Rural round-up

August 6, 2019

We’re on board but don’t kill the cash cow – Dr TIm Mackle:

Dairy farmers in New Zealand are world leading producers of low emissions milk, writes Tim Mackle, chief executive of DairyNZ.

We have a reputation for sustainability and we want to keep it that way. While we are committed to playing our part in the transition to a low emissions economy – alongside the rest of NZ – it must be done fairly and consider the science as well as the economic impacts.

There is more in the Zero Carbon Bill that we agree with than we disagree with, but we have serious reservations about the Government’s proposed 2050 methane reduction target of 24 – 47%.  . . 

Don’t sacrifice science for ideology – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Contrary to recent suggestions in the media, there is very little credible research supporting the success of homeopathic treatment of mastitis in dairy cows.

In fact, reviews published recently covering research since 1970 concluded that ‘homeopathic treatments are not efficient for management of clinical mastitis’. A second review covering research since 1981 concluded that ‘the use of homeopathy currently cannot claim to have sufficient prognostic validity where efficacy is concerned’. 

In plain English, if you want to cure your cow, use the antibiotics which have been the subject of rigorous research and been shown to reduce infection. And, of course, suffering. . . 

DairyNZ director Ben Allomes calls it a day :

DairyNZ director Ben Allomes will step down from the industry good body’s board this October.

One of DairyNZ’s Board of Directors for eight years, Mr Allomes was elected by dairy farmer levy payers in 2011, as one of five farmer-elected directors. Since then, the Woodville-based dairy farmer has played a key role contributing to the governance of DairyNZ and provided key support around a range issues, in particular around people and talent.

DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel credits Ben for his contribution to the board and his tireless advocacy for dairy farmers. . . 

The Innovative farmer: Generating innovation through a farmer and grower-led system of innovation – Matt Hocken:

Executive Summary

The genesis for my Nuffield Scholarship research was a sense that farmers and growers have a number of significant challenges or problems, both on-farm and off that have not been solved, or we are struggling to solve. As we milk, shear, tend and harvest, thousands of farmer and grower-minds around the country turn to these problems and to the dreams we have for the future. We think about our immediate problems, like how much grass have I got to feed my animals, or do I have a water leak?

We think about system problems, like how will I reduce my nutrient use, or what is my environmental footprint? We think about the tough problems like changing consumer preferences, or heightened society expectations and how can we reconcile these. Collectively we think and dream of a hundred thousand ideas. At the moment very little happens with many of these ideas. I want to change that. . .

Food chandeliers highlight grower’s gathering – Gerald Piddock:

Grabbing the low hanging fruit took on a new meaning at Horticulture New Zealand’s annual conference at Mystery Creek.

Decorating the main conference are four chandeliers covered with fruit and vegetables, providing a colourful reminder to growers of their contribution to feeding the New Zealanders.

The chandeliers – each weighing an estimated 200-500kg – contained 250-300 pieces of fruit or vegetables held together by cable ties or hooks similar to those used by butchers to keep the produce in place. . . 

‘Environmental misinformation is damaging British beef market’, Yorkshire farming leader says – Ben Barnett:

Inaccurate portrayals of livestock’s environmental role risk turning off shoppers from buying red meat at a time when British beef offers the best value for money, a farming leader has warned.

Amid the lowest farmgate prices for beef cattle in years due to a market oversupply, some retailers are offering price promotions on premium cuts.

Nonetheless, North Yorkshire farmer Richard Findlay said a culture of misinformation about the impact of livestock on the environment means consumers could spurn the chance to support British beef at a critical time for farm businesses. . . 


Rural round-up

March 31, 2019

We cannot take food supply for granted – Neal Wallace:

News the Government will protect elite soils is welcome but by no means signals the resolution of broader challenges facing land use and the productive sector.

Land Squeeze Dinkus 1As reported in Farmers Weekly’s Land Squeeze series, the Ministry for the Environment has started the process of preparing a national policy statement for high-value soils, which will be finalised after consultation later this year.

That protection is needed because urban sprawl and lifestyle blocks swallow up to 100,000 hectares a year including Auckland paving 10,500 hectares of high-quality soil in the last 35 years.

Domestic food demand will only increase as New Zealand’s population is expected to hit five million in 2020 and 5.5m in 2025 while demand will also rise from an ever-expanding global population. . . 

Spud family name’s on the packet – Tim Fulton:

James Bowan grows potatoes for a nationwide paddock-to-packet potato chip brand.  Nearly a decade after the business started he’s still happiest in the paddock. Tim Fulton reports.

