Rural round-up

11/07/2022

Foot and Mouth for NZ is worse than Covid – what is Labour doing? – Cactus Kate:

Why are New Zealand media not reporting on the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Bali?

While there are a lot of Australians there presently, there will be during school holidays more than a few New Zealanders, if not now.

The Aussies are worried enough to be pumping out the articles in media.  Google right now there is a healthy sense of panic brewing.

The team of $55m? Silent apart from this.  Should New Zealand be hit again with it the result would be an apocalypse the likes the country has never seen. . . 

The above post was published four days ago. The next one was published yesterday:

Campaign to rise FMD awareness for travellers :

Biosecurity New Zealand is stepping up its work at the border with a campaign to ensure travellers do their part to protect farmers from foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), says deputy director general Stuart Anderson.

Foot-and-mouth disease is in many countries, including Malaysia, China and most recently Indonesia. It’s a good time to remind people arriving in New Zealand how important it is that they follow our strict biosecurity rules to protect against FMD.

“From next week, arriving passengers will notice more information about FMD in the in-flight airline announcements and in arrival halls. We will also provide people with a check sheet of dos and don’ts with regard to FMD, and further promote FMD awareness on social media.

“Our border staff will also step-up searches of baggage for passengers who have travelled from Indonesia, including focussing inspections of footwear and disinfecting them at the airport if required.” . . .

Hands off farm carbon capture NP – Neal Wallace:

The National Party is reserving judgment on He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) but has taken issue with a Climate Change Commission proposal to change the rules of on-farm sequestration.

Barbara Kuriger, the party’s agriculture spokesperson, said she is disappointed the commission is recommending the removal of carbon sequestration by farm vegetation from HWEN, instead proposing to combine it with biodiversity and other environmental outcomes in a whole new system.

“If farmers are going to be charged for their on-farm emissions they should also be rewarded for on-farm sequestration either through He Waka Eke Noa or the Emissions Trading Scheme,” she said.

“The commission should not overcomplicate things. Its first priority must be emissions.” . . 

Getting the EU trade deal across the line – Sharon Brettkelly:

Before New Zealand’s free trade agreement with the European Union comes into force, it’ll have to be translated into the 23 different languages of the region. 

But considering what it took to get it over the line – and the fact many in the EU don’t even want it – the translation of the document is just one of the many complicated aspects of the deal. 

“We are worth nothing to them,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade deputy secretary Vangelis Vitalis told a room of several hundred farmers and other primary industry leaders this week. 

He said he shared their frustration of “where we had to land with Europe on beef and dairy”.  . . 

Desperate Banks Peninsular farmers enduring months of no rainfall – Kim Moodie:

A Banks Peninsula farmer says he has had no reprieve from drought conditions in the region and locals say they have not seen the region’s paddocks so parched in years.

NIWA’s latest climate summary shows the nationwide average temperature last month was 9.9C, making it the eighth-warmest June since records began back in 1909.

The report said rainfall levels were below normal, or well below normal, for the time of year for many western and inland parts of New Zealand.

Soil moisture levels in the eastern-most parts of Otago and Canterbury were significantly abnormal for this time of year at the end of June. . . 

Boosting rural connectivity aims to deliver sustainable benefits to Kiwi farmers:

New funding will help boost internet connectivity for remote rural communities.

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI’s) Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund is co-investing $149,500 to help WISPA Network Limited (WNL) tackle the commercial roll-out of a collaborative delivery model for a nationwide, rural-focused LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network).

“Patchy network connection remains a significant barrier to many farmers looking to adopt agricultural technology solutions,” says Steve Penno, MPI’s director of investment programmes.

“Improving connectivity in remote rural areas of New Zealand would help lift productivity and equip farmers and growers with tools to improve sustainability. . . .

 

Kind face No. 1 provider of premium wool cushion inners in NZ :

In 2020, when most operations for business establishments halted due to COVID-19, Chris Larcombe saw an opportunity amidst the pandemic. With the lack of supplies for face masks, Chris and his team designed and put together triple-layered, reusable face masks. And Kind Face was born.

Their customers love their products because they focus on natural materials and sustainable practices.

No home is complete without cushions on the couch, and they have been a part of every home for centuries.

In a world filled with synthetic fibres and foams, Kind Face offers natural wool pearl cushion inner. It is a handmade cushion inner made from wool. It is a non-allergenic product, offers better moisture management, and is guaranteed 100% to add a little softness and comfort to your home. . . 

 


Rural round-up

04/07/2022

Wrestling with methane metrics – Keith Woodford:

The methane debate is more about politics, policy and value judgements than it is about science

In my previous article, I explained how there is much controversy about how methane should be compared to carbon dioxide in terms of global warming. The problem arises because methane is a powerful greenhouse gas but it lasts only a short time in the atmosphere. In contrast, carbon dioxide is a weak greenhouse gas but it lasts much longer. Also, there is a lot more carbon dioxide than methane released into the atmosphere.

Big problems arise when methane is shoe-horned into carbon dioxide equivalence. Here I will explain some of the problems.

First, many people will be surprised that this issue of carbon-dioxide equivalence and the associated controversy is not really about the science. Scientists understand the nonsense of trying to estimate how many apples it takes to equate to one orange, with the answer depending totally on the chosen measures. Similarly, scientists understand that methane has a totally different emission profile than carbon dioxide and there is no simple equivalence measure. . . 

Golden milk price may drop, costs rise – Tim Cronshaw:

The gloss of two $9-plus payouts for dairy farmers is being robbed by rising farm costs and a build-up of environmental changes.

A record starting point for a payout of $9 a kilogram of milk solids is being advanced for the 2022/23 dairy season by dairy giant Fonterra and Canterbury-based Synlait Milk.

This follows Fonterra’s forecast range of $9.10/kg to $9.50/kg for this season, with a mid-point of $9.30/kg, that’s being matched by Synlait.

Analysts cautiously support the new-season mark despite a mixed bag at the Global Dairy Trade auction and a hazy horizon created by Covid-19, freighting headaches, Ukraine’s invasion by Russia and rampant inflation. . . 

Helping farmers do more with less – Rabiya Abbasi:

The fourth agricultural revolution promises to grow more food on less land while feeding more people, says Rabiya Abbasi

With cornstalks swaying on a gentle breeze and cattle in quiet contemplation of the cud, a farm would not seem to be a hotbed of revolution. But make no mistake, agriculture is squarely in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution. Emergent, game-changing technologies are driving economic, environmental, and social change in the global food system. And in the face of rising hunger, populations and a changing climate, everyone from policy-makers to billionaires is paying attention.

The US Association of Equipment Manufacturers published a study in February 2022 investigating how new technologies may help farmers do more with less. On average, new technology triallers achieved a 4 percent increase in crop production, 7 percent reduction in fertiliser use, 9 percent reduction in herbicide use, 6 percent reduction in fossil fuel use, and 4 percent reduction in water use.

Farmers are applying Internet of Things (IoT) technology to track crops remotely, using sensors to detect weed growth, water levels and pest invasion. And we’re not only seeing this on traditional farmlands. Farm66, inside a Hong-Kong skyscraper, is using IoT to help manage a 2000-square-metre indoor farm. The IoT-enabled agricultural industry is estimated to reach US$4.5 billion by 2025. . . 

Otago property native carbon groundbreaker- Sally Rae:

An Otago station is one of the first properties to receive Native CarbonCrop Units through Nelson-founded climate tech startup CarbonCrop.

CarbonCrop, which was established in 2020, yesterday launched Native CarbonCrop Units (CCUs) to enable landowners with native reforestation to access revenue, outside the Emissions Trading Scheme.

The company worked with 15 landowners throughout the country in a pre-launch pilot and more than 5000 CCUs were certified for 631ha of native regeneration, worth about $260,000 at current prices, a statement from the company said.

More than $140,000 of those credits have been sold via the Carbonz platform to companies including Christchurch Airport, Heilala Vanilla and Les Mills. . . 

NZ cheese industry facing uncertainty as NZ Champions of Cheese Awards 2022 announced :

As the NZ Champions of Cheese Awards Trophy-Winners were announced the specialty cheese industry is facing uncertainty with the announcement of a Free Trade Agreement with Europe.

New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association board member Daniel Shields said was New Zealand has bowed to EU pressure and given way on key cheese names. Of particular concern is the loss of the cheese name Feta. However, negotiators have agreed on a nine year lead time for this change.

“It’s a mixed bag for New Zealand’s specialty cheesemakers. Particularly concerning is that Europe has succeeded in including the right to restrict new names at a future date. This creates uncertainty and makes it hard for New Zealand operators to invest in their businesses with confidence when the threat of a loss of equity in the intellectual property of traditional cheese names looms.”

New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association (NZSCA) chair Catherine McNamara saying local cheesemakers are worried about their future. . . 

Animal and Plant Health industry Association name change :

The industry association representing more than 90 percent of New Zealand’s crop protection and animal health industries has a new name. Animal and Plant Health New Zealand was previously called Agcarm and recently joined forces with the Animal Remedy and Plant Protectant Association.

The association represents a one-billion-dollar industry with a value of $20 billion to the New Zealand economy. It also represents rural retailer businesses and associate members.

Animal and Plant Health NZ chief executive Mark Ross says the organisation’s mission is “to protect and enhance the health of crops and animals through innovation and the responsible use of quality products”.

“We help New Zealand provide a safe and secure food supply by introducing softer and more innovative technologies for managing pests and disease – while minimising their effects on the environment.” Animal welfare is also a key driver for the organisation – “from production animals to our pets at home,” adds Ross. . . 


Rural round-up

01/07/2022

Scottish farmers set to scale back food production, survey shows  :

Production on Scottish farms is set to be scaled back as farmers respond to unprecedented price increases for key inputs, NFU Scotland has warned.

The union has released the results of its intentions survey, sent to farmers in early June to gauge the impact that the surge in input prices is having on agricultural output.

Farmers are currently seeing a combination of several factors, including the war in Ukraine, which has triggered fertiliser and energy prices to treble, as well as for fuel and animal feed.

NFU Scotland received a total of 340 responses. The impact of cost increases has been immediate, with 92% of farmers indicating that they had already altered production plans. . . 

Youngsters urged to give dairy farming a go – Jessica Marshall:

With a third of dairy farms seeking to fill vacancies ahead of calving season, Kiwis are being encouraged to give dairy farming a chance.

And giving dairy farming a chance is something 2021 Bay of Plenty Dairy Trainee of the Year Dayna Rowe knows a little about.

