Rural round-up

07/03/2021

We need to remember the ‘silent majority’ who don’t want faux food – Andy Walker:

Being a Kiwi, I don’t want to argue with any Aussies reading this, but pavlova is, in fact, a Kiwi invention.

However, if it’s made from grass, like this one, you can have it. Will this trend towards plant-based food alternatives end? Probably not.

In the EU 3.2 per cent of people are vegans, and 30.9 per cent are either vegetarians, pescatarians and flexitarians.

In New Zealand, the number of people eating “meat-free” has doubled from 7 per cent tp 15 per cent in four years. Australia, which ranks in the top five meat eating nations, now ranks second in the world for vegans. . .

Vaccine timeline for truck drivers necessary – Road Transport Forum :

To ensure continuity in the supply chain, the road freight industry needs to know when truck drivers will receive the Covid-19 vaccine, says Road Transport Forum (RTF) chief executive Nick Leggett.

Leggett says he wrote to Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins in January to enquire about vaccine prioritisation used by the Government to determine workers in essential industries.

“The trucking industry is keen to understand when its frontline workers, mainly drivers, might be in line for a vaccination and whether they will be given priority over the general population, given their importance in keeping the supply chain running,” says Leggett.

He says there is increasing urgency in getting truck drivers vaccinated because of the current Auckland lockdown. . . 

Grape harvest gets under way – Jared Morgan:

Central Otago’s wine harvest is under way as sparkling varieties are being picked and pressed.

Winemaker Rudi Bauer, of Quartz Reef Bendigo Estate, said lessons learned from last year’s harvest, conducted during lockdown, had proved useful as the harvest began.

At the 30ha vineyard in Bendigo, pinot noir grapes were being harvested yesterday, with chardonnay soon to follow.

The challenges of getting this year’s crop off the vines were still there in terms of labour, but Central Otago had learned a lot from 2020’s lockdown harvest, Mr Bauer said. . . 

Projects closer to home ‘excite’ – David Hill:

Cam Henderson is excited about some new projects “closer to home”.

The Oxford farmer has already announced his intention to step down as Federated Farmers North Canterbury president at May’s annual meeting and has already filled the void.

Mr Henderson was recently appointed as one of two new associate directors on DairyNZ’s board of directors and has recently been made a trustee of the newly renamed Waimak Landcare Group.

He also planned to step down from his role as Waimakariri Zone Committee deputy chairman, Mr Henderson said. . . 

Largest ever kiwifruit harvest begins:

  • First of 2021’s kiwifruit crop picked in Gisborne
  • 2021 expected to overtake last year’s record of 157 million trays
  • Kiwis encouraged to get involved in kiwifruit harvest

New Zealand’s 2021 kiwifruit harvest has kicked off with the first commercial crop being picked this morning in Gisborne and more kiwifruit to be picked across New Zealand over the coming days.

The 2021 season is forecast to be another record-breaking year with more kiwifruit produced than ever before, overtaking last year’s record of 157 million trays of export Green and Gold. On average, each tray has around 30 pieces of kiwifruit.

The Gold variety is usually picked first, followed by Green kiwifruit in late March. Harvest peaks in mid-April and runs through until June. . . 

Aussies expected to dominate world sheepmeat export supply – Kristen Frost:

The gap between Australia and New Zealand’s export sheepmeat industry has narrowed, with industry experts anticipating Australia will continue to dominate world sheepmeat export supply for the remainder of the decade.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisations (FAO), in 2019 Australia and New Zealand sheep meat exports was 71 per cent of the total sheep meat export volumes.

And recently Australia has eclipsed NZ to become the worlds largest exporter of sheep meat product with 36pc of global trade in 2020, compared to 30pc for NZ. . . 


Rural round-up

17/02/2021

Cows, coal and carbon – Elbow Deep:

I was once told by someone much smarter than me that the Green Party policy of today will be Labour Party policy in 10 years’ time. Even without that level of insight, nobody who has been paying attention to the political discourse for the past decade will be very surprised at the Climate Change Commission’s recent report, though there do seem to be large numbers of people shaking their heads in dazed bewilderment.

The Commission’s report largely reflects the findings and recommendations of the Royal Society’s 2016 one, Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy for New Zealand. That report was essentially ignored by the government of the day, but it is extremely unlikely the current government will treat the latest version in the same manner.

