Rural round-up

25/10/2020

Precision tech helps farmer get it right :

Mid-Canterbury arable and dairy farmer Craige Mackenzie’s philosophy is right input, right quantity, right place, right time — which makes sense for his business and for the land, waterways and climate.

Conditions often aren’t in his favour, but precision technology is helping to even the odds.

Getting to grips with highly variable weather and soil quality is a constant challenge on Craige Mackenzie’s cropping and dairy farm, near Methven, in Mid-Canterbury.

However, precision technology is proving a powerful ally.  . . 

Federated Farmers query references to indigenous fish in plan change – Matthew Littlewood:

Federated Farmers has asked that a wide-ranging plan change setting water use rules for South Canterbury remove all references to the protection of “indigenous fish”.

Environment Canterbury’s Proposed Plan Change 7 (PC7), which sets the limits for water quality, with particular focus on the Orari-Temuka-Opihi-Pareora (Otop) catchment, is now going through the hearings process.

The proposed plan has received 560 submissions.

At the hearings held at the Grosvenor Hotel in Timaru, on Tuesday, the farming lobby group addressed many of the proposed rules and regulations of PC7, with speakers to the submission including Federated Farmers’ South Canterbury president Jason Grant, past provincial president Ivon Hurst, farmer Peter Bonifacio and senior policy advisor Dr Lionel Hume. . . 

Sustainable approach helps boost productivity :

An East Coast farm is enjoying a dramatic increase in productivity, despite retiring 10% of the land – proving that farming sustainably doesn’t have to come at an economic cost.

Since 2015 when they started managing Puketitiri sheep and beef farm Taramoa – located midway between Taupo and Hastings – Dan and Billie Herries have continued the previous managers’ devotion to enhancing its biodiversity. 

Their hard work was recognised with a suite of awards in the 2020 East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

More than 20,000 native plants have been planted, all waterways have been fenced and a comprehensive predator trapping network now covers the whole property. . . 

‘Phenomenal’ restoration of Milford Track for summer hiking – Tess Brunton:

Crews in remote Fiordland have been working hard to restore the Milford Track against a looming deadline.

The Great Walk was badly damaged when a metre of rain fell in less than three days in early February, causing widespread flooding, landslips and stranding hundreds of people.

In May, $13.7 million was earmarked to help the Department of Conservation (DOC) repair flood damaged tracks and other infrastructure.

DOC has set its sights on reopening the Milford Track this summer with all places booked out within an hour of bookings opening. . . 

Waikato Milking Systems enters domestic and international small ruminants industry:

A leading developer and manufacturer of dairy technology is moving to help New Zealand farmers switch over to the emerging dairy sheep and dairy goat industries.

Waikato Milking Systems recently commissioned three small ruminant milking parlours in the central North Island to farmers who are among the first independent commercial suppliers of goat and sheep milk in the country.

It included a 40-bail inline rapid exit sheep milking plant for Green Park Sheep near Te Awamutu, a 40-bail inline rapid exit for Schuler Brothers at Te Aroha and an internal 70-bail sheep rotary plant installed for Browne Pastoral near Cambridge. . . 

Plant pathologist Pamela Ronald Named GCHERA World Agriculture Prize Laureate award Recognizes exceptional lifetime achievement in agriculture – Amy Quinton:

Pamela Ronald, distinguished professor in the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of California, Davis, and with the UC Davis Genome Center, has been named a 2020 World Agriculture Prize laureate by the Global Confederation of Higher Education Associations for Agricultural and Life Sciences, or GCHERA. She becomes the first woman whose work is recognized by the award.

“This award is a really special honor and I’m very grateful,” said Ronald. “I’m happy to be part of a global community of agricultural scientists that has been able to make a huge difference in the lives of farmers.”

The award ceremony will be virtually held at 5 p.m. on Nov. 30 from Nanjing Agricultural University, Jiangsu Province, China. GCHERA also jointly named Professor Zhang Fusuo of China Agricultural University a laureate this year. . . 