“Initially, I didn’t quite know if I liked it or anything,” the 23-year-old says of her start in the industry.

Rowe started out as a farm assistant back in 2017, now she’s farm manager on her parents’ Bay of Plenty farm, managing a team of four. . . 

 

Meat and dairy gains are vital in any EU trade deal :

A trade agreement with the European Union must include commercially meaningful outcomes for New Zealand’s meat and dairy exporters, National’s Trade and Export Growth spokesperson Todd McClay says.

“If real gains for meat and dairy aren’t on the table, the Prime Minister should instruct negotiators to continue talks until a commercially meaningful offer is presented.

“Trade Minister Damien O’Connor has already confirmed New Zealand has agreed to the European Union’s demands for geographic indicators. This means Kiwi businesses will no longer be able to produce many food products and call them by their name, including feta, gouda and parmesan cheeses. The EU has consulted on a list that also includes restricting the names Mozzarella and Latin Kiwifruit (Kiwi Latina) and other agricultural products.

“The EU’s agriculture sector has expressed delight that restrictions would remain in place for New Zealand exporters, with the current offer meaning almost none of our meat or dairy would be competitive in the EU market. . . 

Nathan Guy appointed the new chairman of MIA :

Former Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has been appointed the new Chairman of the Meat Industry Association following the retirement of current Chairman John Loughlin from the role.

Mr Loughlin finishes his six-year term after the annual Red Meat Sector Conference in Christchurch on 31 July-1 August 2022.

“It has been a privilege to serve as MIA chair for the last six years,” says Mr Loughlin.

“This was a time of challenge and opportunity and it has been great to be part of the red meat sector working cohesively and contributing to the wider primary sector. . . 

Subsurface irrigation benefits clear despite wet season :

A wetter than usual irrigation season has hindered data collection efforts for Cust dairy grazers Gary and Penny Robinson. They had planned to collect data over the season from their subsurface irrigation system and compare this with traditional irrigation methods. However, the couple have still been able to prove the system’s water and power saving benefits on their two-hectare test block.

Gary and Penny are participating in a six-month farming innovation project, which examines how the next generation of farmers are using innovation to improve their farming practices. Waimakariri Landcare Trust (WLT) and Waimakariri Irrigation Limited (WIL) have partnered with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for the project, with support from MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund along with Environment Canterbury, Ballance, and DairyNZ.

A subsurface drip irrigation system consists of a network of valves, driplines, pipes, and emitters that are installed in tape below the surface of the soil. The evenly spaced emitters slowly release water directly to the root zone of plants which differs from traditional irrigation systems that apply water to the surface of the soil. . . 

 

Food National leading the NZ plant food offerings :

A government-funded plant award-winning company Food Nation is a fast growing award winning supplier helping climate change by producing New Zealand grown food such as buckwheat, beetroot, hemp, mushrooms, chickpeas and quinoa.

In all cases they use mushrooms and chickpeas as a base rather than imported soy or gluten. The food is great for the planet, whether the consumers are flexitarian, vegan or vegetarian.

Their food includes pea and makrut balls; legumes, herbs, spices, cauliflower, turmeric, broccoli, ginger, red pepper and corn magic mince or mushrooms and ancient grained sausages.

The company is owned by Miranda Burdon and Josie Lambert who are co-founders and sisters and run it with a small team in their premises in St Johns, Auckland. . . 


Rural round-up

01/06/2022

No Free lunch! – Rural News:

The ink was barely dry on the Government’s newly released emissions reductions plan before the whining began.

“Agriculture – New Zealand’s largest emitting sector – has got off scot-free, again!” the whiners cried. “And it is getting $339m for a new Centre for Climate Action on Agricultural Emissions, despite the sector not paying any money into the Emissions Trade Scheme.”

On the surface, that may be true. However, you only need to dig a little deeper to see there are no easy answers to agriculture’s emissions profile.

New Zealand is unique in that almost half of the country’s greenhouse gases come from the agricultural sector. However, as has been shown in the wake of Covid and the demise of NZ’s once bustling tourism sector, it’s our dairy, meat, horticulture and other primary produce that this country now relies on for income. . . 

Landcorp land better off with Kiwi farmers :

“State-owned enterprises shouldn’t be competing with Kiwi businesses, and there’s no greater example of this than Landcorp,” says ACT’s Primary Industries spokesperson Mark Cameron.

“The Government has no business being in farming, it’s interfering in the free market and New Zealand has plenty of ambitious, talented farmers who deserve the opportunity to farm the land currently owned by Landcorp.

“An independent review into Landcorp that was undertaken in 2021 said the organisation failed to meet financial forecasts, had high corporate costs, and invested in unprofitable off-farm ventures.

“No private operation would be able to fail like this, Landcorp is taking taxpayers for a ride. . . 

‘You look at the farm now and you think, what flood?’ – Ashburton one year on – Sally Murphy:

Farmers hit hard by the Ashburton floods say their farms have recovered well and in some cases their pastures are better than before.

It is a year since heavy rainfall caused rivers in mid-Canterbury to burst their banks, spewing shingle across farmland and leaving hectares of land under water.

Bryan Beeston’s dairy farm backs onto the North Branch of the Ashburton River in the worst-hit area of Greenstreet.

On the day of the flood the water breached the two-metre stock bank and tore through the farm, washing away 198 of his dairy cows, ripping out fences and flooding houses and sheds on the property. . . 

New Great Walk over the hump – Vaneesa Bellew :

Tired trampers might sometimes beg to differ with the assertion that the destination counts for less than the journey. But the country’s newest Great Walk, with its benefits for the Waiua community, should avoid any such arguments

The Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track will add to its pioneering narrative when it becomes a Great Walk next year and creates history as the only such walk not managed by the Department of Conservation (DoC).

Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track Inc will continue to operate the 61km three-day loop on behalf of the Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track Charitable Trust when it becomes New Zealand’s 11th Great Walk at the start of the 2023-24 season.

Glenn Thomas, chair of the trust, and board director, says the trust and DoC are getting down to the “nuts and bolts” of an agreement on how the partnership will operate. “It’s a process and it’s going very well,” he says. . .

Ensure a smooth moving day :

With ‘Moving Day’ just around the corner (June 1), it’s a good time for farmers to review their biosecurity practices while moving their animals.

“Good planning and communication can help ensure a smooth Moving Day,” says Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) Eradication Programme Director Simon Andrew.

“Thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of farmers and the wider agricultural sector, we have made good progress toward eradicating M. bovis since it was first detected in New Zealand in 2017. We are now aiming to move from delimiting – controlling the last known pockets of M. bovis – to gathering negative test result data to support a statement of provisional absence of M. bovis.

“Good biosecurity practices remain essential to fighting this disease. If left unchecked, the disease could have cost industry an estimated $1.2 billion over the first 10 years, with ongoing productivity losses across the farming sector and animal welfare concerns.” . .

The rise and rise of production is grounded at this enterprise. – Jamie Brown:

When the Bruderhof community came to the Inverell district in 1999 they were seeking a return to agronomic roots and in the years since have lifted their beef production as a direct result of growing soil carbon.

A Christian community originally founded in Germany in 1920, Bruderhof was ousted by the Nazis and fled to the Cotswolds, in England, where they changed-up a local farm from poor to high quality in just four years. When World War Two loomed large they sailed over the Atlantic and crossed the equator to set up camp in the jungles of Paraguay.

“My father was a Gaucho,” says community farm manager Johannes Meier. “They clawed out a life in the remote jungle and savannah and they were on horseback sunrise to sunset, raising tick-resistant Zebu cattle.”

German farmers perfected sustainable agriculture in the millennia before their scientists discovered a way of making nitrogen fertiliser from the air but those old-school methods were maintained by the Bruderhof community – formed three years before the invention of the Haber-Bosch process. . .


Rural round-up

31/05/2022

Labour’s economic mismanagement hurting farmers :

Grant Robertson’s refusal to rein in spending and take meaningful action to dampen inflation is piling pressure on primary industries, National’s spokesperson for Rural Communities Nicola Grigg says.

“This Labour Government has unleashed unprecedented levels of spending in last week’s Budget, with more than $9.5 billion in new spending forecast this year alone. To put it in context, they are now spending 68 per cent more, or an extra $51 billion per year, since coming into office.

“This out of control spending is putting huge pressure on the economy and is driving inflation to a record 30-year high, with the cost of farm inputs rising by 9.8 per cent since the March quarter last year.

“This week we saw another 50 basis point jumps in the OCR, the first back to back 50 point increase since the OCR was introduced – which has never happened before and will effectively double interest rates compared with last year. . . 

Farmers encouraged to make the most of wetlands :

A new guide has been developed to help farmers get the most out of wetlands on their land – and it features a case study that shows a wetland on one Waikato farm removed about 60 percent of nitrogen from the water it receives.

As more farmers look to reduce their environmental impact, there’s growing interest in re-establishing and constructing new wetlands.

Dairy NZ and NIWA, with guidance from the Fish and Game Council have teamed up to create a guide for farmers, which features a Waikato dairy farm as a case study.

Gray and Marilyn Baldwin developed a wetland on their 713 hectare dairy farm, where over 12,000 native plants were put in. . . 

 

Critical questions – Owen Jennings:

A number of critically important questions have been raised in recent discussions I have had with farmers about their greenhouse gas emissions. They deserve answers. The mainstream media ignore them preferring to bag the farming community saying they are getting off lightly and are not meeting their responsibilities.

Question 1. Why is Article 2 (b) of the Paris Agreement ignored when it states clearly that countries should not reduce food production in their pursuit of emission goals? Proposals that will reduce production by 15% or more violate the Agreement.

Question 2. Why are we taking unilateral action that will cut production in NZ that has the planet’s lowest carbon footprint when we know that other countries, with a worse record, will make up the shortfall leading to increased emissions overall?

Question 3. Why is 1990 used as a base date for measuring ruminant emissions when methane emissions only last 9 to 10 years in the atmosphere? Isn’t that deceptive? The Climate Change Commission showed clearly ruminant methane emissions are stable or falling slightly since 2005 which means farmers have achieved ‘net zero’ and are actually contributing to cooling the planet. The amount of methane from the farm in the atmosphere is falling. Farmers are heroes not villains. . . 

Pioneering viticulturist receives Wine Marlborough Lifetime Achievement Award :

A stalwart of the Marlborough wine industry, Dominic Pecchenino, has been honoured by the board of Wine Marlborough with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

The award, which recognises service to the development of the Marlborough Wine industry, was presented to the viticultural consultant during the Winter Pruning Field Day held at Matador Estate today [Wednesday, 25 May].

