Rural round-up

15/04/2021

We just can’t leave it to beaver – Jacqueline Rowarth:

The lucky country is New Zealand.

We have water in abundance. It falls out of the sky and flows out to the sea. It is termed ‘renewable’.

A series of reports from Berl (Business Economics and Research Ltd) make the abundance clear: New Zealand has about twice the quantity of freshwater on its area than United Kingdom, and about four times that of China and the United States of America. On average, New Zealand receives about twenty times the volume of freshwater per square kilometre of area than does ‘unlucky’ Australia.

Per head of population, the figures indicate luxury – far more water per person than is needed to support a population with a mixed economy and a relatively high standard of living. Berl has calculated that New Zealand receives over 24 times the amount of water per person than France, for instance. . . 

Wāhine workers: Changing the face of forestry – Carmen Hall:

Some didn’t get out of the van. Others lasted a day. Some made it through the week. Two originals remain.

Welcome to Truedy Taia’s world. She is the crew manager for an all-female team that work for Mahi Rakau Forest Management – an initiative that became a reality in 2019.

Today the women are out the back of Kawerau with the Tarawera mountain ranges in the distance.

Taia is trudging out of the forest, the back of her hand wipes sweat from her brow as she stamps on bramble and navigates her way through rotting logs and debris. . . 

Agromining: Farming of metal-extracting trees and plants could replace mining :

When scientist Alan Baker made a cut in the side of an exotic plant in the Philippines jungle, the sap that bled out had a jade-green glow.

The shrub was a newly discovered species, soon to be known as Phyllanthus Balgooyi, one of a rare variety of plants that naturally suck high amounts of metallic elements from the soil.

The fluorescent sap turned out to be 9 percent nickel.

It was a welcome finding, but not a surprise, as Professor Baker’s research into so-called “hyperaccumulators” had already uncovered species that seemed to thrive on everything from cobalt to zinc, and even gold. . .

Southern hop growers find ready local market – Sally Rae:

When thinking of hop-growing regions in New Zealand, Garston doesn’t immediately spring to mind.

But an enterprising Southland farming family believes there is great potential in the area — and a craft brewery up the road in Queenstown reckon they are on to a good thing.

The McNamee family first planted hops on their Garston property in 2016. The family has been on the land for more than 140 years and farms mostly sheep and crops.

While having a beer with a mate one day, James McNamee started thinking about how craft brewers in New Zealand were struggling to get New Zealand-produced hops and he thought it was a shame that beer was being made with imported hops. . .

Former Mataura mill to manufacture hemp – Sandy Eggleston:

Growing therapeutic hemp could be a “home run” for Southland farmers, Southern Medicinal managing director Greg Marshall says.

The Dunedin company is setting up a hemp propagating and manufacturing business in the former Mataura Paper Mill.

Mr Marshall said trials showed hemp was a good crop to plant in wet areas of farms and could be part of farmers’ riparian planting plans.

“It sucks up nutrients, it becomes a barrier to stop nitrate flowing into the waterways, it sucks up carbon … it reduces pollution,” Mr Marshall said. . .

Agroecology in Africa: Silver bullet or pathway to poverty? – Joseph Opoku Gakpo:

A model of agroecology that limits farming inputs in Africa to solely indigenous materials is meeting resistance from farmers and others who worry it will most likely force even more people on the continent into poverty and hunger.

“The agroecology promoters will use terms like indigenous foods, indigenous crops, indigenous everything. Like we want to exclude new varieties that are coming. But even the corn we eat today is not from Africa. It’s from America,” observed Pacifique Nshimiyimana, a young farmer and agricultural enterpreneur from Rwanda.

“Corn has been here for many generations,” he noted. “And the varieties my grandma had are no longer responsive to today’s climate situation. This means we need to adapt to new seeds that are resilient to climate change.” . .


Rural round-up

29/03/2021

 Reduced foreign Labour in New Zealand fields failed experiment – Kate MacNamara:

It’s time to call New Zealand’s experiment in reduced foreign labour this harvest season a failure.

One of the country’s largest berry farmers has abandoned growing after a season of chronic labour shortage. Apple growers say they’re so shorthanded that exports will drop some 14 per cent this year, a loss of $95-$100 million. The grape harvest has come off with the help of more machinery, a tradeoff that’s likely to result in less premium wine. And growers estimate they’re still 1400 hires shy of the 4000 workers needed for grape cane pruning in Marlborough next month, the country’s most valuable wine region.

Perhaps the Government’s original idea sounded good in theory: redeploy the rump of seasonal foreign workers who remained stranded in New Zealand from the previous season, update working conditions for the few remaining backpackers, and make up the rest of the workforce from local Kiwis.

But if you add a few numbers, that calculation was always heroic. The need for seasonal hands through New Zealand’s harvest and pruning work approaches 40,000 in the peak summer and early autumn months. Before Covid, Immigration NZ anticipated that 14,500 Pacific workers under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme and some 50,000 backpackers with working holiday visas would help to make up the labour force. But New Zealand’s closed border changed that. . . 

Orchard work shortage bites – Jared Morgan:

Some workers sent to Central Otago’s orchards and vineyards are not up to standard and the lack of seasonal workers from the Pacific is beginning to bite, an industry leader says.

Continuing labour shortages across both sectors have affected planning for key phases in production cycles such as picking and pruning.

This has led to calls for the Government to open quarantine-free travel bubbles to allow seasonal workers from Covid-free countries to plug labour gaps before it is too late, if not for this season then the next.

Pipfruit industry pioneer Con van der Voort, who operates a major packing facility in Ettrick, said the “come and go” nature of this season’s workforce was affecting orchardists not just in Central Otago but nationally. . . 

NZ’s potato chip industry threatened by cheap European imports – Sally Blundell:

The impact of Covid-19 on the potato chip industry in the Northern Hemisphere is putting locally grown and processed hot potato chips at the local chippie under threat.

The problem is that quiet streets and empty bars in Covid-ridden Europe have resulted in an estimated 1.7 million tonne surplus of raw potato material.

“People can’t go out, have a beer and buy some chips,” Potatoes NZ chief executive Chris Claridge told Frank Film in a recent interview. “That means there’s a big lump of frozen fries that’s got to go somewhere. Our economy’s working, they are sending it here – it is as simple as that.”

Claridge is looking for government action to protect New Zealand potato farmers from the influx of frozen fries grown and processed in Europe undercutting their locally grown equivalent. . . 

‘Milking cows is the easy part now’ – Sally Rae:

South Otago dairy farmers Scott and Ann Henderson were last week crowned Southland-Otago Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year winners. They talk to Sally Rae about a career they say is not just about milking cows. 

She was from a sheep and beef farm in Scotland, he was a qualified carpenter from Balclutha.

Scott and Ann Henderson might not have grown up in the dairy farming industry, but the pair have made their mark on the sector, winning the 2021 Southland-Otago Dairy Industry Awards Share Farmer of the Year title.

Industry recognition was not new for Mrs Henderson, who won the dairy manager of the year in the Southland-Otago awards in 2017, having finished runner-up the year before. . . 

Happy to be farming hops – Country Life:

Harvesting is the busiest time of the year for Holmdale Farm’s Cameron Ealam and his extended family.

They work from dawn to dusk picking, cleaning and drying several varieties of aromatic hop cones that grow on long leafy hop vines.

“The machine starts at seven each morning. We’re doing 12-hour days picking at the moment. The drying kiln will run through the night as well, so big days but (it’s) a short window to get a valuable crop in,” Cameron says.

On the floor behind the kilns are large piles of Motueka and Riwaka hop cones, waiting to be pressed and baled. . . 

Call for long-time enemies cotton and wool to join forces to push enviro credentials – Chris McLennan:

Long-time market enemies, the wool and cotton industries are looking to join forces globally to take on synthetic fibres.

Wool and cotton believe they both have the same eco-friendly credentials to challenge for better environmental ratings in Europe.

They want to form an alliance to champion the benefits of natural fibres as offering many solutions to the world’s current environmental challenges.

A wool industry leader entered uncharted waters when invited to speak to an international cotton conference in Bremen last week. . . 


Rural round-up

02/01/2021

Dairy sector pushing for export tariffs removal – Tom Kitchin:

The dairy industry wants export tariffs scrapped as it tries to get the best bang for its buck overseas – and doesn’t think the new post-Brexit trade deal will help.

New Zealand is in the throes of sorting out trade agreements with the UK and the European bloc, after the two sides finally put a deal on the table just days before the deadline.

Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand executive director Kimberly Crewther said Kiwi exporters had battled tariffs as they tried to find their way in the market. This even happened when the UK was part of the EU. . .

Motueka hop growers picking up pieces after hail stripped vines bare

Hop growers in the Motueka area are counting the costs of the area’s freak Boxing Day hail storm, with estimates that more than half the crop has been destroyed on some farms.

The hail storm damaged dozens of businesses in the town, west of Nelson, wiped out up to 100 per cent of some fruit-growers’ crops in Moutere, Motueka and Riwaka, and left a market gardening couple scrambling for cover as a mini-tornado tore up their glasshouse.

The losses have been estimated in the tens of millions of dollars, but the full impact will take time to assess.

Lower Moutere grower Brent McGlashen said his farm, Mac Hops, was one of the five to six hop farms that were hit hardest by the storm. . .

Wakefield farmer carries on tradition of community service – Tim Newman:

For most of his life, Wakefield sheep and beef farmer Colin Gibbs has been making time to lend a hand to help out his local community.

Gibbs has been awarded the Queen’s Service Medal for services to agriculture and the community, after more than 50 years working across various farming, sporting, and community organisations.

The fourth-generation Wakefield farmer has worn many hats over that time, becoming involved with volunteer work soon after leaving school to work on the family farm.

These included roles at the Waimea and Tapawera Dog Trial Clubs, the Nelson A&P Association, the Wakefield Target Shooting Club, and St John’s Church Wakefield. . .

Dairy’s record production in challenging year:

The annual New Zealand Dairy Statistics publication reveals another record year for the dairy sector, with total milksolids production at a record high.

The DairyNZ and Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) statistics show that in the 2019-20 season, New Zealand dairy companies processed 21.1 billion litres of milk containing 1.90 billion kgMS, a 0.6% increase from the previous season.

Average milk production per cow also increased from 381kgMS last season to 385kgMS this season, while the latest count showed that New Zealand has 4.921 million milking cows – a decrease of 0.5% from the previous season. . .

Woodchopping royalty visits – Jared Morgan:

A pact made with her late husband has led axewoman Sheree Taylor to the South to compete on the gruelling Christmas woodchopping circuit for the first time.

The Te Aroha woman made good on that agreement at the Cromwell Town and Country Club on Sunday and the Gore Town and Country Club yesterday, competing for the Rotorua Axeman’s club some two years after the death of her husband, axeman Alastair.

His loss left her considering her future in the sport and her grief was still raw, but somehow she had rallied, she said.

“I’m doing it for him and I’m doing it for me. . .

Clydesdale horse breed faces uncertain future :

IT IS Scotland’s most iconic and distinctive horse, a beast which powered industrial and agricultural revolutions and helped to win the First World War.

Now a plan to save the Clydesdale horse in its homeland has been revealed in a new BBC Scotland feature-length documentary to be shown next week.

The film, Clydesdale: Saving the Greatest Horse, reveals how the breed is entering the “vortex of extinction”.

Once exported from Scotland all over the world, the current small size and relative isolation of the population has impacted on its genetic diversity. . . .


Tuesday’s answers

02/03/2010

Monday’s questions were:

 1. Who was the Greek goddess of  civilization, wisdom, strength, strategy, craft, justice and skill?

2. What are the female seeds of humulus lupulus called?

3. What is a pantisocracy?

4. What did/do Lewis Caroll, Bob Dylan, Albert Einstein, Fidel Castro, H.G. Wells, Cole Porter, Pele, Nietzsche, and Queen Elizabeth II have in common?

5. What is a terremoto?

Inventory 2 gets a point for lateral thinking.

Andrei got four right and a bonus for the albatross.

David got two right, gets the quarter point he sought for pedantry, a bonus for teaching me something and another bonus for restraint over #3.

Paul got four correct and while his answer to #4 wasn’t the one I was seeking it was right.

Gravedoger got two right and a bonus for lateral thinking for his answer to #3.

PDM gets a consolation long-distance bonus.

Tuesday’s answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »


%d bloggers like this: