Rural round-up

April 30, 2019

Rural-urban divide highlighted in major new study on rural communities

New research from a major study looking at resilience in New Zealand rural communities has highlighted a disconnect between urban and rural areas.

Heartland Strong is anchored by a ten-year study led by AgResearch senior social scientist Dr Margaret Brown and involving a team from PricewaterhouseCoopers New Zealand.

It looked at levels of resilience in rural communities, and what that meant for their future.

The book’s team of 14 writers found great examples of resilience and ways in which it was built by different communities.

However the research also found that New Zealand has a disconnect between urban and rural. . .

Is reducing cow numbers the answer? – Peter Burke:

he argument over whether New Zealand has too many cows is a regional issue, not a national issue, according to Ministry of Primary Industries’ chief science advisor, John Roche.

Speaking to Dairy News at the recent Agricultural Climate Change conference in Palmerston North, Roche stated that it’s too emotive to talk in general terms of there being too many cows in NZ. He says all regions are different and it’s a case of decisions being made at that level rather than taking the blanket view that NZ has more cows than it can effectively run.

But Roche says that he has concern about the cost of marginal milk. . . 

Does NZ win or lose as world agriculture gets remade for a planet of 10b? – John McCrone:

Scary things are coming down the road for New Zealand’s food industry. Like Glyph “molecular” whiskey.

Raymond McCauley, chair of biotechnology at Silicon Valley’s Singularity University, already has his audience at Grow 2019 – a ministry-backed futurist conference – gripped by what is brewing elsewhere.

World agriculture is about to be remade, he warns. It is the Green Revolution 2.0 – cracking the problem of how to feed a planet that is going to be home to about 10 billion people by 2050 without completely trashing it in the process. . . 

Doing more with our milk – Hugh Stringleman:

In the never-ending debate about Fonterra’s follies and future, adding value is the constant theme.

The co-operative claims it now adds value (over the prices of standard dairy commodities) to 45% of external sales by volume, thus earning more than half of total revenue from such goods.

The added-value split is about one quarter each in consumer-ready products and food service products and half in advanced ingredients, which have added functionalities.

The external sales volume is more than 22 billion litres . . 

Still on the go with harness horses at 87 – Sally Rae:

Myrtle McCarthy describes herself as “a tiny cog” in the harness racing industry.

Yet the 87-year-old North Otago standardbred breeder is nothing short of remarkable as she continues a multi-generational family involvement.

Today, Mrs McCarthy will offer two yearling fillies at the All Aged Sale in Christchurch.

She has been breeding horses for about 40 years, since her father gave her a mare called Gypsys Chance.

The Dalgety name is synonymous with harness racing; her late father James (Jim) Dalgety operated the Belmedia stud near Kakanui and had many good horses. . . 

Graduation a celebration of achievement:

Honorary doctorates for Synlait co-founder John Penno and naturalist Hugh Wilson will be among nearly 600 awards presented at the 2019 Lincoln University Graduation on May 3.

The ceremonies will also feature posthumous awards to two victims of the Christchurch terror attacks, as well as a student who died in an accident last year.

Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bruce McKenzie said the graduation was a celebration of students’ hard work and achievements, and that included the posthumous awards.

“This occasion, while recognising the tragic circumstances surrounding the loss of those graduates is also about acknowledging their efforts and their time here, as well as the students who were their peers.” . . 


Rural round-up

December 7, 2018

Maize crops sick, seeds failing:

 A major seed supplier is urgently investigating reports from farmers that some of their maize crops aren’t growing properly.

Genetic Technologies Limited is the New Zealand producer and distributor of the Pioneer seeds brand and sells more than 20 hybrid maize varieties.

The crop is grown in New Zealand for the production of animal feed, either in the form of grain maize or as maize silage.

This season some farmers say up to 30 percent of their maize seeds from Pioneer have failed and other seeds that have struck are looking sick.

