Rural round-up

May 28, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fonterra Announces Board Change:

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

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

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

Funding bost for Irrigation Acceleration Fund:

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

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

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

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

New Zealand National Party's photo.

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

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

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

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

Choice of chair underlines importance of forest safety:

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

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

Kanuka right at home on winning farm – Kate Taylor:

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

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

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

Cervena venison piloted in Europe:

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

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

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

Horticulture’s future may lay with city slickers:

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

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

Rural Connectivity Symposium 2015 gets underway today:

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

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

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

New dairy mineral blend ticks all the boxes:

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

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


Rural round-up

May 14, 2015

Drought conditions remain in South Island:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says farmers throughout the eastern South Island are still feeling the effects of drought, particularly in North Canterbury.

“It’s likely the medium-scale adverse event classification will remain in place until August or September this year, depending on conditions over autumn,” says Mr Guy.

“Despite recent rainfall, farmers and growers are still feeling the impacts of these prolonged dry conditions.

“In particular, the driest area is around Cheviot in North Canterbury which has been largely missed by most of the recent rainfall. . .

 

Drought takes its toll – feed an issue:

Federated Farmers North Canterbury say farmers affected by the drought are facing a tough year ahead and will be struggling with some tough decisions.

“It is not a great time for farmers in North Canterbury, most of us are facing a year of little to no feed, low stocking rates and substantial financial losses,” says Dan Hodgen, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Chair. 

“With the drought leaving us with a significant lack of grass and crop growth, we are either having to sell capital stock at a much lower rate than we usually would or having to buy in supplementary feed. Some farmers are doing both.” . . .

El Niño pattern blow to Canterbury farmers – Susie Nordqvist:

North Canterbury farmers already in the grip of their worst drought in 60 years have been dealt another blow today.

NIWA says we are on the cusp of an El Niño weather pattern, meaning things are about to get even drier in the east and wetter in the west.

Canterbury’s trademark Nor’west winds are exactly what drought-stricken farmers don’t need.

“When you just get the wind likes this it’s stripping out the moisture in it,” says Federated Farmers north Canterbury president Lynda Murchison. . .

Relentless drought and El Nino means more water storage needed:

Today it was confirmed that drought conditions in the South Island will likely drag on until September this year, emphasising the risk of dry weather patterns to New Zealand and highlighting the need for regional water storage and irrigation infrastructure,” says Andrew Curtis, IrrigationNZ CEO. “These conditions are only likely to worsen in the long term and spread to other parts of the country as a predicted El Nino weather pattern sets in.”

Concerns about how these warm weather patterns will impact our economy were set out in a recent International Monetary Fund report

(http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2015/wp1589.pdf). As part of its findings, the report recommended further investment in irrigation. . .

Bay of Plenty set for good growth:

The Bay of Plenty region and its industries could grow substantially thanks to its resource, population, location and climate advantages, a newly published report reveals.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy today released the Bay of Plenty Regional Growth Study, which shows that the region has a number of natural advantages and is well placed to attract further investment, raise incomes and increase employment.

“This study provides a detailed summary of the opportunities for the Bay of Plenty’s future,” Mr Joyce says. “It outlines the potential of the primary sector, manufacturing and tourism industries in particular to grow the region. . . .

Kiwifruit industry set for strong growth, thanks Prime Minister for support:

The kiwifruit industry came together to thank the Government for its support with efforts to manage the bacterial disease Psa, when the Prime Minister John Key visited Zespri’s Mt Maunganui office this afternoon.

Zespri chairman Peter McBride says senior representatives of postharvest, growers and industry organisations took the opportunity to show the Prime Minister how far the industry has come since Psa was first discovered in New Zealand in 2010.

“It’s hard to recall now just how uncertain and dark those days were, when we simply did not know how the industry could continue with Psa. . .

