Hysteria Greenpeace business as usual

June 30, 2017

Federated Farmers says Greenpeace’s report is verging on hysteria:

Federated Farmers is disappointed Greenpeace has resorted to sensationalist rhetoric in a report published today that implies agriculture and related activities are a threat to all New Zealanders’ health.

The report which goes by the title “Sick of too many cows”, is a predictable if not misguided attack on the primary sector- the country’s largest exporter and employer of around 160,000 people.

“This is Greenpeace doing a good job of what they do best – plenty of headlines and hyperbole. Let’s be frank, those claims made about New Zealanders’ health being endangered due to livestock is extreme to say the least, says Chris Allen, Federated Farmers’ Water Spokesperson.

“What’s particularly disturbing is their accusation that irrigation and farming causes cancers and infectious diseases.”

Federated Farmers expects plenty of hyperbole and sensationalism and welcomes an open forum leading into the General Election, but this latest anti-farming rant smacks of desperation.

It leaves little room for constructive dialogue with no concrete language throughout the report.

The Federation also finds it ironic that the Havelock North water contamination outbreak is raised, yet it had nothing to do with dairy farming nor so called industrial farming or irrigation.

We note Greenpeace acknowledges most farmers are working hard to improve their environmental footprint. However, it’s unfortunate they have not researched basic facts about irrigation and proposed schemes.

“For example, those that have signed up to the Ruataniwha scheme are horticultural enterprises, arable and sheep and beef farmers.

“The fact is there are no new dairy conversions amongst the 190 farmers signed up, while only one irrigator will expand an existing dairy farm by a mere 100ha.

“What is also overlooked is that irrigation is crucial for many fruit and horticultural crops, and there is evidence that irrigation can have better environmental outcomes. The majority of dams being built are for community water and security of supply for drinking water alongside irrigation,” Chris said.

Federated Farmers otherwise is proud of all New Zealand farmers’ focus and efforts towards managing the environment.

Dairy farmers had spent over $1 billion in the past five years, which meant 97% of the waterways on New Zealand dairy farms are now excluded from dairy cattle.

Sheep and beef farmers meanwhile have been main contributors to the establishment of QEII covenants, protecting private land for conservation at a real and opportunity cost of $1.2 to 1.4 billion dollars.

“Let’s be clear, farmers are not solely responsible for what is raised in this report. We are taking ownership through seeking solutions and acting on them. Scaremongering the public with extreme claims in an election year, is short-sighted and lacks integrity,” says Chris.

This scaremongering and extreme claims aren’t just for election year.

It’s business as usual for Greenpeace, high on emotion and low on facts.

They forget, ignore or simply don’t know that farmers have a very high interest in good water quality.

Waterways which run through and near farms are the source of drinking water and the playground for farming families.

Ensuring they are clean isn’t just an academic concept or political point-scoring exercise, it’s personal and immediate.


Rural round-up

January 16, 2017

In lament of the NZ Farm – Dr Rosie Bosworth:

On the road to becoming the Detroit of agriculture.

Colleague and Christchurch based technology strategist Ben Reid, recently tweeted that New Zealand is in danger of fast becoming the “Detroit of Agriculture” – a rustbelt left behind after production has moved elsewhere.” Unfortunately, I am inclined to agree.  With technologies, science and new business models evolving, accelerating and converging at current breakneck speeds, industries globally – from banking, transport, accommodation and healthcare are having the rug pulled right out from beneath their feet. And sadly (at least for New Zealand farmers), agriculture, our economic mainstay, is next up on the chopping block. Fast en route towards becoming a sunset industry.  Overtaken and displaced by disruptive technologies, science breakthroughs and new business models. And the people at the helm? Not the people on the inside like our dairy farmers, apple breeders and savvy winemakers. But by sneaker wearing tech millennials and wealthy Tesla driving Silicon Valley venture capitalists and well funded research agencies. . . 

Dry conditions take toll on Northland farmers:

A drought declaration in Northland is just a few weeks away, but as conditions in the region grow tougher, Federated Farmers says.

