Rural round-up

June 27, 2017

Colostrum vital part of successful calf rearing system – Sally Rae:

When it comes to rearing calves, Nicola Neal knows the challenges involved.

Mrs Neal and her husband Grant are sharemilking on the lower Waitaki Plains in North Otago and she also works part-time as a vet.

Her particular interest in rearing young stock has led the mother of two to launch a new venture this year.

The Aspiring Calf Company offers an advisory service to farming clients for setting up and managing robust, fail-safe systems for rearing great calves.

It was while she was studying veterinary science at Massey University that Mrs Neal met her husband, who was working for an animal health company. . . 

Rural folk with MS sort for study – Alexia Johnston:

Medical researchers are turning their attention to the rural sector to benefit people who have multiple sclerosis.

People living in rural South Canterbury, Otago and Southland who have the auto-immune condition multiple sclerosis (MS) are needed for the University of Otago School of Physiotherapy study.

The 24-week study combines two interventions for people with MS living in rural areas – web-based physio and Blue Prescription. . . 

Jan Wright an emblem of our nation’s maturity – Jon Morgan:

Jan Wright will be a hard act to follow. The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s term is up shortly and we will miss her.

She and her staff have produced a series of landmark reports on important issues over the past 10 years, rigorous reports firmly centred on science that have cleared up misunderstandings and set out clearly what is at stake.

Farmers have a lot to thank her for. In her reports she has exposed a lot of the lies and half-truths around arguments on clean rivers and how to manage water quality, the use of 1080, agriculture’s contribution to climate change and the Emissions Trading Scheme and high country tenure. . . 

Sale of Angus bull raises $4500 for rescue helicopter – Sally Brooker:

A North Otago Angus stud has raised $4500 for the Otago Regional Rescue Helicopter Trust.

Fossil Creek, run by Neil and Rose Sanderson and Blair and Jane Smith, held its annual on-farm bull sale at Ngapara last week. One lot in its catalogue was sold to help the rescue chopper that has been a life-saver in the district several times in the past four years.

Thanks to strong bidding and awareness of the charitable cause, the bull sold for $4500 to the Cameron family of Wainui Station, on the northern side of the Waitaki River. . . 

Annual tackles food sustainability – Hugh Stringleman:

Massey University’s second Land and Food Annual asks Can New Zealand Feed the World Sustainably?

Its editor Professor Claire Massey and some contributors say we can’t, for a variety of reasons based on perceived lack of sustainability in farming practices, especially water quality.

However, by the end of the book there are enough wise words to re-address the proposition and answer yes instead of no. . . 

What Next? Futurists can take their cricket meat – I’m milking cows until I’m 130 – Lyn Webster:

I watched the ‘What Next’ TV programme with Nigel Latta, John Campbell and a team of ‘futurists’. They were making calls on how life in New Zealand will look in 2037.

I have never felt so happy that I will be dead or close to it by then.

They foresaw a world where jobs as we know them will be taken over by robots. We will all be whizzing around skyping each other from driverless cars and off to a ‘cricket’ (insect) restaurant to eat our daily protein.

Currently, I am driving around in a 1993 Honda Ascot which failed its warrant because of the horn. Now I can’t register it because it’s so old that getting the horn fixed has turned into a big drama. . . 

Planning, returns and looming stresses make feeding 9 billion people a challenge – Ryan O’Sullivan:

 I was fortunate to be part of a relatively small group of eight Nuffield scholars, of diverse farming backgrounds, who visited countries on the Brazil Global Focus Program (GFP).

Countries visited were well developed or mostly developed in terms of their economies and agricultural industries and included Brazil, Mexico, United States, Ireland, France and New Zealand.

One of the key benefits I believe the GFP offers is the context it gives of the global agri-food business and therefore the perspective around New Zealand as a producer and marketer.  As one large scale US milk producer put it “New Zealand is small and cute” – which is pretty hard to argue with.  . . 

It’s time to rethink debate around water quality and weed out the emotion – Alan Wills:

Anyone with an opinion or agenda about water quality has received plenty of media play of late.

We regularly hear about “dirty dairying”, “industrial dairy farming” and just the other day I heard someone on breakfast television talking about “rivers of milk.”

There are no rivers of milk.

Some of the debate is constructive but much of it is narrowly focused, emotional and politically driven. There seems to be no appreciation of the bigger picture. . . 


No substitute for 1080 in some areas

July 18, 2013

Environment commissioner Jan Wright advocated for wider use of 1080 two years ago and is disappointed there’s been so little action since then.

. . . Dr Wright says time is running out for native species on the mainland.

“There are three predators that are inflicting enormous damage on our native birds and plants – possums, rats, and stoats. The only way we can control them over large areas is to use 1080. We are lucky to have it.

“When I released my report two years ago I called for greater use of 1080 because I was extremely concerned about the future of kiwi and other native birds.

“Currently the Department of Conservation is spending more on research into 1080 and its alternatives than it is on actually using it.

“While I’m happy this research is being done, I would like to see more money being spent on frontline pest control.

“While I am heartened by the public support for a pest-free New Zealand there is no way that it could currently be achieved without 1080. I will continue to recommend its use is increased. “

Dr Wright’s report is here, her update is here.

Forest and Bird agree with her.

Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell says the PCE’s latest report reinforces Forest & Bird’s stance that 1080 remains the most cost effective way of controlling the three “key pests of possums, rats and stoats” over large areas.

“Pests are decimating our native forests and killing an estimated 25 million birds a year, pushing some of them towards extinction. We need to get on top of the pest situation if we want to reverse the decline of our native wildlife.

“We fully agree with the Commissioner in that aerial 1080 drops over large areas are the best way to do that,” he says.

“Other methods of pest control, like trapping and ground-based poison operations, are expensive, time-consuming, cover small areas, and often fail to get into the heart of the back country where it’s most needed. Aerial 1080 drops, at this stage, offer the most cost-effective way to tackle New Zealand’s pest problem,” Kevin Hackwell says.

Forest & Bird is disappointed that the Department of Conservation has not acted on the PCE’s key recommendation from the initial 2011 report to increase the use of aerial 1080 operations.

“DOC should move resources from the less effective ground-based control to the more effective use of aerial 1080. There’s no need for any more delay, we should be acting on the PCE’s recommendations now,” Kevin Hackwell says.

It is impossible to safeguard native birds when 1080 is dropped and it can kill them. But populations recover very quickly when their predators are killed.

Trapping and hunting animal pests works well in some places.

But in many areas 1080 is the best way to kill the pests which destroy native flora and pray on the fauna.

Some of these pests also carry TB which can spread to farm animals and people.


Dairying & the environment

February 1, 2010

Phillipa Stevenson left a comment on last week’s post about the proposed dairy development  in the Mackenzie Basin.

In case you didn’t see it, she’s taking part in a panel discussion on dairying and the environment on National Radio at 7.15 this evening:

You can take part too by emailing the programme on nights@radionz.co.nz or texting 2101. Also on the panel is Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright, soils scientist Doug Edmeades, organic farmer Jamie Tait-Jamieson, and Fonterra sustainable production manager John Hutchings.


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