 

 


Rural round-up

May 2, 2015

Trelinnoe treads lightly on the environment – Kate Taylor:

From crutching sheep at home on the farm to meeting the world’s top farming politicians, the passion Bruce Wills has for all facets of farming is evident from the moment you meet him.

His brother Scott is the other side of the coin, a man of few words, until you ask him about the farm’s stock policies, then the same passion is evident.

They both love Trelinnoe – an 1134ha hill country farm carved out of the scrub by their parents and an uncle through the 1950s and 60s. . .

Ruataniwha irrigation scheme gets 15 years to sort water quality – Pattrick Smellie:

 (BusinessDesk) – A revised decision from the board of inquiry considering the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme relaxes water quality conditions that were previously regarded as unworkable. It gives irrigators 15 years to find ways to manage nitrogen levels in the Tukituki River to very low levels.

The board’s original decision, released last June, set a maximum level for dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) downstream from the scheme of 0.8 milligrams per litre, a level consistent with the highest quality freshwater bodies under the government’s recently updated National Policy Statement on freshwater management, and at odds with DIN levels in the river today.

To get around that, the decision created an exemption for some 615 farms to discharge higher levels of nitrogen, leading to successful appeals from a range of environmental groups who argued the board had created a “factual fiction” by setting a high standard that would not then be expected to be met. . .

 

IrrigationNZ says Board of Inquiry decision on Tukituki ‘reasonable’ but far from practical for farmers:

“The Board of Inquiry for the Tukituki Catchment has reached a reasonable decision in what has been a long process,” says Andrew Curtis, CEO of IrrigationNZ. “But it is a far from practical outcome for farmers and the regional economy. We believe nutrient limits set for the Tukituki system remain unrealistic for what is a productive working agricultural landscape.”*

IrrigationNZ does however recognise the positive step taken in the decision to exclude some hill country farms, forestry, orchards and lifestyle blocks from having to gain consents, but points out that the reality is the majority of commercial enterprises will still require one. . .

 

Alliance Group Targets 3,300 Tonne Carbon Reduction:

One of the world’s largest processors of sheepmeat, Alliance Group Limited, aims to reduce carbon emissions by 3,300 tonnes over the next three years, as part of a new energy management agreement with the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).

The agreement, announced in Southland today by Alliance Group Chief Executive David Surveyor and EECA Chief Executive Mike Underhill, includes a thermal and electricity energy use reduction of approximately 10 Gigawatt hours per annum by 2017. This is the equivalent annual energy use of about 960 households.

David Surveyor says reducing the company’s energy use makes good business and environmental sense and that the new partnership with EECA is the next phase of Alliance Group’s energy management journey. . .

Synlait Milk ingredient will help to significantly enhance sleep:

Synlait Milk has commercialised a dairy-based milk powder ingredient that is clinically proven to enhance sleep.

Results from an independent clinical trial of iNdream3 have proved its efficacy as a sleep promoting ingredient.

iNdream3 is made from melatonin-rich milk collected in the hours of darkness, when cows naturally produce increased concentrations of melatonin in their milk

“We’ve been developing this product for several years and this clinical trial is a major milestone in proving the ability of iNdream3 to improve sleep,” said Dr Simon Causer, Synlait’s Research and Development Manager.. . .

Maori farm vitally important for community:

A Northland sheep and beef farm in the running for the top Maori farming award has impressed the judges with its strong ties to a small local community.

Paua Station is one of three finalists for the Ahuwhenua Trophy and as part of the awards is hosting an open day today.

The almost 3,000 hectare station lies just south of Cape Reinga, about 80 kilometres north of Kaitaia, and surrounds the small community of Te Kao.

It is owned by Parengarenga Incorporation, whose general manager, John Ellis, said the running of the farm was very much centred around the community. . .

Dairy Awards Finalists in Auckland for Annual Awards:

The 33 finalists in the 2015 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are in Auckland, where the winners of the New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year will be announced on Saturday night.

