Rural round-up

August 28, 2019

Stressed southern farmers get help – Neal Wallace:

Agriculture leaders are scrambling to support Southland farmers struggling to deal with the seasonal pressures accentuated by a media campaign questioning their winter grazing management and animal welfare.

Southland Rural Support Trust chairwoman Cathie Cotter says the campaign has added to the seasonal stress of calving and lambing and a wet, cold latter part of winter.

“We are very concerned for farmers.  . . 

Not Just A Southland Issue — August 2019 – dairymanNZ:

Last week the Minister of Agriculture announced the members of his taskforce that will investigate the practice of wintering cow on crop in Southland, their brief being to “do a stocktake of the multiple initiatives that are already underway to promote good winter grazing practices and identify why those are not currently working for all.”

The issue has of course been brought to a head by environmental campaigners in Southland releasing drone footage of cows up to their hocks in mud along with pictures of cows calving in similar conditions.

The reaction from farmers on twitter has been starkly divided; Southland farmers believe it is an issue for their region to tackle without interference from central government or advice from outside experts, let alone from the lone environmentalist appointed to the taskforce. They are not interested in the opinions of non-farming urbanites whose only experience with wet weather grazing was that one time they got caught in the rain during a picnic.  . . 

Eagerly grabbing their chances – Neal Wallace:

Blair and Jane Smith freely admit to having their share of good fortune as they embark on their farming careers but that doesn’t mean they are resting on their laurels. Neal Wallace reports.

It might be a cliche that business success is all about opportunities but that is the reality for North Otago farmers Blair and Jane Smith.

In 2008 as they were in the process of taking over Jane’s family farm neighbours Bruce and Fay McNab invited them to look over their hill property.

Blair says they initially had no idea why they got the invitation but the farm was for sale and the McNabs viewed them as potential owners. . . 

 

Beefing up women’s voices :

Ten years ago Lindy Nelson was wondering why rural women weren’t more visible as decision-makers around the table in the boardroom or even in their own farm kitchens.

She did some research and decided to take the bull by the horns, setting up an organisation to give them a bigger voice.

The Agri-Women’s Development Trust was born and now trains and supports hundreds of women – and now men too – to make change in New Zealand’s primary sector and in rural communities. . .

Battery-powered tractors still a long way off – Mark Daniel:

The likelihood of electric or hybrid powered farm tractors still appears a long way off.

The German news site Top Agrar says research by Fendt indicates that the energy density of currently available batteries would not suit high horsepower prime movers.

Fendt director of research, development and purchasing, Heribert Reiter, says tractors up to 68hp (50kW) can typically use batteries to run for one to four hours depending on the task. . . 

‘Widespread support’ for advance parties – Trevor Walton:

They sound as if they are small military detachments charged with reconnaissance, but in the case of the deer industry’s advance parties (AP) they are in fact the main body of the army.

Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) Passion2Profit manager Innes Moffat said there were now 29 advance parties, involving 352 of the industry’s 1200 or so commercial deer farms and more than 30% of the industry’s deer.

”There are eight APs operating across Otago and Southland, catering for farmers in different districts and with different interests,” Mr Moffat said.

”For example there are environment APs in Central Otago and Southland; an AP catering for farmers who specialise in elk/wapiti; and a data group in Southland working on a short term project. . . 


Rural round-up

May 28, 2015

Surveyor believes in power of cooperative model, but says it’s up to farmers – Allan Barber:

Four months into his new job as CEO of Alliance, David Surveyor is really loving the challenge of heading a global business which is so crucial to farmers, consumers and New Zealand as a whole. He has always been interested in the agrifood space, as he terms it, and enjoys getting to know New Zealand through its agricultural producers.

In contrast with his previous roles in steel and building materials, the biggest difference in the meat industry is the question of livestock supply with so many factors outside the company’s control. Variable climatic conditions and land use change are just two of the main ones. At Alliance its cooperative status demands a lot of time seeing things from the supplier perspective which is not such a major factor in manufacturing industries, while all meat companies need to spend more time focused on the market. . .

Positive Signs Ahead as Farmers Look to Put Season Behind Them:

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council Chairman, Ian Brown said Farmers will be cautiously optimistic following today’s announcement by Fonterra of an opening forecast Milk Price for the 2015/16 season of $5.25 per kg/MS, including an opening advance rate of $3.66 per kg/MS.

Mr Brown: “Farmers will view next season’s forecast as a positive given the situation we have experienced this past season.

“They will also see the announcement as a signal from their Board that the market should start to move in a positive direction in the near future, which is welcome news. . .

Fonterra Announces Board Change:

Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited today announced that Sir Ralph Norris has indicated he will not seek to continue his term on the Fonterra Board, following the Co-operative’s Annual Meeting on 25 November 2015.

Sir Ralph joined the Board in May 2012 as an Independent Director, and made this decision because of his other commitments.

Sir Ralph is also resigning from the Board of the Manager of the Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund, from 25 November 2015. . . 

Funding bost for Irrigation Acceleration Fund:

Irrigation projects will receive a kick-start of $25 million in operating funding for five years from 2016/17 through the Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF), Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

“This funding will help to complete the investigation and development of new regional scale irrigation proposals,” says Mr Guy.

“The need for more water storage projects is obvious given that nearly every part of the country has suffered through drought at some stage over the past three years.

“Providing a reliable water supply for farmers and growers has massive potential to boost growth, creating jobs and exports in provincial regions.” . . .

New Zealand National Party's photo.

Call for more water storage heard by Government – more funding allocated:

IrrigationNZ today welcomed the post budget announcement by Primary Industries Minister, Nathan Guy, of a $25 million allocation of new funding to the Irrigation Acceleration Fund.

“This will boost the development stages of water storage and irrigation distribution infrastructure, which is desperately needed in our summer dry east coast regions. Reliable water supply will sustain communities and maintain the environmental health of their rivers,” says Nicky Hyslop, IrrigationNZ Chair.

“With additional IAF funds contributing to the early stages of this infrastructure development, it will be essential that RMA process reforms that empower collaboration also occur so that the funds do not go to waste,” says Mrs Hyslop. . .

Choice of chair underlines importance of forest safety:

A safety council has been set-up, chaired by Dame Alison Paterson, to make forests safer places to work. Establishing the council was a key recommendation of the Independent Forestry Safety Review Panel that reviewed forest safety in 2014.

The Forest Industry Safety Council (FISC) was launched tonight at a function at parliament. Its board includes representatives of forest owners, contractors, workers, unions and Worksafe New Zealand. Funding will come from the Forest Grower Levy and from government – ACC and Worksafe. . .

Kanuka right at home on winning farm – Kate Taylor:

Kanuka is very much part of our landscape, says Simon Beamish, who with wife Josi was named the 2015 Pan Pac Hawke’s Bay Farm Forester of the Year in April.

They farm alongside the Ngaruroro River that slices between the Kaweka and Ruahine ranges in Hawke’s Bay, west of Hastings, with the farm rising to 690 metres above sea level.

Their 1121ha Awapai and 992ha Waitata properties have been owned by the Beamish family for almost 130 years. They were both part of the original Whanawhana block leased and then freeholded by Simon’s great great grandfather Nathaniel Beamish in 1886. Nathaniel’s son George was sent up to manage the block of land at the young age of 18. . .

Cervena venison piloted in Europe:

New Zealand venison exporters have started a trial to test the appetite of European consumers for Cervena venison in the summer grilling season.

The trial, which began in April, is part of the Passion2Profit initiative that was formally launched today at the Deer Industry Conference in Napier. P2P is a joint venture between the deer industry and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) under the Primary Growth Partnership programme.

“We are really excited that this pilot is underway. Launching Cervena in Europe has been talked about in the deer industry for many years, but it needs careful branding and substantial promotional support to make it a sales success,” says DINZ venison manager Innes Moffat. . .

Horticulture’s future may lay with city slickers:

Increasing urbanisation means more support for initiatives like the ‘NZ Young Horticulturist of the Year 2015 Competition’ is needed to encourage fresh talent into primary industries, like horticulture, to sustain this country’s edge as a top quality food producer.

The horticultural industry has a bright future and is fundamentally important to New Zealand’s economy, but the fact that more than 85 per cent of kids under 15* now live in urban areas is prompting some of the country’s top companies to throw their weight behind career awareness and development initiatives in the sector. . .

Rural Connectivity Symposium 2015 gets underway today:

After months of planning TUANZ and RHAANZ are delighted to announce that the Rural Connectivity Symposium kicks off in Wellington today.

“The event has sold out with over 150 people attending. The Symposium will be opened by the Communications Minister, The Hon. Amy Adams and has been well supported by sponsors across the health and ICT spectrum” said Craig Young, CEO of TUANZ.

“Rural satellite service provider, Wireless Nation, is the premier sponsor for our one-day event, which is a mixture of presentations and workshops.” . .

New dairy mineral blend ticks all the boxes:

As mineral deficiencies continue to cost dairy farmers time, money, livestock and lost production, a unique new mineral blend is offering a comprehensive, cost-effective solution.

