris Keeping says the launch events provide an opportunity to find out more information about the Awards and which category they are eligible to enter.

Entries in the New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year, New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year categories will be accepted online at –

www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz from Friday 20 October. . . 


Rural round-up

September 25, 2017

Demonstration dairy farm cuts nitrate leaching 30% and stays profitable – Tony Benny:

Lincoln University Dairy Farm is close to achieving a 30 per cent reduction in nitrate leaching, while maintaining its profitability. The farm’s managers tell Tony Benny how it was done.

​Like other farms in the Selwyn Waihora zone, one of 10 catchment zones under Environment Canterbury’s water management strategy, Lincoln University’s dairy farm faces new environmental limits, including reducing nitrate leaching 30 per cent by 2022.

By adopting the findings of small-scale research on a nearby farmlet, the farm has all but achieved that well before the deadline and is at the same time nearly matching the financial performance of high-profit farms against which it is benchmarked. . .

Alliance buyout targets Asia – Alan Williams:

Buying its southeast Asian marketing agent is part of a 10 to 15-year strategy to increase sales and the range of meat cuts into the region, Alliance chairman Murray Taggart says.

Goldkiwi Asia has represented the southern farmer-co-operative for more than 25 years, helping to build up customer bases in China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and in Singapore where it is based.

The arrangement had worked very well but there was “no substitute for ownership and control” of the business, Taggart said. . .

Price direction depends on weather – Hugh Stringleman:

Dairy prices remained steady in the latest Global Dairy Auction, adding to speculation that continued wet weather in New Zealand might give the market a lift.

Already it was possible that NZ seasonal supply might increase 1.5% rather than the 3% predicted earlier.

The direction of international market prices would depend very much on weather conditions over the next month in NZ, the world’s largest dairy products exporter. . .

Australia threatens to cash in on NZ’s mānuka honey marketing heroics – Gerard Hutching:

First they claimed the pavlova and Phar Lap as their own, now Australians are arguing they have the right to use the Māori word mānuka for the expensive honey.

This week they racheted the dispute up a notch by setting up the Australian Manuka Honey Association.

“We’re the only two countries that produce it and the whole world needs it [mānuka honey]. We can’t understand what our Kiwi friends are trying to do,” Australian Honey Bee Industry Council chairman Lindsay Bourke said. . . .

Finalists say now is the right time to enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards:

Don’t wait until you think you have the perfect farm to enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, say 2017 Southland finalists Derek and Bronnie Chamberlain.

“It’s all about work in progress. Set yourselves some goals and go for it. There’s always something more you can do,” Bronnie says.

“The more eyes you have on your property, the more advice and suggestions the better.”  . . 

Mixed New Season Outlook:

 Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive says the new season, which starts on 1 October, is expected to be mixed across beef, lamb and venison.

“On beef, we are at an interesting point. Store stock markets appear over-heated given where we expect volumes and schedules to end up. Current finished cattle schedules reflect a shortage of supply, which is typical at this time of the year.  . .


Rural round-up

September 23, 2017

North Otago water scheme expansion finally turned on – Yvonne O’Hara:

The $57 million pipeline expansion of the North Otago Irrigation Company’s project has been turned on this week, a year later than planned.

The first stage of the scheme was completed 11 years ago and the expansion was expected to be up and running this time last year, but was held back by problems with the new pipe.

North Otago Irrigation Company chair Leigh Hamilton said the water scheme has been talked about since the 1980s and the first stage of the scheme was built in 2006. . 

Back in business – Tim Fulton:

It was dry for so long Iain Wright started to forget the feel of mud at his feet.

But a “fantastic” amount of rain since autumn has turned his family’s fortunes after three years of Canterbury drought.

“It’s nice to know you can actually grow stuff.

“For so long you couldn’t grow anything,” the sheep and beef farmer said. . . 

Fonterra fails diversity test says Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner – Gerard Hutching:

Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Jackie Blue has given Fonterra a serve for having so few women on its board.

But Federated Farmers vice-president Andrew Hoggard said he couldn’t care if board members were transgender or of any race or colour, as long as they advanced the interests of Fonterra and farmer/shareholders.

Fairlie dairy farmer and current board member Leonie Guiney has been not selected to stand as a candidate for a second term, reducing the numbers of women on the 11-person board to two – Professor Nicola Shadbolt and Donna Smit. . .

New woolhandling event – Yvonne O’Hara:

One of the most prestigious events on the shearing calendar is only two weeks away and this year it will include a new competition featuring the top woolhandlers in the country.

The 56th annual New Zealand Merino Shearing Championships will be held at Molyneux Stadium, Alexandra, on October 6 and 7 and will be open to the public from about 7.30am.