Rural round-up

03/09/2020

A classic example of the disconnect from farming:

The new “National Environmental Standards for Freshwater” which were introduced by the current government in August are to be amended. The Minister for Agriculture Damien O’Connor announced Wednesday that cabinet had agreed the winter grazing regulations weren’t practical. This announcement comes before the new regulations have even taken effect; they actually come into force in September.

Federated Farmers aren’t convinced the changes to the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater, announced Wednesday, will make much difference for Southland and Otago farmers.

Southland Federated Farmers vice-president Bernadette Hunt welcomed the amendments and Government’s acknowledgement that the policy was flawed, but said the changes still didn’t address the unique challenges farmers in the south faced, with its wetter than average winters. . .

Freshwater regs will stall progress add costs on Canterbury:

The new National Environment Standard (NES) for Freshwater could derail the progress already made on improving water quality in Canterbury, Federated Farmers presidents say.

“The new regulations coming in over the top of what Environment Canterbury already has in place will waste farmers’ time and ratepayers’ money,” says Federated Farmers North Canterbury president Cam Henderson, who was also speaking on behalf of David Clark (Mid Canterbury), Jason Grant (South Canterbury) and Jared Ross (North Otago).

The new NES rules include limits on land use intensification, set controls on intensive winter grazing, and limits the use of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser. Federated Farmers has been consistently raising issues with the workability of the regulations. The organisation’s Southland province went as far as calling for a boycott on consents related to winter grazing. . . 

Land girls kept farms running – Sally Rae:

They were the women who kept the country running. Yet members of the New Zealand Women’s Land Service were largely the unsung heroes of World War 2 – until now.

Those women who worked on the land while men went to war will be honoured in rural South Canterbury, thanks to the efforts of former land girl Sadie Lietze (97), of Alexandra, and Fiona, Lady Elworthy, of Timaru.

A plaque and seat will be unveiled on October 18 in a park and walkway established by Lady Elworthy at Maungati in memory of her late husband, Sir Peter Elworthy.

Mrs Lietze, who was 19 when she was dispatched from Dunedin to help out at Tara Hills, near Omarama, said many people in modern times would not have heard of the organisation. . . 

Wagyu calves pricey but worth it – Annette Scott:

Wagyu cattle are treated like first-class citizens with the best of everything on Rockburn farm and they are appropriately rewarding their farmers Evan and Clare Chapman for their preferential treatment. Annette Scott reports.

Evan and Clare Chapman of Rockburn Farming in South Canterbury have produced one of the biggest Wagyu steers ever seen in New Zealand.

The Chapmans turned to Wagyu cattle just three years ago and have routinely produced 800 kg-plus cattle, but the massive 946kg steer processed this month has put the farm in the First Light record book.

In October last year, the Chapmans marked a century of farming on the rolling downs of Rockburn, near Geraldine. . . 

PWC, WONZ to merge – Annette Scott:

Two key wool grower organisations are planning a merge of operations to deliver better financial results for farmers.

Wools of New Zealand (WONZ) and Primary Wool Co-operative (PWC) have committed to work together with formal discussions under way on how to combine operations in a way that will rejuvenate NZ’s languishing strong wool sector.

WONZ chair James Parsons said the wool industry must collaborate to get a better financial result for farmers.

He said bringing together two like-minded grower organisations will be an important first step in rejuvenating the current dire economic plight of wool. . . 

Pāmu performs solidly despite Covid overhang; declares strong operating profit and dividend:

Landcorp Farming Limited (Pāmu) has delivered a strong performance for the year ended 30 June 2020, achieving EBITDAR of $65 Million.

EBITDAR is Pāmu’s principal measure of performance, and this year’s result was 91% above the figure achieved in the previous year. The company’s revenue of $251 Million was a $10 Million improvement over 2019, driven by increased milk and livestock revenue.

Chairman Warren Parker and Chief Executive Steven Carden said the result was very pleasing given the unique circumstances posed by Covid-19 and the worst drought conditions in Northland in half a century. . . 

Are sheep getting too big for shearers? – Joely Mitchell:

There is a growing chorus coming from the Australian shearing industry that wool growers’ push to increase the size of their sheep is making them too big for shearers.