“The national awards is a big deal for these finalists – they’ll meet some key industry people, develop lifelong friendships and important networks, and be exposed to opportunities that’ll propel their career forward,” National Convenor Chris Keeping says.

Judging has been taking place during the past two weeks, as judges have visited the sharemilker/equity farmer and farm manager finalists on their farms. However, the final judging component will take place tomorrow when all finalists will participate in an interview. . .

Country’s Top Steaks Make The Cut:

Following today’s semi-final taste test, the 20 most succulent steaks in New Zealand have been named as finalists in the 2015 Beef and Lamb New Zealand Steak of Origin Competition.

A panel of 12 well-known foodwriters and chefs, including Kerry Tyack and Julie Biuso, tasted a total of 69 sirloin steaks, judging each one on taste, tenderness and aroma, to find the top four for each class.

Semi-final judge, Kerry Tyack says as a returning judge, he was reminded of the outstanding quality of New Zealand beef.

“Although the steaks vary in taste, texture and appearance, they’re all of a consistently high standard,” says Tyack. . .

Hawke’s Bay Harvest Bodes Well for a Stellar 2015 Vintage:

The Hawke’s Bay wine region looks set to enjoy its third consecutive year of great vintages.

With picking nearly complete, Hawke’s Bay grape growers and wine makers are optimistic that this will be another good year, following exemplary vintages in 2013 and 2014. Hawke’s Bay is the first region to forecast the quality of this year’s vintage following harvest.

“Most would be considering this to be a very good, solid vintage,” Michael Henley, Chair of the Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers Association (HBWG) and CEO of Trinity Hill Wines, says. . .


Rural round-up

April 23, 2015

Show Me Sustainable Dairy Farming:

Pakotai dairy farmers, Rachel & Greig Alexander, winners of the 2015 Northland Ballance Farm Environment Supreme Award, are hosting a field day at their Award winning property at 3305 Mangakahia Road on Thursday 7th May 2015.

Their dairy farm will be open to all interested parties, commencing at 10.30am, with the day concluding with a light lunch at approximately 1.30pm.

The field day will provide the opportunity for visitors to learn how Rachel and Greig interpret ‘sustainability’ in their farming business. The Alexanders will explain how they incorporate sustainability into their day to day operation while still achieving bottom line profitability across the farming business, which also includes a beef operation and forestry. . .

Farming finalists a family success:

One of the three finalists for a major Maori farming award has opened its gates to visitors for a field day.

Mangaroa Station, about an hour inland from Wairoa, is a finalist in this year’s Ahuwhenua Trophy for Maori excellence in sheep and beef farming.

Owners Bart and Nukuhia Hadfield showed judges the farm and stock yesterday and are running the field day today.

Mr Hadfield said the history of how the couple came to own the station was a major part of their entry into the awards. . .

NZ cow’s milk product wows Mexican dermatologists:

Hamilton-based company, Quantec Ltd, has successfully launched its world-first anti-acne cream to hundreds of Mexican dermatologists in Mexico City this month.

Quantec’s product, a clinically-proven anti-acne cream derived from cow’s milk called Epiology, was first launched into New Zealand pharmacies in May 2014.

Quantec founder and managing director Dr Rod Claycomb said it was the product’s success nationally that spurred Quantec to swiftly take the product global. . .

The New Zealand Seafood Industry has lost a titan with the death of Philip Vela:

The New Zealand seafood industry has lost a titan with the death of Philip Vela.

“Philip Vela was an early pioneer in the development of the hoki, orange roughy, tuna and squid fisheries. He continued to be a major player and innovator in New Zealand fisheries – a business where only the strongest of the strong have survived over these past 40 years,” Deepwater Group chief executive George Clement said.

“As such, the New Zealand seafood industry owes Philip and his brother Peter a huge debt. . .

Battle For Our Birds a great success:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says the success of the Battle For Our Birds programme is a welcome victory for endangered native species.

The Department of Conservation today released preliminary monitoring results for the eight-month long anti-predator campaign.

