Rural round-up

February 27, 2020

Water will be currency of 21st century – Todd Muller:

Water is one of our nation’s critical strategic assets, perhaps second only behind our people. Therefore water storage is essential for ensuring we have a thriving primary sector for years to come, writes National’s Agriculture spokesman Todd Muller.

Water will be the currency of success in the next century.

In the 19th century it was coal, in the 20th century it was oil and in my view in the 21st century it is water.

We are a tradeable economy and water is a critical strategic asset in developing our commodities. The ability to store it will be a key infrastructural necessity if we are to leverage the value of water over the next few decades. . .

Wild rabbit enterprises shot down by red tape:

Federated Farmers is dismayed by reports that at least two businesses which process meat from wild rabbits are being strangled by compliance costs.

“It’s tough times on farms at the moment, with rising rabbit numbers in dry conditions.  With all the focus on predator-free and biodiversity, surely we should be working with and encouraging the commercial use of pest species, not making it harder for operators,” Feds Meat & Wool Chairperson Miles Anderson says.

Radio NZ has reported that the owner of a business supplying wild rabbits to high end restaurants, and for pet food, is spending up to 40 hours a week on paperwork, never mind growing MPI audit fees at $176 an hour.  As with another Canterbury-based processor, he told Radio NZ he was thinking of closing down. . .

Dairy returns too tiny for farmers – Hugh Stringleman:

Dairy farmers have many reasons for optimism though three out of four say the returns are not worth the effort, DairyNZ strategy and investment leader Bruce Thorrold says.

Many farmers are asking themselves why they still bother dairying and his task is to help clear the fog and rekindle motivation, he told the DairyNZ Northland farmers forum.

Farmers are worried about environmental, banking, farm value, alternative food, drought and disease pressures. . .

Weevil win – we knocked the bastard off – Karen WIlliams:

Hats off to you, Wairarapa.  In the words of another Kiwi who achieved a world-first, “we knocked the bastard off”.

Okay, eradicating the region’s pea weevil incursion isn’t as grand as Ed Hillary and Tensing Norgay climbing Everest but in terms of biosecurity, and protecting an industry that earns us $50 million in domestic sales and $84 million in exports, it is a big deal.  It’s also another bug we don’t have to spray for.

As far as we know, no other country has successfully combatted this pest after an incursion.

It’s taken a region-wide and government agency effort to get where we are – that’s growers/farmers, home gardeners, Federated Farmers, local councils, Greater Wellington, local MPs, MPI, Biosecurity NZ, the Foundation for Arable Research, Assure Quality…a big thank-you to you all for your perseverance, flexibility and understanding. . .

New app to help hunters track tahr during culling –

A long-term plan is being developed to control Himalayan tahr in the South Island.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) said the large goat-like animals, introduced to New Zealand during the early days of European settlement, posed a threat to the country’s native alpine plants.

To combat the loss of native vegetation, DOC said it had been working with ecological experts to start a new monitoring system.

The long-term control plan is led by DOC and Ngāi Tahu. . . 

Beef bans based on ‘popular opinion, not facts’, Harper Adams says:

Harper Adams University has said it will never ban beef from its campus menus as it criticises other institutions for their ‘knee-jerk reactions’ to the climate crisis.

In recent years, and even more so in recent months, several UK universities have attracted significant media attention for voting motions to ban beef.

Earlier this month, thousands of students at Edinburgh University rejected proposals to ban the meat in all student union run outlets. . .

 


Rural round-up

June 24, 2018

Joint operation to check Nait compliance – Sally Rae:

Knowledge of the National Animal Identification and Tracing (Nait) system has increased in the wake of the Mycoplasma bovis response but some farmers are continuing to break the rules.

In a statement yesterday, compliance investigations manager Gary Orr said the Ministry for Primary Industries and Nait Ltd had been running joint operations around the country to check compliance with Nait requirements.

The disease response had highlighted the importance of tracing animal movements and having complete and accurate information available. It was critical all farmers complied with Nait and tracked all animal movements on and off their farms and those who weren’t were putting the rest of the industry in jeopardy, Mr Orr said. . . 

Manuka protection needs cash – Richard Rennie:

Manuka Honey Appellation Society members are optimistic money will be forthcoming for a bid to protect the manuka honey brand as a trade mark and ultimately as a Geographical Indication (GI).

A high-level conference on manuka’s status earlier this month was met with a largely positive reception from Government officials, society spokesman John Rawcliffe said.

Rawcliffe and others in the industry hope a cash injection to protect the brand for New Zealanders will soon be forthcoming.

“So far, as an industry group, we have invested $1 million into manuka honey for its protection and we have already seen the landmark decision made in the United Kingdom where their Trade Registry has accepted the filing of the term manuka as a certification mark,” Rawcliffe said. . . 

Farming at the southernmost point of NZ -Brittany Pickett:

Dot and Colin McDonald are farming at the end of the world.

Their 534 hectare Haldane farm Stonewood is only a skip away from Slope Point, the southernmost point in the South Island, making the couple among the southernmost farmers in the world.

They bought the west side of Stonewood in 2003, before buying the east side in 2005.

“We had to completely do it over,” Dot said.

Both properties were run-down, with extensive development needed. The one small woolshed was run by a generator, and other than that there were no buildings and almost non-existent fencing throughout the property. . .

Catch contest win a distraction – Neal Wallace:

Mairi Whittle is having quite a year. Last week she won the Fieldays Rural Catch competition and if that isn’t enough at the end of July she takes over her family’s Taihape sheep and beef farm. She spoke to Neal Wallace.

It is proving to be a busy few weeks for Mairi Whittle.

Having won the Golden Gumboot at the Fieldays Rural Catch Competition earlier this month she becomes the fourth generation of her family to run the 6000 stock unit, Makatote Station north east of Taihape at the end of July.

A former rural banker, Whittle, 28, and her family have been working on a succession plan, A former rural banker, Whittle, 28, and her family have been working on a succession plan, allowing her parents Jim and Maggie to retire from the hill-country sheep and beef farm. . .

 Irrigation helps out with sheep production, during dry times

While Walandi Farms White Suffolk and Poll Dorset stud was founded in 2007, moving to a new property has seen stud principals Ash and Janine Murphy seek new markets.

“We’ve moved to a new area and we thought we would open our gates to get some interest from people, where we are now,” Mr Murphy said.

Operating at Kotta, on the Echuca-Mitiamo road, Victoria, the Murphys were former dairy farmers. . .

Could agricultural robots replace glysophate

Glyphosate is a herbicide that’s used to kill undesired plants. Pulling up plants, or “weeding,” does the same thing without chemicals, but it’s very labor-intensive. What if tireless robots could weed fields cheaply?

Professor Simon Blackmore, head of robotic agriculture at the UK’s National Centre for Precision Farming at Harper Adams University in England, says that increasingly sensitive and precise sensors and instruments are being developed that can measure the “complex nature of the growing environment” on every square meter of farmland — the soil and water conditions; the presence of pests and diseases; the location of weeds, and the size of crop plants.

In addition to measuring the state of a crop, robots will be able to actively improve growing conditions, not least by getting rid of weeds. . .


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