Rural round-up

October 29, 2017

B+LNZ in global protein study – Neal Wallace:

The meat sector has launched a global study into the threats and opportunities posed by artificial protein, as the fledgling industry continues to attract eye-watering sums of money from rich people.

That investment had also started flowing domestically, with reports movie producers Sir Peter Jackson and his wife Frances Walsh and James Cameron and his wife Susan Amis-Cameron had established PBT New Zealand and started working with the Foundation for Arable Research in a future foods project. . . 

Conference focuses on the future of irrigation:

Registrations for IrrigationNZ’s 2018 national Conference are now open. Unlocking a Golden Future through SMART irrigation is the theme of the conference to be hosted at Alexandra from 17-19 April 2018.

“With so much public focus on irrigation and water issues in the media, this is an important opportunity for farmers and growers, the irrigation service industry, researchers, academics, councils and other groups to come together to discuss the future of water management and irrigation systems,” says Andrew Curtis, IrrigationNZ Chief Executive. . .

IoT Alliance calls for Government backing to help grow more food – Stuart Corner:

The executive director of the recently formed New Zealand IoT Alliance, Kriv Naicker, has called for government support of the group, its sister organisation the New Zealand AI Forum and the broader tech industry to help address the food needs of a growing global population.

His comments were made in the run up to a conference in Christchurch in early December at which the future of food will be discussed.

“Key tech leaders will attend the Feed the World 2030: Power of Plants Hackathon event on December 2 and 3,” Naicker said. . .

New Chair for New Zealand Avocado Growers Association:

Avocado grower and Avocado Growers Association Representative Tony Ponder has been elected as the New Zealand Avocado Growers Association and Avocado Industry Council Chair.

NZAGA Grower Representative Linda Flegg has been elected as the Vice Chair of the NZAGA.

“It’s an exciting time to be in the New Zealand avocado industry, with an incredible increase in value and the positive collaboration throughout the industry,” says Ponder. . .

Primary Wool appoints new director:

Waikato agribusinesswoman Janette Osborne has been appointed to Primary Wool Cooperative’s (PWC) board.

Chairman Bay de Lautour says special skills and understanding are required with PWC being the only New Zealand wool cooperative, and with its unique cooperative / corporate joint venture with Carrfields in CP Wool. . .

Provincial wedding and function venue business groomed for sale:

One of the plushest function and corporate all-in-one event venues in provincial South Island – complete with its own specialised bakery and patisserie-making kitchen – has been placed on the market for sale for the first time.

StoneBridge wedding and function venue in the South Canterbury township of Geraldine is a purpose-built event-hosting destination which is operated in conjunction with a commercial accommodation arm. . .

 

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Rural round-up

August 27, 2017

Deafening silence over water tax disappointing – Lyn Webster:

 As a small time dairy farmer in the far flung Far North I would possibly not be directly affected by the Labour Party’s proposed water tax. However since the idea was mooted, I feel physically and mentally badly affected by it.

It’s very strange indeed, I am actually finding this difficult to write as my feelings against the suggested policy and the potential ramifications of it are so abhorrent to me.

The deafening silence in the wake of Jacinda Adern’s proposal is also scaring me. There should be an outpouring of national outrage against the ideology of charging food producers taxes on natural inputs – whether the charges are called royalties, taxes or fees. . . 

Who will decide who will pay for water? – Ewan McGregor:

Charles Dickens’ Mr Micawber’s oft-quoted law defining the recipe for happiness states: “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds, nineteen shillings and six pence, result happiness.

“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds and six pence, result misery.”

The point is that the margin between happiness and misery is just a shilling. Such a small difference can have serious consequences to one’s spirit – and to the politics.

This is what has happened in this country, especially Hawke’s Bay, with water. Within a relatively short time available water (income) has moved from abundance, or at least the perception of such, (happiness), to scarcity (misery). . . 

Federated Farmers: chasing hard data on irrigation effects:

Based on their on-farm experience and observations, lots of farmers believe irrigation can boost soil carbon and soil water holding capacity.

