Rural round-up

07/11/2019

Canterbury farmer fears sheep and beef property might be turned into forest – Gerard Hutching:

Waimate sheep and beef farmer David Gardner is “gobsmacked” a government policy might see his property sold to an overseas investor and converted into pine trees.

Having reached retirement age, Gardner is looking to sell his 800-hectare Melford Hills farm, about 50 kilometres south of Timaru. He would prefer it remains as it is, but the likely buyer is a forest investor.

In fact he’s already spurned an offer that would see some of the property continue as a farm, and the balance as forestry. . .

Less fat on meat income – Alan Williams:

Scott Technology revenues have jumped in the last year but its automated equipment for meat processing plants played a lesser role.

Revenue from meat processing work for the year ended August 31 was $34.5 million, down from $45m a year earlier, as total revenue from the world-wide activities rose to $225m from $181.8m.

Some of the bigger overseas projects have been challenging and while the operating earnings were higher, at $20m from $19.3m, the after-tax profit fell to $8.6m from $10.77m.

Dunedin-based Scott Tech warned of those challenges in early July and chairman Stuart McLauchlan and managing director Chris Hopkins said the projects are now nearing completion. . .

Kea attack sheep in low numbers, study finds – Will Harvie:

Kea attacks on sheep have been measured for the first time.

About 0.5 per cent of sheep at five South Island high country farms were attacked by the alpine parrots, according to just published research by wildlife scientist and kea specialist Clio Reid and colleagues.

It was the first time “kea strike”, as these attacks are known, has been quantified, she said.

“This study showed that kea strike on sheep was occurring at a low prevalence on the high country farms surveyed. The wounds identified were survivable.” . .

NZ River Awards 2019 River Story finalist: Wharekopae River, Gisborne :

Cawthron is proud to be running the 2019 New Zealand River Awards. As part of the celebration, the River Story Award category sponsored by the Ministry for the Environment recognises interesting and compelling stories about individuals, businesses and communities working to improve the health of our rivers.

Each year Cawthron receives River Story entries that are representative of our collective desire to improve New Zealand waterways. The stories are inspirational projects that involve community collaboration, science and innovative ways to address freshwater-related challenges.

This year, eight stories were selected as finalists and from these, the judges have selected the top three. The work being done to restore Rere’s Wharekopae River catchment is our second story. . .

With the walls closing in, regenerative farming is a way forward for agriculture – Daniel Eb:

A quiet revolution is growing on New Zealand farms. As debates on water and emissions grind on, a new group of farmers are showing us the way forward – regenerating the land, and themselves, writes Daniel Eb.  

Mum has a saying: when you’re boxed into a corner, move the walls. It’s a reference to the two-sided nature of crisis – that in difficulty lies opportunity.

New Zealand agriculture is not in a crisis, but we all feel the tension rising. They’re a tough bunch, our farmers, but this wave of anger and pain in response to new freshwater and emissions proposals is a clear indication that they’re hurting. A recent morning radio show turned into a public, cathartic release for many Kiwi farmers who just wanted to be heard.

There’s a pervading sense that farming as we know it is under threat – that the walls are closing in. This is a global issue. Australian farmers are losing the fight against historic drought. American farmers are struggling, battling record flooding, reckless trade policy and the breakdown of the family farm way of life. Dutch farmers recently blocked motorways in protest against environmental reforms; some Kiwi farmers have called for the same. . .

Narrandera grower Nathan Heckendorf credits water saving product for reviving crop – Lucy Kinbacher:

A NARRANDERA grower has turned his harvest prospects around and retrieved up to 2.5 tonnes a hectare from his barley crop thanks largely to a water saving organic fertiliser.

Nathan Heckendorf, Top Reeds, Sandigo, was very skeptical when he heard about a product that could hold twice its weight in water and eliminate loss of water to a crop from evaporation or frosts.

