Rural round-up

February 13, 2019

Two surveys, two different results on water quality  – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Media coverage of the Fish and Game Survey has eclipsed the results from the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) released at the end of last year.

Both were done by Colmar Brunton. Both involved approximately 1000 people.

Fish and Game focussed on ‘Perceptions of the environment: what people think’ and had one results chart. MfE’s report was under the title of ‘Environmental Attitudes Baseline’ with 62 pages of results, analysis and reporting of further questions. . .

Milk miracle: New Zealand AgResearch scientists eye new baby booster – Jamie Morton:

Dr Mark McCann calls milk a miracle food.

And for good reason: over millions of years, it has evolved to cram all of the energy and nutrients we need in early life into one package.

“The sheer amount of growth that babies go through in the first 1000 days of life is astounding.”

McCann, a senior research scientist at AgResearch, said one important part of this period was how different organs and systems developed to boost our potential for good health over a lifetime. . . 

Let’s use real wool to make Kiwiana – Julie Geange:

When people from overseas think of New Zealand what do they think of?

The All Blacks, Flight of the Conchords and sheep. New Zealand produces the fourth largest export of sheep meat globally and has around 29 million sheep, although in the past this number has reached 60 million.

When close to four million international visitors come to our shores they look to buy things that will remind them of New Zealand. Visitors who find themselves in a tourist destination, like the Hawke’s Bay, are wanting to get something quintessential Kiwi to take home as a gift. They visit tourist shops and reach for pure white toy sheep decorated with cheeky grins. . .

Hotcompetitionatshearingwoolhandlingevents – RIchard Davison:

Aspiration met perspiration in Balclutha on Saturday, as the nation’s top shearers and woolhandlers battled it out for Otago honours.

Conditions for competitors at the Otago Shearing and Woolhandling Championships were at the challenging end of the spectrum in the town’s War Memorial Hall, as temperatures topped 28degC.

Demonstrating why he is world champion was Gisborne woolhandler Joel Henare, competing in his final South Island event before he retires later this year. . .

NZ’s bid to hold world avocado congress :

The avocado industry has thrown its hat into the ring to bring the Avocado World Congress to New Zealand for the first time in 2023.

The congress, which is held every four years, brings together 2000 people in the industry including growers, researchers and investors.

The New Zealand industry is worth $150 million and it forecast to grow to $1 billion by 2040. . .

Welsh farmer’s daffodils could help 250,000 Alzheimer’s sufferers :

Daffodils grown by a Welsh sheep farmer have been found to contain a higher-than-usual amount of galantamine, a compound known to slow Alzheimer’s disease.

Kevin Stephens’ flowers, grown in the Black Mountains in Wales, produce unusually high amounts of the disease-fighting compound.

His flowers could now be used to help 250,000 patients who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. . . 


Rural round-up

November 20, 2018

Has the time come for genetic modification?– Charlie Dreaver:

Trees with red trunks and apples that are red right the way through and flower all year round. Should we back or block the genetically changed plants New Zealand scientists are growing? Charlie Dreaver reports for Insight. 

Gene edited plants are just as safe as normal plants, according to one scientist. At a Plant and Food Research greenhouse in Auckland, one of the sections is filled with $300 apple trees, and Andy Allan, a professor of plant biology, is pointing out one of his favourite experiment, a tree with bright, fuchsia-coloured flowers.

“The particular red gene we’re testing is under a strong expression, so the roots are red, the trunk is red, the leaves are copper and the fruit goes on to look more like a plum, it’s so dark.” . . 

Hope for kiwi comeback from 1080 project targeting stoats – Jono Edwards:

The first western Fiordland 1080 project will start mid-next year in the hope of bringing the stoat-ridden area’s kiwi back from the brink.

As part of the Department of Conservation’s “Save Our Iconic Kiwi” initiative, the operation will target 50,000ha of rugged, inaccessible terrain at Shy Lake, between Wet Jacket Arm and Breaksea Sound.