“There are thousands more native birds alive today than there would have been without the work done by DOC’s Battle For Our Birds last summer,” Ms Barry says.

“If we had done nothing and treated it as business as usual, the rat and stoat plague accompanying last year’s beech mast would have wiped out local populations of some of our rarest birds such as the kakariki, mohua/yellowhead or whio/blue duck.” . .

On the road again – RCNZ workshops being held in May:

Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) will be on the road again this May updating its members on the latest changes in health and safety, transport and employment laws – as well as other topics – in a series of roadshows being held around the country during May.

RCNZ chief executive Roger Parton says the roadshow presentation will cover off the proposed new Health & Safety legislation and regulations, the Safer Farms programme and Codes of Practice for using tractors and other self propelled agricultural vehicles and what these changes will mean for rural contractors. . .  

Farmers encouraged to check they are registered with Beef + Lamb New Zealand for referendum vote:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) is encouraging farmers to check they are registered to vote in the sheep and beef levy referendum that will be held later this year.

All sheep, beef and dairy farmers will be able to vote on continuing to invest in programmes run by B+LNZ, which are designed to support a confident sector with improved farm productivity, profitability and performance.

B+LNZ Chief Executive Dr Scott Champion said it’s important that famers ensure they are on the roll and that their details are up to date. . .

OVERSEER 6.2’s new irrigation module now live through the new OVERSEER website:

OVERSEER 6.2 went live last night after a month-long OVERSEER road show that attracted hundreds of farmers and farm advisers willing to learn how to use the new irrigation module.

Full technical notes and the updated Data Input Standards have been released with OVERSEER 6.2 through a brand new website and OVERSEER’s General Manager Dr Caroline Read says users have everything they need to get up to speed.

“We’ve been working with IrrigationNZ since the start of the year to forewarn irrigators that OVERSEER 6.2 would be launched this month. Regional councils in popular irrigation areas have also been getting the message out. Farmers and growers can now work with their advisers to make sure their OVERSEER data is in line with what the new irrigation module requires,” says Dr Read. . .


Drought’s official

February 13, 2015

This summer has been like those I remember as a child with day after day of hot, sunny weather.

Those were summers when we were plagued by drought just like this one, which is now official:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has today officially declared the drought conditions on the east coast of the South Island as being a medium-scale adverse event.

“This is recognition of the extreme dry conditions farmers and growers are facing, and triggers additional Government support,” says Mr Guy.

The areas affected cover parts of Otago, Canterbury and the Marlborough District.

“The Ministry for Primary Industries has been monitoring the conditions very closely over recent months. Most farmers have coped so far by destocking and using feed supplies, and most will not need extra support. However it’s clear that conditions are only going to get tougher as the seasons change and we need to prepare now.

This week local groups, including Rural Support Trusts and Federated Farmers, have acknowledged the need of medium scale recovery measures to deal with the consequence of the drought.

“Extra Government funding will now be available to Rural Support Trusts who work closely with farmers, providing support and guidance.

“Rural Assistance Payments (RAPs) will also be made available in the next few months. These will be available from Work and Income, through the Ministry of Social Development. They are equivalent to the Jobseeker Support benefit and are available to those in extreme hardship.

“It’s important to note that support is already available from Government agencies in all regions. Farmers should contact IRD if they need help or flexibility with making tax payments, and standard hardship assistance is available from Work and Income.

“Federated Farmers have started their feedline to coordinate supplies, and it’s pleasing to see some banks offering special packages.”

Mr Guy made the announcement today at Opuha Dam in South Canterbury which will run dry in the next few weeks without decent rainfall.

“Many rural people can be reluctant to ask for help, but it is important for them to know that support is available.”

Mr Guy says the Government is also keeping a very close eye on Wairarapa and southern Hawkes Bay which are also suffering from very dry conditions.

What are the criteria for declaring a medium scale adverse event?

