Rural round-up

May 22, 2017

Rain severely cuts crop planting – Annette Scott:

Waterlogged South Canterbury farmland will lie idle over winter as farmers wait for spring opportunities to plant crops.

Twice the normal rainfall in March followed by four times the normal rainfall in April left farmers battling with sodden ground and unable to meet autumn planting commitments.

South Canterbury Federated Farmers arable industry chairman Michael Porter said to date only about 50% of farmers had managed to get the crops they planned into the ground. . . 

Report shows plenty to work on – Hugh Stringleman:

Lack of progress on mitigating nitrogen losses from dairy farms was evident in an otherwise mainly positive scorecard for the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord (SD:WA) in year three.

The national average nitrogen leaching loss in 2015-16 was 39kg/ha a year — the same as the year before.

N-loss calculations in Canterbury and Otago (64 and 39 respectively) revealed higher figures than the rolling average of the two previous years of accord measurements (50 and 33).

This was because irrigation effects were included for the first time after a change in the Overseer computer model used to generate the leaching loss numbers. . . 

Dairy farm water report factual, independently audited:

Kiwis can be confident that dairy farmers are ‘walking their environmental talk’, says the chair of the Dairy Environment Leaders’ Group, Alister Body.

Commenting on the latest Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord report, Mr Body says the work being carried out by farmers to help achieve swimmable rural waterways is each year independently audited by Telarc SAI.

The Crown Entity subsidiary is the leading certifier of quality, environmental, food, and occupational health and safety management systems. . . 

Fairton closure unfortunate but inevitable – Allan Barber:

Silver Fern Farms decision to close its Fairton plant did not have much to do with Shanghai Maling’s investment, but was only a matter of time. Even the workforce had apparently come to accept the inevitable after seeing lamb numbers through the plant decline sharply from more than 1 million in 2010 to less than 500,000 last season and 325,000 in the latest six months.

This demonstrated graphically the unsustainability of keeping the facility open when the company’s modernised multi species operation at Pareora is only an hour down the road. In its notice of proposal to close, subject to a two week consultation period, SFF cited declining sheep numbers in the surrounding catchment area as a result of land use change to more profitable forms of agriculture. However not surprisingly the company didn’t mention its substantial loss of market share at the same time, 14% share loss over a six year spell since 2010. . . 

North Canterbury cattle stud makes it through drought and out the other side – Pat Deavoll:

Three years of drought and an earthquake that destroyed three farm buildings and badly damaged another has failed to deter Kaiwara Angus Stud of Culverden, in north Canterbury, from preparing for its annual bull sale in a month’s time.

Stud owner George Johns is in the process of producing the catalogue. “You think you have taken great photos through the year, but where are they when you need them,” he says with a laugh.

The stud was formed in 1971 by George’s father Bruce Johns. At the time the family farmed a property in Waiau but moved to Culverden and Kaiwara Farm 25 years ago. . . 

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement Ministerial Statement:

Ministers and Vice Ministers from Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore and Viet Nam met today to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the margins of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministers Responsible for Trade.

The Ministers reaffirmed the balanced outcome and the strategic and economic significance of the TPP highlighting its principles and high standards as a way to promote regional economic integration, contribute positively to the economic growth prospects of its member countries, and create new opportunities for workers, families, farmers, businesses and consumers. . . 

Get to the heart of decision making:

Heartland Bank and NZX subsidiary AgriHQ have launched a free online livestock finisher tool, AgriHQ Finisher, to assist sheep and beef farmers to calculate the potential trading margin after finishing any livestock they are considering buying.

Heartland Bank’s head of rural, Ben Russell, said the old adage “information is power” is particularly true in this instance.

“With store livestock prices at historically high levels, the arrival of AgriHQ Finisher couldn’t be better timed. . . 

The strange sheep that baffled scientists – Eloise Gibson:

When a farmer in Otago, New Zealand, saw a bizarre-looking lamb in his flock, he first assumed a wild goat had snuck in and impregnated one of his ewes. The newborn had a lamb-shaped body yet was coated with straight, lustrous wool, more like the hair of an angora goat than a typical sheep.

News of the “geep” (or sheep-goat hybrid) soon reached the local papers but, when scientists saw photos, they immediately suspected the baby animal was something else. For decades they had been hoping to study a rare woolly mutant called a “Felting Lustre” mutant: a sheep which has straight, fine wool instead of the usual crimped stuff.

“You can see it when the lambs are born, they have a different sheen,” says Jeff Plowman, a wool researcher at New Zealand’s AgResearch science company. “It doesn’t have a dull look, it’s shiny and bright.”. . 

 


Rural round-up

August 17, 2016

Canterbury sheep sales dry up in drought – Thomas Mead and Annabelle Tukia:

Canterbury livestock sales are starting to feel the impact of the region’s long-running drought, with stock numbers plummeting and prices on the rise.

PGG Wrightson auctioneer Nic Denton says after two dry seasons, many locals have already destocked due to a lack of feed. It was “particularly quiet” with stock numbers down by around 50 percent.

“There’s been some very tough decisions made in north Canterbury with destocking, so obviously it’s a flow-on effect from that,” he says.