Non-toxic baits to accustom rats to the bait are planned for late winter next year, followed by toxic baits in September and October. The stoats will then eat the poisoned rats. . .

Native vegetation on sheep and beef farms summary report:

A report from the University of Canterbury has revealed that 24 per cent of New Zealand’s native vegetation (approximately 2.8 million hectares) is estimated to be on sheep and beef farms. This is the largest amount of native vegetation present outside of public conservation land. 

The report has also uncovered that 17 per cent of all New Zealand’s native forest is estimated to be on sheep and beef farms and is likely playing a vital, but often unheralded role in supporting biodiversity.

B+LNZ CEO Sam McIvor reflects that “This is a great acknowledgement for our farmers and the work they’re doing as stewards of the land. I hear sheep and beef farmers talking every day about what they’re doing on farm to support biodiversity and it’s great we have been able to develop evidence to back their passionate voices”. . .

Less effective killers cost more – Jacqueline Rowarth:

 Glyphosphate, commonly sold as Roundup, has been in the news again, this time because of a link to antibiotic resistance.

Canterbury University’s Professor Jack Heinemann has done some interesting work in the laboratory. He has also acknowledged agar plates in controlled conditions are a very long way from field use.

More research is required. Of course.

And scientists love having a reason to do more research.

It’s different in Russia – Keith Woodford:

This last week I have been working in Russia on issues of A1 and A2 beta-casein.  I am still there, but today is Sunday and together with my wife Annette, I am on a fast train from Moscow to St Petersburg.

It’s late autumn over here, but to a Kiwi lad it seems like the middle of winter. Until today, the weather has been fine and clear but with temperatures below freezing. Today the snow has arrived, and it will now be on the ground for at least the next four months.  There is not much sign of global warming over here!

Travelling by fast train at 250 km per hour, I am fascinated by the lungs of Russia. By that I mean the hundreds of kilometres of trees, largely pines, with just the occasional village.  Somewhere there must be some farm lands, but they sure aren’t in sight from the train. . . 

Signs mount that Fonterra will have to cut its payout forecast –  Jenny Ruth:

(BusinessDesk) – The risks are mounting against Fonterra holding its current forecast milk payout and this week’s GlobalDairyTrade auction could be yet another nail in its coffin.

The auction results will be released early Wednesday, New Zealand time.

Fonterra’s current forecast is a rate of $6.25-to-$6.50 a kilogram of milk solids but Mark Lister, the head of wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners, says the trends in both dairy pricing and the renewed strength in the kiwi dollar could see the actual payout settle closer to $6.00 or $6.25. . . 

Fonterra too helpful to councils – Hugh Stringleman:

The ever-increasing compliance load on dairy farmers was forcibly questioned at the Fonterra annual meeting by Cambridge dairy farmer Judy Bryan.

She alleged Fonterra accepts and facilitates regional councils’ demands for environmental actions that load costs on farmers.

“We may be getting $6 something in milk price but look where a lot of that is going, on compliance. . .

Careful! You might miss New Zealand’s latest luxury lodge:

New Zealand’s newest luxury lodge epitomises discretion, from blending seamlessly into its secluded rural location to the luxe surroundings and discerning service of a high-calibre luxury destination.

Set to become New Zealand’s newest luxury destination, The Lindis which opened this month in a dramatic South Island high country valley, blends so perfectly with the surroundings that you’d be forgiven for missing it.

Try spotting The Lindis from the air and you’re liable to miss it thanks to outstanding architecture designed to blend with the stunning landscape surrounding the building’s resting place in the Ahuriri Valley. The valley lies in a stretch of South Island high country between Mount Cook and Wanaka and the lodge name associates with The Lindis Pass, a picturesque alpine roadway linking the Mackenzie Basin with Central Otago. . .


Rural round-up

October 5, 2018

What’s so bad about nitrogen anyway? – Jacqueline Rowarth:

 Nitrogen (N) is the most abundant element in the atmosphere. After carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, it is also the most abundant element in the human body.