Wine Marlborough General Manager Marcus Pickens says Mr Pecchenino has played a significant role in the development of Marlborough’s wine industry as a scientist and viticulturist.

He arrived in Marlborough from the US in 1994, as vineyard manager of Matador Estate – the very place where he was honoured with his award, almost 30 years later. . .

 

Olive oil pressers optimistic despite low olive oil produce :

Olive oil growers in Wairarapa are optimistic about the season’s harvest, despite some very wet weather to start with.

Leafyridge Olives manager and grower Craig Leaf-Wright said the weather had thrown growers a curveball.

“We’ve had a lot of rain in the Wairarapa since December, and then on and off since then, and that kind of skewed things a bit for people,” he said.

“Some people thought that their fruit was ripening earlier, I think it’s probably about on par, and some people believe it should be a bit later. . .

In Sri Lanka organic farming went catastrophically wrong – Ted Nordhaus & Saloni Shah:

Faced with a deepening economic and humanitarian crisis, Sri Lanka called off an ill-conceived national experiment in organic agriculture this winter. Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa promised in his 2019 election campaign to transition the country’s farmers to organic agriculture over a period of 10 years. Last April, Rajapaksa’s government made good on that promise, imposing a nationwide ban on the importation and use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides and ordering the country’s 2 million farmers to go organic.

The result was brutal and swift. Against claims that organic methods can produce comparable yields to conventional farming, domestic rice production fell 20 percent in just the first six months. Sri Lanka, long self-sufficient in rice production, has been forced to import $450 million worth of rice even as domestic prices for this staple of the national diet surged by around 50 percent. The ban also devastated the nation’s tea crop, its primary export and source of foreign exchange.

By November 2021, with tea production falling, the government partially lifted its fertilizer ban on key export crops, including tea, rubber, and coconut. Faced with angry protests, soaring inflation, and the collapse of Sri Lanka’s currency, the government finally suspended the policy for several key crops—including tea, rubber, and coconut—last month, although it continues for some others. The government is also offering $200 million to farmers as direct compensation and an additional $149 million in price subsidies to rice farmers who incurred losses. That hardly made up for the damage and suffering the ban produced. Farmers have widely criticized the payments for being massively insufficient and excluding many farmers, most notably tea producers, who offer one of the main sources of employment in rural Sri Lanka. The drop in tea production alone is estimated to result in economic losses of $425 million. . . 


Rural round-up

21/04/2022

Entrepreneurial trio create fibre blend – Sally Rae:

What do you get when you combine the skills of a high-country merino farmer with a West Coast dairy farmer and throw a sales manager into the mix?

The answer is Hemprino, New Zealand’s latest fashion label which combines the properties of hemp and merino in a single blend.

It is the brainchild of Siobhan O’Malley, Paul Ensor and Harriet Bell, who met on the Kellogg rural leadership course in 2018 and have a desire to reduce the environmental footprint caused by fast fashion.

As landfills fill with plastic-based clothing, the trio — who were newcomers to the fashion industry — are using natural fibres that are biodegradable at the end of the garment’s life. . . 

Ruling to halt irrigation hit farmers hard, reduced trust – Ben Tomsett:

A Southland farmer has said the trust factor between the rural community and Environment Southland has been damaged in the wake of the unprecedented decision to halt irrigation in the region.

The water direction, which banned irrigation in much of the province, ended last week. It came about as a result of a very dry summer where rivers and aquifers were at lower levels than anything previously recorded.

Southland farmer Jason Herrick, who is also the head of Federated Farmers sharemilker section in the province, said the direction halting irrigation was ill thought out and a reaction to public sentiment rather than science.

“It made absolutely no difference whatsoever to the river levels because the people that were attached to the rivers were already shut off with their consent conditions because the river levels were too low,” he said. . . 

 

When food is your medicine – scientists seek further proof of the healing power of mānuka honey :

Comvita has formed a new scientific partnership with the University of Otago to understand how mānuka honey helps support digestive health | Content partnership

Comvita, New Zealand’s pioneering mānuka honey brand and global market leader have formed a new scientific partnership with the University of Otago’s departments of Medicine and Human Nutrition to understand how mānuka honey helps support digestive health. 

The partnership will conduct groundbreaking research through a $1.3 million clinical trial to investigate the potential of mānuka honey to improve symptoms and quality of life in people suffering from gastrointestinal inflammation and pain related to digestive disorders.  

The programme is supported by the High-Value Nutrition (HVN) Ko Ngā Kai Whai Painga National Science Challenge, a Government initiative “to develop high-value foods with validated health benefits to drive economic growth”. . . 

Waikato growers urged to watch out for fall armyworm caterpillars :

New infestations of a crop-killing moth could cost New Zealand farmers tens of millions of dollars if populations survive winter.

The fall armyworm Spodoptera frugiperda is the name for the pest’s larvae.

Eggs were found in suburban Tauranga in surveillance traps last month and caterpillars have now been found on two farms in Tamahere, just south of Hamilton.

The armyworm has destroyed maize and sweetcorn plants in Africa, the United States and Australia. . . 

Medicinal cannabis just the beginning for Rua Bioscience :

East Coast-based medicinal cannabis firm Rua Bioscience says it has plenty of other products in the works, after launching its first medicine in New Zealand.

Sales from the medicinal cannabis product, which is available via prescription, will be the first revenue for the business since it listed on the stock market in 2020.

Rua Bioscience is one of two firms manufacturing cannabis products that have met quality standards set by the Medicinal Cannabis Agency.

The company was prohibited from revealing what the product was under medical law and was coy about how much revenue it expects to generate from it but said that it could be used to treat people with acute pain, anxiety or juvenile epilepsy. . . 

Robots bring flexibility to Kaukapkapa waterfront farm :

Technology has turned a North Auckland dairy farm into a lifestyle and investment opportunity for anyone wanting to participate in the dairy industry, without the twice a day commitment in the dairy shed.

Bayleys Country Property Specialist John Barnett is marketing a 179ha dairy unit at Kaukapakapa that features four robotic Lely Astronaut milking machines, which operate 24/7 to milk the farm’s 200 cow herd.

He says the installation of the robotic system by the owners several years ago continues to deliver on its promise of a more flexible farming operation, happy cows, and better use of the owners’ time.

“You can avoid the tie of early morning and afternoon milkings, with a system that is very ‘cow-centric’. Each cow sets her own time for when she wants to be milked, coming into the dairy, and having her milking and production all recorded by the robotic system.” . . 


Rural round-up

07/12/2021

Wool growers too have something to cheer about as dairy leads the charge in brightening farmers’ prospects – Point of Order:

City dwellers,  preoccupied by  Covid,  may not  have  observed  that the  country’s export  economy is  being  sustained  by   its  primary  industries.  Last  week  came  the  news that  Fonterra had  signalled a  record payout to its suppliers, pumping  $13.2bn into the  regions.

Some analysts think that may be on the conservative side and  the final payout will surpass  $9kg/MS.

In  any  case,  the  ANZ commodity  price index lifted  2.8%  in November,  pushing  it into new  territory.  The  bank’s economists, noting that dairy prices  led the   charge, reported they  were  supported  by strong  gains  in  meat.

Again,  because  of the  preoccupation with the pandemic,  it may have  gone  unnoticed that meat  exporters achieved record returns  in the season ended in September. Total export receipts for beef and sheepmeat  equalled the record returns of 2019–20 and were 17% up on the five-year average. . . 

Chisholm getting a real buzz out of breeding Southdown sheep – Sally Rae:

Matt Chisholm is the new ram on the block in the world of stud sheep breeding – and he could not be happier.

On Monday, Chisholm – a familiar face on television and an advocate for mental health, having publicly opened up about his struggles with depression – will head to North Otago to sell a ram from his newly established Southdown stud The Land.

The Cordyline Southdowns ram fair will be like no other, held in the grounds of Brookfield Park, a Heritage New Zealand category 2 listed property which featured in the New Zealand House and Garden tour in 2019.

Built on the outskirts of Oamaru by renowned local architect Thomas Forrester for original owner John Gilchrist, the first mayor of Oamaru, it is now owned by Jennifer (JJ) Rendell, who since buying the property in 2003 has created an imaginative garden retreat surrounding a restored Victorian homestead. . .

New funding to assess impact of on-farm planting on beneficial insects :

Plant & Food Research and co-investment partners welcome the $2.2 million of Government funding for a new project ‘Beneficial Biodiversity for the Greater Good’, just announced by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

The $3.2 million, five-year research programme aims to understand the impact of native plantings on beneficial insect diversity and abundance on a range of farm types. It seeks to design plantings that optimise pollination and decrease pests on farms, without creating pest reservoirs.

“We’re grateful for the Government support through the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund, which will fast-track our research efforts significantly,” says Plant & Food Research lead researcher Dr Melanie Davidson. . . 

Unique partnership to enhance soil health and test regen-ag :

New research on farms across New Zealand will measure and provide farmers tools to enhance soil health, including identifying where regenerative agriculture practices can make a difference.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor today announced a unique partnership between food producers Synlait Milk and Danone, science provider AgResearch, and the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund. The project will study soil health on 10 farms in Waikato, Canterbury and Otago over five years, to determine the impacts of changes in soil health on production, farm resilience and the environment, including climate change.

Soils underpin New Zealand’s food and fibre sector and managing for healthy soils improves the natural capacity of soil to sustain plants, animals, and humans. However, assessment of soil health on farms is not routinely measured in New Zealand, and so practical tools are needed to help farmers understand the detailed state of the soils and how best to manage them. . .

New Zealand National Fieldays Society’s annual report to reflect a changing world :

New Zealand National Fieldays Society (NZNFS) released its Annual Report following a virtual Annual General Meeting of Society Members held on Saturday. The new format report uses an all-inclusive approach to reflect the evolution of the organisation and reframe its wider impact.

Historically, the Society has provided an Economic Impact Report on its flagship event Fieldays® followed by a constitutional Annual Report – separate documents telling the Society’s story from different perspectives.

However, as the Society and the global landscape have evolved, a new approach to tell a more holistic story has been identified. The new-look report is also a step forward in aligning the economic analysis with Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) guidelines. . .

Leading Australian producer picks New Zealand’s Redford software to transform operations:

Australia’s largest processor and packer of potatoes and onions, Mitolo Family Farms, has engaged New Zealand fresh produce software provider Radford Software to streamline operations across the entire value chain, from soil to supermarket.

