Rural round-up

30/10/2020

50 years of flower farming  – two families harness the power of sunflowers for bird food company – Emma Rawson:

Two Waitaki families farming in partnership for more than 50 years have developed a bird-loving business out of a crop sown on a wing and a prayer.

Riotous rows of yellow sunflowers beaming from fields south of Ōamaru are a shot of happiness in the Waitaki landscape. Sandwiched between crops of golden wheat and barley, the big friendly giants turn up the colour dial to a saturated yellow.

The exact location of the flowers, grown by the Mitchell and Webster families for more than 50 years, is usually kept on the low down.

Sometimes they are planted on Thousand Acre Road between Ōamaru and Kakanui, sometimes further inland towards Enfield. Crop rotation is the official reason; sunflowers need a five-year interval before being replanted in the same field since they are prone to fungal disease. However, transplanting the lots has the bonus of tricking the birds and keeping humans on their toes until the flowers hit their full two-metre height and yellowy glory at the end of January. . . 

Hawke’s Bay growers consider ‘every possible option’ to fill worker shortage – Thomas Airey:

Horticulture and viticulture growers are trying to be innovative and flexible in order to attract the employees they need to get through a worker shortage for the coming summer season.

There is an urgent need for local seasonal labour, with limited availability of overseas workers due to Covid-19 and 10,000 workers required to thin, pick, package and process the year’s crop between November and April.

The industry has joined up with the Ministry for Primary Industries, Ministry of Social Development, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Hawke’s Bay District Health Board and the region’s local government leaders to deliver a plan to the Government next month to resolve the situation.

Part of that plan includes a growers’ employment expo and information session on Tuesday, November 10, through which they plan to showcase the summer work and career opportunities in the sector. . . 

One-size-fits all-model no more – Anthony Beverley:

New Zealand’s farmers are among the most efficient and productive in the world — and they need to be.

Our world is demanding high-quality, environmentally-friendly food. At the same time, regulatory costs continue to build; our weather is increasingly challenging to bank on and farm profitability and balance sheets are under pressure.

As a result, farmers are increasingly looking more closely at the economic contribution of each part of their farms. Not all land is the same; some parts of farms — if farmers are really honest about it — cost them money to farm.

It’s the steep, rough hill country out the back that farmers are taking a second look at. Not only is this land unprofitable, but it’s often difficult and dangerous to farm. This land is typically erosion-prone and topsoil run-off is undermining farmers’ broader environmental efforts. . . 

Award winner a hands-on business owner – Sally Rae:

Whether  about horses or lambs, alpacas or goats — Henrietta Purvis derives satisfaction from positive feedback from happy animal owners.

She and her husband Graeme Purvis operate Purvis Feeds from their Waianakarua property, south of Oamaru, selling lucerne chaff throughout New Zealand.

Very much a hands-on business owner who spends time both in the cutting shed and on the books, Mrs Purvis has been named the innovation category winner in this year’s NZI Rural Women New Zealand Business Awards . . 

Researchers find ‘sweet spot’ for kiwi fruit pollination

Upping the proportion of female flowers in a kiwifruit orchard may boost production, according to new research.

Plant and Food Research scientists and collaborators from the USA have compiled more than 30 years of field-based data from kiwifruit research to create “digital twins” of pollination processes in kiwifruit orchards, and have used these to predict how growers can optimise their fruit set.

Digital twins are virtual replicas of physical systems – in this case mathematical models of the biology of the plants and the behaviour of pollinating bees.

These digital twins gave researchers the ability to examine complex scenarios which examine multiple, intertwined factors at once. . . .

Brahmans from North Queensland are in demand from NSW graziers – Kent Ward:

Demand for larger lines of quality cattle has seen North Queensland become the go-to market for New South Wales graziers as they rebuild their herds.

The strong demand from southern restockers has not only provided competition at northern store sales, but also seen paddock deals culminate in thousands of cattle being trucked across the border in recent months.

Since March of this year, private agency firm Kennedy Rural has successfully sold and overseen the transport of in excess of 10,000 head of cattle into areas of NSW. . . 


Rural round-up

05/12/2017

Oil-infused lucerne chaff a winning feed – Sally Rae:

Difficulty finding quality lucerne chaff has led to a busy enterprise for Waianakarua couple Graeme and Henrietta Purvis.