The Bowan family farms more than 600ha at Orari in South Canterbury. Down the road at industrial Washdyke, in the slipstream of Timaru, the family also runs the Heartland chips processing plant.

Fallgate Farm includes 250-odd hectares of spuds, 320ha of combinable cereals,150ha of grass seed and a few other bits and pieces, especially seeds.

It adds up to a lot of business from farm to shop shelf but James isn’t bothered with the trappings of corporate hierarchy. . . 

Action groups following different paths – Sally Rae:

More than 900 farmers have signed up to the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) Action Network to help make their farming businesses more productive and profitable.

Each of the Action Groups involved chose a different pathway in the search for solutions to the challenges they faced.

Four action groups in the Milton and Lawrence districts had a lot in common, both in their origins and their goals.

They grew out of two large discussion groups of sheep and beef farmers running in these areas for several years before the RMPP programme kicked into action.

The common link between all four was Simon Glennie, a sheep, beef and deer farming consultant with AbacusBio. . . 

Fonterra’s new management team gives hope – Sudesh Kissun:

Waikato Federated Farmers president Andrew McGiven is happy to see Fonterra back in the black.

He hopes that changes heralded by the new management team signal the start of “some green shoots” for the co-op.

“As a Fonterra farmer I am happy to see that they have posted a net profit and I am happy with some of the rhetoric from board and management about the consolidation of the business,” he told Dairy News. . . 

Support for biosecurity levy:

A big majority of 1794 submissions received by DairyNZ on the biosecurity response levy were supportive.

Sixty-one percent of submissions from farmers backed DairyNZ managing the levy on their behalf and raising the maximum cap to 3.9 cents/kgMS. That totalled 1088 supportive submissions and 706 against.

“We appreciated the candid conversations and the opportunity to discuss not just the proposed levy, but also DairyNZ more widely,” DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says in a letter to farmers. . . 

Win proves area’s wine can age well: manager:

Wild Earth Wines’ success at the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards earlier this month proves Central Otago wines can age gracefully, marketing and sales manager Elbert Jolink says.

The boutique winery in Cromwell won the Best Pinot Noir trophy of the show during the formal awards dinner in Auckland on March 9.

Mount Pisa winery Ata Mara won both a gold medal and the Red Badge Security Champion Riesling trophy for its Central Otago 2018 Riesling. . . 

 


Rural round-up

December 27, 2018

Leave the water rules to locals – Neal wallace:

When water arrived in Maniototo 34 years ago it not only transformed the region’s dryland farms but also Geoff Crutchley’s views on water management.

Crutchley was initially reluctant to become involved in the murky world of water and irrigation management but was prodded into action in response to what he considered inflated water prices being demanded by the precursor to the Maniototo Irrigation Company.

So began an involvement that continues today but which has challenged some of his previous views while shaping others.

His experience has formed views on three issues in particular. . . 

Wilding pine effort set to triple – Jono Edwards:

The attack effort on Otago’s wilding pines seems set to treble.

Over the past year, $1.8 million was spent controlling 332,000ha in the region through the Ministry of Primary Industry-led wilding conifer control programme.

At a recent Otago Regional Council meeting, chief executive Sarah Gardner said she was told by ministry staff the work would soon triple.

This was echoed by the Central Otago Wilding Conifer Control Group.

Ministry Wilding Conifer Programme manager Sherman Smith said phase one was 85% complete and planning for the second phase was under way. . . 

Improving farm performance – one effluent pond at a time – Jim van der Poel:

As a dairy farmer, I take great pride in looking after my farm – its animals, the grass under their feet, our team and how we protect the environment. Every aspect contributes to a successful business.

So, like many farmers, I am disappointed when a few let down the majority. There have been some instances this year of poor effluent compliance, despite many farmers doing great work in this space.

All dairy farmers have a responsibility to manage the effluent from their cows and it is taken seriously by the vast majority who are investing in reliable, sustainable farm systems. . . 

Ex-director suggests Fonterra suspends dividends – Sudesh Kissun:

A former Fonterra director says the co-op could suspend dividends to shore up its balance sheet rather than sell key assets.

Greg Gent says farmers and investors would understand if the co-op suspended dividends to get its books in better shape. And it could suspend dividends and sell some assets that don’t align with its new strategy.

However, he wants to see the co-op’s strategy before decisions are made on selling assets. . . 

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of 2018 – Jamie Mackay:

The Country radio host Jamie Mackay takes a look at the highs and lows for rural New Zealand in 2018.

The Good:

The weather:

This time last year much of the country was in a screaming drought – a farmer’s worst nightmare. Although Mother Nature absolutely forgot to turn the tap off in November and early December, at least once we dry out there will be grass for Africa and for more than quite a few sheep, cattle and deer.