A tale of two milk companies – one of them is being suckled by taxpayers – Point of Order:

The contrasting fortunes of Synlait Milk and Westland Milk Products were thrown into sharp relief last week. On the one hand Synlait won applause at its annual meeting from shareholders, impressed by its performance in virtually doubling profit ($74.6m against $39.4m) in its tenth year of operations. On the other hand Westland had the begging bowl out for a Provincial Growth Fund loan of $9.9m which will help the co-op in funding a $22m manufacturing plant aimed at converting milk to higher-value products.

The Westland dairy exporter, discussing a capital restructure in its 2018 annual report, said it had relatively high debt and limited financial flexibility. . . 

Sheep needed on hill country – Alan Williams:

Waikato farmer Alastair Reeves has taken umbrage at the Productivity Commission’s suggestion sheep should be cast aside to make way for trees. He reckons sheep have a great future if they are not threatened by people making decisions in isolation and ignoring the ramifications of being wrong. He’s even got a plan for wool involving the Duchess of Sussex, aka Meghan Markle.

Sheep should be at the forefront of sustainable farming on hill country rather than being tossed aside for massive tree-planting programmes, Waikato hill farmer Alastair Reeves says.

It is a disgrace for the Productivity Commission to suggest up to 2.8 million hectares of new forestry be planted as a means of achieving a low carbon-emissions economy.  . . 

Water storage essential for future resilience – as experts cite drought as a major risk to NZ:

IrrigationNZ says a recent expert discussion document on drought and climate change highlights that future national planning to improve water storage and look at a range of options to mitigate the effects of the more severe droughts forecast is urgently needed.

“More frequent droughts and more variable rainfall will affect both urban and rural communities and will mean that we will need to rethink how we manage water in the future.
For example with less rainfall forecast over summer in western areas of New Zealand, there will be more demand for water storage from both councils and farmers to provide a reliable water supply,” says IrrigationNZ Chief Executive Andrew Curtis. . . 

Elitism of another kind – Clive Bibby:

I grew up on a farm just outside the small Central Hawkes Bay town of Waipawa.

My forebears had owned sizeable tracts of farming land that had been hacked out of the bush and scrub under the Ruahine Ranges.

I am very proud to be a descendant of such pioneering folk who understood what it means to build a business from nothing and see it grow into something that makes a reasonable contribution to the local economy. They also built the first trading general store in CHB. The building still stands.

It is perhaps ironic that much of the farm land in question was in the near vicinity of the catchment area for the now defunct Ruataniwha Fresh Water Dam proposal. . . 

New tool helps farmers gauge carbon footprint:

Meridian Energy and Westpac NZ are proud to support a new carbon calculator that gives farmers a guide to the size of their carbon footprint

The tool has been developed by Lincoln University’s Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit (AERU) and Agrilink NZ, with financial assistance from Meridian Energy and Westpac NZ.

It is available at http://www.lincoln.ac.nz/carboncalculator. . . 

Horticulture growth retains momentum:

Horticulture growth retained momentum with a seven percent growth in export earnings since 2016, according to an updated report, with tariffs on exported produce down by 12 percent since 2012.

The New Zealand Horticulture Export Authority (HEA) and Horticulture New Zealand commission the report New Zealand Horticulture – Barriers to Our Export Trade every two years, with funding support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, NZ Fruitgrowers Charitable Trust, and industry. . . 

International Boma NZ summit to help Aotearoa’s food:

A future-thinking agriculture summit will bring together global and local experts on future farming trends, exponential change, and new business models and product pathways. The summit, called Grow 2019, is designed to help Aotearoa’s food and fibre sector be more innovative, collaborative, sustainable and profitable now and into the future.

Organiser Kaila Colbin says the two-day summit is an opportunity to learn about the future trends that are impacting the agriculture sector, and what to do about them, in a practical way, from people on the ground. Grow 2019 will also connect groups of like-minded individuals and organisations so that together we can understand, adapt and grow in a future that looks nothing like today. . . 


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