“Most of our clients in north Canterbury are probably seeing two-thirds of what they usually carry in normal season.” . . .

Flaxbourne Community Irrigation Scheme considers the benefit of smaller dams – Mike Watson:

A proposed multi-million dollar rural irrigation scheme in Marlborough may use several smaller dams rather than one large dam, supporters of the scheme say.

Cost assessments of the Flaxbourne Community Irrigation Scheme show options available including extracting water from nearby rivers, building more than one dam site for storage, and altering pipe size and pipeline routes.

Ward farmer Kevin Loe said the multiple dam option was being considered by supporters of the scheme as a way to stage the timing of costs to better fit with uptake demand. . . 

Trout disappear from didymo-affected rivers – Hamish Clark:

Trout numbers in the South Island are under threat from the invasive freshwater algae didymo, a new study has found.

University of Canterbury researcher Professor Jon Harding found trout, previously in 20 South Island rivers, are now absent in 60 percent of the rivers with a high didymo biomass.

“The results of our study are of particular concern. We have assumed for some time that didymo will have an impact on fish, but these results show both native fish and introduced sports fish are all being affected by didymo,” Prof Harding says. . . 

Heartland lessens dairy risk – Alan Williams:

Growth in lending has slightly lowered Heartland Bank’s relative exposure to dairy farm debt.  

The dairy sector made up 7% of all lending on the June 30 full-year balance date, compared to 8% on December 31.  

The net group loan book (receivables) on June 30 was $3.21 billion, up $252 million or 9% on a year earlier. . . 

The big question unasked – Craig Wiggins:

The rain and snow turned up on cue with the calves hitting the ground and the banks putting the brakes on spending.  

In some cases paying the necessary outgoings such as winter grazing and feed expenses is not possible until the income starts to filter through so many a farmer, dairy or sheep, will ask why we do what we do.  

This time of year is hard enough to get right without the external pressures over which our control is minimal but the effect has consequences beyond our gate as the flow of revenue slows to a trickle. . . 

Landmark spins wool deal – Annabelle Beale:

AUSTRALIA’S biggest farm services business Landmark is expanding its wool operations while denying speculation a corporate take-over of the company is being negotiated. 

Following 12 months of negotiations, Landmark has purchased the remaining 50 per cent shares in Victoria’s Arcadian Wool brokering company this month, three years after Landmark upped the stake in the company from its founding 40pc in 1985 to nearly 50pc in 2013.

The sale has increased Landmark’s show floor representation by 4.3 per cent to 19pc of the wool traded at Melbourne, including the 36,000 bales sold by Arcadian last year and estimated 120,000 sold by Landmark. . . 

Coolalee experiment pays dividends for Dubbo lamb breeders – Mark Griggs:

AN EXPERIMENT several years ago using Coolalee rams over young first-cross ewes to overcome lambing difficulty from the ewes joining to high indexed Poll Dorsets has paid off so well for Dubbo region second-cross prime lamb breeders, Doug and Robin Godwin, they have continued the practice.  

Further, they are now considering going down the path of maintaining Coolalee/Merino ewe lambs as replacements and joining them back to Coolalees.  “If you do that you are halfway towards a self-replacing flock,” Mr Godwin said. . .

A&P Society elects president :

Wanaka helicopter pilot and fencer Doug Stalker has been elected president of the Upper Clutha A&P Society.

He is joined by Grant Ruddenklau as the new senior vice-president and Mike Scurr as junior vice-president.

Mr Stalker, who was voted president at the society’s annual meeting last week, replaces Tarras farmer Robbie Gibson, who has held the role for the past two years.

Preparations are well under way for the 80th annual show, which will be held on March 10 and 11 next year. . . 

 Mark McHardy wins Cooperative Leader of the Year Award:

Cooperative Business New Zealand has announced Farmlands Fuel General Manager, Mark McHardy, as the winner of the Cooperative Leader of the Year Award for 2015/16.

The award honours an individual who has shown significant co-operative leadership, commitment and support of well recognised and accepted co-operative principles. They also need to display vision and courage for the co-operative model, along with demonstrate successful initiatives that have benefited their co-operative or the co-operative sector.

Cooperative Business New Zealand CEO,  says that Mark was the stand out nominee for this award. . . 


Rural round-up

June 8, 2016

 –  Allan Barber:

Introduction

I gave a presentation recently to a Beef + Lamb Field Day about the meat industry. I briefly reviewed the history of the industry, the impact of certain key events and the influence of politics leading up to the 1985 election. I then gave an appraisal of the present covering the last 30 years, post subsidies, when the sector had to modernise fast; and lastly I took a punt on predicting what might happen in the foreseeable future and how farmers and meat companies might have to adapt to survive and flourish.

For the purpose of presenting these thoughts to interested readers I have divided the presentation into three parts which will be published separately. The first part is a review of the first 100 years and how this period determined the structure of the industry. . .

 – Allan Barber:

Present

Today’s industry has many of the same characteristics as the mid 1980s, but a number of things have changed, mostly for the better.