Radford Software chief executive officer Adam Cuming said he was delighted that South Australian-based Mitolo Family Farms had chosen Radfords to support its next phase of growth.

“Onboarding a customer of Mitolo’s calibre reinforces our international growth strategy as we continue to focus on building client relationships across Australia and into the North American market,” Mr Cuming said. . .


Rural round-up

21/11/2021

Ludicrous that Fonterra is still bound by legislation that tilts playing field towards its competitors – Craig Hickman:

With the prospect of this season’s farm-gate milk price looking closer to $9 than $8 and a significantly better than expected free-trade deal with the UK, economically things are looking rosy for Fonterra farmers. I’m a strong supporter of the co-op and was intrigued when it announced it was looking to change its capital structure to make it easier for farmers to join.

The new proposed capital structure put forward by Fonterra’s board would make joining the co-operative easier by reducing the high capital investment required to supply it and allow farmers greater financial flexibility when they decide to leave.

Fonterra last changed its capital structure when it adopted Trading Among Farmers (TAF) in 2012. TAF was a response to the issue of farmers exiting Fonterra and redeeming their shares, meaning large sums of money were washing in and out of the co-op, mainly out.

It addressed one issue, the threat to Fonterra’s balance sheet, but ignored systemic problems like the high cost of becoming a Fonterra supplier and the fact suppliers were still leaving the co-op in favour of independent processors who don’t require farmer investment. . .

Unvaccinated social media users want harvest work, but lockdown mandate looms in WA – Emily JB Smith:

An Esperance farmer has warned unvaccinated people requesting harvest jobs that agriculture is not the “industry of last resort”.

As vaccine mandates edge closer for many West Australian workers, a number of people have posted on Esperance social media pages declaring their vaccine-free status and asking for work.

Although farm workers are not required to be vaccinated, the WA government has included them in the list of workers who will not be able to work during a lockdown.

Grower Mic Fels said employers could face penalties of up to $100,000 if unvaccinated staff were found breaking those rules. . .

Minister missing when agriculture needs him most :

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor must stand up for the industry that has carried New Zealand though the Covid crisis, says National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger.

“Every day, every facet of the industry is calling on the Minister to do more to support growers and producers, and every day there is radio silence from him.

“One of the most pressing issues is the shortage of skilled staff and the inability to bring skilled migrants into the country.

“Farmers, vets, contractors and processors are among many groups that need skilled people to keep our essential industries at full potential.  People are needed now. . . 

MPI backs project to establish internationally competitive hemp seed processing plant :

A new project backed by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) aims to establish a hemp seed processing plant in New Zealand that could be a gamechanger for the local hemp industry.

MPI is contributing more than $245,000 to Hemp Connect’s two-year pilot project through its Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund.

The project ultimately aims to enable locally grown hemp food products to compete with imported varieties. Since 2020, the Levin-based company has been working on creative solutions for processing New Zealand grown hemp more efficiently and reducing production costs.

“One of the keys to reducing costs has been researching how to use the entire seed, as well as the associated waste streams,” says Mathew Johnson, Managing Director, Hemp Connect. . .

Craigmore Sustainables and ASB team up on $79m sustainable transition loan  :

Craigmore Sustainables, one of the largest diversified farm management companies in Aotearoa, has secured nearly $80 million in funding from ASB in an innovative sustainability-focused deal.

The sustainable transition loan provides a pathway to develop and embed Craigmore’s sustainability strategy and targets. The company’s portfolio includes a mix of dairy, grazing, forestry and horticultural properties covering almost 20,000 hectares throughout New Zealand.

Under the loan terms, Craigmore has committed to providing a robust sustainability strategy with targets and an action plan, within 12 months of drawdown.

Craigmore Chief Executive Che Charteris says partnering with ASB will help to achieve its bold aspiration to be a leader in land-based reduction of greenhouse gases. . .

Large Northland dairy operation offers flexibility :

An expansive dairy operation offering scale and flexibility across all dairy system types presents an opportune investment in Northland to either owner operators or farm investors.

The 357ha property on Frith Road, Mamaranui combines the best of the district’s soil types into a productive, accessible dairy unit that also enjoys the security of having 80ha of irrigation from the neighbouring Kaihu River.

The farm’s well-developed flats are based on productive silt soils while the rolling country consists of free draining Te Kopuru sandy loam, providing a good balance across the entire farm. . . 


Rural round-up

11/10/2021

Pomahaka river project hits half-way mark – Neal Wallace,

A three-year project to plant 230,000 native trees and shrubs and build 100km of riparian fencing on Otago’s Pomahaka River, is officially halfway completed.

The milestone for the Pomahaka Watercare Corridor Planting Project was marked with a function at the Leithen Picnic Area this week.

The $3.7 million project between the Primary Growth Fund, One Billion Trees Fund, 105 local farmers and the Pomahaka Water Care Group is designed to protect the Pomahaka River and its tributaries and offer employment opportunities post-covid-19. . . 

Farmers urged to have a Covid plan – Gerald Piddock:

Dairy farmers have been told to make an on-farm plan in case themselves or one of their staff tests positive for covid-19.

That plan had to be easily accessible and documented and communicated to all staff members, DairyNZ covid project manager Hamish Hodgson said in a webinar.

This plan was crucial for the farmer to be ready for covid.

He said he knew of one farmer organising campervans to be brought on-farm if they needed to be able to isolate people. . .

New Johne’s test based on Covid technology :

The same technology used to detect Covid-19 in wastewater is now being used to help dairy farmers manage Johne’s disease in their herd.

Johne’s disease is a contagious infection estimated to cost New Zealand more than $40 million in lost production each year.

It is caused by a bacterium which infects the gut of dairy cows and other ruminant animals. Common side effects include lower milk production, difficulty reproducing and rapid weight loss.

Herd improvement co-operative LIC has developed a new test which detects whether the bacteria responsible for Johne’s disease is present in a farm’s effluent wastewater. . .

Hemp industry builds infrastructure to secure its future – Country Life:

New Zealand’s largest hemp grower says farmers around the country want to start growing hemp but, before more come on board, markets need to be developed and infrastructure secured.

Hemp New Zealand’s Dave Jordan says it’s a ‘chicken and egg’ situation.

“There are a lot of ideas around and it’s all very well to have the ideas but you have got to actually have action on the ground and show people the benefit of it (hemp) and get customers to buy it.”

The company is working with 100 growers who grow 1000 hectares of hemp.

NZ shearer with 100 wins to pick up clippers again this year – Sally Murphy:

A farmer who was first in the world to win 100 blade-shearing finals isn’t ready to stop competing just yet.

Tony Dobbs from Fairlie won his 100th title at the Waimate Shears Spring Championships last year and considered retiring after being diagnosed with cancer.

This year’s Waimate Shears starts today with some of the country’s top shearers and wool handlers going head to head.

Dobbs was set down to judge the competition so thought he might as well compete too. . . 

On-farm quarantine the next step for ag workers – James Jackson:

After years of drought, farmers are finally facing an opportunity to reap the rewards of their hard work as bumper crops loom on the horizon. But labour shortages remain a significant and stubborn hurdle to reaching record-breaking harvests, and primary producers cannot afford to wait for the state to reopen to muster enough workers in time for their summer harvests.

NSW Farmers has joined forces with the National Farmers Federation to call for an immediate solution to get more workers to farms as quickly as possible. We propose a limited pilot of on-farm quarantine for 200 agricultural workers from low-risk countries, commencing when 70 per cent of adults in NSW are fully vaccinated.

A transition to on-farm quarantine arrangements in NSW as vaccination rates rise would alleviate a number of challenges the agriculture sector has faced in the hotel-quarantine model. The availability of hotel quarantine places in NSW is limited and further constrained by Sydney’s disproportionately high intake of returning residents, increasing the likelihood agricultural workers will miss out on a place. . . 


Rural round-up

30/09/2021

‘Frustrating, disappointing’ – Call for better vaccine rollout in rural areas – Sally Murphy:

There are concerns the vaccine rollout is lagging in rural areas with some farmers having to do three-hour round trips to get the jab.

The Rural General Practice Network said it had been asking for data on rural vaccinations from the Ministry for Health for some time without a response.

Chief executive Dr Grant Davidson said the network believed the rates for rural communities, and rural Māori in particular, lagged the vaccination rates for the general population being reported by the government.

“We do know that there are small niche areas such as Rakiura/Stewart Island where entire communities have been vaccinated, but we believe this is hiding what is a major issue for a vulnerable population in New Zealand – the rural backbone of the country needing support. . . 

Growers nervous of labour shortage despite imminent arrival of RSE workers – Tom Kitchin:

The arrival of seasonal workers from next week gives growers some certainty, but they fear the upcoming season will still be a big challenge.

The arrival of seasonal workers from next week gives growers some certainty, but they fear the upcoming season will still be a big challenge

Seasonal workers arriving from the Pacific Islands next week will be able to skip MIQ and go to work during their isolation period.

Vaccinated workers from Vanuatu can come in from next Monday, while those from Tonga and Samoa will need to wait until Tuesday, 12 October.

The workers will complete a self-isolation period of seven days and undertake day zero and day five tests, all while working at their work sites. . . 

Groundswell protests no Bloody Friday – luckily – Jamie Mackay:

Imagine running 1500 animals through the main street of a city, then mobbing them up and cutting their throats in protest.

The year was 1978. I remember it well, as it was a watershed year in my life. I’d taken a gap year after secondary school to try my hand at senior rugby with the big boys.

Many parts of Southland had suffered a crippling drought in 1978. Combine that with a season of industrial mayhem at the four local “freezing” works, and you had a powder keg waiting to explode. The meat companies, farmers, unions and workers were literally at each other’s throats.

Lambs weren’t worth much and the old ewes, who had selflessly given the best five or six years of their lives to bear the aforementioned lambs, were worthless. They had reached their use-by-date. As the dry summer rolled into autumn and beyond, the old ewes were eating scarce winter feed needed for their younger and more productive counterparts in the flock. . . 

Open trade climate change can work together – Macaulay Jones:

Supporting local businesses benefits the economy, but supporting local products is not always beneficial for the climate.

As the world and New Zealand continues to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and policies enacted to curb its spread, many consumers are making a conscious effort to support local businesses.