Mycoplasma bovis:

Twelve months ago many were resigned to living and farming with bovis. If a week’s a long time in politics, a year is an eternity in farming. I wouldn’t be so bold as to suggest bovis is beaten but we’ve given it a hell of fright in 2018. . . 

Bird veteran still has pluck – Alan Williams:

The glamorous part of the year is over for long-time poultry exhibitor Doug Bain.

After several months of winter and spring shows around the South Island with a lot of ribbons and accolades it is back to the real work of breeding hens and ducks for next year.

“You need to have a reason to get up in the morning. It’s a hobby for me,” the 82-year-old says.

He doesn’t keep count of the birds he breeds and has no preferences. 

“I like them all.” . . 

 


Rural round-up

November 27, 2017

More business courses for rural women planned:

Business development programmes for women involved in sheep and beef farming are expanding to new locations next year.
The Agri-Women’s Development Trust runs the programmes with funding from the Red Meat Profit Partnership with the aim of lifting the sector’s performance and profitability.

Oamaru and Fairlie will be the first of 32 rural centres to host the programmes in early February.

They comprise ”Understanding Your Farm Business”, which has had 780 graduates since it began in 2014, and ”Wahine Maia Wahine Whenua” for women who are trustees, managers or partners in Maori sheep and beef farming businesses. . .

Cool winter boosts currants – Alexia Johnston:

A cold, wet winter is paying off for at least one South Canterbury berry grower.

ViBERi owner manager Tony Howey said the chill of last winter had provided a welcome boost to his crops of blackcurrants and redcurrants.

Moisture in the cooler months had also helped, he said.

”It was really good for the berries … and for some cereal crops as well.”

Cool temperatures in October, with some mornings near-freezing, were almost too cold, but the crops survived well. . . 

Demand for mini apples drives orchard investment:

Feilding rural investment company, MyFarm is chasing $13 million for the lease and development of four apple orchards in Hawke’s Bay.

The investment group will grow the niche export apple brand Rockit, which is a mini-apple under licence by Rockit Global.

One of the Rockit Global’s challenges has been growing enough apples to meet global demand despite production lifting 40 per cent on last year. . .

Lower Fonterra milk price seems likely – Hugh Stringleman:

Fonterra might reduce its farmgate milk price forecast by 25c to 50c/kg as early as this week after the fourth consecutive fall in world dairy prices on the fortnightly Global Dairy Trade auction platform.

Global prices fell 10% over the past two months since Fonterra reaffirmed its $6.75/kg forecast at the time of its annual results presentation.

After the latest 3.4% GDT index fall market analysts have found some unanimity with forecasts of $6.25-$6.50, along with predictions Fonterra would have to downgrade sooner rather than later. . .

Van der Poel elected new DairyNZ chair:

Waikato dairy farmer Jim van der Poel has been elected the new chairman of industry good body, DairyNZ. He replaces Michael Spaans, who passed away earlier this week.

Jim says Michael was a skilled, dedicated and passionate chair for DairyNZ and he plans to continue the vision established for DairyNZ and dairy farmers.

“While I step into this position under sad circumstances, as a board we will continue Michael’s good work – his influence will continue as we develop plans for the future of our industry.” . . 


Rural round-up

September 3, 2014

Scientist warns of soil biodiversity loss:

The scientist responsible for making next year the United Nations International Year of Soils says far too little is known about the microscopic life forms which are critical to healthy soil.

Stephen Nortcliff is the Emeritus Professor of Soil Science at the University of Reading in England.

He said there has been a massive loss of biodiversity across the globe thanks to human intervention and it was not clear how much of that loss had happened beneath our feet. . . .

Be Good to Bees Because … September is Bee Aware Month:

September is Bee Aware Month and the National Beekeepers Association is urging all Kiwis to promote and protect the New Zealand bee population.

“We want Kiwis to Be Good to Bees Because … they support over $5 billion annually of the country’s agri-industry exports and they help to grow one third of all the food we eat, never mind helping our home gardens to flourish,” says NBA chief executive, Daniel Paul.

“The bees in New Zealand are faring a lot better than in many other countries, where bee populations are often under threat, but we still need to promote and protect our Kiwi bees. . .

University of Canterbury to help with forestry safety:

The University of Canterbury is to launch a new research project to make sure New Zealand’s new forestry roads are safe and are established with minimal environmental impact.

The New Zealand forestry industry is building more than 1400km of new roads a year and the research, to be conducted by Dr Kris Brown, will help improve design standards.