And it’s making the industry a less appealing option for those considering a career in it, which could cause problems down the track in regards to the future availability of shearers.

Phil Rourke has been a shearer for over 30 years and currently works for a contracting business in north-east Victoria. . . 


Rural round-up

09/06/2019

A recipe for disaster:

That old saying about not being able to see the wood for the trees could well describe the government’s infatuation with forestry at the expense of farming.

Objections are growing stronger in rural New Zealand to the impact the ‘one billion trees’ programme will have on the regions’ farming landscapes, infrastructure and communities. Concern is such that a new lobby group has formed, wanting to preserve the economy, health and welfare of the NZ provinces.

Named 50 Shades of Green, it aims to convince politicians and decisionmakers that the current push to plant a billion trees will destroy the provinces and ultimately may endanger the national economy. . . 

DIRA review nibbles at the status quo and avoids the big questions – Keith Woodford:

The current review of the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act (DIRA) does not address the big decisions that face the New Zealand dairy industry. That may well be a wise decision by Government.

Big decisions will indeed be necessary over the coming years. Clearly, they are difficult decisions. However, trying to make those decisions through the DIRA mechanism would be a brave decision and, in all likelihood, with unintended consequences. So, the Government has stepped back.

Instead, Government is using DIRA to nibble around the edges.  Whether those nibbles are the correct nibbles remains a moot point. . . 

Rural real estate feeling the pinch in South Canterbury – Samesh Mohanlall:

Parts of the rural real estate market are struggling in Canterbury and South Canterbury with key industry figures saying they are concerned about the effect of compliance regulations, anti-farming rhetoric and Environment Canterbury’s (ECan) climate emergency declaration.

South Canterbury’s Federated Farmers president Jason Grant and rural estate agents say much of the gloomy projection in the latest Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (Reinz) rural report stemmed from environmental constraints and negative sentiments “coming out around farming”.  . .

Carbon farms help soil, water – Annette Scott:

Carbon farming is about managing soil, vegetation, water and animals while turning opportunities on the farm into improved business performance and profitability.

All while ensuring long-term benefits to farm businesses, the local economy and the environment.

That was the buy-in for more than 60 farmers and industry stakeholders who attended a Canterbury Agribusiness carbon farming seminar.

Most attendees when asked why they attended said the same – to understand something that’s all a bit new and learn what opportunities are available to them. . . 

Nelson mums find solution for skin condition in the paddock – Anuja Nadkarni:

It all started with some flowers planted in a paddock.

Dot Kettle and her partner Georgia Richards traded in their fast-paced corporate lives in Wellington for a more relaxed life to raise their three boys in Dove Valley, 45 minutes from Nelson more than 10 years ago.

Kettle, a lawyer, and IT analyst Richards knew next to nothing about farming, but with 42 hectares of land, the couple decided to plant a field of peonies for export as they are the ideal blooms for Nelson’s climate. . . 

Dodgy fert size to get shake-up – Richard Rennie:

Lumpy, uneven and irregular fertiliser, long the bane of farmers and spreaders, will face tighter scrutiny once the Fertiliser Quality Council establishes standards for the product’s physical qualities.

While standards have been set for the mineral and nutrient content of fertiliser, council chairman Anders Crofoot admits it has taken longer than expected to set them for particle shape and size.

“Setting the chemical standard for fertilisers was fine and has worked well for a long time. . .

 


Rural round-up

03/08/2018

Trump farm policy is pure socialism – Liam Dann:

How embarrassing for US farmers. How embarrassing for Republican believers in small government.

Donald Trump’s administration this week unveiled US$12 billion worth of farm subsidies.

In doing so it took a bold leap back to the days of socialist inefficiency that New Zealand has pushed back against for more than 30 years. . .

Feds: unfair to short-change South Canterbury on representation:

As Environment Canterbury’s largest constituency by far, covering an area with significant water quality and quantity issues, South Canterbury should not be short-changed on its number of councillors, Federated Farmers says.

South Canterbury deserves to be represented around the ECan table by two councillors not just one, the three Canterbury provinces of Federated Farmers have said in submissions on the ECan representation proposal.

“At more than 18,000 square kilometres, the South Canterbury is one third again the size of the two other rural constituencies,” Federated Farmers South Canterbury President Jason Grant says. . .

High calibre candidates for High Country Advisory Group

The Chief Executive of Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) today announced the members of the new South Island High Country Advisory Group.

Andrew Crisp says he was delighted with the number of applications and was pleased at the value so many people saw in working together with government through the group.

“In just four weeks we had 33 applications, demonstrating how passionately people feel about this iconic area,” says Mr Crisp. . .

Warning over potentially infectious bacteria carried by cattle – Katie Doyle:

Taranaki District Health Board is urging rural communities to be on the alert for bacteria carried in by cattle that can be passed on to humans.

Verotoxin-producing E coli is a bacteria carried in the intestines of cattle, which when passed onto children can cause severe gastroenteritis.

DHB medical officer of health Jonathan Jarman said children on farms were at a high risk of catching the disease, with nearly half of cases ending up in hospital. . . 

Sustainability attributes set to play increasing role in Chinese food choices – NZ hort industry informed:

New Zealand’s horticultural sector will need to keep a close eye on the role sustainability attributes play in the purchasing decisions of Chinese consumers if it is to maximise returns from the rapidly-growing Chinese fruit and vegetable market, according to Rabobank’s senior horticultural analyst Hayden Higgins.

Speaking at the Horticulture New Zealand Conference in Christchurch last week, Mr Higgins said, while food safety, quality and nutrition credentials were currently the most significant factors influencing Chinese consumers’ food purchasing decisions, awareness of other product characteristics, including sustainability attributes, such as water usage and emissions, was growing. . .

 

OIO approves land sale near Arthur’s Pass to Czech businessman

The Overseas Investment Office has approved the sale of more than 40,000 hectares of South Island high country land to a Czech businessman, Lukas Travnicek, who has permanent New Zealand residence.

The land in question is Mount White Station, a 120-year-old sheep and beef station near Arthur’s Pass.

It includes 39,337 hectares of Crown pastoral lease and 678 hectares of freehold land in Bealey. . .

Craggy Range Vineyards gets green light to expand from OIO – Rebecca Howard:

(BusinessDesk) – Craggy Range Vineyards has been given a green light to buy 132 hectares of land in the Wairarapa for $3.6 million.

The purchase will let the Australian-owned company expand its existing Martinborough vineyard, which is about a kilometre away, the Overseas Investment Office said. . .

Onerahi forest garden celebrates three years of feeding the community :

It started out as a messy bit of land behind Whangārei Airport.

Now the Wai Ariki Food Forest Onerahi-rahi, on the corner of Whimp Ave and Church St, Onerahi, has celebrated its third birthday after countless volunteer hours has it producing fruit and veges for the community.

Wendy Giffin, from the forest garden, said Saturday’s birthday celebrations were an indication of how far the garden has come in the three years since it started as a community vision. . .

Lewis Road cuts plastic production for milk bottles:

Premium dairy brand Lewis Road Creamery has announced it will move to recycled (rPET) bottles for its milk range from the end of August as part of its commitment to the New Zealand Packaging Declaration, committing to 100 percent of its packaging being recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025 or earlier.

Lewis Road is the first milk producer in the country to change to rPET bottles which are made from entirely recycled plastic. This means no new plastic is created to produce the bottles, which can then be continuously recycled. . .

 

To feed the world sustainably, repair the soil – David R. Montgomery:

New technologies and genetically modified crops are usually invoked as the key to feeding the world’s growing population. But a widely overlooked opportunity lies in reversing the soil degradation that has already taken something like a third of global farmland out of production. Simple changes in conventional farming practices offer opportunities to advance humanity’s most neglected natural infrastructure project—returning health to the soil that grows our food.

It is critical we do so. In 2015, a U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization report concluded that ongoing soil degradation reduces global harvests by a third of a percent each year under conventional farming practices. In some parts of the U.S. I’ve visited, the rich black topsoil that settlers once plowed is gone, eroded away leaving farmers tilling anemic subsoil. . .


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