Former South Canterbury Federated Farmers president Ivon Hurst is chairman of a research project that over the next three years will look to nail those understandings down with hard science and peer-reviewed data.

“Anecdotal evidence is not enough,” Ivon says. “It has to be scientifically validated and that’s the way forward for all future land management practices.”

Project research will be led by Landcare Research’s Dr Sam Carrick, and a range of extension activities led by Katherine McCusker, of the AgriBusiness Group. It will support improvements in the management of soils to reduce environmental impacts and enable more accurate estimation of nutrient loss. . . 

Dairy payout boosts Timaru’s $2.3 billion year – Elena McPhee:

Timaru District generated more than $2.3 billion as it continued its drive away from the brink of recession on the back of a more-than $150 million dairy payout, a new report reveals.

An economy that ended the year last year close to recession was firmly in growth in the second half of the year to June, the Infometrics quarterly economic monitor found.

Timaru’s economy stabilised in the June quarter and the provisional estimate of its gross domestic product suggested it was 1.3 per cent healthier than the year before. . .

On stressed out women: just hold on tight – Louise Giltrap:

A few months back, I was invited to join a newly formed group on Facebook.

It was formed in the hope that some of us within the dairy industry could get back to talking about what was important without feeling someone was waiting to judge us.

The other day a lady posted about getting to her breaking point during calving. The tears, the swearing, not getting the kids off to school on time and instead giving them the day off to avoid more angst and more chaos.

It opened the floodgates for a lot of us, including myself, to tell of our own falls from grace over the last week or so of calving. . .

Blue-sky thinking drives Tibet’s organic industries

(Xinhua) — “While one kilogram of ordinary peaches only sells for about 30 yuan (4.5 U.S.dollars), the peaches here might make 100 yuan each,” village official Sonam Yangkyi tells surprised visitors to Lhasa’s Pure Land Industry demonstration zone.

The reason for such a high price for the winter peach is simply that Tibet Autonomous Region’s high altitude and clean environment mean the peach is tastier and better than its competitors.

The winter peach is just one of the many varieties of fruit and other Pure Land Industry produce with premium quality and unique properties thanks to the pure water, soil and air there. . .

 


Water policy inconsistent, unfair

August 14, 2017

Labour’s environment spokesman David Parker showed up yet more flaws in the party’s water tax policy on Q&A yesterday:

. . . No, look, you know, if there’s a cost of cleaning up our rivers, cos I think it’s your birthright and mine to be able to swim in our local river in summer, and for our kids to put their head under without getting crook, there’s a cost to that cleanup. As Nick Smith said last week, he thought that the cost for central government was going to be about $100 million per annum. Now, who should pay that? Should we tax pensioners? Or working people? Or should the farmers who are polluting make a contribution?  . . 

As a general rule, polluters should pay and farmers who pollute now do pay if successfully prosecuted by regional councils. Prosecutions can be not just for actual pollution but also for potential pollution from, for example, effluent spills which could reach waterways, even if they don’t.

But problems with waterways aren’t always the result of current practices, they’ve built up over years, even decades. It is unfair to tax all irrigators now for damage done in the past for which many wouldn’t have been responsible.

It is equally unfair to tax irrigators who aren’t contributing to pollution to clean up after those who are and to tax those in one area to repair damage done in another.

This tax isn’t going to be levied just on polluters it’s going to be levied on all irrigators no matter how good their farming practices and environmental stewardship are.

Then there’s the inconsistency of charging some commercial water users but not all:

. . . CORIN Here’s the thing – you’ve targeted farmers. But why are you giving an exemption to Coca Cola and various other businesses in the cities?

DAVID Well, what we’ve said is that domestic and stock water will never pay. We’re not interested in the municipal sources of water. You know, Coca Cola, they already pay a dollar per cubic metre or a dollar per thousand litres to the Auckland Council for the water they drew. We’re not going to charge them twice. . . 

Good grief! Does he think irrigation water arrives at the farm gate for free?

To get water from the North Otago Irrigation Company (NOIC), farmers have to buy shares and pay a cost of about $80 $800 per hectare per year. That covers the infrastructure and delivery costs, which are the same costs Coca Cola pays for council water.

If Labour isn’t going to charge Coca Cola twice, why is it going to charge farmers twice?

. . .CORIN But it does feel, there will be many in the farming sector who will be frustrated and feel they’re being singled out.

DAVID It is them who are polluting our rivers, so I don’t know how that’s unfair.

CORIN Well, they’re certainly a contributor.

DAVID Well, no. Let’s deal with one of the issues that Steven Joyce said. He said, ‘Look at the cities.’ You know, over the last decade, cities have improved their quality.

CORIN But they do pollute waterways as well.

DAVID Not nearly as much as they did in recent decades. And who’s paid for the cost of that cleanup? The people in the cities. They’ve paid for better sewerage treatment; the factories have cleaned up. And over those same decades, the rural sector rivers are getting worse. Now, who should pay? Should the polluter pay or should we tax pensioners? . . 

It doesn’t matter how many times or different ways he says it. Problems have built up over decades and not all are caused by those irrigating now.

Most farmers have changed their practices to stop pollution, to repair damage and enhance waterways.

Labour’s policy won’t give them any credit for that, will charge all irrigators regardless of whether or not they are causing problems, and will tax farmers in one place to clean up water in another.

And not all the problems in rural rivers are caused by irrigation.

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.”

Other amber readings were recorded in the Taieri River at Outram on December 12 and 19, and in the Taieri River at Waipiata on December 15.

Mr MacLean said the Outram spikes were caused by high river flows on December 12 and heavy localised rainfall on December 19, and the Waipiata spike was caused by rising flows at the time of sampling, due to rainfall on December 12.

Readings at both sites had since fallen to the green band of fewer than 260 E. coli parts per 100ml of water, which was considered very safe for swimming, Mr MacLean said. . . 

Seagulls and heavy rain, not irrigation, caused spikes in pollution and the poor water quality after the rainfall lasted only a few days. Nature caused that problem and nature fixed it without any political interference or tax.

And not all councils have paid for better treatment.

The state of the Invercargill City Council’s stormwater system has been called a “dirty little secret” that has been allowed to exist for years.

Federated Farmers had a crack at both the city council and Environment Southland about the city’s stormwater system at a resource consent hearing on Thursday.

Federated Farmers executive David Rose, at the hearing, said: “It was a revelation to us, this dirty little secret in Invercargill hidden from Invercargill ratepayers, how rundown the stormwater system is”. 

“The ratepayers of Invercargill are our cousins, our family and our friends. It’s a big shock to the farming community also.”

In the council’s own evidence, it accepts stormwater was contaminated with sewage, Rose said. 

The council has applied to discharge water and contaminants from stormwater systems into surface water bodies and into open drains, for a term of 35 years. 

A total of 147 discharge pipes draining to the Waikiwi Stream, Waihopai River, Otepuni Stream, Kingswell Creek and Clifton Channel are covered by the application. 

But Environment Southland says the consent should be turned down, because receiving waters and the New River Estuary will be effected. 

Environment Southland principal consents officer Stephen West’s report says, “With the known sewage contamination of the stormwater network, including the engineered overflow points, it is likely that the discharges will have more than minor adverse effect on the environment”.

Effects on water quality within the receiving waters and in the New River Estuary appeared to be more than minor, it says. . . 

No farm would apply for consent which would allow it to pollute waterways for 35 years.

But there’s nothing to be gained by widening the rural-urban divide as Labour is attempting to.

We all want clean water.

That won’t be achieved by Labour’s policy which will raise issues around Maori ownership of water.

The most effective way of improving water quality on or near irrigated farms is for farmers to make changes on-farm and to invest in new technology. Labour’s policy takes money from productive uses like that and channels it through a bureaucracy. In doing so it takes responsibility and accountability away from farmers and worse provides a disincentive for them to make improvements to their practices.

So far the announcement has raised more questions than it answers:

“The Labour Party’s glib and misleading announcement this week about a new water tax was disappointing for all New Zealanders,” says IrrigationNZ Chief Executive, Andrew Curtis.

“Farmers are clear that a tax on irrigation would affect all New Zealanders through higher food prices but Labour has failed to address this, even though many of their voters cannot afford to pay more for groceries,” he says.

“We think the tax is inconsistent in treating water used for irrigation differently to other types of commercial water use and there are a range of complex issues associated with how it would be implemented which appear not to have been thought through at all,” he adds.

“Kiwis have a right to understand the tax before they vote.”

IrrigationNZ requests that Labour provides written answers to the questions below so that voters can understand the impact of this new tax on all New Zealanders.

“Labour – Let’s Answer This” – New Zealanders deserve answers on water tax!” 

What is the impact of Labour’s water tax?

  1. How much tax will be charged per unit of water?
  2. Who will be charged?
  3. What impact will the tax have on price increases for food eg fruit, vegetables, meat, milk, beer, bread, wine, ice-cream, and how will poorer households afford price increases?
  4. How many jobs would be lost across New Zealand due to our food becoming unaffordable at home and not competitive internationally?
  5. How will a water tax enable local communities to implement solutions to their environmental issues?

How is Labour’s water tax fair?

  1. Who owns New Zealand’s water?
  2. Who will the tax be paid to?
  3. Why is it fair to tax some types of commercial water use and not tax others?
  4. Exporters already pay income tax – why should they pay twice?
  5. Why is Labour not going to introduce a sewage tax in town water supplies when the Our Freshwater 2017Report found that E.coli and nitrate-nitrogen concentrations are highest in urban catchments?

How is Labour’s water tax proposal workable?

  1. If the tax varies depending on water scarcity, water quality and weather conditions then how many different tax rates will there be?
  2. Which organisations have you consulted on the tax?
  3. Can Labour confirm that those affected by the tax will set the new tax level as suggested by the Leader?
  4. If tax payers have a different view to Labour will the tax payers’ view prevail?

How will Labour’s water tax address the impacts of climate change and existing investment?

  1. How will taxing water used to grow food increase New Zealand’s resilience to climate change?
  2. Over the last 5 years there has been $1.7 billion investment in modern efficient irrigation infrastructure – what impact will the tax have on this?

Honest answers to these questions would kill the policy, which is what it deserves for being so inconsistent and unfair.

Water quality is an issue all over the country, not just where there’s irrigation and it can be more of an issue when the water falls straight from the sky as rain than when it’s controlled through irrigators.

All farmers should, and most do, play an important role in improving the health of waterways.

Picking on just some of them with a tax will hinder the good work already being undertaken, provide a disincentive to do more and open a can of worms over water ownership.


Rural round-up

November 8, 2016

Rural suicide levels at record low – Mitch McCann:

The number of New Zealand farmers taking their own lives is at the lowest point since provisional records began, according to the latest Ministry of Justice statistics.

Figures obtained by Newshub show in the year to June, 18 people who work in farming-related occupations committed suicide, compared with 27 in the previous year.

In fact, the latest numbers are the lowest since figures were first collated in 2007/08. . . 

Honour for oocyte identifier – Sally Rae:

If AgResearch scientist Jenny Juengel had to write a job description for her ideal job, she reckons she would come up with her current position.

Dr Juengel, recently named one of 19 new Fellows of the Royal Society of New Zealand, is principal scientist with the reproduction team, based at Invermay.

Living in Otago meant she was a long way from where she grew up on a dairy farm in Michigan in the United States. It was that upbringing which she attributed to whetting her interest in agricultural research, particularly reproductive research, as she became interested in why some cows failed to become pregnant. . . 

Irrigate only when necessary:

Canterbury irrigators are being reminded to only turn their irrigators on when necessary as on-going wet and relatively cold temperatures in many parts of the region reduce the requirement for early season irrigation.

IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis says overall he’s been excited by the number of irrigators that have ‘only just started up’ as it shows that more and more people must be recording rainfall, measuring soil moisture and paying attention to weather forecasts. “However, there’s still a handful of irrigators going on days when its obvious water application isn’t required – we need to get everyone scheduling their irrigation well.”

“Farmers need to record the sporadic rainfall we’ve been experiencing and monitor their soil moisture levels closely. Keeping a check on any predicted rainfall is also key. Not irrigating until you need to reduces operational costs and increases profitability.” . . 

Marton Young Farmers member secures spot in FMG Young Farmer of the Year regional final:

The race to represent Taranaki/Manawatu in New Zealand’s most prestigious primary industries competition has begun.

The first district contest and skills day for the 2017 FMG Young Farmer of the Year was held on Saturday near Stratford.

Twelve contestants were put through their paces by judges assessing their agricultural knowledge and practical skills.

They included Michael McCombs, Alana Booth, George Watson and James Beattie from Marton Young Farmers. . . 

BVD vaccination helps good heifers realise potential:

When you’re raising big, strong and healthy looking heifers to bring into the milking herd, it can be extremely frustrating when they fail to fire. That’s what was happening for northern Waikato farmer Verena Beckett and she was keen to find out what was holding the first calvers back.

Beckett runs a 400-cow dairy herd on her father’s 160-hectare property at Rotongaro, west of Huntly. But it was on her own adjacent 165-hectare farm, also running 400 Friesians, where the trouble was brewing.

Her replacements are raised as part of a grazing scheme run by Franklin Vets (Te Kauwhata) on a separate sheep and beef property northeast of Te Kauwhata. They were, according to veterinary technician Jess Kingsland, “monster” heifers in great condition. But the naturally mated animals were experiencing empty rates of 8–10 percent and calving was very spread out. . . 

Technology helping to make horticulture more attractive to young people:

Efforts by primary stakeholders, helped by the rising prevalence of technology in the horticultural sector, appear to be paying off as more and more young people enter the industry.

Initiatives such as the Young Horticulturist of the Year 2016 Competition – to be contested on Thursday this week – andT&G Pipfruit’s annual Young Fruit Growers recent competition, which attracted spectators from Hastings Girls High School, are helping to change perceptions and generate excitement about careers in one of New Zealand’s more profitable primary industries.

T&G is a major partner of the national Young Hort competition, but also runs the company’s internal competition for young orchard workers as a pathway to the pipfruit . . sector contest (whose winner goes on to the national contest for New Zealand’s best young horticulturist). . . .

Pot calling the cattle back

Why did the cows return to the marijuana paddock? It was the pot calling the cattle back.


Anti-farming bias won’t wait for facts

August 24, 2016

Contamination of Havelock North’s water supply is a serious health issue which has prompted the government to undertake an inquiry.

In announcing the draft terms of reference for it, Attorney General Christopher Finlayson said:

“It is important that New Zealanders have confidence in the quality of our drinking water, and the independent inquiry will ensure we have a clear understanding of what happened in Havelock North,” says Mr Finlayson.

“Cabinet has today agreed to initiate a Government inquiry which will report to me as Attorney General.

“The inquiry will look into how the Havelock North water supply became contaminated, how this was subsequently addressed and how local and central government agencies responded to the public health threat that occurred as a result of the contamination.

“The terms of reference are very wide and will include any lessons and improvements that can be made in the management of the water supply network in Havelock North and, more broadly, across New Zealand.”     

Cabinet will consider over the coming weeks who will lead the Government inquiry.

The inquiry will be undertaken under the Inquiries Act 2013. This will ensure it follows a clear statutory process and will have a range of powers such as the ability to call witnesses.

The need to wait for facts hasn’t stopped the usual anti-farming suspects rushing to blame farming in general and dairying in particular for the contamination and using it as an excuse to call for the end to irrigation development.

Federated Farmers’  Hawke’s Bay president Will Foley said while there was some livestock farming in the area it wasn’t intensive:

. . . Basically in terms of the area around Havelock North there just isn’t intensive livestock farming.

He said farmers were watching the situation but there had not been any discussions yet.

“Really we’re just waiting to see some more clear evidence as to how the contamination occurred. And then if it was something related to farming livestock, then we can react to it then and I guess change practises if that’s what it turns out to be.”

IrrigationNZ points out that a focus on science and proven solutions is needed in the response to the Havelock North water crisis.