The report calls for, among other things, an immediate end to the construction of coal fired boilers, an end to the burning of coal for process heat by 2037 and a reduction in the national dairy, beef and sheep numbers of 15% each by 2030.

No matter how climate hesitant you might be or how little New Zealand has contributed to global warming since pre-industrial times, the Commission estimates that figure to be 0.0028 degrees C, the fact remains our share of global warming is 4 times greater than our share of the total population and 1.5 times greater than our share of landmass. . . 

Waterways benefit from farmer’s ‘dream’ :

A Southland dairy farmer has invested $200,000 over the last 10 years in planting and fencing around a river and creeks on his property – an outcome of a dream he had back in his native Zimbabwe.

Edwin Mabonga, who together with his wife Fungai milk 850 cows on a 270ha farm bordering the Aparima River at Otautau near Invercargill, used to spend time in Zimbabwe reading books about New Zealand.

“It was always a big goal of mine to come to New Zealand because I saw it as being the world benchmark for dairy farming,” he says. “We used to read books to learn as much as we could and eventually decided to move to find out what the big deal was.” . . .

Agribusiness icon helping to change dairying :

Project to reduce nitrate run-off from farms attracts critical corporate clout.

A key environmental project on lower North Island dairy farms has attracted renewed corporate backing – and a grandmother is helping bring it about.

Two of New Zealand’s biggest business players, Fonterra and Nestle, have joined a DairyNZ-led project in the Tararua district in which a blend of the herb plantain is being sown in pastures with the aim of both reducing nitrate run-off into waterways and lowering on-farm greenhouse gas emissions.

The two companies are bringing their muscle to the project by providing additional funding to enable the 50 farms taking part to increase the amount of plantain they grow. . . 

Lasers used as bird deterrent – Jared Morgan:

Using lasers to control birds might sound like science fiction but Ewing Stevens hopes the technology will save his grapes from the peckish pests.

At age 94, Mr Stevens believes he is New Zealand’s oldest vintner but his age is no barrier to being at the cutting edge of technology when it comes to managing his crop at Anthony James Vineyard near Alexandra.

This week three lasers were installed at his Hillview Rd vineyard to replace labour intensive and expensive bird netting.

Mr Stevens said the idea was born out of a conversation with Viticultura co-owner Timbo Deaker, whose Cromwell-based company manages Mr Stevens’ grapes through its vineyard management service, about three years ago. . . 

FMG Young Farmer of the Year Northern Regional Final postponed :

Following Auckland’s move to Alert Level 3 and the rest of the country to Alert Level 2, we have made the decision to postpone the Northern FMG Young Farmer of the Year Regional Final based on Government recommendations.

Given the uncertainty around the latest COVID-19 community cases, postponement of the event is the safest and most cautious option despite contingency plans we have in place to run events during an alert level two.

Like other businesses, organisations and events, we need to respond and do our part to limit the potential spread of this virus.

The safety of our competitors, staff, sponsors and spectators is our main priority. It is imperative that we protect our people and do not put anyone at risk. . .

 

Grange visit a flashback for ‘Birley girls’ – Shawn McAvinue:

A former Taieri farm girl got her dying wish to say goodbye to the homestead she was raised in.

Joan King (83) and her sister Patricia Snell (75) were young girls when their family moved on to The Grange farm in East Taieri.

Their parents, Percy and Rita Birley, managed the nearly 300ha sheep, beef and dairy farm.

The women, from Motueka and Auckland respectively, visited the homestead recently to celebrate Mrs King’s birthday. . .


Rural round-up

17/01/2021

A year of opportunity and challenges – Jacqueline Rowarth:

The year ahead for New Zealand’s primary sector is full of promise and opportunity.

Of course, there are challenges and there will be more that haven’t yet been realised. But the very fact that the country is relying on the sector to underpin, enable and drive economic growth means that there will be support. And the goodwill towards the work that the primary sector did during the Covid lockdown is still with us.

Internationally we are highly-respected for what we achieved collectively through Covid. New Zealanders listened to the science, obeyed the instructions and achieved a positive result.

What applied during Covid reflects our general attitude – when the facts are clear, we comply. This is part of why we are trusted as a food supplier. Our food is safe to eat as well as delicious. It is also what people want for health. . . 

Gym for farmers – Nigel Beckford:

A home-built gym was the start of Kane Brisco’s journey from milking shed to social media influencer.  

Kane’s into his seventh year 50/50 share milking at Ohangai near Hawera, in South Taranaki. His progress in the industry’s been rapid and life’s busy on all fronts.

“We have 215 cows which I pretty much milk myself. My wife helps as much as she can with the calves, but she’s working part time as a nurse too. We’ve also got a 6-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy. The last 2 years have been hectic with my daughter starting school and the younger one becoming more mobile and racing around.”

Juggling these responsibilities would be a challenge for anyone. How does Kane cope? The answer might surprise some people – as busy as he is, Kane dedicates part of each day solely to meeting his own needs. . .

Passion for or shearing started early for young shepherd – Sandy Eggleston:

A fascination watching shearers as a child has drawn one young woman into having a go herself.

Shepherd Melissa Hamilton took part in the 39th Northern Southland Community Shears held at the Selbie family woolshed, Lowther Downs, near Lumsden yesterday.

Miss Hamilton grew up on a sheep and beef farm near Browns.

“When we were shearing it was the most exciting time of the year — always fascinated watching the shearers.” . .

Heavy rain no dampener for wine makers – Jared Morgan:

The New Year’s deluge of torrential rain has been welcomed by winemakers.

Their gain is in stark contrast to the pain caused by the rain to the region’s orchardists, whose cherry crops were all but wiped out by the heaviest rainfall in 40 years.

The epicentre for flooding of orchards and vineyards was the Earnscleugh area between Alexandra and Clyde.

The flooding was caused by the Fraser River breaching its banks and runoff from the Rocky Range; it was the latter that led to the cellar door and the winery at Black Ridge Vineyard being inundated with about 6cm of water and mud. . .

Why is it so hard to find lemons right now? – Alex Braae:

Supermarket shoppers looking for citrus are seeing a sour trend at the moment – some stores are entirely tapped out of lemons. But why? 

Batches of homemade lemonade will be taking a hit this summer, with life not giving New Zealand shoppers lemons. Prices are high at supermarkets and grocers that have the citrus fruit, and some stores have completely sold out.

The problem isn’t so much domestic problem – the citrus industry in New Zealand is small, but is largely operating as normal. Rather, import difficulties are making it much harder to stack the shelves. . .

Omarama Clay Cliffs – the little slice of Mars hidden in South Canterbury* – Brook Sabin:

New Zealand has no shortage of stunningly beautiful drives, and one of the best is between Queenstown and Aoraki Mt/Cook. This route weaves through some of our most spectacular mountain scenery, with a few hidden gems in between.

From Queenstown, ascend the Crown Range, as you wind your way into a majestic mountainscape that passes through Cardrona village. After an hour you’ll be in Wānaka, where you can stop for ice cream at Patagonia Chocolates, and a leisurely walk along the waterfront to see That Wānaka Tree.

Next, traverse the stunningly sparse Lindis Pass, before reaching the heartland of hidden gems: Omarama, which has two unmissable stops.

This unworldly landscape has to be one of the most underrated attractions in New Zealand. If it were overseas, there’d be ticket queues, cafes and novelty shops scattered around the place. Here, there’s a hand-painted sign pointing towards the entrance and an honesty box which asks for $5 per car to visit . .

* The cliffs are amazing & they’re on the right side of the Waitaki River so in North Otago not South Canterbury.

 


Rural round-up

14/01/2021

Work on freshwater in Southland is a nationwide first – Rachael Kelly:

Stewart Bull says he loses his mana when he has to tell visitors to his Takutai o Te Tītī Marae not to eat the kai moana.

“I don’t collect kai moana off the beach any more, at this stage. I know what’s going on, and I advise my children not to go and collect it either.

“It’s not good to stand on your marae and go ‘don’t touch the kai moana’…where is your mana if you have to stand on your own marae and express that to your visitors who are coming in?’’

For Bull, it’s about ki uta ki tai, from the mountains to the sea. . . 

Cherry pickers lose $350 a day jobs – Jared Morgan:

The $50 million loss incurred by Central Otago’s cherry growers this season impacts growers, jobs and the New Zealand economy.

Summerfruit NZ chief executive Richard Palmer said the full extent of the damage after four days of persistent and heavy rain was yet to be quantified but it was expected up to 50% of the season’s cherries had been lost due to splitting, resulting in the loss of $50million in export revenue to the country.

In addition to damaged fruit, flooding caused damage to buildings on orchards located around Earnscleugh when the Fraser River broke its banks.

Orchardists in the area said the losses were tempered by the fact flood waters receded, quickly allying fears other crops had been affected. . . 

Bid to stop 1080 drop in Hawke’s Bay fails in court – Tom Kitchin:

A legal challenge to stop a 1080 drop on Māori land in Hawke’s Bay has failed.

The Māori Land Court has released its ruling on the legal fight  following a hearing in Hastings.

Tataraakina is a 14,000 hectare block in inland Hawke’s Bay, near the highway between Napier and Taupō.

Tataraakina is managed by an ahu whenua trust, led by trustee Clinton Hemana, and has 1143 owners. . .

 The strange reason New Zealand is in the midst of a national oat milk shortage – Glenn McConnell:

Rumblings of an oat milk shortage first reached Stuff early in the New Year. Trendy café goers reported their local vegan-friendly baristas had run dry on their favourite plant-based milk.

It was a coffee crisis, and the outlook was gloomy. Would they revert to cow’s milk? Drink an overly sweet flat white with coconut milk? Or indulge in the increasingly uncool almond milk latte?

Oat milk is the up and coming among the milk alternatives. Almond remains popular, but has lost fans due to environmental concerns. The demand for almonds has caused honeybee catastrophe in the US, as California summons more than half of the country’s bees to pollinate its almond trees. The journey reportedly costs the lives of a quarter of the bees, due to pesticides and disease.

Oat is The Goat. But due to an unusually elongated supply chain for New Zealand, and unexpected rise in the popularity of oat milk, it has recently proved hard to find. . . 

Heiko Wittmer: NZ lessons to be learnt from pumas and wolves – Emile Donovan:

Lessons from how pumas and wolves interact in North America can be applied here in New Zealand, as we strive towards a predator-free 2050. 

Dr Heiko Wittmer has looked at what happened when wolves were reintroduced to Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. The wolves had a negative effect on the pumas in the park and that led to a much more balanced ecosystem. 

Heiko tells Summer Times that despite being a large and wild park, it had lost its wolf population due to culling in the early 20th century.

“Since then they have been missing and that has led to some drastic changes in the ecosystem.” . . 

It’s urgent we act on declining water storage, scientists warn – Shan Goodwin:

INTERNATIONAL scientists have highlighted the urgent need for mitigation to avoid water storage declines and increased droughts and the big role farmers in Australia, particular in the south, stand to play in that.

By the end of this century, the global land area and population living in extreme-to-exceptional drought could more than double, research directed from Michigan State University in the United States has found.

The stark warning emerged from the extensive study, which also points to the largest water declines being in Australia and South America.

The key implication is that climate change mitigation is now critical to avoid adverse water storage impacts and increased droughts, and the need for improved water resource management and adaptation is pressing. . . 

 


Rural round-up

11/01/2021

Tackling farmer health face to face :

Dr Tom Mulholland has made it his mission to look after the heart health of farmers for most of the past decade.

He has a 1988 retro V8 ambulance kitted out for doing blood pressure and cholesterol tests, but also, old fashioned house calls to be what you might call the ambulance at the top of the cliff for farmers under time and financial pressure.

Dr Tom has talked to thousands of people on farmers’ physical mental and social health, and saved and changed more than a few lives.  He’s also developed an app called KYND Wellness to help farmers track their own health. . . 

Orchardists counting costs of cherries ruined by downpours – Jared Morgan:

Central Otago fruitgrowers are still counting the costs of the New Year deluge that decimated this season’s cherry harvest.

Estimates sit at about 60% on average of cherry crop lost across the region, shaving millions of dollars in value off this season’s harvest.

Other fruit was also affected by four days of torrential rain punctuated by showers throughout the week and a week on from the rain starting growers were assessing how much fruit was still salvageable.

At Ripponvale, near Cromwell, Cheeki Cherries/Dam Good Fruit owner Martin Milne said his losses were a mixed bag. . . 

Filipino contract milker makes most of opportunities in Southland – Jamie Searle:

South Hillend contract milker Guillermo Tolentino is a survivor, but he shudders to think what would have happened to him without help from former Wreys Bush dairy farm owners Wayne and Angela Carpenter.

Tolentino remembers arriving in New Zealand in 2003, only to find out the details of the job promised to him on a Canterbury farm were different to what he agreed to and it didn’t work out.

Panic struck and Tolentino didn’t know what to do. The $1000 he had on him was to tide him over until his first pay packet. . .

Farewell to Sir Bob Elliott – Keith Woodford:

When I wrote the book ‘Devil in the Milk’ back in 2007, I introduced Bob Elliott in the very first paragraph. Bob was the Auckland paediatrician who first identified A1 beta-casein from milk as a big risk factor for Type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is the form of the disease that often strikes in childhood and then requires daily insulin injections throughout life.

In the years since then I have often thought that history will in time regard Bob as one of the great heroes of modern medicine. He sowed the seeds on which others have continued to build, with a particular focus on A1 beta casein but with those findings also having relevance to other food-derived opioids. . .

Shearing legend Sir David Fagan shears champion wool handler’s hair for charity :

Shearing legend Sir David Fagan used a crank-powered handpiece to shave former England World championships wool handling representative Natalie Crisp’s head in Te Kuiti on Friday.

This charity event was held during the North Island Speedshear Shearing Championship and is the latest of several fundraising shearing events.

Fagan, who retired from competitive shearing in 2015 with 642 open-class wins, surprised even himself with how clean his job was on the head-shave. . . 

 

Flatulent cows no long on the nose with seaweed solution :

Australian scientists and entrepreneurs have begun rolling out a commercial solution to a major source of greenhouse gases with a seaweed feed to block gassy livestock burps, and promising results offering more than a whiff of global potential.

Two Australian companies, CH4 Global and Sea Forest, are kicking off world-first commercial trials with major dairy and beef companies of a feed supplement they say can enable the livestock to become carbon neutral.

They are using intellectual property licensed to FutureFeed, CSIRO’s commercial venture, for a feed additive made from the native asparagopsis seaweed species, which reduces livestock emissions by more than 80 per cent. . .


Rural round-up

05/01/2021

Cherry crops ruined by rain – Jared Morgan:

Central Otago cherry growers have lost millions of dollars of crop after 36 hours of persistent and heavy rain destroyed yet-to-be-picked fruit.

While damage was still being assessed some growers estimate losses at between 30% and 60% and more rain is forecast.

Growers in Earnscleugh, near Clyde, took advantage of a brief reprieve from the rain yesterday morning to assess the damage to what were bumper crops in a season plagued by concerns about labour shortages.

The area was one of the hardest hit by the rain which began on New Year’s Day and did not let up until about 8.30am yesterday, causing the Fraser River to breach its banks coupled with localised runoff from the hills. . . 

Waitaki District flooding: clean-up underway :

Farmers in the Waitaki District, which was inundated with heavy rain at the weekend, remain in clean-up mode today.

Parts of the region were battered by torrential rain on Saturday, flooding streets and closing roads.

Campers at the Otematata River had to be evacuated as the river threatened to break the flood bank.

Waitaki District Mayor Gary Kircher said it’s been a mixed bag for farmers in the district. . .  

Plea to report farm thefts as high season for crime nears – Lawrence Gullery:

Police and rural leaders are urging those living and working on the land to report crime as the traditional spike in summer theft approaches.

FMG Insurance said its claims data showed January was when thieves set out to steal from rural properties.

And FMG manager advice services Stephen Cantwell said theft was the leading cause of farm contents claims.

“In our experience lower value quad bikes are the most common stolen item on the farm. . . 

New Zealand cheeses could face renaming under EU rules – Dave Gooselink:

There could be some new names on your cheeseboards in summers to come if the European Union gets its way. It wants to stop Kiwi cheesemakers from using names like feta and gorgonzola.

This creamy cheese has been in development at Whitestone for the last two years, using a unique mould strain found in North Otago.

“When we talk about it, it’s like that style of a gorgonzola, but we’re calling it Oamaru blue because it’s here from Oamaru,” says Simon Berry, managing director of Whitestone Cheese and spokesperson for New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association.

Developing unique varieties is set to become more important. The European Union wants to ban other countries from using ‘their’ cheese names in local products. . .

Chops gained with time – Abbey Palmer:

For 15-year-old wood-chopper Jack Richards, it is all about not trying to “run before you can crawl’’.

