Rural round-up

June 5, 2017

It’s Complicated: Is NZ Media’s Relationship with Kiwi Farmers Busted? – Ben Stanley:

I’m a farm kid, and a journalist, and right now that’s an awkward position to be in.

There’s a name you don’t say out loud in rural New Zealand right now unless you want to draw scorn and outright disgust.

It’s the name of one of my childhood heroes.

For the majority of the 1990s, Cameron Bennett was New Zealand’s foreign correspondent; our eye on international conflict and disaster. He’d travel to Iraq, Russia, Afghanistan and the West Bank and report back home with his gritty, but revealing, insights on war and why people make it. . .

A water battle looms in NZ’s Middle-Earth desert – Matthew Brockett & Tracy Withers:

In the rugged heart of New Zealand’s South Island, a high-altitude desert where the men of Middle-Earth made their last stand in the “Lord of the Rings” movies has become a battlefield once again.

Environmentalists and farmers are clashing over the Mackenzie Basin, an area known for its scorched-brown grasslands and crystal-blue lakes – and now, massive irrigation systems that are spreading circles of emerald-green pasture across the Mars-like terrain.

“It’s similar to greening the desert of Nevada or California,” said Annabeth Cohen, a freshwater scientist at environmental group Forest and Bird. . .

Mackenzie Basin set to lose $1.2b in farming production if wildings aren’t controlled  – Pat Deavoll:

The Mackenzie Basin could lose $1.2 billion in farming production a year if the spread of wilding conifers is not brought under control, said Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) wilding programme manager Sherman Smith.

Few species would survive if the basin was smothered by wildings, he said.

“If the basin is taken over by wildings, that’s 50 cumecs (of water) drained out of the Waitaki system, biodiversity that would suffer and there would be a lot of species that wouldn’t survive,” said Smith at the Federated Farmers High Country Conference, . .

Cut debt or go  – Hugh Stringleman:

Dairy farmers with unsustainable debt who can’t build equity buffers with profits should exit the sector, Reserve Bank governor Graham Wheeler says.

But Federated Farmers dairy chairman Andrew Hoggard says Wheeler used outdated figures when he warned the dairy sector was still a financial risk to the economy and banks should monitor it closely.

“The uncertain outlook for dairy prices and the rising proportion of highly indebted farms means there remains a risk that non-performing loans could increase in coming seasons. . . .

Whitehall kiwifruit growers come out the other side of Psa disease – Gerald Piddock:

It’s been a slow road to recovery for Mark and Robyn Gardiner since Psa ripped through their kiwifruit business.

Called Seudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae, the deadly viral disease was first discovered at their 200 hectare Whitehall Fruitpackers operation in 2010.

Left unchecked, Psa destroys green and gold vines and spawns leaf spotting, cankers and shoot dieback.

At the worst point of the outbreak, Mark cut out 40ha of his 16 Gold kiwifruit crop as well as partial cuttings of green fruit. At the same time, the more resistant G3 variety was grafted to the vines. . .

Farm win gets civic reception – Hugh Stringleman:

Winning the Ahuwhenua Trophy for Maori Excellence in sheep and beef farming was the achievement of a lifetime for Northland farm manager Lloyd Brennan and his staff, he told Hugh Stringleman.

The Ahuwhenua Trophy might be scheduled for another visit to Kaikohe, the Northland town that needs to celebrate success and encourage more young Maori into farming.

A civic reception was being planned by the Far North District Council with the Omapere Rangihamama Trust (ORT) and its board of trustees, headed by Sonny Tau. . .

National ambassadors for sustainable farming recognised:

The winners of the national ambassador title for the Ballance Farm Environment Awards describe their farm as the largest lifestyle block in Taranaki.

Ohangai sheep, beef and dairy farmers Peter and Nicola Carver won the National Ambassador title over 10 other regional supreme winners at the National Sustainability Showcase event at the Ascot Park Hotel in Invercargill on May 31.