It is found in our very DNA – our genetic makeup – and is a major component of the protein that we need to eat to stay healthy. Despite this, nitrogen has been receiving a bad rap with suggestions that we now have a “deadly addiction”‘ to it.

To some people, it appears that nitrogen is in the same class as ecstasy, cocaine and heroin.

People die when they overdose on Class A drugs.

People die when they have insufficient nitrogen. . .

NZ needs to embrace gene editing technology – scientist – Kate Gudsell:

If gene editing technology is not embraced in New Zealand the country is at risk being of being left behind, a scientist warns.

Gene editing is a new technology which enables scientists to genetically modify an organism and would be considered genetic modification under New Zealand law.

The technology allows scientists to be much more precise about changes made in the genome of an organism compared with previous methods.

The Royal Society Te Apārangi’s new discussion paper, The Use of Gene Editing in the Primary Industries, was released today and explores risks and potential benefits for five scenarios of how gene editing could be used for primary production sectors including agriculture, forestry and horticulture. . . 

Rebecca Keoghan named Rural Woman of Influence :

Westport’s Rebecca Keoghan has added another major award to an impressive resume.

The general manager of Landcorp Farming’s Pamu Academy has been named the Rural Woman of Influence at the 2018 awards, presented by Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy in Auckland.

Mrs Keoghan was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit last year for services to business, particularly the dairy industry, and was the 2016 Dairy Woman of the Year. . .

Global milk supply growth slowing despite bumper start to NZ season – Rabobank:

While combined milk supply growth across the world’s ‘Big 7’ dairy exporters slowed during quarter three, a bumper start to the New Zealand milk production season has seen soft demand for Oceania-origin dairy products in recent months, according to Rabobank’s latest Dairy Quarterly report, with the bank now forecasting a lower New Zealand milk price of NZD6.65/kgMS for 2018/19.

The specialist agribusiness bank says the slowdown in combined milk production growth seen in quarter two 2018 from the ‘Big 7’ (the EU, the US, New Zealand, Australia, Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil), at just one per cent year-on-year (YOY), has trickled through to quarter three, driven by a number of factors including drought conditions in parts of northern and western Europe. . . 

Ministry testing targets farms without M bovis connection – Maja Burry:

The Ministry for Primary Industries will be testing 200 calf-rearing properties across the country as it tries to understand the prevalence of Mycoplasma bovis in beef herds.

A MPI spokesperson Catherine Duthie said it would select farms that did not have a connection to other properties considered at risk of having the cattle disease, so the survey could help establish whether M bovis was more widespread than thought.

If properties were connected others with M bovis they were being discounted from the survey as MPI would already be testing them, she said.

“This survey is another way of testing our assumption that this disease Mycoplasma bovis is not widespread in New Zealand.” . . 

Roger’s tasty sheep – Offsetting Behaviour:

A few years ago, Peter Singer said eating New Zealand lamb was defensible – even for an animal-rights utilitarian. The animals live a joyful life, have one bad day at the end, and graze on land that wouldn’t be suitable for grains anyway.

“I think that there is a defensible argument for saying that if the purchase of Canterbury lamb is a necessary condition for lambs to have what is for 99% of their existence a really good life and even the bad days are not like a day of being tortured for 24 hours… I do think that that … would be a defensible diet.”

Roger Beattie’s gotten rid of the ‘one bad day at the end’ part. His lambs aren’t mustered and hauled to the works; they’re shot on-paddock. . .

 


Rural round-up

August 29, 2018

Financial incentives no silver bullet for sustainable agriculture – study – Charlie Dreaver:

A Landcare Research study shows financial incentives to encourage more sustainable practices on farms are not enough.

The research, as part of the National Science Challenges, investigated the best incentives to promote changes within the agriculture sector in the face of approaching climate change.

One of the authors, Landcare Research senior scientist Nick Cradock-Henry said he had been working with farmers over the last seven or eight years and had found awareness around climate change was growing.

Dr Cradock-Henry said it was partly due to recent severe weather events. . .

