Rural round-up

June 19, 2017

The truth about cow poo and other myths – Marc Gascoigne:

 I’ve quite often read or heard over the last few months that each dairy cow produces the waste of 14 humans, which apparently translates into New Zealand having to deal with the waste of an equivalent population of 90 million people.

Often the implication is that all of this waste is washed straight into our rivers and waterways.

Yeah right.

​What is conveniently left out of this argument put forward by our critics is that the vast majority of cow No 2s are deposited straight back onto the land, to be broken down by microbes and become part of the top soil, boosting fertility and being used to grow more grass to feed cows. What a great system for dealing with waste! . . 

Most irrigation is on target – study:

A summer-long on-farm study of irrigation efficiency in the Ashburton area will provide a benchmark for progress.

This is the message from study leader, IrrigationNZ project manager, Steve Breneger.

In partnership with Environment Canterbury, INZ employed post-graduate environmental science students to collect data for four months, looking at how farmers were operating equipment, applying water, scheduling maintenance and monitoring soil moisture and run-off. . . 

Tech aims to get more for less – Richard Rennie:

Farmers’ efforts to cut costs after some tough seasons have not dampened their appetite for adopting technology that will help them produce more from less.

This year’s Mystery Creek Fieldays was dominated by the usual swathe of latest hardware for farm use but agri-tech companies reported farmers most interested in technology to help them generate greater profits from more stripped down, pasture-focused systems.

That was also being pushed harder by regulatory requirements around animal identification and environmental controls, both requiring better technology to keep operations compliant. . . 

Making a beeline for prizes – Hugh Stringleman:

Four years after the concept came to him and on his first time at the National Fieldays Darren Bainbridge won four innovation awards for his electronic MyApiary products.

With co-founder Carl Vink, Bainbridge creamed the awards among 80 entrants with their cloud-based operations management tool for beekeeping.

The custom-built tool was delivered on licence for the required number of users, effectively making MyApiary the IT provider for the beekeeper.

All of the biggest bee companies had shown interest in the service, Bainbridge said. . . 

Fieldays reflects positive outlook for Primary Sector:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has congratulated the National Fieldays Society for another successful event at Mystery Creek in Waikato.

“This year’s Fieldays was another success thanks to hard work from Peter Nation and his team, but also in part due to the positive outlook for the primary sector,” says Mr Guy.

“Many farmers and growers have dealt with some challenging past seasons, so it was great to feel a really positive mood across the many thousands who entered the gates. There’s a strong sense that many will be looking to use their extra forecast revenue to reinvest in their businesses. . . 

Fieldays’ Rural Bachelor 2017: Meet the eight rural hunks :

Yogis, a self-confessed tractor lover and a hitchhiker are among eight rural blokes in the running to win a coveted Golden Gumboot.

The title of Fieldays Rural Bachelor 2017 will be taken out by one young, skilled and single farmer this week.

Hosted at Hamilton’s Mystery Creek, the competition forms a part of National Agricultural Fieldays’ three-day event. . . 

Mathew McAtamney crowned the Rural Bachelor of the Year at Fieldays –  Jo Lines-Mackenzie:

Mathew McAtamney might have the title, he just doesn’t have the girl yet. 

The Fairlie farmer was crowned the Rural Bachelor of the Year at National Fieldays at Mystery Creek on Saturday.

After a week of challenges against seven other men, the 26 year old took the golden gumboot trophy and won a prize pack worth over $20,000, including a Suzuki King Quad 750 4WD. . . 

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If you see myrtle rust call MPI 0800 80 99 66.

 


Rural round-up

May 2, 2017

Young Kiwis needed to help shift NZ’s primary industry focus to environmentally friendly horticulture:

OECD warns New Zealand’s current economic growth model approaching environmental limits

More young Kiwis are needed to roll up their sleeves and help save New Zealand’s environment, particularly our waterways, by participating in careers that expand horticulture as the higher value land use activity of choice. This needs to be given considerable urgency following last month’s warning from the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) that New Zealand’s economic growth model is approaching its environmental limits.

Chair of the Royal NZ Institute of Horticulture Education Trust’s ‘Young Horticulturist of the Year 2017 Competition’, Elle Anderson, says she hopes that the OECD’s warning that New Zealand’s economic growth model was approaching its environmental limits will make more young people choose to make a difference with a career in horticulture . . . 

More can be done to protect New Zealand’s waterways:

Protecting New Zealand’s waterways are a priority and dairy is one of many sectors that needs to play a role.

The Ministry for the Environment’s Our fresh water 2017 report released today, Thursday 27 April, identified that more needs to be done to reduce phosphorus, nitrogen and E.coli entering the waterway, in both rural and urban settings.

New Zealand’s dairy farmers have been on this journey for many years now, and the improvements to the quality of their waterways are beginning to show. Over the past five years, dairy farmers have built 26,000 kms of fences to protect waterways on their farms. That’s the equivalent of a journey from downtown Auckland to the steps of the United Nations in New York – and almost all the way back again. . . 

‘Our fresh water 2017’ highlights the need for collective action:

The release of ‘Our fresh water 2017’ is a call to action for all New Zealanders, says IrrigationNZ CEO, Andrew Curtis. The report measures fresh water quality, quantity and flows, biodiversity and cultural health.

