Rural round-up

March 26, 2018

Expatriate banking on new future for Twizel – Sally Rae:

People don’t realise what is going on in Twizel.

That’s the belief of Chris White, a Dallas-domiciled Kiwi with a passion for the former hydro town. In fact, he describes it as genuinely being a “hidden gem”.

The Mackenzie town has left behind the hydro days, when it was constructed as the temporary base for the Upper Waitaki Power Development, with new housing springing up all over the place and people falling for its charms.

“I’m a little bit sick of it being known as a dam town now. It’s moved on. You want to see the people that are holidaying here. There’s a real underbelly … of really smart intellect and talent moving in here and holidaying here. People want to get out of the rat race,” he said. . .

Horticulture growth predictions and constraints – Mike Chapman:

This week the Ministry for Primary Industries released its growth predictions. Modest growth is predicted for horticulture (including wine), with kiwifruit and apples predicted to be growth leaders. This comes after two years of exceptional growth: 10% in 2015, and 19.5% in 2016. The Ministry’s predictions may be considered by some in the industry as conservative, due to plantings around the country both underway and planned, and not only with kiwifruit and apples.

The Ministry is doubtless looking at what constrains growth. In the last and current seasons, the cold and wet was followed by hot and dry, in turn followed by heavy rain from cyclones, has hindered production across the country, particularly in the North Island and the top of the South Island. Productivity has been significantly down, and this has been seen by consumers in the increased price for some vegetables due to short supply. Although there appears to be more of these extreme climatic episodes affecting production, the last year and a half has been particularly difficult. A return to more normal weather patterns will see a return to more normal production levels, and higher levels of growth. . .

Fresh NZ milk flies to China – Sudesh Kissun:

Fresh milk produced in New Zealand is now available for the first time on supermarket shelves in Shanghai.

The 1L product is available at 18 Alibaba’s Hema Fresh supermarkets, alongside Fonterra’s fresh milk produced from its China farms.

The milk is mostly sourced from Theland’s Tahi Farms – formerly Crafar Farms – and processed by Green Valley Dairy in South Auckland. . . 

A is for Auckland A is for agri :

Auckland isn’t the first word that usually springs to mind when discussing the future of farming in New Zealand. It’s the city of sails, motorways and high rises, after all.

But our biggest city holds the key to the Government’s goal of doubling primary industry exports in real terms from $32 billion in 2012 to $64 billion by 2025.

To achieve this ambitious goal people are the key – not just to expand the workforce of our primary industries, but to replace retiring baby boomers. . .

University of Southern Queensland shows benefits of digital connectivity for remote and rural communities – Sharon O’Keeffe:

DIGITAL connectivity improves your quality of life. Research conducted by the University of Southern Queensland showed a digital connection is increasingly crucial to service delivery, economic development and quality life in remote and rural Australia.

This supports research conducted by the Australian Farm Institute, which indicated a 25-per-cent increase in the gross productivity of farming outputs could be achieved through the adoption of digital technologies.

The USQ research follows a 2015 landmark agreement, where the Barcoo and Diamantina Shires successfully lobbied to have fibre optic cable and mobile coverage connected to the remote communities of Birdsville, Bedourie, Jundah, Stonehenge and Windorah. . . 

Wheat in heat: the ‘crazy idea’ that could combat food insecurity – Mark HIllsdon:

Durum wheat varieties can withstand 40C heat along the Senegal River basin, and could produce 600,000 tonnes of food.

In the northern Senegalese village of Ndiayene Pendao, close to the border with Mauritania, Fatouma Sow is pulling weeds. Her team of female farmers tread carefully among the tall, ripening plants as they prepare to harvest the country’s first ever crop of durum wheat.

They had grown onions and tomatoes on the one-hectare plot (2.47 acres), Sow explains, but the crops took too long to grow and disrupted the essential rice growing season. Now the wheat offers a fast-growing, lucrative alternative.

Following four years of trials, which saw thousands of wheat varieties tested in the unforgiving sub-Saharan heat, scientists have successfully turned what was first thought of as a “crazy idea” into a vital new food crop. With more than 1 million smallholders living along the Senegal River basin, which also runs through Mali and Mauritania, it was an important strategic area to trial the wheat. . . 


Rural round-up

January 18, 2018

Mycoplasma bovis is unlikely to go away – Keith Woodford:

It now seems likely that Mycoplasma bovis is in New Zealand to stay. Just like the rest of the world, we must learn how to live with it. We do not yet have to give up totally on hopes of eradication, but eradication is looking more and more unlikely.

The control program has suffered from incorrect information and poor communication, and there is much to be learned from that. These information flaws have affected farmer and public attitudes. In some cases, this has created additional and unnecessary stress, and unfair criticism of individuals.

However, the probability is that these flaws have not affected the success or failure of the eradication program. The chances are that Mycoplasma bovis has been here for some years, in which case eradication was always going to be impossible. . .

Plants dying as drought threatens vegetable and fruit supplies to shoppers – Pat Deavoll:

Droughts are threatening the supply of fresh fruit and vegetables on shopping shelves and storing water in dams would rectify this, says Horticulture New Zealand.

“Relying on water to fall from the sky simply isn’t enough,” said HortNZ chief executive Mike Chapman. “HortNZ believes we should be more proactive in capturing and storing that water to ensure sustainability of supply during times of drought.”

Chapman said the dry conditions of early summer were putting fruit and vegetable growers under pressure to the point where some of them were having to make decisions about which plants and trees they would plant or harvest. . . 

Kiwi-born Nasa scientist for CSST – Pam Jones:

An award-winning Nasa scientist has been appointed director of research for the Centre for Space Science Technology (CSST).

The appointment of Delwyn Moller was announced yesterday.

Dr Moller was born and raised in the Waikato, studied at the University of Auckland and went on to design and implement technology for Nasa space missions. She will be moving to Central Otago from Los Angeles with her husband and two children.

CSST chief executive Steve Cotter said Dr Moller’s contribution would be invaluable to CSST and to New Zealand as a whole. . . 

Ask a farmer, we don’t hate you – Pete Fitzherbert:

It must be so easy for the average New Zealander to just start again at the end of one year and begin another – make some resolutions, forget about them within the week, and then if you are feeling a little overweight just go down to the food court at the local mall and problem solved, because compared to the fatty at the smorgasbord you are an athlete!

It’s fair to say it is not as easy for your average farmer. Our seasons roll over without ever having a definitive start or finish.

So, what kind of New Year resolutions or hopes could we have? The best we can do sometimes is hope for the best, plan for the worst and the rest of the time play it as it lays.

Maybe we could hope the next year brings the chance to take off a couple of those public holidays.

Maybe hope for a totally average year in every way, or hope that we can farm, just farm, to the best the season presents us with without the public scrutiny that has begun to develop around agriculture.

Could you imagine a return to a world where the only people that gave dairy farmers grief were sheep farmers and bank managers? . . 

Fonterra partners with Alibaba’s Hema Fresh to launch fresh milk product into China:

Fonterra has launched a new fresh milk product in China in partnership with Hema Fresh, Alibaba’s innovative new retail concept which combines traditional bricks-and-mortar shopping with a digital experience.

The new Daily Fresh milk range is now available in Hema’s 14 stores in Shanghai and Suzhou in 750mL bottles, sourced directly from Fonterra’s farm hub in Hebei province. The product boasts unique product labels to match each day of the week in order to emphasise freshness, with stock being replenished overnight ready for each new day.

Initial volumes are currently around three metric tonnes daily, with plans to scale-up over time and expand with the retailer as it rapidly grows its footprint of stores across China. . . 

A blast from the Haast – NZ’s most isolated town – Sarah Harris:

Of the 240 people who call Haast home there’s one policeman, 13 students at the only school, one electrician who is trying to retire and no plumber. If one comes to town residents chase him down the road.

There’s also no doctor – one comes once a fortnight. If there’s a medicial emergency a helicopter can land on the school field.

A drive to the closest supermarket is two hours away and the nearest hospital in Greymouth is a four-hour drive or 90 minute flight. . . 

Can we keep our country shows alive? – Alex Druce:

IT’s been nearly two years since Wingham last held a country show and organisers are determined to get it right.

“We had to go back to the drawing board, and we’ve got some pretty exciting new things,” says press officer Elaine Turner. 

“For starters, there’s the piggy races. And the demolition derby is going to be on again too . Everyone loves that.” . . 


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