Rural round-up

January 12, 2018

Fast track expansion for Ashley Clinton dairy farmers Andy and Robbie Hunt – Kate Taylor:

A Central Hawke’s Bay couple are proud to be dairy farming and love the lifestyle it provides. Kate Taylor pays them a visit.

A pair of small pink gumboots kick the dust on the laneway as cows wander from their paddock to the milking shed. Three-year-old Annabelle has had enough of the hot summer day.

Bringing in the cows is often a family affair at White Stag – one of three properties farmed by Andy and Robbie Hunt in Central Hawke’s Bay – but today, in the middle of the school holidays, it’s big brothers William, 8, and Ben, 6, doing the work. Andy and Robbie have been on this property since Annabelle was a baby – she was just a couple of weeks old when they had the roof shout for the new shed.

“It’s been a busy few years,” Robbie says, laughing. . .

Quite revolution in hill country farming:

GISBORNE, Wairoa and East Coast hill country farmers are leading the country as innovators and are in great shape to take on the challenges of 2018.

AgFirst agribusiness consultant Peter Andrew says sheep and cattle hill farmers here have progressed to become some of the best in New Zealand.

Gisborne will get to show off some of this country’s best sheep and beef operations when the region hosts Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s annual meeting for the first time on March 22. . .

Feds’ Hoggard urges farmers to pay backpackers regular rates – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – Federated Farmers vice-president Andrew Hoggard says farmers should pay backpackers market rates if they want to keep a handy pool of casual labour and avoid volunteer workers.

The Employment Relations Authority ruled an organic farm near Christchurch breached worker rights by paying them $120 a week plus providing food and lodging irrespective of the hours worked, and claiming they were volunteers after a Labour Inspectorate investigation. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment said in a statement that thousands of people had been exploited at the farm, working up to 40 hours a week and often as hired out labour at a profit for Robinwood Farms director and shareholder Julia Osselton. . . 

Canterbury farmer joins DairyNZ board:

This year, Canterbury farmer Colin Glass also joined DairyNZ’s Board of Directors as its newest recruit.

The farm owner and Dairy Holdings chief executive joined DairyNZ’s Board in October 2017. Colin is particularly passionate about dairy farmers connecting with the wider community and showcasing the great work being done on farms.

“We have had a massive refocus on what is important to the sector – the new dairy strategy highlights the need for us to have vibrant, profitable businesses and communities,” says Colin. “But that has to be done in a sustainable way that plays on New Zealand’s competitive advantage. . .

Vigilance needed to prevent further spread of Mycoplasma:

National Party Spokesperson for Biosecurity Barbara Kuriger is calling on farmers to be vigilant in light of recent Mycoplasma Bovis incursions to help prevent the spread of the disease.

“The discovery of Mycoplasma Bovis in Ashburton is a strong reminder to our rural communities that we need to be increasingly watchful and report concerns to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) if there are any suspicions of a further spread of the disease,” Ms Kuriger says.

“We cannot be complacent in any rural areas. The recent confirmation in Ashburton follows cases last year in Hastings, North Otago and the Winton District. . .

New Nutrient Management Tool for Reducing Nitrogen Leaching:

Wintermax Triticale – a new nutrient management tool for reducing nitrogen leaching.

Plant Research (NZ) Ltd in collaboration with Grasslanz Technology have developed a unique nutrient management tool in the for of a winter active triticale variety named wintermax.

Nutrient losses to waterways can occur from rainwater either moving organic matter, sediment and nutrients from land surfaces into surface waters, or leaching of nutrients, such as nitrogen, potassium and sulphur, through soil into groundwater. . . 

Is the merino stud model fit for the future? – Robert Herrmann:

It’s many years since stud breeders of jersey bulls, landrace pigs and rhode island red roosters presented their prized stock at the various capital city Royal Shows to assess breeding potential. Today, these industries rely on data & science to identify the best sires to breed for the growing commercial demand for milk, pork and chicken.

Performance recording has replaced show judging.
There is still a role for the show ring, principally for the committed lovers of breeds to showcase their stock. However, the pragmatic farmer of today needs proof or at least confidence that the decisions around sire purchase align with the breeding objectives of their business.

This makes sense, it is not the pampered, prepared and perfumed animal in the show ring that matters; it is the progeny that must perform under commercial conditions that is important. Lipstick on the pig simply won’t do now. . . 


NZ grass going global

March 24, 2013

A grass developed by AgResearch is going global in efforts to reduce bird strikes at airports.

An ingenious Kiwi solution to the billion dollar bird strike problem is getting ready to go global after impressing airport experts from around the world.

Bird strikes at airports cost the aviation industry an estimated US$1.2 billion annually in both damage to airplanes and deterrence measures.

AgResearch scientists have developed a tool to help airport managers control the problem, a grass containing a special novel endophyte that naturally deters wildlife and insects.

The endophyte is a natural fungus that grows between plant cells in many ryegrasses and tall fescues. It makes the grasses unpalatable to both insects and animals without harming them, and therefore deters both insect eating and herbivorous birds such as ducks and geese. Initial reports have shown that it can reduce the number of birds in sewn areas by 70-80 percent.

The discovery was patented and commercialised by AgResearch company Grasslanz Technology and is being marketed by PGG Wrightson Turf. . .

Sam Livesey, Business Analyst at Grasslanz Technology in Lincoln says that the technology has huge potential, and this is a good opportunity to open a worldwide market.

“The endophyte technology we’ve pioneered here could have worldwide applications in aviation, sports fields, parks, golf courses and orchards in temperate environments,” he says.

Two endophytes branded as ‘Avanex Unique Endophyte Technology’ have been introduced into two turf grasses: Jackal, a tall fescue for the aviation industry and Colosseum, a perennial ryegrass used in sports and amenity turf areas. The Avanex products could also prove profitable for arable farmers in New Zealand who grow the premium grasses for seed.

Trials at New Zealand airports have shown a significant reduction in bird numbers on areas sown with the endophytic grass, reducing the risk of bird strike at take-off and landing.

Mark Shaw, who heads the promotion and sales of Avanex for PGG Wrighton Turf says that they’re bringing together airport and turf consultants from around the world to show them how effective use of this grass can provide solutions around habitat management on airports and reduce the use of insecticides in public spaces.

“This is the only deterrent grass in the world at the moment, and it is one of the few permanent deterrents that can be used at the airport. Basically, we’ve made a restaurant that the birds don’t want to eat at, so they’ll go somewhere better.

“We’re aiming to speed up the adoption of avian deterrent grass technology by providing accredited consultants in which airports can have confidence, and influential academics and regulators will be able to speak confidently on the product,” he says.

The group has been taking part in seminars at the AgResearch Lincoln campus, and will be shown the grass in action at Christchurch, Wellington, Hamilton and Auckland Airports as well as sports grounds. . . .

Friends who grow sunflower and canary seed on a large scale accept that they will lose a percentage of their crop to birds each year.

Orchardists, berry fruit and grape growers also have bird problems which these grasses have the potential to counter.

But the biggest market is likely to be airports and if successful this will be another example where agricultural research produces results which have a wider application in other industries.


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