In my opinion all parts of the meat industry (farmers, processors and exporters) have done a very good job of producing, processing and selling a vast range of products into a big range of markets. Since deregulation and subsidy removal, the sector has had to cope with a significant change in market demand while modernising farming methods and processing plants, achieving functional industrial relations and employment policies, developing more sophisticated products, improving packaging and coping with ever more stringent health and safety, hygiene and biosecurity compliance requirements. . . 

Measuring up – Gerard Hall :

Information is king and it’s turning grass and forages into dollars on Barnhill, an undeveloped hill block in Southland. Gerard Hall reports.

 The costs and benefits of growing feed on a northern Southland farm have come under close scrutiny.  

The decision to invest in pasture cages, monthly cuts and charting the results was an easy one for Guy and Vicki Goodeve who manage Barnhill, a 1019ha undeveloped hill block near Lumsden in Southland.  

Twelve homemade, one-square-metre cages range across six sites specifically chosen to accurately represent the three soil types, aspects (sun and shade), and altitudes on the farm. Each site is nine-metres square and includes a caged control area. The cages were all welded and netted for $1200. Farmer Glen McPhail is contracted to do the pasture cuts using a lawnmower. . . 

Heartland Bank warns dairy farm values could fall 40 percent from peak – Edwin Mitson:

Heartland Bank, the Auckland-based lender, has told investors it is monitoring the dairy sector “with close attention” at a presentation and has warned farm values could fall 40 percent from peak to trough if the downturn continues or worsens beyond current expectations.

Exposure to dairy farmers makes up 8 percent of its total lending book and 17 percent of its net receivables, which is the total money owed to the bank by customers minus amounts the bank accepts will never be repaid and has written off. . . 

NZ and EU agricultural partnership in Vanuatu:

Foreign Minister Murray McCully has announced a new partnership between the European Union, New Zealand and the Government of Vanuatu, aimed supporting sustainable agricultural development.

“New Zealand and the EU have a strong track record of working together with Pacific Governments to deliver development gains,” Mr McCully says.

“The Partnership we have entered into today will see the EU and New Zealand providing support to Vanuatu’s agricultural sector, and it is a model for further cooperation between the EU and New Zealand in the region. . . 

Forestry contractors focused on new safety laws:

Leading forestry contractors are moving fast to ensure they understand and implement systems for meeting new health and safety laws brought in last month. Under the guidance of their industry association – the Forest Industry Contractors Association (FICA) – forest contractors are being encouraged to attend special workshops on the new legislation around health and safety in forestry workplaces. They have responded in greater numbers than ever before.

Ross Davis, President of FICA, says has they’ve seen a surge in contractor numbers attending new health and safety legislation workshops in Gisborne and Tokoroa. More are expected when the series of regional workshops goes to Balclutha on 16 June and up to Whangarei on 14 July. Contractors are turning out in droves for these events. . . 

5 Truths Every Farmer Needs to Speak – Uptown Farms:

A lot of what is happening in our world of farming is being driven by marketing that happens well after food leaves the farm. Labels are applied, misleading ads are run, misconceptions are often conveniently left to linger in our consumers’ minds.

The marketing done by the food industry is often not concerned with the facts and the common practice now seems to be to repeat these lies until they become truth by perception.

This puts farmers in a unique position. We can make the choice to stand up for fact and reason and sell our product based on its true qualities. . . 

The Search For Tastier Supermarket Tomatoes: A Tale In 3 Acts  – Daniel Charles:

One of my fondest childhood memories is of eating tomatoes. We picked them in the garden and ate them in sandwiches, sitting on a picnic table under the trees outside our house. That juicy, acidic taste is forever lodged in the pleasure centers of my brain.

For anyone with similar memories, supermarket tomatoes are bound to disappoint. Indeed, the classic supermarket tomato — hard, tasteless, sometimes mealy — has inspired countless bitter complaints.

Take a closer look at the tomato display in your local grocery store, though, and you’ll notice some big changes. . . 

Best snow in years – Mt Hutt to open with all lifts:

Canterbury’s Mt Hutt ski area is revelling in the white stuff – with a one-metre pre-season snow base being described as “the best in years”.

Two snowstorms in the past four days have delivered “wall-to-wall” snow across the mountain, leading ski area manager James McKenzie to declare that Mt Hutt is expected to open with all lifts operating on opening day (Friday June 10).

“A one-metre snow base is simply stunning and the best we’ve had pre-season since 2011,” he says.

“We’re so far ahead of where we usually are at this stage of the season, we’re planning to open with all lifts operating including the Triple Chair. . . 

Onus on Spreadmark companies to ensure vehicle certificates are valid:

The Fertiliser Quality Council (FQC) is urging all spreading companies registered with Spreadmark – the industry guarantee programme – to check their vehicle certification status. The call from the Council follows an alert from auditors that companies registered with the Spreadmark scheme may, unknowingly, have trucks or aircraft with expired certificates.

Anders Crofoot, FQC Chairman, says the voluntary nature of the Spreadmark scheme means that companies may not necessarily receive an automatic test reminder and may not discover their vehicle certification is out of date until on or after it expires. . . 


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