Local businesses directly and indirectly support local communities and are often owned and operated by active members of the community. However, while supporting local businesses is a great way of helping your neighbours financially recover from the pandemic, extending this principle to choosing to buy local products as a means of taking climate action may not offer the benefits for the atmosphere you’d expect. . . 

OSPRI reduces TB slaughter levy rates for dairy and beef farmers :

OSPRI who manages the TBfree programme is to reduce the TB slaughter levy rates for cattle farmers from 1 October.

The Differential Slaughter Levy (DSL) is reviewed each year to ensure that industry funding aligns with that agreed under the 2016 TB Plan Funders’ Agreement, this is subject to a 15-year period.

The slaughter levies collected support funding of the TBfree programme on behalf of the beef and dairy industries. The revised levies are collected by meat processors.

The new differential slaughter levy rates are: . . 

This silage contractor chartered a jet for $44,000 to get his workers home from New Zealand – Angus Verley:

What do you do when your key staff are stranded overseas and peak season is fast approaching?

COVID-19 has shut down international travel. For Sam Monk, one of the largest silage contractors in the country, that meant four of his machinery operators were stuck in New Zealand.

With just a fortnight before those workers were required in Australia for corn planting, Mr Monk went to the extraordinary length of chartering a plane to pick up his workers.

Mr Monk said the charter plane landed in Sydney on Friday. His employees are completing two weeks of quarantine before getting to work. . .


Rural round-up

14/08/2021

Feds worst fears realised on drinking water reforms:

Federated Farmers is profoundly disappointed to see the Water Services Bill reported back to the Parliament with the definition of a “water supplier” unchanged.

“The government has now signed itself up for the enormous task of tracking down every single source of drinking water in the land and making them belong to a register if they supply any other household,” Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard says.

Despite extensive arguments from Federated Farmers and many others at the select committee hearings, tens of thousands of rural and farm supply arrangements will fall within the scope of the new water regulator Taumata Arowai.

The new agency takes over from the Ministry of Health to take responsibility for the quality and provision of drinking water in New Zealand.

“We wanted the government to recognise the folly of trying to track down every single little supplier,” Andrew says. . .

Southland MP presents petition for dairy farmers:

Today Member of Parliament for Southland Joseph Mooney submitted his petition seeking allocated MIQ capacity to bring more skilled dairy farm workers into the country as the pressure of staff shortages continues to mount on farms across New Zealand.

Mr Mooney launched his petition to allocate 500 MIQ spaces each fortnight to skilled migrant dairy workers into the country in June, well in advance of the beginning of calving season.

“Calving is now well underway on many farms across the country and staff shortages have put an immense strain on both farm managers and existing workers,” Mr Mooney says.

“Labour must act now for the good of the physical and mental wellbeing of those working in New Zealand’s dairy farming sector. The shortage of workers across the dairy industry can only be described as dire. Farmers are desperate to find more staff, but they are just not out there. . .

New wool products seek markets – David Anderson:

A new initiative targeting new products and markets for NZ strong wool – with export applications as diverse as cosmetics and printing – has recently been launched.

Wool Source, a subsidiary of Wool Research Organisation of New Zealand (WRONZ), aims to develop the new products and assess market demand for the strong wool innovation. This follows the completion of its pilot production facility at Lincoln to manufacture its first deconstructed wool ingredients from 100% New Zealand strong wool.

The three-year programme aims to prove the commercial viability of the new deconstructed wool particle products. The goal is to develop more sustainable product ingredient alternatives for global manufacturers and consumers – while revitalising New Zealand’s strong wool sector, creating new value for our economy and communities.

“By funding fundamental and enabling science that creates new uses and products from our traditional wool clip, we aim to create better outcomes for farmers with increased demand and pricing at the farm gate,” WRONZ chair Andy Fox says. . . 

Farmers raised concerns about nutrient monitoring tool for ‘over 10 years’ :

A system used to estimate nitrogen loss from farms, and used by regional councils for regulation, has “significant problems”, Minister for the Environment David Parker says.

The software programme Overseer was initially developed to help farmers make more efficient use of nutrients, with the aim of boosting both productivity and profitability.

But it has steadily been adopted by regional councils to regulate farmers’ activity, with the end goal of improving water quality by limiting what ends up in waterways.

A report in 2018 by the Parliamentary Commission for the Environment criticised the tool as flawed, opaque and open to gaming by farmers.  . .

Primary Production Committee workforce inquiry opens for public submissions:

The Primary Production Committee has opened for public submissions on its inquiry into the future of the workforce needs in the primary industries of New Zealand.

The aim of the inquiry—which was initiated in March 2021—is to look into issues about the future of workforce needs in the growing food and fibre industries, and what they will look like in the short, medium and long-term future, as we continue to innovate and develop new technologies.

In the 52nd Parliament, the committee opened a briefing about vocational training in agriculture. The issues raised during the briefing will feed into the broader inquiry. . .

 

Gower lamb first to receive legal protection following Brexit:

Welsh Gower Lamb has become the first product to receive protected status under the UK’s new post-Brexit Geographical Indication schemes.

With the registration now complete, the meat produced from lambs born and reared on the Gower Peninsula in South Wales has gained full protection as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO).

Gower Salt Marsh Lamb producers were able to demonstrate their meat’s characteristics are essentially and exclusively due to its particular area of production.

The new Geographical Indication (GI) schemes were launched after the end of the transition period with the European Union. . . 


Rural round-up

04/08/2021

Family ‘farming for the next generation’ – Sally Rae:

In rural North Otago, a hard-working high-country family is working to preserve their slice of paradise for future generations. Rural editor Sally Rae reports.

Back in 2004, Dan Devine’s image went global.

After he hoisted the newly-found Shrek, the hermit merino wether discovered on Bendigo Station in Central Otago, on to his shoulders, the subsequently-snapped Otago Daily Times photograph sparked a world media frenzy.

These days, Mr Devine is managing Awakino Station near Kurow, with his partner Jaz Mathisen and their two young daughters, Ava (4) and baby Ida, who arrived in February. . . 

Plea for more government funds to push health careers to rural teenagers – Susan Murray:

The Rural General Practice Network is calling on the government to continue funding a programme promoting health careers to rural high school pupils.

A pilot project which ran for 10 months has recently ended and so far there is no ongoing commitment for Ministry of Health money.

Rural GP Network chief executive Grant Davidson said without the programme long-term health services in rural communities will continue to be in crisis.

He said short term overseas medical graduates can fill gaps, but research shows medical students from rural areas often return to their communities and stay their long term. . . 

Pacific RSE plan should have come sooner:

The Government’s plan to allow one-way quarantine-free travel for Recognised Seasonal Employer workers from Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu is the right one but should have come much sooner, says Leader of the Opposition and National’s Pacific Peoples spokesperson Judith Collins.

“We called for a move like this back in March to allow workers from Samoa, Tonga and Fiji to New Zealand for work in our staff-stretched agricultural sector. At the time, Fiji, like Tonga and Samoa, had never had a community case of Covid-19. But, given the current outbreak in Fiji, bringing Vanuatu onboard makes sense.

“It’s a good move but it should’ve happened much, much sooner. Our agricultural sector has been crying out for workers for a long time now, and they’ve paid a heavy price for the Government’s inaction. . .

Horticulture New Zealand welcomes labour crisis relief:

Horticulture New Zealand welcomes the Government’s announcement permitting Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers from Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu, to enter New Zealand without the need for managed isolation.

The decision will provide both economic relief to the Pacific Islands and alleviate the pressure felt by New Zealand’s horticulture and wine industries who face extreme seasonal labour crises for harvest and pruning.

HortNZ chief executive, Nadine Tunley, says without the support of this seasonal Pacific workforce, permanent jobs held by Kiwis, and the growth of New Zealand’s horticulture and wine industries, are at risk. . . 

Future-focused training key to filling labour shortages in horticulture:

New Zealand growers are exploring new online training options in an effort to help seasonal workers understand ongoing career pathways in the horticulture industry, which continues to experience a shortage of workers.

Hayden Taylor, manager of Roseburn Orchard in Central Otago, said engaging and effective training is crucial to building a sustainable labour force.

“If we focus on attracting new workers and training them well, we’ll get younger people coming in, buying in, and staying for 30 or 40 years in the industry,” he said.

Taylor began managing the 32-hectare apple orchard, which is part of CAJ Apples NZ, in May, but he has been responsible for inducting and training new staff for several months. He is keen to use all of the tools and technologies he has available to him to help new workers understand the career opportunities that exist in the industry. . . 

Northland avocado opportunity beckons:

The opportunity to invest in one of the country’s most productive avocado orchard operations has arisen, offering investors good immediate returns and positive prospects of longer-term growth in future fruit volumes.

The Broadhurst portfolio in the Far North is located in the heart of the region’s rapidly developing avocado industry and has laid the template for the region’s latest, and future, avocado development.

Bayleys salesperson Alan Kerr says Broadhurst has tipped the conventional avocado growing model on its head, and the result is an orchard capable of producing two and a half times the industry’s per hectare average yield.

“There is a combination of ideal soils, good water supply and of course the Northland climate which makes the region capable of producing some of the highest avocado yields in the world. . . 


Rural round-up

08/05/2021

Sheep and beef farms are getting squeezed – Keith Woodford:

The sheep and beef industry is getting squeezed from all sides, yet export returns exceed $7 billion.

I decided recently that it was time to take a closer look at what is happening on sheep and beef farms. The underlying motive is that I have been giving thought as to what the sheep and beef industry, which contributes around $7 billion of export income each year, might look like in another ten or twenty years. But before getting too immersed in that future, I needed to make sure I understood the present and how we got to where we are now.

When I left school a very long time ago, I had in mind that I wanted to be a sheep farmer myself. As a school boy, I used to peruse the advertisements each weekend in Saturday’s newspaper and figure out what a farm for 1000 ewes plus young stock and a few beef cows would cost. The land cost was around 20,000 New Zealand pounds, with this converting subsequently in 1967 to around $40,000. The figure now is about 30 times that, perhaps more, before taking into account that 1000 ewes would no longer be anywhere near enough for a living. . . 

Two big announcements awaited from Fonterra – one deals with dairy payout, the other with the co-op’s capital structure – Point of Order:

So what  are  the  chances Fonterra’s  payout  to its farmer-suppliers  could  top  $8kg/MS the  soon-to-end  current  season?

That would give a  timely  boost  to  the  rural economy  and give  farmers  the kind  of  surge  in incomes  which  would encourage them  to  step up the  pace  of  adapting their dairy farming practices as  the  country  moves  to meet its  climate  change goals.

