Rural round-up

October 15, 2011

Sights on NZ as dairy nutrition leader – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra can make New Zealand the “dairy nutrition capital of the world”, according to new chief executive Theo Spierings, when speaking just three days into his new job. Spierings was not talking milk volumes at his first news conference, but nutrition knowledge, research, university interactions and product innovation.

“We need to have an ambition to be ahead of the game in dairy nutrition, all of the time,” Spierings said, with typical Dutch determination.

Algae turns greedy for phospohorus from effluent:

MASSEY SCIENTISTS have been granted $745,000 over three years to develop technology of potentially huge benefit to dairying – the removal and recycling of phosphorous from effluent.  

Professor Andy Shilton, School of Engineering and Advanced Technology, and his team have the grant from the Marsden Fund managed by the Royal Society. The fund is designed to allow researchers to do ‘blue sky’, innovative, long term science in particular areas . . .

New look for MAF:

A unified and redesigned MAF will be strongly placed to support the success of New Zealand’s primary sectors, says MAF Director-General Wayne McNee.  

MAF today confirmed the detailed design of the new Ministry following the merger of MAF with the Ministry of Fisheries.

“The new Ministry will be the ‘gateway to government’ for the primary sector, with a clear vision of ‘Growing and Protecting New Zealand’,” McNee says . . .

Board bid brings skills set together – Sally Rae:

John Key inadvertently played a fairly major role in determining Grant Cochrane’s future.   

Although not from a farming family, Mr Cochrane always had an affinity with the land and, from a very early age, had a passion to go farming.   

In 1987, he saw a television programme that featured currency trading and Mr Key – long before the future prime minister had political aspirations – and decided currency trading      would be the quickest route to farm ownership . . .  

Competition hones eye for stock, way with words – Sally Rae:

For young South Canterbury farmer Thomas Gardner,  stock-judging competitions combine valuable public speaking skills with being able to handle stock.   

Mr Gardner (20) was among 13 young people who took part in a      recent junior stock-judging competition in Waimate. . .   

Believe it or not it’s a geep (or a shoat) – Sally Rae:

When Taieri farmer Graeme Wallace brought a mob of ewes    and lambs in for tailing this week, he thought the wool was    being pulled over his eyes.   

      “I thought, ‘What the hell is this? Is it a goat or is it a      lamb? … No, it’s a 50-50’.”   . . .

Zespri says kiwifruit industry will learn to live alonside PSA:

The kiwifruit marketer Zespri says the industry will learn to live alongside PSA.

PSA Innovation’s general manager David Tanner told a kiwifruit conference in Tauranga on Thursday that a programme to produce a new variety of the fruit, which is tolerant or resistant to PSA, has been stepped up.

He says in the short-term, the use of chemicals to protect the vines are buying the industry time . . .

B+LNZ schoalrship takes young Marton farmer to Mexico:

Marton farmer, Richard Morrison, has been awarded the Beef + Lamb New Zealand agricultural scholarship that will take him to the Five Nations Beef Alliance and Young Ranchers Programme being held in Mexico later this month.

Richard (32), was selected from a strong line-up of candidates vying for the chance to represent and promote New Zealand beef, as well as helping to foster international relations within the beef industry.

Rural sales volumes continue rising steadily:

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were 93 more sales (+56.7%) for the three months ended September 2011 than for the three months ended September 2010.  Overall, there were 257 farm sales in the three months to end of September 2011 compared with 164 sales in the three months to September 2010.  The number of sales fell by eight (-3.0%) in the three months to September 2011 compared to the three months ended August 2011.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to September 2011 was $17,694 compared to $15,148 in the three months to August 2011 and $17,447 for the three months to September 2010. 

Farenheit 212 turns up heat for NZ wool – Peter Kerr:

The guys who presented some new wool innovation ideas last week in Christchurch and Auckland are an interesting bunch, with an extremely interesting business model. (More, generally, about some of these wool ideas in another blog – all participants have signed a non-disclosure-agreement).