Destocking not the answer – Dr Jacqueline Rowarth:

It is a great pity that some people have embraced – with little question – the concept that farmers can make a ‘reduction in stocking rate and still make the same money, while leaching less nitrogen’.

Destocking is now being offered as the panacea to environmental woes, and hence a goal for the country, without examination of impacts or alternatives. Nor is the issue of climatic variability being considered; a region once ‘summer safe’ or ‘winter dry’ may be no longer.

Of even more importance is the starting point: destock from what? And did the high stocking rate mean animals were under pressure for feed? And, of course, what is the milk price and the cost of importing food to the milking platform? . . .

No excuse:

 Farmers are unhappy and confused with the NAIT changes rushed through Parliament into law.

Social media has been abuzz with angry farmers demanding a ‘please explain’ from DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ on why they are publicly backing the changes.

One Northland dairy and beef farmer tweeted “please explain why [you] supported the draconian changes to the NAIT Act which treat farmers like terrorists. Why should I pay my levy/sub if u can’t stand up for us?” . .

Fertiliser made from sea squirts shows student ingenuity :

More than 30 student businesses from 11 high schools around Northland competed in this year’s Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) trade fair at the Old Packhouse Market in Kerikeri, and market patrons found plenty to attract their interest.

For YES the students come up with a product or service, set up a real-world business, and end the year with a real profit – or loss.

The fair was the young entrepreneurs’ first chance to test their wares and marketing skills on the public, with shoppers voting for their favourite business and secret judges rating the best stalls. . .

Food price ‘to rise 5%’ because of extreme weather :

Meat, vegetable and dairy prices are set to rise “at least” 5% in the coming months because of the UK’s extreme weather this year, research suggests.

Consultancy CEBR said 2018’s big freeze and heatwave would end up costing consumers about £7 extra per month.

It follows price warnings from farmers’ representatives about peas, lettuces and potatoes. . .

The world’s first floating farm making waves in Rotterdam – Simon Fry:

The world’s first offshore dairy farm opens in the Port of Rotterdam this year, with the aim of helping the city produce more of its own food sustainably. But will such farms ever be able to produce enough to feed the world’s growing urban populations?

A Dutch property company, Beladon, is launching the world’s first “floating farm” in a city port.

It has built the offshore facility right in the middle of Rotterdam’s Merwehaven harbour and will use it to farm 40 Meuse-Rhine-Issel cows milked by robots. . . 


Rural round-up

July 28, 2018

Ag sector backs gas reductions – Hugh Stringleman:

The primary sector has put forward a harmonious position in more than 14,000 submissions on the proposed Zero Carbon Bill and New Zealand’s 2050 targets, policies and budgets.

All agricultural and horticultural bodies have supported option two for emissions reductions for long-lived greenhouse gases and stabilisation for short-lived gases like methane.

The six-week public consultation, Our Climate Our Say, began in early June and has now closed so the Ministry for the Environment can collate the responses. . .

Nitrogen is necessary for food production – Jacqueline Rowarth:

In a world of 7.64 billion human mouths the food production system cannot cope without the use of nitrogen fertiliser.

It is estimated the Haber-Bosch process, which is fundamental in the production of ammonia (the precursor to the making of nitrogenous fertiliser), feeds 50% of the global population. 

Though some sectors of the world are now overweight because food is both available and cheap, in other parts of the world food security and malnourishment are still problems. 

Remove nitrogen fertiliser from the equation and the problems will increase. . . 

Tegel Foods calls for hearings on Kaipara’s mega chicken farm plans to be suspended – Annette Lambly:

A controversial application to farm nine million chickens a year on a proposed free range poultry farm in Northland has been suspended.

Applicant Tegel Foods said it needed more time to respond to issues raised by Northland Regional Council and Kaipara District Council ahead of a hearing planned for August 8.

Thousands of people have opposed the plans over concerns about the smell the farm, near Dargaville, could cause. . .