Organising committee member Graeme Bell said the Merino Shears was one of the highlights of the shearing year. . .

One more chance for viticulturist – Yvonne O’Hara:

Annabel Bulk, of Felton Road Wines, has one more chance to win the national Young Viticulturist of the Year title next year before she is too old to enter. She intends to give it her best shot.

Ms Bulk has worked on the Bannockburn vineyard for about six years, and entered the regional competition for the past five.

This year, the vineyard’s assistant viticulturalist won the Central Otago competition and represented the region at the national final at Villa Maria, Marlborough on August 29, coming a close second to winner Tim Adams, from Obsidian, Waiheke Island. . .

Please no more meat regulation says NSW Farmers – NSW Farmers cattle committee chairman Bill Stacy:

The final report from the red meat senate inquiry was released last week. Its conclusions highlighted there are competition issues within the red meat industry, which generally act to the detriment of producers.

The report contained two key recommendations to improve competition. . .


Rural round-up

September 6, 2017

Ag-tech edge requires boldness – Conor English:

Just as the axe handle allowed the human race to prevail, New Zealand needs to put its mind to discovering the next combination of technologies that is going to keep our country at the forefront of ag and food technology.

That is going to take capital, risk, and some out-of-the-box thinking.  There is much to do if we want to lead the race, writes Conor English.

The axe handle was incredibly important for the human race.

By combining three previously separate elements — a stone, a stick and string — humans invented a tool that gave them leverage and strength to better hunt animals that were faster and stronger than us. . . 

New technologies helping clean up NZ’s waterways:

New Zealand farmers and companies are starting to use Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, data analytics and automation to decrease impact on New Zealand rivers, a leading national tech expert says.

In countries, right across the world the IoT devices are being used to help clean up water, New Zealand IoT Alliance executive director Kriv Naicker says.

Irrigation is by far the largest use of water in New Zealand, making up 65.9 percent of water use between 2013 and 2014, the Ministry for the Environment says. . . 

Farmers becoming ‘lepers’ due to cattle disease scare – Gerard Hutching:

South Canterbury and Otago beef farmers are unwitting victims of the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis even though testing so far has shown their livestock are free of any traces of the disease.

A farmer who rears calves as dairy support told Stuff he had a contract worth $100,000 for 200 calves cancelled as soon as the buyer heard the animals were being tested.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has indicated these farmers will not be eligible for compensation. . . 

Provisional tax relief at last – Chris Cunliffe:

Provisional tax has long been difficult to get right and expensive to get wrong.

But not anymore: the much-maligned old rules have been put out to pasture.

These assumed farmers and growers could correctly forecast their income tax liability ahead of time, but if their prediction was not spot-on they got slapped by Inland Revenue’s steep interest on top of the underpaid amount.

Now new rules provide greater certainty about payments and reduce compliance costs for businesses who calculate their payments using the standard method. This method means you base your payments on 105% of last year’s income tax liability (or 110% of the previous year’s liability if your return has not been filed). Most taxpayers pay provisional tax this way. . . 

Dunedin produces mastitis diagnostics – Sally Rae:

A Dunedin-based startup has produced a diagnostic test kit to help farmers deal with the costly problem of bovine mastitis.

Mastitis, which is inflammation of the udder, is a major financial burden to the dairy industry, both in New Zealand and globally.

It was predominantly treated using antibiotics and mastitis treatment was the largest single use for animal health antibiotics.

On average, it was estimated to cost about $60,000 a year for an 800-cow herd, and the industry, as a whole, about $280 million.

Mastaplex founder Dr Olaf Bork has been developing products for treating mastitis at the Bayer Centre for Animal Health, before patenting his own research and founding the startup company. . . 

Wet flattens milk curve – Hugh Stringleman:

The extraordinary number of wet days over winter has raised the worry of a repeat spring milk production plateau rather than peak.

Soils in almost all dairying districts were saturated and fine weather was needed to kick-start spring grass growth and milk production.

Dairy farmers in northern provinces had almost completed the extended winter pasture feeding rotation when cows were break-fed the saved autumn pasture growth for 90 days. . . 

Major increase in community conservation funding:

Conservation work in New Zealand will be supercharged by substantially increasing the amount of money available to hard-working volunteer groups, National Party Conservation Spokesperson Maggie Barry says.

“We have a beautiful natural environment, and the efforts of local communities are crucial to protecting our landscape and native species for future generations,” Ms Barry says.

To support these groups, National will more than double the amount of funding available through the Department of Conservation Community Fund, from $4.6 million to $10 million a year. . . 