Operating a 1600 hectare property, Mr Heckendorf planted 150ha of canola from April 20, 200ha of barley from May 10 and 1000ha of wheat from May 15, along with a summer crop of 70ha of maize. . .

 


Neat meat idea from Neat Meat

19/05/2012

Neat Meat has launched Chef Series, a line of pre-cooked meat dishes aimed at people who like home cooking but lack the time, energy or inclination to do it all themselves.

Neat Meat is a family business started by Gisborne-born and bred Simon Eriksen in 2001. You can read the company’s story here.

Simon was one of the speakers at the Top Two Inches, a farming seminar held in Gisborne yesterday at which my farmer and I were also speaking.

In his speech, my farmer talked about how we complement each other – he’s the extrovert I’m the introvert, he’s the risk taker, I’m the creative one, he’s a control freak, I don’t do details. . .

He spoke first so I made the most of the opportunity to have the last word.

Also on the agenda were Matt Todd – CEO Eastland Group/Director TFL;  Neil Sorensen – NZRFU;  Anne Boniface – Westpac Economist and a panel of locals who manage farming businesses for foreign owners.

It as an interesting and inspirational day. Speaking to people afterwards, I concluded there were as many interesting stories in the audience as there had been from the speakers.


Sunrise, sunset

20/09/2009

The sun rose here at about 6.30 this morning and it will set at about 6.30 this evening.

If you’re in East Cape sunrise and sunset are about half an hour earlier. If you’re in Bluff they’re about quarter of an hour later.

In the normal course of events next week sunrise in Bluff would be at 6.23am  and sunset at 6.52pm. In East Cape sunrise would be 5.45am and sunset 6.08pm. But wherever you are in New Zealand, next Sunday clocks will have gone forward which will make sunrise and sunset an hour later than it ought to be.

The benefits of daylight saving compensate for the disadvantages in the middle of summer when temperatures are warmer and days are longer anyway. But extending daylight saving so it lasts from the last weekend in September until the first Sunday in April is giving us so much of a good thing it becomes a bad thing.

Putting the clock forward this early makes it darker and colder for longer in the morning without giving enough extra heat and light in the evening to make much difference. People, especially those in primary production, who have to start work early are disadvantaged without there being enough gain for those who want to play in the evenings to compensate.

LINZ has sunrise and sunset times for Auckland, Bluff, Dunedin, East Cape, Gisborne and Lyttelton.

The Royal Astronomical Society has sunrise and sunset times for Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.

Grump warning: this is the first of what may be several annual complaints about the length of the period in which daylight saving time applies.


Another lovely day

29/04/2009

The phrase another lovely day accompanied by a forecast for continued fine weather sets farmers’ teeth on edge when they’re in depserate need of rain.

North Otago isn’t desperately dry, but we have been in need of a good shower so waking to the sound of rain on the roof, and still hearing it falling steadily now, makes this a really lovely day.

If only we could send some north to Hawkes Bay and Gisborne which are both battling drought and desperately need the sort of lovely day we’re enjoying.


Hawkes Bay seeks drought declaration

27/04/2009

The third successive dry year has forced the Hawkes Bay Drought Committee to ask for the region to be declared a drought area.

Committee chair Lawrence Yule said:

“An autumn drought is worse than a spring drought. At the moment there’s lower levels of grass growing around which you need to carry stock through the winter,’ he said.

“This is Central Hawke’s Bay’s third drought in a row, farmers’ morale is very low, many haven’t been able to generate the income to service their stock.’

Mr Yule said there was also a major cricket problem in CHB as the insects were attracted to the district’s clay soils.

“There are areas that have been eaten by crickets, hundreds of them are getting into houses and there are whole hills which have been eaten out by crickets,’ he said.