  • There are three levels of ‘adverse events’ – localised, medium and national. These can cover events like drought, floods, fire, earthquakes and other natural disasters.
  • The criteria for assessing the scale of an adverse event are:
    • Options available for the community to prepare for and recover from the event;  
    • Magnitude of the event (likelihood and scale of physical impact), and;
    • Capacity of the community to cope economically and socially impact.

Stuart Smith MP's photo.

Stuart Smith MP's photo.

 

The declaration reinforces the case for more water storage:

Today’s official declaration that the drought conditions on the east coast of the South Island are a medium-scale adverse event strengthens the argument for further national investment in regional water storage, says IrrigationNZ.

“The only way to prevent communities suffering drought in dry summers is through storing alpine water. We do not need to wait for rivers to run dry, for fish to die and for communities to panic. New Zealand has plentiful supply which flows out to sea; we just need to get better at banking water and getting it to the needy places,” says Andrew Curtis, IrrigationNZ CEO.

“The official declaration of drought shows that extended dry weather has a significant impact in New Zealand despite its high levels of rainfall. It means that farmers and communities need help.

“We need to make 2015 the year New Zealand finally learns from drought and gets on with building regional-scale water storage to prevent local distress. There are several projects in the pipeline around the country but they need significant community, business and government support to proceed. This South Canterbury drought will cost New Zealanders millions. It’s time we bit the bullet and had a national conversation around how we manage drought,” says Mr Curtis.

“Water storage and irrigation will allow New Zealand to survive climatic variations like extended dry spells which scientists tell us are on the increase, particularly for those of us living in eastern New Zealand. Drought takes away not only income from farmers; it strips whole communities of water for everything from boating to gardening, tourism businesses that rely on healthy river flows to fish struggling to survive in parched streams. Water storage is not just about propping up irrigation; it supplements all of these community values”, says Mr Curtis.

 

 

We’re insulated from the worst affects of drought at home thanks to North Otago Irrigation Company’s scheme, fed from the Waitaki River, which is 99% reliable.

But many dairy farmers rely on dryland farms for winter feed and grazing, both of which will be in tight supply.

Irrigation schemes in other areas are restricting takes and some have had to stop all irrigation.

Dairy farms relying on irrigation have reduced milking and many will have to dry-off cows soon,  more than three months early.

The economic impact of the drought will hit the small businesses which service and supply farms too.

There’s now sufficient, reliable irrigation in North Otago to keep grass and crops growing on many farms and reduce the downstream impact on the local community.

More water storage would give other areas that protection too.


Rural round-up

January 29, 2015

Irrigating farmers need to optimise every drop to stave off drought, says IrrigationNZ:

Irrigating farmers need to pull out all the stops to ensure they are optimising every drop of water as the irrigation season may shut down six weeks earlier than usual in some parts of New Zealand threatening the viability of crops and winter feed supply for stock, says IrrigationNZ.

Earlier forecasts that Lake Opuha in South Canterbury may sustain irrigation until the end of February are now being revisited. “The sustained dry conditions have reduced flows across the catchment and increased pressure on our storage prompting us to review the forecast for the lake. Both river flows and irrigation will suffer when we run out of storage,” says Opuha Water Ltd CEO Tony McCormick. . .

Breakfast table a start for sheep milk – Craig Prichard:

While New Zealand can still boast the highest number of sheep per head of population, you will go a long way to buy a litre of ewe milk for your cornflakes or latte. Why is that?

Why is there virtually no liquid sheep milk for sale in New Zealand supermarkets? And why is there virtually no sheep dairying industry?

It’s not for want of trying. Groups of farmers and scientists had a go in the 1980s and late 1990s. A couple of today’s five commercial producers are survivors from the 1990s.

But these operators are hardly a pimple on the side of New Zealand’s dairy cow or sheep meat industries. . .

Otago/Southland kicks off ANZ Young Farmer Contest Regional Finals

The first of seven Grand Finalists will be determined next weekend, Saturday 7 February as Otago/Southland starts the 2015 Regional Finals for the ANZ Young Farmer Contest in Queenstown.