Federated Farmers Northland president John Blackwell said spring had been good for the region, but a dry November and December had caused problems across the board.

Halfway through November the rain had disappeared and south-westerly winds had had a very drying effect on the land, Mr Blackwell said. . . 

Dairy NZ to appeal decision on Greenpeace ad – Catherine Hutton:

One of the groups who complained that a Greenpeace advertisement was false and misleading says it plans to appeal the advertising watchdog’s decision.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received 12 complaints about the advert, which blamed the dairy industry for water pollution, but dismissed all of them.

Dairy NZ, which represents dairy farmers, would not comment on the reasons it was appealing, ahead of the hearing.  . .

Hurunui Water Project says Greenpeace claims are exaggerated and out of date:

North Canterbury irrigation Company Hurunui Water Project today rejected claims by Greenpeace that the proposed scheme will lead to large-scale intensive dairying and consequent degradation of the Hurunui River.

“Greenpeace needs to actually read the latest information on the Hurunui Water Project (HWP) proposal that they have,” says HWP Chief Executive Alex Adams. “If they had done so, they would have seen the scheme is very different now to the original proposal they seem to be referring to, and that dairy development as a result of the scheme is planned to be to be a minor component.”

Adams said a 2016 survey of HWP shareholders showed the vast majority of the dryland farmers simply wanted irrigation to provide the assurance they needed to continue with their existing farming practice; only some 10 percent indicated that dairy conversions might be an option. . . 

Korean FTA delivers new round of tariff cuts:

More local businesses looking to expand into Korea will benefit from the latest round of tariff reductions under the New Zealand-Korea Free Trade Agreement, Trade Minister Todd McClay says.

The start of 2017 saw two thirds of New Zealand’s exports to Korea become duty free, up from 46 per cent in 2016.

“Thanks to this continued progress under the FTA, even more New Zealand businesses can compete favourably in the Korean market,” Mr McClay says.

New Zealand and Korea celebrated the first anniversary of the agreement in December 2016. Since the FTA’s entry into force in December 2015, New Zealand has experienced strong results particularly in the food and beverage sector where exports to Korea have increased by over 16%. . . 

Fonterra milk collections remain below previous season, trend shifts in Oz – Edwin Mitson

 (BusinessDesk) – Milk collections by Fonterra Cooperative Group this season are continuing to track below the previous year, mainly due to lower production on the North Island.

Collections in the seven months from June 1, 2016 to Dec. 31, 2016 were 881 million kilogrammes of milk solids, a fall of 5.5 percent on the same period in 2015, when prices were much lower. Some 186 million kgMS were collected in the month of December, down 5 percent on the same month a year ago.

There was a clear gap between the two main islands of New Zealand. Collections on the North Island fell 7 percent from June to December, while on the South Island they dropped just 2 percent in the same period. . . 

Commitment Pays Dividends for Taranaki Egg Farm Worker:

Team spirit, pride in her work and a determination to succeed in her studies have proved a winning combination for Taranaki woman Amy Kimura, who was recently named Poultry Industry Trainee of the Year for 2016. The national award is given each year to the top-performing trainee in all of the training courses run by the poultry industry in cooperation with the Primary Industry Training Organisation (PrimaryITO).

Amy, who is of Ngati Raukawa descent, is currently a Farm Worker at Aviagen New Zealand Ltd’s Taranaki production farms where her duties include general care and responsibility for the welfare of the poultry in her care. . . 

17 myths about agriculture in 2017 – Peterson farm Bros:

1. GMOs are evil

GMOs are a valuable technology used in science, medicine, and agriculture. Farmers use them to increase yields, reduce inputs, improve the soil, and provide resistance to drought, insects and weeds. There are GMOs being used all throughout society, and there is a very good chance you’ve consumed or used a GM product today. We do believe people should be free to avoid GMOs if they want to, but GMOs have been around for 2 decades (over a trillion meals consumed) without a single sickness or health issue resulting from consumption. . .

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Rural round-up

July 19, 2016

Tool for easy environment planning – Rebecca Harper:

Onfarm environmental planning has just got easier with the launch of a new cloud-based software programme, AgFirst Landbase.