“This report highlights the impact we all have on fresh water resources. I have no doubt it will provoke further finger-pointing at the rural sector, but the reality is, all human activities are placing pressure on our fresh water environments and we must all do our bit to limit and reverse those impacts. ‘Our fresh water 2017’ is a call to action for communities to work together to implement sustainable solutions.”

Mr Curtis said that whilst the report contained some good data on the impacts of certain activities in specific catchments, it was constrained by a lack of consistent data and knowledge gaps – particularly around irrigation. While the report shows 51% of the water allocated by councils is for irrigation, it was not able to determine how much of the allocated water was actually used because data quality and the completeness of records on actual takes is inconsistent. . . 

World Championships big earner for region:

The 2017 World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships, held in Invercargill in February, was widely heralded as the best event in the competition’s 40-year history.

Now, independent analysis has backed that up, revealing a $6.78 million to $7.48 million economic impact to the Southland economy.

The economic impact report, commissioned by the event and undertaken by Venture Southland, has revealed that international visitors to New Zealand for the event stayed an average of 31.3 days in New Zealand, 14.5 of those in Southland. . . 

Lactoferrin receives GRAS Notice for use in Infant Formula:

Synlait Milk (NZX: SML; ASX: SM1) has been given the green light to export its lactoferrin to the United States for use in infant formula and toddler formula.

Synlait is the second company in the world to receive a GRAS (Generally Recognised As Safe) notice from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to use lactoferrin in these applications.

A GRAS notice is added to the FDA Register once a food ingredient is scientifically proven to be safe for its intended use. . . 

US food guru to speak at horticulture conference:

American food and agribusiness guru Roland Fumasi has today been announced as one of the keynote speakers for the Horticulture Conference 2017, on 14 July in Tauranga.

“Roland Fumasi is well-known worldwide for his work for Rabobank’s RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness group,” Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says.

“He understands the consumer-led market that growers are providing for and the challenges around that, so his presentation will be of great interest at our conference and beyond. . . 

Dairy and lamb to China boost March exports:

Exports rose $446 million (11 percent) when compared with March 2016 to reach $4.6 billion in March 2017, Stats NZ said today.

Exports to China in the March 2017 month were valued at $1.1 billion, up $326 million (43 percent). Milk powder, butter and cheese (dairy), and lamb led the rise. Dairy rose $114 million and lamb rose $57 million.

“China continues to be our top destination for goods exports, and accounts for a quarter of the total dairy exports value,” international statistics manager Tehseen Islam said. “This March, exports to China exceeded $1 billion for the first March month since 2014.” . . 


90% swimmable

February 24, 2017

The Government has announced a target of 90 per cent of New Zealand’s lakes and rivers meeting swimmable water quality standards by 2040, alongside releasing new policy, regulations, information maps and funding to help achieve the new goal.

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“This ambitious plan to improve the water quality in our lakes and rivers recognises that New Zealanders expect to be able to take a dip in their local river or lake without getting a nasty bug,” Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

“The plan is backed up by national regulations requiring stock to be fenced out of waterways, new national policy requirements on regional councils to strengthen their plan rules on issues such as sewage discharges and planting riparian margins, a new Freshwater Improvement Fund and new maps that clearly identify where improvements are needed.

“This 90 per cent goal by 2040 is challenging and is estimated to cost the Government, farmers and councils $2 billion over the next 23 years. It will make us a world leader in water quality standards for swimming, and that’s important for New Zealand’s growing tourism industry. It will return our rivers and lakes to a standard not seen in 50 years while recognising that our frequent major rainfalls mean a 100 per cent standard is not realistic.”

The target covers the length of rivers over 0.4m deep and the perimeters of lakes greater than 1.5km, which total 54,000km. The plan is about improving the frequency that we can swim in our lakes and rivers, noting that even our cleanest rivers breach swimming water quality standards during storms.

This is a very important point – nature is sometimes to blame for lower quality.

The swimmable target is based on meeting the water quality standard at least 80 per cent of the time, in line with European and US definitions. Currently 72 per cent by length meet this definition, and the target is to increase that to 90 per cent by 2040. This means an additional 10,000km of swimmable rivers and lakes by 2040, or 400km per year.

“The maps I am releasing today provide the most comprehensive and consistent information on water quality for swimming of New Zealand’s rivers and lakes ever published. These will help focus councils and communities on improving their local water quality, as well as help people make decisions about where they can safely swim. The maps are connected to the Land, Air, Water Aotearoa website that provides real-time information on water quality, which is particularly relevant for the fair and intermittent categories.

“The challenge of improving water quality varies significantly across New Zealand. This plan requires improvements in water quality across all regions and all categories. The target not only requires an improvement in areas that are swimmable, ie into the fair category, but also rivers and lakes being moved from fair to good, and good to excellent. Regional targets to achieve the national goals are to be worked through with regional councils by March 2018. Some regional targets will need to be greater than the 90 per cent and others, where it is more difficult to achieve, will be less.