“IrrigationNZ is very concerned, as is everyone else, about the situation in Havelock North. However, we are surprised by some of the accusations now being made around intensive livestock and irrigation, particularly as the area surrounding the water supply well is dominated by orchards, cropping and low intensity livestock.”

“Before jumping to conclusions we first must understand the facts. A thorough inquiry will establish how groundwater in the area has become contaminated but this will take time. In the short term we should be moving towards best practice when it comes to protecting public water supplies from contamination,” says Andrew Curtis, IrrigationNZ CEO.

Fact 1;

Pathogen contamination almost always results from a point source or a preferential flow scenario.

“The issue will likely be either a preferential flow scenario down the side of an old well case (particularly around older bore casings), a poorly constructed or sealed well head or backflow (contamination making its way directly into bores). Another scenario could be point source from the stock piling of manure. During periods of heavy downpour, contaminants can move through the soil and then there is a risk,” says Mr Curtis.

Fact 2;

Grazing livestock or irrigation are unlikely to be the cause.

“The Havelock North end of the Heretaunga plains is an area of low intensity livestock. Dominated by orchards and seasonal cropping, with sheep grazing in winter there is no dairy or intensive livestock,” says Andrew Curtis.

Livestock grazing is extremely unlikely to have caused this issue – the pathogens don’t make it through the soil, the soil acts as a filter – research work undertaken by ESR has previously shown this to be true.”

Solutions to prevent contamination of groundwater?

Proven solutions include good management practice at both the supply point and any nearby wells.

“Well head protection is essential for all bores and this needs to be better enforced for older bores. Additionally, we need to be looking at requiring back flow protection where applicable. INZ has produced guidelines for backflow prevention that are based on international best practice for agriculture. On top of this, the council needs to be managing nearby point sources where, if heavy rain occurs, leaching could result. Basically all wells near public water supplies should be properly protected.”

“A best practice approach to managing the threats to public water supplies needs to be implemented across New Zealand. There will always be risks from avian, ruminant and human sources so we need to be identifying all the contamination pathways. We need to let the experts get on with their jobs and not take cheap shots with un-informed accusations,” says Mr Curtis.

It’s understandable for the people of Havelock North to be upset about their water and everyone wants to know what caused the problem and what can be done to prevent it happening again in the area or anywhere else.

But that’s not an excuse for the usual suspects to use the issue for their own political agenda without waiting for the facts. In doing so they’re show their anti-farming bias.

We could forget about feeding people and earning the export income we need for a happy, healthy, well functioning country as those of a very dark green persuasion would have it.

We could produce a lot more food and seriously degrade the environment with no concern for the future, a path for which I haven’t heard anyone advocate.

Or we could use science to produce food sustainably which requires good environmental practices based on science.

If poor farming practices are degrading the water we can do something about it but let’s wait for the inquiry and base any required action on the facts.

 


Rural round-up

August 4, 2016

British wasps could solve NZ problems:

Scientists have a secret weapon in their war against wasps – other wasps.

German and common wasp problems cost New Zealand’s primary industries around $130 million a year, but a parasitic wasp whose larvae feeds off their host before killing it is expected to change that.

It’s an idea that has been used with some success since the 1980s, but scientists have discovered the wasps they’ve used in the past might speak the wrong language.

“In order for the Sphecophaga to go undetected in the nest, they may speak the correct language, or dialect, in order to fool their hosts,” Landcare Research biocontrol scientist Ronny Groenteman said.  . . 

Organic story needs more tale:

Despite the organic sector’s rapid growth kiwifruit growers might need to do even more to maintain the advantages they have in the marketplace, food marketing expert Professor David Hughes warns.  

Hughes, from Imperial College, London, gave growers his take on developments in the booming organic sector that is now topping US$80 billion a year in global sales.  

He spoke at Zespri’s inaugural organic dinner, hosted by the marketer to showcase organic produce and give the industry’s small pool of 80 organic growers insight to global developments. . .  

Preparedness for irrigation season ‘vital’:

With low groundwater levels confirmed by Environment Canterbury today and the outlook for recharge before the coming irrigation season not looking good, irrigating farmers must ensure their equipment and irrigation schedules are up to scratch if they are to survive another dry summer, says IrrigationNZ.

“Preparedness for the coming irrigation season is vital. Poorly operating irrigation systems cost time and water efficiency, not to mention the additional cost to production. Farmers must make sure irrigation systems are operating as efficiently as possible because water resources are already stretched so every drop must be optimised,” says IrrigationNZ Project Manager Steven Breneger. . . 

Change of Chair of the Land And Water Forum:

Alastair Bisley has stood down as the Land and Water Forum’s Chair after seven years in the role.

Soon after the Forum was establishment in late 2008, Alastair was appointed its Chairman to moderate a multi-stakeholder consensus on the challenging issue of freshwater policy reform.

The Forum’s recommendations have formed the basis for decisions by Government and regional councils that are progressively deploying its recommendations. . . 

NZ commodity prices rise for third straight month; dairy, meat lead gains – Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – New Zealand commodity prices rose for a third straight month in July, led by dairy products, aluminium and meat, although the strong kiwi dollar limited the benefits for local producers.

The ANZ commodity price index rose 2 percent last month, bringing its three-month gain to 6.9 percent. In New Zealand dollar terms, prices have gained just 2.5 percent in the past three months and are 5.7 percent lower than in the same period last year. . . .

Nelson company DroneMate launches the ultimate farming drone to New Zealand market:

Nelson company DroneMate is launching a ground-breaking new agricultural farming drone into the New Zealand market that features a multi-application sensor developed by US company Sentera.

Marketed as DroneMate Agriculture, the product costs $5000 (approximately one third of the drone technology currently being used for much agricultural survey work) or $7000 for the deluxe model and is poised to revolutionise the way that aerial survey technology is used by farmers across a range of sectors, including dairy, horticulture, orcharding and viticulture. . . 

Beekeepers swarm to Rotorua for hui:

Māori landowners and honey producers will be buzzing in Rotorua over the next two days (4/5 August) as they attend the He kai kei aku ringa National Māori Mānuka Hui.

Associate Minister for Economic Development Te Ururoa Flavell, who is opening the hui this morning, says there are major opportunities for Māori landowners in mānuka honey because of rising demand and prices.

“New Zealand exports more than $220 million of honey a year and volumes have more than doubled in the last 10 years in response to rising prices. . . 

Big cities dominate early running in NZ young horticulturalist contest:
Search on for 2016 Young Horticulturist of the Year

The New Zealand Young Horticulturist of the Year 2016 competition — traditionally dominated by the regions — has taken a surprising twist this year with the Auckland and Wellington regions making a clean sweep of early results.

The results so far:

• 2016 New Zealand Amenity Horticulturalist competition winner: Jeanette Barker, Auckland Botanic Gardens.
• 2016 Young Grower of the Year, Andrew Hutchinson, AS Wilcox, Pukekohe.
• 2016 Nursery and Garden Industry New Zealand Young Achiever Award, Daniel Howard, Moores Valley Nurseries, Wellington . . 


Rural round-up

April 12, 2016

Water brings back ‘marvellous’ times – Sally Rae:

“Lower Waitaki – The Community That Water Saved” was the theme of a recent media tour organised by the Waitaki Irrigators Collective and IrrigationNZ and coinciding with IrrigationNZ’s 2016 conference in Oamaru. Agribusiness reporter Sally Rae hopped on the bus to discover just what irrigation has done for the area and its inhabitants.  

When Jim Dennison’s father bought Drumena in 1919, the Hilderthorpe farm was in a “desolate state”.

Local women pitied his new bride moving to such a property to try to make a living. . .

Harnessing the sunshine for record-breaking crop yields – Pat Deavoll:

Farmers talk about growing feed, but North Otago crop and dairy farmer Chris Dennison says he is “harvesting sunshine.”

His world record-breaking crops of barley and oil seed rape were the combination of heavy soils, a coastal environment, reliable water and sustained sunshine, he said.

“Here at Hilderthorpe (just south of the Waitaki River) we get a cool easterly wind which gives a lull in the growing season for cereal and oil seed rape, so the crops can utilise more sunshine.”

Dennison took over the farm from his father Jim in the early 1980s. Traditionally it was a mixed sheep and beef property but when Dennison arrived home he brought with him an interest in cropping. . . 

Waitaki water key to reliable farming – Sally Rae:

Reuben Allan’s dairy shed has one heck of a view.

It overlooks the vast Waitaki River which provides not only recreational opportunities for his family, but also has allowed them to transition from a “feast or famine” dryland operation to one with reliable irrigation.

Mr Allan grew up on Fairway Farm, which used to be a dryland sheep property, near Ikawai.

Irrigation began on the hills in the mid-1990s and the move was made into intensive beef finishing. . . 

Irrigation provides reliability – Sally Rae:

Matt Ross first arrived in North Otago “more by accident”.

But his decision to return, once he completed his university studies, was deliberate as he had identified the potential opportunities in the district.

Mr Ross and his wife Julie operate Kokoamo Farms, which comprise two dairy farms near Duntroon, milking 1730 cows at peak, and lease a run-off property.

Their farming operation is a showcase: lush green grass, extensive plantings, including a wetland development that is home to more than 100,000 plants, and impressive infrastructure. . . 

Still turning them (tractors) on at 85:

North Otago’s Don Fraser is a man who loves his tractors. His love affair has been so intense he is still driving them at the ripe old age of 85.

Part of the hard-working team at EGL Pastoral for 26 years, and a farmer most of his life, Mr Fraser remembers the old style tractors (crawlers) when he first started out and recalls they were so noisy you needed hearing aids. “There was no silencers then and we didn’t have air con back in the day, but then we didn’t need it when a keen souwester was blowing through.” . . .

Sheep Industry Awards celebrate success:

This country’s sheep industry will celebrate its best and brightest at Beef +Lamb New Zealand’s fifth annual New Zealand Sheep Industry Awards in the Wairarapa in July.

Entries are open for the Awards which recognises this country’s top sheep farmers, breeders, scientists and industry innovators.

People can put their name forward, or be nominated for the Award categories; Science Trainer of the Year, Innovation, Significant Contribution to the New Zealand Sheep Industry and the Emerging Talent Award. . . 

Focus on forages is key to sustainable farm profits:

Pastoral farming is a huge earner for New Zealand worth over $23 billion in export revenues last year. Forages – the grasses and other plants grazed by farm animals – are a critical part of pastoral farming systems. Industry participants consider there is significant scope to lift the contribution forages make to the underlying productivity and profitability of the pastoral sectors and to achieve these outcomes in an environmentally sustainable manner.

This is why an initiative to improve the sustainability and profitability of New Zealand’s forage grazing systems has the buy-in of everyone representing the pastoral sector. . . 

Bostock New Zealand experiencing highest quality apples for several years:

New Zealand’s largest organic apple grower is harvesting some of the best quality fruit it’s experienced for years – thanks to near perfect growing and harvesting conditions.

Bostock New Zealand Director, David Brasell says the weather has been outstanding for the harvest and the fruit has sized well.

“The quality of our apples this season is very, very good. The colour is great, the fruit is clean and the size is excellent. . . .

Time to guard against costly nutritional deficits:

A small investment in autumn feed testing can be good insurance against mineral deficiencies in dairy and beef cows that can lead to low growth rates and poor milk yields.

Winter feeds like fodder beet, low pasture phosphorus levels in some regions, and lower seasonal availability for copper can lead to deficiencies of both of these key minerals during late pregnancy, early lactation and calf growth.

Consultant nutritionist to SealesWinslow, Paul Sharp, says for around $100 a comprehensive pasture mineral test will provide the right information to farmers. . . 

Yealands Launches NZ’s First Vineyard Tour Guide App:

The first kiwi wine app that allows the user to take a self-guided vineyard tour – and take in Yealands’ famous White Road hot-spots.

One of the only vineyards to actually let visitors drive through its vineyard, wine innovators, Yealands Wine Group have released a mobile application that allows visitors to its Seaview Vineyard in the Awatere Valley, Marlborough the unique opportunity of taking their own self-guided vineyard tour. . .


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