AgFirst consultant Erica van Reenen developed the programme in conjunction with FarmIQ after being asked time and again whether an online tool to help with land and environment planning existed – it didn’t, until now.

Using van Reenen’s knowledge and FarmIQ’s information technology capability was a perfect match. . .

Greenpeace’s deadly war on science – Bjorn Lomborg:

Is Greenpeace committing a crime against humanity?

A letter from 110 Nobel laureates suggests as much. It urges the environmental group to drop its campaign against genetically modified foods, particularly so-called “Golden Rice,” which could help prevent millions of deaths in the developing world.

Calling GMOs food “Frankenfood” is a brilliant scare-mongering term, heavily promoted by Greenpeace. But it has no basis in reality. . . 

Let’s not leave Silver Fern Farms stranded – Stephen Jacks:

As I take time to consider my vote in the upcoming Silver Fern Farms special general meeting on the 50-50 joint venture with Shanghai Maling, my thoughts are around what the future may look like either way.

What we know is that the challenges facing farmers are large.  The challenges of profitably negotiating our way through the physical, climatic, financial and market vagaries appear to be amplified of late.   I don’t envisage the scale of excellence and adaptation required to survive and thrive to diminish anytime soon.

We have a choice before us: To join with Shanghai Maling or not.  . . 

School paddocks nurture future farmers – Rob Tipa:

Senior pupils of Waitaki Boys’ High School’s primary production course see their future in farming, so attending one of the country’s few schools with its own farm is a definite attraction.

Seven out of 10 senior students who spoke to the NZ Farmer were boarders at Waitaki, mostly from sheep and beef farming families from around Fairlie, Methven, Mayfield, Millers Flat and the West Coast.

Waitaki Boys has a proud history and reputation as a fine school but several students said the school farm was a key factor that brought them to boarding school in Oamaru. . .

How we are innovating our way to cheaper land prices – James Pethokoukis:

They aren’t making any more land, at least on this planet. But technology is, in effect, increasing the long-term supply of land. Robert Shiller:

This 20th-century miracle in agricultural science greatly improved crop yields per acre. From the standpoint of farm output, there was no need for new land. This revolution involved the discovery by Fritz Haber of a cheap process to produce ammonia for fertilizer at the beginning of the century and the discovery of new high-yield strains of wheat by Norman E. Borlaug at midcentury. Both men won Nobel Prizes for their work. These innovations permitted multiplication of yields per acre and very likely saved hundreds of millions of lives from starvation worldwide. . . 

Leading exporter sets benchmark for food safety and brand protection:

New Zealand’s largest vertically-integrated grower, packer and exporter of twenty-five per cent of this country’s apples has taken a bold step to scientifically guarantee the integrity of its produce.

Mr. Apple has signed a three year contract with Dunedin-based Oritain to combat what has become a proliferation of food fraud in the export industry, and safeguard the security of its supply-chain.

Mr. Apple CEO Andrew van Workum says that having his apples 100% traceable from orchard to store is a lynchpin of the Mr. Apple brand, and adds critical value to the relationship it has with growers, suppliers and consumers. . . 

 


Science when it suits

July 5, 2016

More than 100 Nobel laureates have written an open letter to Greenpeace, the United Nations and governments around the world urging Greenpeace to support science and end their campaign against genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The United Nations Food & Agriculture Program has noted that global production of food, feed and fiber will need approximately to double by 2050 to meet the demands of a growing global population. Organizations opposed to modern plant breeding, with Greenpeace at their lead, have repeatedly denied these facts and opposed biotechnological innovations in agriculture. They have misrepresented their risks, benefits, and impacts, and supported the criminal destruction of approved field trials and research projects.

We urge Greenpeace and its supporters to re-examine the experience of farmers and consumers worldwide with crops and foods improved through biotechnology, recognize the findings of authoritative scientific bodies and regulatory agencies, and abandon their campaign against “GMOs” in general and Golden Rice in particular.