The National Policy Statement (NPS) for Freshwater Management is being strengthened to support the new 90 per cent by 2040 swimmability target, as well as changes to address the issues of ecological health and nutrients by:

  • replacing “wadeable” with “swimmable”
  • adding macroinvertebrate monitoring for ecological health
  • strengthening references to “Te Mana o te Wai”
  • clarifying the consideration of economic opportunities
  • requiring instream limits for nitrogen and phosphorus
  • clarifying inclusion of coastal lakes and lagoons
  • clarifying the policy on exceptions
  • strengthening the requirement for monitoring and improving quality.

“The new regulations on excluding stock from waterways are an important part of this plan to improve water quality. The rules progressively apply to dairy, pig, dairy support, beef and deer farms from this year to 2030 relative to the steepness of the country, at an expected cost of $367 million,” Dr Smith says.

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“We are today opening bids for the new $100m Freshwater Improvement Fund and announcing the eligibility and assessment criteria, which closes on 13 April. This comes on top of the $350m already committed by the government, of which more than $140m has been spent on specific river and lake clean-ups.

“This is the third phase of the Government’s work programme to improve New Zealand freshwater management and builds on the NPS introduced in 2011 and the National Objectives Framework in 2014. I commend and acknowledge the Freshwater Iwi Leaders Group and the Land and Water Forum, who have worked tirelessly in assisting with these policy developments.”

The detail of the NPS and Stock Exclusion Regulations are open for consultation until 28 April 2017.

Deterioration in most waterways has taken place over many years and can’t be reversed quickly.

Lower standards of water quality have a number of causes, one of which is intensification of farming and Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy says farmers are up for the freshwater challenge the new standards pose:

New freshwater reforms will result in 56,000 km more fences protecting New Zealand waterways from stock – enough to go round the world one and a half times, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

The new rules on stock exclusion are part of the Government’s plans announced today setting a target for 90% of rivers and lakes to be swimmable by 2040.

“Farmers have made huge progress in recent years to improve their environmental practices and this will be another important step forward. Dairy farmers have already voluntarily fenced off over 24,000km of waterways,” says Mr Guy.

“We know that stock standing in or regularly crossing waterways can do significant damage. While dairy farmers have voluntarily fenced off around 96% of their waterways, we want to extend this to other types of farms as well.

“The proposed national regulation would ensure that dairy cattle, beef cattle, pigs and deer are kept out of waterways.

“We need to ensure the changes are practical for farmers, so the exclusions would be implemented in a staged process starting this year through to 2030, depending on the stock type and land slope.

“There are long term benefits for the primary industries and wider economy from these reforms. Overseas markets and consumers increasingly demand a strong environmental performance over and above regulatory requirements. In this context, protecting New Zealand’s natural advantage has never been more important.

“No single organisation or group is solely responsible for improving our water quality. Meeting the target will take a collective effort, but the primary industries have a key contribution to make.

“In the meantime, the Ministry for Primary Industries continues to work with the primary sectors to invest in good ideas which promote environmental best practice. One example is the Farm Systems Change program, which identifies high preforming farms and uses farmers’ networks to spread their knowledge.

“Another is a major programme under the Primary Growth Partnership, called Transforming the Dairy Value Chain. Under this programme effluent management systems have been improved, and every region now has a riparian planting guideline developed in conjunction with regional councils.

“As a Government we are committed to growing the primary industries at the same time as improving water quality. Water storage schemes like Central Plains Water and the Waimea Community Dam help in this by taking pressure off groundwater sources and maintaining summer river flows, delivering both economic and environmental benefits.

“We also know that science will play a major role in improving our freshwater. The ‘Our Land and Water’ National Science Challenge is investing $96.9 million over 10 years into this, hosted by AgResearch and involving six other Crown research institutes.

IrrigationNZ says the outcomes are achievable:

“Achievable outcomes within a reasonable timeframe” is how IrrigationNZ CEO, Andrew Curtis, described today’s release of the government’s ‘Clean Water’ document. He hoped however that the target of 90% of rivers and lakes being swimmable by 2040 didn’t let urban waterways ‘off the hook’.

“Farmers have received the lion’s share of blame for New Zealand’s water quality degradation and despite evidence backing up the contribution cities and industries make to poor water quality, they have largely escaped the finger-pointing. I’m hoping the Government will call every New Zealander to account for water quality, recognising we all contribute to the problem, therefore we must all work together to enact the solution” said Curtis.

Poor water quality is not only a rural problem nor is it solely due to bad farming practices.

IrrigationNZ was pleased the Government had recognised the important economic contribution farmers make to our communities, stating that Regional Councils must consider the economic wellbeing of their community when making decisions about water allocation.

“Farmers and growers make significant investments in irrigation infrastructure and on-farm efficiencies, and the return on that investment is spent in towns and cities throughout New Zealand. We all benefit from irrigation and it’s important councils don’t impose restrictions that negatively impact the viability of our primary sector.” . . 

DairyNZ welcomed the new rules:

“The new stock exclusion requirements for dairy cattle is a strong endorsement of the hard work dairy farmers have done on their farms to protect waterways,” says DairyNZ CEO Tim Mackle.

“The on-farm fencing requirements in the new rules have already been met by 97.1 percent of dairy farmers around the country, and the target by May, a month ahead of the new requirements, is to be 100 percent, with all waterways running through dairy farms will be fenced off and all stock crossings bridged,” he says.

“This means that right now very few dairy cattle have any access to waterways, and in just two months’ time no dairy cattle – that’s zero dairy cattle – should have access to waterways on our farms.”

Dr Mackle says fencing – currently 27,109 kms – is always set back a healthy distance from waterways, varying from farm to farm depending on the soil type and contour of the land.

“This ensures the optimum levels of bacteria, nutrients and sediment are filtered. Farmers also keep cows off sensitive areas in the vicinity of the fenced waterways, for example, in wet weather.”

“There’s still a way to go in some areas, and dairy farmers are well aware of that. We acknowledge that improving New Zealand waterways is a long journey, as today’s announcement recognises. The good news is dairy farmers around the country are leading the way in protecting freshwater on their farms.

“Our dairy farmers can be immensely proud of the work they are undertaking for the environment on their farms, and many are also doing work to improve their surrounding communities – and all New Zealanders, whether they are living in towns and cities, or in rural communities, can also be proud of the efforts of our dairy farmers,” says Dr Mackle.

As part of their commitment to the environment, dairy farmers are also planting vegetation along waterways, and using native plants such as manuka, cabbage trees and flaxes, as well as native grasses, that have superior ability to filter and slow run-off, he says.

“Added to this, all dairy farms now have dedicated effluent management systems with effluent ponds, just like towns around the country. Areas such as the dairy shed and yards drain directly into these systems where the effluent is stored and later used by farmers to fertilise their land.

“It’s also encouraging to see the rates of dairy effluent related prosecutions and abatement notices continuing to decline dramatically, and an improvement in overall effluent non-compliance, which is the lowest it has been in recent years.”

Over the past three years farmers have invested over $1 billion dollars in environmental protection measures, he says.

“About 70 percent of this expenditure has been on effluent systems that feature the latest technology. Farmers are also well along the way in preparing environmental management plans for their farms, working closely with environmental advisors and their local councils.”

Dr Mackle says while a number of forward-thinking farmers began environmental initiatives a decade and more ago, the actions of the past three years are recorded in the Sustainable Dairying Water Accord.

“The accord is an independently audited report. It can be seen as the commitment of every single one of New Zealand’s 14,000 dairy farmers to play their part in helping to ensure that their fellow Kiwis can enjoy cleaner freshwater.”

Full results of year three of the water accord are currently being audited and will be announced in April.

For year two water accord results see www.dairynz/wateraccord

Horticulture NZ chief executive Mike Chapman also welcomed  the clean water plans:

“Water is, of course, the lifeblood of horticulture and our commercial growers have been innovating for some time with environmentally sustainable ways of growing healthy, fresh food for all New Zealanders,” Mr Chapman says.

“Growers implement a number of techniques to protect waterways near their properties. These including riparian planting and management adjacent to waterways and silt traps to collect run-off caused by rain and stop anything entering nearby waterways.

“Riparian planting has many benefits, particularly to water quality, but it is also very expensive and growers bear the cost of that.

“It is great to see the Government opening applications for the $100 million Freshwater Improvement Fund, and we will certainly be looking at projects that could be part of that to create more and better ways to protect waterways near growing land.

“But it is also important to note that water quality in New Zealand is not solely the domain of people in the primary industries or rural land owners. The bulk of New Zealanders live in cities and they both use a lot of water and create a lot of waste water. So instead of always pointing the finger at those outside the cities, urban dwellers might want to consider what their contribution to clean water in New Zealand might be to help our growers continue to feed them healthy food in an environmentally sustainable way.”

The Environmental Defence Society (EDS) has welcomed the announcement:

“The announcement is generally consistent with some of the Land and Water Forum’s recommendations,” said EDS CEO Gary Taylor.

“For the first time, swimmability is the objective in freshwater management.

“We will have transparency regarding which lakes and rivers are in fact swimmable and which are not. This will vary across seasons and places. Regional councils will need to improve degraded systems with a target of achieving 90% swimmability by 2040.

“The standard for what constitutes swimmable rivers and lakes is comparable with the EU Water Framework Directive. Whether the target date is acceptable will become clear during the consultation phase to follow.

“Other recommendations by the Land and Water Forum have been accepted by Government. These include providing greater rigour on nitrate levels and on macroinvertebrates in the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management. However, some of the detail on these issues appears to raise questions that need further exploration.

“One important issue that hasn’t been adequately addressed is turbidity and sediment – water clarity. The Forum is doing more work on this later in the year. . . 

Forest and Bird isn’t impressed:

Forest & Bird has condemned the government’s new water quality standards, warning New Zealanders that they lock in current levels of water pollution and allow for a 5-fold increase in the chance of getting sick from swimming in a river.

“Despite an explicit assurance from Minister Smith that the new water standards would provide for human and ecosystem health, he has failed to deliver on either of these things,” says Forest & Bird CEO Kevin Hague.

Contrary to the overwhelming public concern for the state of New Zealand’s rivers and lakes, the government’s announcement today does not require any improvement to our water quality, except for the very worst rivers.