After visitng Gisborne which was declared a drought area last week, Agriculture Minister David Carter said that winter drought is harder to explain to non-farmers:

. . . these farmers are going into their third year of drought; with soil temperatures dropping, rain is too late for grass growth. The positives, in contrast to last year, are the price of store stock is up, the price of supplementary feed is down, and the region’s farmers do not have to compete for feed with other drought stricken areas.

The North Island’s East Coast seems to be the only area in New Zealand that hasn’t enjoyed a reasonable autumn. I have done a fair bit of travelling over the past month and farmers up and down the country are generally very positive, despite the global economic situation.

Improved prices for stock and less competition for suplementary food will make things a little less difficult this season, as will lower interest rates and a fall in the price of fertiliser. But some farmers won’t be able to afford fertilister at any price and the other points are very small slivers of silver in the cloud of drought hanging over the province.

We were in Hawkes Bay in spring 2007 and autumn last year and the impact of dry weather was evident then. We’ve got used to irrigation providing some insurance against dry weather in North Otago and Canterbury but all the farms we visited in the North Island were totally reliant on rain.

North Otago had a dry summer but February’s rain set us up for autumn. We haven’t had any significant falls since then so although it’s getting a bit late for much growth before winter sets in, enough rain to get soil moisture levels up for spring growth would be very welcome. 

A couple of good showers would be enough for us, but the North Island’s East Coast needs sustained rain to break the drought. Until that happens making the drought official will trigger government measures such as tax relief and funding for management advice and Rural Support Trusts.


Fewer lambs but still enough chops for bbq

10/08/2008

The t-shirt which proclaimed New Zealand’s ewenique – 60 million sheep can’t be wrong is well out of date with the national flock now down by more than a third from that number according to Meat and Wool New Zealand’s report on the year to June 2008. 

 

Breeding ewes dropped by 9.5% from 26.063m to 23.59m; and total sheep numbers declined 11.2% from 38.461m to 34.150m. This is the lowest number of breeding ewes since 1952 and the lowest total of sheep we’ve had since 1050.

 

The estimated lamb crop was 31.836m in June last year and declined by 13.4% to 27.599m.  Hogget numbers are estimated to have decreased 16.2% with a drop in the North Island of 7% and 26.6% in the South,

 

The sharp drop in numbers is attributed to concerns about the profitability of the sheep industry, last season’s drought and more attractive alternative land uses, especially dairy and dairy support.

 

Ewe condition at mating was poor because dry weather led to inadequate flushing feed and consequently lower rates of conception.

 

Scanning shows a lot of variability but the decline in ewe and hogget numbers mated and a lower expected lambing percentage is expected to lead to a decline in the total lamb crop of 4.2 million or 13.4%. 

 

Beef cattle are estimated to have decreased by between 0.3and 19.6 per cent although this was partially offset by herd rebuilding in Gisborne and of Hawke’s Bay.

 

These figures will be sobering reading for the meat industry. Kill numbers are expected to be down by 9 million in total throughout New Zealand. To put that into perspective a plant like Alliance’s Pukeuri works would kill about 2 million sheep a season.

 

That would indicate that closing of freezing works has not finished. However, Frogblog draws a long bow in concluding summer’s bbq chops are at risk because of dairy conversions. The 34 million sheep left will still provide enough chops and sausages.

 

The Frog is also wrong in asserting:

 

It’s funny how short term economic decisions, like the mad rush to industrial dairy, have long term economic, environmental and social consequences like climate change, water pollution and, it seems, diet.

 

There is nothing short term or purely economic about the decision to convert from sheep farming to dairy. It is a huge investment which is not undertaken lightly and has to be for the long term.

 

There are many positive social consequences from dairying which requires more staff and so leads to an increase in population, a boost in school rolls and the creation of jobs in servicing and support which flows on to rural towns.

 

Dairying doesn’t automatically lead to water pollution either. Regional Councils are taking a very strict approach to breaches of consent and the pollution of waterways and there are a lot of proactive approaches to safeguarding the environment from farmers, irrigation companies and dairy companies.

 


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