Scientific and regulatory agencies around the world have repeatedly and consistently found crops and foods improved through biotechnology to be as safe as, if not safer than those derived from any other method of production. There has never been a single confirmed case of a negative health outcome for humans or animals from their consumption. Their environmental impacts have been shown repeatedly to be less damaging to the environment, and a boon to global biodiversity.

Greenpeace has spearheaded opposition to Golden Rice, which has the potential to reduce or eliminate much of the death and disease caused by a vitamin A deficiency (VAD), which has the greatest impact on the poorest people in Africa and Southeast Asia.

The World Health Organization estimates that 250 million people, suffer from VAD, including 40 percent of the children under five in the developing world. Based on UNICEF statistics, a total of one to two million preventable deaths occur annually as a result of VAD, because it compromises the immune system, putting babies and children at great risk. VAD itself is the leading cause of childhood blindness globally affecting 250,000 – 500,000 children each year. Half die within 12 months of losing their eyesight.

WE CALL UPON GREENPEACE to cease and desist in its campaign against Golden Rice specifically, and crops and foods improved through biotechnology in general;

WE CALL UPON GOVERNMENTS OF THE WORLD to reject Greenpeace’s campaign against Golden Rice specifically, and crops and foods improved through biotechnology in general; and to do everything in their power to oppose Greenpeace’s actions and accelerate the access of farmers to all the tools of modern biology, especially seeds improved through biotechnology. Opposition based on emotion and dogma contradicted by data must be stopped.

How many poor people in the world must die before we consider this a “crime against humanity”?

The names of the 110 signatories, all Nobel laureates, are here.

L. Val Gidding, senior fellow at The Information and Technologies Innovation Center. He previously served as vice president for Food & Agriculture of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and as expert consultant to the United Nations Environment Programme, the World Bank, USDA, USAID, and companies, organizations and governments around the world,  writes:

The website accompanying the release documents the global scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs (recently reaffirmed by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society of the United Kingdom, and virtually every other authoritative scientific body on the planet). It also documents the abundant and widespread environmental and economic benefits confirmed by the experience of more than 18 million farmers around the world, the vast majority of them small farmers in developing countries.

Other sections explain what GMOs are (describing them, more accurately, as a component of precision agriculture) and describe how scientists learned to make them by mimicking completely natural patterns of gene exchange found everywhere in nature. A section documents and corrects the false and misleading statements used by Greenpeace in its propaganda campaign to raise unwarranted fears and money to support its multinational organization, and the efforts of some governments to hold Greenpeace to account.

The Laureates’ website also documents former campaigners for Greenpeace and other environmental groups who examined the facts, discovered the truth, and broke with Greenpeace and other groups opposing innovation in agriculture, including Richard di Natale, Greenpeace Australia; Steven Tinsdale, Greenpeace UK; Patrick Moore, Greenpeace Canada & Greenpeace International; Mark Lynas, Greenpeace UK & the Soil Association); Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Catalogue & the Long Now Foundation; Bill Nye, the Science Guy; and Bizarro creator Dan Piraro. Additional materials provide further information from credible and independent third parties.

The organizing force behind this project is Sir Richard Roberts (Nobel Prize, 1993, Physiology or Medicine).

It is clearly past time for Greenpeace and others opposed to GMOs to follow the data and adopt a truly “green” and science-based position on genetic modification. The challenges facing society require a shift from political correctness to scientific correctness. Governments and other parties should do likewise.

 

Greenpeace is not the only organisation guilty of going for emotion rather than science over GMOs.

Hastings District Council is promoting itself as GM-free.

And of course the Green Party, which urges everyone to back the science on climate change, ignores it on GMOs:

The Green Party says it will not soften its anti-genetic modification stance despite a plea from some of the world’s top scientists, who say opposition by green groups is blocking GM foods that could help reduce disease in third-world countries. . . 

The open letter prompted Act Party leader David Seymour to call on the Green Party to abandon its “outdated” position on GM.

“The Green Party needs to catch up with science, and modify its position on genetic modification, especially when Golden Rice has the ability to give sight to thousands of babies struggling with a lack of Vitamin A,” he said.

Green Party GM spokesman Steffan Browning said the party re-evaluated its GM policy regularly, but it would not be making any changes as a result of the open letter. . .

Science isn’t foolproof. New evidence can challenge and change what were thought to be facts and it is sensible to be cautious about any new developments.

But GMOs have been in wide enough use for long enough to make continued blanket opposition to them a triumph of emotion over science.

Using science only when it suits your prejudices and beliefs is at best hypocritical. In the case of continued opposition to  GMOs it is preventing developments which would be better for the environment and provide economic opportunities, and it’s costing lives.

 


Rural round-up

June 29, 2016

Out of town and out of touch:

Hawke’s Bay farmer Hugh Ritchie said today if Greenpeace acutally understood the big environmental issues facing New Zealand, such as climate change, it wouldn’t need to interfere in a local water storage project like Ruataniwha.

“Hawke’s Bay people can decide what’s best for their community without the influence of this misguided and uninformed green lobby. These out-of-town protesters need to realize robust public process has been followed and the scheme has been intensely scrutinized.

“Ruataniwha has been through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) process. Individuals and groups have had ample opportunity to voice concerns and these have been accessed for merit. This same EPA process saw an end to Wellington Basin Reserve’s proposed flyover. The EPA delivers robust, objective decisions on environmental matters, and ensures compliance with rules. Its decision must be respected. . . 

Debbie Hewitt can vote on Ruataniwha dam despite ‘pecuniary interest’ – Simon Hendery:

The auditor-general has ruled a Hawke’s Bay regional councillor can continue voting on the Ruataniwha dam, despite finding she is likely to have a pecuniary interest in decisions the council makes about the project.

Debbie Hewitt represents Central Hawke’s Bay, the area where the council is planning to build the Ruataniwha irrigation scheme.

Through a family trust, she has an ownership interest in 19 hectares of land in an area that would be irrigated by the scheme. The Office of the Auditor-General said it was “uncertain” how much she would gain financially if the scheme went ahead, but it believed her interest in it was greater than that of the general public. . . .

If you buy health and safety advice, make sure it’s the right advice:

Good health and safety practice is not something you can just buy off the shelf, and farmers need to build health and safety into everyday activity on farm.

WorkSafe’s Agriculture Programme Manager, Al McCone, says while many farmers will want to get consultants in to give them expert advice, there is no single product or document that is a silver bullet for farm safety.

Farmers should only employ competent and qualified professional health and safety advisors. “When selecting a new contractor or buying stock, farmers do their homework,” says Mr McCone. “They shop around, look online, ask other farmers and make a decision based on sound information. The same should apply to buying health and safety advice and resources. . . 

Big bounce in farmer confidence – Rabobank: Rural Confidence Survey

Results at a Glance

 Overall farmer confidence has improved considerably from the previous quarter

 Farmers’ expectations for their own business performance also rose, with big lifts recorded among dairy farmers and sheep and beef farmers

 Horticulturalists’ expectations for their own businesses remain at elevated levels with more than half surveyed expecting their farm business performance to improve in the next 12 months

 Investment intentions were at their highest level in more than a year, with one quarter of survey participants expecting to increase their farm business investment in the coming year . . 

Spring Sheep Milk Company Finalist in World Dairy Innovation Awards:

 New Zealand company, within its first year of operation, has been named as a finalist in two categories in theWorld Dairy Innovation Awards; Best Ice Cream or Frozen Yoghurt and Best Dairy Packaging Design.

Spring Sheep Milk Co is the only fully New Zealand owned large scale sheep dairy operation and the attraction for forming the company was to create a model to bring the goodness of New Zealand sheep milk products to the world says Chief Executive Officer Scottie Chapman

“Consumers are looking for quality alternatives to traditional dairy and sheep milk offers a premium alternative thanks to its sensational taste. It is richer and creamier than traditional cows milk. Sheep milk has been used in Europe for centuries as a gastronomic indulgence, renowned for quality cheeses and is now a rapidly growing category worldwide.” . . 

