DOC approves land swap for Ruataniwha

05/10/2015

The Department of Conservation has approved a land swap which is necessary if the Ruataniwha irrigation scheme is to go ahead:

An application by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company to exchange land required for the Ruataniwha water storage scheme has been approved by DOC Director General Lou Sanson.

Lou Sanson says he has approved the land exchange because it will mean a net gain for conservation.

The decision means that the Department of Conservation will receive approximately 170 hectares of private land containing beech forest and regenerating native bush, in return for 22 hectares of the Ruahine Forest Park.

“The public will gain three times the area of black beech forest under this proposal, plus the new land will extend and complement the adjacent Gwavas Conservation Area,” he says.

The 170 hectare exchange block also includes two additional wetland sites, and is promising habitat for skinks and geckos, he says.

“On the other hand, the 22 hectares to be removed from the Ruahine Forest Park has been heavily logged in the past, is partly infested with weeds such as willow and Darwin’s barberry and contains a former house site,” Lou Sanson says.

Mr Sanson says the decision follows a thorough and open public process and the careful assessment of the ecological values of both sites.

The Director General has decided to revoke the protected status of the 22 hectares of Ruahine Forest Park to enable the exchange to take place.

Under the Conservation Act, proposed land exchanges must result in an overall conservation gain for public conservation land and promote the purposes of the Act.

“I believe this land exchange well and truly meets that test,” he says.

Lou Sanson says the land exchange is conditional on the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company undertaking extra conservation programmes to help eradicate wilding pines from the exchange land and to restore whio/blue duck habitat.

The exchange is also conditional on the Ruataniwha water storage scheme going ahead.

In a separate decision, the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company will be required to trap and transfer native fish species present at the dam site.

Full details of the decision are here.

The El Niño forecast predicts drought for much of the east coasts of both the North and South Islands this summer.

North Otago has had less than half its annual rainfall and the drought which struck North Canterbury last year still hasn’t broken.

Hawkes Bay had a deluge a couple of weeks ago but if the forecast is right, it won’t get much more this summer.

Any farmers on dry land who could afford to take up irrigation and haven’t yet, need to think of the next generation.

As my farmer told a meeting on the scheme when we were in Hawkes Bay a couple of years ago – think ahead fifty years. Do you want your grandchildren thanking you, or calling you silly old Bs for passing up the opportunity to drought-proof your farms.


Rural round-up

13/03/2014

Will Lincoln survive? – Tony Chaston:

Lincoln University is awash in rumour as it undergoes a major restructure of it’s workforce in a bid to survive.

There are reports it is financially stretched.

Earthquake payments have yet to be assigned even though Canterbury University has received theirs and it was recently revealed Lincoln has lost its bid for major funding for its Centre of Research Excellence group.

Voluntary redundancies are being proposed and many long-term staff fear the next step will be forced redundancies.

Staff morale is said to be low and the discord between the academics and management is growing as the University searches for a new direction. . .

Succession a key focus of young farmers’ business management program in Year of the Family Farm:

With 2014 the International Year of the Family Farm, the pressing issue of farm succession will be a key focus of this year’s Rabobank Farm Managers Program.

The program – which is designed to strengthen the operational and strategic skills of tomorrow’s farm leaders – will cover succession planning for farm businesses, along with a range of topics including leadership, business planning and financial and economic management.

Applications are now open for the 2014 Farm Managers Program, which will be held in Victoria in June. . .

Pakeha farmer doing it for whanau:

A Pakeha farmer who manages two Maori-owned farms with his Maori whanau near Whakatane is encouraging other farmers to form partnerships with Maori Land Trusts.

Peter Livingston is the farm advisor for both the Putauaki Trust’s Himiona Farm and Ngati Awa Farm Limited’s Ngakauroa Farm.

The two farms are finalists in this year’s Ahuwhenua Awards celebrating Maori farming excellence. . .