Fahrenheit 212, formed by New Zealander Geoff Vuleta five years ago in New York, is the only company of its kind in the world he reckons. Sure, there’s many product development firms, coming up with new ideas for corporate clients . . .

Farms are getting bigger across Europe Paul at Business Blog:

The number of agricultural holdings across Europe fell by one fifth between 2003 and 2010, as the average size continued to increase, European Commission figures have revealed.

In 2010 there were just over 12m agricultural holdings in the EU-27, and a farmed area of 170m ha. While the number of holdings was down 20% on 2003, the area was just 2% lower, meaning the average size increased from 12ha to 14ha. . .

Farmers stressed by environmental rules:

A study into the health of dairy farmers shows environmental rules from regional councils, including those on water management, are a common cause of stress.

In the first year of a seven-year programme, AgResearch interviewed 500 dairy farmers to identify their main health issues.

It found 17% had experienced depression or anxiety and half did not seek help when they needed it.

IrrigationNZ rewards initiative:

Innovation, discovery and achievement making a positive contribution to irrigation and efficient water management are set to be rewarded by the industry’s national body.

Irrigation New Zealand, in association with Aqualinc, will open nominations this month for the second biennial “Innovation in Irrigation’award.

The award is an opportunity for the industry to showcase innovation, and IrrigationNZ’s way to recognise new invention, ideas, systems, or gadgets that are constantly coming out of the irrigation sector.  The award celebrates, encourages and promotes innovation and the benefit and impact irrigation provides to communities right throughout New Zealand . . .

Basking in the rising sun: unlocking our primary potential – William Rolleston:

It is my pleasure to speak to you on research priorities for agriculture and horticulture.

Before I begin to outline some thoughts that will be challenging at times, I first wish to make comment to you on the research priorities according to New Zealander of the year, Sir Paul Callaghan.  I quote:

We are brilliantly successful at dairying, but sadly we cannot scale up this industry because of the risk of further environmental damage.”

What’s more, apparently, “our dairy industry exports milk powder, rather than developing new products. Our forestry industries send raw logs offshore and despite the past capacity to invest in processing, have shown no inclination to do so”

So there you have it.

We can all pack our bags, go back to our offices, send dismissal notices to our staff and report to Ministers, the scientific community and the public, that biologically, we are as good as we can ever possibly be . . .

Farm manager winner takes next step:

The 2011 New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year, Jason Halford, is now the proud owner of his own herd, sharemilking 280 cows at Opiki, Horowhenua.

“I was ready for the next step and I think sharemilking is a great sector to be in and owning cows is a big positive.”

Mr Halford is co-ordinating the 2012 dairy trainee of the year contest for the Manawatu Rangitikei Horowhenua regional competition, one of 12 regional competitions held nationwide by the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards . . .

Shaping the dairy cow of the future:

Dairy farmers get a chance to shape the cow of the future at a national road show over the next month.

The 20 events from Kaitaia to Invercargill are for farmers to give feedback on the National Breeding Objective.

The dairy cow is the engine of the New Zealand dairy industry, with 4.4 million cows producing more than 1.4 billion kilograms of milksolids every year. The National Breeding Objective is to identify animals whose progeny will be the most efficient converters of feed into farmer profit, otherwise known as Breeding Worth (BW). . .

Fertiliser industry environmental initiatives:

The Fertiliser Quality Council (FQC) is pleased that the fertiliser industry is investing considerable amounts on research to lower our environmental footprint. It will be great for farmers and the environment.

The FQC congratulates Ballance Agri-Nutrients and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s Primary Growth Partnership for committing $32 million to support the research.

“At a time when margins are suffering, anything that will reduce a farmer’s inputs has to be good,” FQC chair, Neil Barton said. “In addition anything that we can do to preserve the environment is vital . . .


Celebrating winners counters tall poppy syndrome

July 3, 2011

Fonterra CEO Andrew Ferrier is Federated Farmers Agribusiness Person of the Year.

This is fair recognition of the work he has done in the nearly eight years he’s led the company.

Agri-Personality of the Year  was awarded to John Hartnell and the Farmy Army.

John Hartnell was nominated to recognise his leadership of the ‘Farmy-Army’, which assisted Christchurch’s earthquake recovery from February of this year and again in June.

John was prepared to lead the Federation’s efforts to help the people of urban Christchurch in the recovery phase of the earthquake’s aftermath. In taking on the role as Federated Farmers Earthquake Spokesperson the morning after the earthquake, John worked closely with Civil Defence to understand the immediate needs of Christchurch residents and to identify assistance that would fit with the abilities and enthusiasm of our farmer members.

Over the next two days, John worked closely with a core group of Federated Farmers members to assemble a volunteer group and a base at the A+P Showgrounds. This included a team of support staff, team leaders and cooks. Sponsors were very keen to help in tangible ways, including cash donations, equipment, food and drinks.

The media were inspired by the actions of Federated Farmers and thus, the ‘Farmy Army’ was born.

We all know the efforts and achievements in the four weeks of help given to Christchurch and now, a further week jointly with the Student Volunteer Army.

What has amazed many, are the number of Christchurch people who, upon learning you are a farmer, very quickly and without prompting say, “are you part of the Farmy Army? What a magnificent job”, or “they arrived an cleared my elderly neighbour’s section” and “they cleaned up my driveway when I was away working”, “They were a Godsend”

The actions of the Farmy Army did a tremendous job in breaking down the rural-urban divide with compassion and caring shown by country people; something not so often seen in big cities today.

Most certainly John was assisted by a large team, but his leadership, inspiration and dedication to that team was a pivotal part of the success of the Farmy Army. John’s trademark “hand on the shoulder” is his most genuine was of saying “Thanks, your help is most appreciated”.

Mr Hartnell played tribute in his acceptance to Murray Rowlands, North Canterbury Grain & Seed chairperson, for his leadership during last year’s Canterbury earthquake. Overall, John Hartnell, Commander in Chief of the Farmy Army, is a deserved winner of the 2011 Agri-Personality of the Year on behalf of everyone who volunteered in the Farmy Army.

 Federated Farmers Cream of the Crop awards recognise those who have won various national awards over the past twelve months went to:

New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Sharemilker / Equity Farmers of the Year – Jason & Lisa Suisted

New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Sharemilker / Equity Farmers of the Year Federated Farmers Leadership Award – Richard and Joanna Greaves

New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Farm Manager of the Year -Jason Halford

New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Dairy Trainee of the Year – Ben Smith

Rural Women New Zealand Enterprising Rural Women Supreme Awards – Lisa Harper

Ahuwhenua Trophy BNZ Māori Excellence in Farming Award – Waipapa 9 Trust (Dawson Haa, Chairman)

NZ Young Farmers National Bank Young Farmer of the Year 2010 – Grant McNaughton

New Zealand Farm Environment Award Trust Ballance Farm Environment Award – Grant and Bernadette Weller.

One way to counter the tall poppy syndrome  is to celebrate winners and this initiative by Federated Farmers does that well.


Rural round-up

May 29, 2011

Photovoltaic energy neutral grass based dairy farms – Pasture to Profit writes:

Two grass based dairy farmers in the Pasture to Profit Network(one in Herefordshire & the other in Brittany, France) have or are about to achieve “Energy Neutral” status (with regard to electricity use on farm). Both have installed solar panels on their farm shed roofs. http://www.solon.com/global/
Energy neutral status is where 100% of the energy that is consumed is actually generated by the farmer user. . .

Lancashire biogas plant is go – Paul at Business Blog writes:

A £3m farm-based anaerobic digestion plant in Lancashire has been officially “switched on”.

The Carr Farm plant, near Warton, will produce biogas from silage and energy crops grown on surrounding land to generate 800kW of electricity, enough to power more than 1,000 homes. . .

2010 kiwifruit season lifts return to growers:

A strong 2010 kiwifruit season has lifted total payments to growers above season forecasts, with a particular highlight being a significant boost in returns to GREEN kiwifruit growers over the 2009 season, ZESPRI’s 2010/11 financial results show.

Total returns to growers in 2010/11 improved from $849.0 million to $883.3 million compared to the prior year, an increase of four percent, with average Orchard Gate Returns to ZESPRI GREEN growers increasing nine percent to $32,234.

Net global kiwifruit sales increased one percent to $1.511 billion in 2010/11, despite the global volume of ZESPRI(r) Kiwifruit sold falling one percent in the same period. . .

Daily grind taking for the dairy farmer

The alarm clock shrills. It’s half- past-bloody-four and another farming day is under way.

At least it’s not raining, but he still needs the Swanndri. It’s cold. And actually the farm could do with some rain. Too dry; too wet. Seldom just right.

It’s a long haul to the shed from this night paddock. Always a toss-up whether to go for the best feed overnight and accept extra distance and time required in the morning.

He pressures the tailenders with the farm bike and acknowledges there are times when a dog might come in handy. The heifers at the back of the mob are playing up a bit, skirmishing across the track, head-butted by a few dominant older girls in the herd.

The lights in the shed snap on, a startling line of illumination ahead in the rural darkness, so Toni will be washing down the concrete, getting organised. . .

Hat tip: Lou at No  Minister (The comments on his post make interesting reading too).

Payout good for NZ – Sally Rae writes:

“It’s a great time to be a farmer.” South Otago farmer Stafford Ferguson was responding yesterday to Fonterra’s announcement of a record payout for the season.

Describing the news as very positive, Mr Ferguson said it was a good time to pay debt back, while the forecast third-highest payout on record for next season “just eases pressure” looking forward a year out . . .

Win from Wheelchiar special – Sally Rae again:

Grant Calder pulls no punches when he says “life in a wheelchair is a bit of a s … “.

However, he hopes his remarkable success at the recent South Island sheep dog trial championships will send a message to disabled people that “it’s not the end of the world”. . .

Find true quality? The scan man can –  more form Sally Rae:

Peter Clulee is enjoying a well-deserved break.

Mr Clulee, who operates Otago Ultrasound, doing both eye muscle and pregnancy scans on sheep, has had a hectic few months.

Since the end of January, he has been travelling the South Island doing muscle scanning, working as far north as Blenheim and right down to Southland. . .

Sir Michael Fay still milking it – Bevan Hurley writes:

Sir Michael Fay, one of the country’s richest men, has swapped the bank for the barnyard and bought a $9.2 million slice of New Zealand’s dairy heartland.

The investment banker and island owner now lists “farmer” as his occupation when filling out immigration forms. . .

Strawbwerry pav pigues US media interest

 

Luxury Queenstown hotelier The Rees and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise have showcased the country’s fine wine and cuisine at US culinary institution The James Beard Foundation, described by Time magazine as the “Oscars of the food world”.

 

The event, dubbed “Flavors of New Zealand”, was hosted by New Zealand’s consul general in New York, and included a themed luncheon followed by an evening banquet featuring handpicked ingredients from 14 producers, matched with wine varieties from eight vineyards represented by Complexity Fine Wine Group. . .

An insatiable thirst for knowledge

Each day, as he goes around the dairy farm he manages, checking on the health and welfare of his human and animal friends and the land they share, Jason Halford carries with him two other dairy farmers.

“Geoff Arends is on my left shoulder and Bruce McCluskey is on my right,” he says. “I look at each situation and think what they would do. One day I’m Geoff, another I’m Bruce.”

They are the farmers who have influenced him most in the 17 years since he left school at 16 to go into dairying. . .

 


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