In March, Fonterra raised its forecast milk price for this season to between $7.30 and $7.90kg/MS with a mid-point of $7.60. That was up from $7.14 last season.

But now, after several  good  results  from the fortnightly GDT auctions, and indications from futures contract prices, the  speculation  is that the payout  could go  higher. . . 

Farms hidden economic vulnerability revealed – Jonathan Milne:

A new stress test reveals just how exposed our farmers are to labour shortages, drought or a downturn in commodity prices.

Milk prices are high and times seem good for dairy farmers – but the Reserve Bank warns half of dairy farms face debt restructuring if milk solid prices drop back below $5.50/kg.

Dairy is just one of the primary production sectors where pockets of high debt create real economic exposure – for farming families, provincial communities and the economy.

While still relatively small, banks’ lending to horticulture producers has maintained a solid growth rate, increasing 11 percent in the year to March. Banks should continue to monitor associated risks, including the sector’s vulnerability to labour shortages and severe weather events, the Reserve Bank says in its first Financial Stability Report this year. . . 

Should rabbits be on the LIM report – Jill Herron:

It’s a dream lifestyle in a dream location, but owning property in Central Otago often comes with an expanding family of unwanted guests. Should real estate agents be telling prospective buyers about the rabbit problem?

World famous for its breathtaking landscape, skifields, wineries and pristine lakes, Central Otago is also fast becoming notorious for its pest population.

And those buying into the lifestyle dream need to be aware of what they are taking on, according to long-time real estate agent, Edwin Lewis.

The fact the costly, destructive and incredibly persistent pests accompany most purchases is proving a rude shock to many newcomers throughout the region. . . 

Minaret Station PLUS an amazing West Coast wilderness experienceJane Jeffries :

Arriving at the Alpine Helicopters hanger in Queenstown, I was full of anticipation for our three days at Minaret Station. I’d read about this property and have always had an inkling to go. Now three nights for the price of two, thanks to Covid, we are on our way. This much talked about Minaret luxury lodge, set in a glacial valley in the Southern Alps, is seriously remote. We had to chopper over some of New Zealand’s most inaccessible, jagged terrain to get there.

The well-known Wallis family are at the heart of this working farm. They are acknowledged in the Central Otago community for their contribution to aviation, farming, deer exporting and tourism. Sir Tim Wallis was one of the great deer farming pioneers. As a young man, his love of the land, aviation and adventure lured him into the helicopter business. He pioneered live deer capture from helicopters which lead to a significant industry in New Zealand. His nick-name, ‘Hurricane Tim,’ was well-earned for his daring flying and would not be approved by OSHA today!

As the helicopter fleet grew to support the commercial and agriculture arm of the family business, they decided to diversify into tourism. They started offering scenic flights and heli-skiing in the South Island in the 1980s. Then, in 2010 they opening the doors to the Minaret Alpine Lodge. The family wanted to share the beauty of the 50,000-acre working farm, home to some 12,000 deer, 1,300 cattle, and 1,000 sheep. . . 

Ravensdown appoints national agronomy manager:

Ravensdown has appointed Will Waddell as its new National Agronomy Manager. Will’s responsibility will be enhancing the co-operative’s service in seeds, agrichemicals and agronomic advice.

The new role leads a nationwide team of nine specialist agronomists supported by a product management team of four and benefits from Ravensdown’s partnership with Cropmark Seeds.

“I look forward to supporting and leading our talented team of agronomists to bring practical and innovative farm systems solutions to our shareholders as we respond to environmental and social needs,” says Waddell.

General Manager Customer Relationships Bryan Inch congratulated Will Waddell on his appointment to the newly created position. . . 


Rural round-up

24/02/2021

Lucky to be alive – Nigel Beckford:

Sheep and beef farmer Jack Cocks almost died from an aneurysm. Now he’s sharing with other farmers what his recovery taught him about resilience. 

Jack’s part of the team that runs Mt Nicholas, a high-country merino sheep and cattle station, on the western shores of Lake Wakatipu. “I grew up on a sheep and beef farm, went to uni, travelled overseas and came back and worked in an agribusiness consultancy. My wife Kate and I came here to work in 2009. There’s a team of four of us that run the farm. It’s probably more of a democracy than a lot of farms but it works well. It means we can use all our different skills.”

Jack says Mt Nicholas is a great place to work and raise a family (they have two kids). “Although we’re in an isolated situation, there is a team of us here so we might see more people during our working day than many sheep and beef farmers. I really love what farming offers – that mix of running your own business as well as working outside doing practical things. We enjoy a huge variety of work.”

All that was suddenly at risk when he suffered his aneurysm in 2013.  “I’m very lucky to be here,” he says, remembering the night it happened. . .

IrrigationNZ supports Infrastructure Commission assessment that ‘status quo’ for water management no longer tenable:

IrrigationNZ is heartened by the release of Te Waihanga’s (Infrastructure Commission) state-of-play report #3 on water released today and agrees with many insights .

“The report acknowledges that the status quo of water management is unlikely to be sustainable – and we 100% agree,” says IrrigationNZ chief executive Vanessa Winning.

“We are pleased the report highlights the need for a holistic and long-term strategic view of water to ensure optimal, sustainable and inclusive outcomes. This is long overdue and something we have advocated for. . . 

Regenerative agriculture white paper sets out pressing research priorities :

There is a pressing need for scientific testing of the anecdotal claims being made about regenerative agriculture. A new white paper sets out 17 priority research topics identified by 200+ representatives of New Zealand’s agri-food system.

Regenerative agriculture has been proposed as a solution for some of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most acute challenges. Advocates suggest it can improve the health of our waterways, reduce topsoil loss, offer resilience to drought, add value to our primary exports, and improve the pervasive well-being crisis among rural farming communities.

With a groundswell of farmers transitioning to regenerative agriculture in New Zealand, there is an urgent need for clarity about what regenerative agriculture is in New Zealand and for scientific testing of its claimed benefits.

A new white paper, Regenerative Agriculture in Aotearoa New Zealand – Research Pathways to Build Science-Based Evidence and National Narratives, sets out 17 priority research topics and introduces 11 principles for regenerative farming in New Zealand. . . 

Young inventor on mission to transform wool sector – Annette Scott:

The strong wool industry can pin its hopes on a resurgence with $5 a kilogram return for coarse wool fibre in the sights of Kiwi inventor and entrepreneur Logan Williams.

Just 25 years of age and hailing from Timaru, Williams hit the headlines when he developed and successfully exited four revolutionary inventions, including polarised contact lenses to treat photosensitive epilepsy and a system to destroy methane gas produced on farms.

He received awards for his inventions, including a National Merit Award at the Eureka Science and Innovation Competition. . .

Roped in for life by rodeo – Sally Rae:

As the rodeo season continues around the country, Southland farmer and cowboy Greg Lamb has overcome a few hefty obstacles to get back in the saddle again. Business and rural editor Sally Rae reports.

Extraordinarily determined.

That sums up Greg Lamb, a Southland sheep and beef farmer and rodeo champion who has battled injury — and a brain tumour — while pursuing and succeeding in the sport he loves.

Mr Lamb (43), who farms near Waikaka, might be a bit banged up at the moment — he hit the ground with his shoulder “fairly hard” at Wairoa rodeo last month, fracturing his shoulder blade, four ribs and a vertebra — but he is focused on making a return this season. . . 

Westland’s new CEO takes reins :

Westland Dairy Company Limited’s new CEO Richard Wyeth is looking forward to bringing the strength of a global dairy giant to the opportunities that lie ahead for the West Coast dairy processor after taking up the leadership role this week.

Mr Wyeth’s arrival at Westland yesterday was welcomed by resident director of Westland Dairy Company Limited, Shiqing Jian, who stepped down as interim CEO. Mr Jian served as interim CEO following the resignation of former Westland CEO Toni Brendish in August last year.

“We hope Richard is as excited as we are about the opportunities that lie ahead for Westland as he takes stewardship of this iconic New Zealand company,’’ Mr Jian said. . . 


Rural round-up

24/01/2021

Patented milk-derived ingredient effective against influenza

Research commissioned by New Zealand company Quantec, and completed by an independent US laboratory, has found that its patented milk-derived ingredient IDP (Immune Defense Proteins) is effective against influenza virus species.

At a time when there is an intense global focus on viruses, Quantec commissioned the independent in vitro study to see if IDP had antiviral activity, and if so whether its formulation, which contains more than 50 bioactive proteins, provides greater antiviral activity than a singular protein.

The antiviral activity of IDP was tested against two viral species, influenza A H1N1/Puerto Rico/8/34 and herpes simplex HSV-1 MacIntyre, and compared against purified (95 per cent) lactoferrin. Lactoferrin has been shown in numerous studies to have antiviral activity.

Influenza A is a virus commonly implicated with flu occurrences, and herpes simplex is implicated in the causation of cold sores. .  .

‘Plagued by pests’: Daytime ferret sightings, rabbits galore in Hawke’s Bay – Louise Gould:

Daytime stoat sightings and a “plague” of rabbits have Hawke’s Bay residents concerned for wildlife in the region.

Simone Jones lives on a lifestyle block near Havelock North and said she’s noticed a huge increase in wild cats, stoats, ferrets and rabbits in the past year.

“On the 30-minute drive to town I normally see half a dozen ferrets or stoats a week,” she said, “and, at our property alone, dozens of rabbits each morning.”

Jones said the wild cats roaming her and neighbouring properties have been eating quails – even trapping doesn’t seem to curb the problem. . . 

Manapouri couple prepare to export alpacas to Europe– Jamie Searle:

Ray Haanen is hoping 2021 will be a better year with plans to export alpacas, for the first time, to lucrative European markets.

Haanen was one of many Kiwis laid off during the national lockdown in 2020. He lost his health and safety role with tourism company Real Journeys, after working for them for 16 years.

“I went back to working on the [family] farm,” he said.

Haanen and his wife, Jessie, own 70 alpacas and after he was made redundant, they decided to breed elite alpacas for overseas markets. . .

Cutest sheep breed to star at show – Shawn McAvenue

The world’s cutest sheep or a face only a mother could love?

You can decide at the Otago Taieri A&P Show, in Mosgiel, on Saturday.

Woodland Farm owner Nikita Woodhead, of Mosgiel, said Valais blacknose were widely considered to be the cutest sheep breed in the world.

“When they are lambs and have a full fleece they look like big fluffy teddy bears, with a cute little face and horns poking out the sides.” . . 

Regional council releases Japanese butterfly in Taranaki to control weeds:

A Japanese butterfly species has been released in Taranaki, but don’t be fooled by its good looks – it has a very important job to do.

Taranaki Regional Council environment officers released about 100 honshu white admiral (Limenitis glorifica) pupae at Oākura and another 100 at Kakaramea in late December to control Japanese honeysuckle, an invasive weed that smothers and strangles New Zealand’s native bush.

Most of the pupae had successfully hatched by the time the officers returned a week later.

TRC environment services manager Steve Ellis said the honshu white admiral is one of several biocontrol agents the regional council had released to control weeds. . . 

Brexit: lamb exporter to EU: ‘making virtually nothing’ – Sarah Dickins:

One of Wales’ largest lamb exporters says the extra cost and paperwork of selling meat into the EU means it is making “virtually nothing”.

Meat processing plant Randall Parker Foods in Llanidloes, Powys, warned it may lose a third of its 150 workers unless new border controls change.

The company processes one million lambs a year, half of which are exported to the European Union.

The UK government said they are working to help exporters with the new rules. . .

 


Rural round-up

06/01/2021

Why it was good to be a farmer in 2020 – Ben Speedy:

 2020 has been full of surprises. I’m not sure there has been a more disruptive year in my lifetime. For many across New Zealand, 2020 suddenly morphed into the year of “resetting”; a year to take stock, re-evaluate priorities and stay close to home. But for many Kiwi farmers and growers, it’s also been a year to make hay while the sun is shining.

The outlook wasn’t always so rosy. Back in January and February, the north and east of the North Island were officially in drought – some regions for a sustained period – significantly impacting production outputs for many. No one knew what the future would hold and what they’d need to get through.

Then, Covid-19 – and later the rain – arrived.

For an exporting country like ours, initial predictions the pandemic would result in a broad slowdown in international trade amid border closures, logistics difficulties and reduced demand did dampen the economic outlook. However, fears Covid-19 would send globalisation into reverse have so far proved unfounded. . . 

The High Court bombshell that has pig farmers facing an uncertain future – Jason Palmer:

Last month, the High Court dropped a bombshell. A judge in Wellington made a decision which left pig farmers like me facing an uncertain future almost overnight.

The judge ruled that two regulations and two minimum standards in the Pig Code of Welfare, that permit the use of mating stalls and farrowing crates, are now unlawful and invalid.

Now, the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC), which provides independent advice to the Government minister responsible for animal welfare, must assess the validity of New Zealand pig farmers continuing to use the most common indoor farrowing system globally, to raise pigs.

The Court also directed the Minister to consider recommending new regulations that provide a transition period to phase out the use of farrowing crates and mating stalls. . . 

Maintaining our slice of heaven – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Investment in primary sector research and development will assist in maintaining our “slice of heaven”, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth writes.

“May you live in interesting times.”

What has been described as the translation of a Chinese curse is, in fact, a western and modern invention.

Probably the same is true of “May all your children be daughters”. And in the same way that most people have come to accept that girls are as good as boys, and for different reasons, we also accept that if times aren’t interesting, we’re bored. . . 

Culture shock almost overcome – Mary-Jo Tohill:

Just imagine having been brought up in highly urbanised London.

You’ve spent your career working in hospitality and you have only a rudimentary idea of where milk comes from. Then your Kiwi girlfriend tells you she’s got you a job on a dairy farm in the wilds of rural New Zealand.

That’s exactly what happened to Daniel Bergin (26) when he and Kerryn Brunton moved back to her hometown, Tapanui, from the United Kingdom in July.

More accustomed to pulling pints than a dairy cow’s teats, he’ll never forget his first day in the cowshed.

“I walked in and thought, ‘What have I done?’.” . . 

An 11ha avocado orchard – Brent Melville:

New Zealand produces just 2 percent of the world’s avocados but is the ninth-largest exporter of a fruit that has been touted as the ‘superfood’ of the 21st century. 

Horticulture was the bright spark in New Zealand’s primary export world last year, with fruit, vegetables and wine generating $6.5 billion in export receipts, a healthy chunk of total primary sector revenues of $47.5 billion.

And the Ministry for Primary Industries expects horticulture to continue being the star of the show, with forecasts of a 9 percent increase to $7.1 billion for the 2021 season. 

The biggest contributor to that is kiwifruit, which saw exports valued at $2.5 billion this past year followed by wine, which bottled up $1.9 billion in exports. . . 

Resilient agriculture requires trade barriers be removed – Grace Bwogi Namukasa :

The average person in Uganda eats 660 pounds of bananas each year.

That’s a lot of bananas: It’s at least 50 percent more than the weight of a full-grown male mountain gorilla. Ugandans eat more bananas per person than the people of any other nation.

I’m a banana farmer in the Rakai district of Uganda, so you might think that I’d have trouble keeping up with our country’s strong demand for bananas. The vast majority of Uganda’s bananas supply local markets, but we also export them. More than 1,000 tons each year head to Europe. Many of the bananas on my farm make their way to the United Kingdom, and other Ugandan farmers send bananas to Belgium and Germany as well as neighboring African countries. . . 


Rural round-up

04/12/2020

Petition seeks rewrite of controversial regulations – Sally Rae:

A petition has been launched this week seeking a rewrite of the controversial new freshwater rules.

It has been organised by Groundswell NZ, a new group which stemmed from a tractor trek in Gore in October expressing farmers’ feelings about the regulations.

It comprised a mix of dairy and sheep and beef farmers and some involved in farm servicing and contracting. All were passionate about the rules being “unworkable”, Greenvale sheep and beef farmer Laurie Paterson, in whose name the petition is listed, said yesterday.

The petition requested the House of Representatives to urge the Government to review and amend the national policy statement for freshwater management to ensure it was based on science and best practice for each catchment and farm, and did not require farmers to sow on specific dates. Mandatory sowing dates would compromise health and safety and stress mental health, Mr Paterson said. . .

Biosecurity more important than ever – Peter Burke:

Biosecurity is even more important to New Zealand as the country starts to recover from Covid-19.

That’s the message from Penny Nelson, head of biosecurity at the Ministry for Primary Industries. She told Rural News, at the recent biosecurity awards at Parliament, that biosecurity underpins our primary sector exports – as well as many of the special taonga we have.

She says we just can’t afford to have big incursions at the moment. “I was interested to hear that in the KPMG’s agribusiness survey, biosecurity has been the top issue for the past 11 years. I think New Zealanders realise we have a special way of life and we want to keep it.” . . 

Zespri aiming for Crown research partnership to develop new kiwifruit varieties – Maja Burry:

Kiwifruit giant Zespri wants to establish a Kiwifruit Breeding Centre in partnership with Crown research institute Plant & Food Research.

In an update sent to growers today, Zespri chief executive Dan Mathieson said the proposed centre would be dedicated to breeding new kiwifruit cultivars, creating healthier, better tasting and more sustainability-focused varieties to fulfil the growing demand from consumers.

Mathieson said the 50/50 joint venture would strengthen the work already taking place in the breeding programme which it runs in partnership with Plant and Food.

“This is an exciting step forward for our industry and a natural evolution of the hugely successful 30-year relationship between Zespri and PFR which has delivered such strong returns. . . 

Licence to grow gold kiwifruit added to Gisborne rateable land value:

Authorities in Gisborne have decided a $400,000 per hectare licence to grow gold kiwifruit adds value to the land, and will mean a sizeable rates increase.

Gisborne is the first region to adjust land valuation methods for gold kiwifruit properties to now include the value of the growing licence on the rateable value of the property.

This follows a meeting between the Valuer-General and valuers in August, in which they decided the licence should be included in the Value of Improvements, which requires the “assessment of the value of all work done on or for the benefit of the land”.

All councils with gold kiwifruit would have to reassess their methods. . . 

Fresh milk in glass bottles vends itself – Abbey Palmer:

When Melissa Johnson first suggested the idea of selling raw milk in bottles from a vending machine, her husband thought it was a “stupid idea for hippies”.

Just over three years and two vending machines later, the Southland partners in life and business are delivering hundreds of bottles to thousands of customers across the South every week.

Following a decision to downsize and do their own thing, the former large-scale contract milkers started their milk business, Farm Fresh South, in Woodlands, with 35 calves in 2017.

Mrs Johnson spotted a raw milk vending machine when holidaying near Nelson and liked the business concept. . . 

Lifestyle venture, wine not?

A fantastic lifestyle opportunity in the heart of the East Coast wine-producing region is set to attract interest from across the country, says Bayleys Gisborne salesperson Jenny Murray.

“The character property at 16 Riverpoint Road, Matawhero typifies the relaxed atmosphere Gisborne is famous for while providing an exceptional home, lifestyle and business opportunity,” she adds.

Spanning nearly 8,000sqm (more or less) across the Waipaoa Bridge on the site of the Old Bridge Hotel, the property is offered for sale by auction at 1pm on 11 December. . . 

 


Rural round-up

18/11/2020

Farmers care about animals says vet – Peter Burke:

A leading veterinarian says in his opinion farmers are doing a better job now than ever in regards to animal welfare.

Richard Hilson is the managing director of Vet Services Hawke’s Bay, which has a staff of 120 people including about three dozen vets. Hilson says he gets frustrated when he sees a lot of publicity given to people who treat animals badly. He says the reality is that these few individuals unfairly give farming a bad name.

In recent months there have been several high profile cases of animals being mistreated and people being prosecuted for failing to adequately feed cows to killing a lamb. 

Hilson says there is a greater awareness about animal welfare and often people who harm animals find that others who know them report them to the authorities. Hilson says these days, people realise that it’s not okay to mistreat animals. . .

Making wool great again :

A West Otago couple were so sick of seeing so much synthetic clothing around they decided to do something about it.

Murray and Julie Hellewell run sheep and beef on their hilly 610-hectare Waitahuna West property. The focus though is the sheep.

“The sheep are our money and the cattle are here just to look after the pastures and make it better for the sheep,” Murray says.

However, strong wool prices have been trending down for years. . . 

Gisborne couple tout their smooth ‘never dud’ avocados :

Cutting into avocados can be a lottery.

They hold so much promise. A twist of the halves can reveal uniform, creamy, olive-green flesh.

But sometimes they’re destined straight for the compost bin.

They can be stringy, have brown spots or be disappointingly watery.

However Gisborne growers, David and Judi Grey, who have been growing and testing avocados for 50 years, have developed new varieties they say are perfect, every time. . . 