Drones Could Revolutionize Agriculture, Farmers Say – Gosia Wozniacka:

Idaho farmer Robert Blair isn’t waiting around for federal aviation officials to work out rules for drones. He and a friend built their own, outfitting it with cameras and using it to monitor his 1,500 acres.

Under 10 pounds and 5 feet long nose to tail, the aircraft is the size of a turkey and Blair uses it to get a birds-eye view of his cows and fields of wheat, peas, barley and alfalfa.

“It’s a great tool to collect information to make better decisions, and we’re just scratching the surface of what it can do for farmers,” said Blair, who lives in Kendrick, Idaho, roughly 275 miles north of Boise.

While Americans are abuzz about Amazon’s plans to use self-guided drones to deliver packages, most future unmanned aircraft may operate far from the nation’s large population centers.

Experts point to agriculture as the most promising commercial market for drones because the technology is a perfect fit for large-scale farms and vast rural areas where privacy and safety issues are less of a concern. . . .

Investment opportunity in Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme;

Qualified Hawke’s Bay investors are being given the opportunity to express their interest in investing in the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company Ltd (HBRIC Ltd) has released a Preliminary Information Memorandum (PIM) calling for expressions of interest from qualified locals interested in a potential investment in the water storage scheme.

Interested parties are not being asked for money now. They have until the end of April to indicate their interest in the proposal, and will then be given detailed information on the investment opportunity via an Information Memorandum which will include modeled cashflows and further specific information that is currently commercially sensitive. The Information Memorandum is due for release in May 2014. . . .

NZ develops world-first solution to improve ATV use:

Trial underway at Landcorp with Blue Wing Honda and Blackhawk Tracking Systems

Blue Wing Honda have engaged Blackhawk Tracking Systems to develop a world-first solution to help improve ATV safety with a focus on driver behaviour and communication.

Called Farm Angel, the Blackhawk technology is being trialled by Landcorp Farming Ltd, which is committed to improving safety on farms. Landcorp will trial the equipment on around 60 ATV and Side by Side vehicles.

“This is a unique solution which will enable rider/driver behaviour to be monitored, modified and improved” says Blue Wing Honda General Manager Alan Petrie. “The aim is to save lives before they need to be saved, but should an accident unfortunately occur, Farm Angel will also assist in the recovery of seriously injured or trapped riders.

“We have been working with Blackhawk for some time to create the right system that not only helps the ATV rider get out of trouble quickly by sending an immediate automated alert to a first response Call Centre, but also improves on-farm communication while giving peace of mind to farmers, their employees and their families.” . . .

New Zealand wine Trust funds valuable research:

The Cresswell Jackson New Zealand Wine Trust has awarded its first research grant.

Under the broad objective of enhancing the success of the New Zealand wine industry, the Trust awarded the grant to scientist Dr Wendy Parr of Lincoln University. The study is in collaboration with Adelaide-based Phil Reedman MW, the University of Burgundy in France as well as London University and Oxford University in the UK.

The overall goal of the project is to provide sound, scientifically-based information concerning specific aspects of wine tasting and wine judging.

The study aims to investigate the influence of contextual variables on qualitative and quantitative aspects of sensory evaluations by testing whether wines are perceived as tasting ‘different’ under particular conditions. . .

Rockburn Wines Shine in China’s Biggest and Most Prestigious Wine and Spirits Competition:

Rockburn Wines has just been awarded an impressive four Double Gold CWSA Best Value medals at the China Wine and Spirits Awards Best Value 2014.

Double Gold Medals were handed out to Rockburn’s 2012 Pinot Noir, 2013 Pinot Gris, 2010 Chardonnay and 2013 Devil’s Staircase Pinot Gris in the blind tasting alongside the most famous brands in the world including 4,350 wines and spirits from 35 countries. The Rockburn 2009 Riesling also received a Gold Medal.

Having won a Double Gold for their 2009 Chardonnay in last year’s competition, Rockburn are once again honoured to add these latest accolades from a competition which is “the ultimate authority for wines and spirits in Hong Kong and China.” . . .


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