The couple, who are well known on the rodeo circuit, recently added a New Zealand-first product to their business — chopped lucerne infused with cold-pressed rapeseed oil.

Now, whether it was a winning race-horse fuelled by their lucerne or a pet lamb being reared on it, they were equally delighted to hear success stories.The story began about 20 years ago when Mr Purvis had a sick horse and could only find poor quality chaff to feed it.

“I thought, I could do better than that”, he recalled. . . 

Some vineyards struggling to cope with dry weather – Adriana Weber:

Some vineyards are desperately trying to find enough workers to cope with the workload brought on by the dry spell.

An Otago grape grower and viticulturist, James Dicey, said the hot conditions had meant there had been a huge amount of early growth.

He said that had resulted in the vineyard quickly falling behind in the work normally done at this time of year.

Mr Dicey said the conditions were very rare for so early in the season.

“Relentlessly hot and relentlessly dry. Since the beginning of September, we have effectively, apart from one 20 millimetre rainfall, been bone dry,” he said. . . 

NZ farmer confidence remains at net positive levels overall:

New Zealand farmer confidence remains at net positive levels overall, but has dropped sharply from the record highs recorded in the previous two quarters, the latest Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey has shown.

While more farmers expect the rural economy to improve than those expecting it to worsen, the overall reading dropped sharply to a net confidence measure of +13 per cent from +38 per cent last survey.

The survey – completed last month – found the number of farmers expecting the rural economy to improve in the next 12 months had fallen to 29 per cent (down from 46 per cent last quarter), 49 per cent were expecting similar conditions (up from 42 per cent) and the number expecting the rural economy to worsen rose to 16 per cent (up from 8 per cent). . . 

Lynch family:

When it comes to running their dairy and livestock operation Kate and Gerard Lynch are less concerned with ensuring they have the most high tech gadgets and more concerned with getting the basics right, day in, day out.

It’s a commitment the couple share although Kate is the first to admit that some days it’s easier than others. “We’ve tried to instil across the business how important it is to do things well every day, on the days when you’re sloshing through mud in sleeting rain as well as on the nice, sunny days,” she said.

“Agriculture is the same as anywhere, if you are running your own business, every dollar counts so you can’t afford to just let things slide. Whether it’s paying attention to every cow to ensure they’re in peak health, clearing up the shed in the evening or ensuring machinery is serviced on time, the simple things make a big difference.” . . 

Public invited to Lincoln University Dairy Farm for Fonterra Open Gates Day:

The Lincoln University Dairy Farm (LUDF) its opening its gates, along with a number of others, on December 10 to show off its environmental management.

It is holding an Open Day as part of the Fonterra Open Gates Day which is highlighting how farmers, along with the rest of New Zealand, care about what is happening with our waterways and the environment. . . 

Fonterra open gate days a missed opportunity to mix with Greenpeace, Safe and other critics – Gerald Piddock:

Fonterra and their farmers deserve a pat on the back for organising the open gate days on farms taking place on December 10.

It’s a good initiative and will hopefully be well supported.

The only concern I have is the people who will go are either fellow farmers or those associated with the industry. That’s preaching to the converted.

They are not the people the industry needs to reach. . .

Like it or not Africa’s future lies in GM crops – Karen Batra:

Short-sighted opposition to biotechnology leaves farmers across the continent at the mercy of pests, disease and worse, writes Matt Ridley in The Times:

An even more dangerous foe than Robert Mugabe is stalking Africa. Early last year, a moth caterpillar called the fall armyworm, a native of the Americas, turned up in Nigeria. It has quickly spread across most of Africa. This is fairly terrifying news, threatening to undo some of the unprecedented improvements in African living standards of the past two decades. Many Africans depend on maize for food, and maize is the fall armyworm’s favorite diet.

Fortunately, there is a defense to hand. Bt maize, grown throughout the Americas for many years, is resistant to insects. The initials stand for a bacterium that produces a protein toxic to insects but not to people. Organic farmers have been using the bacterium as a pesticide for more than five decades, but it is expensive. Bt maize has the protein inside the plant, thanks to genetic engineers, who took a gene from the bacterium and put it in the plant. Bt maize has largely saved Brazil’s maize crop from fall armyworms. . . 


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