New research project to provide insight into kiwifruit disease PSA:

A new research project that may help future-proof the kiwifruit industry has received a Fast Start Marsden grant.

The project, led by Dr Jay Jayaraman at Plant & Food Research and titled: How do new pathogen incursions evolve during host infection, will investigate the plant pathogen Psa (Pseudomonas syringae pv actinidiae), to understand how it evolves during infection of the kiwifruit plant.

Psa caused severe damage in New Zealand’s kiwifruit crops after its discovery in 2010. While the industry recovered, thanks to a new cultivar with improved disease tolerance, exploring alternative ways to manage the disease in future is still essential, particularly given the possibility that Psa could adapt to the new cultivar. . . 

Hi-tech hand-luggage scanner gives biosecurity a huge boost at Auckland Airport :

A new hi-tech baggage scanner at Auckland Airport will provide another crucial layer of protection against invasive pests and diseases, says Biosecurity New Zealand.

The computer tomography (CT) scanner made its first detection earlier this month – two bananas in a small carry-on bag arriving with a New Zealand family from Dubai.

Biosecurity New Zealand has been trialling the technology with selected flights since late October. Arriving passengers have their hand baggage scanned before they collect checked-in items from the airport carousels.

“We’re deliberately targeting baggage that travellers carry off the plane. It’s where we’re most likely to find food that could host fruit fly and other pests,” says Brett Hickman, Border Technology Manager, Biosecurity New Zealand. . . 

Ben Tombs from Peregrine Wines announced NZ Young Winemaker of the Year 2020:

Congratulations to Ben Tombs from Central Otago for becoming the 2020 Tonnellerie de Mercurey NZ Young Winemaker of the Year. Ben is Assistant Winemaker at Peregrine Wines in the Gibbston Valley and the first Young Winemaker from Central Otago to win the competition.

The other national finalists were Ben McNab from Matahiwi in Wairarapa and Peter Russell from Matua in Marlborough, who both took out sections of the competition, showing the very high calibre of contestants taking part. The judges were hugely impressed with their knowledge, passion and professionalism throughout the day.

The competition is tough and really stretches the finalists. Firstly, they had to prepare a presentation in advance about what the future wine consumer looks like and how New Zealand can maintain its competitive edge around the world. . . 

 


Rural round-up

04/11/2020

MPs push for crop workers–  Alexia Johnston and Jared Morgan:

Central Otago’s MPs have weighed in on the pending labour shortage in the horticulture and viticulture sectors.

In a joint statement, Southland MP Joseph Mooney and Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean say it does not make sense that people are being allowed into New Zealand to work on movies, fishing boats or to play sport, but not to work in orchards or vineyards at what is a critical time.

Last month, an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases were attributed to Russian and Ukrainian fishers who were recruited to support New Zealand’s beleaguered fishing industry.

That led to a cluster of cases in Christchurch’s Sudima Hotel, managed isolation facility, with cases there still recorded yesterday.  . . 

From waste to wetland:

We wanted to improve the farm and do our bit for the environment” is Manawatu farmer Grant Bell’s response when he’s asked why he converted 4ha of his property into an impressive wetland.

Grant and his family farm 525 cows on their 150ha (effective) property on the outskirts of Palmerston North. The farm has been in his family for 25 years and this is his eighth season running the dairy operation.

Farmers like Grant are champions of sustainability and he says creating the wetland made perfect sense.

“It was a wasted area of the farm with wetter, less productive ends of paddocks. Five years ago we developed a 2.5ha area and in the last two years we have extended it so it’s now about 4ha.” . . 

Fonterra’s latest Sustainability Report shows most encouraging progress to date:

Fonterra has achieved its most encouraging sustainability results since starting its annual reporting four years ago, but the Co-op is staying focused on what still needs to be done to reach its long-term targets.

“The progress we’ve made this year towards our three interconnected goals of healthy people, a healthy environment and a healthy business show that our strategy and customer-led operating model are delivering,” says CEO Miles Hurrell, following the release of Fonterra’s 2020 Sustainability Report today.

“We’re proud of what our people have achieved, especially in the face of COVID-19, and want to thank farmers and employees for their support and hard work.” . . 

Move over rock ‘n’ roll – here’s farm music – Robin Martin:

Move over rock ‘n’ roll, forget hip hop and so long soul.

The new scene emerging out of rural New Zealand is Farm Music – people hitting bits of scrap found in the shed, garage or out in the paddock.

The mental health project debuts on stage at Reset 2020 Arts Festival in Taranaki on Sunday.

Farm Music producer Sally Barnett said the idea for the project came to her while volunteering at the Taranaki Retreat – a suicide prevention initiative set up on a rural property southwest of New Plymouth. . . 

Toil and frugality paved way for ownership – Alice Scott:

From growing up in the city to farming in Tuapeka West; Alice Scott talks to a couple about their own unique journey into farm ownership.

Allan Casse got his first taste for farming as a boy in his school holidays.

He was born and raised in Auckland city and his mother, who grew up on a farm, would take him out to the countryside.

“The outdoors appealed right from the beginning. I just loved it. It’s where I knew I wanted to be.”

He then moved to the South Island as a 17-year-old and worked in a fruit and vegetable market for two years before going to university and qualifying as a teacher. . . 

‘Kiss the Ground’ review: regenerating hope for the climate – Natalia Winkelman:

An optimistic climate documentary narrated by Woody Harrelson argues for the healing power of soil, which could offer a solution to the climate crisis.

The actor Woody Harrelson narrates the documentary “Kiss the Ground,” a frenetic but ultimately persuasive and optimistic plan to counter the climate crisis. Streaming on Netflix, the film makes a case for the healing power of soil, arguing that its capacity to sequester carbon could be the key to reversing the effects of climate change.

Directed by Joshua Tickell and Rebecca Harrell Tickell, whose credits include other socially conscious documentaries such as “The Big Fix” and “Pump,” “Kiss the Ground” takes a wide-ranging approach. The film begins by examining how tilling and the use of pesticides have led to soil erosion, and then traces the damage done to our ecology, health and climate. The filmmakers find a solution in regenerative farming, an ethical practice designed to restore degraded lands and facilitate carbon drawdown. . . 


Rural round-up

01/11/2020

Shearers remain hopeful foreign workers will be given exceptions as clock ticks :

The shearing industry is nervously waiting to find out if it will be able to bring in overseas shearers to help this season.

The New Zealand Shearing Contractors Association had initially hoped to bring in up to 200 shearers to fill gaps in the local workforce, but with the clock ticking to get people into the country in time, that request has now been scaled back to 40 or 60.

Association president Mark Barrowcliffe said work would ramp up significantly in a month’s time. . .

Farmers need to show vulnerability :

Kane Brisco, who is in his seventh year 50:50 sharemilking at Ohangai near Hawera in South Taranaki, started his own social media page to get farmers talking.

“One of the things I’ve noticed with farmers under pressure is that they withdraw into themselves. I’ve done it myself,” he said.

“So, I think that as a farming community we need to be much more open to discussing the pressures we’re dealing with.

“We need to get better as a community at genuinely finding out how people are doing. The common answer is often ‘yeah good’, no matter how people actually feel, so we need to combat that.  . . 

NZ’s sustainable environment – Mark Chapman:

Freshwater quality and climate change mitigation are inexplicably linked to the whole country creating a sustainable environment. This job is for both urban and rural New Zealand to tackle together. What is often missed is how creating a sustainable environment is linked to businesses being profitable. This is because it is costly to achieve the outcomes that are needed and, where these outcomes reduce productivity and restrict the ability to grow or farm, the required funding becomes very scarce.

This is the conundrum facing the nation and not just rural New Zealand: how are we as a country – as we recover from Covid – going to finance the next steps to environmental sustainability?

It may well be a surprise to urban New Zealand that environmental sustainability is something growers and farmers have been committed to, intergenerationally, for decades. As a result, the rural sector has a significant head start on urban New Zealand.

Overriding these concerns is the need to feed New Zealand as well as keeping businesses profitable, to enable activities that support environmental sustainability. So, there is a balance to be reached: maintaining businesses profitability, feeding the country and making environmental enhancements. . . 

Revealed: taxpayers Cover animal welfare fines For Landcorp farmers:

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is today calling on Landcorp to stop reimbursing farmers fined for animal welfare offences.

The Taxpayers’ Union requested correspondence pertaining to staff reimbursements of fines paid by Landcorp over the last three years. Landcorp provided information revealing the following:

• A $500 reimbursement for an animal welfare fine for transporting a cow that birthed a calf en route to slaughter on a moving truck. . . 

Science’s major role in our farming future – Neville Wallace:

I grew up during rapid changes in farming techniques from Blue Stone drenching of sheep for parasite control to anthelmintics, rubber rings for animal castration and tail removal. The wool boom of the late forties and fifties led to dramatic changes in farming practice such as the application of fertiliser by Tiger Moth biplanes, which could only carry a eight-hundred weight payload.

Our schooling was scientifically orientated so that we were taught horticulture by the late Rod Syme, who’s career as a horticulturist was to visit schools and demonstrate how to grow a vegetable and potato garden, and the science included how to use artificial fertiliser to increase crop growth and production. 

A leading Taranaki dairy farmer was at the forefront of developing the plastic ear tag for cattle, which ultimately led to the electronic ear tag of today. . . .

Bushfires Royal Commission doesn’t have the answers – Vic Forbes:

Experienced land and fire managers from eight community groups across Australia have jointly written to the Prime Minister urging the restoration of healthy and safe rural landscapes. The grass-roots organisations represent more than 6,000 members and 14 regional councils. They have called for an end to the ongoing loss of human life and the socioeconomic and environmental destruction caused by extreme bushfires.

Former Chief of CSIRO Bushfire Research, Phil Cheney, says that a focus on emergency response at the expense of land management has created an unstoppable monster. Expenditure on firefighting forces is ever-increasing whilst volunteers are being cynically used to deflect criticism away from failed government policies. Land management agencies no longer have primary responsibility for suppressing wildfires. Consequently they have little incentive for stewardship and fire mitigation. Cheney is a scientific advisor to Volunteer Fire Fighters Association.

Chairman of Western Australia’s Bushfire Front, Roger Underwood, points to the stark contrast in historical fire management policies and outcomes on either side of the continent.   Seventy years of data from WA show a strong inverse relationship between the area maintained by mild burning and the area subsequently damaged by high intensity fires. This relationship is especially apparent in extreme fire seasons. . . 


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