The Eastern Bush resident was one of the youngest contestants to have a crack at this year’s Tuatapere Sports Day wood-chopping competition, an event he has taken part in for the past four years.

Axemen from across the country made their way to the Southland town yesterday for the annual event on the first day of 2021 to go head to head in the challenge.

When Jack was watching his parents take part in the sport when he was just 11 years old he thought, “why not give it a go?”. . . 

Carter joins Ruralco board – Sudesh Kissun:

Former Agriculture Minister and Banks Peninsula farmer David Carter has been elected to the board of rural trader, Ruralco.

Carter took up his directorship at the co-operative’s annual meeting last month, replacing former chairman Alister Body who stepped down after nine years on the board.

Carter, one of National’s longest serving MPs, retired at the last general elections after serving as a parliamentarian for 26 years and in a number of National governments as a cabinet minister, including Agriculture Minister and Speaker of the House.

He says joining the Ruralco Board is a chance to offer his experience to his first passion—New Zealand agriculture. . . 

UK farming to begin ‘new era’ in 2021, NFU president says

British farming is set to begin a ‘new era’ in 2021 as the UK leaves the Brexit transition period and implements a new agriculture policy for the first time in 70 years.

This is according to NFU President Minette Batters, who said in her new year message that 2020 was a ‘year like no other’ for British food producers.

“While we have all seen significant changes and challenges in the past 12 months, I would like to thank the public for their continued support for British farming and all it delivers; we simply wouldn’t be where we are today without it.”

She added that the successful conclusion of a deal between the UK and EU was a ‘very positive step forward’, and it should ‘provide comfort’ to farmers and the public. . . 


Rural round-up

02/01/2021

Dairy sector pushing for export tariffs removal – Tom Kitchin:

The dairy industry wants export tariffs scrapped as it tries to get the best bang for its buck overseas – and doesn’t think the new post-Brexit trade deal will help.

New Zealand is in the throes of sorting out trade agreements with the UK and the European bloc, after the two sides finally put a deal on the table just days before the deadline.

Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand executive director Kimberly Crewther said Kiwi exporters had battled tariffs as they tried to find their way in the market. This even happened when the UK was part of the EU. . .

Motueka hop growers picking up pieces after hail stripped vines bare

Hop growers in the Motueka area are counting the costs of the area’s freak Boxing Day hail storm, with estimates that more than half the crop has been destroyed on some farms.

The hail storm damaged dozens of businesses in the town, west of Nelson, wiped out up to 100 per cent of some fruit-growers’ crops in Moutere, Motueka and Riwaka, and left a market gardening couple scrambling for cover as a mini-tornado tore up their glasshouse.

The losses have been estimated in the tens of millions of dollars, but the full impact will take time to assess.

Lower Moutere grower Brent McGlashen said his farm, Mac Hops, was one of the five to six hop farms that were hit hardest by the storm. . .

Wakefield farmer carries on tradition of community service – Tim Newman:

For most of his life, Wakefield sheep and beef farmer Colin Gibbs has been making time to lend a hand to help out his local community.

Gibbs has been awarded the Queen’s Service Medal for services to agriculture and the community, after more than 50 years working across various farming, sporting, and community organisations.

The fourth-generation Wakefield farmer has worn many hats over that time, becoming involved with volunteer work soon after leaving school to work on the family farm.

These included roles at the Waimea and Tapawera Dog Trial Clubs, the Nelson A&P Association, the Wakefield Target Shooting Club, and St John’s Church Wakefield. . .

Dairy’s record production in challenging year:

The annual New Zealand Dairy Statistics publication reveals another record year for the dairy sector, with total milksolids production at a record high.

The DairyNZ and Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) statistics show that in the 2019-20 season, New Zealand dairy companies processed 21.1 billion litres of milk containing 1.90 billion kgMS, a 0.6% increase from the previous season.

Average milk production per cow also increased from 381kgMS last season to 385kgMS this season, while the latest count showed that New Zealand has 4.921 million milking cows – a decrease of 0.5% from the previous season. . .

Woodchopping royalty visits – Jared Morgan:

A pact made with her late husband has led axewoman Sheree Taylor to the South to compete on the gruelling Christmas woodchopping circuit for the first time.