“The importance of infrastructure is widely recognised by forestry stakeholders, but the New Zealand Independent Forestry Safety Review Panel has heard that the quality and adequacy of forestry roads, bridges and skid sites are variable and often not up to the mark.

“I hope our research at the university’s School of Forestry will help raise standards for design, construction and maintenance of forestry roads. . . .

 Irrigators under pressure are offered help:

IrrigationNZ is helping irrigators respond to increasing public pressure by educating them on how they can reduce their impact on New Zealand’s waterways.

The ‘Great Irrigation Challenge’, a training and information event, will also help irrigators understand what the government’s new freshwater policy means and how to respond to it with practical and technical solutions.

“In the context of extreme public scrutiny on water use for agriculture as a dairy farmer or industry investor, sharemilker, farm manager or staff member, your livelihood and business continuity more than ever requires a high level of knowledge, expertise and skill,” says Andrew Curtis IrrigationNZ CEO. . . .

 Five vying for DairyNZ director position:

Five nominations have been received for the farmer-elected director position on the DairyNZ board:

The five farmers seeking a four year term as a DairyNZ director are:

* Donna Smit (Whakatane, Bay of Plenty)

* Murray Jamieson (Okaihau, Northland)

* Greg Maughan (Marton, Manawatu),

* Jim van der Poel (Ohaupo, Waikato) and

* Dirk Sieling (Whitianga, Waikato)
The election follows the resignation of Taranaki farmer Barbara Kuriger, who is standing down from the board to dedicate herself to her new role as the National Party candidate for the Taranaki-King Country electorate in the September General Election. . . .

 

Farmers Don’t Have to Wait for Rural Broadband

Farmers who want to harness rapid advancements in agricultural technology don’t have to wait for rural broadband to reach their property, with internet service provider Wireless Nation working with PGG Wrightson to make slow and unreliable rural internet a thing of the past.

Wireless Nation has already been receiving positive feedback from rural customers since it started rolling out satellite broadband through the Optus satellite network, earlier this year.

Paul Sheridan, Vice President, Optus Satellite, says, “We operate dedicated transponders on our D2 satellite that provide very good line-of-sight to New Zealand’s landmass. This means that Wireless Nation can be confident in the delivery of quality broadband services to their customers regardless of where they are based.” . . .

 


Rural round-up

September 1, 2014

Agri-careers promoted – Sally Rae:

Agriculture is ”far more than milking cows and drafting sheep”.

That was the message from Jacqueline Rowarth, professor of agribusiness at Waikato University, to a group of Dunedin secondary school pupils last week.

”It’s everything that New Zealand does because New Zealand business is agribusiness … Our whole lifestyle is from what we export,” she said. . . .

Effluent making power, hot water :

Dairy effluent could be used as a source of heat and electricity on Southland dairy farms.

If trials are successful, the dairy farming waste product could become a valued resource in the future.

Monitoring at two farms in Dacre and Pukerau has shown that anaerobic digestion of dairy farm effluent in unheated effluent ponds, is consistently producing large volumes of methane, even during the cold conditions of the Southland winter. . .

Retiring Fonterra director looks for new challenges  – Gerald Piddock:

Jim van der Poel has lived and breathed Fonterra for more than a decade.

But after serving on the board of the country’s biggest company for 12 years, the Waikato farmer will step down as a director at Fonterra’s annual meeting in November.

A board member since 2002, van der Poel was immensely satisfied with the role he played in Fonterra’s development over the past decade. . .

No excuse now – Richard Rennie:

The right kit, the right market conditions, and high-quality supply mean there will be no excuses for Fonterra’s executive not to deliver higher dividends and milk prices to its shareholders.

Large-scale south Waikato farmer Ian Elliott believes that after last week’s $1.2 billion investment announcement into plant and Chinese market ventures, the company should be poised to achieve its full potential for New Zealand and farmer shareholders.

“Having investment into plants that can produce higher value products removes that last barrier to achieving the optimum returns for farmers,” Elliott said. . .

Time to leverage export dominance

Fonterra has given its value-creation wheel a strong crank by announcing more processing plant construction at home and a new joint venture with Beingmate, the No 1 infant formula company in China.

Its borrowing intentions of $1.2 billion will increase the debt:equity ratio to 45%.

At home it needs to expand peak processing capacity and avoid the constraints which cost farmers about $900 million last season in foregone revenue. . .

Council approves dam funds –

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council has approved an advance of $3.1 million to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC) to cover the period until financial close on the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

The decision was made in a public-excluded session of Wednesday’s council meeting and supported by all councillors present.

Given the lodging of appeals to the High Court on the proposal, financial close for the scheme will no longer occur by September 30, with the best estimate now March 31 next year.