Operating as Holmleigh Trust Partnership, the couple combine dairy and dry stock farming on their 515ha family property east of Hawera. . .


Rural round-up

August 23, 2014

Speed milking becomes a sport – Jackie Harrigan:

The northern European rural sport of speed milking will be starring at the inaugural New Zealand Rural Games in Queenstown in February.

Games sponsor and Fonterra chief executive Theo Speirings is right behind it.

Having seen the sport known as dairy hand milking in action in his home continent, Speirings said it will be great to see it in NZ.

Rural Games organiser Steve Hollander says the speed milking competition will introduce a dairy component to fit well alongside speed shearing, speed gold panning and coal shovelling. . .

Australian, China-backed company targets NZ forest owners – Paul McBeth

 (BusinessDesk) – United Forestry Group, backed by Australian timber marketer Pentarch and China’s Xiangyu Group, is targeting small forest owners in New Zealand in a bid to cash in on a looming ‘wall of wood’ it estimates will generate $30 billion over the next two decades.

The Wellington-based company wants to consolidate the country’s 14,000 small forests, which account for just over a third of New Zealand’s plantations, and use its forestry management skills and supply chain to achieve a more efficient network and boost returns for the owners, it said in a statement.

United Forestry, which counts Pentarch and Xiangyu joint venture Superpen as cornerstone investors, is offering to buy small forests outright, or buy a combination of land and trees. It will also offer advice on harvesting and marketing mature forests. . .

Varroa and bee viruses linked – study:

An Otago University study has thrown more light on the role that the varroa honey bee mite plays in spreading diseases through beehives.

A PhD student, Fanny Mondet from the University’s Zoology Department and Avignon University in France, investigated the effect of the varroa parasite as it spread south after its arrival in New Zealand more than 10 years ago.

Otago University zoology professor Alison Mercer said the study had confirmed the link between varroa and the spread of some bee viruses, including the deformed wing virus which has been associated with colony collapses. . .

Hill Laboratories appoints new Agricultural Divisional Manager:

New Zealand’s leading analytical testing laboratory, Hill Laboratories, has appointed Dr Bart Challis as new Agricultural Divisional Manager for the company.

Dr Challis brings to Hill Laboratories 16 years of international experience in the fields of Life Science and Biotechnology.

After completing a PhD in microbiology from the University of Otago, Dr Challis began his career in Sales in the United Kingdom in 1999. . .

Funding boost for tutsan fight – Bryan Gibson:

Taumarunui’s Tutsan Action Group (TAG) hopes new funding will help find a biological control for the invasive plant tutsan (Hypericum androsaemum).

Chairman Graham Wheeler said the group has secured a further three years of government and community funding to complete its investigation.

Tutsan now costs some landowners up to $400 a hectare a year to control.

An economic assessment found there is $2.3 million a year in direct and indirect costs, with a capital cost to New Zealand of up to $32m because of the reduction in land values. . .

Pineland Farms: Magic Happens When Private Funding Meets Family Farming – Food Tank:

Pineland Farms, located in New Gloucester, Maine, is a 2,020-hectare working farm, as well as an educational and recreational campus. Pineland Farms comprises three for-profit companies that are supplied by local family farms: Pineland Farms Creamery; Pineland Farms Potatoes; and Pineland Farms Natural Meats. Owned by the Libra Foundation (a Maine-based private charitable foundation), Pineland profits are reinvested in the companies, as well as in other charities that support local communities.

Food Tank spoke with Erik Hayward, Vice President of the Libra Foundation; Rodney McCrum, President and Chief Operating Officer of Pineland Farms Potatoes; and, William Haggett, President of Pineland Farms Natural Meats.

Food Tank (FT): What inspired the creation of Pineland Farms and how is its structure different from smaller family farming operations?

Erik Hayward (EH): In early 2000, a state property came up for sale in New Gloucester, Maine. Built in 1908, it was originally a hospital for the mentally disabled. There were a number of farms on the campus, however these had basically been abandoned and were in various states of disrepair. . .

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