“This contest season is shaping up to be very impressive, every year the calibre of contestants continues to impress,” says Terry Copeland, Chief Executive of New Zealand Young Farmers – organisers of the event.

The eight finalists are contending for a spot at the Grand Final in Taupo 2 – 4 July and their share of an impressive prize pack worth over $271,000 in products, services and scholarships from ANZ, FMG, Lincoln University, Silver Fern Farms, AGMARDT, Ravensdown, Honda, Husqvarna and Vodafone. . .

Initiative offers free cow condition assessments:

Northland herds have the opportunity this season to be part of the DairyNZ body condition score (BCS) initiative which will see certified BCS assessors provide free body condition score assessments.

“Farmers, researchers and advisers all agree that getting cows in the right condition at calving is critical for milk production and reproductive performance – two key drivers of farm profitability,” says DairyNZ developer – productivity, Sally Peel.

“Yet every year we see large numbers of cows calving at below target condition and consequently achieving below potential production and profitability.” . . .

New Zealand’s Top Restaurants and Chefs Revealed:

The top restaurants and chefs in the nation were revealed at a long lunch held at the prestigious Kelliher Estate on Puketutu Island today, after months of assessment by culinary trained experts.

163 restaurants from across New Zealand received the 2015 Beef and Lamb Excellence Award, recognising the highest quality, most skilfully composed and superbly presented beef and lamb cuisine.

2015 marks the 19th year of the Awards, making them the country’s longest running culinary award programme and one which is highly regarded within the industry. . .

 International experts bring change:

After a horror year for fatalities in 2013, New Zealand’s forest industry performed superbly in 2014, both in terms of safety and wood production. Credit has to go to the people on the forest floor who had a chance to get their voice heard through the Independent Forest Safety Review and ask for changes to be made for ensuring workplaces in forestry could be safer for everyone.

As part of the sweeping changes coming to the forestry workplace, the ) is committed to ensuring forestry people have access to the best safety thinkers. This is the key to bring change to ensure safe workplaces continue to be achieved for forestry in coming months and years. Forestry’s initial paradigm shift came from change agents who brought new ideas to forestry health and safety. More change agents are set to bring lasting change. . .

New website signifies a united front by manufactures of possum products:

The New Zealand Fur Council today launched it’s website: www.furcouncil.org.nz. The website signifies a united front by manufactures of possum fur products in New Zealand.

New Zealand Fur Council Chairman Neil Mackie says: “The possum fur industry is a growing industry already worth $130 million to the New Zealand economy annually. It’s important that people understand the industry, its contribution and potential for growth. This website for the New Zealand Fur Council is about collaboration and making sure there is a balanced view in regards to possum fur and harvesting. Given the general public’s concern for animal welfare and conservation it is important facts and science are at the forefront of any debate.”

In June 2013 in an update on the use of 1080 poison to kill possums the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment recommended the Minister of Conservation ask the Department of Conservation to prioritise the development of national policy and operational procedures on possum fur harvesting. . .

 


Drought reinforces need for storage

January 8, 2015

We woke to mizzle – a misty drizzle – on Tuesday morning.

Holiday-makers wouldn’t have been pleased but we were delighted.

However, by mid-morning the sky had cleared and temperatures were rising.

We haven’t had a decent rain since July and it’s got all the signs of the droughts which in North Otago every few years.

Irrigation schemes using water from the Waitaki River have 99% reliability but takes from the Kakanui River are restricted and will stop altogether if the weather doesn’t break soon.

Further north in South Canterbury it’s drier still.

Less snow melt put less water in the Opuha Dam in spring and those irrigating from it are now on restrictions.

Friends near Waimate ran out of stock water weeks ago and the tanker which comes to collect their milk brings water for them.

