Rural round-up

06/07/2020

The perils of growing food in the era of Covid-19 – Eric Frykberg:

More evidence has emerged of the perils of growing food in the era of Covid-19.

The main problem is that many essential workers from overseas cannot come in because of travel restrictions, either as backpacking working holiday makers, or Recognised Seasonal Employment (RSE) scheme workers from the Pacific Islands.

This point was made repeatedly by agricultural sectors at a Parliament’s Primary Production Select Committee yesterday.

Representatives of the strawberry industry told the committee that had done all they could to attract New Zealand workers – even growing strawberries on tables so that pickers don’t have to toil all day bent double. . . 

Rural water hijacked – Gerald Piddock:

Farmers are worried Environment Minister David Parker’s decision to fast track Watercare’s consent to take Waikato River water for Aucklanders will come at the expense of their allocations.

There is concern farmers who were ahead of the Auckland Council’s water company in the queue for consent applications could now miss out because of the decision, Waikato Federated Farmers president Jacqui Hahn said.

“It’s not really right. A region should look after its own.” . . 

Farmers donate meat to charity :

A North Otago farmer who is among the first in the country to contribute to a new meat donation service is hoping others will follow.

Meat the Need is a national charity designed to supply meat to City Missions and food banks.

The meat is donated by farmers, processed, packed and delivered to those most in need.

Altavady Farm’s Kate Faulks was one of the first Silver Fern Farms farmers to support the cause, donating a cow and a beef steer.

She is part of a North Otago family business made up of four farms: two dairy farms (Providence farm, Fortitude farm), one dairy support farm (Living Springs Farm) and one dairy support/beef farm (Altavady Farm). . . 

Report shows swell in demand for irrigation – Daniel Birchfield:

A dry autumn helped the North Otago Irrigation Company pump out its third highest recorded volume of water to properties on its scheme since it was opened close to 14 years ago.

About 38million cum of water was delivered to 163 farmer shareholders, irrigating 26,000 hectares of land in the 11 months to May 31, the company’s report to the Waitaki District Council, presented on Tuesday, showed.

There was strong demand for irrigation over the peak summer period, after a typically slow start in October and November, which the report said was more than offset by demand in December and January.

The dry autumn which followed boosted demand further.  . . 

Hemp success at Darfield farm:

As one of the world’s most controversial (and misunderstood) plants, hemp is good for a whole lot of things: shoes, clothing, paper, you name it. And now it’s proven to be a perfect crop for the Co-op.

It was grown at Fonterra’s Darfield farm as a first-of-its-kind trial to see how hemp grows under dairy wastewater irrigation. They’ve found it’s a profitable, resilient and nutrient-gobbling alternative to the usual pasture grown at the 850ha Darfield farm, located just out of Christchurch.

While Hemp looks like cannabis, it does not contain high levels of THC, the psychoactive substance found in marijuana.

Fonterra’s Regional Farm Operations Manager, Steve Veix says the dry, hot Canterbury summers make it challenging to find the ideal crop to grow on-farm, which traditionally grows pasture. . . 

2020 Tonnellerie De Mercurey NZ Young Winemaker of the Year competition to go ahead:

Entries are now open for the 2020 Tonnellerie de Mercurey NZ Young Winemaker of the Year Competition. Plans are well underway for the regional competitions to take place throughout September and the national final in November.

The competition is open to all those under the age of thirty involved in wine production. This includes cellarhands, cellar managers, laboratory technicians, assistant winemakers and winemakers.

The competition helps stretch the ambitious contestants as well as help them widen their network and start making a name for themselves. . .


Rural round-up

19/07/2018

US trials bring GM ryegrass a step closer – Esther Taunton:

Kiwi researchers running overseas trials of genetically modified ryegrass say their field work has taken an important step forward.

In initial trials in New Zealand, the GM grass grew up to 50 per cent faster than conventional ryegrass, stored more energy for better animal growth, was more resistant to drought, and produced up to 23 per cent less methane from livestock.

Modelling also predicted lower urinary nitrate leaching and lower emissions of another greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide. . .

Tararua exotic sheep flock at Wimbledon grows to 300 – Christine Mckay:

It’s a secret farmer Brian Hales doesn’t hide. He loves a taste of the exotic.

Now his Wimbledon flock of exotic, rare and historic sheep has grown to 300, with 18 breeds represented.

“Wherever possible, I try to replicate their natural environment,” he said.

The latest addition to the Hales flock are Stewart Island sheep. . .

Dairy’s plan to succeed :

 Choosing 15 dairy farmers as NZ’s climate change ambassadors is the next step in the dairy sector’s plan for a culture of climate-conscious agribusiness, says DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle.

Waikato Federated Farmers Vice President Jacqui Hahn is one of 15 dairy farmers chosen as New Zealand’s climate change ambassadors.

“These 15 men and women represent best environmental farming practice for their farm system,” says Mackle.  . .

Finding right formula for farm fertiliser – Joyce Wyllie:

An early morning phone call. Jock answers wandering out into pre-dawn darkness to give a report on weather conditions. Looking for shifting leaves, sensing air movement and  trusting gut feeling he gives his opinion to the caller.

Weather in Nelson is quite different from West Coast Golden Bay so Richard, the topdressing pilot , rings for an on-the-spot update. No amount of cyber forecasts and analysing isobar lines on maps compare with advice from an experienced observer standing out on the dewy lawn.  

If the decision is that it will be a fine calm day the plane buzzes in about 40 minutes later and lands on the all weather runway in our aptly named Airstrip Paddock. . . 

Science says yes to eating fruit and vegetables – Amber Pankonin:

As a registered dietitian and nutrition educator, I spend a lot of time addressing myths about food and nutrition. Today we have more consumers asking specific questions about where food comes from and how it is produced. Even though I often encourage these types of questions, activist organizations and documentaries that spread false messages about agricultural practices make my job much more complicated when I talk with consumers about getting enough fruits and vegetables in their diet.

Since the mid-90s, the U.S.-based Environmental Working Group has published a list known as the “Dirty Dozen.” This list contains 12 fruits and vegetables believed to contain the highest amount of pesticide residues (trace amounts). Strawberries, spinach and nectarines top the list followed by other popular favorites such as apples, tomatoes and potatoes. The “Dirty Dozen” encourages consumers to purchase organic varieties of these particular fruits and vegetables instead of those grown conventionally. Every year this list receives attention from the media and every year I find myself addressing consumer concerns because of it. The headlines about the “Dirty Dozen” and pesticide risk are often misleading and can easily plant seeds of doubt when it comes to consuming healthy fruits and vegetables . .

 

Threats to supply management concern dairy farmers– Steve Arnold:

To Dave Loewith and his relatives, it’s a threat to the business model that has given them a level of financial security that many farmers can only imagine.

His parents, Joe and Minna, took up dairy farming just outside Hamilton, Ont., in 1938. They escaped Europe just ahead of the Nazi hordes by promising to farm in Canada for five years. They moved to their current location in Lynden – between Hamilton and Brantford – in 1947. Today, Dave Loewith and his brother Carl are partners in the venture. . .


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