Chiefs prop turns award winning farmer – Esther Taunton:

Former Chiefs prop Shane Cleaver talks about the day his promising rugby career ended in blunt terms.

“I walked off the field and chucked the boots in the bin,” he says. “I knew I was done after that.”

Plagued by concussion throughout his six-year professional career, Cleaver was playing for Taranaki against Southland in 2013 when yet another knock to the head left him out cold.  

“Before that game I was already struggling.  I’d had a knock the week before and I was in the toilet trying not to spew pre-game, I was dizzy, I was really battling,” he says. . .

Turning the dirt on carbon farming:

With growing knowledge and new tools, carbon farming is emerging as a major consideration for agriculture in its effort to combat climate change.

The USA lead the world in exploring the sequestering of carbon in soil. Californian Jeff Creque, who has a PhD in rangeland ecology, has been to the fore since the early 2000s, co-founding the Marin Carbon Project (MCP), a consortium of university researchers, county and federal agencies, non-profits and a science advisory task force.

“Most folks don’t understand soil and its potential as a carbon sink,” Creque told Fonterra. “And most (of) agriculture does not understand or engage with that process either. Carbon has been missing from our agricultural curricula for a very long time and we see it finally coming back into the conversation today.” . .

Kenyan Farmer: on cusp of a biotech revolution, Africa faces resistance from Europe and anti-GMO activists – Bilbert arap Bor:

Farmers have good years and bad years. Here in Kenya, however, the good years never seemed quite as good as they could have been and the bad years have felt worse than necessary.

Why?

It’s because we can’t take advantage of tools that farmers in much of the developed world take for granted: genetically engineered crops, often referred to as GMOs. In many countries, they’ve transformed farming, helping farmers contend with weeds, pests and drought. In my country, Kenya, we’re still languishing in the 20thcentury, waiting for the arrival of this 21st-century technology. . .

 


Govt sowing seeds for another ag-sag?

May 7, 2018

Let’s start with something we can agree on: we all want clean waterways.

Where opinion diverges is on how that is to be achieved.

The government thinks part of the solution is in reducing cow numbers:

Environment Minister David Parker told TVNZ 1’s Q+A programme that in some parts of New Zealand cow numbers may have to be cut.

‘Well, cow numbers have already peaked and are going down, but yes, in some areas, the number of cows per hectare is higher than the environment can sustain. That won’t be done through a raw cap on cow numbers; it will be done on nutrient limits, the amount of nutrient that can be lost from a farm to a waterway, because it’s not just a dairy cow issue.’

It’s not just a cow issue and it’s not just nitrogen and phosphorus as this chart from the Agricultural Research Centre shows:

As I have said many times before, the major contributor to problems in the Kakanui River isn’t farming it’s  seagulls.

Back to Q&A, just like with the government’s decision to end oil and gas exploration, it has no idea about the economic impact of reducing cow numbers:

CORIN This is a massive signal. This is like your oil and gas. This is you saying to the farming sector, ‘You cannot continue with some of your practices in dairying, and we will force you to have less cows.’ What work have you done to look at what the economic impact of that would be? Because we know if there’s a drought, for example, and milk production goes down a couple of percent, it takes off a percent off GDP.

DAVID Mm. Well, I think the Landcorp example is illustrative that it’s not the end of the world for dairying.

The Landcorp example is not a good one because the company’s return on capital is abysmal and it’s propensity for making losses couldn’t be sustained by private businesses.

CORIN Have you done the work that shows what the economic impact for some, particularly dairying regions, would be?

DAVID We haven’t done an analysis of what the economic effects would be. But it’s very, very difficult to model, because second-best from the farmer perspective may still be very close to the same outcome profit-wise. Can I go back to what I was saying that I think one of the answers to this in south Canterbury, for example, lies in land use change towards more cropping, more horticulture, which are high-value land uses. . . 

It’s not just difficult to model, it’s ignoring the reality that land, climate and soils that suit dairying don’t necessarily suit horticulture.