Developed specifically for New Zealand dairying by BEC Feed Solutions, Main Stay Macro Minerals, delivers key nutritional minerals in a convenient, palatable, accurate and dust-free blend. And, because it incorporates the revolutionary Bolifor Mag 33 and MGP+ Magnesium products, farmers won’t have to worry about pasture dusting again, consequently saving valuable time and labour costs. . .


Rural round-up

September 7, 2014

Possum purge dents TB rate – Tim Cronshaw:

Possum control operations are making inroads into the most inhospitable bush and swamps in the challenging upper South Island area to protect cattle and deer herds from bovine tuberculosis (TB).

Of the 68 herds infected with TB nationally, 44 are in the West Coast, Tasman, Marlborough and Canterbury north of the Rangitata River. Southland, Otago and Canterbury south of the Rangitata have 15 infected herds and nine remain in the North Island.

They have been reduced from 1700 several decades ago as a result of work by TBfree New Zealand. . .

Gourmet fungi could boost farmers’ incomes – Tim Cronshaw:

Farmers with tree plots, and other foresters, could add a side business to their main income after research in high-value edible crops has come out with promising results.

Plant & Food Research’s Alexis Guerin and Associate Professor Wang Yun have been investigating the delicacies of saffron milk cap mushrooms and bianchetto truffle on farm sites in Lincoln.

The scientists believe there is room to commercialise the crops on forest blocks, although much research remains in its infancy.

Truffles sell for about $3000 a kilogram, while the saffron milk cap mushroom usually sells for $30 to $50/kg and double that in upmarket European stores. . .

US now top market for NZ chilled venison – Tim Cronshaw:

The United States has toppled Germany as the go-to market for New Zealand chilled-venison exports.

Deer farmers should be in good spirits, as venison prices are slightly ahead of last year’s and until lately exports to the US were sluggish as the global financial crisis continued to dent sales.

Deer Industry New Zealand venison marketing services manager Innes Moffat said a strong economic recovery in the US had encouraged more chilled venison sales.

“There has been a big increase in chilled venison cuts to the US in the last year compared to the year before. The US is now New Zealand’s largest market for chilled venison and over the last year it has overtaken Germany.” . . .

NZ urged to boost value of dairy goodse of dairy goods – Andrea Fox:

New Zealand can no longer wait for world dairy markets to wash over it and now is the time to be aggressive to create new profitability opportunities and focus on lifting productivity, the NZ Institute of Economic Research says.

While dismaying to dairy farmers who had enjoyed record high global commodity prices, the steep fall in global dairy prices this year was a sign of world markets getting in balance, NZIER principal economist Shamubeel Eaqub said.

“For a whole bunch of reasons all of a sudden the markets have gone from finely balanced in favour of dairy producers to very much out of favour. 

“We went through a really sweet spot, where the global production side was trying to catch up with a demand that somehow caught us by surprise. . .

Farming ‘breakthrough’ overlooked – Neil Lyon:

THE low adoption of Controlled Traffic Farming (CTF) practices throughout Australian broadacre farming areas has soil scientists baffled as to why more farmers haven’t tapped into its many advantages.

By confining weight-bearing machinery wheels to permanent tracks across a paddock, CTF effectively limits soil compaction to about 15 per cent of the paddock and leaves the remaining soil to regenerate and lift crop yield potential.

Despite the system being heralded as a breakthrough for farming nearly two decades ago, a recent survey of eastern Australian grain farmers found that only 13pc were using three-metre CTF, 21pc were using a combination of two-metre and three-metre CTF, and 66pc were using none at all. . . .

Shear adventure – Mark Griggs:

THE adventures of our forebears often intrigues and that is certainly the case for Stuart Town woolgrower, Laurie Pope.

Laurie has long been fascintated by the stories surrounding the journeys made by his grandfather, Michael John Pope, or Mick to family and friends, by bike while he was shearing in western NSW and Queensland during the late 1800s.

The dust is well settled and much now covered by bitumen, but Laurie has always held the desire to retrace his grandfather’s bicycle tracks, so last February, accompanied by neighbour Cliff Hyde, he set out by vehicle to cover the 2077 kilometre round journey from the family property, “Weemala”, Stuart Town, to Eulo, Qld, but was interrupted by rain halfway through at Thurloo Downs Station, Wanaaring. . .

 

Farmers urged to consult their vets as Theileria cases rise:

The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) is encouraging farmers to consult their vet about suspected cases of Theileria on their farms, and how to best manage Theileria, as the latest data from the Ministry of Primary Industries shows an increase this season in the number of cattle infected with the disease. Naïve cattle that have been moved into affected areas are particularly at risk.

Theileria, which causes anaemia in cows and is spread by ticks, affects cattle and is not a human or food safety issue. Signs of Theileria include lethargy, low appetite and reduced milk production.

Dr Jenny Weston, President of the NZVA Society of Dairy Cattle Veterinarians, says that vets play a key role in working collaboratively with farmers to provide advice, taking both a preventive and proactive approach to minimise the disease. . . .

 


Rural round-up

April 2, 2013

‘Inspiring’ kiwi landscape in the blood decades on

Life is still a laugh for 88-year-old environmentalist Gordon Stephenson.

While he was “gobsmacked” to learn that Waikato University wanted to bestow its highest honour on his shoulders, he isn’t above making light of it.

“What do I do in public when somebody says is there a doctor in the house, please?”

“Yes,” he says with a laugh, “that is worrying me.”

But on that score there’s still time up his sleeve – April 16 is the day Mr Stephenson will receive his honorary doctorate at Claudelands Events Centre for his lengthy and ongoing contribution to the environment. . .

Dyed in the wool innovation partners to go global – Peter Kerr:

The time it takes to convert a good idea into something that another person’s willing to buy is almost invariably longer than you think.

A couple of years ago, sticK reported on BGI Developments’ winning the right to commercialise AgResearch’s new textile fabric dyeing process.

The beauty of this process is different dye colours don’t bleed into each other – the picture or pattern remains sharp and embedded in the fabric (unlike say printing on top of a T-shirt for example).

BGI (stands for Bloody Good Ideas) directors Robyn George-Neich and Brent Gregory have spent part of the past two years looking for the right company to take the technology to the global market. . .

Time to shore-up water supplies for the future – Terri Russell:

Southland river levels are the lowest they have been for years. Environment Southland has stopped some farmers from irrigating. No significant rain is in sight. Terri Russell talks to industry experts to find out what is being done to help future-proof the agricultural industry in times of a changing climate.

From flooding in January to a prolonged dry period, the Southland Federated Farmers boss says it is time to look at water storage options for the future.

MetService duty forecaster Ian Gall said parts of Southland were forecast to receive about 10mm to 15mm of rain yesterday but there would be no more significant rain before the end of the week. . .

Orchard optimism follows tough times – Peter Watson:

Turners & Growers has had to make big writedowns in the value of its Nelson orchards for the second consecutive year, but chief executive Geoff Hipkins hopes they are at an end, with market prospects looking brighter.

Bruised by $29 million in asset writedowns, the fruit and vegetables marketer posted a full-year loss of $15.3m for 2012.

The loss, although deep, was an improvement on the previous year’s $18.9m deficit, also a result of asset writedowns, and better than the $16m to $19m loss it forecast in December. . .

Ballance Farm Award finalists chosen – Sally Rae:

The finalists have been selected for the Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

There were 10 entries in the awards, which were judged by Matt Harcombe, Andrea Ludemann, Bernard Lynch and John Barkla.

The winners will be announced at an awards dinner to be held at The Venue in Wanaka on Friday, April 12. . .

Venison gets exposure:

The deer industry has just hosted four young German chefs and eight German journalists to New Zealand, to learn more about farmed venison here.

Manager for Deer Industry New Zealand, Innes Moffat, said the aim was to enthuse them about farm-raised venison and develop relationships with these influential people within German cuisine.

“Some of the feedback from both the young chefs and journalists reveals that there is an ongoing need to improve the level of understanding of how NZ venison is grown and how it can be prepared.” . .

Technology important part of farming – Terri Russell:

New Zealand dairy farmer co- operative LIC delivered its farmer workshops in Southland and Otago. 

Last week sessions were held in Gore, Invercargill and Balclutha as part of a series of workshops throughout the country. It provided dairy farmers with the knowledge to plan and record drying- off of cows and and the culling of cows.

There were two sessions on how to enter and access data in MINDApro, a herd management software program, and a more advanced session on how to produce more tailored reports using the program. . .

Agland goes to market:

A $150 million-plus portfolio of Australian agricultural land, including the remaining PrimeAg Australia assets, is being offered to institutional investors just as they start to show greater enthusiasm for the alternative asset class.

Last week the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, one of the world’s largest pension funds, said it planned to start buying Australian farmland.

That follows two Swedish pension funds known as ­AP-fonden, the Michigan Municipal Employees’ Retirement System, US-based fund manager TIAA CREF and the Qatar Investment Authority buying Australian ­agricultural land in the past 12 to 18 months. . .


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