Companies Office confirms no evidence that Silver Fern Farms’ board acted in anything other than good faith and in best interests of the company:

• Companies Office completes consideration of complaint from Rt Hon Peters

• Has “not identified any evidence of a breach of s 138A of the Companies Act 1993”

• Follows announcement from the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) confirming FMA does “not have any reason to believe the [Notice of Meeting and Shareholder] Information Pack was misleading or deceptive.” . . 

Murray Goulburn announces 2017 farmgate milk price, sees only ‘modest’ recovery – Tina Morrison

(BusinessDesk) – Murray Goulburn Cooperative, Australia’s dominant milk processor, announced its forecast farmgate milk price for the coming year, saying it expects only a modest recovery in prices in the second half of the year.

The company forecast a farmgate milk price of A$4.80 per kilogram of milk solids for the season ending June 30, 2017, compared with an expected payment of between A$4.75 to A$5.00 in the current year. It announced a 2017 net opening farmgate milk price of A$4.31/kgMS after repayment of a 14 Australian cents/kgMS milk supply support package. . . 

Traditional crop knowledge preserved in Tongan  book :

The author of a new book documenting traditional methods of growing yam says the book has preserved indigenous crop planting knowledge that’s valuable for Pacific farmers.

The book ‘Tokanga ko e Mo’ui’anga’ has been published in the Tongan language and was launched in Auckland by author Sione Tu’itahi.

Mr Tu’itahi based the book on the experience of the late Kiteau Tatafu, an award-winning farmer in Tonga. . . 

 


Rural round-up

June 23, 2016

Retiring prof’s work continues – Sally Rae:

Prof Frank Griffin describes his lengthy career in animal science at the University of Otago in his own inimitable way.

“It’s been absolutely amazing. I’ve had a party every day; it’s really been fun,” he said.

Official retirement might be looming at the end of the month for the popular professor but his association with the university, where he has worked since 1973, is unlikely to end. . . 

Port dairy cows spared – Sally Rae:

Port Chalmers dairy farmer Merrall MacNeille is looking at various options to get his milk back on the market.

He was recently ordered to stop selling raw milk after a tuberculosis-positive heifer was discovered on his property.

He was able to supply milk for pasteurisation and, using a small pasteuriser, hoped to have “something on the shelf” by the end of August.

Other options were also being explored and Mr MacNeille said they would “get there one way or another”. . . 

Zespri raises profit forecast range to recognise $50M of Gold3 licence revenue :

(BusinessDesk) – Zespri International, the kiwifruit marketer, raised its full-year profit forecast to take into account licence revenue of $50 million from the release of 400 hectares of Gold3 licence in 2016.

Zespri is now forecasting profit of $70 million to $75 million for the 2016/17 year, up from the range of $25 million to $30 million it gave in April. The earlier forecast excluded revenue from the release of Gold3 licences that were tendered in May.

The closed tender bid process attracted broad participation from the industry with 1,376 hectares bid and 266 successful bidders for the 400 hectares of the SunGold licence, Zespri said. Half the hectares were restricted to Green and Green14/Sweet Green growers to provide an opportunity for existing green growers to convert over to SunGold, it said. . . 

Seeka handles record volumes:

Seeka Kiwifruit Industries Limited advises that it has completed kiwifruit packing operations in Australia and New Zealand for the 2016 season. The Company has handled record volumes in the packing season, with more than 30M trays handled in New Zealand for the first time. Seeka now heads into the storage and inventory management portion of the season in New Zealand, while at the same time it completes its kiwifruit sales program in Australia. The Australian pear selling season is anticipated to complete in October.

New Zealand volumes handled by Seeka were up by 16.6% at 30.8m trays. This figure includes approximately 700k trays that will be removed from the inventory or at time of packing, through crop management. All volumes have been handled within the company’s infrastructure, and Seeka now moves to managing more than 16M trays in store. . . 

Police investigate ‘dear old lady’s’ pet sheep:

An elderly Waikato woman has been left distressed after four of her pet sheep were killed and their body parts strewn across her paddock.

Cambridge police say someone jumped the “dear old lady’s” farm fence on Tirau Road on Friday night and killed the four pregnant ewes.