“If your local river is polluted now, the government does not require that its water quality is improved to a standard that is safe for people and the ecosystem that it should support. Instead, all they propose is that the current situation is maintained,” says Mr Hague. . . 

What would he and his organisation do when nature causes the problems?.

The Otago Regional Council had concerns about only three waterways in January, two alerts were due to high rainfall and the poor water quality in the Kakanui River was caused by birds?

Clean water is one of the measures of sustainability, maintaining clean waterways and improving those with poor quality is a long-term and expensive process but the goal of 90% swimmable is achievable.


Rural round-up

February 7, 2017

Sellers withdraw from wool auction as prices plummet – Sally Rae:

Unprecedented levels of wool withdrawn or passed from the market resulted in the smallest offering South Island wool brokers have presented.

Of the original 13,900 bales put up for auction last week, 2100 were withdrawn on the day as sellers chose to hold, as prices were now well below long-term sustainable levels for wool growers, New Zealand Wool Services International chief executive John Dawson said.

The balance of the offering of 11,819 bales had 64% sold, and the remainder was passed in, Mr Dawson said.

Even the grower resistance could not halt further price slippage for crossbred wool, with lamb’s wool and poorer style fleece again being the most affected, PGG Wrightson Wool’s South Island sales team. . . 

Farmers say plan to regulate privately owned bush is heavy handed – David Burroughs:

Farmers have accused the New Plymouth District Council of “confiscating their land rights” with a plan to regulate areas of privately owned native bush.

Nearly 200 farmers from North Taranaki and further afield filled the Urenui Community Hall on Thursday night to listen to the council’s proposal on Significant Natural Areas (SNAs), with many of them speaking out against the proposal.

Under the plan, around 361 areas would become legally protected, with farmers needing a resource consent to make changes to them, such as building a track or making a hut. 

But many of the farmers said they already took care of the land without the need for regulation and bringing in the new rules was heavy handed of the council. . . 

Marlborough shearer ‘sorted’ for international competition – Mike Watson:

Crutching 1000 lambs could prove the ideal warm up for Marlborough shearer Sarah Higgins as she heads to the All Nations shearing championships in Invercargill.

Higgins is the sole Marlborough shearer competing at the All Nations event which has drawn 400 entries.

“It’s part of my practise run towards the championships,” she said. . . 

Water restrictions affect irrigators too:

They’re as much a part of the traditional kiwi summer as burnt sausages and backyard cricket and despite their late arrival, water restrictions are now in place in most regions. While most of us can accept that our carefully-tended lawn will soon become a pocket square of brown dirt, we tend to get a little bit upset when just down the road we see irrigators operating.

“It’s natural for people to question it” said IrrigationNZ CEO, Andrew Curtis. “But what they often don’t understand is that irrigators operate under the same regulatory regime that town water supplies do, and that town water supplies actually have a priority – irrigators always get restricted from taking water from a river or aquifer long before towns do.”

However, in urban areas, household restrictions are driven by the infrastructure’s capacity to supply; no town water supply system is built to cope with peak demand,  which is everyone watering their garden at the same time in the height of summer. . . 

Pupils take on farm study:

St Hilda’s Collegiate Schoolpupils have been getting their heads around lamb weights.

The Dunedin school was among 26 nationwide to trial a red meat profit partnership programme last year, aimed at engaging primary and secondary school pupils in farming.

The resources, including assessments within the programme, have received the New Zealand Qualification Authority quality-assured assessment materials trademark, and the programme could be used to gain NCEA credits. It will be rolled out to further schools this year.

St Hilda’s head of maths, John Bradfield, said the school had coincidentally been looking for dairy farming data at the time the RMPP programme “popped across the radar”. . . 

It’s a dog’s life as trial season begins – Sally Rae:

Dog trial season is under way, with a big week ahead in May for the Otago centre.

The South Island championships will be held at Warepa, in South Otago, starting on May 1.

The centre’s first trial for the season was held recently at Lowburn and entries were well up on last year.

It was a particularly good couple of days for members of the Omakau-Earnscleugh Collie Club, who featured among the prizewinners.

Duncan Campbell, from Earnscleugh Station, won the long head with Zip, while his father, Alistair, was third in the straight hunt with Ra. . .

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Where are the protests?

January 31, 2017

Otago rivers are fine for swimming, except for the Kakanui where the cause of poor water quality, once again, is seagulls.

Water quality in Otago has been good so far this summer, Otago Regional Council (ORC) seasonal recreational water quality testing shows.

Three sites have had alert/amber warnings at certain times since the summer round of testing began at the beginning of December, but readings for those sites at other times and for all other sites have been considered safe for swimming. . .

This summer the Kakanui River at Clifton Falls Bridge is the only site to have its most recent reading in the amber/alert range, recording 510 parts of E. coli per 100ml of water on December 28.

ORC duty director Scott MacLean said there was a large colony of nesting gulls at the site, in rugged terrain, about 5km above the Clifton Falls bridge.

“Unfortunately, these nesting gull colonies are likely to continue to cause high E. coli concentrations in the upper Kakanui River, particularly during the breeding season.”

The gulls are natives and can’t be culled, but why can’t something be done, after the breeding season, to deter them from returning next year?

If farming, and particularly dairying, was responsible, the usual suspects masquerading as environmental warriors would be calling for action but they have been silent on this.

They have also been silent on the appalling state of Auckland waterways which are unsafe for swimming.

Kerre McIvor points out hygiene and sanitation are one of the basic requirements for a community to properly function and yet New Zealand’s biggest city is being let down badly on that count.

Whenever Auckland gets more than 5mm of rain, rainwater flows into the shared stormwater pipes and flushes raw sewage into streams or straight into the harbour.

These overflows happen at least 12 times a year.

Newsflash, Auckland gets a lot of rain – and the equivalent of four Olympic swimming pools of raw sewage pour into our waterways every single time.

It’s appalling. And the problem is not new. . .

No business, farming or otherwise, would be able to continue to pollute in this way, why are councils and why aren’t the usual suspects protesting?

Alan Emerson asks that question too:

We are continually told in the most emotive terms about the health problems with dairy and irrigation but I’d venture to suggest those issues would be absolutely minimal when compared with raw sewerage.

I ask again; where are the protesters?

The ongoing problem of raw sewerage continuing unabated for the next 18 years is infinitely worse than anything our farming industry can do.

I went to the Greenpeace website believing I must have missed something but no. There was a headline telling me to stop seismic blasting. Maybe that causes sewerage to go into harbours and on beaches.

There was also a rant about a bank presumably funding forest destruction. I can see the logic there, destroy the forest, build houses and pollute beaches.

Greenpeace also wants the Huntly coal power plant shut down. Maybe it was polluting the Waikato River.

What irritated me most though was a mealy-mouthed release about the shocking vandalising of a North Otago farmer’s irrigation equipment.

Paradoxically, Greenpeace claimed to be a peaceful protester but could understand the vandalism as being “a sign of overwhelming public frustration about polluted rivers”.

Show me the science. . .

We are told ad nauseum about farming’s supposed threat to our clean, green image. There’s an appalling lack of science behind the accusations but the anti-farming rants are extreme.

Correspondingly, we have the country’s largest city with far more people than all the provinces combined pumping raw sewerage into the supposed pristine beaches of Auckland.

Where are the environmental protesters?

The Green Party, always willing to castigate farming and generally show indecent haste in the process, hasn’t said anything about the crap-covered beaches of Auckland.

On its website it accused National of plundering our fisheries, claimed the recent extreme weather was a sign of things to come and pontificated, naively in my view, that a fresh start was needed for European Union trade agreements.

There was nothing I could find about the scandalous pollution of our pristine Auckland beaches and the compromising of our clean, green image.

Again if they can slag off farmers for whatever reason they will do it with alacrity no matter what the facts may be.

When it comes to our largest city they seem cowed by the number of voters there. . . 

Andrew Curtis, IrrigationNZ CEO, draws a similar conclusion:

A recent meeting between Irrigation New Zealand and Greenpeace failed to resolve differences because the environmental group needs a polarising issue to preserve its Auckland funding base, Irrigation chief executive Andrew Curtis says.

Greenpeace gave scant acknowledgement of the role of irrigation or that farmers were reducing their environmental footprint.

The group’s true agenda was laid bare soon after the meeting in a press release that was understanding of Auckland dumping millions of cubic metres of raw sewage into the harbour each year while again admonishing the dairy industry.

Curtis said it showed Greenpeace was a fundraising body determined to protect its Auckland funding base.

“That point was highlighted by the press release this week about Auckland sewage flowing into the harbour which said it was a concern but not majorly because the Auckland Council recognised it is an issue.

“Contrast that with its view of dairy farming and the irrigation industry, which is that there is no acknowledgement they have an issue and are doing nothing to improve the water quality. . .

Clean water is a fundamental necessity for human health.

It is an issue for both rural and urban New Zealand.

Farmers have collectively spent many millions of dollars cleaning up their acts to safeguard waterways.

Regional councils take their responsibilities to monitor farms very seriously. They have the right to prosecute farmers and have done so not only for polluting waterways but for pollution which could reach a waterway even if it hasn’t.

Yet city councils are given not just years but decades to bring their sewer and waste water systems up to 21st century standards.

If farmers were causing even a fraction of the problems that Auckland faces, protesters would be strident.

Their silence on the city pollution and slower than snails’-pace action on improving it is deafening.

 

 


Rural round-up

November 25, 2016

ASA ruling supports IrrigationNZ’s advocacy advertisement:

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has today ruled that IrrigationNZ did not publish misleading information regarding the Ruataniwha Dam project.

Over the week of 23 September 2016, IrrigationNZ placed full-page advertisements in a number of daily and community newspapers. The advertisements were a response to misinformation being widely circulated about the proposed Ruataniwha dam and followed media statements made by NGOs regarding the source of contamination to the Havelock North water supply.

The advertisement: ‘Dam Right! Why the Ruataniwha Dam is good for the Hawkes Bay community, the economy and the local environment’ generated three complaints to the ASA, all alleging it contained misleading and deceptive information. . . .

From avocado indexing to working with top red meat farmers  – Ali Spencer:

Following her interests has led a young horticulture student to a challenging and enjoyable role at one of New Zealand’s largest red meat co-operatives. She talks to Ali Spencer.

Shona Frengley, then Greenhalgh, was born in Invercargill, Southland to a sheep farming couple. Sadly, her father died when she was just four months old, leaving her late mother, Colleen, to raise her and her five older sisters single-handed on the Ringway Homestead in Otautau, with the help of a farm manager.

“She was an inspirational woman, like many farming women,” Shona reminisces.

The girls didn’t miss out on anything, she says. As the youngest, happy childhood memories of the 1970s include riding horses around the farm, checking all the creeks and pulling out ewes heavier than themselves when needed and sessions shifting sheep during floods by torchlight at night.  . . 

Letterbox flyer credited with saving ill husband:

Hawke’s Bay farmer Jo Cregoe remembers every tiny detail of the week her husband Phil contracted leptospirosis and is adamant without a flyer that arrived in the mailbox the previous week she would have lost him.

Phil and Jo Cregoe bought 704ha sheep and beef property Hafton Farm at Waiwhare on the Napier-Taihape road, in 1999 and went on to win the Hawke’s Bay Farmer of the Year title in 2004. But that all changed in the spring of 2009.

A Massey University flyer warning farmers of the symptoms of leptospirosis had caught Jo’s attention in a pile of mail. Little did she know how important that tea break reading was going to be. . . 

Huge man-made lake reduces stress on farming operation – Kate Taylor:

Irrigation on rolling hill country has given flexibility to a farming operation near Omakere. Kate Taylor reports.

The capacity of a 110-year-old dam has been tripled to allow for more flexibility on Rangitapu Station, home to James Aitken and Caroline Robertson.

“We were thinking about reducing the stress of feeding stock under drought conditions and also evening out the highs and lows financially,” says Robertson. Five droughts in nine years had taken its toll.

“At that point we set out to extend the size of a pre-existing dam on the farm. It was about 300,000 cubic metres and it’s about a million now… winter harvest for summer use. It was a traumatic resource consent process that took a long time as we were one of the first to go through it although we were lucky we had an existing clay dam that required very little construction.” . . 

Farmers health and safety group launches:

Many of the big names in New Zealand agriculture have launched a new health and safety group at Parliament in an effort to make farming safer.

In the year to date, 43 people have died on the job – the same number for the whole of last year.

Of that 15 were in the agriculture sector, more than in any other industry.

The 24 founding members of the new Agricultural Leaders’ Health and Safety Action Group have committed to learn from each others’ experiences in health and safety and to improve the performance of their own businesses. . . 

Neither rain nor earthquake will stop the semen getting through:

If, as the saying goes “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night” stops the mail getting through in the US, then in New Zealand an earthquake is no impediment to the delivery of bull semen.

Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) made two helicopter flights into Kaikoura during the week after road access to the township was cut off by the magnitude-7.8 earthquake just after midnight on Monday.

Semen taken in on the two flights – on Tuesday and Friday – was picked up by technicians in Kaikoura, who delivered it by road to a total of about 25 farmers who had artificial breeding bookings, LIC chief executive Wayne McNee said. . .

Price of Lab-Grown Burger Falls from $325K to $11.36 – Natalie Shoemaker:

Lab-grown meat could be on your plate within the next five years. For the past few years, the barrier to getting test-tube meat into the hands of consumers has been the cost of production. In 2013, it was around $325,000 to make this stuff in a lab, but the process has been refined, and the cost now is just $11.36.

“And I am confident that when it is offered as an alternative to meat that increasing numbers of people will find it hard not to buy our product for ethical reasons,” Peter Verstrate, head of Mosa Meat, told the BBC. . . 

Top award for young East Cape farmer – David Macgregor:

A young Alexandria farmer who turned a rundown farm into a major dairy producer in less than 10 years, has scooped a prestigious agricultural award for his hard work and vision.

When Tshilidze “Chilli” Matshidzula,29, was appointed Little Barnet deputy farm manager nine years ago, it had fewer than 50 dairy cows and was another failing example of government attempts to transform the agricultural sector by giving land to rural communities.

Fast forward almost a decade and the farm now has 549 cows that produce 11000 litres of milk a day and has just made history by becoming the first black managed and owned commercial farm to win a top agricultural award in over 50 years.

“Winning the prestigious Mangold Trophy has given us something that money cannot buy. . . 

New Zealand’s organic food industry to benefit from new arrangement with China:

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has welcomed the signing of an arrangement with China that will benefit the organic food industry for both countries.

The Mutual Recognition Arrangement for Certified Organic Products was signed in China by MPI Director-General Martyn Dunne and by Vice Minister Sun Dawei last week (14 November).

MPI Director Plants Food and Environment, Peter Thomson, says this arrangement supports the growth of the organics industry in New Zealand and provides greater assurance for consumers in New Zealand. . . 

Image may contain: grass, sky, outdoor, text and nature


Rural round-up

July 8, 2016

Sheep industry recognises top performance:

The sheep industry celebrated its best and brightest at the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards in Masterton last night.

This is the fifth year the industry’s top performers have gathered to acknowledge outstanding contributors in genetics, science and commercial lamb production.

Amongst the award recipients were Northland sheep breeder Gordon Levet, who was recognised for his long-term work breeding towards worm resistance, while Hawkes Bay farmers James and Jane Hunter won the Blackdale Stud Sheep Industry Supplier of the Year. . . 

Amethyst the foundation jewel of Hereford family – Kate Taylor:

Five generations of one family have sat at the head of NZ Herefords. Kate Taylor went to Akitio, southeast of Dannevirke, to meet the latest one.

Akitio farmer Philip Barnett has followed in the footsteps of his father, grandfather, great grandfather and great, great grandfather to become president of NZ Herefords.

Barnett and wife Lyn own the Kaitoa Hereford Stud, which traces its origins back to the importation of a cow called Amethyst in 1882.

It is a cow family that still remains a linch pin of the stud more than 130 years later, along with the Kaitoa Lady, Princess and Leonora cow families. . .

Bobby calf welfare: everyone has a role to play:

As the dairy industry’s spring calving kicks off, the Bobby Calf Action Group (BCAG) is reminding everyone who handles calves of the important role they have to play.

“The rubber hits the road now, it’s up to everyone across the supply chain to meet the required standards of care for bobby calves this season,” says Ministry for Primary Industries Deputy Director General, Scott Gallacher.

Eight organisations make up the BCAG which was formed at the end of 2015 to accelerate and add to existing measures aimed at ensuring everyone involved with bobby calves applies best practice in their handling and care. . . 

Dairy farms that survive the current downturn will be leaner, more agile and resilient – Rees Logan:

Two difficult seasons of below-average dairy payouts, and a third being forecast, have delivered a big wake-up to the dairy farming industry.

The average payout for the current and last two seasons is approximately $4.55 (including dividend) against DairyNZ’s estimated average breakeven payout required by farmers of $5.25. This means three seasons where most farmers have had to take on additional debt just to survive.

Dairy farmers have been forced to take a ruthless approach to expenditure and to switch their focus from production to profitability in a bid to cut debt. . . 

Irrigation 101 to upskill professionals:

A beginner’s guide to irrigation will be offered in Hawke’s Bay next month for professionals who need to better understand the sector to help their dealings with farmers.

The Irrigation Fundamentals course is a two day workshop offered by IrrigationNZ to introduce non-farmers to the principles of irrigation management. The course, particularly targeted at frontline staff of organisations and businesses that provide services to the irrigation industry, will take place in Hastings on 3rd and 4th August.

Rural advisors, environmental consultants and regional council staff are among those who have attended the course so far in the South Island. . . 

NZ venison prices rise amid tight supply as farmers rebuild herds -By Tina Morrison:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand meat processors are having to pay more to secure supply of local venison to service their overseas contracts as farmers retain their breeding hinds to rebuild herds.

Spot prices for a 60-kilogram AP stag have hit $7.85/kg, up from $6.60/kg this time last year and the highest level for this time of year since 2011, according to AgriHQ. Venison production dropped 36 percent in May from the year earlier month, and is down 23 percent in the processing season so far, from Oct.1 through May 31, according to AgriHQ. . . 

Bright fisheries future:

New Zealand fisheries are in good heart, with great potential for the future, Seafood New Zealand Chief Executive Tim Pankhurst said today.

He was speaking at the Marine Societies of New Zealand and Australia conference at Victoria University of Wellington, which has attracted more than 350 marine scientists from both countries.

Pankhurst says the outlook for the New Zealand seafood industry is bright.
“We are not going to run out of fish.”

“We have a seafood sector that is in good heart. Our stocks are sustainable – it’s not just the fishing industry saying that, the science supports it, and the world wants what we produce – and aquaculture is expanding.” . . 

NZ King Salmon reviewing capital options as IPO rumoured – Paul McBeth:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand King Salmon Investments says it’s reviewing its capital options to support the development of three new farms in the Marlborough Sounds after Australian media reported the company was looking at an initial public offering.

The Nelson-based salmon farmer and processor hired Credit Suisse and First NZ Capital to test investor interest in Australia and New Zealand for a dual-listing on both sides of the Tasman, valuing the company at $200 million, the Australian Financial Review’s Street Talk column reported. . . 

NZ Yarn Appoints New CEO:

Colin McKenzie has been appointed as the new CEO for Christchurch based NZ Yarn Ltd, effective Monday, 4 July.

NZ Yarn manufactures and markets high quality wool spun yarns for the carpet industry worldwide.

McKenzie was most recently CEO and Managing Director of Cavalier Corporation. He has extensive experience in the textile and manufacturing sectors, and for companies servicing local and export markets.

NZ Yarn is 100% New Zealand owned by Carrfields Primary Wool and several independent investors, who bought it from receivers in 2014. . . 

Global Uncertainity Affects Wool Market:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s C.E.O, Mr John Dawson reports that the ongoing fallout from the Brexit result, continued minimal activity from China and a strong New Zealand dollar have compounded to make significant inroads into local wool values.

The weighted currency indicator compared to last sale lifted 0.66 percent, however against the GBP the New Zealand dollar strengthened a further 4.4 percent making a shift of over 13 percent since the Brexit announcement. Market sentiment is bearish as many clients take a cautious approach during this unsettled period. . . 


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