The Te Aroha woman made good on that agreement at the Cromwell Town and Country Club on Sunday and the Gore Town and Country Club yesterday, competing for the Rotorua Axeman’s club some two years after the death of her husband, axeman Alastair.

His loss left her considering her future in the sport and her grief was still raw, but somehow she had rallied, she said.

“I’m doing it for him and I’m doing it for me. . .

Clydesdale horse breed faces uncertain future :

IT IS Scotland’s most iconic and distinctive horse, a beast which powered industrial and agricultural revolutions and helped to win the First World War.

Now a plan to save the Clydesdale horse in its homeland has been revealed in a new BBC Scotland feature-length documentary to be shown next week.

The film, Clydesdale: Saving the Greatest Horse, reveals how the breed is entering the “vortex of extinction”.

Once exported from Scotland all over the world, the current small size and relative isolation of the population has impacted on its genetic diversity. . . .


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

12/08/2020

Leading by example – Gerald Piddock:

Being responsible to their land, animals, people and their community has earned a Hawke’s Bay couple the Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award. Gerald Piddock reports.

Being a responsible dairy farmer means more than just being industry role models to Nick and Nicky Dawson.

It involves working beyond the farm bubble in the wider community and nurturing the health of people, the environment and their animals.

“It’s all interconnected,” Nicky says. 

“It’s like a three-legged stool. You can’t have one without the other.” . . 

Time running out for ag contractors as spring approaches – Gerald Piddock:

October is looming as a crunch-month for agricultural contractors and dairy farmers as the scramble continues to find staff to drive machinery to plant summer feed crops and cut grass cut for silage.

Waikato Federated Farmers vice-president Ben Moore said there was huge concern that contractors would not have enough staff on the ground to meet demand from dairy farmers as border restrictions continue to prevent overseas farm machinery operators from entering the country to work this spring and summer.

The region was still recovering from last summer’s drought with feed reserves on many farms already low. 

Moore feared there could be a potential disaster if farmers are unable to get their summer supplementary feed supply organised and there was another very dry summer. . . 

Ag contractor training gearing up – Mark Daniel:

Agricultural contractors are warning about a severe shortage of skilled machinery operators for the upcoming harvest season.

The shortage is due to New Zealand’s closed borders, shutting out staff from overseas. In response, a number of training organisations are offering displaced local workers and jobseekers a basic grounding in the sector.

In the South Island, the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) is promoting its ‘An Introduction to Agricultural Contracting’ course – based at its Telford Campus, near Balclutha. This initiative was the result of SIT’s discussions with Rural Contractors NZ Ltd (RCNZ) and some key players in the contracting sector in Otago and Southland – who all wanted to do something positive to address the need for trained contracting staff. . .

Lake Hawea to host world ploughing championships

The world’s best exponents of the art of ploughing are coming to Lake Hawea, but not for quite a while.

An Upper Clutha group of ploughing enthusiasts announced on Saturday they had secured the 2028 world championships.

That means 60 of the best “ploughmen” from farming communities around world will load up their tractors and ploughs, ship them to New Zealand and carve out furrows across the flat paddocks south of the lake.

Organising committee chairman John Osborne said his committee had spent two years preparing Lake Hawea’s case for the event, “basically trying to prove to the New Zealand executive we have facilities up here to have all these world guys here”. . . 

Industry hunters step up for annual event  – Jared Morgan:

Ask hunters where exactly in Central Otago they shot their haul in the annual Manuherikia Boar, Buck and Stag Hunt and they are unlikely to tell you.

They want to protect their turf and believe the results speak for themselves.

Yesterday marked weigh-in day in the annual three-day fundraiser for the Alexandra Scout Group.

It was heartland rural New Zealand at its best if the atmosphere at the weigh-in and prize-giving was anything to go by. . . 

Matching beef yields and consumer expectations :

ENHANCING the red meat value chain through a greater understanding of efficient use of farm resources, better use of grazing mosaics, and the production of cattle that reach and exceed domestic and export ready standards is the aim of a new four-year partnership for the west.

The University of Western Australia and Meat & Livestock through the MLA Donor Company have joined forces to coordinate and drive an integrated research and practice change program for the West Australian beef Industry.

The partnership, BeefLinks, will provide better knowledge and a range of technologies to support the sustainability credentials of products and interconnectivity between producers, processors and consumers. . . 

 


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