All investment funds contributed by the council in this development phase are part of its overall financial contribution to the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.  . . .

 

 

 


Rural round-up

August 3, 2014

Manuka honey labelling guide a positive step for NZ:

The Interim Labelling Guide for Manuka Honey released today by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is a positive step for the New Zealand industry, Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye says.

“The Guide provides clarification on what constitutes manuka-type honey, and aims to ensure that New Zealand is producing quality manuka honey that is labelled correctly and meets the expectations of overseas regulators, along with consumers here and overseas,” Ms Kaye says.

“This MPI-led initiative has seen the Ministry working with scientists, industry and overseas regulators – and looking at 11,000 samples of honey – to ensure truth in labelling in New Zealand.

“Though I have been briefed on the outcome, the work is operational and decisions have been made by MPI. . .

From the outside looking in – Craig Littin:

If you are a dairy farmer, things will be flat out on the farm at the moment, and for those driving by some paddocks may be looking a little barren.  Between the wet months of July and October, dairy farmers are in calving season and cows have been dried off, having not produced milk for at least the last six weeks. To keep cows in top condition during this time, ready to have their calves and produce milk for the coming season, it involves techniques such as, break feeding, splitting herds and supplement feeding.

In these wet months pasture is sparse, and to keep cows in good condition whilst they are dried off and begin calving, they are fed between 8 to 10 kilograms of feed, some of which is made up of supplements like maize silage, palm Kernel, hay or silage. By feeding this level of feed per animal it allows the cows to gain condition and also rations the pasture reserves on-farm to ensure that the farm has enough for when they are in calf when their feed requirements rise to between 18 to 20 kilograms per animal a day. All of this happens at the time of year when pasture growth does not normally grow as much as the cows need, hence the muddy paddocks and the need for supplements and break feeding. . .

Northland dairy farms selling out en-masse to cash-rich ‘out-of-towners’:

The dynamics of dairy farming in Northland are undergoing the biggest shake-up the sector has seen in more than 50 years – with a wave of ‘out-of-towners’ coming into the region to take advantage of the comparatively cheap land on offer.

In the past 18 months, $20 million dollars of Northland dairy farms have been sold to Waikato, King Country, Taranaki, Canterbury, and Westland farmers moving into the province. The sales were brokered by real estate agency Bayleys – which is now looking to accelerate the trend this year.

Among the Northland dairy farming units which changed hands to ‘out-of-towners’ in the past year were: . . .

Fonterra Director Retires:

Long-serving Fonterra director, Jim van der Poel, has announced that he will retire from the Co-operative’s Board in November, after 12 years of service.

Chairman John Wilson said Mr van der Poel had been a conscientious and hard-working director with a deep knowledge of the business.

“Jim has served as a great ambassador for Fonterra and our farmers both here in New Zealand and our markets around the world.

“Jim is a successful commercial farmer with farming interests in Waikato, Canterbury and the United States. He was a New Zealand Dairy Group director for several years before Fonterra’s formation, and was elected to the Fonterra Board in 2002. . . .

Blue Wing Honda celebrates four decades of Kiwi success with launch of new facility:

As a nation dependent on primary industry, with more than half of our land used for farming, having the right means to navigate varying terrain can be a challenging task.

Blue Wing Honda met that challenge in 1972 when it entered the market as New Zealand’s importer and distributor of Honda motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).

That wealth of experience has helped put the company at number one in the New Zealand ATV market. . . .

Sheep’s wool makes woolly sheep – Mary Alexander:

DRAB winter colours in Hamilton have given way to a vibrant collection of artwork as the city gears up for its annual celebration of wool.

Bright life-size sheep have formed a flock at the art gallery, parking meters and trees lining the main street have been yarn-bombed and shop displays depict the characters in the children’s book Where is the Green Sheep?

“It looks amazing,” artist Jacinta Wareham said yesterday. “I’ve got a whole lot of happy people here saying that Hamilton looks so vibrant and colourful.”

The community arts project is part of the inaugural Woolly Wool Fest being held in the lead-up to Sheepvention from August 3 to 5. . .

Introducing the new, naturally produced Mission Estate Pinot Gris: lighter in alcohol, lower in calories (and full of flavour)

Mission Estate has enjoyed a reputation for winemaking innovation spanning an extraordinary 163 years. Pinot Gris, meanwhile, is a relative newcomer to New Zealand but, as nzwine.com observes, “has enjoyed a dramatic rise to fame and is now the third most popular white variety”.

Combine these two forces with the growing trend for lifestyle wines, and the result is the new organically grown, naturally crafted, lighter in alcohol Mission Estate Pinot Gris. . .


%d bloggers like this: