Hunter Downs irrigation scheme down

10/10/2018
The Hunter Downs irrigation scheme hasn’t got enough support to go ahead.

Hunter Downs Water Ltd announced yesterday it did not have enough buy-in from landowners in its command area between the Waitaki River and Timaru.

The company owns resource consent to use up to 20.5 cumecs of Waitaki River water.

The irrigation proposition was launched in 2006.

In March last year, shares were offered in a $195million scheme to irrigate 21,000 ha and a government development funding grant of $1.37million had been made. By June 2017, the design was shrunk to 12,000 ha.

At the end of last year, South Canterbury rich-lister Gary Rooney’s offer to buy “dry shares” saved the project from being scrapped then.

In April, Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd’s $70million term debt funding would no longer be available to the scheme. So the company released a new funding proposal in August, asking all prospective investors to reconfirm their commitment.

Not enough did.

Chairman Andrew Fraser said yesterday “a significant drop-off in support” meant the scheme could not proceed.

It was not all about intensifying land use and converting to dairying, but rather relieving pressure on existing water takes, decreasing reliance on surface water extractions, and using the plentiful Waitaki River resource, he said. . .

These schemes have to have the support of farmers. But without debt funding from Crown Irrigation, the cost would have been too high for too many. IrrigationNZ rightly calls it a lost opportunity for South Canterbury.

The scheme had the potential to significantly boost the Waimate economy, create jobs, improve people’s standard of living and help resolve water quality problems,” says Andrew Curtis, Chief Executive of IrrigationNZ.

“It’s disappointing that a scheme with wide reaching community benefits won’t proceed.”

“Much of Environment Canterbury’s plans for improving water quality in the South Canterbury coastal area rely on the development of the irrigation scheme to reduce pressure on groundwater and augment the Lake Wainono Lagoon. Hunter Downs still wants to use its consent to augment the Lake Wainono Lagoon, but the other environmental impacts of the scheme not proceeding will need to be worked through.”

The scheme wouldn’t just have drought-proofed farms, it would have    had environmental benefits in improved water quality and lagoon enhancement.

“While farmers benefit from irrigation development, so do local communities. Irrigation projects are difficult to get off the ground if farmers are the sole funders of major infrastructure projects. There have now been numerous studies completed of New Zealand irrigation schemes and all demonstrate that irrigation have significant benefits for local communities and create substantial new tax income for the government,” says Mr Curtis.

“Other countries are increasing their investment in water storage to recognise that their communities and economies need access to a secure water supply in a changing climate. New Zealand needs to keep making similar investments to future-proof our water resources and food production, and secure our export income.”

On the south of the Waitaki River the economic, environmental and social benefits of irrigation are obvious. Those on the other side of the river will miss out on all of that without the scheme.

Rural round-up

07/05/2018

The threat of irrational environmentalism – Dr Doug Edmeades:

I never thought it would end. Certainly I never thought that I might be alive to see the beginning of its end.

I am referring to the Enlightenment – the intellectual movement that began in the 17th century. It saw the end of Dark Ages and ushered in the Age of Reason. Mystical and religious certitude and bigotry gave way to reason based on objectively derived evidence.

Rather than praying to God for a good crop you adopted the latest technologies to ensure the crop did not fail. And if it did fail it was not seen as a consequence of your failure to appease God through prayer, but because you did not fully understand or fully implement the best knowledge and technology. If you prayed it was for more science, please. . . 

Economic development is about more than wishful thinking:

The Government risks serious damage to New Zealanders’ livelihoods by replacing the real productive economy with wishful thinking, National’s Economic Development Spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“On TVNZ’s Q&A this morning, Economic Development Minister David Parker spoke of his wish to reduce the number of livestock in this country. He said horticulture, such as growing apricots, would be better for the environment.

“He said the problem was that it was too expensive to pick fruit in New Zealand. But, no worries, we’ll invest in robotics. Robots will pick the fruit and the economy will surge.

“This is wishful thinking on a grand scale and it fails on so many levels.

“Mr Parker also admitted that the Government hadn’t done an analysis of what the economic impact of his proposed shift away from current land use. . . 

Plan to keep scheme farmer owned – Sally Brooker:

Farming leader William Rolleston has come up with a plan to keep the Hunter Downs irrigation scheme fully farmer-owned.

The former Federated Farmers national president, who farms in South Canterbury, outlined his idea at the federation’s South Canterbury provincial annual  meeting in Waimate on Friday afternoon.

The irrigation scheme, which has resource consent to use water from the Waitaki River on land towards Timaru, has struggled to get landowners to buy enough shares to make it financially viable. Originally aimed at a 21,000ha command area, it was reduced to 12,000ha last year. . . 

 

Quacker of a start for duck shooting :

Duck-shooting season is off with a bang, with tens of thousands of people turning out across the country for the opening weekend.

The season officially started at 6am yesterday and runs through until August.

Fish and Game’s spokesperson Don Rood said hunters were on good behaviour and there were no reports of serious injury on day one.

“That’s all credit to our licence holders for doing the right thing. We’ve been pushing the education message with them. Safety is the very first priority before anything else – no duck is worth a shooting accident.”

In 2016, three people were accidentally shot at the beginning of the season. . . 

Alliance beefs up offering – Neal Wallace:

Alliance Group has launched premium branded beef under the label Pure South Handpicked 55 Day Aged Beef.

To qualify each carcase, irrespective of breed, is individually selected and visually assessed. 

It must have a high marbling score, low Ph range and extended wet aging.

The launch follows three years of research and will be targeted at the New Zealand food service sector and overseas markets. . . 

Farmers back in driving seat – Lindy Nelson:

Time, creative thinking, resources to create change and information all support us to turn business threats into opportunities.

Leadership well-applied and executed is one of those resources that inspires and supports action to respond.

Applied leadership was exactly what was demonstrated at Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s recent workshop on the red meat sector story where our sector’s origin brand story, go-to-market strategy and response to the threat of alternative proteins were unveiled.

It was inspiring on a number of fronts – what the leadership team of B+LNZ has achieved and who it had collaborated with, its in-depth understanding of customers and detailed analysis of the synthetic protein threat and the knowledge that place of origin acts as a shortcut to consumer understanding and trust in our products.

All of this provides a strategy for action alongside the release of the origin brand story. . . 

Whare’s new lease on life – Toni Williams:

A  little red corrugated-iron whare will roll smoothly behind a vintage tractor in the Greg Donaldson Contracting Ashburton Wheels Week Plus street parade this month.

The whare  will be taking its place among members of the Ashburton Vintage Machinery Club in the parade on the final day of the Wheels Week Plus  programme.

  The club has about 100 members, so expect to see a few vintage machines. The whare, which sits on a truck chassis, plays a big role in the life of Ashburton Vintage Machinery Club president John Hall. It holds warm memories and its walls are lined with memorabilia — newspaper clippings, places and events Mr Hall has visited. . . 

 


Govt acts on threat to irrigation

06/04/2018

The government has acted on its pre-election threat to axe funding through Crown Irrigation Investments.

Three schemes already under way will keep the funding promised.

The government will help fund the construction of irrigation projects on the Canterbury plains and near Kurow and Nelson as it winds back support for large-scale water schemes.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson today said all existing Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd development contracts will be honoured, and that the three named schemes will receive funding for their construction phase given how far down the track they were.  . . 

IrrigationNZ bemoans the lost opportunity.

 . . .“In Crown Irrigation Investments Briefing to Incoming Ministers, the socio-economic gain to communities from planned future irrigation projects in New Zealand was over $1.2 billion per year. With a number of these projects being unable to access loan funding, this is a huge lost opportunity for these rural communities,” says IrrigationNZ Chief Executive Andrew Curtis.

“The Hurunui Water Project, Hunter Downs and Flaxborne irrigation projects all have local community support and also meet strict new environmental requirements around river swimmability and nutrient limits. In addition to this they plan to undertake additional activities to help improve existing water quality – for example the Hunter Downs scheme was planning to augment river flows into the Wainono Lagoon which will help to restore this culturally and environmentally significant ecosystem. A recent UNESCO report – Nature Based Solutions for Water, has highlighted the importance of ‘green infrastructure’ initiatives such as this for improving water quality globally,” he adds.

The Hurunui, Hunter Downs and Flaxborne projects aim to provide water security to predominantly beef, sheep and cropping farms in drought prone areas.

Over the past summer we have experienced droughts followed by unprecedented wet conditions. This is indicative of the climate change impacts we can expect to see in the future,” says Mr Curtis. “It is critical for rural east coast farming communities to have access to a reliable water supply in order to help them manage through these effects,” says Mr Curtis.

Mr Curtis says that when farming communities experience significant droughts, it’s not just farmers who suffer but also the rest of the community and local businesses.

“Local councils see the value of investment in water infrastructure and recognise this as one of the most pressing issues for their communities. We would like to see the merits of these projects considered through the Provincial Growth Fund. These projects will build more resilient rural communities and provide significant community benefits.”

Irrigation would be much better use of regional development funding than a Minister’s pet projects.

Axing the fund continues the government’s raid on the regions.

The Government’s confirmation it will axe major irrigation projects is the second major blow it’s dealt to regional New Zealand in a week, National’s Paul Goldsmith and Nathan Guy say.

“Fresh from whacking a major new fuel tax on New Zealand motorists the Government has announced it will leave regional farmers and growers at the mercy of prolonged droughts by canning support for important irrigation projects,” National’s Agriculture spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“This is a huge blow to regional New Zealand which is facing an increasingly uncertain future as a result of this Government’s raid on our regions.

“This summer alone saw six regions declared in drought as dry weather hammered primary producers right around New Zealand. These irrigation projects would have given them the certainty they could deal with future dry spells but that certainty’s now been ripped away.

North Otago used to be wracked by recurring droughts which caused widespread financial, environmental and social distress.

Now large areas are irrigated the district is virtually drought-proof.

Irrigation has enabled the production of more food, the provision of more jobs and provides insurance against dry weather.

Mr Goldsmith says the Government’s regional growth strategy is a mess.

“It’s Jekyll and Hyde and seems to come down to which of Labour’s two support parties wins the day.

“One day Shane Jones sticks his finger in the air and doles out taxpayer cash for pet projects, the next day four ministers announce the Government will rip $5b out of regional road funding but tax motorists more and the next it is stripping millions out of important and demonstrably effective regional irrigation projects. . .

It just shows the Government has no clear strategy.

“It says it supports regional New Zealand but it continues to put the boot in. Axing irrigation projects makes it harder for farmers and growers to do their jobs, harder for them to create jobs, harder to grow our exports and harder for New Zealanders to get ahead.”

It’s ironic that the government wants us to take climate change seriously, including the risk of more droughts, yet has striped funding from irrigation projects which could provide insurance against dry weather.


Rural round-up

27/12/2017

More than 100 people help farming family after tragedy – Andrew Owen:

About 40 shearers and a support crew of more than 60 helped a farming family complete one of the biggest tasks of the year, days after a tragic accident cost the lives of their son and his friend.

Craig “Yopp” Murphy, 31, and his mate Jason Payne, 34, died on December 9 when their ute rolled on a remote, privately-owned farm in Kohuratahi, in the Whangamomona Valley, about 76 kilometres inland from Stratford.

Craig Murphy’s funeral took place on Saturday, December 16, and four days later more than 100 people got to work helping his bereaved parents, Whangamomona Valley farmers Dan and Kathy Murphy, shear their 3400 sheep for free, a task that needed to be finished at the peak of the season before Christmas. . .

Hunter Downs scheme meets share target – Daniel Birchfield:

The 12,000ha Hunter Downs irrigation scheme is to go ahead, after the required number of shares were sold.

Hunter Downs Water Ltd, the company behind the proposal to use water from the Waitaki River on land towards Timaru, held its annual meeting on December 14, when it was expected a decision would be made on whether to proceed or return funds to those who had already made the commitment to take water.

After a delay of several days, Hunter Downs Water Ltd chairman Andrew Fraser announced yesterday the company had “secured sufficient farmer uptake to now enable it to proceed” and finalise the funding structure and contractual arrangements to start construction, which was likely to be early next year. . .

New trapping project already successful – Louise Scott:

A pest control operation to protect native birds in the Rees-Dart River delta is proving successful just one month in.

Glenorchy local Russell Varcoe has built and set four new trapping lines as part of the Routeburn Dart Wildlife Trust’s Braided River Project.

That includes 601 traps — of which 574 had been placed by last Friday.

It is hoped the project will protect five species classified by the Department of Conservation as either endangered or threatened: wrybills, black-fronted terns, banded dotterels, black-billed gulls and black stilts . .

Leading questions: Synlait Milk founder and chief executive John Penno:

Business leaders discuss the year just gone and what will affect them in 2018. Today: Synlait Milk founder and chief executive John Penno.

What is 2018 looking like for your business?

2017 was very busy – after opening a new infant formula blending and packaging facility in Auckland, and nearing capacity at our Dunsandel site, we are entering 2018 looking to build an infant formula manufacturing site somewhere in the upper North Island.

We’ll also be constructing a $125 million world-class milk packaging plant in Dunsandel to supply fresh milk and cream to South Island families through our new partnership with Foodstuffs South Island. . . 

 

 

Rain on Christmas wish-list as drought conditions become critical in outback Queensland – Eric Barker:

With less than half the average rainfall across many parts of western Queensland this year, rain is top of the Christmas wish-list for most graziers.

While widespread winter rain in 2016 lifted spirits, most of central and south-west Queensland has been officially drought declared for the past four years.

Grazier and Blackall Tambo Shire Mayor Andrew Martin said most of the area had been suffering below-average wet seasons before the drought declarations. . .


Rural round-up

02/12/2017

Depression and anxiety a sickness not a weakness – Marc Gascoigne:

I don’t know anyone in my circle of friends and family who has been killed in a car accident. Or on a quad bike, or by drowning, or in a work accident, or any other sudden accidental death.

Except for suicide. In the last few years I have lost three close friends or family to suicide, the latest being my nephew on January 10.

Almost everyone I have talked to since then has said the same thing to me. . . 

Milking marvels: sheep one side of the shed, cows the other – Kate Taylor:

Belief in how they do things and the values their family hold are the prime drivers behind Sentry Hill Organics. Kate Taylor visited Tom and PJ White to find out more about how they do things their way.

There’s a lot of laughter at the White family home in Ashley Clinton – much of it aimed at themselves.

“We just do things differently,” Phillippa White says, who is known locally as PJ.

“Yep, we’re definitely not followers,” adds her husband Tom.

“We’re not leaders either though,” interrupts PJ, with a shake of her head. . .

Final plea for water intake – Annette Scott:

The final plea is out to farmers and investors to ensure a South Canterbury irrigation project can proceed.

Without the minimum uptake the proposers of the $110 million Hunter Downs irrigation scheme have indicated they would be forced to pull the plug.

The project, which had been 12 years in the making, was 10% short of the minimum uptake needed to proceed.

“We are making a final appeal to farmers and other key stakeholders to invest in this project,” Hunter Downs Water chairman Andrew Fraser said. . .

Dairy auction prices expected to lift on looming threat of drought – Tina Morrison:

(Business Desk) Prices on the GlobalDairyTrade auction may lift next week, snapping four consecutive declines, as the increased threat of drought in New Zealand weighs on expectations for Fonterra Cooperative Group’s milk production.

The NZX whole milk powder futures contracts for December last traded at US$2,840 a tonne, 3.7 per cent ahead of the equivalent contract at the last GlobalDairyTrade auction on November 21, signalling traders expect the price to rise at the next GDT auction overnight on December 5.

Longer-dated whole milk powder futures contracts are also signalling an increase, as are futures contracts for skim milk powder, while futures for butter and anhydrous milk fat point to declines. . .

Auckland’s future: vertical farming? – Adriana Weber:

Farming in high-rise buildings, warehouses or shipping containers could benefit a rapidly expanding Auckland, an expert in sustainability says.

Some farmers and industry groups, including Horticulture New Zealand, are worried productive land is increasingly being swallowed up by growing towns and cities.

The problem is especially evident in Auckland, the country’s fastest growing region, and in its southern vegetable growing towns like Pukekohe.

New York-based sustainability strategist Henry Gordon-Smith said Auckland should look into merging city and farm. . . 


Rural round-up

07/11/2017

Crown cash vital to lagoon plan – Tim Fulton:

The Labour-led Government might need to keep backing Crown funding for irrigation to inject life into a vulnerable South Canterbury lagoon.

South Canterbury’s Hunter Downs irrigation scheme was in final-stage talks with farmers and Crown Irrigation Investments for funding linked to a rescue bid for Wainono Lagoon, near Waimate.

Environment Canterbury said using the Waitaki River to add clean, low-nutrient water to the lagoon was a key feature of the proposed 12,000ha Hunter Downs scheme.

ECan classed the coastal lake near Waimate as a nutrient red zone. . . 

Basic farming brings rewards – Annette Scott:

Nick France admits to being pretty stingy in his sheep and beef breeding operation as he sticks with old-fashioned philosophy of attention to detail at key times.

He told farmers at the Beef + Lamb New Zealand farming for profit day he runs his beef operation as cheaply as possible, aligning practice with the philosophy of having bulls that perform well under commercial conditions and produce well-grown, profitable offspring.

“What we do here is cheap and commercial. The cows are a tool. We use them for growing and managing pasture for our commercial sheep operation and selecting bulls for the stud,” France said. . . 

New SIL values thereby hangs a tail – Sally Rae:

A sheep breed developed in West Otago has become the first in the world to have breeding values calculated for tail length and bare skin on the tail.

Allan Richardson, from Avalon Genetics, has been breeding and recording low-input sheep that do not require docking since 2009.

He believes the new SIL (Sheep Improvement Ltd) breeding values will give commercial farmers new opportunities to reduce their cost of production, improve animal welfare and open new markets for their lamb. . . 

Farmlands directors elected – Sally Rae:

Former long-standing Alliance Group director Murray Donald has been elected to the Farmlands board.

Mr Donald, who farms at Winton, is a chartered fellow of the Institute of Directors, councillor and member of the audit and risk committee for the Southern Institute of Technology and a trustee and chairman of the audit and risk committee for the Agri-Women’s Development Trust.

Nine candidates contested the three  vacancies this year and Nikki Davies-Colley, from Northland, was  re-elected. . . 

Wobbly times ahead for wool industry – Andrew McRae:

New Zealand could face a shortage of shearers because they’re not being trained, an industry organisation says.

Wool Research Organisation chair Derrick Millton said young people were not as attracted to shearing as a career as they once were. He said there was no specific training organisation to promote shearing and woolhandling.

“The age of the shearers for a start off, they’re getting older and no new ones coming in… There are a lot of other jobs today that are more appealing than shearing. . . 

Connecting children with dairy:

DairyNZ’s education programme is now used in more than one third of primary schools and one quarter of secondary schools around New Zealand.

Thanks to farmer volunteers, 4500 children (plus teachers and parents) visited a dairy farm in the past year and more than 21,000 children have visited a farm since the Find a Farmer programme launched six years ago.

Science in schools

DairyNZ’s hands-on science kits have helped teachers bring learning alive in the classroom, and explore science through the context of dairying.

Each science kit is distributed to 200 teachers who have signed up for the resource, reaching about 6000 children. The kits provide all the tools a class needs to complete a science experiment, investigating a learning outcome within the context of dairy. The schools share their work on ourfarmvisit.co.nz. . . 


Rural round-up

09/05/2017

NZ beef, lamb and dairy prices on ‘reasonable’ footing – Simon Hartley:

Two separate New Zealand commodity price indexes have the country’s exports in good health, but the strength of the New Zealand dollar remains a concern.

ANZ agri-economist Con Williams said while the headline ANZ commodity price index dipped 0.2% in April, the underlying detail for New Zealand’s main commodities remained ”robust”.

The headline index was driven lower by dairy – it was down 2.5% month on month – while the non-dairy component rose 1.2% for the same period. . .

Gas to energy project – Rueben on line:

An Isla Bank dairy farm is saving money and preventing harmful greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere by converting waste to energy.

Glenarlea Farm, a Fortuna Group dairy farm, is now converting methane gas captured from the dairy effluent pond into electricity for the dairy shed, as well as for heating water which can be used for wash-down purposes on the farm.

Quick decision lead to success – Neal Wallace:

Weo Maag concedes the Pukepoto Farm Trust does things a bit differently.

A trustee of the entity that owns the 1400ha breeding and finishing property at Ongarue near Taumarunui, Maag said the trust aimed to keep things simple but was a willing adopter of any systems or tools that worked.

An Ahuwhenua Trophy finalist, the Pukepoto trust was formed in 1978 and its 1000 shareholders owned land that was originally used as a thoroughfare for Maori travelling between Taranaki and Whanganui. . . 

Disastrous end-of-harvest for South Canterbury’s cropping farmers – Pat Deavoll:

Twice the normal rainfall in March followed by four times the amount in April has meant a disastrous end to the harvest for South Canterbury’s arable farmers.

Federated Farmers arable chairman for South Canterbury Mike Porter said he “struggled and battled” his way through harvest and finished last week.

“It’s been a very challenging harvest – the most challenging I have ever known.” . .

Dairy women gathering –  Sally Rae:

Dairying women from throughout New Zealand will converge on Queenstown this week for the Dairy Women’s Network conference.

The event, on Thursday and Friday, features practical workshops and keynote speakers, including All Blacks manager Gilbert Enoka and Corrections Minister Louise Upston. . . 

Water scheme will reflect demand – Annette Scott:

Hunter Downs Water will forge ahead with a multi-million-dollar irrigation scheme for South Canterbury despite falling short of its capital-raising target.

What form it would take was being worked through with the contractor in a redesigned scheme to meet the demand from farmers who had committed through the share uptake, Hunter Downs Water (HDW) project manager Stacey Scott said.

The deadline for the uptake of water and development shares in the $195m scheme was on April 28, after its initial April 10 deadline was extended. . . 


Rural round-up

04/06/2015

Hunter Downs irrigation backing forthcoming – David Bruce:

A new Waimate irrigation scheme capable of providing water to up to 32,000ha now has enough shareholder support to move on to the next stage of investigations after fears in April some farmers might be backing out.

The Hunter Downs irrigation scheme, estimated to cost about $375 million, had sold enough shares to cover 24,000ha in its first instalment of payments. . .

The science behind deer velvet – Jemma Brackebush:

AgResearch scientists are working with Korean counterparts to discover what components of deer velvet may help boost immune systems.

Deer antler products are commonly used in northern Asian countries in the winter to boost people’s immune systems and fight off colds and flus.

Senior scientist Stephen Haines said a major factor in selling deer velvet in key markets like South Korea and China was being able to prove the product does what the marketers claim.

 Manuka Health mulls capital raising options after global launch of new honey products – Fiona Rotherham:

(BusinessDesk) – Manuka Health, the functional food and dietary supplement company, is reviewing capital-raising options to help fund a global roll-out of new products said to boost the antibacterial qualities of manuka honey and its pipeline of research and development.

The private company has ruled out a public listing at this stage but chief executive Kerry Paul said it was considering other options including new investors who bring more than just capital to the table.

Manuka Health was founded in 2006 and exports 90-plus products based on propolis, royal jelly, bee pollen, and manuka honey to 45 countries. It has annual turnover of more than $50 million, 80 staff, and is owned by a number of private shareholders including Paul and family interests associated with chairman Ray Thomson, and institutional investors, Milford Asset Management and Waterman Capital. . .

Finalists announced for 2015 Green Ribbon Awards:

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry today announced the finalists for the 2015 Green Ribbon Awards, which will this year mark 25 years of honouring New Zealand’s environmental leaders.

“Over 70 nominations were received across the 10 categories for this year’s awards, and they cover a wide range of environmental initiatives that include protecting our biodiversity, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, minimising waste, reducing water pollution, preserving the marine environment, educating and inspiring the community, and implementing more sustainable business practices,” Dr Smith says. . .

Maximising profit and environmental protection on NZ pastoral farms:

Agricultural growth agendas are currently based on the idea that more production, at any cost, is the best strategy for higher national GDP. But, it is unclear how these agendas will be fulfilled, given tightening water quality limits and the pressing need to account for greenhouse gas emissions.

Alison Dewes (Headlands Consultancy) says that the combination of volatile economic conditions and enforceable environmental limits will force farmers to reconfigure their farm systems. Farmers will have to demonstrate efficient resource use, minimal environmental effects and robust economic performance to ensure New Zealand’s agriculture sector can thrive and stay ahead of the game. . .

Make the most of Government forestry planting grants; NRC:

Northland farmers and landowners are being encouraged to take full advantage of a Government forestry grant scheme, with the Northland Regional Council advising it also has options to help.

The Government recently re-launched its Afforestation Grant Scheme (AGS), announcing it would spend $22.5 million over the next six years subsidising the planting of forests on erosion-prone land.
This scheme previously saw more than 12,000 hectares of new forest planted nationally between 2008 and 2013.
The re-launched scheme, administered by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), is accepting applications for the next month (SUBS: these close 30 June 2015). . .

Young Butchers Set to Carve up Competition:

Across New Zealand, young butchers are preparing for the battle of their careers in anticipation of the 2015 Alto Young Butcher and Competenz Butcher Apprentice of the Year.

A total of 73 butchery protégées have entered the regional stages of the competition in the hopes of making it to the Grand Final on September 10 at Shed 10 in Auckland.

Competition Organiser, Pippa Hawkins from Retail Meat New Zealand says the event is now widely recognised within the industry with past competitors reaping huge benefits. . .


Rural round-up

09/03/2015

Scotsman wins Golden Shears open final:

The competition dubbed the ‘Wimbledon of shearing’ entered a new era at the weekend with the retirement of legend David Fagan and its first ever international winner.

Fagan, the long-standing champion, has 16 Golden Shears wins under his belt, but in the year of his retirement he did not make the final of the open event on Saturday.

Instead, he ended his 35 year career in the semi-finals, leaving the Masterton crowd to witness something the competition has never seen before in the 55 years it has been running.

In front of a full house of 1600 people, plus another 40,000 around the world who watched a live stream of the event, the Scottish national anthem rang out for the first time.

Scotsman Gavin Mutch, who now farms in Whangamomona in the King Country with his family, was initially lost for words at his win. . .

Hunter Downs water scheme a viable proposal – Annette Scott:

Proposers of a new $350 million irrigation scheme in South Canterbury have tagged their preferred option and unveiled the scheme costings.

The scheme proposes to irrigate 40,000ha from the Waitaki River.

Hunter Downs Irrigation chairman Andrew Fraser said its technical and economic feasibility had been confirmed with a second capital call going out before the end of this month. . .

Rules must be obeyed, ECan says – Annette Scott:

Rain that has fallen in the past two weeks has been welcome but has been no drought-breaker for parched Canterbury farmland.

As farmers desperately wait for nature to give them a much needed break, NIWA’s autumn forecast does come under a brighter rainbow for parched pastures and farmer anxiety as worst-decision time approaches.

A serious concern now is an autumn drought, which would be worse because there won’t be enough autumn growth to see livestock through winter. . .

Morrinsville sharemilker wins title –   Gerald Piddock:

Aaron Price is a young, fit, professional married man with a plan.

He is also the 2015 Waikato Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year winner, netting him $22,000 in prizes.

The 29 year old took out the major title at Friday night’s 2015 Waikato Dairy Industry Awards.

It was the fourth time he had entered the contest and had been runner-up twice.

Winning the title helped him achieve a short-term goal. . .

Bald Hills sold to overseas investor – Lynda Van Kempen:

Another Central Otago vineyard is changing hands to an overseas investor – the second this year.

The sale of Bald Hills, owned by Blair and Estelle Hunt, was approved by the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) this week.

The 11ha Bannockburn property has been bought by a Japanese investor, who has set up a company called Beecom (NZ) Ltd. . .

Planting an orchard to build a pre-school:

Planting an orchard as a marketing ploy – hardly from the pages of marketing textbooks but highly effective for the Pukeko Pre-School at Tauwhare, near Hamilton.

The recipients of a grant from Fonterra’s Grass Roots Foundation (as well as from the WEL Energy Trust), the pre-school kicked off its efforts to create a new $300,000 facility with a tree planting exercise late last year.

From the grants, the trust overseeing the new pre-school decided to plant about 45 trees – feijoas, blueberries, peaches, plums, apples, lemon, oranges, mandarins, limes, persimmons and some rosemary. A planting day involving about 40 parents and children saw the trees start their new lives after being purchased from a Te Aroha nursery. . .


Rural round-up

06/06/2014

Milk production hits record levels – Gerard Hutching:

Chasing higher prices, dairy farmers have produced a record 1.8 billion kilograms of milksolids in 2013-14, a 160 million kg hike over the year before, the latest economic update from the ASB reports.

“Of the 10 per cent increase, 7.5 per cent comes from Fonterra’s farmers, with other companies lifting it to the 10 per cent,” economist Nathan Penny said.

He said that the increase was not just a response to higher prices, but farmers had also bounced back from the drought of 2012-13.

“But you don’t get a rebound from the drought two years in a row, it’s harder to get a big jump again,” Penny said. . .

Industry champion rendered speechless – Annette Scott:

Being named the winner of this year’s Deer Industry Award came as a bit of a shock for Paddy Boyd, who admits he was lost for words. He talked to Annette Scott.

When Mackenzie farmer and Haldon Station manager Paddy Boyd was named winner of this year’s Deer Industry Award he was lost for words.

The announcement at the industry conference in Methven came as a surprise for Boyd, who said he was usually able to string a few words together as a voice for deer producers. . .

Flock House farm to be jointly run:

A Rangitikei based iwi, a Maori incorporation and local Pakeha farmers will be working together to run the historic Flock House farm near Bulls.

AgResearch has completed the sale of its Flock House farm to Nga Waiariki-Ngati Apa for an undisclosed sum.

The farm was brought by Te Runanga o Ngati Apa, in partnership with Atihau-Whanganui Incorporation and Waitatapia Station Limited, and farming will be carried out by Te Hou Farms Limited Partnership. . .

$7m to assess irrigation viability in South Canterbury:

A new funding agreement will investigate the viability of the Hunter Downs irrigation scheme for up to 40,000 ha in South Canterbury, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

‘The Government’s Irrigation Acceleration Fund will provide $7.044 million over two years to co-fund technical investigations and design work to determine if an irrigation scheme is viable, both from a technical and economic perspective,’ says Mr Guy.

‘This will be matched by funds from shareholder equity and the scheme’s partner, Meridian Energy. . .

Green Ribbon Award finalists announced:

To mark World Environment Day, Environment Minister Amy Adams has today announced the finalists for the 2014 Green Ribbon Awards, which honour outstanding contributions to protecting New Zealand’s environment.

“Over the 24 years of the Green Ribbon Awards, more than 150 environmental champions have been recognised for their initiative, commitment and dedication to tackling environmental issues,” Ms Adams says.

“For this year’s awards, 113 nominations were received across 12 categories. The finalists come from a range of backgrounds and the work they do is challenging, time-consuming and sometimes unrewarded. . . .

Federated Farmers @ Fieldays 2014:

Federated Farmers has not only uprated its 2014 Fieldays presence with a site in the feature pavilion but will hold the final meeting of its current Board in Hamilton ahead of Fieldays.

“Federated Farmers will make Hamilton, or should I say, Megatron, as its base for Fieldays week,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President, who retires from the role in July.

“As this is my final Fieldays as National President, I am pleased to say we are making our largest ever investment into our Fieldays site.  . . .

Drinking water from poo nearly ready for market:

A technology for extracting drinkable water from manure is on its way to commercial application this year, a US university said today. The technology is particularly useful for animal operations in dry regions where water is at a premium, according to Michigan State University.

The McLanahan Nutrient Separation System is an add-on to an anaerobic digester, which extracts energy and chemicals from manure. The system adds ultrafiltration, air stripping and a reverse osmosis system to produce water that’s clean enough for cattle to drink. . .

 


Rural round-up

11/04/2014

Farmers back irrigation feasibility study:

A planned large-scale irrigation scheme in South Canterbury has got enough farmer backing for it to carry out an in depth feasibility study.

The Hunter Downs Irrigation Scheme, which could irrigate up to 40,000 hectares of land from Waitaki to just south of Timaru, also has significant financial backing from the Government.

Hunter Downs Irrigation chairman Andrew Fraser says they’ve been going through a capital raising process over the last several weeks – and have managed to get over the threshold of 20,000 hectares of farmer uptake.

“This funding will enable us to do a feasibility study and so that will tell us whether the scheme is economically and technically viable so we hope to have that result back out to the shareholders and farmers by the end of the year.”

Mr Fraser says the capital raising period has been extended as the scheme gauges corporate interest and speaks to more farmers in the area. . .

Winners committed to pushing farming change – Gerald Piddock:

Mike and Sharon Barton’s innovative approach to farming in an environmentally sensitive area has earned them the supreme title in the 2014 Waikato Farm Environment Awards.

The Western Taupo beef farmers were presented with the award as well as category awards for soil management and innovation at a ceremony near Karapiro last night.

The Barton’s farm at Glen Emmreth Farm near Tihoi. They purchased the 142ha property in 2004 at a time when strict environmental legislation to protect the health of the lake was looming.

They faced this challenge head-on, determined to make their farm as environmentally sustainable as possible. . .

Farmers warned to tidy up act:

Federated Farmers is warning farmers not to risk making the dairy industry a scapegoat at this year’s general election through poor farm practices.

In a message to farmers, dairy chairman Willy Leferink said he was worried they could be negatively portrayed during the election campaign and they needed to do the basics properly to avoid bad publicity.

Visual aspects of the industry needing to be tidied up, and that could help create a better public image, Mr Leferink said. . .

Call for better health and safety on farms after death –  Collette Devlin:

Farming is a hazardous occupation and the number of injuries and deaths on Southland farms must come down, industry insiders say.

They are calling for better health and safety awareness on farms.

The issue has been put in the spotlight by the tragic death of fertiliser truck driver Les Cain, killed when the truck he was driving overturned on a northern Southland farm on Tuesday.

Southland Federated Farmers president Russell MacPherson said one farm death was one too many.

The old attitude of ‘she’ll be right’ needed to disappear from the industry. . .

Hawke’s Bay Farmers of the Year – Hugh and Sharon Ritchie – RivettingKateTaylor:

Well done to Hugh and Sharon Ritchie – Hawke’s Bay Farmers of the Year.

I’ve just been writing about Hugh lately as I am doing the Nuffield NZ newsletter and he has just retired after 12 years as a trustee (we also went through Young Farmers together, although I hasten to add he is older than me!!!  Hugh, Shane Tilson and I won a national debating final in 1995!)

So last night (back to the important news) they were awarded the prestigious Silver Fern Farms Hawke’s Bay Farmer of the Year title in front of 350 people at a dinner at Showgrounds Hawke’s Bay (well done on great night Hillary). . .

D2S ‘growing at a rate of knots’:

Wool growers have rallied behind Wools of New Zealand’s Direct-to-Scour (D2S) spot market sales option.

Launched in October last year, volumes under D2S are doubling month on month and have now reached around 350,000 kgs, with annualised volumes expected to reach between 3.5m – 4m kilograms within its first year, about 8% of the market.

Ross Townshend, Chief Executive of Wools of New Zealand told shareholder growers and supporters during the company’s roadshow series of 12 national meetings this week that the system was “simpler and put more money into the pockets of growers than the conventional model. It makes logical sense for growers’ wool to go to the first point of processing which is the scour where it can be core-sampled, independently tested, objectively assessed and fairly priced. . . .

Wool Market Defies Dollar:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that despite a resurgent New Zealand dollar the South Island offering of 11,500 bales saw most types range from firm to 3 percent dearer. Even with the strength of the sale and an 86 percent clearance, some growers were still unprepared to accept current market levels with 13 percent of the offering being passed in.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies was 1.36 percent up on the last sale on 3rd April.

Mr Dawson advises that Fine Crossbred Fleece and Shears were between 1 and 3 percent firmer. . .


Rural round-up

14/03/2014

Concern over dry conditions in Waikato, Northland:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has visited the Waikato today to see first-hand the challenging dry conditions facing farmers.

“Most farmers are managing the dry conditions in Waikato and Northland, but it’s becoming difficult for some. The last few months have been very dry as pasture has browned off.

“Rain is forecast to hit the upper North Island this week as the remnants of Cyclone Lusi hits New Zealand. Any rain will be gratefully received by farmers.

“At this stage, the Government has not been asked to declare an ‘adverse event’ in any region. MPI have been providing me with regular updates and I’ll be watching these dry conditions around the North Island closely.

“Farmers are not interested in handouts, but they want to know the Government understands the challenges they are facing. That’s why I’m here today to see firsthand how they are coping with the conditions. . .

Irrigation share offer a test run – David Bruce:

An irrigation scheme designed to bring water to about 40,000ha in the Waimate area and create up to 1200 jobs has taken a big step forward with farmers being offered shares, which will help determine if it is feasible.

The Hunter Downs scheme, originally estimated in 2009 to cost about $200 million, was first mooted about eight years ago and Hunter Downs Irrigation Ltd has now issued a prospectus offering 40,000 shares to fund investigations to see if the scheme is viable.

The company needs to sell at least half of the shares, at $200 a share, for the share offer and scheme to proceed. . .

Dunne deal on doing things differently:

THE MINISTRY for Primary Industry (MPI) will look “quite different” as a result of an “alignment process” that started last week, says the new chief executive, Martyn Dunne.

Three months in his new role, he is ringing changes. For example, he has appointed deputy director-general Roger Smith to head MPI’s operation in China and is about to appoint two more staff there. He’s also adding staff to other key diplomatic posts in countries where market access is an issue.

Dunne told Rural News the “alignment process” is to meet the huge expectations and demands on his organisation. MPI and its previous incarnations have undergone almost constant restructuring for 25 years, but Dunne denies this is the case with the current moves.

“I don’t call it a restructuring and the staff don’t see it that way,” he says. “Normally restructuring is something driven by cost pressure and other demands and generally results in a downsizing. . .

Positive step in Fonterra accepting charges:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see Fonterra has accepted the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) four charges over the whey protein concentrate recall last year.

“This scare has been invaluable learning curve for Fonterra and they are making positive changes already to make sure this never happens again,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson.

“Our reputation for food quality and safety is paramount to our success on the world stage. Whilst this product recall was a false alarm it has unearthed some flaws in Fonterra’s system. By whole heartedly accepting the charges laid by MPI yesterday, Fonterra has shown they are on the front foot of this issue. . .

Manawatu Dairy Awards Winners Raise Reputation:

The major winners in the 2014 Manawatu Dairy Industry Awards, Duncan and Kim Fraser, have become role models in the industry after raising their profile from entering the awards.

The couple won the 2014 Manawatu Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year title last night “One of the benefits of the awards is that it does raise your profile in the industry and so opportunities are now coming to us. People are also now coming to us to seek advice,” the Frasers say.

The other big winners at the region’s awards dinner held at the Awapuni Raceway were Sam Ebbett, the Manawatu Farm Manager of the Year, and Hayley Hoogendyk, the 2014 Manawatu Dairy Trainee of the Year. . .

Hot contest for dairy awards spurred on by record prize pool:

The region’s top dairy farmers will be revealed this Friday as they compete for a coveted spot in the national final and a share of the record $710,000 prize pool.

Several hundred people are expected at the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Taranaki dinner at The Hub in Hawera where winners of three categories will be announced: Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, Farm Manager of the Year and Dairy Trainee of the Year.

The winners of each category will join entrants from 10 other regions around the country vying for the national titles to be announced in Auckland on May 9. . .

Extra feed equals extra dollars for dairy farmers:

With farmgate milk prices at an all-time high, maintaining production for the final months of the season is a priority for dairy farmers, and getting those extra kilos of milk solids means making some good calls around feed.

Low rainfall and drying winds in some parts of the country is slowing grass growth, while in other regions, there has been enough rain to maintain good pasture conditions. Ballance Agri-Nutrients General Manager Sales, Andrew Reid says farmers taking stock of mid-summer feed supplies can look to Ballance for the right advice on nutrient choices to keep herds producing.

“Because we take cover the complete farm nutrients spectrum, we’re in a good position to help farmers use forage and supplementary feed to keep up production. What to use, and when, will all depend on individual farm goals and weather conditions.” . . .

New rural masthead to showcase the best of our rural products to farmers:

Entrepreneurial agritech firm Bell-Booth has signed up to showcase their innovative probiotic products Queen of Calves™ and X-Factor™ through the new rural masthead product, Field Trials, being launched by “The rural sector is our nation’s backbone,” says Richard Stevens BrandWorld’s managing director.

“It’s also the single largest opportunity for many goods and services with around 68,000 holdings nationwide and an average per farm spend of $341,000 each year.

“With those sorts of budgets farmers are very astute businessmen so you have to find clever ways to reach them. Good suppliers like Bell-Booth know the trick is not to sell to those farmers but to give them the information they need, in a format they understand so they can make the best decisions they can.” . . .

Local Baby Formula Maker NuZtri reaches milestone with first shipment to China:

New Zealand owned Best Health Products Limited, producers of NuZtri Premium Formula and fortified Milk Powder today dispatched their first shipment of Fortified Milk Powder destined for the Chinese market.

“We have been waiting for some time for this day to arrive, finally NuZtri has dispatched our first shipment of Premium Forfeited Milk Powder to China” said Craig Calder General Manager of NuZtri.

“NuZtri has invested a considerable amount of money researching and developing a Premium Milk Powder product in New Zealand for the Chinese consumers. The demand for our product is high”. . .


Rural round-up

22/09/2013

Rural sector key for many of Otago’s SMEs – Dene Mackenzie:

More than half of Otago small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) receive business income from the rural sector.Kiwibank group manager business markets Mark Stephen said with New Zealand’s agricultural sector economic growth lagging in the three months ended in June, the drought had squeezed the sector.

Even those small enterprises which did not directly deal with the rural sector were found to be supplying customers who did deal directly with farmers. . .

Hunter Downs project gathering momentum – Sally Brooker:

An irrigation project taking Waitaki River water further into South Canterbury is gathering momentum.

The Hunter Downs Irrigation Scheme has been awarded $640,000 from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Irrigation Acceleration Fund. It will help pay for engineering design, an investigation into demand from landowners, and a fundraising prospectus.

”This part of South Canterbury has regular droughts,” Irrigation Acceleration Fund manager Kevin Steel said.

”The HDI Scheme is a large-scale infrastructure initiative that hopes to significantly address this problem.

”Where agriculture is New Zealand’s largest export earner, irrigation infrastructure contributes significantly to supporting the country’s ongoing economic growth.” . . .

“Logistical nightmare’ sorting out mess – Ruth Grundy:

Immigration New Zealand is to work with Canterbury-based irrigation companies to get more specialist workers into the country to fix storm- damaged irrigators.

Last week, Irrigation New Zealand said the wind storms which ravaged the region had caused ”unprecedented” damage to more than 800 irrigators.

Irrigation NZ chief executive Andrew Curtis said machinery from South to North Canterbury had been damaged by high winds but the bulk of the damage was to machinery around Ashburton, Selwyn and Waimakariri.

”It’s very, very serious,” Mr Curtis said. . .

Tagging technology tackles possums:

Kiwi ingenuity combined with forensic science techniques has produced a method of identifying individual possums that has the potential to also be used in the fields of environmental and human science.

Dr James Ross  from the Centre of Wildlife Management and Conservation at Lincoln University is using a locally-developed, activity interference device (WaxTag®) baited with attractant substances to identify individual brushtail possums biting the tags.

In the absence of an efficient and cost-effective alternative to estimating the abundance of possums after control methods have been applied, the residual trap-catch index (RTCI) remains the monitoring standard at present. However, RTCI is not sensitive in locating survivors when the population is at very low densities and it is costly because traps need to be checked daily. . .

New scholarship helps students and industry alike:

Lincoln University PhD students Laura Buckthought and Travis Ryan-Salter have been awarded $10,000 each as the first recipients of the new Alexanders Agribusiness Scholarship.

The generous scholarship is exclusive to Lincoln University and awarded on behalf of Alexanders Chartered Accountants who created the scholarship with the aim of helping committed, high calibre postgraduate students undertaking research in the primary sector.

The company Directors did consider opening the scholarship up to students from other universities, but chose to make it exclusive to Lincoln on account of the University’s focus on the land-based industries relative to New Zealand’s key commercial interests. . .

Video sensation Peterson Farm Brothers at the Farm Science Review – we’re just Kansas farm kids – Susan Crowell:

LONDON, Ohio — They’re just typical farm kids.

They’d rather run the combine than the truck during wheat harvest, and they love to run their six-row Kemper chopper they call the Beast Machine. Their first chore was throwing flakes of hay bales to the cattle on their feedlot, and they remember when their dad let them drive the tractor in first gear, inching down the feedbunk while he tossed feed to the cows — “I know it was before I was even in school!”. Their idea of dressing up is something other than an old T-shirt with the sleeves cut off. They hate going out in freezing weather to break up the ice on the waterers for the cows, or cleaning up the outdoor feed bunk after it rains. They post pictures of newly cut alfalfa or eartags on Facebook. . .


Hunter Downs irrigation scheme gets consent

29/04/2010

Meridian Energy has gained resource consent for the Hunter Downs Irrigation Scheme.

 

The Hunter Downs Irrigation Scheme is a community irrigation proposal developed by the South Canterbury Irrigation Trust (SCIT) and Meridian.

The scheme would potentially irrigate up to 40,000 hectares of land from the Waitaki River stretching as far north as Otipua. It would provide opportunities for land use diversification, including horticulture, sheep, beef and dairy farming.

The South Canterbury Irrigation Trust was convened by the Mayors of the Timaru, Waimate and Mackenzie District Councils to develop sustainable irrigation solutions for South Canterbury.

The scheme would involve diverting water from the Waitaki River into an irrigation intake near Stonewall at the existing site of the Morvan Glenavy Ikawai irrigation scheme intake, 35km downstream of the Waitaki Dam.

From there the water would be pumped about 140km for delivery to farms using a pumping station, canal and pipe system.

This is similar to North Otago Irrigation Company’s scheme. It pumps water from the Waitaki to a pond then pipes it under pressure to farms. The first stage covering 10,000 hectares is fully subscribed and the company has started selling shares in the second 10,000 hectares.

The arrival of reliable water has transformed our valley and its value, not just to farms but to the district’s economy, has been highlighted by this autumn’s drought.

There are obvious gains in production but that hasn’t come at the cost of the environment. All shareholders are required to have an environmental farm plan which is independently audited every year.

The scheme has also improved water quality in the Waiareka Creek turning what was little more than a series of near stagnant ponds into a flowing stream.

There have also been social benefits. For the first time since the ag-sag of the 80s farmers’ adult children have returned home for work. There were eight houses on our road before the scheme was launched, now there are 13.

Consent for the Hunter Downs scheme is another step towards similar development in South Canterbury with a corresponding increase in economic, environmental and social benefits.


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