“They left the offal and heads in the paddock for her to find the next morning,” police said on their Facebook page. . .

Greenpeace launches legal challenge against controversial $1b dam plan:

Greenpeace NZ is launching a legal challenge against a controversial plan to build a dam that’s set to cost close to $1 billion and will pollute a region’s rivers.

Today, Greenpeace will file a judicial review of resource consents granted by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to extend the area of land area that can be irrigated by the Ruataniwha scheme, which will aid the expansion of dairy farms in the region. 

The motion, to be lodged at the High Court in Napier, challenges two resource consents given to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company in January, which were granted without public notification on the basis of a Council assessment that any environmental effects would be no more than “minor”. . . 


Irrigation greener option

May 25, 2016

Greenpeace is highly critical of the decision to provide funding for irrigation in Canterbury.

. . . Genevieve Toop, Greenpeace’s agriculture campaigner, said:

“The government is throwing away millions of dollars on this controversial industrial irrigation scheme which will pollute our precious rivers.

“Millions of tonnes of pollution ends up in our rivers already. And this will only get worse if government departments like MPI throw taxpayers’ money at irrigation schemes like Central Plains Water that expand the industrial dairy sector.

“Ecological farming is much better for our rivers, our land and our international reputation. It’s this that the government should be backing, not some failed industrial agriculture model which is polluting our rivers.” . . 

IrrigationNZ counters her arguments:

IrrigationNZ welcomes government funding of $7.85 million for Canterbury irrigation projects that will help lift the water quality of Lake Ellesmere and groundwater in the Hinds area.

The Central Plains Water scheme has been injected with $6.64m to help get its next stages through to construction, and $312,000 has been puttowards a pilot study for aquifer recharge in the Hinds area which aims to restore spring-fed stream flows and alongside address groundwater nitrate issues.

IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis said the Hinds recharge project was particularly exciting because it was the first time techniques commonly used overseas would be used to improve water quality.

“The trial – a first in New Zealand – will use clean Rangitata River water to soak into the aquifer in an area of high nitrate concentrations, diluting the nitrate, whilst also providing better reliability for groundwater takes, and stream flows”, said Curtis “

This alongside the move to Good Management Practice through Audited Farm Environment Plans will allow natural ecosystems to regenerate,” said Curtis. 

Pollution from intensive farming happened over time and it will take time to improve water quality but that’s not an argument to oppose irrigation when better management and independently audited farm environment plans will protect and enhance waterways.

The water will come from the Ashburton District Council’s unused stock water allocation via the Rangitata Diversion Race and Valetta Irrigation Scheme. Groundwater, surface water and climate monitoring will be built into computer models to distinguish the trial effects from other water influences.

“Managed aquifer recharge is used a lot in the United States to replenish aquifers, but is new to New Zealand. This trial is about replenishing aquifers and diluting nitrates. It could be a great tool going forward with excellent environmental outcomes. The success of the trial could lead to it being used in other catchments in New Zealand.”

The project is expected to bring many benefits to the Ashburton community including economic, environment and recreation, said Curtis.

IrrigationNZ also welcomed the announcement by Minister Guy that responsibility for the Government’s irrigation programmes will change in July when Crown Irrigation Investments Limited takes over grants for the development of regional irrigation schemes. This role was previously carried out by the MPI’s Irrigation Acceleration Fund that continues to be involved in supporting early stage strategic water studies and smaller irrigation scheme developments.

Curtis agrees it makes sense to link the Government’s irrigation investment agency more closely to developing schemes, they have much expertise and their help and advice is welcome in setting up the commercial side of community water storage projects as this is one of the biggest hurdles to be overcome. “In the past we have often commented that the two government organisations involved in irrigation should be joined at the hip so this makes much sense,” said Curtis.

Bigger irrigation schemes, particularly those with water storage, are better for the environment than individual farmers pumping underground water.

The bigger schemes use less power and replenish aquifers rather than taking from them.

Of course Greepeace would prefer no irrigation at all and is blind to the economic environmental and social benefits it brings.


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