Jacqueline Rowarth pointed out nearly two years ago, a reduction in cow numbers would have unexpected consequences:

Replacing dairy with horticulture might have some economic merit, but land suitability has to be considered, as does the supporting infrastructure and inputs.

The point about any land-based activity is that it suits the topography and climate, which interact with the parent material to create the soil. Farmers and growers understand the nature of the interaction, and then manage the deficiencies – fertilisers, irrigation, shelters, for instance.

They also consider the infrastructure, processors and markets. Land that can be used economically and environmentally sustainably for horticulture has mostly been converted already.

There are also detrimental environmental impacts to be considered. Research on the Canterbury Plains reported in the media last year indicated that dairy conversions involving fertiliser and irrigation, actually increased organic matter.

The reverse is also true. And when organic matter breaks down, nitrogen is released as is carbon dioxide.

Massey University’s professor Tony Parsons has examined the land-use challenge with funding from the New Zealand Agricultural Research Centre (NZAGRC). He has calculated that at a given N input, dairy produces two to three times as much food, similar or less methane and less than half the amount of nitrogen loss.

He has also shown the use of supplements improves efficiencies. Combined with strategic use of shelters and feed pads, nitrogen losses can be reduced. . . 

A lot of work has been, and continues to be, done into improved practices which reduce dairying’s environmental impact

Keith Woodford says that we need a rational debate about water:

In recent years, the debates about water rights and water pollution in New Zealand have become increasingly torrid. Most New Zealanders have fixed views on the topic and are confident their views are correct. Human nature then leads to so-called facts being organised to buttress those fixed views.

There is a term for this phenomenon called ‘noble cause corruption’.    The problem is that ‘we’ have the ‘noble cause’ and ‘they’ have the ‘corruption’. And so, within this framework, the water debate has been characterised by huge superficiality, rhetoric and shouting. The opportunities for shared learning and accommodation have been minimal. . . 

Radical environmentalists and anti-farming groups have done a very good job with the superficiality, rhetoric and shoutingWhat we need now is science and the recognition that problems decades in the making will take time to solve and that improving water quality isn’t as simple as reducing cow numbers.

Currently, there is great confusion between issues of water quantity and water quality.  Dirty dairying has become the catch phrase.  At a public level, distinguishing between nitrogen leaching, phosphorus runoff, bacterial loadings and sediment does not occur.  There is also very poor understanding as to the constraints to cash crop and horticulture production in the absence of irrigation.

The rural community also has to accept that change is necessary. . . 

The rural community, and farmers in particular have generally not only accepted that change is necessary but have poured money into making changes which enhance and protect waterways.

They are aware, as the government and many others don’t appear to be, that water quality isn’t just about the environment, it also has a direct impact on the economy.

It is remarkable how huge swathes of the big-city populations have lost sight of the dependence New Zealand has on its natural resource-based industries. They do not appreciate that destruction of agriculture is incompatible with poverty elimination. . . .

Dairying has revived communities that were dying, creating jobs on farms and in businesses which service and supply them. Schools which were in danger of closing have had their rolls boosted, sports clubs which were in decline have been revived.

It has also provided a huge boost to the national economy, as the biggest or second biggest export earner and a major contributor to the annual tax-take.

The regional slush fund will be no compensation for the destruction of businesses and the people who depend on them. The fund itself will be in danger if the tax take and export income are severely reduced by attacks on farms and farmers.

The Lange-Douglas policies created the ag-sag of the 80s.

Few would argue with the necessity for change and what that government did but this government ought to have learned from the damage done by how they did it.

Farmers aren’t arguing against the need for clean water.

We’re just very worried that the government is sowing the seeds for another ag-sag.

They, and too many other people, don’t understand the economic and social cost of forcing fast changes, especially where they’re not backed by science.


Rural round-up

May 4, 2018

Irrigation not an environmental irritation – Jacqueline Rowarth:

 Irrigation can reduce soil erosion.

Of course, the irrigation has to be carefully managed and precision technologies are part of the management. However, there is no doubt that overcoming any drought period during warm temperatures allows increased pasture growth, which is associated with maintenance or an increase in organic matter, which in turn decreases the likelihood of erosion. 

Any increased income resulting from the harvesting of extra pasture or crop can be invested in more environmentally sound technologies. . .

Government-owned farmed tests positive for Mycoplasma bovis – Gerald Piddock:

Landcorp’s Rangesdale Station has been confirmed as testing positive for Mycoplasma bovis.

The sheep and beef property near Pahiatua in North Wairarapa was confirmed as having the cattle disease by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Landcorp (Pamu) spokesman Simon King confirmed the farm had tested positive for the disease and was working with MPI and local veterinary services and were currently culling the impacted herd.

“We had been in touch with neighbouring properties to advise them of the potential that the farm was infected last week, and we held a community meeting on Wednesday to update our neighbours on the situation and the actions Pāmu (Landcorp) is taking. . .

Gathering data on hill country potential, risks – Mark Adams:

Federated Farmers is backing a research project now underway to better understand hill country development practices.  

The end goal is to create a decision tool to aid farmers as they weigh up the benefits, costs and environmental risks of development of their hill country blocks.

Farmers from Canterbury and Manawatu have already shared their experiences on this topic during anonymous interviews conducted by research company UMR.  The next stage of the project, commissioned by Environment Canterbury and supported by Beef & Lamb New Zealand and Federated Farmers (South Canterbury), involves detailed telephone surveys of 150 farmers in the two provinces. . .

No significant drop in rabbits seen yet – Hamish MacLean:

Counts to establish whether the new strain of rabbit calicivirus has taken hold will begin next week, but Otago landowners expecting to see dramatic drops in rabbit numbers could be in for a wait.

When the impending release of 100 doses of a Korean strain of rabbit calicivirus was announced in March, the Otago Regional Council said the pest population could be cut by up to 40%.

Now farmers are saying they have seen no evidence of the impact of the virus.

Council environmental monitoring and operations director Scott MacLean said post-virus release night counts would begin next week but a potential 40% decrease in numbers of the pest would take time. . .

Eighty per cent of farmers aren’t employing technology to be productive in the 21st century – Pat Deavoll:

A red meat industry group discovered in 2011 that high performing sheep farmers earned more than twice as much for their red meat per hectare of land than lower performing ones,

Furthermore, they produced more than double the amount of lamb per hectare. Why? For many reasons, the group concluded.

Farmers in the lower echelons of productivity were notoriously poor at embracing technology. They also failed to integrate with management systems, failed to connect with their banks, processors and advisors, did not employ measurement and benchmarking strategies, and were terrible at budgeting. An estimated five per cent of sheep and beef farmers used an adequate budget, but 65 per cent didn’t bother with a budget at all. . . .

Agricultural sustainability in a water-challenged year – Roberto A. Peiretti:

I strive for excellence on my farm in Argentina—but this year, I’m delighted to be average.

As we bring in our corn and soybeans this month—remember, our seasons are reversed here in the southern hemisphere—we have no right to expect much of a harvest. This cropping season, our rainfall was far below regular levels. Our plants didn’t receive as much water as they need to flourish as well as they can.

Rather than suffering a catastrophe, however, we’re doing just fine: We’ll enjoy an ordinary harvest.

That’s because right now, our soil never has been healthier. We owe it all to a vision of sustainable farming that is astonishing in its simplicity even as it depends on agriculture’s latest technologies. . . .

 

It’s not #sauvblanc day without #nzwine:

On Friday 4 May New Zealand Winegrowers is ready to celebrate what is shaping up to be most successful International Sauvignon Blanc day yet, with an online digital campaign reaching over 50 million impressions via the hashtags #nzwine and #sauvblanc.

“This is on track to be the biggest social media campaign NZ wine has ever been involved in and it is fitting that it is around Sauvignon Blanc Day – New Zealand’s most exported wine varietal,” says Chris Yorke, Global Marketing Director at New Zealand Winegrowers. . . 


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