Spring farm sales upturn expected – Alan Williams:

Winter calving and lambing preparations and rainfall impacts have slowed the rural real estate market but prices have remained firm.

With an increased milk payout and higher beef prices “a quiet air of confidence or perhaps relief is quietly growing with the rural sector”, Real Estate Institute rural spokesman Brian Peacocke said.

Sales for the three months to the end of July were down by 76 to 392 compared to the end of June when there were 459 sales. In the July period last year there were 468 sales. . . 

New Zealand King Salmon fy17 result and dividend exceed expectations:

A combination of operational achievements and a successful market positioning strategy underpins strong growth for New Zealand King Salmon Investments Ltd which today reported its full year result for the twelve months to 30 June 2017 (FY17). The Board affirms the Company’s full year FY18 forecast as presented in its Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) dated 23 September 2016, prepared for its Initial Public Offering (IPO).

Key highlights include:

• Net profit after tax of $22.8 million, up 778% on the comparable twelve month period to 30 June 2016 (FY16) and 125% ahead of the Prospective Financial Information forecast (PFI) . . 

Fieldays reveals post-event survey results and theme for 50th anniversary in 2018

Results from a recent visitor and exhibitor survey has New Zealand Agricultural Fieldays celebrating another successful year as preparations begin for their 50th anniversary event in 2018.

In the survey, 96 per cent of visitors rated their experience of Fieldays 2017 as “good” to “excellent” and 92 per cent of exhibitors said they would exhibit again.

The iconic event, billed as the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere, saw a record 133,588 people through the gates – its highest visitor number yet. . . 


Rural round-up

August 24, 2017

Shortened calving proves its worth for Manawatu farmers – Gerard Hutching:

Manawatu dairy farmer Peter Bailey has discovered the merits of shortening his calving period in a trial that is believed to be a New Zealand first.

DairyNZ said farmers with an average sized herd could add about $20,000 extra income to the business through the system.

Peter and his wife Merrin, who farm at Newbury on the outskirts of Palmerston North, synchronised their herd at mating to try and get as many as possible to calve down in one day. It was an experiment he had been thinking about for a while.

“Our vets were keen to trial herd synchrony and I had been talking the talk so it was time to walk the walk.” . . 

Ingham’s posts 2.5% gain in FY earnings in NZ, cites improved trading from second half  –  Jonathan Underhill

(BusinessDesk) – Ingham’s Group, which is the number two poultry producer in New Zealand behind Tegel Group, reported a 2.5 percent gain in New Zealand earnings, saying trading improved in the second half after a weak first half and the trend has continued into the 2018 year.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation at the company’s New Zealand unit rose to A$36.2 million in the 53 weeks ended June 30, from A$35.3 million a year earlier, according to the Sydney-based company’s annual results. New Zealand revenue climbed to A$361 million from A$353.5 million. . . 

Bobby calves: the game changers within NZ’s supply chain – Andrew Jolly:

Executive Summary:

There is significant potential for New Zealand to increase its ability to utilise more bobby calves therefore making them a more valued product. It is important that we have a sustainable, viable, ethical and PR friendly value chain. It is also important that NZ Inc. gets this right to maintain farmers/producers’ ‘social licence’ to farm and maintain our positive worldwide perception.

While difficult to calculate, it is estimated that more than $1 billion is on offer, if we can capture the full value of underutilised bobby calves. . . 

Become a political snowflake – voting’s a big responsibility – Joyce Wyllie:

Making two small marks on a paper is simple. Freely turning up at a polling booth to place ticks in a box is a big responsibility, an enormous privilege and not something we should ever take for granted.

Low voter turn out at elections amazes me. No snow flake blames itself for an avalanche, but every one of those beautiful uniquely created flakes contributes to the resulting winter scene. Just as every one of our precious individual votes contributes to the resulting political “landscape” .

My vote is always cast seriously after carefully considering party policies and electorate issues. I detest the influence so much media exerts by focussing on drama, negativity and rehashed irrelevant issues. . . 

Dispatch from NZ. No.1 covenants and the QE II Trust – Jonathan Baker:

There is a lot to say about my time in New Zealand but, I’m not yet sure or how to say it. So to start it off here is something relatively straightforward and interesting – the work of the Queen Elizabeth the Second National Trust (QE2 Trust).

The QE2 Trust was set up in 1977 by kiwi farmer, Gordon Stephenson and other farmers who were increasingly concerned that pro-production subsidies were destroying much of the remaining natural habitat of New Zealand. They saw that as bush was cleared and wetlands drained there were few options available to kiwi farmers and landowners who wanted to hold the tide back. . .


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