There is nothing new about drought but the recurrence reinforces the need for more water storage:

Water restrictions for irrigating farmers look set to follow a similar pattern to the 2012-13 summer, says IrrigationNZ, when drought conditions in the North and South Island wiped more than $1billion dollars from the NZ economy.

“This summer once again highlights the need to fast track alpine-fed* water storage infrastructure in both the South and North Islands. Despite the focus upon irrigation development over the past five years, New Zealand has made very limited progress in this space,” says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis. “We have modernised and improved our irrigation distribution systems but have failed to invest in alpine water storage to our detriment.”

(*Alpine-fed water storage refers to dams and water storage lakes that are replenished by rainfall and snowmelt within our alpine environments in contrast to streams and rivers that are fed by foothills rainfall. Alpine rainfall is more consistent and plentiful than foothills and plains rainfall, hence its suitability to provide reliable water supply).

‘We’re losing sight of the prize that reliable alpine-fed irrigation water storage could bring to both the environment and economy. Certainty of water supply allows investment in SMART irrigation technologies that greatly improve nutrient management and production. There are also direct benefits from storage including the augmentation of summer river flows or being able to release flushing flows that cleanse rivers of summer algal growth,” says Mr Curtis.

Irrigation restrictions are now widespread in Canterbury and Otago, with Hawke’s Bay dry but maintaining flows.

One of the worst hit areas is South Canterbury with the Opuha Dam, a foothill-fed river catchment, facing unprecedented water shortages. Opuha’s lake level is of major concern, says Opuha Water Supply Ltd CEO Tony McCormick. “Our situation and outlook have not improved and the lake level continues to drop steadily. Today the lake is at 31% full. We are currently on 25% irrigation restrictions and expect to move to 50% restrictions next week when the lake hits another ‘trigger’ level of 25% full. Our current predictions suggest that the lake could be fully depleted by the end of February.”

Mr McCormick says while the initial problem was a lack of stored water, the situation is now being compounded by very dry conditions being experienced across the South Canterbury region.

The Ashburton River is on full restriction which has forced the Ashburton Lyndhurst Irrigation Company to place shareholders on 85% allocation. However the Rangitata River is currently flowing at a healthy level due to good rainfall in the alps over the New Year, says Jess Dargue, ALIC scheme manager.

While some North Canterbury rivers are on restriction, Amuri Irrigation Limited CEO Andrew Barton says both the Waiau and Hurunui, both alpine rivers, are maintaining flows so scheme restrictions look unlikely in the near future.

While there are no restrictions on major irrigation schemes in the Lower Waitaki at the moment, all fed by the Waitaki River, an alpine river with storages built for hydropower, Elizabeth Soal, Policy Manager of the Waitaki Irrigators Collective says partial restrictions affecting independent irrigators are in effect on hill-fed tributary rivers including the Hakataramea, the Maerewhenua and the Awakino. There are also restrictions (some full restrictions) on some of the South Canterbury Coastal streams and waterways, including parts of the Waihao River, Buchanans Creek and the Sir Charles Creek.

In Otago, supplementary permits off the Kakanui River have ceased with the first minimum flow alert being active, and the river is approaching its absolute minimum flow, which would mean full restrictions kick-in.

Parts of North Otago are extremely dry, with the area receiving a third of the historical average rainfall since August.

“For us down here, it’s much, much drier than in 2012-13. Some are saying it’s the driest it’s been in ten years, so the restrictions will bite even harder,” says Elizabeth Soal.

While the Hawke’s Bay is dry, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Group Manager Resource Management Iain Maxwell, says that’s not unexpected for the region at this time of the year and irrigation water availability is being maintained.

“River flows are holding well and there are no irrigation bans on the main rivers so farmers are still able to irrigate,” he says.

Drought is costly in financial and human terms. It also degrades water quality, threatens water life and can lead to soil erosion.

Drought is a fact of life for farming on the east coast but the consequences of it would be minimised with more storage to capture the excess at times of high flow for use for farming and maintaining minimum flows in water ways during droughts.


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